Rob's Blog

Death of Author Colin Dexter – March 24th, 2017

by on Mar.24, 2017, under Books







I think you all know I’m a nut about books of all sorts. I was very sad to learn of the death of British author, Colin Dexter Tuesday. He is best known for his series of books featuring irascible, beer swilling, Wagner loving Inspector Morse. He is in the upper pantheon of British mystery writers like Dorothy Sayers, Edmund Crispin, Agatha Christie, P.D. James, and few others.

I found Dexter’s writing with the flavor of Edmund Crispin and his main character of his mysteries, Gervase Fen. The stories had a trail to follow, but the main character managed to get diverted for one reason or the other. The mysteries were complex with clever and sometimes even more complex solutions. The various other characters that populated Dexter’s, and Crispin’s, novels were distinct and often as interesting as the main characters. Both wrote only as much of a set of books they wanted and then quit. A brave move to walk away from a series. Dexter’s series became far better known and lived on due to three popular television series involving the Morse series characters.

The photo above is from the back of one of his books along with the entire Dexter set in my library.






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Book: ‘Neither Dies Nor Surrenders’ by Peter Klingman – March 21st, 2017

by on Mar.21, 2017, under Books

Neither Dies Nor Surrenders: A History of the Republican Party in Florida, 1867-1970Neither Dies Nor Surrenders: A History of the Republican Party in Florida, 1867-1970 by Peter Klingman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has an unbelievable amount of great history that is nearly impossible to find anywhere else. It has a perspective not found in books written from the Democrat angle. It’s just a mess of a book. Poorly written and thought out.

According to the preface by the person who initially had the concept of the book is that he is a Republican, but chose a Democrat to actually write the book. I can only figure these two had communication problems and the struggles to mete out the issues led to the muddled approach to the entire book.

There are boat loads of names that are referenced but in a variety of ways too often with little context. Too often national figures are referenced to possibly local, state or national. The entire book is buoyed by political references that most don’t know the definition of and there are no definitions in the body of the book.

The benefits are the well referenced and footnoted facts that are not to be found in other histories of politics and history of Florida. Eye opening and refreshing. So much so a researcher reading this should struggle through the text and make it to the end.

Bottom line: i recommend the book – for research purposes. Not for general reading. 5 out of 5 points

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Book: ‘Modesty Blaise’ by Peter O’Donnell – March 18th, 2017

by on Mar.18, 2017, under Books

Modesty BlaiseModesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved the comic strip, Modesty Blaise, written by this same author. The illustration work was incredible! Was i ever tickled at Christmas time of 2016 coming across 8 – that’s right, 8 – volumes of the Blaise series. 25 cents each, to boot! A Christmas present! I can now read the wonderful writing from the comic trip in book form!…….was I ever wrong.

What a slogging mess. The entire book is more and over written introduction of the characters with a bit of adventure tucked away. If you can get that far. Way, way, way too much self-examination written in that gets more and more ponderous. Why was I reading about Willie Garvin’s motivations over and over and over again?

The book starts as if 20 volumes precede it with how the Modesty kid had run some organization for a few years. Though it’s written as if she ran the group for decades. O’Donnell continues writing about Blaise’s co-hort and how he is in trouble and she goes about saving him. The action part are handful of pages in the midst of 50. The main mission is something about diamonds that really doesn’t make much sense. More perplexing is with all of this introspection being written, what really compels the Blaise character to chase after the diamonds is not revealed. There’s some clever bits written of how the diamonds are going to be swiped. Collectively none of it makes sense. except Blaise is 26 and might be so immature to chase whatever carrot put in front of her.

There’s also much silliness of Blaise being in her 20s and living the contents of a life 60 years old. Also how brilliant she was with all she learned in ten years. Ten years? Sheesh!

Thus the plotting was horrible, the writing OK and …

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of 10 points.

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My Projects in Progress – Uncle Sam! – March 15th, 2017

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Cartooning

Here’s part of a project I’ve been working on this week. This is the Uncle Sam part of the illustration and does he look rattled!
I’ve got a bunch of drawing projects going on and hope to share more artwork here than i have recently. Squirrels are coming soon!
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Book:’Losers Live Longer’ by Russell Atwood – March 7th, 2017

by on Mar.07, 2017, under Books

Losers Live Longer (Hard Case Crime #59)Losers Live Longer by Russell Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Losers Live Longer’ is very well plotted and written. There are some inconsistencies with the main character, but otherwise characters and settings are also well done.

This is an excellent inclusion of the pulp genre by a contemporary writer in a current world of strong intolerance toward so much that makes up the genre. There are no excuses as to how characters are portrayed or respond. Political correctness is tough to find here. It’s very nice volume of fresh air buried in silly neo-puritanical book efforts to include whatever attitudes are popular not to offend in the Media today.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of ten points.

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Favorites I met at the Florida SpringsFest! – March 4th, 2017

by on Mar.04, 2017, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida

My favorites I met Saturday at the Florida SpringsFest : These two little girls who took special sessions with the National Park Service to become National Park Service Junior Rangers. They carry with them their studies over the past few months and sport special badges proclaiming their achievements involving the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Big Talbot Island State Park & Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve! That’s how to educate our young to appreciate our incredible history, heritage and culture of the great state of #Florida!!!

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Book: ‘An American Spy’ by Olen Steinhauer – March 3rd, 2017

by on Mar.03, 2017, under Books

An American Spy (The Tourist, #3)An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished the book and realized I could’ve read the last 20 pages and probably have been as satisfied. Steinhauer is clearly trying to present a novel of the spy business and the international entanglements that get into motion and all of it can have many levels going in many directions and you can’t trust a souls. All of those ‘and’s should give you a clue to how confusing this book can be if the reader isn’t paying attention.

One thing i liked is that this claims to be past of a series and well shows that a series may have similar characters but doesn’t have to have a star. The first two starred Milo Weaver. Here Weaver gets lost in all of the spy shenanigans, which I think is more of what Steinhauer is trying to present. The down side is a hard one, the book starts out in China and barely mentions a familiar character until after almost a third of the book. I’ll add that the first third is questionably needed.

The writing is very, very good. Excellent use of words and ideas. Though the first chunk in China is written in perfect English that just wouldn’t happen in translation. The Americanized dialogue of the Chinese further confuses with so much going on.

The plotting of multiple very different characters with different names of various nationalities constructed in a non-linear way is taking the idea of portraying a complex spy world to a level that almost needs a reader to take notes to keep track of everyone. There’s far too much effort to jump back and forth with different viewpoints. It’s a big effort for how the book ends. which I found very disappointing.

Despite the great writing, i can’t get past the poor plotting and ending:

Bottom line : I don’t recommend this book. 5 out of ten points.

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My Coloring Page Available at this Weekend’s SpringsFest! – March 3rd, 2017

by on Mar.03, 2017, under Cartooning

Available FREE at the annual Florida SpringsFest this weekend is this coloring page I drew that also includes water tips on the back!

SpringsFest is this Saturday and Sunday, march 4th and 5th.  I’ll only be there Saturday in the Springs institute booth and hope to see you all there!

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More Artwork Done Tonight! – March 2nd, 2017

by on Mar.02, 2017, under Cartooning

Met this evening with Gar Thaddeus Gernstein at a Steak ‘n Shake in Gainesville, Florida, to get some artwork done and go over some artwork he’s helping me with. Here’s a pile of work done tonight.

Due to a couple of Swampy’s Florida books i had to get done, I’m behind with a ton of other work I’m working hard to finish.

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Another of my Illustrated Signings! – March 2nd, 2017

by on Mar.02, 2017, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida

Gave talks Monday and Tuesday to groups and “sign”ed books afterward!

Come out to the Florida SpringsFest this weekend on March 4th and 5th at Silver Springs State Park! I’ll be there only on the 4th to “sign” a FREE personal copy of my new book, ‘Aquatic Adventures” in the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute booth!!



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A drawing of unicorns and alligators! – March 1st, 2017

by on Mar.01, 2017, under What's New?

A drawing I did for a young friend for my friend John Horrighs. I get together with John and Tom Orr of the opposite party of me each Wednesday morning to talk politics, history and alligators with unicorns! 😀

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