Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bel-Air Dead

In Stuart Wood's Bel-Air Dead, there is something comforting in finding what you're looking for. It is liking putting on a comfortable slipper to slide into the head of lawyer, Stone Barrington, beginning with a Knob Creek bourbon and schmoozing with the regulars in Elaine's Restaurant (with a dedication to the late Elaine Kaufman, who loved writers and famous people) in New York City.  Naturally, there's murder involved, new private jets, people with lots of money buying new stuff and spending lots of their money. Escapism works for me--I can't relate to any of that stuff. I am vicariously rich.

He solves the murders, gets a new partnership, and lots more money. What more could a reader want in 300 pages? Stone Barrington has more unsafe sex and we try to overlook their disregard for the obvious. So why do I keep reading this pulp fiction? I know what to expect and I don't have to worry about some vulnerable creature getting offed in a frightening way or a twisted mind torturing someone. It's plain, old-fashioned greed and lust for power. I need to know how the rich and famous spend their lives so I can know what to avoid when I win the lottery. I can deal with that.

It's a business/legal drama, minus the courtroom. Stone isn't really a courtroom lawyer, he's a deal maker.  His buddy and cop friend, Dino Bacchetti comes along for the ride to Bel-Air so Stone has someone to talk to and to advance the plot. Stone needs someone else with a gun too, so they can do double dates and solve murders with fellow cops in faraway places. It makes gathering information so much cozier when there is a friend on a police force across the country who can provide just the clues needed to solve murders and unravel suspicious connections. Other old acquaintances from past books pop in to update the reader on the current state of their lives or to suggest plots for their next editions. I don't think this will be the last of the Stone Barrington, et all, adventures.

The buying and selling of houses, properties, jets, companies and throwing around of vast sums of money at a dizzying pace keeps the reader moving so fast that it is a quick read. It's really  great stuff for a beach read between dips in the water and the afternoon nap. Stuart Woods can keep 'em coming 'cause I'm not tired of them yet.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Live in a photograph

Live in a photograph?

I don't live in a photograph.
My curtains are out of date.
My carpets need cleaning.
My clutter is to die for.
My dust says "I keep".

If only I had a million bucks.
I would buy new furniture.
I would re-paint the walls.
I would buy zippy shades.
I would vaaazze cut flowers.

Alas, my humble abode is my castle.
Warts and all, it makes me relax.
Horizontal surfaces beg for more paper.
I fear Better Homes and Gardens.
The computer beckons.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


In the lastest research on length of life and the clues found in the length of telomeres, we are told that perhaps exercise and meditation can lengthen those telomeres. Who doesn't want to live longer? I don't necessarily want to take a blood test to predict my life length. The only important thing to me is trying to control whatever I can and do the best I can within reason to improve the quality and length of my life.

Okay, I exercise, and I have my own way of relaxing and coping, but I've never tried what's formally called Meditation. I've read the "how to" articles, but I find a few things that wouldn't work for me. I am short and never sit with my legs pulled into a "lotus" position. I don't want to restrict my circulation so I would have to sit in a chair. I'm not a chanter either. I would have to work on other approaches. I could find any number of words on which I could concentrate or chant to myself, but not aloud. Even so, my mind wanders.

I already spend a portion of my day exercising, so adding another life-extending activity seems questionable. I begin to question the quality of a life spent only trying to extend it--to what purpose? Doing more to keep extending it? When is there time to enjoy life and "smell the roses"? I look for balance in life as a Libra, which is neither here nor there, but it does seem that there is a "tilt" point in overdoing anything.

I wonder how others feel about meditation and how it fits into their busy lives. How do they manage the details of the process? In times past, I have tried the idea of trying to achieve the "state of zero" which I find difficult to do. I will have to do some research and find some imput from people who meditate successfully. I always like to hear what works for others.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Buried Prey

In Buried Prey, this latest John Sandford drama features his favorite main character, policeman "hunter" of bad guys, Lucas Davenport, who revisits a cold case from his past. Victims of a case he had worked on early in his career are discovered and reinforces his guilt of having mishandled the case due to his inexperience. He had to leave the case unsolved. He feels a lot of responsibility to hunt down criminals to prevent additional victims. He seems haunted by the additional victims of the perpetrator from the cold case. Lucas is a smart guy who writes computer simulations on the side and likes puzzles. So he sees his job as a "hunt" to find killers to protect the public.

The main character is a very likeable creation with laudable motivations who works on overcoming his inner conflicts. He's a strong, "guy's guy" who gets along well with co-workers even when he disagrees with them. The character manages to be loyal to his family, protect them and he tries to find a modicum of normalcy in the middle of the madness of the job he does so very well. His continuing relationship with his adopted daughter, Letty, who was a little "toughie" for whom he developed a soft spot and rescued in a previous novel, is especially endearing.

The preceding twenty "Prey" novels follow the career of Lucas Davenport and show a great progression in character development from one novel to the next. He just gets more and more likeable. I highly recommend reading the whole series from the beginning because the trip is worth the time. John Sandford is at the top of my list of favorite authors and the consummate professional. The plot development and the fictional world he spins together gets and keeps my attention. The other supporting characters are equally interesting and Virgil Flowers is an entertaining co-worker about whom four novels have been written.

John Sandford (John Camp) lives and works in Minnesota, a place I've never visited. I especially enjoy how he sets a scene with descriptions that make me feel I have actually seen the places. I appreciate how he can describe the weather and nature. He comes from the field of journalism and his attention to detail slows me from my usual speed reading to savor his descriptive sentences. I've enjoyed every book I've read by John Sandford.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beaches Well Loved

As springtime segues into summer and Memorial Day approaches, the need for a beach becomes a craving to be satisfied only by grainy sand and warm, salty breezes. The sounds of the seagulls and the crashing waves from far away storms at sea echo from years past.

It's time to find an old swimsuit that fits, or find a new one that reminds me that I can still wear a swimsuit without inciting a trail of giggles. The lure of the waves is too compelling to avoid. Fill the beach bag with the latest thriller plot, sunscreen smelling of coconut oil, a bag for seashells, and a beach towel bigger than I. Those over-sized, Jackie O. sunshades are a must.  A dermatologist-approved sunhat, sand chair, and umbrella complete the supplies. 

Hours must be spent gazing at rolling waves of surf. Walks in racing foam on hot sand yields shells of mysterious sea life. Thinking of nothing for days on end renews the spirit more than a good night's sleep. The lazy days of lounging, napping, reading and sun gazing are rewards for a year well-spent.