Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Andy Rooney

I have always been a fan of Andy Rooney, and I am saddened that he is leaving 60 Minutes after 30 years on CBS. There were over 1000 appearances where he spoke on a variety of subjects, all of them worth contemplating.

Rooney’s main appeal is the fact that he was a curmudgeon at times, often saying the things the rest of us would like to say if we had the opportunity and the guts to do so. He talked more about the common things of life than he did about the big issues, although he covered those as well. He was at times controversial, raising the ire of different groups, including religious leaders, politicians, gays, and the American Indians. Even when he was mildly caustic, we knew that he was speaking from experience, and not just quoting a sound byte some 21-year-old speechwriter had plucked from Wikipedia.

Rooney’s experience with the real world started with WWII where he flew on one of the first bombing raids over Nazi Germany, and later was one of the first correspondents to visit a Nazi death camp. Having been a pacifist, his experience of seeing these horrors firsthand made him realize that some wars were justified, and this was one of them.

While Rooney sometimes erred in his own outspoken way, he was quick to apologize and get back on course. We need more like Rooney, with a clear vision and a willingness to speak out on the absurd things in society. This Sunday’s appearance on 60 minutes will be his last regular appearance, after 30 years of enlightening and entertaining us. He will be sorely missed as a regular contributor, but will probably appear at intervals to share some new insight. But even if he doesn’t, there are enough of his essays to ponder over for many years to come.

I hope you take well to retirement, Andy Rooney, but don’t hesitate to come back and switch the legs of any of us who are disobedient. The human race is sorely in need of correction.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Appealing Are Your Characters?

When I first ran across the name, Lisbeth Salander, on a blog, I wrongfully assumed it was the name of a romance writer. The woman who wrote the article gushed on about Lisbeth, although she was rather vague about what made her like her so much.

Then my daughter gave me a thick novel by a Norwegian author named Stieg Larsson. Six hundred plus pages seemed rather excessive for a suspense novel, but at her urging, I plunged in. I loved the story Larsson had created, and was quickly captivated by Lisbeth.

We authors have a tendency to push physical attributes to the limit in our novels. Our women are often drop-dead gorgeous. They have endless legs, bushels of hair, teeth like ivory, and don’t get me started on the eyes. Lisbeth has none of these attributes. Instead, this twenty-four-old young woman has the frail body of an adolescent, no breasts, lank hair, and a leave-me-alone antisocial attitude. So what, you are wondering, is her appeal.

Lisbeth is a high school dropout because she was so bored in class that she had no desire to succeed. No one suspects that she has a genius level intelligence and also a photographic memory. But it is not her intelligence that makes her so appealing. Her intelligence is her weapon against an ever-encroaching society that makes unreasonable demands on all of us to conform and submit. Lisbeth knows how to resist the aggression that hovers just under the surface of established authority. To put it another way, Lisbeth does what the rest of us would like to do if we had the guts and opportunity to hit back.

Not since Scarlett O’Hara has there been a character so capable of captivating our attention. Grab a copy of The Girl with the Dagon Tattoo, and you will soon be punching your fist in the air as Lisbeth scores point after point against those who seek to dominate and torment her. You are going to love Lisbeth.

Oh, and another thing. Did I tell you that this frail creature is undeniably sexy?

Friday, September 16, 2011

A True Test Of Patriotism

Whenever a presidential election rolls around, the news media desperately searches for sound bytes that will capture the essence of each candidate as effectively as a Polaroid shot will capture a grandchild on Christmas morning. Many of these defining moments come during political debates where accusations are hurled right and left. Most of the really good points concern the candidate’s patriotism or the lack of it therefore. During our last election, an issue was made of Obama’s place of birth. Four years before, there were questions concern the military records of George Bush. As this coming election heats up, there are likely to be many other issues concerning the candidate’s ability to wax patriotically. There is a question making its rounds, wherever latte is served, that captures the essence of the moment. I hope Wolf Blitzer is aware of it and will direct it to each of the candidates in turn. It is actually more revelent than many of the things that will be asked.

Question: What would you do if you heard someone playing the National Anthem while you were seated in the bathroom? Would you stand?

I rest my case.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rock 'N Roll

Rock ‘N Roll music has always been popular in America because it speaks a language, and has a rhythm that appeals to every age group. During the 50s, many parents frowned when some of the more lively songs burst from the radio, but they were often caught tapping their foot in accompaniment with the music. In recent years, Rock has taken many different avenues -- crossing over into Country, Pop, the ballads of the 60s and 70s -- you name it and it is there for the listening pleasure of every age group. Despite the changes that Rock has seen in the last fifty plus years, the decade of the 50s is still golden among Rock fans of every age. Elvis was king of that era, and still is, but there were many others who made beautiful music. One of the guys was my cousin, Arby ‘Buzz’ Prentice. Buzz was a funny guy, down to earth, and loved his music. He recorded quite a bit of it during the decade of the 50s. After his recent death, his nephew, Steve Sanders placed seven of his uncle’s songs on the Internet. In some of them, Buzz is talking about the music and the recording sessions at Sun Studios and on other occasions at small radio stations. My first reaction was, ‘they should have edited out the dialogue before they placed it on the Internet.’ But as I listened to it, it reminded me of that wonderful era and the down to earth way in which the early Rock stars communicated with their audience. I shall always remember Buzz with great fondness and am proud that his music is rising up the charts at last. I am looking forward to some more of it being posted in the near future. Click on the title of this article to listen to some of Buzz's music.

I love Rock N' Roll!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Wonderful World of Dogs

Those of you who read my post are aware of my feelings about our furry friends. Many times they are almost human. There is a video on YouTube that I think is hilarious. This clip no doubt had a little help from the fertile imagination of the creator, but those of us who live with dogs have seen some very interesting things. You’re going to love this. Click on the title to see the video.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Author Randy Rawls

When I visited Randy Rawls website, I immediately saw two things that made me want to know more about this author and what he is trying to say through his books. Rawls has had an interesting and varied existence, which puts him far ahead of so many other writers. To put it simply: A writer must know something through his personal experiences. Research - to which Rawls is no stranger - can get you only so far. The military, government service, and teaching have given him the background to carry his research forward into his novels and short stories. The second thing that made him interesting to me was when he mentioned a century ride on his bike. This is about as good as it gets. There is nothing better to connect a writer to the real world and to God’s green earth.

Randy has just finished his seventh novel, plus several short stories. The latest is Thorns on Roses. Here is a short description of his latest work:

TOM JEFFRIES, a PI in Broward County, Florida, is a man with a past - ex-Special Forces, ex-Dallas cop. But mostly, he's a man driven by a thirst for justice. His brand of justice.
When a seventeen-year-old girl, the stepdaughter of Tom's best friend, dies in the midst of a brutal gang rape, Tom vows to avenge her death.

Abby Archer, an up and coming Associate Attorney at Tom's firm, is assigned to assist him in any legal matters - an assistance he does not invite, and she does not welcome. They begin their relationship as adversaries, but things change . . .

Following a well-laid plan, Jeffries methodically stalks the gang, THORNS ON ROSES. As he eliminates them one by one, the police get closer to connecting him with the disappearances. Rushing will invite catastrophe, but Tom cannot wait.

Randy has said that he strives to entertain his readers.
You can visit his website by clicking on the title of this article.