Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Escape from the Deep

Escape from the Deep by Alex Kershaw. This is a WWII non-ficiton. Kershaw relates the extraordinary WWII heroism of the crew of the USS Tang. This was the deadliest submarine operating in the Pacific theater. The Tang's captain, Cmdr. Richard O'Kane, was offered the opportunity to operate alone in the dangerous Formosa Strait. On his final tour, the boat's crew sank 13 ships on one of the most destructive patrols of the war. But the last torpedo malfunctioned and circled back and slammed into the Tang. The rogue torpedo killed half the crew instantly and sunk the sub in approximately 180 feet of water. The explosion threw O'Kane and several others into the ocean, but most of the rest were trapped below; only nine of 87 survived. The first challenge surviving a rogue torpedo. The second, how to escape from the sub in 180 feet of water. Several managed to escape the sub. The third major challenge, surviving the dangerous water. The final bit of bad luck- when they were picked up, it was by a Japanese patrol boat and taken to a POW camp, tortured and starved. O'Kane, who earned the Medal of Honor, weighed only 88 pounds when liberated. The author relys on interviews with survivors and oral histories. While the book is a compelling story, it is not an academic or historical record of the times and events. It is a story worth reading.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review: The Devil's Eye

The Devil's Eye is by Jack McDevitt. It is listed as a Science Fiction novel. But, the majority of the book reads like a standard mystery novel. An antique dealer and his sidekick are returning from vacation when they receive a dire message from a famous horror writer. In addition to the message, the writer has transferred a large sum of money to the antique dealer. When they go to visit the writer, they are told that the writer has chosen to have her brain's memory erased and given a new life: a futuristic witness protection program. These events cause the antique dealer and sidekick to traverse the universe in search of clues and to solve the mystery. This writer has received some excellent reviews. I found the book to be very readable. However, the book has it share of faults. The characters are not well developed. Not only does the story not have either a sci-fi or mystery strong suit, the story line is just not that plausible. The latter part of the novel (when things get wrapped up) is the sci-f i portion. This section is weak and the story comes to a neat and tidy finish all too easily and predictably.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Review: Sail

Sail, by James Patterson. This was my second James Patterson novel. This book is about a widowed and now remarried mother who wants to take her kids on a sailing trip so that the family can bond/reconnect/etc. The new husband has other plans. Patterson must not think that his readers have an attention span. Each chapter is only one to three pages long.
The book is a page turner. However, it is not really a clever murder mystery. Reading this book is like eating sponge cake. Not very satisfying.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So, yesterday I head to my usual neighborhood bar for happy hour. I meet the usual miscreants (god, I love this word) and suspects. One gin (bourbon in the winter, gin in the summer) later, I am engaged in a conversation with a girl who is sitting two stools down from me. Let’s call her Ms. R. She is pretty but chubby. She says that she has been through Katrina but is here to take care of her ailing dad. She claims to be local but cannot corroborate any local stories or landmarks. She is working hard to engage me, but I am being aloof without being rude. My antenna is up; does she have issues beyond the usual? In short, I would really rather not be engaged in a conversation with her.

Just then, a hot blonde sits down next to R. Think about an older version of Grace Kelly in Rear Window. Smart, elegant, sporty, well coifed, and nice body. My natural rhythms of conversation and flirting take over. I am now talking and engaged with the blond with Ms. R sitting between us. R asks if I would like to change seats. I decline saying that I am fine right where I am. I am about to ask the blond for her card (everyone at this bar has cards). Then, I remember David Mamet.

David Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. Several years ago, they gave David the Marcel Proust”questionnaire” (think Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio). To the question, what is the quality you most admire in a women? He responded: The quality I most admire in a woman is kindness. And that they should look good in blue jeans. I have been thinking a lot about this answer lately. I have tended to date attractive women but they have all not been kind. This is not to suggest that they were mean. Because I believe kindness is a positive action oriented trait. I can’t help but look at attractive women, but I have started to focus on the “natural” kindness of a person. I am trying to decipher that quality in a person sooner rather than later. There were several questions and answers that led me to decide that this blond was not naturally kind. I decided I would not ask for her card.

I paid the check. The regular bartender touched me up. As I was saying my goodbyes, the blond reached into her purse and gave me her card and asked me to email her with my contact information.