Friday, September 19, 2008

A Mysterious Passion

Louis M. Boxer reflects on the beauty of book collecting:

The passion for collecting books, like good taste, is something you are either
born with and/or fortuitously cultivate with great loving tenderness. It must be
nourished with time, or it will atrophy and wither away, which one would
consider a serious crime just about anywhere! Collecting my mystery books for
the sole expectation of making an exponential return on your investments is
extremely risky and speculative. More importantly, it unabashedly eviscerates
and brutalizes the beauty of collecting mystery books. Collecting books is
something that should be pursued for one's pleasure and personal satisfaction
above all else. It doesn't require a lot of money but merely an interest to
read, to learn and to share in others' lives. Ultimately you find yourself
becoming more preoccupied with the pursuit and the pursuit and the acquisition of the printed word at the expense of food, sleep or even sex! If this describes you, then you have taken the first step to admitting that you are a bona fide bibliophile. You cannot escape your fate nor can you buy, steal, or fake this passion.


Hat tip to Charles Benoit for the link.

Mystery, Romance, Exotic Adventure

Charles Benoit is an award-winning mystery writer whose books give you a rollicking good ride through foreign climes while his protagonists pursue both love and a MacGuffin. I loved his first novel, Relative Danger, and was hooked.

I quickly snapped up his next two: Out of Order and Noble Lies.

His sense of humor and well-drawn characters drive the plots well through various improbable scenarios. There are insights into the cultures of the various locales featured in the books which are obviously the fruit of his own experiences.

He seems like an interesting fellow in his non-authorial life: He hosts a jazz radio program (swing music -- I knew I liked the man!), likes martinis (the real kind, none of this fruity drink with "-tini stuck at the end" stuff), and is as well-traveled as his hapless heroes.
So if you like your books as light and dry as one of Benoit's martinis, give them a try.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New York, New York

The day the planes hit, I was trying to tune into a radio interview with Patrick Madrid. One of the stations had interrupted programming with a news bulletin; all I had to hear was "the president looked grave" to know that something bad had happened.

My younger kids were watching "Barney" or something. I shooed them out of the room and turned to a news channel to the sight of smoke coming out of both of the towers. They were breaking in with news about the Pentagon, and something about a plane crash in Pennsylvania. I switched back to kiddie shows and ran upstairs to my computer ...

I began emailing friends back in New York. I was born and raised in Queens, and I still have many friends and family who live and work there. One friend said he could see the smoke when he was crossing one of the bridges to his workplace. Shortly after that I got a message: "They're gone."

What do you mean "GONE"?

I tuned in to a visual report to see empty, smoking air where the towers had been. Unfathomable. I started crying, nearly screaming.

As the news reports came in, jumbled and confused, I was proud of my city. I saw New Yorkers mobilizing, getting ready to deal with the wounded that would flood the hospitals.

They didn't come.

In the days that followed, the people of this country stepped up and stepped in to bind the wounds. The firefighters collected fistfuls of $20 bills in boots on street corners here in Raleigh and in Durham to send to New York. Workers poured in from across the United States to help with search efforts. More food, clothing, and money than could be used were donated. The generosity of the American people can be nearly overwhelming.

But pain continued weeks after the attacks, with churches conducting funeral after funeral after funeral, day after day after day.

Remember, and say a prayer.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

I'd Rather Poke Hot Needles In My Eyes

Moving Day. More accurately, Mom K.'s moving day. Moving WEEK.

On the bright side, it's a nice new apartment in a retirement community, where she'll always have someone around to make sure she's safe. On the not-so-bright side we're going through the "which box was the soap in?" phase.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to Normal

At last we have returned to non-crisis mode. I'm still recovering bits and pieces of the last two years from the old hard drive, but the new computer is running fine so far and there haven't been any new setbacks.

We just spent a lovely Labor Day weekend in the lower Shenandoah Valley, wandering through antique stores and flea markets, and hitting a kid-friendly attraction or two as a sop to my boys. They don't much like me making them slog through the old furniture and glassware. I can't imagine why.

It wasn't very productive in terms of book finds, though I did get a $4 copy of Samuel Eliot Morison's History of the American People in one volume to replace the dinky 3-paperback set in my personal library.

It was wonderful to see the mountains again, and to see all the neat Virginia farms nestled among the hills and hollows. We'll have to take another trip there soon.

Oh, and another highlight: We visited Mount Airy, North Carolina, the boyhood home of Andy Griffith, and the inspiration for the fictional town of "Mayberry" on "The Andy Griffith Show."
I got a picture of my boys in front of Floyd's Barber Shop, which I'll post once I develop the film. (Yes, I still use 35mm film).

I'm a big fan of the series, though I haven't joined the "Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club" yet. Each chapter is named after a phrase or episode title from the show. Our local chapter is "The Concrete Jungle," located in Raleigh; others are "Citizen's Arrest!", "Kerosene Cucumbers," "Compelsion Complex," "Ernest T. Bass Window Removal Inc.", etc.