Buffalo’s reputation for chicken wings and pizza is rivaled by foodies who refer to the city as Hot Dog Heaven. We have delicious Sahlen’s hot dogs and yummy Wardynski Natural/Sheep Casing Hot Dogs. You would think that I would be happy with those excellent choices, but when BJ’s Warehouse sent us a coupon for Nathan’s hot dogs, I figured I’d give them a try.

Compared to Sahlen’s and Wardynski’s hot dogs, Nathan’s has a more salty taste. During cooking, Sahlen’s and Wardynski’s hold their shape while Nathan’s casing split and caused the juices to run out of the hot dog. I’ll stick with Sahlen’s and Wardynski’s in the future. Do you have a favorite hot dog? GRADE: C


With the Stock Market plunging over a thousand points, interest rates going up, and a Recession on the horizon, this is a good time to think about money. William Bernstein, former neurologist and savvy investor, writes: “The name of the game is not to get rich, but rather to avoid dying poor. In fact, if you follow the advice in this book, I can guarantee you that you will not get fabulously wealthy. Rather, I’ve striven to simultaneously maximize your chances of a comfortable retirement and minimize your chances of living out your final years in poverty. I know of no more laudable or worthy investment goal.” (p.193)

Since many of us may have decades of Life ahead of us, making smart moves with our money makes all the difference between a comfy Retirement and Disaster. Bernstein shows how money works and how to hedge against unexpected calamities. I really enjoyed Bernstein’s writing style. Many finance books can be as dry as sand, but The Investor’s Manifesto is lively and clever. Bernstein’s examples are fun reading. If you want to tweak your investment strategy and budget for the long haul, The Investor’s Manifesto is the place to start. Are you ready for the Tough Times ahead? GRADE: A
Foreword ix
Preface xiii
Chapter 1 A Brief History of Financial Time 1
In the Beginning 2
Near-Death in Venice 8
The Incredible Shrinking Risk Premium 11
Summary 12
Chapter 2 The Nature of the Beast 13
Of Ravens and Returns 13
History versus Math 18
Mr. Gordon’s Curious Equation 25
Math Detail: The Discounted Dividend Model 29
Home Sweet Home? 35
Adventures in Equity 38
Math Detail: Risk 43
Throwing Dice with God 47
Gene Fama Looks for Angles and Finds None 49
Sandbagged by a Superstar 52
Jack Bogle Outfoxes the Suits 56
It Is Better to Be Lucky Than Smart 63
Bond Funds: A Flatter Playing Field 64
Summary 65
Chapter 3 The Nature of the Portfolio 69
Four Essential Preliminaries 71
The Asset Allocation Two-Step 74
Math Detail: Mean-Variance Analysis 83
With Luck, Zigs, and Zags 84
Chasing Rainbows 88
Summary 93
Chapter 4 The Enemy in the Mirror 95
Inner Demons 97
Behaving Badly 100
Bargain-Basement Psychotherapy 116
Summary 125
Chapter 5 Muggers and Worse 127
The World’s Largest Bad Neighborhood 128
The Fund Funhouse 135
Summary 142
Chapter 6 Building Your Portfolio 143
Financial Planning for a Lifetime: The Basics 143
Saving for Retirement: Nuts and Bolts 145
How to Save: Dollar Cost Averaging and Value Averaging 152
Four Investors, Four Plans 154
The Rebalancing Question 166
Math Detail: Rebalancing, Momentum, and Mean Reversion 169
Teach Your Children Well 172
Summary 174
Chapter 7 The Name of the Game 179
Investment Theory and History: The Short Course 180
The Portfolio Theory of Everything 181
We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us 181
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose 182
Fire When Ready 182
The Books You Need . . . Aged Like Fine Wine 185
Notes 188
Acknowledgments 193
About the Author 195
Index 196


John Constantine is a “blue-collar” occult investigator. Constantine lives with the knowledge that he sent a little girl to Hell because he arrograntly summoned a demon without taking precautions. In Constantine: City of Demons, Constantine’s friend Chas Chandler desperately asks Constantine to help save his daughter, Trish, who is in a demonically induced coma.

I’ve enjoyed these DC Animated features and Constantine: City of Demons is one of the best in the series. Constantine requires aid from the mysterious Nightmare Nurse, the enigmatic Queen of Angels, and the ancient Aztec God, Mictlantecuhtli, to confront his powerful demon opponent. “There’s always a price to pay,” Constantine tells Chas when Dark Magic is involved. He turns out to be right. GRADE: A-


In the aftermath of last week’s STEELY DAN concert, I turned to Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion edited by Barney Hoskyns. This book collects reviews and interviews with Walter Becker and Donald Fagan from the 1970s to the present. Reading reviews of STEELY DAN’s early albums shows that many critics didn’t know what to make of this kind of music. One critic dismissed the music of Becker/Fagen as “hospital music.” Yet reviews from the 1990s and 2000s show that the music world finally caught up to what STEELY DAN was doing forty years ago.

If you’re a STEELY DAN fan, you’ll enjoy the insights in this volume. Much is made of the way each album was recorded and how the songs were crafted. Plenty of background information on the musicians and the recording techniques are included. I came away more appreciative of what Walter Becker, Donald Fagan, and their legions of studio musicians accomplished. GRADE: A
Acknowledgements p. xi
A Squonk’s Tears – Steely Dan at forty-five p. xiii
1 Thrill Seekers p. 1
1 Rock and roll via Third Stream p. 3
2 Review of Can’t Buy A Thrill p. 10
3 Get Your Thrills Here p. 12
4 Counting Down to Headline Status p. 15
5 Review of Countdown to Ecstasy p. 21
6 Walking Slow, Drinking Alone, And Moving Swiftly Through The Night … p. 23
2 Dark Companions p. 31
1 Review of Pretzel Logic p. 33
2 Band Breakdown p. 36
3 Review of Katy Lied p. 47
4 Yes, it’s Steely Dan Versus the Fifth Ice Age p. 49
5 Review of The Royal Scam p. 63
6 Art for Art’s Sake p. 66
3 Glamour Professionals p. 101
1 Review of Aja p. 103
2 Retrospective review of Aja p. 106
3 Steely Dan Dare to give Sylvie Simmons a more-open-than-usual interview p. 108
4 Retrospective review of Gaucho p. 122
5 Disaster and Triumph in the Custerdome p. 127
4 New Frontiersmen p. 143
1 Review of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly p. 145
2 Donald Fagen Revisits an Era of Innocence p. 148
3 Walter Becker: Breaking the Silence p. 155
4 Donald Fagen; Reeling In The Years p. 160
5 Review of Fagen’s Kamakiriad p. 165
6 Donald Fagen: The Man Who Came in From the Cool p. 167
7 The Dream Ticket p. 174
8 Review of Becker’s 11 Tracks Of Whack p. 179
5 Heavy Rollers p. 183
1 Stand-Up Rock’n’Roll: The Return of Steely Dan p. 185
2 Review of Show at Wembley Arena, London p. 214
3 Review of Two Against Nature p. 217
4 Hey Nineteen: It’s About Time p. 221
5 Steely Dan and Jazz p. 227
6 Review of Everything Must Go p. 234
7 A Droll Double Act p. 235
6 Grey Eminences p. 243
1 Review of Fagen’s Morph The Cat p. 245
2 At Long Last, Fagen Puts The ‘Cat’ Out p. 247
3 Becker’s Circus Money p. 250
4 Review of Fagen’s Sunken Condos p. 253
5 Donald Fagen p. 255
6 Review of Fagen’s Eminent Hipsters p. 260
7 Icon: Donald Fagen p. 278
8 Walter Becker, 1950-2017 p. 289
Contributors p. 295
Index p. 305


After the Buffalo Bills managed a last second (literally!) field goal to snatch a 13-12 Victory from the jaws of the Tennessee Titans the week was dominated by trade rumors. The Philadelphia Eagles, who lost their starting running back Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL, contacted the Bills about a trade for troubled running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy has plenty of off-field problems with abuse accusations by his former girlfriend. McCoy is also 30-years-old–ancient by running back standards. Our local Sports Talk radio station answered dozens of fan phone calls advocating trading or keeping McCoy.

Meanwhile, Vegas made Buffalo a 10-point underdog to the Houston Texans. How will your favorite NFL perform today?


I know most of the audience for the STEELY DAN concert at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center collect Social Security and have weak bladders, but the constant flow of people streaming up and down the aisle during this sold-out performance was very annoying!

The STEELY DAN Band sounded great! The Danettes (backup singers) soloed on “Dirty Work” and earned a standing ovation. Donald Fagen was less chatty than he was at last year’s concert–which is a Good Thing. I was hoping this concert would include two of my favorite STEELY DAN songs–“Deacon Blues” and “FM–but I was disappointed. Maybe next year…

For the Buffalo News review of the concert, just click here. Do you have a favorite STEELY DAN song? GRADE: A
Hallelujah Time
Hey Nineteen
Black Friday
Black Cow
Time Out of Mind
Kid Charlemagne
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
Babylon Sisters
Dirty Work
The Goodbye Look (Donald Fagen song)
Keep That Same Old Feeling (The Crusaders cover) (with band introductions)
My Old School

Reelin’ in the Years
A Man Ain’t Supposed to Cry (Joe Williams cover)


I love the Robert McGinnis cover on this new HARD CASE CRIME reprint of Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Count of 9! Gardner wrote 30 books in the Donald Lam/Bertha Cool private eye series. The Count of Nine, the eighteenth book in the series (out of print for almost forty years), was published in 1958. A wealthy world traveler and collector hires Bertha Cool to screen attendees for his exclusive party. Bertha’s presence was supposed discourage gate-crashers. But during the party, two valuable artifacts–a blowgun and a jade Buddha statue–are stolen. Donald Lam figures out what happened, but suddenly his client is murdered–by a poisoned dart! In a locked room!

I’ve enjoyed all the Lam/Cool books I’ve read. Some say the Lam/Cool books are better than the Perry Mason series. I’m entertained by both. My review of the HARD CASE CRIME rediscovery of The Knife Slipped and be found here. The Count of 9 is a 10! GRADE: A

Art Scott wrote: “The contact sheet from that model shoot can be seen in The Paperback Covers of Robert McGinnis, pg. 104. Bob used pose #1, mirror-flipped, for this cover. Another pose was used for a Carter Brown title (The Ice-Cold Nude) published in 1962, which dates the shoot to nearly 60 years ago.”


Martha Wells won a Hugo Award for Best Novella for All Systems Red, the first book in the Murderbot series. Exit Strategy, the just published fourth book in the Murderbot series, brings the story arc back to the its beginnings. Murderbot is a rogue SecUnit who hacked his governor module and freed himself from corporate control. But now, Murderbot is on the run as the knowledge he’s gained triggers violence. Dr. Mensah, Murderbot’s key client, has been kidnapped by the evil GrayCris Corporation who is reeling from disclosures of its illegal secret alien technology project. Murderbot decides to help the forces that are attempting to rescue Dr. Mensah.

Unlike the earlier books in this series, All Systems Red (review here), Artificial Condition (review here), and Rogue Protocol (review here) readers who don’t know the back story of the Murderbot are likely to be lost and confused by Exit Strategy. Martha Wells tries to supply necessary information at key points in the story, but there’s a lot going on in a 172 pages.

I’m hoping Martha Wells continues with her Murderbot series. The character captures AI modes and critiques human failings in an engaging fashion. GRADE: B


I’m a big fan of caper novels so Scott Von Doviak’s Charlesgate Confidential, loosely based on the heist of paintings worth millions from the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, intrigued me from the first page. The plot of Charlesgate Confidential runs on three tracks. The first track is set in 1946 where the heist takes place. The second track is set in 1986 when the Charlesgate–once an elite Boston hotel–serves a college dormitory. The third track, in 2014, finds the Charlesgate transformed again as an up-scale condominium complex.

Charlesgate Confidential resembles a screwball comedy with wacky–but dangerous!–characters either pulling off the heist in 1946, or trying to find the missing million dollar artwork in 1986 and 2014. Shuffling back and forth between the time-lines is tricky, but Scott Von Doviak manages to juggle all the characters and schemes brilliantly.

It’s impressive that Von Doviak captures the tenor of the times from the criminal milieu of 1946, to the drug and alcohol fueled students living in the Charlesgate dorm in 1986, to the swanky Charlesgate condo residents in 2014. If you’re looking for an entertaining caper novel, I highly recommend Charlesgate Confidential. GRADE: A-


I’m a big fan of John Mortimer’s snarky and clever Rumpole stories. Horace Rumpole, the rumpled but crafty barrister, loves hopeless cases. BBC TV had a successful series of RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY starring Leo McKern as the crusty lawyer. In 2012, BBC Radio 4 presented a series of Rumpole episodes starring Benedict Cumberbatch as “The Young Rumpole” and Timothy West as “The Old Rumpole.”

Now, BBC Audio and Penguin Random House have released some of these episodes on CD. The first batch, Rumpole: The Gentle Art of Blackmail & Other Stories, includes “Rumpole and the Man of God” where Rumpole defends a clergyman accused of shoplifting. In “Rumpole and the Explosive Evidence,” Rumpole defends a known safe cracker. “Rumpole and the Gentle Art of Blackmail” is set in 1964 where Rumpole returns to Oxford and defends a young gardener who is accused of blackmailing the Master of St. Joseph’s College. Rumpole defends Dr. Ned Dacre, who is accused of murdering his wife, in “Rumpole and the Expert Witness.”

I enjoyed all of these dramatizations of classic Rumpole stories. I’ll be buying the next set in this series when it becomes available. If you enjoy first-rate dramatization, I highly recommend Rumpole: The Gentle Art of Blackmail & Other Stories. GRADE: A