Monthly Archives: April 2011


The Buffalo Bills shored up their inept defense by picking Marcell Dareus, the massive 320 lb. defensive lineman from Alabama, in the First Round. The Bills then improved their secondary by choosing Aaron Williams, the corner back from Texas, with their Second Round pick. In the Third Round, the Bills picked Kelvin Sheppard, linebacker from LSU. The Bills have many needs: quarterback, offensive lineman, tight end, linebackers, etc. But with this Draft, the Bills need to start to take steps toward respectability. It’s been 11 long years since the Bills have been in the NFL playoffs. Most of the damage has been self-inflicted: terrible draft picks, staggeringly bad trades, incompetent coaches, and a culture of mediocrity. Coach Chan Gailey and GM Buddy Nix have a plan to make the Buffalo Bills competitive again. But it starts (and ends) with acquiring good players and coaching them to excellence.


G. K. Chesterton, one of the great writers of the 20th Century, is seldom read now. Although he wrote essays, novels, poetry, and memoirs, Chesterton is best known today for his Father Brown mystery stories (some of the best are included in this collection). If you love clear, lucid writing Chesterton exemplifies this school of writing. This new Everyman collection displays all Chesterton’s talents with a broad range of his writings. This 800 page tome is easily the best one-volume collection of Chesterton’s works that I know of. I’m a huge fan of the Everyman series of classic literature. This Chesterton volume is outstanding.
Hearsay Evidence
The Man with the Golden Key

The Dickens Period
The Boyhood of Dickens
The Pickwick Papers
The Great Popularity
Dickens and America
Dickens and Christmas
The Time of Transition
Later Life and Works
The Great Dickens Characters
On the Alleged Optimism of Dickens
A Note on the Future of Dickens

The Victorian Compromise and Its Enemies
The Great Victorian Novelists
The Great Victorian Poets

Introduction in Defence of Everything Else
The Maniac
The Suicide of Thought
The Ethics of Elfland
The Flag of the World
The Paradoxes of Christianity
The Eternal Revolution
The Romance of Orthodoxy
Authority and the Adventurer

Introduction: The Plan of This Book
The Riddles of the Gospel
The Strangest Story in the World
The Witness of the Heretics
The Escape from Paganism
The Five Deaths of the Faith
Conclusion: The Summary of This Book

On Two Friars
The Aristotelian Revolution
A Meditation on the Manichees
The Approach to Thomism
The Permanent Philosophy
The Sequel to St Thomas

The Blue Cross
The Queer Feet
The Wrong Shape
The Resurrection of Father Brown
The Miracle of Moon Crescent
The Dagger with Wings
The Doom of the Darnaways
The Song of the Flying Fish
The Red Moon of Meru
The Chief Mourner of Marne
The Scandal of Father Brown
The Quick One
The Blast of the Book
The Green Man
The Crime and the Communist
The Vampire of the Village

Wine and Water
Antichrist, or the Reunion of Christendom: An Ode
Elegy in a Country Churchyard
The Secret People
The Rolling English Road
The Donkey


Most music fans know Aretha Franklin’s great hits while she was recording for Atlantic Records. But few realize that Aretha Franklin recorded seven albums with Columbia Records first. “The package includes CDs of Aretha’s seven full-length albums for Columbia; two CDs reflecting her collaborations with producers Bobby Scott (in 1963) and Clyde Otis (in 1964); and a bonus CD of singles produced by Bob Johnston and rarities that were “sweetened” and released after Aretha left the label.” Also included is a 48-page booklet with Aretha’s complete discography. The bonus DVD holds five Aretha Franklin performances on The Steve Allen Show. If you’re a fan of the Queen of Soul, this set is a must-buy!

THE LONGEST WAR By Peter L. Bergen

America’s longest war hasn’t been with a country. As Peter L. Bergen points out, our longest war has been fighting a shadowy multinational organization: Al-Qaeda. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda tells the story of how terrorists led by Osama bin Laden targeted the United States and carried out their plots. Bergen is one of the few Western journalists to have interviewed bin Laden. His insights into the terrorist movement that continues to operate in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan explain where this struggle is headed. If you want to read a detailed history of the war on terror, The Longest War provides the analysis needed to understand the dangers in the future. GRADE: A


Santa Sangre is one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies.” First released in 1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal film manages to keep the audience guessing from start to finish. I’d be hard pressed to name a more bizarre movie. Part of the movie takes part in a circus that is touring Mexico. Another part takes place in a mental hospital. Fenix, the lead character, is initially introduced as a man who thinks he’s a bird. Disaster after disaster befalls Fenix, both as a child and as a man. Jodorowsky seems to be channeling Philip K. Dick because questions of Reality keep popping up. If you’re in the mood for a completely unique movie experience, watch Santa Sangre. But be prepared for the Unusual. You’ve never seen a movie like this before. GRADE: A


Water For Elephants is a conventional life story set in a circus setting based on the best selling book of the same name by Sara Gruen. Jacob (played by Twilight star Robert Pattinson) flees a family tragedy and by chance joins a traveling circus. The year is 1931, the Depression is causing wide-spread business failures, including circuses. August (played by Christoph Waltz), the sadistic owner of this circus, needs a boffo act to bring in the “rubes.” He buys an elephant named Rosie from a failed circus and expects Jacob to train her to work with his beautiful wife (played by Reece Witherspoon). Of course, Jacob falls in love with his boss’s wife and you can guess what happens then. I enjoyed the scenes of life with circus people as they traveled from town to town to put on their shows. There is some graphic violence in this movie so be warned. GRADE: B

BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2009 Edited By Mary Oliver

Somehow, Best American Essays 2009 slipped down my Read Real Soon stack. This week I rescued it and read the various essays that make up this annual edition. My favorite essay is “Faustian Economics” by Wendell Berry. Berry’s elegant essay explores the folly of “unlimited growth, unlimited spending, unlimited consumption.” Patricia Hempl’s “The Dark Art of Description” explores the importance of description in fiction and essays. “Our Vanishing Night” by Verlyn Klinkenborg shows that we are polluting the night with light resulting in disruptions of migratory patterns in birds and the behavior of nocturnal animals. Michael Lewis’ humorous “The Mansion: A Subprime Parable” tells how Lewis foolishly rented a mansion at the cost of $13,000 per month (plus expenses). Yikes! Perhaps the most poignant essay in this volume is John Updike’s “The Writer in Winter.” Written shortly before his death, “The Writer in Winter” delivers Updike’s final words on growing old yet still writing. This is a very moving essay. Regardless of your interests, you’ll find the range of essays in Best American Essays 2009 wide and deep. GRADE: A


Rudyard Kipling, one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, is seldom read today. This wonderful collection, edited by Stephen Jones with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, shows Kipling’s story-telling talents to their fullest. I found this 800 page hardcover book in the Bargain Bin at Barnes & Noble for a pittance. If you want a one-volume collection of many of Kipling’s best short stories, this is it.
Table of Contents
The vampire
The dream of Duncan Parrenness –
The city of dreadful night —
An Indian ghost story in England —
The phantom ‘rickshaw —
The strange ride of Morrowbie Jukes —
The unlimited draw of Tick Boileau –
In the house of Suddhoo —
The Bisara of Pooree –
Haunted subalterns –
By word of mouth –
The recurring smash —
The dreitarbund —
Bubbling well road —
The sending of Dana Da —
My own true ghost story —
Sleipner, late Thurinda —
The man who would be king —
The solid muldoon —
Baboo Mookerji’s undertaking –
The joker —
The wandering Jew —
The courting of Dinah Shadd –
The mark of the beast —
At the end of the passage —
The recrudescence of Imray —
The finances of the gods —
The finest story in the world —
Children of the zodiac —
The lost legion —
A matter of fact —
The bridge-builders —
The brushwood boy —
The tomb of his ancestors –
Wireless –
“They” —
With the night mail : a story of 2000 AD —
The house surgeon —
The knife and the naked chalk —
In the same boat —
As easy as A.B.C.: a tale of 2150 AD –
Swept and garnished –
Mary Postgate —
The village that voted the earth was flat —
A madonna of the trenches —
The wish house —
The gardener —
The eye of Allah —
On the gate: a tale of ’16 —
The appeal.


For you French speakers out there, you know “The Noir” (with an accent over the “e” in “The”) translates to “black tea.” Mostly, I drink about 10 cups of black coffee per day, but occasionally I like to change things up and drink tea. I tried Tazo’s Organic Chai and loved it. And, I liked reading “The Noir” on each packet of Organic Chai. In each packet there’s a blend of rich black tea, sweet cinnamon, zingy ginger, spicy star anise, cloves, and warm cardamom. Yum! If you prefer bland black tea, stay away from this potent brew. But, if you want a party for your taste buds, give Tazo’s Organic Chai a try.