HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB URAM
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNMARIE
HAPPY BIRTHDAY VITO MARCANTONIO
“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
1. To do or not to do.
Well, there was one day of sunshine and then it was back to hiding under the covers.
When the sun did come out again for a few days straight, I fully intended to begin a vigorous exercise regime. I was inspired by Bill Yeates who appears to run up to 20 miles a day. My cousin in Sicily, Guillermo, does also. This weekend I found out that Kathleen Foote’s son Tyco is addicted to super marathons (100 miles). Just thinking about all that vigor so tired me out I went back to bed.
When I do get up and leave the house and it is not raining, I usually walk around the local park for exercise, enjoying the crisp air and the fall colors.
One of the paths wanders off into a meandering trail through dense brush. This trail, for reasons I cannot even guess at, is called the New York Trail. Since I generally prefer hiking alone, I avoid this path. I fear that a mountain lion will sneak up behind me and jump my aging a**. They say that these predators when they age prefer weak, old and slow prey. Which, seems to quite accurately describe me, don’t you think? I also fear the bushes may hide Puerto Rican or Italian gang members I knew in my youth who have found out where I live now. I picture those now 80 year-old gang members emerging from behind the trees and beating me to death with their walkers. In Pookie’s world, fear is his ever-present companion.
2. Book Reports:
Thanks to my sister and George who fixed my Kindle problems, instead of simply napping the day away or exercising, I often begin a reading marathon in compensation — penance if you will.
Although reading a book a day I believe generally is a good thing but somewhat obsessive, the two I read yesterday was clearly excessive, especially since they were not that interesting.
Tad Williams: Sleeping Late on Judgement Day
Williams, one of my favorite fantasy authors (His Otherland series is one of the best in the genre), has leapt on to the bandwagon of the current rage among some readers of fantasy for amusing demon hunter stories. His Johnny Dollar series has been enjoyable. Dollar, a wisecracking angel fed up with the heavenly bureaucracy, often finds himself at odds with both his employers and the Adversary. In this issue, our hero sets out to rescue from Hell his girlfriend, a demon with the improbable name of Countess Cazmira of the Cold Hands. Anyone falling in love with a demon especially one with eternally cold hands seems to me to have a lot of unresolved issues.
Richard Stiller: Cold Warriors
Stiller who wrote two pretty good novels in the Foreworld Saga series tries his hand at a rogue CIA operatives thriller. Although it was able to capture my interest, the plot holes, incredible coincidences and poor editing were annoying. The author accurately described several obscure neighborhoods in current day San Francisco, so I assume he lives nearby or is in hiding.
Andrew Ball: The Contractors
The day before, I finished Ball’s debut novel in an another Heaven/Demon war series. It is a young reader type novel and not half bad. Here, a skinny six-foot tall alien from another dimension who looks like a fashion deprived toad, hires a bunch of totally unqualified amateur assassin magicians and sets them loose on an unsuspecting world in an effort to prevent an invasion from still another dimension by Hitler wannabes who look like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with facial hair. And, yes people actually write this stuff —— and others read it. Some even think it is not half bad.
John Conroe: Forced Ascent
This the sixth or seventh novel in yet another Heaven/Demon war series, did not excite me as much as some of the earlier stories in the series. Most of these novels are like video games, the hero or heroine continue to acquire additional powers each time they smite their enemies. I no longer remember what actually happened in the book.
Declan Burke: Crime Always Pays
One of my favorite crime authors and current man crush writes a sequel to one of his better books, The Big O. That book ends with the face of one of the main protagonists of the sequel clamped in the jaws of a wolf. It does not get too much better from there.
Andrea Camilleri: Angelica’s Smile
Montalbano in love (or lust) but not with whom you think. And, no we do not discover Montalba is gay, although like most manly men there is the ever-present seed of doubt.
Chad Leito: The New Rome.
Leito claims he is a full-time e-book author specializing in post apocalyptic stuff. His PR photograph makes him look a bit over sixteen years old. He seems to suffer a similar problem of a lot of authors, an inability to actually finish the novel. In his case, he seems to be unable to finish more than the first two novels in whatever series he is writing. In his first series called “The Academy” he had gotten through sophomore year in a post apocalyptic university. As best as I could make out the original society collapsed because poor dental hygiene turned everyone’s gums black so they stopped smiling and sent all the kids off to this school where most of them die horrible violent deaths.
In his newest series (also only two books long) he thankfully spends only about one sentence on what it was like before. You know, there was before and now there is this. What this is, is New Rome. A replica of old Rome except New Rome is actually London. There is no indication of what current Rome is called, but Paris is still Paris. Since there is Rome, then there must be emperors, togas and gladiators. And with gladiators,then there is a big to-do about the significance of thumbs and lots of blood on the sand (Lions provided by Monsanto).
Pookie says, “Check them out.”
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Not long after entering the foothills of the Alps it became obvious to me that a vehicle with an engine producing only nine horse-power had little chance of climbing 10,000 feet or so in order to find a pass through the mountain range. So, I began searching for an alternative —which led me to a train on to which I drove the Trojan and in which Jason and I sat for the duration of the trip under the mountains. It was so much fun. We jumped up and down and squealed with delight as the tunnel lights flashed by the car’s 360 degree view or when we would pass out of one section of the tunnel briefly, see the huge mountains and blue sky and then plunge into the looming dark again .
Eventually we were deposited on the other side of the Alps. We seemed to be quite high up because the road snaked a long way down in front of us. I did not know what country we were in but assumed it was Italy since the signs indicated we were passing through the Val d’Aosta and we could see small villages and large castles dotting the valley or clinging to mountain outcroppings far below. We continued coasting down the south face of the Alps until we hit the hills of the Piedmont and Turin.
At that time Turin (Torino) looked like most industrial cities, dark and grimy. Instead of the floral exuberance of classical and baroque architecture we were met with the basic brutalism of 20th century factories and worker housing. We took a room on the outskirts of the City and left early the next morning for Rome.
A few miles from the city we came upon the Autostrada to Rome. This was the first limited access highway I had seen so far in Europe. The Italian system had begun building a few years before and the road from the North to Rome was the first completed.
I decided to take the highway believing it would knock several hours off my trip. Almost as soon as I entered on to the highway I realized my mistake. It was an Italian system, which meant its purpose was to test top speeds of the vehicles and the nerves of the already high-strung drivers. Since the top speed of our little car was somewhere between 40 and 50 MPH, even driving in the slow lane was greeted with loud crashing of horns, red faces and hand gestures, predominately extension of the middle finger. Rather than exiting the system, I decided to try driving on the broad shoulder. This seemed to work somewhat. At least the faces were less red and sometimes smiling, the toots of the horns less insistent and the hand gestures for the most part replaced by putting the thumb, index finger and middle finger together and shaking it up and down. In this way we travelled from Turin to Rome dutifully stopping at all the wonderful rest stops in between where we ate and played. Luckily Jason was as willing to eat anything placed in front of him as he was to dispose of it without notice. The only concern I had was the tremendous whomp that would strike the car whenever one of those large two-trailer trucks whizzed by.
We checked into a small hotel across the street from the Barberini Palace (now the national museum). The hotel still exists. There we stayed for two or three days. I was too exhausted to run around touring so what Jason and I would do would be to walk up the Via Veneto stopping at one of the sidewalk cafe’s for an hour or two and have an espresso. Jason would have a hot milk and some cookies. At that time the places were still primarily coffee houses and had not turned into the expensively bad restaurants they are today.
The ladies of pleasure still displayed their wares along the street. At times when one would take a break she would come over and play with Jason for a while. On the second day one decided to take a long cigarette break and walked with me to the playground in the Borghese Gardens. The Gardens had not yet been crisscrossed with highways and was a wonderful park. I let Jason loose. She went to stand near the kids playground and smoke her cigarette and I laid down on the grass and stared through the pines into the blue sky beyond. I must have dozed because the next thing I remember is her shaking me and telling me she had to get back to work.
The next day we left Rome.
Ever since entering southern Europe the three-wheeled bubble car became less a car than a curiosity. So it was in Rome as I tried to find my was out of the city. People would come out of the shops a stare or wave as we drove by. Years later I discovered that one of those onlookers was my cousin “Gecco.” He greeted me as I drove by with his favorite hand gesture — the first three digits spread wide and twisted like a corkscrew.
I decided against the more direct route over the Alban Hills and chose to hug the coast. Somewhere south of Anzio was the area where the finest Bufala Mozzarella was made. At that time a few rude stands lined the highway where a traveller could buy some of the cheese — as well, if they wanted, some bread, wine, tomatoes or fried peppers and olive oil. I loaded up and then crossed the highway to sit on the large rocks bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea to eat lunch (actually several lunches) with Jason then watched him play by the water before proceeding on.
We arrived in Naples in the evening. The city still bore the horrible scars of WWII. Whole neighborhood remained bombed out. Knowing the city’s reputation for crime, I drove directly for the docks and on to the ship taking us to Sicily.
The staterooms I thought were too expensive so Jason and I curled up on the airplane seats in the hold of the ship used by backpackers and were quickly lulled to sleep by the thrumming of the engine.
In the morning we were awoken by a blast from the ship’s horn announcing we had come in sight of Palermo.
1. Know your Bible:
“The Bible says, ‘As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.’”
Williams, Tad. Sleeping Late On Judgement Day: A Bobby Dollar Novel. Penguin Group US.
2. Fatherhood at its best*:
“A man’s supposed to shit himself after he dies, son, not before. Try to remember that, lad, so that when your time comes, you won’t make a right girly mess of it. Now fuck off and go play in the bog.”
Hearne, Kevin. Tricked: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Four. Random House Publishing Group.
*Note: For the literal-minded: I do not really promote this approach to child raising. It is sarcasm, a particularly low form of humor to which I am addicted. You should be warned, however, that the father in the quote is a highly trained professional. Do not try this at home.