Rob's Blog

Tag: book

Book: ‘The Unimportance Of Being Oscar’ by Oscar Levant.

by on Apr.06, 2016, under Books

The Unimportance Of Being OscarThe Unimportance Of Being Oscar by Oscar Levant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A huge lot of fun is this volume of Oscar Levant’s memories of his life.

Whether the many stories and one liners are true or not is whether you can believe a person who has been in and out of mental institutions and ensconced in pharmaceuticals can have reliable memories to pick through. Nevertheless, the stories are very good and extremely readable.

The most important thing to know if one wishes to read this book are, at least, 75% of the people mentioned throughout. Otherwise a reader will have no appreciation or understanding of the context, humor and importance of what is included. The time frame is from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The book is also hardly organized at all. Of what I know of Levant, this well reflected his thought process. There is an invaluable index.

A personal note: I’ve been looking for this book for decades. The day I came across it, I started reading – as I drove away from the place I found it! After the death of my father a bit over a month ago, I know the Snuffy Smith phrase, “Time’s a’wastin’!” is to live by.

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

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Me at SpringsFest 2016 as Swampy’s Florida! – March 20th, 2016

by on Mar.20, 2016, under Cartooning, Swampy's Florida

Had a blast today “signing” (drawing in) Swampy’s Florida books during the Florida SpringsFest. Here are a few photos. The stories behind most of the photos can be found on the Swampy’s Florida page.

2016-0320-SpringsFest-01 2016-0320-SpringsFest-02 2016-0320-SpringsFest-03 2016-0320-SpringsFest-04

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What a father sets aside – March 2nd, 2016

by on Mar.02, 2016, under Cartooning


Interesting what a father sets aside. Found a few decades of my artwork in a box of his. Newspaper art, comics strips, advertising pieces, comic books and personal artwork.

Spent weekend moving my father’s things to my house. Great thanks to brother Jeff Smith, his friend Steve and old pal James Goddard for the enormous amount of help! James even found a 40th birthday comic book I had done for him and his twin brother.

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Book: ‘Top Producer’ by Norb Vonnegut – January 15th, 2016

by on Jan.15, 2016, under Books

Top Producer: A NovelTop Producer: A Novel by Norb Vonnegut
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Norb is light years away in mindset from family member Kurt Vonnegut, of who I know too much. ‘Top Producer’ is a top producer of detailed, yet understandable, words of how Wall Street works. To tie such a complex subject in with an involved case of murcer is more than admirable.

However, this book is struck by what I find in the bulk of contemporary novels: Massive excess. For me a quarter of this book could be cut loose and work so much better. Vonneguts asides of bicycling and food and over focus of a victim is, at times, ridiculous. Asides should be a paragraph or two. Not pages and pages.

With all of the excess a reader will learn far more than needed of each character. A better writer could have scaled the character development down to far, far fewer words. The settings are very well depicted. Excess here may have helped a bit.

Still this is a very good book with a rather simple mystery that is decked out in Wall street trimmings.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘The Coconut Killings’ by Patricia Moyes

by on Jan.10, 2016, under Books

The Coconut KillingsThe Coconut Killings by Patricia Moyes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here is another Tibbetts tale with massive holes. Despite an otherwise good story, the holes in the novel cannot be ignored. The worse is the use of a machete on a human with no apparent problem of the resulting blood being everywhere after the action. Apparently this was a clean machete murder. Seems Moyes didn’t learn about what happens when violently hacking a machete. She did learn about how it should have been done.

This problem makes the rest of the book impossible. Seems to me Moyes had an ending in mind, built and outline and then filled in the blanks. This would explain how few seem concerned about the violence of the murder involved and what happens later. Especially the Tibbetts, who are not even on their home turf. Moyes writes Henry Tibbett as nearly a superman who barges around with no fear of death and flies long distances in record time.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Countdown for Agriculture’ by Henry F. Swanson – December 31st, 2015

by on Dec.31, 2015, under Books

Countdown for AgricultureCountdown for Agriculture by Henry F. Swanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an exceptional book of agriculture, Orange County and Florida history. Henry Swanson has laid out extensive, well-written and thorough history of the all facets of the agriculture business in Orange County. He even get into the public policy process and who has been involved. It’s an amazing work.

I’ve used this book for 30 years for reference. This is the first time, I believe, I’ve read the entire book cover to cover. I’ve always recommended it and now do so even stronger. Unfortunately the book is way out of print and hard to find.

I recommend this book. 10 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote – December 15th, 2015

by on Dec.15, 2015, under Books

Breakfast At Tiffany'sBreakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here’s a case where the film is far, far, far better than what Capote wrote. Much of the story is in the film. The film chose to end than Capote’s choice to meander off. Though ‘Holly Golightly’ is well written, the rest of the characters are more sketchy than not. ‘Doc’ is well written but walks in and out again. What a disappointment!

The other stories are much the same of Capote rambling on and on and on with no clear end in sight. Not surprisingly, none really end.

There are many clever asides and observances. Maybe Capote should have written one liners instead.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend the book. 4 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Fear in a Desert Town’ by Roger Fuller

by on Dec.11, 2015, under Books

Fear in a Desert townFear in a Desert Town by Roger Fuller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Fuller” kicks off this entry in his various TV series adaptions with a perfect portrayal of paranoia of someone being sought. After the first few pages you’ll look over your own shoulder to see who’s watching. This all a half century before the digital eyes that watch us all now.

Beyond the excellent job of literally forming Dr. Richard Kimble, “Fuller” continues, what I’ve read in his other books, packing a packed story in 155 pages. Again, I wonder, why can’t this be done today????

The writing is direct and strong, as are the characters. I really like his depiction of a little boy caught in the web.

Before I wrote this I thought I’d track down the episode this book is based. Here is just another example of the book far outshining the filmed version. It’s almost startling at how different the two are. Same story with the same characters. Just with that “Fuller” touch added in.

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

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Book: ‘All the Silent Voices’ by Roger Fuller (Don Tracy) – December 8th, 2015

by on Dec.08, 2015, under Books

All the Silent Voices (The Defenders)All the Silent Voices by Don Tracy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow! Author Fuller (Don Tracy) makes full use of the faux moniker. This is definitely a book Fuller with story than most books 100 times the size. This entry by “Fuller” is very well crafted and well written in story and characters.

One problem with this book is with a bit of a side story that dovetails later in the book. A character that is clearly written as being in the mountains of upstate Pennsylvania, I checked three times, is written as a Foghorn Leghorn backwoods Southern stereotype. I’ve met hundreds from upstate Pennsylvania in the mountains. None spoke with a Southern accent. It would be trivial but for how “Fuller” writes the character in a more than malicious way. The intent is clear. The result is extremely disappointing.

There is something else and that is the described very, very, very wealthy main character Tasso struggling with the abortion issue. She is written as willing to destroy her family, her husband’s business and all else in her wake to meet her goal. BUT when considering doing a procedure that she could VOLUNTEER to do – THAT is discarded instantly. That take makes the rest of the book frivolous.

I do like how the main “Defender” Preston is written with a last line to make all think.

Despite a complicated and very well written book, the setbacks really mine the entirety, so…

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘Burke’s Law: Who Killed Madcap Millicent?’ by Roger Fuller – December 3rd, 2015

by on Dec.03, 2015, under Books

Who Killed Madcap Millicent?Who Killed Madcap Millicent? by Roger Fuller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did my best to put out of mind Gene Berry’s Amos Burke, but his voice fit so well with Fuller’s writing, that he stayed throughout. Thus revealing the fine job Fuller did re-creating the televised character to novel form. That is Fuller’s specialty, turning that on film to written novels. This book is an example at his great ability and success.

This story is very good and entirely misses the nasty trappings of the contemporary novels of excessive writing and lack of editing. The story is very tight, yet leaving a vast cast of characters and a very nice mystery. Though, I’m usually figuring out the end early, here i did not. This done without various typical literary devices as twists and shell games. This story involves a set of quintuplets. Most mystery writers would use this to confuse the reader. Not in this case, which makes the ending that much better.

The characters are well written, with a few exceptions. Unfortunately the exceptions seem to be the regular cast, with exception of Amos Burke. Burke’s driver and other of the police force are lightly touched upon, then left to the imagination. The settings are also loosely defined.

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

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Book: ‘There Was an Old Woman’ by Ellery Queen – December 1st, 2015

by on Dec.01, 2015, under Books

There Was an Old WomanThere Was an Old Woman by Ellery Queen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It was a couple dozen pages in that I knew I was in trouble. This Queen “mystery” is an unfortunate one where it’s clear the author’s knew the ending and then forced the poor constructed story.

There really is no excuse for how bad this is. Something happens very early that the Queen character would never have missed. Of course, that oversight was what the authors had to use to continue the story. Then a series of characters act as if police procedure is determined by the public. Again all to build the story. The worse part is that it’s do damned obvious. How did the duo, known as Ellery Queen, let this happen. Why did an editor not flag it. Sounds like an issue of speeding a contracted book out.

If you can view this more as a fairy tale, which isn’t hard once into the contents, then this book has some very distinct characters. Queen et al of the regular cast are written per usual with the exception that they are otherwise entirely inept in this book.

This really comes down to the horrible , obvious ending that is written as if Queen was a brilliant genius. Certainly this is the worse book I’ve read in the series.

Nevertheless, if all could be ignored, the writing is good…

Bottom line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of ten points.

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