Friday, December 30, 2011

LULU IN HOLLYWOOD by Louise Brooks

Finished Fr 12/30/11

Eight well written autobiographical essays which cover a variety of topics and opinions. I especially enjoyed her thoughts on Humphrey Bogart and W.C. Fields. Her friendship with Pepi Lederer, niece of Marion Davies, allowed Brooks to become a part of the William Randolph Hearst 'scene' at The Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Louise Brooks has been called one of the brightest, and most intellectual actresses in Hollywood. And after reading her memoir, I think it's more accurate to refer to her as a writer who just happened to be a Hollywood actress.

-"Lulu" is the name of the character that Brooks portrayed in G.W.Pabst'S 1929 film, PANDORA'S BOX.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Finished Sunday Xmas Day

This was kind of a weak effort, and I skimmed it from about the middle to the end. It's not nearly as good as THE PSYCHOPATH TEST which I thoroughly enjoyed.

"His subjects include Omar Bakri Mohammed, the point man for a holy war against Britain (Ronson paints him as a wily buffoon); a hypocritical but engaging Ku Klux Klan leader; participants in the Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, battles; the Irish Protestant firebrand Ian Paisley; and David Ickes, who believes that the semi-human descendants of evil extraterrestrial 12-foot-tall lizards walk among us. Despite these characters' disparities, they are bound by a belief in the Bilderberg Group, the "secret rulers of the world." In a final chapter, Ronson manages, with surprising ease, to penetrate these rulers' very lair. He writes with wry, faux-naive wit and eschews didacticism, instead letting his subjects' words and actions speak for themselves."

A few of the subjects I followed up on Wikipedia.

Monday, December 26, 2011

HELL & GONE by Duane Swierczynski

Finished Sunday Xmas Day 2011

This is an 'out of sequence' book in a series about the lead character, Charlie Hardie. After a particularly bloody and gruesome gun battle, Charlie is badly wounded, kidnapped, and taken to a secret underground installation. There he learns that not only must he become a guard in this mini-prison, but that he is the warden! Soon, he can't tell whether the guards are controlling the prisoners, or is it the other way around?

This is a novel which deals with the commanding, yet hidden power structure which pulls the strings behind governments, and the vast news and entertainment conglomerates. It implies that there are secret leaders of a vast, 'Shadow World' who are really in charge of world events. Charlie calls this group, "The Accident People", but they might only be the enforcement arm of this worldwide conspiracy of power.

The novel keeps your interest, and you can definitely feel the author's background in graphic novels.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman

Finished Sa 12/24/11

AMERICAN GODS is an exciting novel which hinges on the following premise: Gods and Spiritual Beings lose power as people cease to believe or choose other entities to invest their faith.

An ex-convict by the name of Shadow is enlisted by an amiable grifter by the name of Mr. Wednesday (who also happens to be the Norse deity, Odin) to stage a final battle between the Gods of the Old Religion and the new spiritual entities. The ancient American spirits of immigrants and the indigenous populations have been abandoned, and replaced with new objects of believe such as Telephony, The Internet, Hollywood, and political hegemony.

And in the best tradition of American Road Novels, Shadow and Mr. Odin travel the highways and byways of the USA enlisting the aid of other enchanted beings who are facing the ascendancy of America's new pantheon. House On The Rock, Rock City, and Lookout Mountain are quirky US tourist destinations which hold great spiritual power, and these places are visited by Shadow and Odin.

The book is an engaging read, and it reminded me a bit of Stephen King's, THE STAND. My only suggestion is that the book included a list of all the Gods and deities which were presented in the story.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Finished Mo 12/19/11-My book club's December selection. Early in December I found that our club has been disbanded for a bit. Not sure, but I think that our leader, Anne, is in poor health.

Set just a couple of months before America's entry into WWII, THE POSTMISTRESS is the story of three women who strive to provide three very different functions.

-Iris is the Postmistress who delivers the mail to the small village of Franklin,MA, and is carefully aware of all the moral obligations that her job represents.
-Emma is the wife of the town doctor, and she only wants to be a perfectly loving and complementary wife.
-Frankie is an overseas radio correspondent who is covering the London Blitz, and is also examining Hitler's new plans for the Jews. She saw her job as to, "Get in. Get the story. Get out." But now, she finds herself being changed by the events that she has witnessed.

The novel addresses several intriguing and complicated moral issues.
-Is it enough for a reporter to merely report a story, or do some issues require some sort of action other than a simple compilation of the facts?
-How much do world events affect us even when they occur on the other side of the world? In the Modern World, can one really be an 'Isolationist'?
-Can Life be organized so that it can,'Make Sense', or are we immersed in an unknowable morass of conflicting events and moral complications?
-And, probably my favorite question, can War be fully understood as a component of social change, or does "War happen to people, one by one".

The novel was easy to read, and the characters were well-defined, and the moral issues were tailor-made for reflection and discussion. I liked the book a whole lot!!

Iris James- Postmaster
Franklin, MA-Fictional setting; based on Provincetown MA
Harry Vale-Town mechanic and unofficial civil defense coordinator; lover of Iris
Emma(Trask)Fitch-Lost brother, mother, father in Epidemic of 1918; wife of Will
Dr. Will Fitch- Emma's husband, goes to London to atone for death of Maggie
Frankie Bard-Radio commentator stationed in London
Jim Tom-husband of Maggie; when she dies, he raises the large family as a fisherman


Review and commentary, very good

Website Sarah Blake

Link to Wannsee Conference

Link to The Blitz

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TRIPLE CROSSING by Sebastian Rotella

Finished Tu 12/13/11

What sets this novel apart is that it is written by an award winning investigative journalist who specializes in International Border Issues, and the reader is treated an adventure-packed thriller which demonstrates fairly accurate government policy of Mexico, South America, and the US.

Valentine Pescatore is a rookie US Border Patrol Agent who works for a crooked supervisor, and is drawn into a situation in which he is forced to become a double agent within a Mexican criminal organization with international ties. The action becomes a bit melodramatic, yet it is clear that one path of action could never satisfy the wishes and desires of governmental agencies representing so many different nations.

The novel is largely set on the San Diego/Tijuana Border, and The Triple Border which is on the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

This is an excellent read, and a great first novel. And, would make an excellent film.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

LONG TIME GONE The Autobiography of David Crosby with Carl Gotlieb

Finished Su 12/11/11

This is kind of the 'unfinished' story of David Crosby as the book ends in 1988 which is almost twenty-five years ago. I picked up the book because I was interested in his time in The Byrds, and this is covered fairly well.

Crosby was born into relative affluence in Southern California, and his father was a well-known, Academy Award winning cinematographer. He attended numerous schools in the Los Angeles area, but dropped out of community college to become an itinerate folk singer.

He went on to become one of the founding members of The Byrds, and then Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I found it interesting that they did not choose a band name, but decided to list their names. This was because of the bad experience that he had with The Byrds. Original members of the band would leave, and the remaining musicians would take control of the name.

The super group, Crosby, Stils, Nash, and Young took off at nearly the same time that his drug habit nearly took him out. The book focuses on his harrowing descent into abject drug addiction, and then his incarceration in the Texas prison system for drug and weapons violations.

It's an interesting read, and I found him not to be a very likable person, but certainly one of the most talented writers and vocalists of the 60's.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? by Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman

Finished We 12/7/11

This is not a book which attempts to present the case that The Holocaust did not occur, but it's an examination of the logic, arguments, aims, and make-up of the groups who make these outrageous claims. The authors do more than just 'shut-down' these appalling theories, but they aptly demonstrate the questionable logic upon which they are based.

The primary proponent of this fallacious theory is a group called,The Institute for Historical Review. The name itself seems to imply that this obvious travesty of human behavior is somehow in need of a review. Their questionable arguments are framed in an almost impossible manner. It's similar to trying to defend yourself from the following question. "When did you stop beating your wife"?

This book clearly demonstrates that the facts DO NOT speak for themselves, and there needs to be a clear and accepted apparatus for judging what 'is' and what 'is not' part of the historical record. And, DENYING HISTORY's strength is that it successfully engages the reader in this process.

Some of the fallacious claims-

-The Jews were made to wear the yellow stars for their own protection. They were the victims of rampant persecution, and by making them more visible, the Nazis could better protect them.
-The gas chambers were only used to delouse clothing and personal articles.
-Bodies cremated were only people who had died of natural causes.
-One expert testified that "Zklon B" took ten minutes to work. It actually took longer than this, so this proves that it never was used.
-"Zklon B" residue was not found in the walls of the chambers after they were tested fifty years later.
-There is no accepted claim as to the number of actual Death Camps.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

AMERICAN DESPERADO by Jon Roberts and Evan Wright

Finished Tu 12/6/11

A biography of arguably the most successful American drug dealer, ever! The man was born into the 'Blue Blood' world of the Italian mafia. His father and uncles sailed from Sicily with Charles 'Lucky' Luciano. His real name is Jon Riccobono, but he changed it to Jon Pernell Roberts after the actor on the television show, 'Bonanza'.

His father was deported to Sicily, and his mother remarried, and he began his life of crime in the New York suburbs both with a street gang called 'The Outcasts', and with his uncles in the Italian mafia. Soon, he was busted and was sent to Vietnam instead of a jail sentence. There he excelled as a paid killer for the United States in a branch of Special Forces known as 'Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol'.

Jon Roberts is a man without any moral compass whatsoever. He claims that Evil is more powerful the Good, and any Cosmic Justice is a complete joke. However, one thing is for certain. He lived his life accordingly, and never looked for help from any sort of Higher Power.

Jon and his partners were heavily involved in the trendy NYC nightclub scene of the Swinging Sixties. He became a major supplier of all forms of narcotics, and was even a close acquaintance of Jimi Hendrix.

The book is chock full of detail, and examines numerous murders and drug deals perpetrated by Jon and his crew. By the mid 80's he was America's rep with the deadly Medellin drug cartel. His main base of operations was in Florida, and he lived in a big ranch out in the Everglades. When he was finally brought down, he was facing a three hundred year sentence, but he managed to have it reduced to THREE YEARS!

An amazing story, and an amazing individual. A man who just might be truly evil, and I don't think that he would have any trouble admitting to this fact.

My post at GoodReads (Tu 12/6/11)
This is the story of arguably the most successful American drug dealer, ever! He was born in 1948, and related by blood to the aristocracy of the Italian mafia-his father and uncles sailed from Sicily with Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, and were part of the Gambino Crime Syndicate.

The book is chock full of detail, and delineates numerous murders, drug deals involving millions of dollars, and wild excesses perpetrated by Jon and his crew. When he was finally brought down, he faced a three hundred year sentence, yet he managed to have it reduced to THREE YEARS!

An amazing story about an amazing individual who just happens to be truly evil, however the book presents his code of behavior in his own words. Many of his beliefs are shocking and morally aberrant, yet he can make the reader understand his position. And, that is the biggest 'kick' of the book. He makes the case that Evil is more powerful than Good, and any Cosmic Justice is a complete joke. However, one thing is for certain. Jon Roberts has lived his life accordingly, and has never once looked for help from any sort of Higher Power-in this world, or the next.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A SCANNER DARKLY by Philip K. Dick

Finished Su 12/4/11

I reserved this novel shortly after finishing THE NIGHT OF THE GUN. Both books are examples of the finest of the Addiction Genre.

I watched the Richard Linklater-2006-film of, 'A SCANNER DARKLY';Sa 12/3/11. This is an example of a film that is even better than a fine novel. And, I went back and tried to read through most of the relevant parts, however, the film was the best, and the Bonus Features were outstanding.

This is PK Dick's most personal work, but I like the 'hard-to-handle- fun house shenanigans' of his cracked SciFi novels.

Jim Barris (Robert Downey Jr.)
Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson)
Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane)
Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder)
Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves)

I only spent several hours on this book.

Friday, December 2, 2011

THE FIFTH FLOOR by Michael Harvey

Finished Fr 12/2/11

The Great Chicago Fire 10/8-10/1871 Destroyed four square miles. One of the largest natural disasters of the nineteenth century.

Michael Kelly PI/ex Chicago detective
The Fifth Floor is is the office of the mayor in city hall

Murder and theft of book about fire

Distant relative of the current mayor might have set the Great Fire as part of a land swindle, and it got out of hand.
Second Plot-line
Johnny Woods (Husband of Janet, father of Taylor--a physically abusive husband)
Janet and Taylor scheme to frame Kelly for the murder of Woods. Taylor, although only fourteen is the 'trigger person'. She was being sexually abused by Johnny.

'Chicago Historical Society' Randolph is head of Society. Distant relative of his, Josiah, saved Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation. Will sell to Aryan Brotherhood for them to burn online.
Rachel Swenson Judge and girlfriend of Kelly
Wilson-name of current mayor. Relative might have been involved in Fire. He is running for re-election, and this would damn him at the polls.