Monday, March 20, 2023

Monday, Monday


Had a very nice trip to Florida where both Jeff's drove me up and down both coasts. The damage from Ian was astounding. I took a lot of photos but I am not posting them because they are the destruction of people's lives on display. I had no idea how widespread the destruction was. It seems like you might wait years for a new roof based on all the blue tarp covering so many houses. 

Saw a lovely garden in Naples, the Baker Museum, and the Edison House in Fort Myers. Also the Flagler Mansion in North Palm Beach. 

Lots of good food on both coasts especially a Japanese buffet in Delray Beach (I think) and a fabulous Philly Cheesesteak spot in Naples. The nicest thing was seeing my great nephew and niece who seemed very excited to  have me visit them. 

Jeff and Jackie introduced me to FAUDA. I was able to finish off THE LAST OF US, which was exciting but touching as well. Also finished POKER FACE, which I also enjoyed. 

I am still floundering in finding a book to read. I am just not a kindle reader, try as I might. But I also don't care to hold a hugely heavy hardback. So it's paperbacks for me. 

What have you guys been up to?

Monday, March 13, 2023

Monday, Monday

 What's up?

3/13/2023 What Would Have Been My Mother's 100th Birthday



                                                        Happy Birthday, Mom

Friday, March 10, 2023

FFTV-COLUMBO "Double Shock"


Again, the plot was only so-so but the humor in this episode was outstanding. Funny when thinking back on this series I didn't remember it as funny. 

(SPOILER ALERT)Twin brothers (Martin Landau) plot to murder their uncle who is getting ready to marry (Julie Newmar) and change his will. One brother is a TV chef, the other a banker. And there is an amusing routine with Columbo helping the chef out on TV. A TV show within a TV show always plays a bit awkwardly. Somehow they feel they need to make it more amateurish.

But the most amusing scenes used veteran actress Jeanette Nolan (300 TV appearances) to play a housekeeper who has trouble tolerating Columbo's messes. The two of them are perfect together. So once again you can see Falk enjoying himself in every scene. There are other interesting bits in this episode.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: Edith Pearlman: "Inbound" from BINOCULAR VISION


"Inbound" is the story of a family of four taking a trip to the Boston area. Sophie is seven, her sister, Lily, two. Lily has Downs Syndrome and this is most of all a trip where Sophie figures out just what that means for her sister, her parents and her. Although it is also a story about her getting lost and what agony this puts her family through in a strange city. The writing is lovely and I look forward to reading the rest of the stories in this collection. 

Kevin Tipple

George Kelley 


Todd Mason 

Casual Debris

Jerry House 

Monday, March 06, 2023

Monday, Monday


Going to see this tonight. Meadowbrook has gone the way of most theaters now and mostly has musicals or comedies. I remember seeing very serious plays there 20 years ago. I can remember seeing ALL MY SONS and A WALK IN THE WOODS there for instance.

Haven't been to a movie theater in a long time now. I may try to sneak away to one this week though. If we don't go to movie theaters, all our movies are going to be of the Hallmark/or MCU variety. Interesting that they are going to have varied prices at some theater. Do they think this will bring more patrons in? 

Watching the same old, same old. Most seem to be wrapping up though. I am looking forward to the final season of SUCCESSION and the second season of PERRY MASON. I have also been watching SERVANT on Apple, which is actually pretty good. Certainly moody, and well acted. Not really my idea of horror so good on that.

Finished LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, which I thought had some major flaws but I finished it so that's something. Now reading short stories by Edith Pearlman, which I had to buy. I don't understand why my library had none of her work. And it is a very good library normally. Also reading a book by Scott Ellsworth, BREAKING GROUND, about the Tulsa race riot of 1921. 

Lots of people here without power again. I do not remember this happening in the past and I guess it is because our energy use is so massive now and no one is investing in improving the grids. 

I listened to Megan discuss Paul Schrader movies on a podcast (@WatchwithJen). It is a weird thing that I can always find something on you tube or a podcast with Megan on it if I am missing her. Her schedule is crushing though. She was with Sarah Weinman at Columbia University yesterday, is off to Oxford, MS in a couple of weeks and a book festival on Long Island. And this is two months before her book comes out. The pandemic actually allowed her to do a lot of this on zoom. Now it's back to in-person events. 

I will be in Florida with Jeff Nase and Jeff Meyerson next week but I will post this so you can share things.

Anyway, what is up with you guys?

Friday, March 03, 2023

FFTV-"Any Old Port In A Story" Columbo


Among other things, COLUMBO was known for the quality of its guest stars (much like POKER FACE today) but ANY OLD PORT (Season 3 episode 2) was notable. Donald Pleasance created a character that seemed to walk right off of the screen and it is clear how much Peter Falk enjoyed acting with him.

Pleasance plays Adrian Carsini the owner of a vineyard and there is nothing more important to him that producing, buying and selling fine wine. When his half-brother, Ric (Gary Conway) tells him he intends to sell the land, Donald kills him immediately. Now what makes this a great episode for me is not the cleverness in proving his guilt (although there are few good twists) but the camaraderie established between the two characters. Although there are many fine guest appearances on COLUMBO, this is the best for me because it's quieter and more charming than most of them. The final scene between the two actors is almost as sweet as Bogie and Bergman saying goodbye in CASABLANCA. 


This was one of Falk's favorite episodes. 

What is your favorite episode?

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: The Stories of Richard Bausch: "The Fireman's Wife"

 A review a few days ago of Richard Bausch's new book THE PLAYHOUSE, sent me to my very much culled bookshelves to find a copy of this collection from 20 years ago. This story was first published in THE ATLANTIC in 1989. A young couple is having trouble early into the marriage. The husband, a firefighter, seems immature, uncaring, a poor choice made in haste. Jane is getting ready to leave him, despite the words of a friend, "Wait for love to come around and surprise you again." As Jane is pulling clothes out of her closet, two colleagues bring the husband home, he has badly burned his hands fighting a fire that killed another man on his team. Jane tends to her husband and realizes that her rush into marriage need not be repeated with a rush out of marriage and decides to wait a bit. 

Bausch wrote many stories along this line. Now domestic issues seem more the province of women. It seems to me Robert Bausch was also a writer. I will have to check. 

Todd Mason

George Kelley 

Kevin Tipple 

Jerry House 


Steve Lewis 

Casual Debris

Monday, February 27, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Enjoyed a performance of the DSO Friday night. They played NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN, a piano concerto by Grieg (soloist was Gavrlyik and he was terrific) and a third piece by a female composer I was not familiar with. Mask wearing is almost non-existent now. Started SNOW GIRL on Netflix, a Spanish crime series. I've been watching some old episodes of MOONLIGHTING. As I expected the characters are much better than the plots.

Still plugging along with LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, which is pretty original. Also started a Ruth Rendell book, NO MAN'S NIGHTINGALE. What a great writer she was. 

Lots of podcasts, mostly political ones. 

How about you?

Friday, February 24, 2023

FFB-ITALIAN SHOES, Henning Mankell

 This is a standalone novel from 2010 and not a mystery at all.  The main character is a surgeon who made a terrible error in surgery and retreated ten years earlier to a remote island off the coast of Sweden. One day he sees a handicapped woman across the inlet. It turns out she is a woman he ran away from forty years earlier. She is dying now and comes to try to discover why he left her in the manner he did. 

This is a terrific character study and the story of a man that finally sees he needs to seek redemption both from the woman he left and the woman he injured grievously in the surgery. He must wrestle with his ego to come to terms with what he did. A very fine book but perhaps not for those seeking a lot of action or a typical Mankell mystery. I love his Wallender series and the same fine writing is here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


May be an image of book and text

Short Story Wednesday: ALL THE DAYS AND NIGHTS, William Maxwell "Young Francis Whitehead"


William Maxwell was one of my favorite writers, especially the novels, TIME WILL DARKEN IT and SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW. But his short stories are very fine too and this volume collects some of his best, along with some of his "improvisations" which were very short pieces he stuck in people's cards or Christmas stockings. I have discussed other stories from this collection on here and hope this was not one of them.This story, just a few pages, begins with a seamstress, coming to drop off some work she has completed and being caught in the middle of a college-age son telling his mother he was not going back to school and also he'd not be living with her any longer. A dog, brought home from college by the boy, breaks up some of the heartbreak here but some of us remember the day when it was clear that our children had left home for good and know some of what she is feeling. In this case, she's a new widow so his departure is doubly painful. How clever to insert the dog and the seamstress to bear witness to the pain and give the reader a break from it.

Kevin Tipple

George Kelley 

Jerry House 

Todd Mason

Monday, February 20, 2023

Monday, Monday


Been reading ANGEL by Elizabeth Taylor in small increments. It is a satirical novel about a woman who fancies herself as a great writer. Her purple prose sells well but even her editor laughs behind her back. If she wasn't so pretentious you might pity her. Well, I still do because what writer doesn't want to look kindly on herself. On some days at least,

I am just about finished writing a short story, which has taken all kinds of unexpected twists and sent me down 1968 Philly sports teams more than once. It is the first I have finished in its entirety since Covid. 

Went to a lecture at Oakland University on the Tulsa Race Riots, which are different from how WATCHMEN portrayed them. Amazing how they were buried by the townspeople for almost a hundred years. And if the Republicans have their way will be buried again. We ordered the book in hopes of persuading our book group to read it for March.

Going to the Detroit Film Theater's Animated Oscar/short subjects nominees today. (Too long but enjoyable). Big crowd.


How about you?

Friday, February 17, 2023

FFB; THE SOLOIST, Mark Salzman


Renee Sundheimer was a cello prodigy who lost his gift at age eighteen. Now he teaches at an university, a man broken by his childhood. A Japanese child comes to him for private lessons and at the same time he is chosen to serve on the jury in a murder trial where a man, possible insane, has killed his zen buddha master. The cat on the cover doesn't make an appearance until the last chapter so readers lured by the idea the cat will figure heavily into the story may be disappointed. But I really enjoyed this book. Written more than twenty years ago now, it is slower and quieter than most novels. I have read one other book by Salzman, LYING AWAKE, about a nun. Also a terrific story. The jury politics play out heavily in this novel. Salzman had written several memoirs about his travels in China, kung fu, and Zen Buddhism. 

Salzman is such a likeable writer. That doesn't always come though but in his case, it does.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

 After saying to Todd that he should consider renting, I felt obliged to post this. While I was in CA, a sprinkler went crazy on the 11th floor and flooded most of the floors beneath it. For the first few days, fans ran all the time, giving someone like me the fear there would be a fire. That did not happen, however the corridor is pretty ripped up. So renting is not the complete solution I hoped for. Luckily, my apartment is just before this photo and there was no damage.

I am not wild about having walls ripped out and exposing who knows what for who knows how long however. 

Short Story Wednesday: Elder Jinks, Edith Pearlman

 I finally found an Edith Pearlman story (Jeff recommended her stories) in a collection called LOVE STORIES FOR TURBULENT TIMES (2018). My library had nothing else and although HONEY DEW was listed in the catalog, it wasn't there and was not available to get through their inter-library loan system Mysterious for a writer that won awards a decade ago. This story was first published in The Antioch Review in 2007. 

"Elder Jinks" concerns the whirlwind romance of two older (but not elderly) people and how their marriage procedes when neither of them has been very careful in making their choice and the story is full of their wonder at the other's behavior, habits and choices. When Gustave is on a trip, Grace has questionable evening guest(s), which brings things to a halt. But perhaps they will mend their fight now that they know each other better and seem willing to tread more carefully. An unusual story, both in style and story. I will read more of her--even if I have to buy it. 

Kevin Tipple

George Kelley

Jerry House


Casual Debris 

Todd Mason

Monday, February 13, 2023

Monday, Monday

 I saw PILLOW TALK in  large theater down the street and I was the only one. It seems like I am wasting energy to do this, but I have a hunch they would play it to a totally empty theater. What if someone came in fifteen minutes late. It would be better to be fifteen minutes into the movie than start it late and screw up the later shows. I have seen this film many times but I don't think it was on a big screen. Or perhaps my parents, who didn't pay much attention to such things, would have let me go. If I went it would have been with my friend, Karen. We would have gotten quite dressed up and took the bus and subway to downtown Philly and seen it at one of the movie palaces that were still in business in 1960. We would have had lunch  down there too. I don't know if I would have let my eleven year old daughter make such a trip. And an old man in an alley once exposed himself to us. Anyway, this viewing was far less glamorous. Movies like PILLOW TALK formed my view on what adult life would be like. I have heard Megan say in interviews that movies starring Jean Harlow and Jimmy Cagney formed hers. So her view of adult life was all about night clubs and mine was about flirtation.

Enjoying THE LAST OF US, ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, SHRINKING, and POKERFACE. SHRINKING isn't great but Harrison Ford and some of the other supporting cast are. Not quite the right fit for Jason Segal. 

Going to see NO BEARS today, an Iranian movie. 

Finished THE SOLOIST, which I enjoyed very much. It is nice to swept away by a novel. It doesn't happen that often, but it is happening again with ITALIAN SHOES by Henning Mankell. This is not a crime story. I didn't know he wrote mainstream novels, but I will look for more. 

We have had two sunny days in a row and that really does pick up my spirits. How nice it must be to live in a place where it is sunny most of the time. Don't take it for granted. 

How about you?

Friday, February 10, 2023

FFB From 2013, WILD WILD WESTERNERS, Tom Weaver -review from Bill Crider

Wild Wild Westerners is subtitled A Round up of Interviews with Western Movie and TV Veterans.  It's not forgotten, since it came out in 2012, but some of you might have overlooked it.  If you're at all interested in western movies and TV, that would be a mistake.  It's a great collection and Tom Weaver has interviewed some wonderful storytellers.

It would be hard for me to pick a favorite, but if forced to do so, I might settle for Andrew Fenady's memories of creating The Rebel, writing the theme song, working with Nick Adams, and so on.  Or maybe Paul Picerni's wild tales of working on The Scalphunters.  Shelley Winters!  Wow.  But there are lot of others, all well worth your time.  June Lockhart talks about her many guest appearances on western TV shows.  Richard Kline remembers Charles Starrett.  Robert Colbert tells how he became a third Maverick brother.  And on and on.  There's a long interview with Fess Parker, and his summary of his proposed movie about Davy Crockett after he survived the battle of the Alamo is great stuff.  There's a lot more.

The interviews collected here all appeared in Boyd Magers' Western Clippings magazine.  I'm not familiar with it, but I think I should be.


Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: Wednesday's Child, Yuyan Li (from THE NEW YORKER)

Li is the author of ten novels and many short stories. She's won prizes for her writing. It seems like grief is her specialty. She came to this country from Communist China, where she gave speeches extolling the regime but came to regret her support. I expected this to feel like a story written by a Chinese woman, as her novels seem to center that, but it is could be a woman from any ethnicity.

Rosalie is a photographer traveling from Amsterdam to Belgium. There is a very pregnant woman on her car and this and other things brings back memories of her own child, who took her life at age 15. She also compares her relationship with Marcie to her fraught relationship with her mother. Only a few years have passed since the suicide and her grief is palpable. Marcie was very smart and a motivated student and she wonders if she should have encouraged her to be less so. 

A sad story but well written. You feel she had to have been a good or at least good enough mother and so too her husband. Sometimes something else must be going on in a young girl's head. Of course, that she didn't see it will haunt her forever. 

Todd Mason

Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang 

George Kelley

Jerry House 


Monday, February 06, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Although colder than usual, and rainier than usual, we had a great time in La Jolla. It is such a gorgeous place it is hard not to. And showing it to two new people was fun. I did miss Phil--it was the first time I have been there since his death. But on the whole, it was tolerable after four years without him. We saw three musical events-the best being the Montreal Jazz Festival with Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater and three younger performers. San Diego is struggling with a homeless epidemic and we were wary of walking the streets near the theater-in fact, a man warned us not to. But La Jolla is a world away so we could forget real world problems a few hours later, which makes me ashamed off and on. Friends from DC came in for five days, she with a broken foot from a hike in Tucson. Saw a good series that played on BRITBOX-BROKEN. Watched AFTERSUN on VOD-terrific movie. Saw several movies at the theater-all good: LIVING, MISSING, WOMEN TALKING. After starting and putting down several novels, I am now reading THE SOLOIST by Mark Salzman.

How about you? 


Monday, January 30, 2023

Monday, January 09, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Although I will be in CA the next three Mondays, I am going to post the days so you can share what you are doing with me and each other. I am only taking my cellphone so I won't be able to do much without a laptop.

Three good movies this week-all streaming or VOD. I liked MY DOG STUPID enough to get the book called WEST OF ROME by John Fante. ETERNAL DAUGHTER was prettty amazing and Swinton should be nominated in both acting categories. DECISION TO LEAVE was a bit hard to follow. I really don't like subtitles on a complicated movie in a foreign language on a TV screen but it was terrific despite the struggle.

THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS on PRIME is another good adaption of Elena Ferrante's novels. The dubbed version was a relief. WILL TRENT, streaming on HULU looks to be a decent crime show. It is based on the Karen Slaughter novels. Also sampling ALASKA DAILY with Hilary Swank. Yes, she is the white savior of indigenous people but I am hoping we get beyond that. I really like the cast. 

I hardly left my apartment this week. Lots of vague but annoying sinus and throat issues.  Josh and his family took me out for dinner to celebrate turning 75. What a nice family I have.

How about you?


Friday, January 06, 2023

FFB: THE CHILL, Ross MacDonald

Reviewing this book exceedingly difficult. The plot is very complicated and stopping at a point where not too many reveals have been mentioned is nearly impossible. So I will err here on the side of telling too little rather than too much.

Archer is hired by the callow youth, Alex Kincaid, to find his new wife Dolly, who has suddenly disappeared. Archer takes the case when it is clear the police are uninterested and finds Dolly quickly, but of course complications arise. 

A man from her past has shown up at their hotel. This and the death of her college advisor, Helen Haggerty, has sent her into flight. She claims, in fact, that she's caused Helen’s death. Archer puts Dolly into a rest home with a man who has treated her in the past for similar incidents. Kincaid hangs around to keep an eye on her.

It seems that Dolly is linked to a number of mysterious deaths over a long period. The dean of the college Dolly attends also figures into the story at multiple points. He is dominated by his mother although puts up less of a fuss than you might expect.
This is very much a story about family relationships and how children can be manipulated by adults. The past has the present in a stranglehold in this book. Try as they might, the characters in THE CHILL are helpless but to follow a path they sometimes had no hand in making. Although many characters in THE CHILL only appear on the page for a minute or two, they are each given the traits to be memorable. Archer himself is the least memorable and I think Macdonald planned it thusly. 
My favorite line, and one that sums up much of the plot, is "I'm beginning to hate old women."


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Short Story Wednesday ANARCTICA by Claire Keegan


The award-winning Antarctica, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001, and recipient of the prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the William Trevor Prize, and the Martin Healy Award, is a haunting debut. "

After reading SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE and FOSTER, I wanted, of course, to see what Keegan's shorts were like. I have only read a couple, but I couldn't have been more surprised. The two novels concern the fate of children, the stories (so far) the desires of adults. In the first and title story, a woman decides she wants to sleep with another man before she is too old for such a dalliance. She finds him at a conference and shares an erotic evening with him followed by a very different morning. 

What is the same in both the novels and story is the sure-footedness of the writing.  Keegan never tells you things you don't need to know but lays the situation out beautifully. A discussion between the lovers that seems perhaps arbitrary in its topic turns out to mean everything by the end. 

I listened to this on Hoopla. What a wonderful resource our libraries gift us. 

Kevin Tipple

Jerry House 

Casual Debris

Monday, January 02, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Been a bit under the weather so I have nothing much to report but don't let that stop you for entertaining me.