Rob's Blog

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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Book: Ordeal of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone – February 21st, 2017

by on Feb.21, 2017, under Books

Ordeal of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #17)Ordeal of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of the better stories of the whole Johnstone Clan corral of books. The writing, though, is very good at times, then weak and then horrible. i wonder how many hands were in writing this book.

Basically this book is a variation of many of the previous Smoke Jensen novels combined into one. This one combining herding cattle, kidnapping, taking over a town indians, etc. All of which is a retread of the other books with the same results – and i don’t mean just gunfighting. The town banker, the indian interaction, the reasons for robbery, herding cattle were all too familiar to me as i read the Jensen series in order. Much has been repeated before, but this time it is all too much of the same.

Another problem i had was marked inconsistency in this part of the series. This one specifically stumbles involving the weird way the Johnstone Clan has handled Jensen’s children, adopted children and children mentioned that seem to be lost forever.

The vast array of characters are, as always, well done. The settings are lacking in this one. Especially odd as so much territory is covered.

Of course, the repetition is to me and not readers who have not taken in about 75 of the Johnstone books. It is a good story with it’s troubles but…

Bottom line: I recommend this book: 6 out of 10 points.

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Death of Al Jarreau – February 12th, 2017

by on Feb.12, 2017, under Sketchbook

Besides my love of the music of Sinatra, Dean, Sam, Steve & Eydie and that genre, i do have a bit of contemporary music I love, too. One of those is the music of Al Jarreau. I always loved the scat of Fitzgerald and Torme and Jarreau was a new dimension. It was late in high school while working the caricature thing that i first heard ‘Roof Garden’. I remember buying his ‘Breaking Away’, one of the very few contemporary albums I’ve ever bought, at the Interstate Mall in Altamonte Springs, Florida. I’d had trouble finding it anywhere.
Along with purchasing his albums, I also attended many of his live performances. The first i attended also happened to be one of the first events at the newly opened Orange County Convention Center back around 1983. I still have a Jarreau shirt from one of his live concerts in the ’80s I attended.
About ten years ago Jarreau was the headliner of the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities in Eatonville, Florida. It was there that i sketched during the event and was fortunate that Jarreau signed it. It was the last i saw him in a concert.
He was a show all to himself. His movement and his whole soul was the music as much as what his vocal cords would provide. I recall he would perform at least one piece with no plugged in gadgets at all. The a cappella performance really showcased so much of the entertainer he was.






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ROBbing a Few Minutes! – Christmas in February & the healthy side of Little Debbies!

by on Jan.16, 2017, under What's New?

In a jam and oranges, apples, bananas and Little Debbies. The Shadow knows! Hahahahha… So does Fu Manchu and the Hardy Boys!

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Book: ‘The Sinister Sign Post’ by Franklin W. Dixon – January 16th, 2017

by on Jan.16, 2017, under Books

The Sinister Sign Post (Hardy Boys, #15)The Sinister Sign Post by Franklin W. Dixon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up to read after i read a copy of The Shadow series i had found a few days before to compare the two, as both were written around the same time. There is, indeed, a similarity of style and mood of the two books. Though The Mox edition of The Shadow is surely darker while The hardy Boys is much lighter. Both do have the courtesy of the characters and the anger of the bad guys with little use of violence. Very interesting to compare the two.

This 15th outing of The Hardy Boys is the first, to my memory, that i have ever read. It’s a nice little mystery with plenty of action. The writing is very, very good as is the plotting. It’s a tricky book to write as the characters are out in the country and the setting is very important. As are the locations of things like the sign post. Dixon does an excellent job of moving the characters around from place to place with a feeling of movement and the ease and difficulty, thereof.

This book is better handled and written for an adult than most “adult” books today, which seem to me to be written for young people adding bad language and sex. I might just try more of these Hardy Boys books.

The clinker is the near non-existence of serious violence. The stakes are extremely high for the bad guys involving what they are doing. Yet, they don’t seem to mind witnesses and merely tie up those who can finger them. More likely the bad guys would make the witnesses disappear. This is the element written for younger folks. Funny hoe today the direct opposite occurs as parents willingly push very violent video games to the same age group this book is for. Seems we were much smarter in the 1930s.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 8 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘The Widow’s Strike’ by Brad Taylor

by on Jan.15, 2017, under Books

The Widow's Strike (Pike Logan, #4)The Widow’s Strike by Brad Taylor
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the fourth Taylor book I’ve read and the hardest to get through. I had a great deal of trouble getting hooked into the story and found myself realizing lots of parts that should have been edited out.

In the past six months I’ve only read two other books of similar subject and length, both by John Gilstrap. Otherwise, besides non-fiction, i’ve eaten through a few dozen well crafted, tightly written 150 page mysteries, thrillers, etc. This book could’ve been one of those. I believe this book could’ve been three of them. This Taylor novel is over laden with more than needed about about a dozen characters. All the while leaving settings written sparsely.

The bigger trouble i was having was a lot of repetition I had read in Taylor and other’s books. Gilstrap constructed a similar story. Though his was preposterous, it was a better book. The opening to Gilstrap’s version of a virus on the loose is far more frightening than Taylor’s version. Of the many of these international intrigue books i’ve read, this is the first i’ve read that seemed to be repetitive in theme and parts.

The Florida part: On page 402 the story moves to Florida. Taylor brushes past the area of Brevard County he’s placed his characters. A further example of only providing simple settings through out the book. His lack of knowledge of the area is shown as he refers to the area as having “third-tier vacation rentals and cheap surf shops”. Ron Jon’s, the only store mentioned in the book, has few cheap anything. His writing of Port Canaveral seems he looked at a map than actually there. There’s a lot to play with around the Port and he could’ve really added something more, and different to the book.

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

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Cartooning class I taught today… – January 12th, 2017

by on Jan.12, 2017, under Cartooning

Taught a cartooning creativity class earlier today. I meant to get a photo of the drawing, hidden back there, i created from the answers i got from this small group, but lack of sleep got the best of me…in many ways today. 🙂

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Robbing a Few Minutes! – #3, Volume 1 – January 6th, 2017

by on Jan.09, 2017, under Florida Outdoors!

Rob visits the site of the annual re-enactment of the ambush of Francis Dade December 29th, 1835 and still has problems with the moon!

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Book:’Dividend on Death’ by Brett Halliday – January 2nd, 2017

by on Jan.02, 2017, under Books

Dividend on Death (Mike Shayne #1)Dividend on Death by Brett Halliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pretty sure I’d read this before, but after reading it, I’m not so sure. I have multiple copies of this book from over decades and can’t find a marking that i had read it. The best thing about Goodreads is keeping a reader straight about their book activities.

This is the first of the Shayne series and, after having read a good 40 or more of them, this was the writer’s launch without a lot of the settings and characters that would later populate the series. This is also a rocky story. Far less sleek than later Shayne books written by Dresser. After Dresser the series really goes down hill. This is far better than any of those.

Shayne, as a character, is far less developed as in future books. A few of his characteristics were still to come. That makes him a bit harder to understand. The rest of the characters are well written. With Painter and Gentry nearly identical to their characters in future books. This book makes it real obvious why Dresser later added a newspaper reporter pal for Shayne.

The settings are also far more sparse. In other Shayne books, knowing Florida as well as i do, i could actually follow where Shayne was going on either side of the bridge.

Bottom line: I recommend this book! 8 out of 10 points.

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ROBbing a Few Minutes! – January 2nd, 2017

by on Jan.02, 2017, under What's New?

Welcoming in the 2017, remembering cartoonists Jack Davis & Duck Edwing and something about a horn.

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Book: #100 of 2016 -‘The Return Of A ‘Mad’ Look At Old Movies’ by Dick de Bartolo – December 30th, 2016

by on Dec.30, 2016, under Books

The Return Of A 'Mad' Look At Old MoviesThe Return Of A ‘Mad’ Look At Old Movies by Dick de Bartolo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My goal was to reach 100 books in 2016. Due to the death of my father, my own illness more than twice this past year and trying to produce 4 books, i fell waaaaay behind. As days remained in the year a friend joked i should read a MAD magazine Don Martin collection of cartoons to speed up to 100. I scoffed at first. Then I learned of the death of my friend, MAD magazine’s Duck Edwing on December 27th. Suddenly i realized I could rap up the year with a volume of Duck’s cartoons and a volume of another MAD cartoonist friend, Jack Davis, who died this past August. Maybe an odd catharsis, but very satisfying to revisit the work of two legends in cartooning.

I first had this book more than 40 years ago. As i actually stopped and read it cover to cover, i wonder if I ever actually did that. I have now. I know I’ve flipped through it and read parts of this and the first part of the series. Now i have multiple copies of the book and carry one with me wherever i go. This book and the work of cartoonist Jack Davis really propelled me into cartooning. I should also credit the hilarious writing of Dick deBartolo. The combo inspired me in so much of my early work and whenever i could get away with sequential storytelling like is in this book and MAD magazine.

It is not sentimentality that has me praise this book. It’s the outstanding illustrations and brilliant storytelling and dialogue of deBartolo. de Bartolo perfectly parodies and wide range of films in a hand full of pages. Each short story reflects a number of films in the genre reflected. Lots of details only a movie lover, like me, would pick up.

Younger people might get lost in this for the reason that they don’t know the films and over sensitive types might be offended by what they perceive as being not P.C. Sad so many of the young have censored themselves with a narrow minded approach to life. Their backward viewpoint is why this book is likely never to see reprint. Such is the controls of censorship.

Bottom line: i recommend this book. 10 out of 10 points.

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