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Archive for December, 2014

December 31st, 2014 – Book: ‘Rules of Betrayal’ by Christopher Reich

by on Dec.31, 2014, under Books

Rules of BetrayalRules of Betrayal by Christopher Reich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Rules of Betrayal’ is the most complex in story layers I’ve read in the espionage genre. Reich does an excellent job in plotting the various aspects and angles of the story. All to later converge in one way or another to a very satisfying end. Unlike many espionage books that, to me, end too quickly, this novel wraps up most of hte plot lines and gives site to the future of all of the characters.

A serious drawback is the most convenient arrival of certain characters in the nick of time. Seems a neat plot device,but also seems unbelievable.

Bottom line: I recommend this book.

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December 30th, 2014 – Book: ‘The Best American Wit and Humor’, J.B. Mussey, editor.

by on Dec.30, 2014, under Books

The Best American Wit and HumorThe Best American Wit and Humor by J.B. Mussey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nearly perfect set of laugh out loud (or however the kiddies say it today) stories, columns and cartoons. Outstanding entries of Alec Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, F.P.A. … well, the bulk of the Round Table. The stand out of the lot is Corey Ford’s reflection of his John Riddell Murder Case novel.

Also included, and has the largest contribution,are columns of Will Rogers. He was at his peak when this was published and certainly a draw for sales. The lot are also the weakest of the collection and why I drop a point from the star ccategory.

Unfortunately, most in this book could not be published today in the U.S. due to narrowing senses of humor and minds. The Politically Correct Police, who claim to hate all censorship except all they want to censor, would shackle a volume of this and sure to burn in much fanfare.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this book. 9 of 10 points.

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December 29th, 2014 – Book: ‘Reason and Existenz’ by Karl Jaspers

by on Dec.29, 2014, under Books

Reason and ExistenzReason and Existenz by Karl Jaspers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Karl Jasper’s ‘Reason and Existenz’ is not for the philosophical faint of heart. Jaspers deeply explores his argument of the existence of “Existenz”. Launching from Hegel & Nietzsche and building to the importance of reason and “Existenz”, Jaspers constructs his reasoning for a humans ability to realize their existence. His romp into and around existential thought would trouble those that hold more faithful creation beliefs. To those that do not hold such beliefs, they might struggle a bit as Jaspers seems to rock in and out of beliefs in a “God”. Of course, this is Jaspers version of “God” and not the traditional view of God.

This book is a reworking of speeches Jaspers made in the 1930s. The first is well written, though gets denser and denser as it goes along. I should warn there’s a point where clarity suddenly shifts into the deeply complex which continues to the end.

The second continues the complexity and has the very best thoughts of the whole.

The third is very clear and best of the three as Jaspers makes his stand for the imperative need of reason.

In the notes section are some quite good nuggets to take in.

Bottom line: I recommend for those who love philosophy. Otherwise, it might be best to dive into a volume of Kauffman’s books of existentialism which includes Jaspers ideas. Then come to this book.

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December 25th, 2014 – Christmas Hike!

by on Dec.25, 2014, under Florida Outdoors!

2014-1225-Christmawws-Hike-RossPrairie

Been taking my annual Christmas hike. This year at the Ross Prairie Trailhead of the Cross Florida Greenway.

 

 

 

 

 

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December 25th, 2014- Book: ‘A Highland Christmas’ by M.C. Beaton

by on Dec.25, 2014, under Books

A Highland Christmas (Hamish Macbeth, #16)A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘A Highland Christmas’ is a pretty standard Christmas mystery with elements of Christmas and questions as to what happened to the elements of the Christmas story. Very light story that, unfortunately, has a political agenda.

Strongly intertwined in this “Christmas” story is the effort to reform a very religious family who the main character, Hamish MacBeth, thinks is missing out on what that character thinks Christmas is. Instead of being open minded to others beliefs, MacBeth, through the writer, labels the family as “bigoted”. The religious family is not trying to change the MacBeth’s beliefs. They are just minding their own business and abiding their personal beliefs. The actual bigot in the story, MacBeth, proceeds to force the religious family to his beliefs. This being the goal of the author, the religious family bends to the closed minded MacBeth’s preposterous efforts to “save” the family.

Having Beaton’s character showing her main character having a discriminating drive against a family’s religious belief might have been better to explore in a non-“Christmas” book. To have it as the basis of a “Christmas” book is a bit tasteless.

For a story that is usually written in the reverse of aggressive vs. innocents, Beaton writes the story and characters well.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 or 10.

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December 23rd, 2014 – Christmas Dinner Artwork!

by on Dec.23, 2014, under Buddies, Cartooning, Friends

2014-1223-Piepers-Sammys

Had dinner last night with fellow cartoonist George Pieper and his wife Noreen at Sammy’s Italian Restaurant in Ocala, Florida. George nabbed a photo of me whipping up a painted ornament for them. Did you know the perfect paint for Santa’s suit is spaghetti sauce?

 

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December 23rd, 2014 – Christmas stop in Ocala!

by on Dec.23, 2014, under Cartooning, Friends

2014-1223-RobinReaves-Christmas-Combo  

Dropped this off to my pal Robin in Ocala. She being a science fiction fan gave me the rare opportunity to draw a Yuletide intergalactic scene!

The drawing was to also answer the age old question: Does Santa wear his space helmet with his beard in or out? Space air does wonders for Santa’s beard!

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December 18th, 2014 – Book: ‘A Rocky Mountain Christmas’ by William W. Johnstone.

by on Dec.22, 2014, under Books

A Rocky Mountain Christmas (Christmas, #2)A Rocky Mountain Christmas by William W. Johnstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great addition to the Johnstone Clan cadre of western books. Well laid out story with well defined characters and a tight match to the title. Plenty or action, romance and fun.

This second entry to the Christmas series is head and shoulders better than the first in the series. The characters are consistent with other series with the same characters. The writing is far sharper. The story, despite the complexity, is clear. The conclusion very satisfying.

My only quibble is some dialogue that better reflects 2012than 1890s and at times the romance part gets a bit soppy and takes away from consistency.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 9 out of 10

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December 15th, 2014 – Book: ‘Being George Washington’ by Glenn Beck

by on Dec.15, 2014, under Books

Being George WashingtonBeing George Washington by Glenn Beck

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have many reasons why I should support this book. Glenn Beck and I hold a great deal of the same beliefs involving our government and politics is just one. I’ve been involved with the program involving my editorial cartoons since 2001. I could write much, much more. Despite all this,I really can’t recommend this book.

The intent is noble and a great idea for a book and for people to practice-to be like George Washington. If only the book focused on that goal and not wandered off into so many other directions. Seems the idea of the book was to provide supporting reasons as to why George Washington should be a model to follow. Instead there are Gore Vidal turns of recreating the world around Washington in various snippets of Washington’s life. Seems to me, the historical points were badly selected. Each is more of reflection than of action, thus written more from a viewpoint of opinion than actual historical documentation. If only the reflection could have been better tied to the actions and then results of Washington’s decisions. That would have made the history more thorough and better illustrate not only Washington’s mindsets but also the results.

Worse, the historical vignettes are badly written. Silly melodramatic phrasing really stands out. That can be a trap of interspersing fiction with fact. Bad fiction really stands out. I’d suggest mining the William Johnstone ghost writers. Most are excellent at writing historical action and weave in the reasons why and results.

The layout of the book is very confusing. There’s too much jumping around in time, which further gets in the way of supporting the goal of the book. A real plus is the effort to state the date of occurances. Way too many current histories rarely state the year or place in time.

The best part is the end chapter that works to point by point layout the importance of Washignton’s final address. What’s confounding is that the final address is not even included in the book. What follows the last chapter Is an odd glossary, list of people in Washington’s life and a chronology. Seems to me the last three could have been dropped in favor of the final address.

I believe the bookis a result of having too many cooks in the kitchen, pitching in too many ingredients and forgetting what entrée the team was trying to make.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 of 10.

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December 13th, 2014 – Christmas Carticatures in Tallahassee!

by on Dec.13, 2014, under What's New?

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December 10th, 2014 – A Little Clown Music

by on Dec.10, 2014, under Cartooning

2014-1210-Music

Here’s a bit of an editorial cartoon I’m working on. Since I share nothing political here, thought I would share a small part of one.

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