Thursday, December 30, 2004

If I don’t have a chance to post later today, I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Donna and I are currently planning on staying home tomorrow night, possibly having dinner with her mother and one of her cousins. Not sure what we’ll be watching come midnight, although it may just be the insides of our eyelids. :-)

Hey, it will be strange not to see Dick Clark this year, won’t it? I like Regis, but it will still seem odd.

On New Year’s Day we are having about a half dozen folks over for a late lunch/early dinner (or “dunch”, as Donna and I have dubbed this particular meal time). We expect our guests to come along pretty early so we can watch the Rose Parade together, than have enjoy a pork roast that Donna picked up the other day.

If you’re going to be out driving, either get one of those designated drivers or take a taxi/car-service home. You also might want to just spend the night at friends or stay at a nearby motel/hotel. Sadly, there are going to be way too many folks who won’t be taking this advice and will be behind the wheel after drinking way too much. If you must be out on the road be especially cautious, since I’d like to see you all back again next week.

Take care!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I have the first draft of my latest Joe Bob Briggs book review ready. There may be some changes made prior to its posting on the site, but this is pretty much as it should appear.

The Dvorkin's have done a great job of creating a frightening alternate history, which is even scarier than the one in which we live. Hey, if they can actually make you feel a little sympathy for the first President Bush, while still making him look like a manipulative wimp, they must be doing something right. They also do away with a member of the Bush cabinet whose initials are D.C., so there's another plus.

DAWN CRESCENT by David & Daniel Dvorkin
Published by Betancourt & Co (Author’s website lists: Wildside Press)
ISBN: 1-59224-613-3

The father & son writing duo of David & Daniel Dvorkin have created an Alternate history, differing from ours beginning with the defeat of the coalition forces of Desert Storm in 1991. The set up for this turn of events actually is earlier and begins with assassination of Anwar Sadat in October 1981. As we soon learn, this was masterminded by a man who takes the name Rashid-al-Bin Sinan, known to his followers as the Grand Master. His plan, carried out with bin Laden like patience, involves planting his followers in the militaries of Arab nations where they will wait until a signal is given.

When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait things seem to be going quite well for U.S. and allied forces until Sinan’s followers within the Saudi forces turn on and kill their American & British counterparts. What had begun as a sweeping victory quickly becomes a disaster and the allied troops find themselves in active retreat, often unable to tell friend from foe. Even as this is taking place a coup against Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev occurs with a much different result than that which took place in our world.

As a nationalistic Communist government reasserts itself over the Soviet Union and the Middle-East grows increasingly hostile to western influences, elements within the U.S. government decide to take matters into their own hands. One of the first things to change is the man to reside in the White House for the next four plus years. The first President Bush finds himself little more than a puppet and his place on the 1992 Republican ticket is taken by Dan Quayle. From this point all bets are off when it comes to trying to figure out what will become of the American idea of ‘free and democratic.’

The authors tell much of this story through the eyes of Air Force Master Sgt. Harry Elkin, a medical corpsman who suddenly finds he must lead a collection of soldiers and marines through the Iraqi desert, following the Battle of Khafji. We also meet two other characters; fellow Air Force medic Airman Rick Welton and Airman Sharon Alcazar, one of several female members of Elkin’s unit, whom we follow after their escape from the war. Although Rick and Sharon become lovers they find themselves separated as events spiral out of control.

Harry is quickly ‘recruited’ by certain elements in the government to act as the public face of the war, his efforts to rescue his fellow soldiers turned into a propaganda tool. Harry also learns that he and his friends could be expendable if they don’t play by a new set of rules. When they begin to tire of their new roles all three ex-solders end up working for an organization which may have goals of which they are not aware.

We are introduced to a number of characters from all sides of the unfolding events. Some of these people are introduced for brief chapters, while others we see develop into central actors in the drama. Not all of the characters we meet are sympathetic and not all of them will survive long enough for us to do more than get a superficial idea of what drives them. Still even those we see briefly we find that we care about and wonder how or if they will survive.

Personally, I found it hard to put the book down once I started it. The authors create believable characters and develop a scenario which is all too real. It would be easy to imagine that the events they create could have just as easily have actually occurred. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the type of thrillers that Ludlum and Clancy crank out, since in my opinion this is easily as good as some of their bestsellers.
Four stars.

It is truly amazing sometimes when you watch the coverage of events such as the destruction and death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunamis. It also puts into perspective what the media (and I can only speak of the American media, since that is primarily what I see) finds important. Not only the television coverage, but also the daily newspapers. I look forward to seeing the perspective the weekly papers and magazines use when they appear next week, since I expect this story to be cover featured.

Anyway, I have been taken aback that the major story seems to be how some super-model was hurt and traumatized by the event. It seemed that almost every telecast I saw last night, and several newspaper articles focused on the model, actor Jet Li (who injured his foot, apparently while shielding his son from the rising water), several soccer players and others whose well-fare was certainly more important then the hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans involved.

I'm reminded of a skit I saw years ago, I believe it was on SCTV, but it might also have been on some other sketch comedy show. It featured a nightly news show from a small country covering the destruction of Seattle, WA by some natural event. The loss of life and economic impact was ignored and the fact that no one from this small country was involved was the primary focus. Several nationals who had visited Seattle at some point were 'interviewed' so that a "local" perspective could be sort. I remember it being a funny skit, but one you thought about after it was finished and realized how true it was.

My heart felt thoughts and wishes go out to the families of those effected by the event. We can only hope that many of the missing will be found and that the high loss of live will in the end turn out to be much lower than is believed.

Regarding the amount of U.S. aid being sent, as someone at the UN (I believe) said, the American government will spend a billion or more dollars for a single B1 bomber, but then will offer/promise (not necessarily actually come through with) about a tenth of that to help the millions of people effected by this tragedy.

Compassionate conservatism and Christian values at their finest!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Well, I certainly hope that everyone enjoyed the holiday and are preparing themselves for the New Year celebrations. I had a very nice time in California, celebrating Christmas with Donna's daughter Kristina.

We flew out of JFK last Thursday (12/23) and were picked at LAX by Donna's ex-husband (and Kristina's father) Michael. Michael acted as our host and chauffeur for the next few days, taking us around to some of the places where Donna used to live and to several restaurants. We were joined for most of the weekend by Kristina's friend, Devin.

I have to recommend both Mimis Café in Laguna Niguel for breakfast. The fresh baked muffins and raisin carrot-cake log are to die for. Also, the price is very reasonable. This used to be one of Donna's favorite places and I can understand why. Be prepared to wait a while depending on when you arrive. If you're curious:

I have been hearing about In-n-out Burger for a while now. Kristina raves about it and when Donna's sister came back after a visit, her husband was also a fan. We had a chance on Sunday, before heading to the movies (where we saw MEET THE FOCKERS, which is a must for anybody who liked MEET THE PARENTS). The great thing about the place is the very limited menu. You'd think that would be a down side, but the choice of a burger or cheeseburger makes life very simple. The place was packed when we got there, which goes to show you that in spite of the hundreds of other restaurants and fast-food places around they must be doing something right! If you like hamburgers you have to give the place a try. I thought the fries were a bit salty, but not too bad and definitely a step above most fast-food fries. Oh, you might want to check out the "secret menu", which you can find over at their website:

By the way, there are other stories told about the place, but check out the bottom of the soda cups to understand where they may be coming from. :-)

Anyway, we had a nice day on Christmas, with Donna and the girls putting together a delicious meal, which included honey-glazed ham, sweet potatoes and Donna's homemade cheesecake. Yummy!

Every year my Christmas gifts run along a theme. We've gone through SOUTH PARK & THE SIMPSONS so that I'll end up with books, t-shirts or other related items. I have Simpson editions of both LIFE & CLUE, which we enjoy playing. This year I made mistake of sitting around with my wife's nieces & nephews watching SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. I actually enjoy the show and now find myself with a SPONGEBOB t-shirt, 2005 15-month calendar, six-inch inflatable doll and a mini-lunch pail filled with SPONGEBOB sour candies. If you haven't really sat down and watched the program, you might be surprised to find yourself enjoying it. The recurring MERMAID MAN & BARNACLE BOY characters are wonderful examples of super-hero spoofs which are clever enough to appeal to comic fans of all ages.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I just wanted to take a few moments to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and hope that the next few days will find you all enjoying yourselves.

I'll be back next week after a quick visit to the Left Coast to visit my step-daughter. I'll give you all the details of our California adventure when we get back.

My resolution is to post more and to add some more links as I find them. If I can get around to it I'll also try to add some photos to liven up the joint.

Happy Holidays and Be Well!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The tragic events in Mosul, Iraq are simply another indication that the administration and the Secretary of Defense did not prepare or equip the military for the post-invasion efforts. Even the NY Post, which tries not to put the war on the front page could not ignore the attack.

I also read that there will be some anti-war protests come the Ignore-garation in January. You can expect extensive coverage as was the case with similar protests in New York during the convention. In other words, "Protests? What protests?" You'll not hear a word from FOX, unless Michael Moore or other 'celebrities' show up. The major networks and CNN will give you a snippet of chanting, unless there's violence, and that will be it.

I expect Air America & Pacifica, with NPR giving some coverage, to let us know what is going on, plus you know the Blog-o-verse will be putting their two cents in as well.

Me? I'm going to keep my head down and read something mindless.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm not sure of the old saying but I think it's something along the lines of: Life is what happens while you're making other plans.

That was certainly the case this past weekend, which was supposed to have consisted of going to my sister's house in Connecticut for her annual open house. Sadly, Donna wasn't feeling up to paar so we had to cancel out. We decided to make the best of things by doing a bit of last minute X-mas shopping and then sitting around on Saturday. That's when life happened....

Around midnight we got a call from one of my wife's sisters to inform us that one of her cousins had died unexpectedly. Donna and she had practically grown up together and their birthdays were only a few months apart. They both would have celebrated their fiftieth b-day next year.

We had an almost sleepless night and the next day was spent trying to contact other relatives, to make plans for the coming week. We are still scheduled to fly out to California to visit my step-daughter on Thursday night, so it's going to be a heck of a week.

Add to that the fact that the Queens Library has sent me to cover for a vacationing librarian in another branch (in which I've never worked and have only a vague idea where it is) and things are really crazed.

Friday, December 17, 2004

According to an article over on and other items I've read, the mainstream Democratic party heads seem pretty upset that Howard Dean might very well become their leader. The DNC (Democrats in Name only Committee) want to continue the losing practice of moving further and further into Republican territory. Why should those of us who voted for Kerry (generally with a 'anybody but bush' philosophy guiding us) want to go down that path again in four years?

Is Howard Dean our savior? No, but we can only hope that he will turn around the slide into obsolescence in which the Democratic Party seems headed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Naturally, I'm not overjoyed that Pedro Martinez is leaving the Red Sox. While not the biggest Pedro fan, I think the BoSox are making a mistake. Of course, I can understand why Martinez would love to have a four-year deal rather than the two-year (plus one-year option) the Sox were offering.

On the other hand, of the National League teams I like the Mets so hope that they aren't making a serious mistake with this signing. It seems that part of the negotiation is that Pedro will not have to undergo an MRI on his shoulder during his physical. If I were the Mets I'd consider pushing for that, while not making it a deal breaker.

Isn't it nice to be able to remain pretty ignorant about political matters? I'm actually enjoying the change.

Monday, December 13, 2004

It seems hard to believe that I've crossed another year with only minimal damage. There has been a change of location and employment, but if that's the worst I can live with it. Trust me, I've had far more traumatic events happen along the way.

I don't believe in fate, but I do believe that we make choices in our lives which we can look back upon to discover how we got to where we are. The past twenty plus years can be directly attributed to buying a fanzine, called AFTA, in a comic shop while I was in college. It will be interesting to see what the coming year brings, won't it?

(Hey, Elayne! Where is Bill-Dale, anyway?)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Since I've gone political 'cold turkey' and tried to ignore all national news, I've found that I'm a much happier person. I don't get angry about things I can't do anything about and find the whole 'hide your head in the sand' thing to be working out just fine.

I've also learned some things by switching from Air America Radio to WFAN & 1050-ESPN.

1) Basketball players and fans are getting beat up (by each other, in fact).
2) Baseball players are shooting up (steroids and human growth hormones).
3) Hockey players are not showing up (there's a shutout/strike, don't you know?).

Apparently, Sammy Sosa is or is not going to the Mets and the Marlins are talking about moving to Las Vegas.

How can anything going on in Congress or some foreign country be half as interesting as this?
Plus, if play a lot of Christmas music it will make you forget that the Bush administration still has no clue what to do in Iraq, or just about anyplace else.

Happy Holidays, sports fans!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Spent the past weekend doing some Christmas shopping and putting up decorations on the front of the house. It looks nice when you see others all light up but setting up the Santas, nativity scenes and assorted lights are a royal pain, in my book. Still it looks nice at night and the kids like seeing the Santa on the front steps.

We haven't begun decorating the apartment yet, since we're not sure how much effort to put into it. We'll be in California visiting Kristina for Christmas and get back a few days before New Years. Since we are leaving Babie in the apartment (with Donna's mom looking in on her) we don't want to tempt the little darlin'. Likely we will put up a few things this weekend, for when we have folks over for New Years Eve.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Either Barry Bonds is a liar or he isn't extremely bright. That seems to be the only way to explain his testimony before a Grand Jury regarding his use of steroids. It's just sad that it has come to this, but I don't suppose it should surprise anyone who has been watching any professional athletics over the past twenty years or so.

Personally, I don't think those professional bowlers would be able to bowl 280 or better except by using illegal substances. :-)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Jason Giambi admits to using steroids and human growth hormones. I am shocked and appalled!! Who would have ever expected such a thing? Ahem...

Not that this is going to keep the rabid fans from filling the seats each and every game, but it does give the sports talk shows something to fill the time. I mean how much mileage can you get from Notre Dame dumping their football coach?

There is some conjecture on why it was Giambi's testimony which was leaked, rather than that of Barry Bonds. Perhaps Bonds denied he uses them and we'll have to see if there is some sort of legal action going on behind the scenes. That is of course, if Bonds did lie under oath. Frankly, it is Bonds which is the bigger story since he is on the verge of beating some long standing records in the up-coming season. Hate to see it done under a cloud, or to have an asterisk next to his stats in the records books. Granted I'm not the biggest Bonds fan, but still....

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I had to work a bit late, plus the subway was running a bit slow so I missed JEOPARDY last night. I had heard hints on the 'net that the episode showing Ken Jennings loss was up-coming, but sadly I missed it. Man, what a run, huh?

Looks like he'll be getting a bit more than his fifteen minutes and I'm hoping his lasts a tad longer than the guy who got booted off of AMERICAN IDOL ("She bangs...she bangs...."). Jennings has at least one book he has signed to do and will assuredly be hitting all the talk shows over the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see which sponsors give him a shot and what he'll be willing to endorse.

Anybody else willing to bet that the woman who beat him (probably awarding her a shot at a Trivial Pursuit question of her own) won't last out the week?