Rob's Blog

Book: ‘The Jewel That Was Ours’ by Colin Dexter – April 6th, 2017

by on Apr.06, 2017, under Books

The Jewel That Was Ours (Inspector Morse, #9)The Jewel That Was Ours by Colin Dexter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another wonderful mystery by Colin Dexter involving Inspector Morse, Lewis, Oxford and a string of suspects. This one with a more readable offshoots that might, or might not have something to do with the central mystery.

I like the usually setup for the mystery and how Morse, Lewis and all try to work out clues. As usual, great characters. The series of crimes that occurs also enhances the story as Dexter intermingles the situations involving all and the crimes and what is the truth. Lots and lots of guessing can be done by the reader, though the ending is likely to escape you.

One complaint would be Dexter’s depiction of Americans, which he didn’t have a good handle of involving the dialogue.

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

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Don Rickles – April 6th, 2017

by on Apr.06, 2017, under What's New?

I’m a huge fan of Don Rickles. Have been since I was a wee child. Got to see him a number of times live and will always be mesmerized by his improvisational abilities to link so many pieces and parts for such a long time. Just brilliant.
 
For some reason i ran Rickles clips last night while working. Looking forward, at the time, to his birthday, two days before mine. That won’t happen now, but, thankfully, so much of his work is still available to us today and forever.
 
I rarely, knowingly, missed a Rickles appearance on television. Surely I, at 11 years old, settled in for laughs during this Johnny Carson piece in 1974. Only to be bleary eyed in school the next morning. But caring the memories of laughter.

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I’ve been cartooning deer, gators and mice today! – April 5th, 2017

by on Apr.05, 2017, under Cartooning

Two are for one project for the 4th Annual Critter Trail 5K Run/Walk. The other is for Thursday’s Swampy’s Florida celebration. You can see the color version there.

I penciled these first and then inked with various brush pens and a Flair marker.

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Life Coaching Caricatures: Bill the Piano player & Painting Nancy! – April 2nd, 2017

by on Apr.05, 2017, under Caricatures, Illusration

I had the opportunity to meet Bill at an event near Spring hill & Weeki Wachee, Florida on Sunday. I met him as he played Stardust and a medley from The Phantom of the Opera. He complained that he missed notes. Sounded great to me. Especially for a fellow of 94 years. Bill drove a tractor trailer most of his career in Canada after his family moved him from England as a teen.

Here’s the watercolor illustration i did of 80 year young Nancy, the birthday girl, who was being honored at the party.

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Life coaching caricatures! in Tampa – June 2nd, 2017

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Caricatures

A few images of the life coaching caricatures I did at an event Saturday night in Tampa, Florida.

Back in February I figured I’d been posting too many of these event photos and figured I should hold off a bit before posting more. Well, a good 15 events later, here are some more.

The first photo is of Rhoda, who is 3 generations Native Floridian from Tampa in one side of family and 5 generations Native Floridian from around Monticello on the other side. I’m going to help her plan a family reunion near Orlando to see Orange County history and not have folks running off to the kiddie amusement parks.

The next image is of Rhoda’s husband who’s training ng as a boxer includes the 5th Street Gym in Miami. How about that, Tom Orr!

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Book: ‘A Dangerous Man’ by William W. Johnstone – April 2nd, 2017

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Books

A Dangerous Man: A Novel of William A Dangerous Man: A Novel of William “Wild Bill” Longley by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, i believe i have come across the best written of any – ANY – Johnstone Clan book I’ve read – around 70.

This is so good that this must be a new writer in the Johnstone stable. Certainly the most competent. Great plotting, terrific settings, excellent writing, wonderful characters. Unfortunately, due to it being part of the Johnstone Clan, it’s unlikely to be known any more than it is.

The best part of the writing of this book had so many hints of Steinbeck of the setting descriptions. Often i could feel the cold that whipped around. The creaking structure as a character walked. A lone dog trotting along a wagon in the slushy snow. Just wonderful additions, usually not found in a Johnstone book, that illuminate the entirety.

The story is also more complex with a lot to sink into. The bounty hunter, the killer, the store owner, the new Sheriff, the mysterious woman, a large dog and more mystery is combined and well written enough to draw a reader in. Seems the one before this one is just as good. i look forward to it.

Here’s a time i wish i knew who the actual author is. Likely will leave the Clan at some point and have to figure out if i can find the author again.

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

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Book: ‘Florida’s Power Structure’ by Lee Butcher – March 25th, 2017

by on Mar.25, 2017, under Books, Florida History!

Florida's Power StructureFlorida’s Power Structure by Lee Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Florida’s Power Structure’ is solidly planted from the perspective of the publication year, 1976, and those who published the book, pro-business, Florida Trend magazine. Thus tons are ignored. Specifically those pork barrel politicians who still had a strong hold on the direction of Florida. There is a half page mention, but otherwise ignored. Also ignored are the scandals and corruption of the banking community still emanating from the ’26-’28 crash in 1976. Though footnoted, little is examined of the corruption of scores of developers that was dynamically shifting the “Power Structure” in 1976.

Despite the author steering around reality, the overview of the selected “Power Structure”is very good with background of individuals and what they have accomplished. The entire state is well represented. Something collections, almost entirely magazine articles, like this tend not to do. The view point is almost entirely if you are trying to generate money, whether that happened or not, thus you are part of the “Power Structure”.

An important note is this book is the only books I know of that makes this kind of examination of the “Power Structure”, however limited, of the entire state of Florida with this kind of, though limited, depth. There are lots of lists, regional studies, biographies of power brokers, but none, that i can think of now, that is as comprehensive.

The writing is very simple and straight forward. With a very easy to understand layout of the book. To an extent, this book has a feel of a book of history for the primary school population.

Understanding this is a limited view….

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 5 out of 5 points.

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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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