Thursday, 28 January 2016

My Back Pages

Image result for books

New year, new title and new pic for this monthly post. What the heck. Got off to a slow start with four books this month. I've estimated I'll read fifty books in 2016. Ambitious? We'll see.

I started the year off with a decent book about the Beatles recording history by former recording engineer Geoff Emerick. Here, There and Everywhere is a very detailed account of the Fab Four in the studio. Lots of interesting things here and the guy wasn't the biggest fan of his boss, George Martin, or for that matter another George, Harrison. The latter comes off as a more-or-less talentless member of the the group who needed direction from his buddies at every turn. Not sure what Emerick had against Harrison although he seems to warm up to him in post-Beatles years.

Next up was H is for Hawk which I was sorely tempted to ditch. I picked it up because it won several British book awards. The title says it all. It was a memoir... about hawks, and only hawks, other than the death of the main character's father, which was tied to hawks. You get the idea.

My third book was Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes. Nowhere near as interesting or well written as Here, There and Everywhere but nevertheless an account of all of Yes's LPs. If you're into that kind of thing.

The last book of the month was a recent William Boyd novel entitled Sweet Caress. It was a delightful read about a fictional British woman photographer  and the ups and downs in her life and her profession. I like Boyd and here he doesn't disappoint.

Here, There and Everywhere:
My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles - Geoff Emerick - ****
H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald - ***
Close To The Edge - The Story of Yes - Chris Welch - ***
Sweet Caress - William Boyd - ****

How about you? What are you reading? What do you plan on reading this year?

First To The End

As the choir soared at the end of the service there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Well, maybe there was one. Or a pair to be precise. Belonging to Bruce. The dry eyes were replaced by a wry crinkle at the corner of his mouth. He, and the sizeable congregation, were here today to bury his twin brother Avery. But Bruce didn't share other people's sorrow. Though he wasn't happy so much as relieved.

All his life Bruce had been beaten. Beaten by Avery. While both boys might be described as athletic Avery always won. It started when they were kids playing in the backyard. Avery was always fastest. Bruce actually thought it began when they were born. Avery was born first followed by Bruce and that had set them on their way for the rest of their lives.

They competed in athletic events at school. Avery was the fastest football receiver. The fastest soccer striker. The fastest baseball runner. The fastest 100 yard dasher. And so on. Bruce tried to beat his brother but to no avail. Avery came out on top every time.

Until last week. The two were competing in a marathon through the downtown streets when Avery, out in front as always was fatally struck by a city bus which had mistakenly wandered onto the marathon course. He was the first marathoner to be struck by a bus. Another first.

And so these events, these competitions where the athletic Avery always came first ran through his brother's mind. And as the coffin bearing his brother Avery in his rakish red running suit preceded the procession into the family ossuary Bruce swore to himself that Avery now came first in the vault.

The prompt from Studio30+ this week is ossuary/vault

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Getting Ahead

Harold had heard the theories. He'd read about them on the internet, He'd discussed them in chat rooms. He'd brewed about them as he tried to fall asleep each night. All he knew was the truth was out there. He was convinced of it. Hell, there were countless televisions dramas and documentaries devoted to it. Intelligent life existed other than that found on earth.

Brix and Aberdash laughed. The two alien heads had been monitoring Harold for some time now, noting his increased sense of paranoia. I say heads because they headed up their alien society... of heads. That's right, that's all they were. These two were bereft of bodies. As were the members of their nation. You could say Brix and Aberdash were head Heads. You could. But I wouldn't go for such a cheap laugh. They watched closely as Harold made a trip to the corner store and spent the evening making a tin-foil hat. A tin-foil hat wasn't going to do anything. If Brix and Aberdash wanted to suck out his brain tin-foil wasn't going to stop them. But they didn't want his brain. It was minuscule compared to theirs. And the knowledge it held was useless. All song titles and movie characters. It couldn't begin to grasp the magnitude of knowledge their craniums were composed of.

So after weeks of observation Brix and Aberdash were able to suss that Harold would be of little use to them. The tin-foil hat alone demonstrated that.

The two alien head heads comforted themselves with the fact that ttheir wo heads were better than one; that they'd put their heads together to figure this out; that they'd gone to the head of the class, as it were; that they'd given this some deep thought and gotten their heads around the problem; that they'd not had their heads in the sand; that they'd kept their heads above water; that they didn't fall head over heels and, naturally, they'd addressed the situation head-on.

Hmm. I think I'll quit while I'm ahead.

The Studio30+ prompt this week is suss/grasp and I managed to use both words. Head on back and find them.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Well That's Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Us Into


Nice party.

Yeah, it seems very nice.

Are you a friend of the bride or the groom?

Actually I am the groom.

Oh my. Really?

Yes, really. I'm Bob. Bob Broglio.

Well that's a unique name Bob.

What? Bob?

No, no your last name Broglio.

No I'm Broglio.

Ha, ha. Good one.

Gets them every time.

Gets who?

Me. I always get in trouble over that one.

Oh, how so?

It's kind of a high class Laurel and Hardy routine, you know? Girls find me witty and charming when I play with my last name.

I'd say you were playing with more than that.

What do you mean?

The bride. She's very pregnant.

Yes it's quite a predicament.

Well I hope you and Mrs Broglio and your little Broglio will be very happy.

We're going to name him Imp.


Yes. Imp Broglio.


Well that wasn't too hard was it. The prompt was imbroglio/predicament from the guys at Studio30+ this week.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Barnyard Buffet or How I Got Finger-Fooded Into Frightful Farm Puns

Chuck entered the room and made a bee-line for the banquet table. As he crossed the room intent on his goal his mind stopped to wonder why people called it a bee-line. Like why didn't they call it a sparrow line, or a hornet line, or a bat line although DC comics already had that one covered and copyrighted.

He stuck out his hand and scooped up a couple of his favourites: onion rings. But wait. His mind sounded the death knell on the onions once he spied the piggies in a blanket. "Hell, he thought to himself "piggies in a blanket can run rings around onion, oh, um, rings". Despite his poor command of the language he nevertheless thought piggies in a blanket was a smart term. You know, linking (get it?) the sausage to a pastry. Sounded much better than cocktail weenies. I mean, after all, what grown man wants to ask people to pass them the cocktail weenies. The phrase sounds so, so, um, diminutive, right? Embarrassing for sure. Imagine going to a baseball game and asking the vendor down a long row of screaming men "Excuse me sir but how much are your cocktail weenies?" Like that's gonna happen.

Chuck knew a few people and he nodded casually to them as he continued to clean the plate of cocktail...erm...piggies in a blanket.

But his hostess, outstanding in her field (notice agricultural reference) as a home chef, was on the ball and Sownya (notice bovine reference there) hoofed it out of the kitchen with another serving of the precious finger sausages. Chuck was relieved. More piggies in a blanket. And Sownya was over the moooon that someone was enjoying her piggies in a blanket.

"Good crowd" snorted Chuck. "Yes" said Sownya "Bill managed to coral most of the neighbours, I think"

"What is that dipping sauce?" marvelled Chuck. "Ranch" crowed Sownya. "Of course" clucked Chuck.

At that point Bill sidled up to Sownya and introduced himself to Chuck.

As the conversation continued Bill at one point almost accidentally dropped his plate but managed in a clever move to catch it before it fell to the floor, thus saving his links from becoming piggies in a carpet. And then in one smooth move he wolfed them down. (obscure reference here)

"Adroit" cried Chuck somewhat astonished.

Bill not having herd (spelling mistake intended to convey farm reference) the comment correctly he  crowed at Chuck "Say, is that anywhere near Detroit?"

"Geez" thought Chuck (most obscure reference next) "What is this, Wheel of Fortune?" Then, thinking he'd have some fun he replied "As a matter of fact yes. You just pass through C-droit, turn right at B-droit and five miles down the road is adroit."

As they all laughed at Chuck's witty retort, Sownya slowly swallowed what she'd been chewing on since the beginning of the party, turned to her husband, and beaming proudly (both beams), she sucked in her breath, stuck out her teats and whispered "Those were not the droits we were looking for, were they."

The prompt was adroit/clever from Studio30+ - witty and skillful that my friends over there are. I hope I've done them proud.

What Did Dufus Do in 2015 - A List of My Favourite Books for 2015

I read quite a few books in 2015. 62 to be precise. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, books about the music industry and musical artists, series such as the Chronicles of Narnia, detective novels, best sellers and simply books written over the years that were recommended to me. Some were e-books on either iBooks or Kindle and some were hardcover editions. I'm not picky when it comes to format.

How then to share with you what I thought were the best reads? I read a lot of good books - very satisfying books - but I decided to include only those books I rated 5 out of 5 over the year. In that regard there were only eight. Here they are:


Punishment - Linden MacIntyre
A riveting and suspenseful thriller from a Canadian author.

Bill Bruford - The Autobiography
One of the best musical autobiographies I've ever read from the former drummer for Yes and King Crimson.

Outsider in Amsterdam (Grijpstra and de Gier Mystery #1 - Janwillem van de Wetering
A great detective story and I'm a sucker for a great detective story.

The Martian - Andy Weir
You may have seen the movie, or heard about it at least, with Matt Damon. I haven't. But the book is excellent. May well be the best thing I read all year..

The Redeemer (Harry Hole #16) - Jo Nesbo
Another detective story, 16th in the Harry Hole series, of which I've read them all up until this edition.

We Are As The Times Are - Ken Rockburn
A loving memory of local Ottawa Canada coffee house Le Hibou where hundreds of rock and folk acts performed in the 60s and 70s. I'm into that kind of thing.

The Girl in the Spider's Web - (Stieg Larsson"s Millennium Trilogy #4) - David Lagercrantz
Lagercrantz undertook this project with the approval of the Larsson family and he remains true to the tone and quality of story telling, not to mention suspense, set by Larsson.

Even Dogs In The Wild - Ian Rankin
Rankin remains one of my favourite authors. This volume focussing on one of his favourite characters, the now retired Inspector Rebus, does not disappoint.

The year wasn't without its duds. And a book has to be pretty bad for me to give up on it. My philosophy is if you've invested 50-100 pages in a book you may as well finish it. Well I finished one and gave up on two. I suppose out of 62 books that's not bad.

DNF(Did Not Finish)/Worst

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (DNF)
I could not get through this. The New York Times said this book was at times tedious. Indeed. It was far too long and for me the end was never in sight. So I gave up. For me the infinite jest was played on the reader.

A Prince Among Stones - Prince Rupert Lowenstein (**)
The Prince actually looked after the finances of the Rolling Stones starting in the late 60s and unfortunately this book pays little heed to the music or the musicians.

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas - Pynchon (DNF)
The New York Times said of this lengthy, sprawling book"Gravity's Rainbow is bonecrushingly dense, compulsively elaborate, silly, obscene, funny, tragic, pastoral, historical, philosophical, poetic, grindingly dull, inspired, horrific, cold, bloated, beached and blasted". Enough said.

I didn't provide the links here but if you go to the "Books" button at the top of the screen you can get to the listing of all the books I read in 2015 with links to reviews.

So those are the highs and lows respecting the books I read this year. What about you? Did you have some great reads this year? Did you have some duds?

For 2015 I had set myself a total of 75 books that I thought I could read. I only got through 62. So I've cut back my goal for 2016 to 50 books. I should be able to achieve that. We'll see as DVDs and On Demand videos compete for my attention. Happy reading!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Bibliofile - December

Well it was the last month of the year and I knew I wouldn't make it. I'd said back in January that I'd probably read 75 books in 2015. Alas I was a tad short. After adding the 5 books I read in December I came down to 62 books for the year. Still, not bad. That's still a lot of pages, electronic or otherwise.

Taking quick look at December's reads, then, I started out with the latest from one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite characters of his Inspector Rebus, who is retired now but is "consulting" the police.. Even Dogs in the Wild was sheer joy. It did not disappoint.

Next up was a new author for me, Peggy Blair, and her first instalment of her Inspector Remirez series The Beggar's Opera.The novel takes place in Havana and has a Canadian connection. Oddly enough the author is Canadian. I can't recall how I picked up on this book but it was well worth the read.

I'd seen a Facebook friend talk about Burning Down George Orwell's House and I thought how could I refuse not reading a title like that. I was pleasantly surprised by Andrew Ervin's debut novel about a guy that wants to be alone and ends up renting the same house George Orwell lived in. Ervin writes with humour and his insights into Orwell are interesting.

What can one say about High Fidelity. Remember the movie with John Cusack? The book is even better. Way better.

And I ended off the month with a book about Allen Klein. the former business manager of the Stones and, through their break up, the Beatles. A fascinating read if you want to see behind the scenes to the Beatles financial flame out as well as a little history around Klein and the music business.

So that concludes my month and my year between the covers (note Rolling Stone reference). Next week I'll give you my favourites of the year.

Here's how I rated last month's books.

Even Dogs Run Wild - Ian Rankin *****
The Beggar's Opera (Inspector Rameriz #1) - Peggy Blair ****
Burning Down George Orwell's House - Andrew Ervin ****
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby - ****
Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles,
Made the Stones and Transformed Rock and Roll - Fred Goodman ****

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