Monday, June 18, 2018

Things That Are Making Me Happy

The Dakota Inn Rathskeller was opened on August 1, 1933 by Karl Kurz, the Grandfather of Karl E. Kurz, the present owner. EIGHTY FOUR years later, Detroit’s only authentic German bar is still going strong! We celebrated my daughter-in-law's mother's birthday there on Saturday night.

Thursday night we attended a performance of the Great Lakes Chamber Series with our friends the Boyles, which takes place every June at many venues over several weeks. The concert we saw was at the gorgeous Kirk in the Hills Church.

                                      My son and family came over for Father's Day. A nice time.Kevin is now a middle-schooler. Where did the years go?

Very much enjoying Bailey and Scott on Amazon Prime.

What about you?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday , June 15, 2018

GUN WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC, Jonathan Lethem from Deborah (Debby) Atkinson,

Years ago, I was browsing a San Francisco bookstore when someone recommended a book that looked pretty quirky to my unfamiliar eye. It was Gun, with Occasional Music, published in 1994, and I'd never heard of Jonathan Lethem. After I read Gun, I started paying attention.
I write crime fiction, so about 75% of what I read is in that genre, and I use that term inclusively: mystery, thriller, suspense, and so on. Every now and then, I read sci-fi, which if it's good, is beyond good—it's fantastic. These finds seem rarer than the fantastic mystery/suspense novel, though maybe I'm just inexperienced, and someone here can point me in the right direction.
With Gun, with Occasional Music, Lethem did it all. He captured Raymond Chandler's noir setting and injected the futuristic pessimism of Philip K. Dick, with a dash here and there of Frank Herbert's Dune (mind altering, government-issued drugs), and compelling animal protagonists à la Eric Garcia. Gun has sheep, apes, rabbits, and other species, all "evolved" to speak English and make protagonist Conrad Metcalf's life more difficult. Wait until you meet Joey Castle, the enforcer kangaroo.
Best of all, though, are characters that are original, appealing, and sympathetic. The dialogue crackles, the scenes are intense, and you'll love Metcalf despite his foibles.
I also loved Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn (1999), but this one made more of a splash in the mystery community, so I probably don't have to sing its praises quite as loudly. Lionel Essrog, the protagonist of Motherless, has Tourette's syndrome. Yet Essrog's outbursts ring with not only profanity, but brilliance, heart, and desperation. The dialogue and characters are outstanding. The writing is inspirational, poetic at times. And the mystery ain't bad, either.
I hope you enjoy Lethem's work as much as I do. 

Mark Baker, MURDER ON MULBERRY BEND, Victoria Thompson
Les Blatt, DEATH ON THE AISLE, Richard and Frances Lockridge
Brian Busby, ARCTIC RENDEVOUS,Keith Edgar
CrossExaminingCrime, VANISH IN AN INSTANT, Margaret Millar
Martin Edwards, THE CRACK IN THE TEACUP, Michael Gilbert
Richard Horton, INVITATION TO LIVE, Lloyd C.Douglas
Jerry House, PHANTOM, Thomas Tessier
George Kelley,  THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES: 1953 Edited by Everett F. Bleiler & T. E. Dikty
Margot Kinberg, THE LOST, Claire McGowan
Steve Lewis/Walker Martin, The Non-Maigret Novels of Georges Simenon 
Todd Mason, ADVENTURES IN THE SPACE TRADE: A Memoir by Richard Wilson  FANTASTIC WORLDS Nos. 3, 4 & 5, edited by Sam Sackett; COLD SNAP by Thom Jones: Limited Promotional Sampler The Very Small Press, and a Brief Form of a Little, Brown Book
Juri Nummelin, BARBARY SLAVE, Kevin Matthews

Richard Robinson, What I Read, Part 8
Matt Paust, THE OVERSTORY, Richard Powers
James Reasoner, THE WIDOW, Orrie Hitt
TomCat, THE CASE OF THE TUDOR QUEEN, Christopher Bush
TracyK, CUTTER AND BONE, Newton Thornburg
Zybahn,KEEPING HOUSE, Michael Blumlein

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Forgotten Movies: Young Man with a Horn

Taking advantage of our new Criterion/Filmstruck Channel, we ended up watching this last week. I don't think I had ever seen it and it reminded me how Kirk Douglas had some acting chops back in the day. He was very convincing as a musician. Doris Day plays the good girl/Lauren Bacall, the bad and Hoagy Carmichael is his long time pal. The film gets a little murky about 2/3 through. Not sure what exactly brought him back from the brink. Maybe just the love of some good friends. Lots of great music, and lots of well-filmed scenes. I have the novel somewhere. Maybe that will spell it out a bit better. Hollywood did impose strictures on movies in the forties and fifties.

What are some of the great films about musicians? Or novels? 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Things that are Making Me Happy

Lucky to see a concert version of TURANDOT, which utilized the entire DSO and several huge choirs. It was three hours of gorgeous music. It was sad that Leonard Slatkin had to miss his last few performances due to heart surgery. He has been a real blessing to the DSO and Detroit.

Also saw the best movie I have seen so far this year FIRST REFORMED. Ethan Hawkes gets better with each film and this film is Paul Schrader's masterpiece at age 72. Hope it comes your way. Certainly it is not a happy film but it is a redemptive one.

Reading MRS. FLETCHER by Tom Perotta and essays by Sloane Crossley and short stories by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Finishing up the final three episodes of THE STAIRCASE on Netflix. Seems like I have been watching this saga all my adult life.

And this..

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 8, 2018

Pick-Up by Charles Willeford (from the archives)

When was the last time you read a book so compelling you couldn't put it down? What was it?
For me, it was this novel. It takes a long time in Pick-Up for the reader to understand the protagonist and what he's all about. Why he's in the fix he's in. Maybe you won't understand the full story until the last line. And yet, Willeford is able to tell his story lucidly, making even the most mundane details riveting.
This is basically a story about two drunks. Why does it work so well? Better for me even than Kennedy's drunks in Albany. Because the characters are interesting, the narrative pull inescapable, the writing excellent.
Even when the plot turns a bit unlikely in the last third--the characters remain true to themselves, so you go along with it.

Yvette Banek, THE BOX OFFICE MURDERS, Freeman Wills Crofts
Elgin Bleecker, THE SAINT, MILLION POUND DAY, Leslie Charteris
Brian Busby, FORD NATION, Rob and Doug Ford
CrossExaminingCrime,  NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO DIE, ELizabeth Tebberts-Taylor
Martin Edwards, THE MAN WHO LOVED LIONS, Ethel Lina White
Curt Evans, GRAVE MATTERS, Margaret Yorke
Charles Gramlich, THE SNAKE MAN'S BAN, Howie K. Bentley; STEPSONS OF TERRA, Robert Silverberg
Richard Horton,  The Duplicated Man, by James Blish and Robert Lowndes
Jerry House, EASY GO, Michael Crichton
Geroge Kelley,  YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS: 1952 Edited By Everett F. Bleiler & T. E. Dikty
Margot Kinberg, TENANT FOR DEATH, Cyril Hare
Rob Kitchin, WITHOUT THE MOON, Cathi Unsworth
B.V. Lawson, I'LL SING YOU TWO O, Anthea Frasier
Evan Lewis, THE LEGION OF THE LIVING DEAD, Carroll John Daly
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, MURDER ON HIGH, Stephanie Mattison
Todd Mason, 1951 Newstand Photos and Magazines on Display
J.F. Norris, AND TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND, Philip Loraine
Matt Paust, SHUTTER ISLAND, Dennis Lehane
James Reasoner, RICHARD BOLITHO, MIDSHIPMAN, Alexander Kent
Richard Robinson, WHAT I READ, Part 7
Gerard Saylor, EXIT STRATEGY, Steve Hamilton
Kevin Tipple. JADE'S PHOTOS, Randy Rawls
TomCat, THE BACK BAY MURDERS, Roger Scarlett
TracyK, TRAITOR'S PURSE, Margery Allingham