Rob's Blog

January 24th, 2015 – Book; ‘Crossfire Trail’ by Louis L’Amour

by on Jan.24, 2015, under Books

Crossfire TrailCrossfire Trail by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great tale wrapped in all that L’Amour knows how to unwind. This is far simpler than many of his tales and shows how able he was at assembling a book that has the reader fully involved even in a shorter story. The core of the story is predictable. Other parts are laid out to satisfy the predictability.

The writing is very good and the characters well crafted. Though the bad guys are a bit less detailed than in other books. Though that means the characters have far more definition than most books.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10.



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January 23rd, 2014 – ‘Robert Benchley’ by Nathaniel Benchley.

by on Jan.23, 2015, under Books

Robert BenchleyRobert Benchley by Nathaniel Benchley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Son Nathaniel’s book of his father is a well written account of his father’s life. As he mentions at the start, this is more anecdotal than a chronological history. As can be the case in a situation like this, it does seems Nathaniel was weaving around spot’s in Robert’s life he’d rather not have published. One moment the book is tripping along the chronological trail. Suddenly there are leaps here and there in time. then back to chronological order.

If I had not other wise known and read so much of Benchley over the past 40 plus years, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. In this case, Nathaniel’s skipping is at spots where Robert’s life took some turns that would be tagged uncomfortable. Certainly understandable for a son to do. The last people you ask to learn about a person is the family.

I was hoping for more first hand knowledge of the goings on in Robert’s life. Unfortunately, it seems so much I’ve learned of Robert being away from his family is reflected in the lack of personal stories in the book.

This has me pulling ‘Laughter’s Gentle Soul’ by Billy Altman off the shelf for another viewpoint. Seems Altman had no contact with the Benchley family in assembling his book. Wonder what I will find there?

Despite all this I do feel Nathaniel’s book is an otherwise very good overview of Robert’s life. There are a ton of promised anecdotes. That’s what the book is basically based upon. Lots and lots of hilarious stories that are pure Benchley. Thus this book is not to be missed by fans of the era and the humor.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 of 10

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January 22nd, 2015 – Inking a Stack of Work!

by on Jan.22, 2015, under Cartooning

2015-0122-Inking

I spent a few hours this evening inking a stack of pages involving a number of projects. I’m back in a local coffee shop. Second time this week with major accomplishments as a result. Been reading books of favorite writers, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley & others of the Round Table and their need for a place to hole away and get work done. Realized I need to do the same again.

It’s been exactly a year since I stopped going to my old coffee shop haunt due to political reasons. Since then have bounced around at chain spots and other places. Seems I have found a new spot- or as pals Craig Zablo & John Beatty call my “office” – to hunker down and really get work done

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January 21st, 2015 – My newest watercolor painting of Colt Creek State Park!

by on Jan.21, 2015, under Illusration

2015-0121-Swampy-ColtCreekStatePArk

Here’s my newest watercolor painting of Colt Creek State Park here in Florida.
It’s the largest painting I’ve done for an eventual Swampy’s Florida print- 16″ x 20″.
The original will be auctioned by the Friends of Colt Creek State Park and I’ll let you know when that is. I’ll also let you know when prints are available.

This is an actual spot in the park. The tree is a relic of it’s former self and sits off a hiking trail not far from the park’s community room.

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January 16-17th, 2015 – My While-U-Wait Valentine’s Day cards!

by on Jan.20, 2015, under What's New?

2015-0116-MollyAinsleyJulie

Here’s Molly and Ainsley with Julie of Julianne’s Coastal Cottage and their hand painted cards!

 

After knocking out hand-made, watercolored Christmas ornaments this past Christmas, Julie Pointer,of Julianne’s Coastal Cottage in Mount Dora, brought up the idea of me creating similar Valentine’s Day cards. We set a date and that was this past weekend. It was supposed to be three hours on Friday and three hours on Saturday. Turned out to be Friday through Sunday and I turned out to be exhausted.

2015-0116-TrainArt

Love drawing trains and this one covers all the items this fellow mentioned. I didn’t get his name, but will tomorrow when he and his wife come back to have me paint a few more cards for them.

My main goal was to harken back to the days when we, as young folks, exchanged well illustrated Valentine’s Day cards with punny sayings.

Most of the overtime was catching up with requests. Some that even came through Facebook.

All were inked and watercolored while folks watched. I used a Koi portable watercolor set to add color.

2015-0117-Cards

The photos are all requests for the various names noted on the cards.

2015-0117-Bailey2015-0117-Riley 2015-0117-Jonah2015-0117-HeatherJEremy

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January 17th, 2015- Book: ‘The Last Quarry’ by Max Allan Collins

by on Jan.17, 2015, under Books

The First Quarry (Hard Case Crime #48)The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

All these great reviews in Goodreads and I’m downgrading this novel. I found this book far below ‘The Last Quarry’. To me, the Quarry character did not seem the same to me.

I had real trouble swallowing this twenty something doing much that is written in this book. Collins writes this character too smooth, too willing to kill, too comfortable being holed up for days. Collins wrote this book as if this was Quarry’s first case, but Quarry came off, to me, as a seasoned professional. He seems to make no mistakes.

That includes with the women involved. The interaction of amateur Quarry and two women characters is the most unbelievable part and comes off amateurish for an author.

Quarry dispatches quite a number of people with no clever or fantastic scheme. Quarry just aims and fires. Hunh? The other characters are indicated as experienced. Are all of them, from various aspects of life, that slow and stupid? Of is this something worse involving writer Collins?

The author shirks off the never ending convenience of Quarry’s project as the setting being too small and everyone runs into each other. Sheesh! I might forgive this if the author hadn’t written scores of other stories.

I determined this book is a great example of an author’s lazy writing. The characters were otherwise pretty one sided. The setting poorly described. The time period is more than well noted, but only involving entertainment. As mentioned, Quarry came across as a different character than in ‘The Last Quarry’. All of the rest of the books I’ve read by Collins are head and shoulders better than this.

A likely reason why the writing of this book stood out so poorly to me is because I had just finished reading of Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Scott Fitzgerald, etc., and now also reading more Benchley. Collins writing is incomparable to any of them involving this book.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 2 of 10.

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January 15th, 2015: Book: ‘The Royal Family’ by Ferber and Kaufman

by on Jan.15, 2015, under Books

The Royal Family - The Acting EditionThe Royal Family – The Acting Edition by Edna Ferner & George S. Kaufman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Ferber and Kaufman play is a general insight of their view of the famous performing Barrymore family. If you imagine them in place of their obvious representations in the play, the story is even funnier.

This is just a knock out punch in presenting a time in the lives of entertainers. Much has changed involving entertainment since the late 1920s,but the gist of it all has changed little.

The writing is crisp and direct, as plays should be anyway. The characters are excellently written. The story is wonderful.

Something neat about the copy I have is there are notes made as the play is being presented. Editing lines and the like.

Bottom line: I recommend it. 10 of 10.

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January 9th, 2015 – Rob’s Instant Valentine Card Show 2nd stop – Palm Bay, Florida

by on Jan.09, 2015, under Cartooning

CArd-KnowledgeExchange-Valentines-Web

Rob’s Instant Valentine’s Day Cards While-U-Wait Traveling Show has a second stop- The Knowledge Exchange in Palm Bay, Florida, on January 24th. Come on out and get a personalized Valentine’s card for a loved one, a pal, a complete stranger or even your local IRS agent!

First stop is next week at Julianne’s Coastal Cottage in Mount Dora, Florida on January 16th & 17th.

I should add this opportunity is only for those who come to the event. Prices outside the event for personalized Valentine’s cards is much more expensive.
If you know of a shop in your area that would like me to come and create Valentine’s cards, get in touch with me and I hope I can be there!

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January 6th, 2015 – Frogs in air-space!

by on Jan.06, 2015, under Illusration

Card-BDAY-2015-SmithSr

Here’s my latest watercolor painting of frogs and Florida history. This is a frog in the place of aviator Tony Jannus, who is regarded as the pilot of the first scheduled airline in the world. This occurred over Tampa Bay in 1914. The passenger was a former St Petersburg mayor who won an auction to be the first passenger for $400.

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January 4th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Corpse that Never Was’ by Brett Halliday

by on Jan.04, 2015, under Books

The Corpse That Never Was (Mike Shayne)The Corpse That Never Was by Brett Halliday

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This entry into the Shayne series post-Dave Dresser as Halliday is typically taking it’s own course and so inconsistent with the original Shayne series. This Shayne novel is much more tame than the bulk of the series. Shayne rarely muscles around and seems nearly lethargic. There are some indications in the writing that a woman may have donned the Halliday moniker.

Very much unlike the original Dresser Shayne, the solution to the mystery is pretty obvious from the start. Despite the weak plot, the writing is otherwise good. The descriptions of the Miami setting is very accurate, which always impresses me.

Bottom line: I recommend this book – Just pretend the main character isn’t Shayne.

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January 3rd, 2015 – My Illustration for Joanne in Jupiter!

by on Jan.03, 2015, under Caricatures, Cartooning

2015-0103-Joanne

Met with Joanne in Jupiter to watercolor herself and her favorite things!

 

 

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