Rob's Blog

Tag: Florida book

Inktober #9 – I’m Drawing Osprey in Downtown Orlando 1867!

by on Oct.09, 2017, under Cartooning

#Inktober #8 –

Mike Clark requested:
“​Osprey pulling a bass out of Lake Ivanhoe with a downtown Orlando backdrop”
Above Officer Coopersmith apprehends the vile bank robber, Dooley Monahan, out of Lake Ivanhoe a mile north of Downtown Orlando.
It’s little known that, Orlando’s greatest police chief, Robert Chewning in 1967 secretly assembled a wildlife arm of the police force. More and more critters across Florida were breaking laws of all sizes. Something had to be done. Upon becoming Chief, Chewning recruited his secret critter task force to rid the streets of the animal crime wave. During his tenure crimes by wildlife dropped 97%!
This was such a secret group that, I don’t believe, even Grace Ann Wendorff Chewning knew about it! And she knows everything! 🙂
The 1967 view is from the more southernly shore of Lake Ivanhoe just before the, then, new Interstate 4, looking easterly with the OUC building in the background. The Armory is in the background on the right hand side.



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Me #Cartoon ing a yellow-bellied slider! – April 29th, 2016

by on Apr.29, 2016, under Cartooning

Today been working on a new character for the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. Bouncing back and forth we got the yellow-bellied slider just where we want him! Now to create the book that he’s in!
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Ocklawaha Painting in Process! – March 22nd, 2016

by on Mar.22, 2016, under Illusration


Thought I would post an update to the painting I’m working on. Computer still extremely clunky. Freezing about every half hour. A bit hard right now to post as I usually do.
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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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November 9th, 2015 – ‘Apopka’ by the Apopka Historical Society

by on Nov.09, 2015, under Books

Apopka (Images of America: Florida)Apopka by Apopka Historical Society
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There is so little written that entirely encompasses northwest Orange County and here’s one of the few books that attempts to cover it. The Apopka Historical Society took this project on and the best source to gather images and history to do it. It is constrained by the limits Arcadia typically has for their massive series of photo histories. However, the Apopka Historical Society dropped the ball despite the opportunity.

The book opens with a nod of making use of Jerrell Shofner’s book as a main backbone for research. Seems that would lead to an outstanding presentation. What ends up happening is to mush self observance by the Society in putting the book together.

The book is full of the typical layout of an Arcadia book, with history generally covered from the 1800 to present. I wish they had paid more attention to Shofner’s attention to detail and historical layout. Instead all is way too simply brushed over. So mush that could have been written isn’t and there are way too many winks and nods to inside jokes apparently presented.

It’s nice to know that the Apopka Historical Society knows itself so well to pepper the book with secret messages to others, but I would have hoped that there was more a drive to present the history as much as possible and less about self awareness.

That leads to the worse part of this book – The last 4th of the book is full of very recent photographs about those living, at the time of publication, and simple sentences of who they are. How on earth is former State Senator Henry Land only written about in a way i just did in this sentence without listing his accomplishments in office and so much else he and the Land family did is lost to me.

This really falls on Arcadia that lets folks publish pretty much whatever they want with little to no involvement due to the cheap reproduction involved. An editor could have flagged the problems.

There are good photos and some memorabilia shown and that is the only real benefit of this book. For that I bring this up to two stars. Otherwise…

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 2 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘The Story Pole’ by Sherman Yeary – October 7th, 2015

by on Oct.07, 2015, under Books

The Story PoleThe Story Pole by Sherman Yeary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For what is basically a self published book, this is excellent. Yeary writes very well. The focus is steady and the book is broken into chapters to help that.

There are some excellent photos included that really help illustrate much written.

I really liked Yeary’s description of growing up in 1920s-30s in a point by point way that is readable and very educating. Wish Rawlings and most others could so clearly present early life in a rural setting.

For someone just recording his history, Yeary does an outstanding job of starting at a point in life and building to the next turn, which becomes another chapter. Too many best selling author’s books get published without a cogent reason for a chapter break.

Probably the worst part of the book is the cover, as can be seen above. There is also not a map in the book. If the reader does not know Ocala, they will be lost.

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

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Book: ‘Citra – Home of the Pineapple Orange’ by Faye Perry Melton – October 4th, 2015

by on Oct.04, 2015, under Books

Citra - Home of the Pineapple OrangeCitra – Home of the Pineapple Orange by Faye Perry Melton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Considering there is likely never to be a specific book about the history of the little community of Citra, this book is a Godsend. It has a ton of information for a shorter book. Lots of photos and documents copied in it.

Due to the rarity of Citra history, I really can’t complain about the mish mash approach to laying this book out. There are also hard to see reproductions and various typography used.

The history is well written and I like how each chapter-type covers specific points of Citra history.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of 10 points.

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September 27th, 2015 – Book: ‘Eternal Spring’ by Richard Martin.

by on Sep.27, 2015, under Books

Eternal Spring- Man's 10,000 Years of History at Florida's Silver SpringsEternal Spring- Man’s 10,000 Years of History at Florida’s Silver Springs by Richard A. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third or fourth book I’ve read of Richard Martin’s. It’s been years since I’ve read his work, but this is clearly head and shoulders above the other books.

This book is superior to so many histories in it’s layout, writing, organization and even images. Martin clearly lays out the early the vast history of the area that includes Silver Springs State Park. At the time of the books publication, 1966, the park area was still privately owned and not part of the state park system as occurred October 1st, 2013.

There is a lenthy list of fish & plants to be found. Much about indians and development of a multi-level attraction.

I will quibble with the amount of writing that is outside the purview of the subject. Martin leaves the tracks at times as he chronicles indians all over Florida, seemingly just because he’s listing indians. Instead fleshing out more in the lives of the indians in the area would have been more germane.

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

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August 12th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Most of Everything: The Story of Miami Beach’ by Harold Mehling

by on Aug.12, 2015, under Books, Florida History!

The Most of Everything: The Story of Miami BeachThe Most of Everything: The Story of Miami Beach by Harold Mehling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was soaring to ten stars until the last couple of chapters diverted into an emotional wandering into the author’s view of prejudice of the Jewish community.

This book rockets off with humor and a great storytelling style as it unfolds the history of northeastern Dade County. Lots of flourishing prose of development pros and cons, results and dreams of the future. Mobsters, millionaires, drunks and writers are all covered in an entertaining and informed way that can only leave a reader satisfied. I with more books took this tact in history writing.

Then things go awry as author Mehling takes two chapters to detail his feelings about Jewish prejudice with no reference of any other prejudices in the area, such as to blacks, the poor or anyone else. Some of what he writes are neat anecdotes. But otherwise, he presents a slim case as to what was going on at the time and detailed specifics as he does throughout the rest of the book. He seems to be emotionally driven enough and certainly capable of writing a separate book that might have covered the subject of Jews in South Florida. As someone who has worked involving history of Jews in Florida, a volume like that would have been welcome.

Despite his uneven chapters of prejudice, the rest of the book is dynamte. So…

I recommend this book. 7 out of 10 points.

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July 29th, 2015 – Book: ‘The Expediter’ by David Hagberg

by on Jul.29, 2015, under Books

The Expediter (Kirk McGarvey, #13)The Expediter by David Hagberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Little did I know as I wandered into this book that the author lives in Florida and places his main character’s home in Sarasota. Though Sarasota is a mere backdrop for a far more involved story, it does place the book on my Florida shelf.

About the Florida setting: Hardly even a setting. It’s a hit and run with little description and no feeling that the author cared to expand further upon the glancing blow. Much like the rest of the book. There is a mention of the Sarasota airport but nothing of the interesting drive along 41 or any other road. Considering the circumstances of the character who arrives in Sarasota, his point of view of that area would have been very interesting. The visiting character seems not to care or aware of where he is. That is the problem with this entire book.

I guess author Hagberg is getting tired of the McGarvey series after 12 books and strung his characters, a see-through plot unto a simple stage with cardboard backdrop. The book starts at an interesting level and slowly comes apart along the way. Seems to me it’s pretty obvious early on who certain bad guys are and even why they are motivated to their actions. With that realized the only fun is a cat and mouse game between McGarvey and the bad guys for a few hundred pages. A bit long for cat and mouse, knowing how likely all will end. Another contemporary book that needed severe editing. If a writer is going to assemble a simple plot, best make the book far shorter.

All of the characters are typical of their rolls. There is some depth written for some, while others are handled with a few sentences here and there. Overall, it’s all too familiar. I really didn’t like how family played a part in this. It’s too simple a plot device.

This was my first Hagberg book. I best go back and try earlier ones hoping for better results and far more depth.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 5 of 10 points.

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July 20th, 2015 – Book: ‘M*A*S*H Goes to Miami’ by Richard Hooker & William Butterworth.

by on Jul.20, 2015, under Books

Mash Goes to MiamiMash Goes to Miami by Richard Hooker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The most frustrating part of this book is the less-than last 50 pages that take place in Florida with the main characters! This book should be titled: MASH Travels the Globe. The usual large bundle of characters are all over the place in the typical Butterworth fashion in this series. All traveling from Maine to Paris to Alaska to New Orleans, etc. This book should not have the name Miami in it.

The only use of a Miami setting is a pit stop at the Miami International Airport, something about a Catholic church early on and scenes in a hotel along Miami Beach that is loosely compared to The Fontainbleu.

The entire cover is deceiving. This is not a continuation of the MASH TV series. Butterworth is following the lead of Hooker and using those characters, plus plenty more. The cover art shows the characters in fatigues and indicates the gang is going to “invade unwary Miami”. None of which happens. It’s not atypical to have a cover not match the interior story. Considering the promises of “The smash hit TV series MASH Goes to Miami” and how far the story is from Miami, this is particularly bad packaging.

The writing is typical of the series. Butterworth is chug-a-lugging books at this point and the non-ending elongated names of everything and heavy line-by-line repetition are the filler. The writing is very funny and fun. There’s not much of a story, though the makings of a few are present. It’s all more of a travelogue. Next time I see author Tim Dorsey, I must ask him how much the Butterworth books influenced him.

The characters are not only well written, but written over and over and over again. I remember now why I had trouble getting through these three decades ago.

I believe this is my second time reading this entry in the series. Some 35 years ago I read most of the series. The trouble with the mutli-named everything is that after all these years, the books all merge together in my head. Reading this brought that to my attention.

Poking around about named authors, Richard Hooker and William Butterworth, I was surprised to learn Hooker didn’t write the continuing series and Butterworth is multiple people! Shocked to learn Butterworth is also W.E.B. Griffin! I’ve always had fond memories of the MASH series. Now I have to try a “Griffin” book, something I’ve put off due to their length and size of series. Curious about the use of humor and strung together names.

I really like the humor and the writing and the characters. It’s plotting that’s a problem. Also, many today would likely despise the 4 or 5 names everything and body has.

Despite all that, the book is very funny and a genre vanishing from the bookshelves, so…
Bottom line: I recommend this book: 5 of 10 points.

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