Archive for May, 2009

Ellery Queen (What’s in the Dark?)

Another faux Ellery Queen novel. This whodunit is solvable, but you have to pay close attention to details (the clues are not dated in this story). The story is about an apparent suicide that takes place on the 21st floor of an office building, minutes before a blackout strikes the entire eastern seaboard and part of Canada. Detective Corrigan is called in to investigate, he realizes it’s murder and not suicide and the killer is among those stranded on the 21st floor. Sure the writing and story are a bit “cheesy”, but I really enjoyed the “old fashioned” writing and language. Using words that you know long hear these days like “beery”: “He had a berry sort of voice; thick and gurgly.” The descriptions of the characters, in my opinion, are wonderful.

From the book: “Tim Corrigan looked and moved like a classy middleweight boxer with a heavyweight’s kick in either fist. He was built low to the ground and, like Antaeus, seemed to gather his strength from it. His face was a construction of  overlapping planes, almost cartoonistic, an illusion that was furthered by the black patch over his left eye socket. The eye that was there was brown, steady, and usually amiable.”

Sybil Graves is described as: “She had a cool, clear voice, on the husky side; it seemed made for moonlight. She also had Irish-blue eyes and a turned-up Irish nose and a bust development that knew no national boundaries.”

What’s not to enjoy about writing like that?

Gets a solid 3 stars from me.

Read 5/09

Find out more about Ellery Queen by visiting:


Ellery Queen (The Chinese Orange Mystery)

This “whodunit” did an excellent job of mixing the bread crumbs with the stones (explanation at the bottom). Which I did not solve until Ellery was explaining it (I did get it before he made it clear though). Written in 1934 the language and the people stereotypes maybe a bit dated for some readers (some of the clues were dated too). Which is my excuse for not solving it. Still a great read for mystery lovers.

Bread crumbs and stones taken from Hansel and Gretal (trail leading back to the killer)
Bread crumbs (clues) easy to see (but eaten by birds) and lead nowhere.
Stones (clues) hard to see but will lead to the killer.

3 stars

Read 7/08

Ellery Queen (The Killer Touch)

The Killer Touch

As a fan of the Ellery Queen TV series (from long ago), I was expecting a who done it type book. This turned out to be more of a cat and mouse type story. The writing was a bit dated and the hero was a little over the top with every thing he did in the story. For fluff/trash it was a fun, fast and easy read and over all good enough that i will read more Ellery Queen.

Note: According to This is a
“Faux Ellery Queen Paperback Originals”
Which explains my review…still if was a fun read.

3 stars

Read 7/08

Hip Hip Hooray! The Trial Is Over!

I’ve finally finished The Metamorphosis and The Trial by Franz Kafka. Rating them separately I would give The Metamorphosis 2 stars. I really found the story interesting, even though I didn’t care for the main character and the writing style was tedious, but it was a fairly short read. It’s about a man that changes into an insect and the affect it has on him and his family. I found all kinds of metaphors for life in the story, which helped to keep me interested, but I’m happy it was short. Now for The Trial I wouldn’t give it any stars, I am however thinking about giving it a match. The Trial is about a man (Josef K.) that is told he is under arrest, but not taken anywhere, and is put on trial for an unspecified reason. His lawyer and even the “minor/low level” judges overseeing the case do not know what the charge is against Josef K. I HATED the writing style and after about 50 pages I really didn’t care about Josef, his case, the trial or the outcome. I just wanted it to be over so I could start a fire.

Copied from Wikipedia: According to Kafka’s friend Max Brod, the author never finished the novel and wrote in his will that it was to be destroyed. After his death, Brod went against Kafka’s wishes and edited The Trial into what he felt was a coherent novel and had it published in 1925.

I think that if Max was a real friend to Kafka (or the world) he would have done as Kafka wished.

My Rating of 2 stars for The Metamorphosis and A Match for The Trial combined equal 1 star and a match.

Religious Freedom Or Neglect?


Religious freedom is a cornerstone in the foundation of America, but when does it go too  far and when should the Government step in?

Daniel Hauser is 13 yrs old and has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With chemotherapy and radiation his chance of survival is 90%, without the medical treatment his chance of survival drops to 5%.

After a single Chemotherapy treatment, with his parents, Daniel opted instead for “alternative medicines,” citing religious beliefs.

The Hausers are Roman Catholic and they also follow the philosophy of the Nemenhah, a Native American healing practice (holistic medicine).

The State stepped in to try and save the boy’s life. A Minnesota judge ruled Friday that a family cannot refuse chemotherapy for their cancer stricken 13 year old son.

In his ruling, Judge Rodenberg wrote:

“Brown County Family services has demonstrated a compelling state interest in the life and welfare of Daniel Hauser sufficient to override the fundamental constitutional rights of both parents and Daniel to the free exercise of religion and the due process right of the parents to direct the religious and other upbringing of the child.”

Colleen and Anthony Hauser are supporting what they say is their son’s decision to instead treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments.

Colleen and her son Daniel are now on the run, an arrest warrant for Colleen has been issued.

One of the factors in the story is that Daniel has very limited reading and writing skills, so it’s argued that he doesn’t understand his decision.


Emperor: The Gates Of Rome by Conn Iggulden

EmperorI won this book on goodreads “giveaways”. Emperor: The Gates Of Rome, is about Gaius and Marcus’s life as they grow from boys into men. I was never that fascinated with the roman empire, but I thought the book sounded interesting. I was pleasantly surprised with a story that not only kept me turning pages but also gave me an understanding of a history I have never really studied before. The historical notes at the end was great giving you some facts and info on what was changed for the story. With it being the first book of a series I was worried about how and where it would end. Conn Iggulden did a great job at finding a satisfying ending that you could stop at and be happy and at the same time left it open enough that makes you want to continue with the series. I look forward to reading the next book in the Emperor series.

Spring Rolls In With Bocce Ball Players


Article published by the Twin City Daily Planet Here’s the link

They don’t play on a court. The play the park; up hills, down hills, under benches, and over the wood chips around the trees. They play anywhere, with the rule that you have to respect the flowers and other people in the park. They play bocce ball by the standard rules with a few modifications.

Every Thursday night a group of friends gather in a park near Lake Harriet. Each Thursday anywhere from 6 to16 people show up. This may not seem unusual, except that this group has met in the same spot for more than twenty years.

They first started playing bocce ball sometime around 1975 when a friend with Italian heritage introduced them to the game. At the time several of the players were neighbors, they started playing in their backyard or wherever they could. It wasn’t until 1988 that they began playing on Thursdays in the park.

Robert Ewing has been playing bocce ball with the group since its inception. Ewing is serious about his bocce ball; several times throughout the season the conversation of bocce ball as an Olympic sport comes up.

“Everyone knows it’s more exciting than curling,” Ewing said.

According to Debra Moore, a long time member of the group, Robert Ewing was instrumental in establishing Thursday bocce ball. “For the first several years he would call each of us every Thursday to remind and encourage us to come down and play,” she said. Even today, if someone wants to play bocce ball on a day other than Thursday they usually get Robert to start the calls.

Every game ends with handshakes and a heartfelt “good game” all around. Then it’s back to the lawn chairs for a break before another round kicks off. The players don’t officially keep records of wins and losses (although some players keep private tallies). Even though they have played holding umbrellas in the rain and some games have lasted into the dark, forcing players to use flashlights and even the light from cell phones to see the balls, the group denies being “serious” or “dedicated” bocce ball players.

That may be so, but they are serious and dedicated friends. Many of these friendships go back 30 years or more. Two of the men that play, Robert Ewing and Tim Ryan, have been friends since the first grade. Ryan says he finds it hard to believe that it has been 50 years since he and Ewing met. Some of the original players have introduced their spouses, kids, and even pets to the game.

For the group of friends the games are also a good time to talk about current events, check on how everyone and their kids are doing, and to make plans to go hear music, play golf, Domino’s and Acquire.

The bocce ball group also holds a tournament around the summer solstice known as the Tournament of Roses. Typically more than twenty people will show up for the “big event.” To qualify for the Tournament of Roses you have to play in at least one Thursday game (although this rule isn’t really enforced). Prizes, usually hand made by one of the players, are awarded to the winning team.

For the last 15 years many of these same friends have also been getting together for a September bocce camping weekend. A friend also hosts an annual Memorial Day weekend camping and bocce ball tournament in Wisconsin.

The group of friends has become a mainstay for some park goers. One man that the players have gotten to know because he has been walking his dogs through the park for about 15 years, says he knows “spring has sprung” when he sees the bocce players.

This year spring sprung on April 9 when the bocce season opened and will last until October.