Black Boy

imagePublished in 1944 and still in print seven decades later, this book is considered an American classic. One review I read called it eloquent, and I think that is just about the perfect description. I remember thinking as I turned the pages that every word seemed perfectly chosen and ideally placed. It is a remarkable achievement for a man who had so little formal education. I thought the best of it was Wright’s telling of his life as a child in the Deep South during the early part of the 20th century. The second part, where he dabbles in Communism after moving to Chicago, is interesting but not nearly as rich as the first. It is hard to imagine how an entire race of people could have endured such hardship and bigotry, and as I watched a black man kiss his white wife in the parking lot of a Barnes and Noble just today, it is equally amazing to me how far our society has come.

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Another One Gets Away

Tonight, while sitting at the bar in a Texas Roadhouse in Littleton, CO., trying not to make eye contact the creepy bartender who could be Justin Bieber’s doppelganger, I learned that Greg Holland, closer for the Colorado Rockies, has set a club record for the most saves this early in the baseball season. He already has 15. This is the same Greg Holland who was the anchor of what was arguably the best bullpen in major league baseball in the last five years while with the Kansas City Royals. This is also the same Greg Holland the Royals refused to re-sign after he missed a year recovering from Tommy John surgery. At the time I thought it was a smart move. Now all I can say is FUCK!!!!

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Sons Of Wichita

IMG_0059I started this book thinking it was going to be a hit piece on the brother’s Koch because the author worked for Mother Jones and was not likely to be fair minded. I was wrong about that. While not exactly a love story, the two brothers who are involved politically (Charles and David) are treated more or less respectfully. Their faults were almost equally balanced by their good deeds as philanthropists. The company they run is called out for past transgressions, but except for a pipeline explosion that killed a young couple many years ago and a scandal from the 1990’s about oil volume measurements, it seemed to me no worse than most other conglomerates, and decidedly better than many. The “Koch Brothers” from the headlines make news because they are Libertarians, and in recent years they have spent vast sums of their own money, and raised far larger sums from others, to promote like-minded candidates for political office to champion the causes they believe are righteous in the type of world they would like to see. And most of it seems aimed at freeing businesses like theirs from the myriad of government regulations they believe are punitive and unnecessary. The other two brothers (Fredrick and Bill), who have no involvement with politics or Koch Industries, fill out the story of this famously dysfunctional family, who for years have squabbled in and out of court over the fair division of the family fortune. The book is well written and only gets bogged down in a couple of places. Having read it, I can now take with a grain of salt the hysterics of the Left whenever they howl about how the evil Koch Brothers, those yellow-eyed demons from the Netherworld, are hell-bent on ruling us all. It just isn’t so.

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Checking In With The Donald

This seems like a good time to check in and see what President Trump has been up to lately. In the past couple of weeks he has launched cruise missiles at Syria and dropped the “mother of all bombs” on ISIS in Afghanistan. He’s got the Russians and the North Koreans all riled up. He’s spent almost every weekend since becoming president at his Mar-a-lago estate, costing tax payers three million dollars a pop. This is the same man who said during the campaign that if elected he would be way too busy with the nation’s business to even think about playing golf. And he’s had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that anyone has ever seen. 170406_vod_orig_trump_pool_16x9_992Quite a list of accomplishments I must confess, and we’re still shy of his first 100 days. On a related note, it was revealed yesterday that Ivanka Trump was granted potentially lucrative trademark approvals in China on the same day she dined with her daddy and the Chinese president at a state dinner in Florida. But I’m okay with that because she’s pretty.

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Stumbling Out Of The Gate

imageThe Royals are seven games in on the 2017 season and they’ve posted a futile 2-5 record, staking their claim to last place in the division. Not exactly the kind of debut I had hoped for. Starting pitching has been okay, defense is once again very good, but the offense, with two exceptions, has been horrible and the bullpen has been a four-alarm dumpster fire. The guy we traded Wade Davis for, Jorge Soler, has already lived up to my worst fears about his durability, or lack thereof. He started the season on the DL with an oblique strain. A very bad omen I must say. Only five guys in the starting line-up are hitting over 200. Brandon Moss, our new DH, has put up .063 so far. Eric Hosmer comes in at a sparkling .179. He’s a free agent next year and I was really hoping he would put up huge numbers this year so when we have to say sayonara to his lame ass next year we won’t feel bad that we couldn’t afford the $120 million or whatever it’s going to take to sign him. Because guess what? He ain’t worth it! Yesterday the boys were shut out by Oakland in the home opener. Yordano Ventura, looking down from Heaven on this, his tribute day, could not have been pleased. I’m sure he wanted to plunk somebody. Probably on his own team. Brandon Moss would be a good place to start.

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The Hemingway Patrols

imageThis book chronicles Ernest Hemingway’s service in a kind of citizens’ navy that came into existence in the early years of WWII. Essentially these volunteers used their personal watercraft to help in the search for German U-boats along the east coast of the US mainland and also in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hemingway sailed from the north coast of Cuba, where he lived at the time with his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Until I read this book I had no idea that the Germans wreaked so much havoc so close to home with these deadly machines. Hemingway never found a U-boat, which is lucky for him because it probably saved his life, but he appears to have been serious about his service. For about 18 months he put his writing on hold and focused almost exclusively on submarine hunting. That was interesting up to a point,  but by the later pages I had become bored with it. I enjoyed the book more for the personal details it revealed about Hemmingway and Gellhorn. She was no fan of the U-boat chasing excursions and thought they were just an excuse for Hemingway to go drinking and fishing with his buddies. She may have been partly right. The book also delves into Hemingway’s out-sized ego and domineering personality. Apparently the man could be quite a dick when he wanted to.

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A Movable Feast

imageI can’t read Hemingway’s fiction because the dialog seems so dated, but I liked his memoir, A Movable Feast. Published three years after his death, the book is a chronicle of Hemingway’s life during the time he was a young man in Paris in the 1920’s, before he became America’s most famous writer. From these first person accounts I learned Hemingway was very disciplined about his writing and he did not abide interruptions. I learned he drank a lot, but if it caused him a problem at this stage of his life like it did later, he didn’t talk about it. I learned he spent a lot of time in cafes and bars. He alludes to infidelities that caused the break-up of his first marriage, about which he was suitably remorseful. He ran with some famous people of that era whom he considered friends, if only for  a while, like Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. He knew James Joyce and liked him. He knew Picasso and liked him not. The best chapter in the book is about a trip he made with Scott Fitzgerald to retrieve a car Fitzgerald had to abandon in Lyon, France. F. Scott had some issues, as we politely say today. Score this book as a very good read. It’s one of the rare few I would consider reading twice. I wish Papa had written more like it.

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