Thursday, October 24, 2013

Heard: "The Enemy of the World" by Patrick Troughto, et al.

Heard: The Enemy of the World by PatriTroughton, et al.  From the 1967 TV broadcast,  2002 (by BBC Audiobooks).

Another multi arc episode from Dr. Who with narration to describe action.  Troughton played Dr. Who and I'm not going to look up the script writers.  The internet said the shows aired in 1968.

The Dr., Jaime and Victoria land the Tardis on a beach.  The Dr. is excited to play in the surf and sand.  The are spotted by some men in a hovercraft.  The hovercraft men see the Dr., call a woman named Astrid and claim "He's here!"  The men and Astrid argue and the men set out to kill the Dr.  The Dr. and companions head for the sand dunes and are rescued by a helicopter flying Astrid.

Astrid explains that the Dr. is a dead-ringer for Salamander.  Salamander is a ruthless and rising star in the world government.  Salamander seems able to predict natural disasters and prevent destruction.  salamander's agricultural work is feeding millions.  People love Salamander.  Salamander is politcally strong.  Astrid is working with Giles Kent to reveal Salamander's evil doings.  They try to convince the Dr. to impersonate Salamander to get evidence.

Things happen.  The Dr. impersonates Salamander.  Many close calls with the cops after the Dr. and Astrid's group.  Salamander engineers a sneaky coup against the government leaders in central Europe.  Salamander sneaks underground where a group of scientists have squirreled away after Salamander told the a nuclear war has left the surface with deadly radiation.  Salamander has the scientists create volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc. to stop the war mad survivors on the surface.

More things happen.  There are show downs.  Salamander finds his way into the Tardis but is flung outside when the Tardis takes off and the door is open.

1.  Kind of a sudden ending.  The Tardis lands, the Dr. says "watch for [something]" and lots of shooting noises erupt.
EDIT, 13 November 2013:
1. I was looking again to see if there is any online video.  This story arc was incomplete for years until film of a missing episode was found in Nigeria, the story compiled and released for sale online.
2.  The Onion has a write-up on the story.  The writer is obviously a big-time Who fan.  
3.  The story itself is a reflection of the mid-'60s love for spy stories.

Listened: "The Lock Artist" by Steve Hamilton

Listened: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton, 2010, download.

Pretty good.  This won an Edgar so I guess other people liked the story even more than I.  The narration was excellent.

Michael is an orphan living with his uncle in small town Michigan.  Michael has not spoken in since he was nine years old and suffered trauma.  (He takes awhile to tell us the tale.)   He has visited a dozen or more psychiatrists, speech therapists, psychologists, neurologists and whatsists over the years but will not speak, or even grunt.  He tries at times, but still relives the terror every day. 

When his uncle's liquor store is robber Michael's uncle has the locks changed.  Michael is fsacinated by the locks and learns how their work.  He teaches himself how to open them and makes his own lock pick tools.  He learns how simple combination locks work.

For a time Michael went to a school for the deaf.  He joins the local high school and makes a single friend.  Michael has artistic talent and he and a pal team up in at class. They attend a graduation party and a couple boneheaded football players get Michael to come along with them to unlock their way into the home of a rival team's player.  The cops arrive but only Michael is caught.

Michael's probation is service hours for the victim, which is the father of the player.  The dad is a slicked-up-glad-hander weasel.  Weasel's teen daughter is a looker and Michael is looking.  Teen Daughter and Michael start relationship.  Weasels owes money to Detroit bad dudes.  Weasel learns of Michael's lock skills.  Weasel sells Michael's services to Detroit Dudes.  The adventures begin.

Michael has to leave home to work safe cracking.  Lock picking.  Shootings.  Combination lock opening.  safe cracking.  NYC travels.  Detroit Dudes owning Michael.  Michael pining for Weasel's daughter.  Murder.  Really bad Detroit Dude.  Michael foes to Los Angeles.  Michael makes friends with crew of crooks in Cali.  More violence.

The story flashes back over a one year gap in time.  Michael tells the tale from prison.

1.  Putting off the tale of terrible terror trauma.  The author better have something good to tell if he's building up an expectation of terror.
2.  Believable.  I did not have to suspend too much disbelief.
3. Suzuki GS850 love.
4.  Comic book panel love.
5.  I was going to look at a print edition to see if there are graphics of locks and lock cross-sections in there.  Or samples of the comic book panel style artwork used for communication by Michael and Teen Daughter.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heard: "Jitterbug" by Loren D. Estleman

Heard: Jitterbug by Loren D. Estleman, 1998(print), nnknown year for this AudioGo production, Overdrive download.

I still think of Estleman as a western writer.  Not that I read any of his westerns yet.  This is Detroit in the summer of 1943.  Lots of history and character with a nutbag killer on the loose.

Two main story lines following the cops and a young black man working in one of the new war plants.  secondary storyline follows the nutbag killer; an Army reject for being insane he kills ration stamp hoarders in a misguided attempt at fighting the war.

The Four Horseman are the racket squad cops for Detroit PD.  They part of a undermanned wartime department and lead by Lietenant Zagreb.  The four of them await military service by choice or design.  "Desing" meaning if they piss off their PD superiors they'll be sweating in the Marianas come Christmas.

Dwight is a 19-year-old with a party-hearty older brother.  The brothers moved north from Alabama (Mississippi? Georgia?) for work after their mother died.  Dwight is much more mature than the older spendthrift Earl and pines for Earl's 15-year-old newlywed wife.

Nutbag Killer acquires an Army uniform and impersonates a soldier. Nutbag Killer has many issues, I won't get into them, and uses a bayonet to eviscerate his victims.  Zagreb and Co. are called in when the ration stamp theft angle is figured out.  The racket squad is in charge finding black marketeers dealing in stamps.

Zagreb and Dwight meet when Earl is arrested at a night club for carrying a metal club.  Dwight stands up for Earl.  Earl's place is tossed and stamps are found.  Dwight is pressured by cops to find Earl's marketeer partner or Earl will get a federal beef.  Dwight and the cop meet in the middle of the novel and never speak again.

Things happen.  Violence.  Wartime industry.  Wartime abuses: the rich get super rich, meat is scarce, bars are busy, work hours are long, racial strife aplenty.  Killer is found and killed.

1.  A reminder of Devil's Rag Doll by Bartoy that incorporated the same Belle Isle race riot from June, '43.
 2.  Very entertaining novel by Estleman and a swell job by the narrator, Loren D. Estleman.  I wonder if the  narrator is related to the author.  They have the same last name.
3.  But, wait!  The AudioGo website lists Estleman as narrator.  The Overdrive sites lists Garrick Hagon as narrator! 
4. Which is right? 
5. Which is wrong?! 
6. Will I open up the audio file and re-listen to the introduction to find out?!
7.  No.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Read: "Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa" by Michael L. Burgoyne and Albert J. Marckwardt

Read: The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa by Michael L. Burgoyne and Albert J. Marckwardt, 2008, 9780226080932.

Cannot recall how I ran across this but I must have been looking for more history on Defence of Duffer's Drift.  Both books cover fighting a guerrilla war and insurgency.  Jisr teaches the lessons of 2006's Counterinsurgency Manual as applied to a platoon commander (a platoon commander with a full complement of men and equipment).

Formatted the same way with five successive dreams and the dreaming narrator applying the lessons learned from each dream until he achieves success.  The modern tactics and rules of Jisr are an interesting juxtaposition to the Boer War lessons of Duffer'sDuffer's has English troops arresting and imprisoning any Dutch living near the novel's defensive position.  Duffer's is not trying to assist or improve the lives of local people - they are there to kill the guerillas.  Jisr's is about killing insurgents but, more importantly, preparing and planning for life after the war.  Jisr wants a working government, local security and police, doctors and health facilities, a working electric grid.

I think the surge in Iraq and the change in counterinsurgency tactics worked.  At least the surge worked well enough for the U.S. to get the hell out.  Jisr points out the cultural disconnect between Iraqis and Americans.  The differences could be so extreme as to provoke disgust by both sides.  What a clusterfuck. (Not that I was there.)

This ILL'ed from Mankato State. Not that they call is Mankato State anymore.

There is a website.  The website has maps, graphics, and video content.  I should take a look.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Done: "LIfe and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" by Bill Bryson

Done: Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, 2006, 9780767919364.

For the Men's Book Club which had attendance of one plus me.

Different from the other Bryson books I have read.  A series of reminisces about growing up in Des Moines spiced with Bryson's usual historical research and massive exaggeration for comedic effect.

An aside:  I am listening to BBC 6 Music. Every evening at 10 PM (central time) they play documentaries.  Currently playing is a show about music producer George Martin.  I heard this one a few years ago and it is excellent.  Catch it online, if you like.

Bryson tells tales from childhood through adolescence.  Crazy neighbor kids.  His father's sports writing.  His father's habit of never wearing anything below the waist when sleeping.  Anarchy at kid matinees.  Favorite restaurants and downtown haunts.  Neighbor kid's explosive (literally) misadventures.  An unsatisfied adolescent sex life.

A fun read but not much to discuss in a book club.  The only things to go over would be the usual gripes and observations about the differences between then and now.  i'd like to point out that things are not always better and I get ticked off when people say so.  Here are my comments on that issue:

1.  Kids misbehaved back then.  Read Bryson's section about the anarchy during movie matinees.  His pal who stole train cars full of beer.  Making explosives for pranks.  Shoplifting.
2.  How education was stronger.  Hey, maybe it was, but Bryson had lazy teachers who wanted to show movies rather than teach.  Heck, the lousy kids would drop out or be expelled.  Education now works harder to reach those kids.
3.  Broken families and crap parenting have always existed and always will.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Read: "Dead Man, Volume 4: Freaks Must Die: Slaves to Evil: Midnight Special" by Lee Goldberg, et al

Read: Dead Man, Volume 4: Freaks Must Die by Joel Goldman, Slaves to Evil by Lisa Klink, Midnight Special by Phoef Sutton, 2012, 9781611098822.  Edited by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin.

Paperback compendium of the e-book series.  I started out reading the e-book versions but I really prefer print.  I've been buying this 3-in-1 paperbacks for the library.  Many spoilers await.  Remember, these are my notes to recall plot and story.  This is not a review.

I was hoping that Lisa Klink's story would stink so I could type"Klink Goes Klunk".  Unfortunately, Klink's story was well done.  Which is no surprise, Goldberg and Rabkin work to maintain quality.  (At least from what Anthony Neil Smith wrote about his experience in writing an entry.)

Freaks Must Die.  Matt Cahill and his axe are in Eastern Pennsylvania and Cahill just bummed some coffee off a remote interstate hotel.  Cahill takes a walk to kill time while waiting for a truck to hitchhike from.  Cahill sees a mugging-to-be and axe-ily intervenes.  The mark, a jewel merchant, dies of a heart attack.  Before he kills over the merchant expresses that his son is kidnapped and now will die. 

Cahill heads into NYC to save the boy.  Cahill meets a gal working at the jewelry store with freaky translucent skin.  Bad guys follow Cahill.  Cahill uses his axe.  Cahill finds out that "freaks" are kidnapped by medical researchers who hire bounty hunters for the snatches.  These are the same researchers who wanted to slice and dice Cahill after his resurrection from a three month (was it that long) burial under snow.  Cahill uses his axe more, screws Translucent Girl, rescues missing boy, kills a researcher, hits the bricks.

Slaves to Evil.  Cahill sticks to small town America again.  He's headed North to job opportunities in Duluth when he spies a rotting cop in a suburb.  Cahill has to fight the evil and stays to do so.  Cahill finds out way to meet a local cop and also the Police Chief's wife.  Cahill fights more evil.  Cahill uses his axe.

Midnight Special.  A horror movie revival is sparking bizarre murder suicides after midnight showings.  Cahill investigates.  Hollywood wunderkind-turned-40 is showing the flick.  Wunderkind also sees evil.  Wunderkind has plan to trap Mr. Dark.  Cahill joins in.  Wunderkind is major asshole.  Cahill uses his axe.  Cahill has lots more sex.

1.  The fun series chugs right along without any bumps in the road.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Heard: "Black Orchid" by Michael Cochrane

Heard: Black Orchid by Terence Dudley, 1987? (print), 2008 by AudioGO (or BC).

Novelization of a multi episode arc featuring one of the Doctor Whos.  I don't give a rat's ass which actor it was.  Read by Michael Cochrane who looks to have also starred in those episodes.

The Doctor and his three companions land in 1925 rural England.  Mistaken as a last minute fil-in for a local cricket game, the Doctor enthusiastically joins the game at a local estate.  The Doctor does all sorts of cricketry and sets a record and impresses everyone.  The Australian companion, Tegan, is thrilled with the game and has to explain the confusing rules to the other two companions.

Meanwhile, and slightly beforehand, a mysterious creature/person in the manor house has killed his male nurse and threateningly hovered over Ann, the Lady Cranleigh's soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  Ann had been engaged to a different son who disappeared when exploring the Orinoco River in South America. Ann is now engaged to other second Cranleigh.

The Doctor leads his cricket side to victory and is invited to stay at the manor and join fancy dress arty.  Apparently, fancy dress means costume party.  Companion Nyssa is found to be identical to Ann and everyone stairs at Nyssa in surprise.

The mysterious creature/person slinks along hidden passages and priest holes in the manor house.  While the Doctor explores the hidden passages the mysterious creature dons the Doctor's costume, joins the party and takes Ann away.  The creature murders a servant when whisking the woman away.

The Doctor is suspected of the servant's murder.  Lady Cranleigh and a mysterious South American Indian, who was helping care for the creature/person recover Ann.  The Doctor is taken into custody.  The Doctor introduces a couple cops to the Tardis.  The Doctor and co. take a Tardis trip back to the manor and rescue Nyssa from the creature/person.  The creature/person takes a diver off the manor roof.

1.  Fun to listen to but nothing spectacular.
2.  The novel is much more fleshed out than the TV version.  I can tell without having seen the show.  Information on commentary on the importance of manners to the Doctor, his pride, his curiosity.  Fealty by servants to gentry that still existed in 1925.  The novelty of mixed cocktail drinks in 1925.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quit Listening: "Chasing Darkness" by Robert Crais

Quit Listening: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais, 2008, Overdrive download.

I'll just read the book instead. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Listened: "Death's Door" by James R. Benn

Listened: Death's Door by James R. Benn, 2012 (I think), downloaded form Overdrive.

The problem with writing historical novels, especially something from World War two which still has tons of amateur historians in tune with the events, is that so much of write you write can be total bullshit.  Eisenhower sending an agent into the Vatican during the Nazi occupation of Rome during the battle of Anzio just to investigate the murder of of Catholic Bishop who was a classmate of the OSS's "Wild Bill" Donavan?  Bullshit to the fifth.

I liked it anyway and enjoyed the whole damn book.  Even Billy Boyle's whiny introspective parts.

Anyway.  Billy Boyle is in Allied occupied Italy mourning the absence, and likely death, of Diana who was in Rome, undercover as a nun, and captured by the Krauts. Boyle has been AWOL and sad-eyed when he and his Polish Army pal Kaz are picked up by MPs and delivered to a Limey installation.  Boyle has been tasked with going to the Vatican and investigating a Bishop's death.  The Vatican is under a lot of pressure from all sides and their treaty with Italy, and therefore the Germans, is constantly under threat.  There is a good chance the Germans will kidnap the Pope and move him North into "protective custody".

Boyle is flown a little north himself and put onto a boat on the East coast of Italy.  The boat captain is Sterling Hayden.  Hayden delivers Boyle and Kaz to the shore.  Boyle and Kaz are disguised as priests, make their way to a trainyard, kill a Kraut, are secreted into a train car, smuggled into the Vatican.

Boyle starts asking questions.  A fugitive Jew was arrested for the Bishop's murder.  Many Vatican authorities are pro-fascist.  The Vatican is filled with refugees, escaped POWs, and Jews.  Boyle wants to try and rescue Diana from a Nazi prison.

Things happen. Vatican scenery.  Vatican reality in WWII.  Dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy Nazis. Doyle tries to rescue Diana and is extorted by German intelligence officer from previous books.  German wants to kill Hitler and needs peace agreement with the western Allies.

Everyone lives happily ever after except for some dead priests. 

1.  This could read as an apologist reaction to criticisms of the Pope and Vatican during WWII.  I still read occasional articles about how the church did not do enough during the war.  But, the Vatican did quite a bit.  What's more, the Vatican is pretty dang tiny and without much pull with the dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking Nazis. 
2.  To betray their neutrality was their destruction - and then they could do nothing.  The Pope and Vatican was between a rock and a hard place. To do Christian work the priests would find the cracks in the cracks in the hard place and slip around the rock.
3.  That was a poor analogy.