Author Archives: george

SLOW HORSES By Mick Herron


Mick Herron’s Slow Horses presents a Fun House version of John Le Carre’s world of spies. When spies screw up in Herron’s London, they’re sent to Slough House, a run-down building run by Jackson Lamb–a burned out secret agent. The disgraced spies spend their time at the intelligence dumping ground performing routine tasks and transcribing cell phone conversations.

But when a young man is kidnapped and his captors threaten to televise his beheading in real time online, MI5 decides to include the “slow horses” of Slough House in the manhunt. The band of misfits track the victim and reveal a plot with national repercussions. If you’re in the mood for a twisty spy novel that blends The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and The Dirty Dozen, Slow Horses delivers. I’ll be reading the rest of the series in the months ahead. Do you enjoy spy novels? GRADE: B+
SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES:
Slow Horses (2010)
Dead Lions (2013)
The List (2015 novella)
Real Tigers (2016)
Spook Street (2017)
London Rules (2018)
The Drop (US title: “The Marylebone Drop”) (2018 novella)
Joe Country (2019)

WHY DO SO MANY INCOMPETENT MEN BECOME LEADERS? By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic


Basically, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic credits the “Glass Ceiling” preventing women from getting top jobs…which benefit incompetent men who get the top jobs and screw up. Chamorro-Premuzic presents plenty of examples of difficult leaders–Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Donald Trump–and contrasts them with female leaders like Angela Merkel and Mother Teresa. The subtitle of Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders is (and how to fix it). The fix Chamorro-Premuzic suggests–based on reams of research–is to promote more women into strategic and operational leadership positions. This book will provoke plenty of debate, but the facts clearly point to the difference in genders and performance. Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders explores a timely alternative to organizational dysfunction. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1 Why Most Leaders Are Inept 1
2 Confidence Disguised as Competence 17
3 Why Bad Guys Win 39
4 The Charisma Myth 67
5 The Female Advantage 85
6 What Good Leaders Look Like 103
7 Learning to Distrust Our Instincts 125
8 How Leaders Get Better 145
9 Measuring a Leader’s Impact 163
Notes 181
Index 203
Acknowledgments 215
About the Author 217

HOLIDAY INN [DVD]


By the time you’re reading this, Diane and I will be in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, home of the internationally famous Shaw Festival. The Shaw Festival season ended in October, but the folks who run the operation decided to experiment with a slight extension of their offerings.

Last year, the Shaw Festival offered a clever version of A Christmas Carol and this year they’re bringing a play version of Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn (1942) is famous for the first time “White Christmas” was sung. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire compete for the affections of Marjorie Reynolds’ character in a screwball comedy where Crosby buys a farm, turns it into an inn and will only provide entertainment on Holidays! I can’t wait to see what the Shaw Festival folks do with this one! Are you fan of Holiday Inn? Do you have a favorite Holiday song?

SOUNDTRACK SONG LIST:
Main Title: Overture
I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing (with Fred Astaire & Virginia Dale)
Lazy
You’re Easy to Dance With (Fred Astaire)
White Christmas (with Marjorie Reynolds)
Happy Holiday (with Marjorie Reynolds)
Let’s Start the New Year Right
Abraham (with Marjorie Reynolds & Louise Beavers)
Be Careful, It’s My Heart
I Can’t Tell a Lie (Fred Astaire)
Easter Parade
Song of Freedom
Let’s Say It with Firecrackers (sung by chorus as Fred Astaire dances)
I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For
Hollywood Medley
White Christmas (second version) [with Marjorie Reynolds]
Ending Medley (with Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds & Virginia Dale)
Holiday Inn movie trailer (audio only – bonus track)

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…


ISABELLA ROSSELLINI BY RAPHAAL BERGER
This sensuous oil on canvas captures the enigmatic figure of Isabella Rossellini. The famed Italian actress is the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. Her legendary career includes innumerable modeling campaigns and award-winning films. This oil captures her in the 1980s at the height of her modeling career. You can check out the official web page here.

M.S. Rau of New Orleans is offering this painting for a mere $44,500. A bargain! It will be worth 10 times that amount in five years. What gift are you hoping for over the Holidays?

BUFFALO BILLS VS. MIAMI DOLPHINS


The 6-3 Buffalo Bills visit the 2-7 Miami Dolphins in sunny (72 degrees) Florida (while it’s 30 degrees here in Western NY). The Bills are 5 1/2 point favorites. The Bills looked inept against the Cleveland Browns last week, but none of the Bills bashed an opposing player with a football helmet. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?

THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH By Van Morrison


I haven’t been too keen on Van Morrison’s last few albums. They were too jazzy or too bluesy. But Three Chords and the Truth is a “goldilocks” CD: just right! I enjoyed the songs on this new CD. From “Dark Night of the Soul” to “Up on Broadway” the music fills your ears with great music. Check out the sample below. It’s hard to believe that Van Morrison is 74 years old and still singing wonderful songs! Do you have a favorite Van Morrison song? GRADE: A
TRACK LIST:
1. March Winds in February 4:36
2. Fame Will Eat the Soul 4:53
3. Dark Night of the Soul 5:58
4. In Search of Grace 3:43
5. Nobody in Charge 4:13
6. You Don’t Understand 6:18
7. Read Between the Lines 3:42
8. Does Love Conquer All? 4:43
9. Early Days 3:42
10. If We Wait for Mountains 2:43
11. Up on Broadway 6:24
12. Three Chords and the Truth 5:01
13. Bags Under My Eyes 4:07
14. Days Gone By 7:43

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #567: THE BEST OF MANHUNT Edited by Jeff Vorzimmer


Stark House’s anthology The Best of Manhunt celebrates the crime fiction magazine that replaced Black Mask and dominated the 1950s. Lawrence Block’s “Foreword” relates the circumstances that made Block a writer and how he got his first story published in Manhunt. Jeff Vorzimmer provides a detailed history of Manhunt with all its quirky aspects. Lawrence Block mentions that he consider’s Evan Hunter’s “The Last Spin” to be “a master class in the short story.” And, Block’s right!

Bill Crider’s favorite writer was Harry Whittington whose “Night of Crisis”–a story about a man who witnesses a murder and is then hunted by the killer–will have you on the edge of your seat. The Best of Manhunt collects 39 stories by the top genre writers of that era: Mickey Spillane, Fletcher Flora, David Goodis, Fredric Brown, John D. MacDonald, Gil Brewer, Donald E. Westlake, Richard S. Prather, Harlan Ellison, and Helen Nielsen.

For 14 years, 1952 to 1967, Manhunt published the best crime fiction in the United States. This excellent volume collects several of those classic Manhunter stories with their suspense, thrills, and menace. This wonderful anthology is the best anthology of the year! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Foreword / Lawrence Block — 3
The story selection / Jeff Vorzimmer — 6
An introduction to the tortured history of Manhunt / Jeff Vorzimmer — 7
Introduction from The best from Manhunt / Scott & Sidney Meredith — 16
On the sidewalk, bleeding / Evan Hunter — 19
Mugger murder / Richard Deming — 25
Decision / Helen Nielsen — 32
The collector comes after payday / Fletcher Flora — 42
Try it my way / Jack Ritchie — 55
Movie night / Robert Turner — 61
In memory of Judith Courtright / Erskine Caldwell — 68
Day’s work / Jonathan Lord — 75
The scrapbook / Jonathan Craig — 78
Quiet day in the county jail / Craig Rice — 85
The set-up / Sam Cobb — 95
The double take / Richard S. Prather — 98
The man who found the money / James E. Cronin — 122
Self-defense / Harold Q. Masur — 128
Bad word / David Alexander — 140
Return engagement / Frank Kane — 149
Graveyard shift / Steve Frazee — 166
The little lamb / Fredric Brown — 176
The girl behind the hedge / Mickey Spillane — 185
Professional man / David Goodis — 193
The quiet room / Jonathan Craig — 212
Pistol / Hal Ellson — 219
Hit and run / Richard Deming — 229
The killer / John D. MacDonald — 265
The day it began again / Fletcher Flora — 276
Moonshine / Gil Brewer — 282
Rat hater / Harlan Ellison — 290
The last spin / Evan Hunter — 299
Night of crisis / Harry Whittington — 306
Pigeon in an iron lung / Talmage Powell — 320
Cop for a day / Henry Slesar — 327
Somebody’s going to die / Talmage Powell — 332
Stranger in the house / Theodore Pratt — 341
Enough rope for two / Clark Howard — 345
Body on a white carpet / Al James — 355
A piece of ground / Helen Nielsen — 361
Say a prayer for the guy / Nelson Algren — 369
An empty threat / Donald E. Westlake — 373
Frozen stiff / Lawrence Block — 377
Afterword: The graveyard rats / Barry N. Malzberg — 383

THE DUTCH HOUSE By Ann Patchett (Narrated by Tom Hanks)


The Dutch House provides a compelling tale of the strong bond between two troubled siblings, the house they grew up in, and the events that haunt them. The Dutch House tells a harrowing story of a dysfunctional family and the son and daughter who survive the wreckage.

At the end of World War II, Cyril Conroy begins to build an enormous real estate empire outside Philadelphia. Conroy buys the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs of Philadelphia, to impress his first wife. She ends up hating the Dutch House and leaves Conroy and her children.

Cyril’s son Danny narrates the story (and Tom Hanks captures the young boy’s personality perfectly). Danny’s older sister, the snarky and brilliant Maeve, tries to protect her brother. But the kids are exiled from the Dutch House up by their evil stepmother. The two siblings scramble to survive this shock and to rebuild their lives.

Over five decades, The Dutch House presents a story of survival. Danny and Maeve struggle to make their way in the world and to discover the secrets that their parents kept from them. I enjoyed the drama and the humor of The Dutch House. Tom Hanks’s narration kept the story moving. If you’re in the mood for an involving tale with mystery and humor and sudden sadness, give The Dutch House a try. GRADE: A-

KEIKO MATSUI CONCERT AND ECHO


Diane and I attended the Keiko Matsui concert at Buffalo State College (Diane’s Alma Mater). Keiko Matsui gets featured on Sirius/XM’s WATERCOLORS Smooth Jazz channel frequently. I have a couple of Keiko’s CDs. A minion outside the performance hall was selling Keiko’s new CD, ECHO, so I bought it. Keiko told the audience during the performance that ECHO is her 28th album!

If you like jazz piano, you’ll enjoy Keiko Matsui’s music. It’s light and energetic and fun. Keiko played my favorite Keiko song, “Forever, Forever.” Also, Keiko showcased several songs from ECHO and generously agreed to sign CDs after the show and take selfies with her adoring fans. All in all, the Keiko Matsui concert brought wonderful music and a talented player to Buffalo. Are you a fan of Smooth Jazz? GRADE: A (for both the concert and the CD)
SET LIST:
Bridge Over the Stars
Casablanca
Forever, Forever
Moving On
Echo
Marlin Club Blues
Moon Over Gotham
Return to Eternity
Safari
Spirit Dance
Unshakable
Viva Life

TRACK LIST:
1 –Keiko Matsui Unshakable
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
Guitar – Paul Jackson Jr.
Keyboards, Programmed By [Programming] – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler
3:36
2 –Keiko Matsui Moon Over Gotham
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass – Vinnie Colaiuta
Drums – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Guitar – Paul Jackson Jr.
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet, Soloist, Flugelhorn [Flugelhorn Solo] – Wayne Bergeron
4:14
3 –Keiko Matsui Featuring Marcus Miller Echo
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5), Marcus Miller
Drums – Jimmy Branly
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Soloist, Acoustic Guitar [Acoustic Guitar Solo] – Ramon Stagnaro
4:15
4 –Keiko Matsui Featuring Kirk Whalum Espirit
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Tim Pierce
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Tenor Saxophone – Kirk Whalum
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler
5:53
5 –Keiko Matsui Featuring Robben Ford Marlin Club Blues
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
Guitar – Paul Jackson Jr.
Keyboards, Electric Organ [Hammond B-3] – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Soloist, Electric Guitar [Electric Guitar Solo] – Robben Ford
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler, Wayne Bergeron
3:51
6 –Keiko Matsui Invisible Rain
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Brandon Fields
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
Guitar – Tim Pierce
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano, Vocals – Keiko Matsui
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler
Vocals – Bud Harner
4:17
7 –Keiko Matsui Featuring Gretchen Parlato Spirit Dance
Acoustic Guitar – JP Mourao*
Bass – Rico Belled
Drums – Jimmy Branly
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Keiko Matsui
Vocals – Gretchen Parlato
4:57
8 –Keiko Matsui Now Is The Moment
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
Guitar – Tim Pierce
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler, Wayne Bergeron
3:11
9 –Keiko Matsui Viva Life
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Handclaps – JP Mourao*
Alto Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Bass, Handclaps – Rico Belled
Drums, Handclaps – Jimmy Branly
Handclaps – Bud Harner
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Handclaps – Keiko Matsui
Trombone – Nick Lane
Trumpet – Walt Fowler, Wayne Bergeron
4:21
10 –Keiko Matsui Featuring Kyle Eastwood Return To Eternity
Acoustic Bass – Kyle Eastwood
Acoustic Guitar – Ramon Stagnaro
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (5)
Drums – Jimmy Branly
Keyboards – Randy Waldman
Percussion – Luis Conte
Piano – Keiko Matsui
5:08