Monday, September 27, 2010

Miscellany (and Hot) Monday

Now that we're officially into Fall, and before we hit The Slide, I thought I'd mention a few things.

Every year, seemingly since I began reading in earnest, I've taken on historical and non-fiction works on a regular basis right along with my thriller, sci-fi, and crime/mystery novels. And annually I encounter at least one or two books which are so sobering that it makes you sit up straight while it weighs on your mind for some time after. Two years ago it was Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. Last year, it was Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman and Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. This year it is 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. While it may have a bias (and you'll have defenders and opponents of Wall Street taking sides here), the book's strength is its straightforward history of banking and its influence over the years on government and federal policy that brought about a ruinous recession (likely the deepest downturn since The Great Depression) and gave cover to those who caused this calamity. The same group who are likely teeing up another of these since they're fighting tooth and nail (with taxpayers money) to defeat the needed changes to the current freewheeling structure now in place. Whether you agree with it or not, it is well worth reading.

Author John Kenneth Muir has in his examination sights the most universally cherished Trekker film in the canon - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Whether you're a fan of this series (or not), or someone who is familiar with such literary classics like A Tale of Two Cities, Paradise Lost, or Moby Dick (and want to discover what the parallels are here), don't miss this one.

Keeping to that science-fiction tendency of mine, this is DS9 Week over at Secure Immaturity. Of course, I'm referring to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A show that was criminally ignored by much of the Trekker and sci-fi faithful during its initial run. It is finally getting its due, as many in the blogosphere can now attest. Site owner, blogger and writer, Will, said it best in his opening essay:
"Now let’s not get all down in the dumps here. While DS9 did deal with many dark concepts, it’s realism on the war/politics front also translated well in it’s descriptions of family, friendship, love, and, oddly, business (see Ferengi, but that’s another post). To start, unlike the much more beloved TNG, family wasn’t simply an idea that was seen in the background with extras or in brief visits to Earth: family was a central piece to the development and goings on in the universe. Sisko and his son Jake: love between a father and son. Quark and his brother Rom: love between siblings. Odo and his people, the Founders: love in absentia, Keiko and O’Brien: married love, Worf and Dax, Bashir and Ezri, Sisko and Kasidy, the list could go on. Picard, Riker, etc. . . sure, they’d have a random romantic encounter, but what happened on DS9 stayed on DS9: relationships couldn’t be forgotten once someone left the port of call."
I'm so looking forward to this week specifically because of this blogathon (and it has nothing to do with the fact that I contributed something to it... really). And then there's my friend J.D.'s John Carpenter  Week at RADIATOR HEAVEN next week! These are going to be great.

Last year, mainly due to blogging friends Corey, Pop Culture Nerd, and Jen convincing me (after awhile), I discovered the entry of one new and exciting writer. Sophie Littlefield and her A Bad Day for Sorry debut were something special to be introduced to. This year, that role is to be assumed by one Hilary Davidson. Her debut novel (which comes out tomorrow), The Damage Done, is already gathering high praise. Today, Pop Culture Nerd had another of her fine interviews (and giveaways) with the author. Jen, of Jen's Book Thoughts, also offered a praise-worthy review of the novel, recently. Since Hilary won the initial Watery Grave Invitational short story contest, at least I won't be late to this party.

If you don't know it, it is Banned Books Week, too! Flickr is presenting a gallery of display pictures from various bookstores. Yesterday's OIF Blog had a great one from Fulton High School in Knoxville, TN:

All rights reserved by ala_oif

"Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

"... Los Angeles is a desert community."
"In the middle of a drought and the water commissioner drowns! Only in L.A."

We're only 24 degrees above our average normal temperature for this date. That's all.

Blogger's Note: strike that last part. L.A.'s normal average for September 27th is 82º F. With today's record high of 113º F in the basin, we were officially 31º above that.


  1. Our A/C was down this weekend and of course, it had to be the one with the highest temps of the year. Hubby and I were like homeless people, hanging out in malls, bookstores and supermarkets (frozen foods section) just to stay cool. The nights were another matter. I feared we'd be cooked in our sleep. 

    Have you posted your report on your John Carpenter evening? Did I miss it?

  2. Hi Le0pard13:

    Thanks for the shout-out regarding the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan review, my friend. 

    Also, thank you for pointing out Will's DS9 week -- I've read his wonderful opening essay and am avidly anticipating the rest of the week!  I love a timely, thoughtful re-evaluation of a cult TV show, and this is fitting in the bill.

    13 Bankers sounds like a horror movie (13 Ghosts?) -- it looks like a must-read, though I confess I'm also highly intrigued by another title you mentioned: The Dark Side.  Gotta get my hands on that one.

    Thanks for this post!

    all my best,

  3. Thanks for the plug, my friend. I've got some goodies planned for next week. It should be fun. Also, I think we're going to have some really cool contributions too. Some people I've talked to have got some great stuff in the works. Now, that wasn't cryptic at all?  ;)

  4. Yikes! Oh, I know you two were miserable last night without A/C. BTW, the downtown temp I'm monitoring just hit 112º F (10% humidity)! It might have been the coolest summer in L.A. since 1991 (and the coolest July on record), but that matters little right now.

    I did a little on Twitter regarding that John Carpenter visit/discussion at the Egyptian. Hmm... maybe I should re-cap it on J.D.'s JC Week. ;)

    Thanks, Elyse. And, please, stay cool.  8-)

  5. You're very welcome, JKM. It's a fantastic piece and I loved reading it. And yes, both 13 Bankers and The Dark Side are highly recommended non-fiction reads. Thanks, John (and thanks for the RT).

  6. You're very welcome. As much as I enjoyed your horror film review month from last October, I'm really jazzed for the upcoming JC Week, my friend. Thanks.

  7. I saw your tweets and photos. You should do a longer recap!

  8. It's official. The 113º F high of today is an official temperature record-setter for L.A. Angelenos are staggering to applaud this.

  9. Really enjoy this round-up and so glad you linked for THE SLIDE as I was sniggering like a fool reading that.

    Coldest summer on record but hottest Fall? That's what it's feeling like up here!

  10. Yeah, I'm sure Davis is getting a good bit of the high pressure system that's squeezing the ol' thermometer. It seems Mother Nature feels it has to make up for that cool summer season we experienced. I'm glad you enjoyed both round-ups, Rachel. Thanks so much for your comment.

  11. Forget about it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

  12. Ding, ding, ding, ding  ;) .

    Thanks, Naomi.

  13. did somebody say Khan,

    <span>To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee! </span>

    I miss Ricardo, hell I miss his commercials................. talk about delivery!

    hope you smile

  14. <span>
    <p>Montalbán then spoke about the goal of the Nosotros organization:<sup></sup><span>[</span>23<span>]</span>

    Mexico is my mother; the United States the best friend I will ever have. And so I dream of the day when my mother will say, 'Ricardo, you have chosen a wonderful friend.' And the day when the friend will say, 'Ricardo, you have a sensational mother.' That is why it is very important to bring us together. Brothers and sisters, love thy neighbor as thyself. And this theatre, I think, can be a little grain of sand towards that end. Here we have opened the doors not only for the opportunity of young talent to develop—writers, directors, actors—but also in coming together as a group in this society in which we live. Let's open a hand of friendship and love and brotherhood. That is my dream. I'll never see it complete while I'm still alive, but I think this is the beginning, and that is what makes me so happy to see this come to fruition.

    Now that's beautiful, hope you like that quote, Herb


  15. Stay cool brother Leopard13.  Some wonderfully thoughtful commentary HerbC.  Love Ricardo Montalban quotes!  He was a pleasure to watch.  For a time, and I need to get back to it, I was collecting Star Trek TOS Autograph cards as a little hobby.  I picked up a box of the Skybox TOS Season 1 cards.  The boxes were expensive in and of themselves.  It was about a week after Ricardo had passed away.  Lo and behold I got Ricardo's auto card in the box.  I was thrilled!  My son couldn't quite understand the excitement, but it was such a rare card and it was a great image of him from Space Seed.  Anyway, yes, I loved Ricardo.  He was a pleasure to watch on screen.

  16. Yay! It's Hilary's release day! We had two record-setting days last week and now we're cold. It's rainy and dreary and it's supposed to be down to 40 tonight. I want warm back damn it!

  17. I love that scene with RM in Wrath of Khan! I miss the man, too. He was in so many shows -- remember him as a retired bullfighter in a Columbo episode? Classic. Thanks, Herb.

  18. Great, great quote from the man, Herb. I never heard of this one, and I thank you ever so much for submitting it in your comment, my friend.

  19. That is a great story and remembrance, Gordon! Wow! Makes me want to tee up Space Seed and ST II with the kids again. Thanks for sharing that and for your comment.

    p.s., it's only suppose to be around 100º F (with some humidity) today. Now where did I put that pullover?  ;)

  20. Man, the weather sure does turn quickly in OH!

    I look forward to finding meeting Hilary come October at The Mystery Bookstore. Thanks so much, Jen.

  21. I think I'll take this damp and chilly weather over that way-too-hot stuff you're getting.