kristen lo
Last week Diane and I flew to Jacksonville where Patrick rented an SUV and drove us to the Hampton Inn in St. Augustine. Diane and I thought going to Florida in February would be a warm holiday get-a-way. But no, the temperatures in Florida stayed in the 40s. People were walking around St. Augustine bundled up like Eskimos and wore gloves! I was comfortable in my Spring jacket.

My niece Kristen, an occupational therapist, married Harrison, an electrical engineer. They own a condo in St. Augustine. Nice ceremony, nice reception.

I would describe St. Augustine as “Quaint.” Plenty of little shops. Plenty for tourists to explore. I found two used bookstores. In Anaconda Books, I found a First Edition of Jack Vance’s Throy for $5. In Second Read Books, I found a Simon Green Nightside paperback I didn’t have and James Blaylock’s steam-punk novel, Homunculus .

If you’re looking for a nice vacation destination, I’d recommend St. Augustine, FL.


excellent cadavers
Alexander Stille’s Excellent Cadavers tells the story of two Sicilian magistrates–Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino–who attempted to prosecute members of the Mafia. Both men were assassinated in 1992. Falcone and Borsellino uncovered a pattern of corruption in the government that led to the Mafia. While reading Excellent Cadavers I was reminded of the same type of corruption by the drug lords on our continent. If you’re in the mood for a vivid history of crime and punishment and more crime, I highly recommend Excellent Cadavers. GRADE: A
Excellent Cadavers/3
Select Bibliography/413


I’m a fan of Cole Porter’s music so factor that into your opinion of this review. Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd star in this movie-bio. The music is great and this film features a bunch of artists: Natalie Cole, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Alantis Morissette, and Robbie Williams. For me, it’s all about the music. Special Features include commentary by the Director, Irwin Winkler, and the scriptwriter, Jay Cocks. I liked the “Making of De-Lovely” featurette. There are also “Deleted Scenes” and the original theatrical trailer included on this DVD. If you like this music, you’ll really enjoy this film. GRADE: B+

AND YET… By Christopher Hitchens

and yet
I’m a big fan of Christopher Hitchens. He was a gadfly who shifted political stances several times in his career. Some I agreed with, some I didn’t. But Hitchens was always a top-notch writer with something to say. His best collection is Auguably. This new collection, And Yet… collects a lot of dated material. Do you really want to read about the political hanky-panky in Ohio during the 2004 election? The best of the essays in And Yet… focus more on literature. I really liked “Charles Dickens Inner Child,” “G.K. Chesterton: The Reactionary,” and “The Importance of Being Orwell.” Just terrific essays! I enjoyed Hitchens’s views on Edmund Wilson, Paul Scott, and V. S. Naipaul. If you’re a Hitchens fan you’ll want to read this book. If you just want to read Hitchens very best work, I’d highly recommend Arguably. GRADE: B
Che Guevara : goodbye to all that
Orwell’s list
Orhan Pamuk : mind the gap
Bring on the mud
Ohio’s odd numbers
On becoming American
Mikhail Lermontov : a doomed young man
Salman Rushdie : Hobbes in the Himalayas
My Red-state odyssey
The turkey has landed
Bah, humbug
A.N. Wilson : downhill all the way
Ian Fleming : bottoms up
Power suits
Blood for no oil?
How uninviting
Look who’s cutting and running now
Oriana Fallaci and the art of the interview
Imperial follies
Clive James : the omnivore
Gertrude Bell : the woman who made Iraq
Physician, heal thyself
Edmund Wilson : literary companion
On the limits of self-improvement, part I : of vice and men
On the limits of self-improvement, part II : vice and versa
On the limits of self-improvement, part III : mission accomplished
Ayaan Hirsi Ali : the price of freedom
Arthur Schlesinger : the courtier
Paul Scott : Victoria’s secret
The case against Hillary Clinton
The tall tale of Tuzla
V.S. Naipaul : cruel and unusual
No regrets
Barack Obama : cool cat
The lovely stones
Edward M. Kennedy : redemption song
Engaging with Iran is like having sex with someone who hates you
Colin Powell : Powell valediction
Shut up about Armenians or we’ll hurt them again
Hezbollah’s progress
The politicians we deserve
Rosa Luxemburg : Red Rosa
Joan Didion : “Blue nights”
The true spirit of Christmas
Charles dickens’s inner child
G.K. Chesterton : the reactionary
The importance of being Orwell
What is patriotism?


The Carolina Panthers have what I believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. Denver has the best defense, but they haven’t seen a QB like Cam Newton. Peyton Manning looks like he’s on his last legs. The Vegas point-spread oscilates between 5 and 6 points. No matter. I think the Carolina Panthers will win this Super Bowl easily and beat the spread. Who do you think will win? And who picked Coldplay for the Half-time band? At least Beyonce will make a cameo appearance.


le road trip
A few weeks ago I read Vivian Swift’s first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam. You can read my review here. I was so delighted with Vivan Swift’s first book, I read her second book, Le Road Trip. Vivian, and her new husband James, travel to France to celebrate their marriage and to enjoy the country with the most tourists (71 million each year). Vivian is a seasoned traveler and you’ll find plenty of great travel tips in this book. She has a clever way of packing. Vivian knows her way around French restaurants and wine (only drink Bordeaux wines). Le Road Trip is a brilliant guide to traveling in Paris and the rest of France. Below, I’ve included a sample page. As you can see, Vivian provides plenty of eye-grabbing watercolors to illustrate her books. A book like this is a browser’s delight! GRADE: A
le road trip2


My sister in Arizona found a copy of THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON: A 35-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE edited by Terry Dowling with Richard Delap and Gil Lamont and sent it to me as a Christmas present. This 1200+ page tome presents the best of Ellison’s work. And, as usual, Ellison’s introductions and notes on his work grip you with their intensity. Harlan Ellison dominated the science fiction awards for years. The range of these stories is impressive. And the portrait of a young struggling writer slowly developing into a legendary figure will remain memorable. I came away from reading THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON wit renewed respect for the man and his work.
Table of Contents
Introduction : sublime rebel 1
Lagniappe 5
The sword of Parmagon 15
The Gloconda 21
The wilder one 27
The saga of Machine Gun Joe 29
Introduction to Glowworm 31
Glowworm 35
Life hutch 47
S.R.O. 59
Lonelyache 73
Punky and the Yale men 89
A prayer for no one’s enemy 113
Pulling hard time 131
In lonely lands 139
The time of the eye 145
Grail 153
I have no mouth, and I must scream 177
Corpse 191
The whimper of whipped dogs 199
The voice in the garden 219
Erotophobia 221
Mom 227
Ecowareness 239
The outpost undiscovered by tourists 241
Dept. of “what was the question?” dept 245
Dept. of “Trivial Pursuit” dept 247
Prince Myshkin, and hold the relish 251
The very last day of a good woman 261
Valerie : A true memoir 269
The other eye of Polyphemus 283
All the birds come home to roost 291
The tombs : an excerpt from Memos from purgatory 307
“Our little miss” 347
A love song for Jerry Falwell 355
Telltale tics and tremors 361
True love : groping for the Holy Grail 371
Adrift just off the Islets of Langerhans : latitude 38[degrees] 54’N, longitude 77[degrees] 00′ 13″W 391
The function of dream sleep 419
The sky is burning 447
The prowler in the city at the edge of the world 455
Along the scenic route 473
The song the zombie sang 483
Knox 495
With Virgil Oddum at the East Pole 509
From Alabamy, with hate 531
My father 543
My mother 549
Tired old man 557
Gopher in the gilly 567
Strange wine 573
The resurgence of Miss Ankle-Strap Wedgie 585
Flintlock : An unproduced teleplay 655
The man on the mushroom 735
Somehow, I don’t think we’re in Kansas, Toto 739
Face-down in Gloria Swanson’s swimming pool 755
Soldier 763
The night of delicate terrors 781
Shattered like a glass goblin 789
At the mouse circus 797
Free with this box! 809
Final shtick 817
One life, furnished in early poverty 827
Jeffty is five 841
Daniel White for the greater good 863
Neither your Jenny nor mine 873
Alive and well and on a friendless voyage 907
“Repent, harlequin!” said the Ticktockman 923
Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes 933
A boy and his dog 951
The deathbird 985
Paladin of the lost hour 1011
Soft monkey 1031
Mefisto in onyx 1043
Where I shall dwell in the next world 1089
The museum on Cyclops Avenue 1099
Objects of desire in the mirror are closer than they appear 1109
Man on spikes 1119
Introduction to “Tired old man” 1127
The man who rowed Christopher Columbus ashore 1131
The thick red moment 1151
The man who was heavily into revenge 1169
Driving in the spikes 1181
An edge in my voice, installment 55 1191
The streets, installment 1 1195
Xenogenesis 1199
Afterword 1237


silver screen fiend
Back in the Seventies when I was working on my doctorate at the Universality of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed a movie habit. Student film organizations showed movies (mostly foreign films) seemingly every night. Admission was a dollar. So I started going to movies almost every day for a year or so. I thought it might be a good way to meet girls, but I ended up being seduced by cinema.

Patton Oswalt, stand-up comic, spent four years watching a different film almost every day. He was addicted and spent a lot of time in the darkness of movie theaters all over the United States. What did Patton Aswalt learn about Life? Hard to say. If you’re in the mood for an occasionally funny romp through film references, you’ll enjoy this slim little book. The best part for me was the APPENDIX that logs all the movies Oswalt watched (and when and where). Are you a silver screen fiend? GRADE: B

MAPLECROFT By Cherie Priest

Lizzie Borden and H. P. Lovecraft! Cherie Priest takes this mash-up and produces a thrilling adventure in Maplecroft. Lizbeth Borden and her handicapped sister, Emma, live in a mansion on the outskirts of Fall River, Massachusetts. But they are under attack by vicious creatures that smell of the sea. Dr. Owen Seabury, Fall River’s physician, finds himself drawn into the weird circumstances that surround the Borden sisters. Residents of Fall River are being stricken by a strange illness that sends them into a murderous spree. If you enjoy the fear and dread of Lovecraft’s tales, you’ll enjoy this compelling story of dark forces and two women who fight against them. GRADE: B+


Michael Caine plays a retired composer/conductor. Harvey Keitel plays an 80-year-old movie director who is trying to make one last film that will be his “testament.” Both men are friends and are spending time at an exclusive spa in Switzerland. Caine is concerned about his daughter (played by Rachel Weisz). This is a film about aging and legacy. Geezers will find a lot to think about in this movie. GRADE: B