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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 021920

This week is exercise I enjoy.
I used to be very active. I grew up playing touch football in the street, basketball, tennis, baseball. I was good, but track is where I excelled. I was on scholarship and ran the mile and three-mile in college. It got me my education which led to my career as a teacher.
Coached track for a couple of years. When the shot put and discus throwers left me in the dust on the track I knew I was past my prime.
I was active in tennis and bowling, even did church league basketball, but arthritis in my hands stopped doing them. 
I picked up golf. Coached JV at the high school and when I retired joined Albuquerque Seniors where we played different golf courses within a hundred miles of the city, as well as almost all city courses. The course in picture is Paako Ridge on the east side of Sandia Mountain.
Three years ago I fell and broke my right hand and severely wrenched my back. Doctor told me no more golf. I was more worried that I could still type on a keyboard, which I can.
I settled with walking my dog in good weather, which here is quite often. 
That didn't give me enough exercise and I've started putting on weight. Taking insulin turns sugar into fat. I tried a Planet Fitness off and on over the years, but my back won't take dead weights or machines. Numerous trips to the chiropractor learned me to leave them alone. A treadmill is just too boring, same with stationary bikes and elliptical.
In January a Defined Fitness opened up a mile from where we live and it has a pool. Wife and I are now working out three to four times a week mixing it up with treadmill, seated stepper, which I love, a seated hand and arm exerciser, when I can get on it as there's only one. There's an aqua class every Tuesday and Thursday and it's fun. I love the foam bar bells, but the noodles and I don't mix.
Between the exercise and using a different medication that getting me to cut down the amount of insulin I've lost ten pounds and feel much better. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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Welcome to another TTT! What’s a book hangover, you ask? Well. Urban Dictionary provides us with two definitions that I think fit perfectly.
1. The inability to start a new book because you are still living in the old book’s world
2. The inability to function at work/school because you were up all night binge-reading
Books that trapped me in their world and I didn't want to leave.


Shogun by James Clavell. I'd seen it in bookstores for awhile and was intrigued, but was busy at the time devouring everything I could find of Harlan Ellison. When word got out there was going to be a mini-series on the book. I finally bought it. I then read everything I could get of Clavell's: King Rat, Tai Pan, Gai Jin, Noble House, Whirlwind. He is a fantastic writer. The mini-series with Richard Chamberlain I've watched innumerable times. The mini-series of Noble House with Pierce Brosnan is pretty good. The movie Tai Pan with Brian Brown is an abomination.

 2. Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. What a world to get lost in! For the life of me with all the movies and TV shows that have realistic dragons, I don't know why this series has been overlooked.

3. Harper Hall of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. Same world of Pern, but without dragons. Menolly becomes and outcast and is living in a cave when fire lizards start hatching and  are dying as they leave the cave. She impresses (becomes telepathically linked) nine of them keeping them alive. Ever since I've read the first of these books I want a fire lizard! 

4. Middle Earth. The Hobbit, LOTR, Silmarillion. Tolkien's world is something to get lost in and never want to come back.

5. Empire of Avarice, by Tony Roberts. The Byzantine Empire explained on an alien planet. The first of now five books in the Kastania series and I've read them three times. Waiting impatiently for the next one. I'm doing the same for the author's fantasy about a Black Elf in his Blade series and punk rock singer in his Siren series. Once you read Tony Roberts you're hooked.

6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This one was mentioned many times on TTT and Wednesday Challenge, out of curiosity I bought a copy even sprang for the audio. This is not a world I would want to live in, a little too dystopian for me, but when your done with both books you can't get it out of your mind.

7. Casca the Eternal Mercenary by Barry Sadler continued by Tony Roberts. Roman soldier who pierced Christ's side and became immortal. I used the first 22 of the books to get my 7th and 8th grade boys to actually read a book all the way through, and they came back for the next ones. The first 22 I got on audio tape as a free download, not available anymore, sadly. When I have trouble sleeping I'll choose one and listen. If I go to sleep, when I wake up I know exactly where I am and go on from there. 
I was pleased when Tony Roberts picked up the franchise, and it's from his books in this series that got me hooked on his other writings mentioned above. Three of the Casca books are set in the Byzantine Empire and Roberts knows his stuff on that.

8. Soul Catcher by Frank Herbert. I did read a number of his Dune books, but none of them grabbed me by the throat and sucked the literary life out of me like Soul Catcher. I loaned this book to a wonderful lady I taught next to way back in the day. She gave it back to me and said, "What kind of book is this?"
It has that affect on just about everyone who's read it. You can't get it out of your head.

9. The First Man in Rome by Collen McCullagh. Rome has fascinated me my whole life. I thought I knew just about everything there was about it. Even wrote a 52 page play as a directed study project in college on the First Triumvirate. I got this first book and wisely read the glossary at the back before reading the book and discovered I didn't know a damn thing about Rome. 
The series starts with rise of Marius and ends with the defeat of Anthony and establishing of the Empire by Octavian. It's an Herculean feat to get though all of them once, but I've done it twice. Rome truly comes alive in McCullagh's fictionalized history. (FH doesn't have imaginary characters. Every person mentioned in these books actually lived and are part of the history.)

10. The Fifth Element, directed by Luc Besson. This one is a movie with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovavich. If you want to get lost in a movie and never want to leave that world this is the one for you. My all time favorite escape movie. If I've had a meat grinder of a week on Friday nights when wife gets home all I have to say is, "Big Badda Boom." 
We fix popcorn and plop down on the couch and let all the crap fly away into another universe.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 021220

This week is books I've re-read or want to re-read. Well I picked out the covers of all my favorite books that I've re-read numerous times over the decades and they're too many for this post. I've narrowed it down to the books I used in my English classes, history classes and psychology classes.


It wasn't easy, but I used discretionary department  funding to get a classroom set of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. All of history is about war. This was a good way to teach the students what it's all about and how to know when you've won or lost. The bookstore I ordered them from got them out of the business section. Yes, business is war. Football coaches at all levels use it as their bible.

 One of the most unique novels I've ever read. It covers history from mankind leaving the cave and starting farming and building houses to 1960, when it was written. There's the archaeologists on a dig and their story. Then a short story is about each artifact they find. I bought at used bookstores over the summers close to a hundred copies of the book in the 1990's. It was amazing how many copies were out there, and it was still in Borders and Barnes and Nobles brand new in hardback. The original paperbacks held up to years of students reading them. The newer editions crumbled to pieces in no time. Why I had to buy so many. I could use a short story out of the book for about half of every unit. It was the perfect supplement.


While teaching 7th and 8th grade literature I found that there wasn't a problem getting girls to read. Boys were another story.  I found Barry Sadler and his first 22 Eternal Mercenary series. Once I read the first book to the class, the boys couldn't read enough of them. There are now over 50 books in the series, most written by Tony Roberts with new ones coming out every year. 

Social Psychology: 
The word social in the title placed the elective in social studies. The teacher who was teaching it retired and no one else in the department wanted to pick it up. I was dept. chair and reluctantly agreed to teach the subject. I had a three hour course in college twenty years earlier and was considered qualified by state standards. Very few boys took this elective the first few years. 
Human Development was the unit in the book that got the most student interest and part of that unit was marriage and parenting. The books were too expensive for a classroom set so I read the book with handouts of most pertinent quotes and there was lively discussion. It also sold the class to next years students to sign up for it. Once word got out that the cheerleaders were all taking the class the boys followed.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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 Today's topic, since Friday is Valentine's Day: Books with love in the title.
That was made me think. Not many of the books I've read over the last 60 years had that in the title. I've read many romances, written romances, but usually they didn't have love in the title.

My wife on the other hand went through a phase of reading Janet Oke. Most of her books used the word. Back in the day when we would gather up books we finished reading and take them to Don't Paperback Book Exchange. Still in business btw, but the daughter is running it now. Anyway, we'd trade in a sack full of books and walk out with five or six books for less than a dollar. Wife didn't like my Sci-Fi books, but as an avid reader when I was done with my books I also read hers. You can now get eight of those books in a collection.

Between marriages as I was floundering I read a lot of Mickey Spillane, Harold Robbins and even Jaqueline Suzanne. Guess what? She had a book with love in the title. They even made it into a movie. Absolutely dreadful, the movie anyway. The only good thing to come from that movie was a song that launched the career of Barry Manilow called Mandy.

I blogged with a guy years ago that was an absolute freak about Steve McQueen. Every year he had a McQueen special where he did a blow by blow review of every one of his movies and he interviewed anyone who was involved in the movies letting them tell stories of working with the great actor. One of those interviews was a co-star in Junior Bonner. Low and behold Barara Leigh wrote a book about McQueen and others, which has the word love in it. It's now on my TBR list.

While going through a very painful divorce a dear lady who owned Trespasser's William Book Store introduced me to Harlan Ellison. His books with love in the title resonated with me at the time. Harlan knew the pain of divorce, he went through a number of them and he put words to my emotions at the time. Without them I wouldn't have healed in my grieving process and been ready when I met the love of my life for the past 40+ years. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Wednesday Challenge

 Today the challenge is celebrity crushes. At my age let me count...…  Okay I've narrowed it down to the 50's through the 80's.

The very first movie NBC aired on its Saturday Night at the Movies was How to Marry a Millionaire. I was around seven or eight years old at the time and I was smitten with Marilyn Monroe.

My next heart throb was watching Audrey Hepburn sit in a window and singing Moon River. I also liked the way she wore a toga. 

Elizabeth Taylor knocked my socks off in Cleopatra. At ten years old I didn't care about all the fuss and feathers about her leaving husband number whatever for whoever was the next. 
I do have a story. A fellow teacher told me he was at the Albuquerque Airport when Elizabeth Taylor walked through. Her husband, Nicky Hilton died in a plan crash in New Mexico and she was coming to collect the remains. My friend said as she walked through everyone froze solid. She was so beautiful everyone stood in slack jawed amazement.

As a young teenager it was the perfect time for movies to break the chains of censorship and start showing nudity. but  when Natalie Wood wearing a white turtleneck and green mini-skirt walked down a hall in Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice my heart nearly stopped. All the blood in my body went south. Barbarella who?

Of all the women I had a crush on Morgan Fairchild had the best combination of gorgeous face, fantastic body and ability to make a caustic comment. 

She was paired against Victoria Principal in the first season of Dallas. Talk about pure eye candy. Blonde bombshell against wholesome brunette. Having both of them in love with me... I'd become a Mormon..

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

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Today is of what books we haven't read we expect will be Five Star books.

This is yours truly with Joseph Badal at his book signing here in Albuquerque at Treasure House Books in December. I just bought his latest book Justice.
This one is the third book in the Curtis Chronicles. A Doctor living in New Mexico who gets on the bad side of a drug kingpin. Doctor Curtis is ex-green beret and has plenty of buddies to protect him. BTW it was a good read and I posted a review on Amazon as well as on this site.

This is the book I know will be a five star read.
Joseph Badal's Payback. is due in May. It's a stand alone book and not part of his other series, but he's always delivered the goods.

His police detective series with two female detectives is set in Albuquerque. Border Line was the fist in the Lassiter/Martinez Case Files.
When talking to him, he is trying to get this turned into a TV series as there hasn't been one like it since Cagney and Lacy.

Evil Deeds is the first in his best known Danforth Saga.  A CIA operative who gets the job done. All six of the books are five star.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Review: When We Believed in Mermaids

Warning this is a three hankie story. It’s told by two sisters both in first person. The basic plot is that Kit and her mother see Josie on a news cast from New Zealand where there was a nightclub fire. They believed her dead. The mother convinces Kit to travel from California to Auckland to find out if she’s really alive.

Josie was on a train in France that was bombed by a terrorist and somehow survives. She’s lived a fast life as an alcoholic and drug user and takes the opportunity to reinvent herself as someone else. She gets married and raises a family.

Kit travels to New Zealand, but before she starts her search gets involved with what she thinks is a vacation romance. There’s lots of steamy sex, but Kit has closed herself off from love. Javier is from Spain and falls head over heels for Kit. He gets her to open up about her past life and why she’s trying to find her sister.

Each episode of Kit and Josie telling their tales consists of flashbacks to their growing up and the multiple tragedies which led to Josie becoming a wild child and Kit focusing on education and becoming a doctor. The one constant is surfing.

The back story of their lives is slowly and agonizing drawn out to the bitter end. When the sisters finally meet there are consequences for Josie with her husband and the anger of Kit for making her think she’s been dead for 14 years.

The reconciliation between all parties leads to some painful and weepy moments.

It’s well written, the first person helps keep the story flowing, the one pitfall here is that each sister’s voice is too similar. They are going over the same history, but different first persons needs distinctive voices and these aren’t that much different in tone and temperament.