Week in review, week ending 2/15/15

In a feature I started a few months ago, and then stopped a couple weeks ago, my “Week in review” postings begin once again, this time on Monday morning as opposed to Sunday afternoon. For those that are new to my “Week in Review” postings, the following is a list of the blog posts I made last week, a few of the posts from people I follow that I thought were pretty good, and then lastly other posts I’ve stumbled into that folks might like to take a look at. Presuming I did it right all links will open new windows/tabs. Usually I link back to the previous “Week in review” post, but we’ll start fresh today.

From me this week there was…
On Monday I posted my Some random book thoughts for February 2015, Wednesday saw the continuation of my top 5 movie countdown with My top 5 favorite westerns: #2 The Shootist, and Friday saw my review of Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin, the lowest rating I’ve given a book since I started reviews here.

From the folks I follow…
The Credible Hulk takes a look at Comic Book History: Batman: The Killing Joke. If I had to list my top ten comics ever, Batman: The Killing Joke easily makes that list. Plus it’s Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, it almost had to be great.
Not The Baseball Pitcher has a music video of 2Cellos & Lang Lang: Live and Let Die. Those 2Cellos guys really rock it.

Some stuff I stumbled into…
Polinankbooksreview has a nice review of Dan Brown’s Inferno.
The Grimdark Review has a Interview: Mark Lawrence- What’s Next?. I have Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy sitting on my to-read shelf.

Not a lot of “stumbled into” stuff this week because I avoided everything even remotely related to Valentine’s Day or 50 Shades.

Links do not indicate an endorsement of the ideas presented, only that I thought the posting was worth taking a look at.

Random Review: Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin

This review contains mild spoilers.

Book Name: Hazardous Duty
Author: W.E.B. Griffin (with William E. Butterworth IV)
Series: #8 in the ongoing “Presidential Agent” series
Format(s): Hardcover/Mass market paperback/audiobook/eBook
Genre(s): Thriller
Original Release Date: December 31, 2013

Rating: 3/10

Before I started my run through all of the series written by W.E.B. Griffin that I hadn’t read yet the latest “new” book of his I’d read was Empire and Honor, which was the latest in the “Honor Bound” series set during World War Two in South America. That book was a major disappointment because in its 670-odd pages there was a significant amount of flashback scenes that made it just about half of a new book. I was hoping in Hazardous Duty Griffin and his son, who has obviously taken over writing all the books, would get back to what made all the Griffin books so good.

They didn’t. Instead what we have in Hazardous Duty is a book where there is virtually no hazardous duty. What the whole book breaks down to is main protagonist, Colonel Charley Castillo, doing nothing but spending tax dollars dodging his assignments. Literally nothing else happens that matters in the book. I rated it a three out of ten instead of lower because what is there, a touch of political intrigue and an interesting history lesson that could have taken ten pages but instead lasts about a quarter of the book, was written rather well. It just goes to show that this could have been a good book had Griffin and Butterworth bothered to try to write one.

Usually the cover of a book is at least marginally representative of something in the plot, but I can’t recall a single scene where that cover image would come into play. Reading the back of the book a reader would note that because the story allegedly includes Somali pirates that type of boat would likely be used by the good guys. Only there’s hardly anything about Somali pirates in Hazardous Duty. The blurb on the back also mentions Mexican drug cartels. Not too many of those in the story either.

There is an author’s note at the end by Griffin saying he wrote the book is the same style as his “M*A*S*H*” books. I think that note was written just to excuse how bad the book is because not once did the thought of this being anything like his “M*A*S*H*” books came to my mind. Hazardous Duty is nothing but a plotless money-grab of a novel. Griffin should be embarrassed his name is associated with the book.

If you’re someone that needs to read every single book of an author or a series then I’d say go ahead and buy the book second-hand somewhere to save some money. If you’re just looking for something good to read, look elsewhere.

My top 5 favorite westerns: #2 The Shootist

In a feature here on “Random thoughts of 210Darryl” started weeks ago I’m listing my favorite movies in a few different genres. We started with my top five favorite comedy movies and counted up toward my favorite, Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Now we’re taking a look at my five favorite westerns, and at #3 we had The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. This week it’s John Wayne in The Shootist.

I think if I had first seen this movie when John Wayne was alive it wouldn’t be one of my favorites. It’s because I saw it after he died and I relate the movie to his life and death that it’s one of my favorites. Nevertheless it is still a great story, one of an aging gunfighter finding out he doesn’t have much time left and deciding to die on his own terms. It’s a sad story that doesn’t completely match the novel, but the changes made really help the story along.

While there are gunfights and the like The Shootist is not your classic western type movie. It’s really about a man looking back on his life and then knowing how he’d rather it end. It’s also about hero-worship in a way, and the ending scene with Ron Howard really plays to what the movie is about.

There are better John Wayne movies out there, but when I list my favorites The Shootist always comes out on top for me, and that’s why it’s number two in my countdown.

Directed by Don Siegel
Produced by M.J. Frankovich and William Self
Screenplay by Miles Hood Swarthout and Scott Hale
Based on The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout
Starring John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, Harry Morgan, and James Stewart
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography by Bruce Surtees
Edited by Douglas Stewart
Release date August 20, 1976
Running time 100 minutes
Box office $13,406,138

Some random book thoughts for February 2015

Well, we’ve once again hit a new month and I still don’t have a clue what I’ll be writing about each month in my “Random book thoughts” monthly posting. Now add to that I had to take a quick vacation from blogging due to almost five feet of snow falling over the last two weeks (and as I post this it’s snowing again) and then a huge back-up of other things going on and what we’re going to get is, well, me just typing and seeing what I mash out when I’m done. It’s worked well the last few months so hopefully the trend continues. For those that care, you can read last month’s thoughts right here.

Despite doing this blogging thing for a long while I’m still trying to find a schedule that works for me and attracts more readers. If there was such a record for most followers with the least amount of page views I’m betting I’d be in the running. I’m averaging about 15% of my follower total as page views, and that seems incredibly low to me. When you figure in almost no comments I’m thinking I must be doing something to drive people away, but for the life of me I can’t figure what it is. While my goal is to eventually figure it all out in the end I really just write this for myself, so even if just one other person reads and likes it I guess I’m doing OK.

What’s odd to me is over on the sports blog I started in January I have no followers that don’t look like spammers but my page views are through the roof just from Facebook and twitter links. Again, not many comments on the blog but many via social media. Go figure.

I finally finished my run through W.E.B. Griffin’s books now that I’ve completed all his “Men at War” series and then topped it off with the latest in the “Presidential Agent” series Hazardous Duty. I’ll have a review of that book up shortly, along with a review of some of the other series of Griffin’s I finished but didn’t write individual reviews for. In the menu on the right you can see from the Goodreads widget I’ve read a few books since I last posted, and I will have reviews of all of them coming up. I’ve wandered back into the fantasy genre for the next few, and foresee a long run of those coming up. Of course that might change in two weeks, because that’s how I do things.

As I type this I’m thinking my usual summer of picking one writer and reading all their stuff might be an issue in page views. It’s cool to finally catch up on an author I hadn’t read before or was way being in their books, but perhaps readers here don’t want to keep hearing about it. May have to figure out some stuff for the warmer months to keep people interested.

While there was nothing new in the science fiction/fantasy genre I was looking for I did stumble into a few books (shocking, I know) in January. I picked up Runner by Patrick Lee, Rasputin’s Shadow by Raymond Khoury, and Act of War by Brad Thor. I also got the two Robert Parker “Spenser” books I didn’t have, the young adult story Chasing the Bear that was given to me by my buddy Stan, and when I mentioned I didn’t have Silent Night either he said he had a copy and lent it to me.

For new stuff in February I know Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia is a “must buy”, but I also saw listed Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher, which is based off the TV series of the same name. I really like the show and I’m tempted to buy the book too, although the track record of books based on TV shows is poor at best. I won’t be making many treks to the bookstore this month because of a few projects going on and TotalCon at the end of the month. I’m sure I’ll still find a way to add stuff to my collection.

Sportsmanship wins every time

This is not the post I intended to make today. The one I was going to make today I’ll get to eventually, but instead I’m reposting this one from 210Sports that I made this afternoon. The reason I’m reposting it here was a friend suggested my new blog wouldn’t get the message of this posting, that sportsmanship wins every time, out to enough people. It’s only tangentially about sports. It’s really about kindness from the most unexpected places.

We unfortunately live in a world where far too often people thrive on putting others down, or take joy from the pain of others. A chance encounter Saturday has really given me a lot to think about, and I hope that you can spend a few minutes reading this and that it will give you all something to think about too.

* * * * * * * * *

I think it’s a safe bet that most reading this will know that I cover the Worcester Sharks over on a blog called Sharkspage. My original goal here on 210Sports was to keep the two absolutely separate. I intended to have all the WorSharks stuff over there and everything else sports would be here. When you figure there’s an almost endless amount of sports going on to talk about, I didn’t think it would be that hard to keep the two entirely separate entities. But something happened on Saturday that has made me decide to violate my own rule less than a month into my blog here.

For those that don’t know some of the particulars, we’ll backtrack just a bit. While it was fairly well known in these parts that San Jose was going to move the Worcester Sharks out to the west coast at some point, over the last couple months it’s became pretty clear it would be sooner as opposed to later, and last Thursday and Friday word began to circulate through legitimate news outlets that this would indeed be the final season for the WorSharks.

Despite knowing the news was coming it was still a shock for some, but those of us that went through this once before when the St. Louis Blues moved the Worcester IceCats away ten years ago are making sure “the next generation”, as friend Rich calls them, knows that despite the team leaving it doesn’t mean friendships end. In fact, if evidence from last time is any indication those friendships get stronger. But I digress a bit.

On Saturday the Booster Club had a bus trip to Albany set up, and despite the heavily falling snow it was still a pretty good turnout. With it being a long drive the bus made a scheduled stop at a rest area off the Mass Pike in Lee, Massachusetts. While everyone was stretching their legs and grabbing a quick snack a couple of folks, seeing we were wearing WorSharks jerseys, came over to us to talk about us losing our team. They were from Adirondack, another AHL city that’s going to see their team leave heading out to the west coast. It was a nice conversation, talking about the potential for other lower level teams moving into the abandoned markets.

We got to Albany a little later than we were hoping to because of the snow, so into the Times Union Center most of us went. As we walked around the concourse a few folks stopped me and asked about the trip from Worcester (it was snowing in Albany too from the same storm), and briefly touched on our losing the team. It was the kind of friendly conversation that you’d see in many AHL arenas. After finding our seats Rich and I quickly decided there wasn’t enough leg room so we moved to a different location where we could spread out a little.

The WorSharks ended up winning the game in overtime, sending the home team fans out maybe not in the best of moods. In those situations it’s usually best to keep quiet and just go about your business hoping no drunken opposing fans start trouble. A few of us gathered to keep watch on some of our group that have been known to get into altercations, but nothing like that came even close to happening. After the crowd thinned out I headed down the stairs toward the rest rooms.

A few minutes later as I was at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my wife to come out of the ladies room I noticed a man and a young boy, I’m guessing age seven or so, looking over in my direction. Within a few seconds they walked over to me and the boy said, “That’s a cool jersey”. I was wearing the WorSharks teal 5th anniversary jersey, and said thanks and told him what it was and who the player was (#35, goaltender Harri Sateri, who isn’t on the team anymore). I figured that was going to be the end of the conversation when he said something that surprised me. “I don’t like it when the Devils lose, but my dad says you’re going to lose your team next year so it’s okay that you won today. That way maybe you won’t be sad”.

I was stunned to silence.

What do you say to something like that? I just stood there staring at the kid, not believing what I had just heard. I mumbled something like “thanks, I appreciate it”. Without missing a beat he quickly added “You know, you could always move to Albany and root for the Devils”. I laughed at that, and then he stuck his hand out. I shook it, and then his dad’s who added “Good luck, have a safe trip” as they walked out the door. I walked back up the stairs half in a daze, totally forgetting I was waiting for my wife.

I told those gathered at the top of the stairs about what happened and everyone thought it was awesome and got a chuckle out of it. But all through the bus ride home I was thinking there was a bigger picture here. Some seven year old kid convinced his dad to walk over to a complete stranger–and those that know me know I’m not exactly the friendliest looking fellow–so he could say he was sorry I was losing my team. I’m thinking it may have been bothering him from the moment his dad told him, and the offer to come to Albany and root for his team was his solution.

The Albany Devils may have lost the game, but that young man earned a victory that I hope he carries with him forever: that with good sportsmanship in the end you always win.

Week in review, week ending 1/25/15

For those that are new to my “Week in Review” postings, the following is a list of the blog posts I made over the last week, a few of the posts from people I follow that I thought were pretty good, and then lastly other posts I’ve stumbled into that folks might like to take a look at. Presuming I did it right all links will open new windows/tabs. In case you missed it, here’s last week’s post.

From me this week there was…
On Monday I asked What makes a good character? and Wednesday saw the continuation of the countdown of my five favorite westerns with #3 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. WordPress ate my Friday post, so that will make an appearance sometime later. I also had a couple posts over on 210Sports.

From the folks I follow…
Blondewritemore has a humorous list of Useful tips on how to survive being married to a blogger. I need to send that link to my wife…
The Talkative Writer (AKA Karen Miller) has a feature called Spotlight on … Terry Pratchett. For some reason I was hesitant to add her posts to my links before. No idea why. Now that I have take some time and look at her older posts. Some great stuff there. (I should add a link to her blog to the menu on the right too).
Drunken Dragon Reviews looks at one of sci-fi’s great books, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Classic story that still reads well today.
The Credible Hulk has Comic Book Bios: Barbara Gordon (Batgirl I / Oracle). I have a very nice copy of Detective Comics #359. I’m a huge Carmine Infantino fan.

Some stuff I stumbled into…
Lizzyreadsbooks talks about The authors who write really awesome female characters. Good list there.
OKPotato has Top 5 Female Protagonists: Pantheon Candidates. Check out their #1. My readers will see something familiar.

Links do not indicate an endorsement of the ideas presented, only that I thought the posting was worth taking a look at.