Author Archives: george

BROKEN MEATS By David Hambling


After his harrowing adventures in The Elder Ice (you can read my review here), ex-boxer Harry Stubbs returns to economic hardship in 1925 England. Harry finds work as a “guide” to a man from Singapore named Yang. Yang is interested in the work of Roslyn D’Onston, a one-time journalist who turned into a sorcerer. D’Onston was a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders. Harry Stubbs finds himself in the grip of occult powers and necromancy. If you’re in the mood for a quirky adventure novel, Broken Meats delivers. GRADE: B+

ROGUE PROTOCOL By Martha Wells


Murderbot–a self-liberated Security robot–is trying to flee Human space. But, he has a way to go. Murderbot manages to find a place aboard a transport ship but suspects this could be a mistake when the human passengers bring a lot of armament with them. Rogue Protocol continues the story of an Artificial Intelligence who critiques humans and human activity on practically every page. Another corporate plot powers the novella (153 pages) as Murderbot meets Miki, a robot who presents hope and danger. Then all Hell breaks loose! If you’re in the mood for something Very Different, you might want to try Martha Wells’s Murderbot series. GRADE: B+

You can read my review of All Systems Red here and my review of Artificial Condition here. For a detailed interview with Martha Wells, just click here.

EIGHTH GRADE


Elsie Fisher plays 13-year-old Kayla Day who is about to graduate from Eighth Grade. Director and screenwriter Bo Burnham captures the angst of Eighth Grade, both for Kayla and the other Eighth Graders. We see a group completely in the thrall of Social Media. Much of this movie consists of Kayla on her iPhone or laptop. All the the social interactions are herky-jerky.

Everyone, even the adults (and especially Kayla’s bumbling but good-hearted father played well by Josh Hamilton) constantly confronts the awkwardness of conversation. Texting is so much easier! Eighth Grade piles painful situation upon painful situation on poor Kayla and her father. But, High School beckons with its own troubling problems. You can see why teenage drug addiction and teen suicide are increasing given the anxiety and stresses young people have to deal with today. Kayla offers a measure of Hope. What are your memories of Eighth Grade? GRADE: B+

BIG MISTAKES: THE BEST INVESTORS AND THEIR WORST INVESTMENTS By Michael Batnick

“By three methods may we learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second by imitation, which is easier;
and Third by experience with is the bitterest.”
–Confucius

Around 1993, my 10-year-old son Patrick suggested, “Dad, I think you should buy some APPLE stock.” Patrick used APPLE computers at school and loved the design. In one of the those moments you’d like to have back, I ignored Patrick’s advice. APPLE stock at the time was just about a dollar per share and I could have easily bought a 1000 shares. Now, APPLE is a trillion dollar company and I could have had a couple more zeros to the right of my Net Worth number. I made a mistake…a Big Mistake.

Reading Michael Batnick’s Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments made me feel better because these investment geniuses also committed blunders. Warren Buffett bought Dexter Shoes (remember them?). He could have paid cash, but instead he paid for the company in Berkshire Hathaway stock. Dexter Shoes went bankrupt and those shares of Berkshire Hathaway would be worth $6 billion dollars today. Jack Bogle, who invented the Index Fund (a fund that mirrors the DOW, the NASDAQ, or the S&P 500)–a vast improvement over investing in Mutual Funds–lost millions with the first company he ran. John Maynard Keynes, the brilliant British economist, lost most of his money when the Stock Market crashed in 1929. All of these investors later went on to succeed in the Stock Market, but they all have scars from their failures…like I do. Have you made any Big Mistakes? GRADE: A-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Benjamin Graham
There Are No Iron-Clad Laws
Chapter 2:Jesse Livermore
Manage Your Risk
Chapter 3: Mark Twain
Don’t Get Attached
Chapter 4: John Meriwether
Genius’s Limits
Chapter 5: Jack Bogle
Find What Works for You
Chapter 6: Michael Steinhardt
Stay in Your Lane
Chapter 7: Jerry Tsai
You’re Not As Smart As You Think
Chapter 8: Warren Buffett
Beware of Overconfidence
Chapter 9: Bill Ackman
Get Off Your Soapbox
Chapter 10: Stanley Druckenmiller
Hard Lessons Can Be Necessary
Chapter 11: Sequoia
The Risks of Concentrated Investing
Chapter 12: John Maynard Keynes
The Most Addictive Game
Chapter 13: John Paulson
You Only Need to Win Once
Chapter 14: Charlie Munger
Handling Big Losses
Chapter 15: Chris Sacca
Dealing With Regret
Chapter 16: Michael Batnick
Looking In the Mirror
About the Author
Index

WYCLIFFE AND THE REDHEAD By W. J. Burley


Detective Superintendent Wycliffe finds himself drawn into an investigation into the death of redhead, Morwenna Barker. Morwenna worked in Wycliffe’s favorite antiquarian bookshop owned by Simon Meagor, a shy, lonely, middle-aged bookseller who seems like an unlikely suspect. But, Meagor played a key role in Morwenna’s father’s murder trial. Why would a woman who held a grudge against Meagor volunteer to work in his bookshop? As Wycliffe untangles the complexity of Morwenna’s past, two more deaths enter the picture. The search for clues takes Wycliffe into the past where previous investigations missed essential evidence. If you’re looking for a traditional police procedural with a twisty plot and vivid characters, Wycliffe and the Redhead delivers. GRADE: B+

I hope you enjoyed REDHEAD WEEK. Normal posting returns tomorrow.

THE CASE OF THE RESTLESS REDHEAD By Erle Stanley Gardner



On September 21, 1957 the first episode of Perry Mason aired on CBS. And that initial episode was “The Case of the Restless Redhead” based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s mystery published in 1954. Aspiring redhead actress Evelyn Bagby finds a .38 caliber pistol in her hotel room. She calls Perry Mason who tells her to bring the gun to him. On the secluded road to Mason’s office, a man with a hood over his head tries to drive Evelyn Bagby’s car off the road. Evelyn reaches into her purse and fires two wild shots at the hooded man and his car and speeds on.

Evelyn finally reaches Perry Mason’s office when the police arrive. On that secluded road, there’s a crashed car and a hooded man with a hole in his head. Perry Mason has to deal with the questions of Evelyn’s past and which gun actually killed the hooded man.

The main differences in the TV episode (which follows Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Restless Redhead fairly closely) and the novel are a reduction of subplots and fewer red herrings. All in all, Perry Mason starts its long run on CBS with a clever episode. Do you have a favorite Perry Mason novel or TV episode? GRADE: B+ (for both the book and the TV epsiode)

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #489: A REDHEAD FOR MIKE SHAYNE By Brett Halliday



I love the Robert McGinnis cover on A Redhead for Mike Shayne. I’m sure that’s why I bought it so many years ago! This DELL paperback from 1964 is very much a product of its time. Mike Shayne shoots and kills a hood attempting to loot a warehouse Shayne is protecting. But in the melee, the criminal fires his odd weapon: six bullets narrowly miss Shayne’s head. Shayne takes the weapon from the crime scene and discovers it’s a Russian automatic pistol. How did a thug come to own an advanced automatic weapon? In Florida, all roads lead to Cuba and Castro. Shayne starts to unravel this curious case when he’s confronted by a beautiful redhead newspaper columnist, Molly Morgan. As the bodies pile up, Shayne and the redhead butt heads in the investigation. Shayne arranges one of his patented shoot-outs to smoke out the Bad Guys. This is the 48th mystery in the Mike Shayne series, but you can read it without any knowledge of the previous books. GRADE: B

THE REDHEAD OF AZTEC WELLS By W. C. Tuttle


I’m a big fan of W. C. Tuttle’s Westerns. Tuttle manages to juggle all the elements required by western stories with humor and mystery. In The Redhead of Aztec Wells (1946) Tuttle introduces young redhead Johnny Avery whose father and uncle are framed for a bank robbery and then murdered in cold blood. Johnny escapes and grows up with revenge growing with each year. Now, years later, Johnny returns to the scene of crime with the intention of clearing his name and dispensing Justice. Johnny has a quick draw and a quick temper. If you’re looking for a clever mystery with a vengeance them, you’ll enjoy The Redhead of Aztec Wells. GRADE: B+

THE RADIOACTIVE REDHEAD By John Zakour & Lawrence Ganem


“The sultry night air of Oakland stung my face like the wet morning breath of a a lover from a seedy bar the night before: rank and unwelcome with a heavy undertone of shame. The downtown neighborhood was no doubt nearly silent at the late hour but I couldn’t be certain because my ears were overwhelmed by the terrified scream of the redhead as she clung to me.” (p. 21)

Zachary Nixon Johnson is the last Private Eye on Earth. The Radioactive Redhead kicks off with an attack on our hero by Kabuki droid assassins. Great action scene! Zach is hired to protect dazzling redhead, Sexy Sprockets, the pop-rock superstar, threatened by terrorists. Zach enlists the help of his psi assistant, Carol (also a redhead), when the case gets more complicated.

The Radioactive Redhead is a mashup of a screwball comedy, Robert Leslie Bellum’s pulp shenanigans, with some Isaac Asimov science fiction thrown into the mix. The result is a fun SF adventure novel full of fluff. GRADE: B
THE ZACHERY NIXON JOHNSON SERIES:
The Plutonium Blonde (Daw 2001, with Larry Ganem)
The Doomsday Brunette (Daw 2004, with Larry Ganem)
The Radioactive Redhead (Daw 2005, with Larry Ganem)
The Frost Haired Vixen (Daw 2006)
The Blue Haired Bombshell (Daw 2007)
The Flaxen Femme Fatale (Daw 2008)
“The Sapphire Sirens” (Daw 2009)

THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING


A dazzling Maureen O’Hara plays Kate Maxwell, saloon proprietress, in 1870s Wyoming. A battle is brewing between established ranchers and the wave of homesteaders. Kate Maxwell has some “history” with a promoter named Jim Averell (William Bishop) who fans the discontent of the homesteaders. But Sheriff Stan Blaine (Alex Nicol) attracts Kate’s keen interest as he investigates a rustling scheme.

I was impressed by Maureen O’Hara’s athleticism! She rides horses with her flowing dresses and streaming red hair! She fires her Winchester rifle with cool aplomb. I immediately wanted to watch another Maureen O’Hara movie. I had forgotten how much Star Power she had! Are you a Maureen O’Hara fan? Which of her films do you recommend? GRADE: B+