Rob's Blog

Archive for July, 2014

July 31st, 2014 – Book: ‘Invasion U.S.A.: Border War’ by William Johnstone.

by on Jul.31, 2014, under Books

Border War (Invasion USA, #2)Border War by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Invasion U.S.A.: Border War” is the second book of, so far, a two book series. This second book is far superior to the first, that is also very good. This one is far better written with a much more involved plot.

Whereas teh first was chock full of gun play and explosions, this one is handled very differently. There’s more setup to explain the gun play and explosions. With the more involved plot there are more involved characters. Something the Johnstone Clan excels at is characterization. That occurs here even better than the first book.

This one does have less tension with the first. i was literally on teh edge of my seat with the first. This one I had to read much more carefully as the plot unfolded in more intricate and well written detail.

Wondered about giving it five stars, but the writing isn’t up to the par of a Faulkner or Slaughter.

Bottom line: i recommend this book.

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July 30th, 2014 – Phil Silvers & Shelly Winters.

by on Jul.30, 2014, under Caricatures, Cartooning


While working on my Thursday editorial cartoon, ‘Bouno Sera, Mrs. Campbell’ was on Turner Classic Movies. i got a hankering to draw Phil Silvers trying to explain a sticky predicament he was in involving Shelly Winters. I went ahead and added color and there it is above.

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July 28th, 2014 – Book: ‘Invasion U.S.A.’ by William Johnstone.

by on Jul.28, 2014, under Buddies

Invasion USA (Invasion USA, #1)Invasion USA by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of a very short Johnstone Clan series of two books, this one and ‘Border War’. This one has in it what the Johnstone Clan does best: Creating a well developed series of characters the reader cares about. It amazes me the scores of characters I’ve read about in the many Johnstone Clan books and how very few are similar. Really quite extraordinary.

The bad guys, on the other hand, can tend to be similar in the books I’ve read. The bad guys in this one are similar to a number of others in previous books.

The story unfolds and takes a few directions i didn’t see coming. No twist in the story, but, as can happen in Johnstone Clan books, characters do things and things happen to them that really moves the story and makes it even more intriguing.

The ending is not all that unexpected, but still satisfying. I’m going to straight to book 2 of the series.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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July 27th, 2014 – Book: ‘Florida Land of Images’ by Nixon Smiley.

by on Jul.27, 2014, under Books

Florida, Land Of ImagesFlorida, Land Of Images by Nixon Smiley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nixon Smiley has collected a series of informative essays of various historical markers in Florida history. Each is very well written and most provide a very good back story to the points in history. I wish he had more details not otherwise found in so many other volumes, but I’m not sure how unique this book was when this book was published in 1972.

There are certainly better books that cover the material here more thoroughly, but this is a nice volume to introduce people to our fantastic Florida history.

The illustrations by Bob Lamme are very good.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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July 21st, 2014 – Today on the Drawing Board: Caricatures for Hospice Fundraiser!

by on Jul.22, 2014, under Caricatures, Cartooning


I was part of an Hospice of Marion County fundraiser held at The Ivy House in Ocala, Florida. It was a terrific event with everyone decked out in their vintage best for this first annual Vintage Gala. I met some really great people who have done some extraordinary things for others. Amy, below, has been counseling children for fourteen years. The average time people help young people with severe difficulties is just a few years. Most I’ve met that run beyond the few years tend to be cold and a bit distant. Amy has an amazing attitude considering her length of service with Hospice.




Judy’s husband hunts the deer and hog and she cooks ’em Southern style!


Below is Mimi, who owns the location of the event, The Ivy House. The Ivy House in Ocala is the second location. the first location is further west in Williston, Florida. Both are situated in historic homes and both are known for their outstanding Southern fare. I had the chance to speak to Mimi after the event about her restaurant, it’s 61 year history, their cookbook and many other things2014-0721-Gig-Mimi!


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July 19th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Good, the Bad and Me’ by Eli Wallach.

by on Jul.19, 2014, under Books

The Good, the Bad, and MeThe Good, the Bad, and Me by Eli Wallach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of the recent run of legendary celebrity biographies I’ve read, this is one of the more thorough and better written. The first half of Wallach’s life, is well covered, with lot’s of very good stories and insights. Wallach dispels some popular notions involving Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.

It’s the rest of Wallach’s life that gets truncated to a short 30 odd pages, or the last 6th of the book. Seems maybe Wallach had written up to around his 50th year and editors said,”Hey! Keep this at less than 300 pages!”. So, Wallach did. I can see Wallach doing that.

Something else you can see while reading this book is Wallach narrating the book. The writing is very much in Wallach’s voice and seems to be nearly a transcript of an oral history at times.

I meant to read this book while Wallach was still alive. I realize I’d like to read some of my favorite actor’s stories before they die. I thought I would next go to a couple Doris Day books. Now James Garner has died and I’m going to ‘The Garner Files’ next.

Though, i wish there was much more recorded of Wallach’s life after the mid-60s, what is in the book as a whole is a delightful story of an accomplished actor’s life.

Bottom line: I recommend the book.

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July 16th, 2014 – ‘The Case of the Sleepwalking Neice’ by Erle Stanley Gardner.

by on Jul.16, 2014, under Books

The Case of the Sleepwalker's NieceThe Case of the Sleepwalker’s Niece by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was the first of the Gardner books that I wasn’t crazy about. Seems to me that Gardner had the ending more in focus than building the rest of the book in a coherent manner. A lot of stretches of the imagination, especially involving plane flight schedules (recognizing this was written in the 1930s).

Also the characters weren’t as sharp as in other Gardner books. There are a number of twists that could leave a reader confused as to who is who.

The idea of the conclusion is sharp, but wonder if it could’ve been better presented for a dramatic touch.

Still this book is better than most and certainly better than the bulk of books written today. Though, I’d point to other Mason stories than this.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.

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July 15th, 2014 – Today on the drawing table: Instant Florida

by on Jul.16, 2014, under Cartooning


This is my weekly cartoon for my Swampy’s Florida business. The cartoon of Florida history and trivia comes out each Wednesday.

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July 13th, 2014 – Today on the drawing table: Happy Halloween!

by on Jul.14, 2014, under Cartooning


Amongst the new Swampy’s Florida greeting cards are some Halloween cards. Here is one!

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July 11th, 2014 – Today on the drawing board: Mermaid Birthday!

by on Jul.13, 2014, under Cartooning


Continuing the Swampy’s Florida series of cards with this one celebrating birthdays with a mermaid.


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