Monday, July 29, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

I saw another production of OTHELLO which I enjoyed. A really terrific Iago even though some of the other parts were not as strong. I think I have seen this play second only to HAMLET in numbers.

I got my garage cleaned out in anticipation of a new wall installed on the back. It will be nice to not have snow, leaves and dirt and most of all animals getting in there. Yes, the wrought iron gate is pretty but no practical.

Reading JCO's book about the death of her first husband, Ray Smith. Her second husband died in April. I have read it before but now it speaks to me.

Getting ready for the trek to Traverse City. We are seeing 14 films in the next week. Hope we are up to it. I am going with my friend Charleen who is so kind to be the driver. 

Watching BLACK SPOT on Netflix. Only two episodes in but I like it so far.

Kevin is reading ERAGON. Looks like he enjoys fantasy novels. Any suggestions for a 12 year old. Oh, and his voice has changed. Startling.

What about you?

Friday, July 26, 2019



Jean Parker Shepherd Jr. (July 26, 1921 – October 16, 1999) was an American storyteller, radio and TV personality, writer and actor. He was often referred to by the nickname Shep.[1] With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is known for the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated and co-scripted, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.[2]

Of course, the movie, A CHRISTMAS STORY and its yearly showings, far surpassed interest in the books but there are so many more charmers in the three or four books of his I have read. It is mostly about his childhood in rural Indiana and he told these stories first on his radio show, but  good humor, especially his, which was neither bawdy nor saccharine, is rare. To this day, any neighbor that turn troublesome to our family is thereafter known as the Bumpus'. He is very good at names: Ollie Hopnoodle, Ludlow Scut Farkus, Ludlow Kissell, Grover Dill, Wilbur Duckworth and on and on. When your name is funny, how can you not be. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

My book group makes me happy. Between the seven of us we were able to suss out some stuff about EUPHORIA, which made me appreciate it more. People I know who don't belong to book groups always say 1) I don't want to read books other people choose 2) it just ends up being a social gathering 3) There is always someone who talks too much.

But my group always reads and mostly discusses the books. And they often choose books I would not read on my own. And being social for 30% of the two hours is fine with me On our own here in blogland (except for George who reads widely) we all tend to read the same kind of books--fiction. Especially since we all like genre fiction that narrows it more. My book group alternates fiction and non-fiction. Like next we are reading a book about the Flint Water Crisis. We read books written by men and women. So I think it works well. We are all Dems so we don't argue about politics. But we do discuss them.

Enjoyed somewhat THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE, but I think it went off the rails a bit the second half. The degree of violence wasn't necessary to my mind although Steve O. might think differently. Mixing humor and violence is hard to pull off. Especially extreme violence and deadpan humor.

I thought the second season of BIG LITTLE LIES was awful. Flat, ill-thought out, redundant. Sure the acting was good but when they are given little of substance to act on, ugh.

Still debating Bouchercon. I signed up for it and reserved at room somewhere but am not sure I want to wander around alone. Dallas seems like an awfully big city to do that in. I like panels but cannot do them all day. And finding people to have meals with was tough even with Phil along.Hopefully Megan will be able to go.

I am addicted to PROJECT RUNWAY. There is something soothing about it and most of the seasons are on Hulu. Other than that I am not finding much else to watch. I need shows that don't require much concentration. So too, books. Maybe I should sign up for Britbox. A lot of their shows seem simpler than series on Netflix and Amazon. Hope I get some focus back soon. Hope I get myself back soon. This mourning is a real roller coaster ride. Just when you think you're past the worst you realize there is a lot of worst ahead.

Friday, July 19, 2019

FFB, July 11, 2019

Looking for a baseball review I found this reviewfrom Al Tucher, way back in 2010. 


Over the weekend of November 13-14 I attended the Crimebake conference in Dedham, Mass. On Saturday a gentleman about my age joined my breakfast table. I read his nametag and blurted, "Mr. Carkeet. I'm a big fan of The Greatest Slump of All Time."
David Carkeet's comic novel, which came out in 1984, supports my belief that baseball is life, only more so. It's the story of a major league team, each member of which suffers from a secret depression. That would be bad enough, but the team is also on a winning streak, The wrose the players feel, the more they win, and the more they win, the more like worthless frauds they feel. An excerpt says it better than I can:
"Bubba fears someone is going to break into his apartment on a dark night while he is in bed. The intruder will of course steal from him, but he will also abuse him with words. Bubba feels that the man will have every right to do this."
The scene in which the teammates break through their manly silence and share their pain is hilarious, but I won't spoil it here.
David Carkeet also wrote at least two crime novels in which a researcher in linguistics solves the mystery, and he has a new book set in Vermont called From Away. I plan to get hold of it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Saw WILD ROSE, which I liked less than I expected. It was like a documentary except it wasn't. Plus that Glascow accent was so difficult. A very nice week here although we could use some rain.

I have been watching PROJECT RUNAWAY. It is very soothing because Phil and I never watched it together so I have no memories of that. Any show we both enjoyed is hard to watch. But I am doing okay. Still running around with friends too much. At some point, I am going to have to learn how to stay home and face it.

Trying to finish EUPHORIA for my book group. Next book is on Flint Water Crisis. Dread that one.
Going to read CONVICTION (Mina) first though.
Three times in the last few days the name Michael Bennet has come up. What do we think of him at the Democratic nominee? Have to get the media to take notice because that is key. Although I think there are some fine candidates here I don't have much faith in them beating Trump. He's got too many cards up his sleeve.

What have you been up to?

Friday, July 12, 2019


Sandra Seaman’s Forgotten Book from 2008


To be perfectly honest, I've never written a book review. For me books have always been a personal journey, something I've kept to myself, so I hope you'll bear with me as I tell you a little about the book I chose.
The book is "The Quiet Game" by Greg Iles. I'd been dipping into the work of several Southern writers when I stumbled across The Quiet Game. Published in 1999, the book centers around a thirty year old mystery.
Penn Cage is a lawyer who, with his daughter, returns to his parent's home in Natchez, Mississippi so the two of them can heal after the death of his wife. He gets prodded into investigating the unsolved murder of a black man in 1968. A murder that neither the black nor white community wants re-opened. Everyone is guarding their secrets, playing the quiet game.
Iles lays bare the undercurrents of a small southern town from the racial to the political. His wonderful writing weaves the secrets of the past into the secret lives of the present, exploring the effects of choices on people, their families and the community.
My poor summary doesn't do justice to the many layers that Mr. Iles has written into this book. His words make you sit up and think, chew your fingernails when things go terribly wrong, and smile when you realize that under all the conspiracy and mayhem the story is about justice in its truest sense.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mikey and Nicky, written and directed by Elaine May

I never saw this film before and I always assumed it was written and directed by Cassavetes. But no, it is Elaine May and in interviews the actors acknowledge that she wrote every word, none of it was invented by the actors on the spot. That is both a testament to Falk and Cassavetes' great acting and May's great writing. Filmed in Philly where she grew up, May claims to have mob people in her family that gave her both the plot idea and the language used.
Nicky (Cassavetes) calls Mikey (Falk) to rescue him—this time a contract on his life for money he stole from his mob boss—Mikey shows up to help.  Mikey gets him out of the hotel where he has holed up, and starts to help him plan his escape, but Nicky keeps changing the plan, and a hit man is hot on their trail. Betrayal and friendship take center stage. 
This is a violent film. Yet all the violence arises from the plot and the characters. The slick streets emphasize the hazardous nature of the night. The treatment of women is both horrendous and believable to the times and the men. Ned Beatty is very good too. Highly recommended although not for a nice night out.

What is your favorite film about the mob (THE GODFATHER I and 2 excluded)

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

In memory of....from Phil's memorial service

 Forgive me for posting a few of Phil's books and this speech, but I wanted to share with you some details of Phil's career. You probably know him as my husband more than someone like this....This is from Dan Geller, the chairman of Phil's department the last decade of Phil's career.

                          In Memoriam: Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Philip Abbott

Patti asked that I speak to Phil’s accomplishments as a scholar, and I consider it a privilege to do so.

My first meeting with Phil was on the initial evening of my interview for the Chair’s position at Wayne State Political Science in 2004. Although we both received our doctorates from Rutgers University, Phil was ahead of me in the program and I knew him only by his reputation among the graduate students. For my interview at WSU, the Dean of Arts and Sciences invited Phil to the dinner with us at the top of the Renaissance Center, and the reason was clear: to introduce me to the most accomplished faculty member in the department. I joined Wayne State as Chair of the Department of Political Science that August, and one of the principal reasons for my decision was the opportunity to work with a scholar of the stature of Philip Abbott.

Permit me to describe just a portion of the exceptional research under Phil’s name. Professor Abbott is the author of fourteen books and three edited volumes. These works are among the most important in the fields of Political Theory and the American Presidency. His book Political Thought in America is the leading text on American political theory. Professor Abbott’s prodigious scholarly record also includes the authorship of roughly ten chapters in edited collections. He published over thirty-five sole-authored articles in such prestigious journals as Perspectives on Politics, Polity, the Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Political Theory, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. This immense body of exceptional work established Philip Abbott as one of the leading scholars in the discipline of political science.

Phil received his Ph.D. from Rutgers in 1971, began his work as an Assistant Professor at Wayne State in 1970 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1980. Long recognized as one of the nation’s foremost political theorists, Phil had a profound appreciation for the relevance of his subject matter to contemporary life and its value in illuminating real world ethical dilemmas. His works exhibited uncommon sensitivity to such issues, setting him apart from others working in the field of political theory. In the 1990s Professor Abbott began to receive national recognition for his research in an additional field -- the American presidency. It was in this area of specialization that Phil’s reputation achieved even greater heights. Five of his last eight critically acclaimed books analyzed the office and role of the presidency, strong and weak presidents, untimely presidential successions, and a masterwork on Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In keeping with Philip Abbott’s extraordinary record of scholarship, he was the recipient of prestigious external awards, including his appointment by the American Fulbright Association as the Thomas Jefferson Professor of American Political Institutions at the University of Amsterdam. Professor Abbott was also the recipient of every major internal award for scholarship that Wayne State University confers. He was the first member of the faculty of the Department of Political Science – and one of the few faculty members in Liberal Arts – to be inducted into the Academy of Scholars. He was the recipient of two Board of Governors’ Faculty Recognition Awards, one for his book Furious Fancies: American Political Thought in the Post-Liberal Era , and a second for his two books, Seeking Many Inventions: The Idea of Community in America and States of Perfect Freedom: Autobiography and American Political Thought. Among Philip Abbott’s other awards were a Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellowship, a Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, and the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of Higher Education Award. In recognition of his stellar accomplishments as a scholar, Dr. Abbott was named Distinguished University Professor in 2005 – the highest academic honor the University can bestow.

Philip Abbott’s remarkable record extended as well to his teaching and service. He directed over ten doctoral dissertations and over twenty-five Master’s theses. Professor Abbott taught a large number of undergraduate and graduate courses including the required doctoral seminar in Philosophic Problems of Social and Political Inquiry. In recognition of the superb quality of his teaching, Dr. Abbott received both the University’s Graduate Mentor Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Lastly, Phil Abbott made huge contributions to the governance of the Department, the College, and the University as a whole. He served as an elected member of the Department’s Policy and Personnel Committee and as its Chair for nearly twenty years. Professor Abbott held the role of Assistant Dean and Graduate Officer of the College of Liberal Arts for three years, served one or more terms on over half a dozen College Committees, and in 2001 was named President of the Liberal Arts Faculty Council. Dr. Abbott was an elected member of the Academic Senate for over a decade, and he chaired the Policy Committee of that body over a period of multiple years. In Toto, his service to the University included membership on over thirty different standing or ad hoc units and committees.

It is difficult to grasp how one man could have accomplished so much, in so many areas, in such a brief time.

In closing, I wish to note that Philip Abbott’s monumental reputation as a scholar and the status he conferred on the Department of Political Science, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Wayne State University is without equal. With his passing, the University and the discipline have lost a great scholar, the Department has lost its leader, Patti, Megan, Josh and Kevin have lost a husband, father, and grandfather -- and I have lost a friend. But, for the sake of us all, his magnificent works live on.

Daniel Geller
Department of Political Science

Monday, July 08, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Three good movies this week. Steve O and I saw ECHO IN THE CANYON, which looked at the music coming out of California in the mid-sixties. It was narrated and mostly sung by Jakob Dylan, a handsome lad who doesn't quite have the rock voice or charisma to be completely successful in this role, but some nice music and good observations about that time. I really enjoyed Spiderman, great combo of teen- age antics and a clever plot. And PAVAROTTI was nicely done by Ron Howard.

Reading BIG SKY by Kate Atkinson;. She is such a great writer.

Lost my power on the 3-4th of July but that allowed me to spend some time with my son and grandson and DIL. Not a bad week.

Go find the person you are married to (if you are) and tell them right now how much they have enhanced your life, how much they mean to you. Every day I am reminded of how we didn't say that enough to each other. We felt it was implied but implied is not enough. You will really regret it if this isn't something that was part of your everyday conversation, the fabric of your life. All of you are old enough that time isn't infinite for you anymore.  

And I am telling you, how much you all have meant to me over the last decade or so. You are here every day and that counts for so much.

What are you up to this week?

Friday, July 05, 2019


Andi Shechter has been a publicist, chat host, interviewer, convention-planner, essayist and reviewer. She lives in Seattle with far too many books.

NO HUMAN INVOLVED, Barbara Seranella (reviewed by Andi Shechter)

The other day, in a fit of rereading (I get this way after trying two or three new books and finding them wanting) I picked up DEADMAN'S SWITCH by Barbara Seranella. This is a book I've read at least three times and will, undoubtedly read again. It was the last book Barbara wrote and I got annoyed thinking about that. It was the first book in a new series that featured a fascinating and terrific new protagonist, a woman with an interesting job in crisis management and an interesting life. Charlotte Lyon has obsessive compulsive disorder , an at times seriously disabling condition and Seranella it brilliantly – she was the "un-Monk" to me. (I know people with OCD and cannot watch the overbearing neurotic "Monk" who simply refuses to deal with his illness but instead expects the world to deal around him. Rrrrr.)

Sorry, off track. But see, the thing is that Barbara Seranella died in January of 2007 and that really frosts me. I'm still mad. I wasn't ready to lose a friend and to lose the person who created Munch Mancini, one of mystery's best protagonists. Her first book was NO HUMAN INVOLVED and it featured a character few of us had ever met. Munch was a junkie, an addict and was in trouble. In this first book, it's Munch's last day as an addict. She's going to get clean and sober. Throughout the history of the series, we watch her learn about all the life she missed while she was on drugs, all the hell she left behind and watch her try to get beyond it – something that's hard to do. She has debts she'll never pay, but she is learning to join society , as she puts it. Munch takes on responsibilities, sobers up without being preachy, faces the world pretty squarely and is just great to spend time with.

A couple years after I read NO HUMAN INVOLVED, I was hosting a discussion about hard-boiled mystery at a convention on a Sunday morning, It was a casual thing, a bunch of us sitting around in a circle and chatting. One of the participants in the conversation was so interesting, had so much to say and yeah, that was Barbara Seranella. I valued her friendship and the chance to catch up with her when she came to town on a book tour, and I miss her still. She had talent and used it. Her books are well crafted, and her protagonists unforgettable. This week, I'm reading my way through the Mancini series and being impressed all over again. I don't want her to be gone.

Monday, July 01, 2019


Went to a glass show, which was pretty darn incredible. Hundreds if not thousands of glass works from all over the world. Some of them sold for upwards of  $50,000 and none were under $5,000 so not in my price range for sure. Looking was enough and trying not to trip and fall on anything. 

Saw the filmed version of La Boheme from the Met. Astounding because the singer who played Mimi stood in the for a sick Mimi and had just sung Madame Butterfly the night before. We have two movie theaters that play operas, ballet, plays and music from various places. The closeups make up for it not being live.

Also saw The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which was sad, beautiful, original. Highly recommend. 

Echo Canyon is playing nearby. Wonder if Steve O. has seen it? Be more fun to see it with someone, but my friends are not rock fans.

Still working on getting things in order. Went to Secretary of State this week to put the car and registration in my name. But will I ever drive it? Don't know. It is quite a chore going on the site of every bill we get and changing the personal and billing information. Then going on my bank site and adding it there. Had to get a repairman to fix a noise in the furnace. Had to pull weeds for hours. Had to take my little cart to the grocery store and lug it home. Only a mile each way but the car is awkward. Have to look for better one.

But luckily I had glass shows and movies and books and opera and friends and tv to help out. 

What about you?