Friday, October 21, 2016

Angry Hippo Haiku

I am three tons here
Soaking wet, proud, African
Commanding respect

PHOTO: San Diego Zoo, September 30, 2006, "DSCF2703" by Koles
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Unported License.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Extraordinary Allegations, Extraordinary Evidence

The story of Lance Armstrong, who was awarded, then stripped of seven Tour de France wins for doping, is as compelling as it was when most of the world, including myself, was blissfully ignorant of his cheating, many of us inspired by his success and comeback. Perhaps now it is even more compelling. Unlike many celebrities whose falls from grace are merely revelations of humanity drawn in contrast to inhuman expectations, Armstrong is a singularly dark figure. Not because his public persona and the reality underneath stand in such great contrast, but because he so brutally persecuted those who tried to tell the truth about him. High on Armstrong’s blacklist was London’s Sunday Times reporter David Walsh.
In Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, Walsh tells of his travels in the world of cycling, from being a fan of fellow Irishman and prominent cyclist Sean Kelly, to riding in a car on the Tour de France route as a sports journalist. He met Lance early in Armstrong’s career, before his bout with cancer. But from 1999, when Lance took his first Tour title, Walsh knew something was amiss. He continued to write this theory in Sunday Times articles, and in books. In 2004 he published L.A. Confidentiel: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong in France, because British and American publishers feared libel suits from the same Armstrong legal team that once successfully sued the Sunday Times. Lance claimed another title that year and would go on to garner two more. In 2007 he published From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France. Armstrong, then in retirement, would return in 2009 to claim third place in the Tour, and again in 2010 for twenty-third. After years of sticking to his story, Walsh was finally vindicated when Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles in October of 2012.
Riveting from the start to the page-423 finish, this book is a ride as captivating as the Tour de France itself. The reader follows the investigation Walsh conducted from 1999, when he had to convince his editor that the hero of the day, humanitarian, inspirer of millions, was dirty. Running in tandem is the drama that played out in the press conferences, media tents, courtrooms and elsewhere as Armstrong and his many supporters and hangers-on played havoc with the lives of Walsh and those few willing to open up to him about the real Lance Armstrong. It has kept me intrigued about this story, and sadly disillusioned not only about professional sports, almost all of which have seen doping scandals, but about amateur and quasi-professional sports as well. As I write this on August 12, 2016, three Olympic athletes in three different sports from three different countries have been sanctioned for doping.
Seven Deadly Sins has been made into the movie The Program, which distills the story marvelously into a feature-length drama, with Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) portraying the beleaguered David Walsh. Both the book and the movie are highly recommended.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: Karen MacInerney's 'Murder on the Rocks'

What if a big-time hotel developer threatened to take over a small-time innkeeper’s quaint New England island, and wound up dead, with the innkeeper left as the prime suspect? This is the subject of Murder on the Rocks (Midnight Ink, 2006, $13.95 paperback) by Karen MacInerney.
Natalie Barnes spent everything she had to move from Austin, Texas to Cranberry Island, Maine and open a bed and breakfast. But just as she was getting settled, Bernard Katz came in with a plan to build a monstrous resort right next to her inn, the Gray Whale. When he turned up dead, the police had every reason to suspect Natalie. With a lazy sergeant in charge of the case, it is up to Nat to find the real killer and prove her innocence. And what will become of her Inn? She gets help from her ruggedly-handsome tenant John, her young and beautiful niece Gwen, and the colorful cast of island native fishermen and merchants. But she has enemies as well, and someone wants her off the island enough to put her in harm’s way. A superb baker and now an amateur sleuth, Natalie must pull all of the pieces together to save herself from prison and the Gray Whale Inn from ruin. And while she’s doing all that, she makes sure her intriguing guests get delicious breakfast treats every morning before weaving their ways in and out of the case.

As befits a cozy mystery, Murder on the Rocks begins and ends with food. The text is filled with sensual descriptions of tasty delights, most of them made in Nat’s warmly-decorated kitchen. The details of the case are discussed over tea and scones, and cookies, and – fill in your favorite baked snack. It turns out even the hunky artist next door can cook! MacInerney’s description of the island almost makes the reader shiver, with its gray seas, rain, and craggy landscapes. Nat is a bit daring, willing to take risks to find out who the killer is. And there are plenty of viable suspects even the police do not know about, enough to keep the reader guessing until the end. And in the end—well I guess you’ll have to read it yourself to find out!

Karen MacInerney is an Austin-based writer who has produced a series of six ‘Gray Whale Inn’ mysteries, of which Murder on the Rocks is the first. She has also written seven other novels, including a shapeshifter romance trilogy and two other cozy mystery series, each of which has two books as of this writing.
I almost forgot…there are recipes in the back of the book!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pick 'Em Up Truck Luck Haiku

Lord loves a trucker
I have luck with my pickup
Pick 'em up real good
PHOTO: by Davis Falk, Mission Beach, CA, c.1992

Friday, September 23, 2016

OSS #28 - Death by Writing

Author Simms Worthington could not get the vicious girl with the knife out of his mind, which is how she killed him by stabbing him from within.

What is an OSS? Click here to find out.

Friday, September 16, 2016

OSS #27 - Memoir

I had lived there all my life, or someone had, until we died.

What is an OSS? Click here to find out.

PHOTO: by Davis Falk, January 2002. View of the Potomac River from Alexandria, VA. My aunt and uncle have lived there for over 30 years.

Friday, September 9, 2016

OSS #26 - Techno Thriller

Hackers were transferring millions per second from the Federal Reserve, when suddenly the power went out and the sound of commandos repelling down the sides of the moving truck trailer killed their hopes of escaping.

What is an OSS? Click here to find out.

PHOTO: by Davis Falk, 2002, Westborough, MA. A collection of computers in my loft, mostly used to contribute processing cycles to the seti@home project.