We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program…



I used to really enjoy Larry King’s column. It consisted of a number of comments of a sentence or two that were either 1) informative or 2) opinionated. One could read it quickly, and best of all, one did not have to look at or listen to Larry while doing it. Yay!

So what does that have to do with anything? I’m glad you asked: the dreaded deadline doom is approaching and I’m functioning (if that’s the word) on a few hours of sleep and really don’t feel competent to devote three or four paragraphs to a single topic. I accordingly am going emulate Mr. King and provide a sentence or two about a number of topics, primarily related to books and the musical and visual arts but also to some other things as well. We’ll be back to normal in two weeks. Maybe. Here goes:


Joseph Finder, after a layoff of a couple of years, is back with SUSPICION, which may be his best book yet…with all of the bombast about the Hachette vs. Amazon disagreement, has anyone considered that there are no good guys or bad guys here? They are just a couple of entities which are unable to come to terms at the moment but will do so eventually…I am loving every minute of 24: Live Another Day…I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes reads like a true account of a near-miss terrorist act. I was up all night reading it…Find a way to be the first on your block to hear “Thirteen Sad Farewells” by Stu Larsen before everyone else does. Great video, too…How will the second season of True Detective ever surpass, let alone equal, its first? I still watch all eight episodes once a week at least…Is it just me, or has this year been a particularly strong one for the mystery and thriller genres? Established authors are stepping up and writing the novels of their careers while every week brings a new and worthy debut. It has always been difficult to keep up but it seems to be well-nigh impossible now…

You know that the Skinny Cow brand of ice cream sundries and candies have officially arrived when you see that they now have their own fleet of trucks. Eating a box of the candy bars kind of defeats the purpose of having a diet chocolate treat but they are hard to resist…Health tip: add ONE drop of  Yucateco Chili Habanero Hot Sauce (the green one) to your food at each meal and mix it well. It will ward of colds and flu…

Sunbathing Animal, the new album by Parquet Courts, is a punk classic, a pre-dystopian soundtrack of what the night before the Apocalypse will feel like…following the success of Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics publisher is planning a similar adult-themed rebooting of Sabrina the Teenage Witch…and, best for last…Kill Zone alumnus John Ramsey Miller is a step or three closer to the recognition he so greatly deserves as a television series based around his character Winter Massey approaches reality. Go, John, go!
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We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program…



I used to really enjoy Larry King’s column. It consisted of a number of comments of a sentence or two that were either 1) informative or 2) opinionated. One could read it quickly, and best of all, one did not have to look at or listen to Larry while doing it. Yay!

So what does that have to do with anything? I’m glad you asked: the dreaded deadline doom is approaching and I’m functioning (if that’s the word) on a few hours of sleep and really don’t feel competent to devote three or four paragraphs to a single topic. I accordingly am going emulate Mr. King and provide a sentence or two about a number of topics, primarily related to books and the musical and visual arts but also to some other things as well. We’ll be back to normal in two weeks. Maybe. Here goes:


Joseph Finder, after a layoff of a couple of years, is back with SUSPICION, which may be his best book yet…with all of the bombast about the Hachette vs. Amazon disagreement, has anyone considered that there are no good guys or bad guys here? They are just a couple of entities which are unable to come to terms at the moment but will do so eventually…I am loving every minute of 24: Live Another Day…I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes reads like a true account of a near-miss terrorist act. I was up all night reading it…Find a way to be the first on your block to hear “Thirteen Sad Farewells” by Stu Larsen before everyone else does. Great video, too…How will the second season of True Detective ever surpass, let alone equal, its first? I still watch all eight episodes once a week at least…Is it just me, or has this year been a particularly strong one for the mystery and thriller genres? Established authors are stepping up and writing the novels of their careers while every week brings a new and worthy debut. It has always been difficult to keep up but it seems to be well-nigh impossible now…

You know that the Skinny Cow brand of ice cream sundries and candies have officially arrived when you see that they now have their own fleet of trucks. Eating a box of the candy bars kind of defeats the purpose of having a diet chocolate treat but they are hard to resist…Health tip: add ONE drop of  Yucateco Chili Habanero Hot Sauce (the green one) to your food at each meal and mix it well. It will ward of colds and flu…

Sunbathing Animal, the new album by Parquet Courts, is a punk classic, a pre-dystopian soundtrack of what the night before the Apocalypse will feel like…following the success of Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics publisher is planning a similar adult-themed rebooting of Sabrina the Teenage Witch…and, best for last…Kill Zone alumnus John Ramsey Miller is a step or three closer to the recognition he so greatly deserves as a television series based around his character Winter Massey approaches reality. Go, John, go!
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…and to all a good night…

I am sorry to see 2013 end. It wasn’t a wonderful year from beginning to end — what year is? — but the good things that happened outweighed the bad. The reason I’m sorry to see it go, however, is that like all of the other ones we’ve lived through we’ll never get it back, never have the opportunity to take a mulligan on it. Once that sand drops through the hourglass, you don’t get it back. We just keep moving through these years until they run out.

My age and station is such that I will not stress myself about things I cannot control. So far, I think that I have the holiday stress thing resolved. I am not always a fan of Jeff Bezos, but this year I bought every single Christmas present that I am giving anyone on Amazon. I didn’t stand in one line, not even to buy the fixings for Christmas dinner that I will be preparing for my ungrateful and unappreciative family (I did go to the store for that, but when I rolled my cart up to the registers, a new register lane opened and I was beckoned through like a contemporary Moses crossing the Red Sea).

I have been using the time I would have spent sitting in traffic (and needing a restroom. Soon.) or standing in line perusing the year-end Best Of lists. I love those lists. I always find at least a few books or CDs or what not that totally blew past me during the year. That for me is a Christmas present, the one I really want. And in a rare exhibition of chutzpah, it’s the present I am asking for from you! Please!

Actually, all I am asking for is your favorite novel, short story, and CD that was published or released in 2013. If you want to tell us why, please do, but don’t feel obligated. Of course, I’ll share:

Favorite novel— I had many that came close but when the dust settled and the smoke cleared it was NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT by Derek Miller. It involves Sheldon Horowitz, an elderly Jew in the throes of early stage dementia, who is transported from his comfortable New York environs to the alien frigidness of Norway by his well-meaning but somewhat clueless granddaughter and her affable husband. Things take off in a big way when Horowitz rescues a young boy from a murderous war criminal and takes off, with a number of disparate parties in hot pursuit. Funny in spots, tragic in others (and terrifying, if you are over sixty and suspect that your gene pool has Alzheimer swimming in it), this is the book that stayed with me all year.

Favorite short story— I didn’t read many short stories this year but of the ones I did — several of which were very good — I loved “Swingers Anonymous” by Jonathan Woods from the DALLAS NOIR collection edited by David Hale Smith. The premise is terrific: within minutes after a regularly scheduled swingers’ party ends, two people are dead and a third has a sudden and unexpected financial windfall. Top that. The story is so good, by the way, that I subsequently acquired and read Woods’ novel A DEATH IN MEXICO and his short story collection, BAD JUJU. Good juju, indeed.

Favorite CD — It was October before I heard a new music project that I could listen to all the way through. TALLY ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU BROKE by Parquet Courts is technically an EP — there are only five songs on it — but each and every one will make you fall in love with punk music all over again, even if you were never charmed with it to start. I listen to music for hours every day but I still hear all seven minutes of “He’s Seeing Paths” — an ode to bike messengers and running from the cops, among other things — playing in the background.

It’s your turn. Thank you in advance. And Merry Christmas!

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