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

Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday Book Review: Fireballer


Every month if you have Kindle Unlimited, you get to pick a free book. Usually, all the picks are for chicks, or have something to do with WWII. This one was a rare exception. Fireballer by Mark Stevens. Available on Unlimited.

It's about baseball. I have a few gripes with the great American pastime, namely the pitching. There is nothing that irks me more than when a pitcher gets a 0-2 count, he then purposely throws out of the strike zone to get the batter to chase a bad ball. The count goes 3-2 and afraid to throw a good pitch walks the guy, or the batter starts hitting foul balls and it becomes a one-man rain delay. It makes the game boring.

Frank Ryder is a game changer for baseball. He throws nothing but strikes, and nobody can hit off him. He consistently throws 105 to 110mph.

By the time the batter sees the pitch and the brain says swing, it's already in the catcher's mit. One guy hits a home run off him, and when he watches the replay, the guy swung at the pitch before it left his hand. Lucky swing.

This is of great concern to the league. The player's union is worried because most of the members are batters, and this guy is ruining their stats. 

The owners and commissioner are afraid that the upcoming pitchers will get just as good, and the sport will be ruined. Nobody is going to go the game if there's no hitting. The deck is already stacked against them. Name any other sport where failing 7 times out of 1o, and you're a great player?

They want to change the rules so that a pitch over 105 is counted as a ball or move the pitching mound back from 60 feet to 75. 

The Orioles owner, looking at having the first chance at a World Series in decades, wants to make Ryder only pitch three innings a game, but play every other day. He gets them a lead and lets the other pitcher's finish. He plays more often, and they'll win more games this way. Frank wants complete games and says no.

Frank has problems of his own. In little league when he's start unleashing his power, he hits a boy in the head and the boy dies. 

His parents' home school him and don't let him play baseball afraid of the town's reaction. They move to Denver from Georgia, and let the two boys, Frank has a twin brother, go to public school, but not play ball.

While watching in the stands behind center field Frank catches a home run ball and throws it back to the catcher on a rope.

The coach talks the parents into letting him play again. He becomes a phenom, goes on to college, improves his game, gets national notoriety and drafted first pick by the Orioles.

In three months, he's won every game rarely allowing the other team to score.

While he's pitching, he sees the ghost of the boy he killed and has to put him out of his mind. After games the reporters keep wanting to psychoanalyze him by bringing up the dead boy. He refuses to answer their questions leading to a feeding frenzy over it.

Then comes the day, the best batter on the team is hit on the wrist and is out for the season. When the other team's best batter comes to bat there's the unspoken rule of retaliation. 

Pressure is put on him to hit the other batter. He refuses. On the mound everyone is expecting him to retaliate. He plans on throwing a regular ball, but at the moment of release his arm doesn't respond. He hits the batter in the ribs at 109mph. The man drops like a stone and doesn't move.

 The dugouts erupt, he's protected by his teammates, but as he truthfully tells everyone that he didn't intend to hit the guy, no one believes him, because that's what they always say afterwards.

He's suspended for three games, the batter has three broken ribs is out for the season, and may never play again, but no internal organs were injured.

Ryder goes mental. His pitches start going wild. They get experts and psychologists to work with him, but he can't pitch with control. The suspension helps them hide the "yips," but they can't let him pitch and let the world know he has them. They fake a blister injury to the media as a reason for him not to play in the all-star game. They don't buy it.

Frank has to learn how to get control again and get his head right.

This is the best book about baseball I've ever read or any of the movies about it I've ever seen. 

There are lots of references to past players and situations giving the reader context.

It's a part of baseball that is never talked about or shown. The human aspect and trying to navigate all the politics, the grind of a 160-game season half of them on the road. How to maintain a relationship with all the stress and women throwing themselves at him. Trying to remain sane in all the madness.

Through it all you find the dehumanizing of the players, and the fight to remain human. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Long Story

 My first published book was Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I started it in 1995 and published it in 2006. I used Publish America and in four years spent 500 dollars buying copies and selling very few. I mostly gave them away as gifts to family and friends. You have no idea how many friends you find wanting a free book!

In 2010 I retired. My wife had a friend where she worked whose husband was an attorney, but also the pastor of a home church, we joined the church. He was in the hospital, and we went to visit him. I gave him a copy of Optimus and he wrote a review on Amazon; at that time, they didn't verify purchase. While he was recovering, I gave him a printed copy of Vander's Magic Carpet. I have a trial in the story. I was teaching Street Law, an elective. 

The first day I was retired, he called me and offered me a job. It was a complicated tort. He told me he's good at presenting the evidence but is weak on communicating the story to a jury. He asked me to help in on this. I was retired for exactly one day.

He gave me an office and boxes and boxes of pleadings, depositions, other stuff. I spent a month organizing and reading all the materials. He asked me how I liked working in a law office.

I told him, "I'm doing all the paperwork, where are the students? This was the part of teaching I hated. I need students to balance it."

The case settled the day before going to court. I worked on a couple of other cases, but when he didn't need me, I was back to being retired.

He is a one-man shop, and I needed some place to write. My house was full with son, girlfriend and two kids.

He agreed to let me use an office if I did a few errands for him. Notarizing documents, taking pleadings to the courthouse, covering the office when he went on vacation, keeping the place clean.

He even paid me for time and mileage. Most of the time I was on my own to write. All of my other books I've written to date were done in his office.

He was having health problems. He had two shoulder surgeries, and two hip replacements. I covered the office while he was recovering and acted as an aide, helping him in and out of the car, getting the walker dropping him off at the courthouse, parking the car and helping him with the boxes of documents, that kind of stuff. 

I broke my hand in 2016 and my daughter took over the legal assistant and notarizing duties. Pleadings are done electronically now so running down to the courthouse isn't as often as it was at first.

Covid hit and he started working out of his home as he had to have meetings by zoom. Daughter was out of a job.

I found out that he was back in his office and called him up in December of 2021. He was glad to have me back, but not to work for him. He cut down to only being in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays. Doing mostly wills and small cases. 

That let me have MW&F. I checked the mail letting him know what was in or not, kept the place clean and had quiet time to write. I wrote I Maury: Life and Times of a Rebel during this time.

Since that time, I've been struggling to come up with something else to write about. It's a twenty-mile drive to the office and the same back and was getting difficult to justify the expense while twiddling my thumbs. Monday, I cleaned out the office and am now working at home. I also have a library not far that I can go to if it gets too noisy around the house. It's now wife and daughter as son is on his own. 

Twelve years since I went to work for the attorney, with eight novels, an anthology of short stories and a novella. It was good while it lasted, and if I come up with something else, I might go back. If he's still lawyering. We've had a great working relationship and he's a fantastic friend, even if he did vote for Trump.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

WC Something I'm proud of Doing


Today's challenge: Something I'm proud of doing. 
What I think I've accomplished so far:

1. Finding a lifelong soul mate and we've been together 43 years.

2. A son, a daughter and three grandchildren.

3. Educator for 27 years, taught 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade English, world history, U.S. history, New Mexico history, psychology, sociology, street law, government, and economics.

4. Author of novels: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, Stephanus, Vanders Magic Carpet, Human Sacrifices, Three Medieval Battles: Crecy, Poitiers, Flodden; Fan Plan: Meteor Strike, Fan Plan: Preparation, Fan Plan: Countdown, I Maury: Life and Times of a Rebel.

5. Short Stories: Stories of Love and Lust, The Eagle.

6. That I am still of sound mind (wife might not agree), healthy, and have many more stories to write for the rest of my life.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Friday Book Review:

 Fellow blogger with Berthold Gambrel.

Audrey has a number of books expanding on H. P. Lovecraft's character Herbert West.

I read the first three books in the series, it was interesting, but I'm not a real big fan of horror or dark suspense.

She Who Comes Forth, is a standalone novel. It's set in Egypt of the 1920's. A woman archeologist uncovers objects with powers, and she starts having dreams and encounters an ancient Phairoh, wanting to come back to life.

It has great detail on the period, the problems at this time for a woman doing a man's job and her becoming obsessed with the Phairoh. It has an exciting ending.

The Sequel is She Who Returns. Incorporates Herbet West into the story.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

WC 011823 New Things I've Tried Recently


New Things I've Tried Recently,

Hmmmm, okay here goes.

1. Freestyle blood sugar monitoring censors. I got eight boxes with two censors in them without cost in July. Sixteen weeks later when I went to refill the Rx, they were $439, I entered the Twighlight zone of Medicare called the donut hole. I went back to test strips.

2. I've ordered a watch that says it tests blood sugar and other body functions. It was $150. It hasn't arrived yet, hope it's not an internet scam, but if it doesn't come soon, I'll report it to my credit card company.

3. Switched from android to iPhone. Got the watch too, before I ordered the watch above. It has taken some time to work out the differences, but I'm not fighting with Android Auto on my car anymore. Main reason for switching is that apps work better on the iPhone.

4. Planning on a trip to Charlottesville, VA, in October. Fontaine Maury family reunion. I joined their fb group page when I heard about this and have so far sold two e-books of I Maury. Wife's looking forward to meeting family members she's never met.

5. I'm planning to write a non-fiction book. I'm tackling the problem of simple math in theology. Like the three days of Christ on the cross. Duh, Friday night to Sunday morning is not three days. How old was Christ when he was crucified? A few plaguing quandaries like that.

6. I've started a weekly book review every Friday on this blog. First was last Friday.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Friday Book Review

I've decided to start a weekly book review. It's not easy deciding which book each week I've read over the last year and going into this one to share, but I'll choose and deliver.

 This week is an anthology of short stories. Hank Bruce takes one of John Denver's songs and uses it as the inspiration for the story.

These are stories that touch your heart.

I like the way Hank segues each of his stories by relating it to a John Denver song. 

Both men and those they associated with felt deeply about making this planet livable past their lifetime. The stories range from refugees of genocide in Africa, to Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona, to a street person in Philidelphia, all in need and there is someone who sacrifices their time, talents and money to help them. The valuable uses of the Maringa tree for those dying of starvation and unclean water, those dying from uranium poisoning off abandoned mines, and many more. Not just an enjoyable read, but an uplifting and life changing book.

Available at Amazon as e-book on Unlimited or $2.99. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Wednesday Challenge 010123


Happy New Year!

My goals for this year.

1. Stay healthy: keep working out, get back to a healthy diet after splurging during the holidays. 

2, Keep reading and writing. I'm currently in the final stages of editing a novella: The Eagle. It's a blasphemous fantasy about the goddess Isis, who has left the earth, but comes back as an eagle to join with the human race again creating a faith of love and happiness to help heal our planet from the ravages of Seth who is destroying everything by those seeking greed and power. Emphasis here on blasphemy.

3. Planning a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia in September. The Fontaine Maury Society is holding a family reunion. I've joined their fb page and have already sold two e-books of I Maury.

4. Just finished reading all the posts for WC so far. Glad we have more posting with some new posters as well.