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Regis Schilken "Rege" RSS Feed (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania)

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The Tortoise Shell Game
The Tortoise Shell Game
by V. Frank Asaro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.95
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Really Happened Out There?, October 26, 2015
The Tortoise Shell Game is quite different from most tales listed as thrillers. So often, a cheap thriller begins with some kind of violent incident just to get the reader interested. But then every few pages thereafter, you can count on something frightening or dreadful happening: a car crash, a car chase, a creepy murder, terrorist activity, a violent explosion.

What lifts The tortoise Shell Game so high as an excellent read is this fact: it is a spot on serious mental thriller. From its very first pages, the book plays with your mind! Using flashbacks from time to time, author Asaro provides glances into the early life of Anthony Darren.

We see Darren as emotional—one precious girlfriend—a lifelong sweetheart. We see him as a very strong character right from the commencement of the story when he explains that while still in high school, he’s made top grades and is also a respected talented member of the high school wrestling team. As the story moves on, Darren and his girl arrive at a drive-in restaurant. There he has a vicious fight with a loudmouthed bullying enemy who swears revenge for his injuries.

Besides writing a twisted novel, Author Asaro has a unique grasp of thoughtful words and expressions that make this story realistic and alive. When Darren lures himself into bed with beautiful Laura, he says of her, “… no un-tanned spot anywhere evident. Her curves and muscles, wizardry beneath his fingers, were the inspiration for a sculpture.”

Some pages later, Asaro’s writing style in The Tortoise Shell Game again struck me when he described Darren’s own feelings as he embraced his first love and their beautiful daughter. “For a while the three of them clung to one another, and an upheaval Anthony couldn’t choke off misted his eyes.”

Years later as a well-known lawyer, Darren attempts to defend a close friend of his who now is the owner of a tuna fishing fleet. Darren and the Sea Diva owner have been friends from their earlier younger days—back when the violent fight took place in the drive-in parking lot.

Darren is slowly sucked into a mysterious incident that claimed two lives aboard the Sea Diva, on its maiden fishing voyage. This mammoth vessel was state-of-the-art with all the bells and whistles of the time. With overwhelming speed and extremely large nets, it was engineered to supply its owner with massive catches to provide much needed capital for a struggling business hampered by the government’s no-kill dolphin law.

Now the case has gone to court. Since neither Darren nor his friend were aboard the Sea Diva when the disaster occurred, both friends team together trying to force together odd pieces of the murderous sea incident puzzle. But the unimaginable begins to happen. Very bizarre evidence begins to surface placing guilt in a strange direction. Could the Sea Diva’s owner have been complicit in what happened at sea? Worse still, could his best friend, Darren have helped make arrangements with him?

Read The Tortoise Shell Game, a terrible tale of love and hate, truth and deceit as Darren not only struggles to clear his own name, but also wrestles to uncover who and what was behind the maniacal event out at sea. Although The Tortoise Shell Game is not a typical blood and gore thriller, surely it will keep your imagination and intelligence guessing until its final pages.

Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System
Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System
by Philip Kotler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.45
81 used & new from $1.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism with Heart, April 11, 2015
Unlike our founding fathers whose ideals for our nation’s growth were through democratic principles, hard work, decency and fairness in business and the marketplace, today’s foundering fathers led Americans, particularly the poor and middle class, over an indecent financial brink.

According to Confronting Capitalism, lenders encouraged individuals to borrow outrageous sums to build mansion-like homes, or to start new businesses on unsound practices, knowing full well that in all probability, they would default. And they did!, The bubble burst. A domino effect of the Great Recession (2008-2011) rippled across America and other countries where capitalism, in one form or another, undergirded economic policies.

Out of the ruins, more than ever, people needed employment. Author Philip Kotler in Confronting Capitalism explains how failed businesses yanked uncountable numbers off job payrolls. Seemingly, the great divide between the “haves” and “have-nots” increased exponentially: the rich grew even wealthier, the middle class slipped backward and the poor grew destitute. At the same time, computers and automation sucked up many hands-on jobs. Desperate unhappy jobless people cried out for new leadership—America had lost its soul.

To make matters worse, as individuals and entire nations were attempting to avoid bankruptcy, scientists were loudly exposing the blatant, maybe even irreversible, harm done to the environment by exploitation of natural resources and uncontrolled damage to its protective ozone layer. The “good life” had quickly morphed into the “grim life.”

In Confronting Capitalism, Author Philip Kotler not only lists fourteen serious faults of capitalism but he also discusses down to earth solutions so that ALL might pursue happiness through financial well-being. For sure, good leaders were needed to return decency to the world. The Obama administration took a huge step in this direction by preventing the collapse of the American economy (150); almost alone, he confronted naysayers by bailing out General Motors, Fannie and Freddie Mac, and AIG.

In one of Kotler’s solutions, Confronting Capitalism proposes several plans for insuring that workers earn a basic income (72) or a minimum wage sufficient to live on. He suggests that rather than pay for food stamps, unemployment benefits and welfare services, the government could publicly finance jobs: to repair the nation’s infrastructure, to take care of a thinning but aging population, to work on projects to repair a fracturing environment, to teach out-of-workers skills to refit them for higher level jobs.

He proposes that workers take part in running the companies that employ them. He suggests influencing them to purchase stock and/or shares in that company. He goes so far as suggesting that the government provide every citizen with a minimum income to make sure that no person would go hungry. With a guaranteed income, persons would be free to shop around for a job they liked—better still, they would be free to start their own enterprise.

Confronting Capitalism is an excellent book because it sends this very clear message to workers, bankers, industrialists, CEOs, politicians and presidents. IF America is to reclaim its former global glory, leaders must infuse heart into the capitalism begun by our founding fathers. It is not sufficient for a CEO to snatch the highest salary or for a business to boast the largest profit, unless they have used bona fide initiatives to reach this plateau pulling its workers with them. Kotler feels that all is not hopeless but change is, indeed, needed but difficult. Once aware of what can be done, his book will make each reader aware of how s/he can do their part to put heart back into the American dream.

A Very Special Tree #5 Series 2013 Hallmark Ornament
A Very Special Tree #5 Series 2013 Hallmark Ornament
Offered by Octopus Emporium
Price: $24.99
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Astronaut's Plan to Improve Our World, February 7, 2015
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The Orbital Perspective is no ordinary book. It was penned by an author who has seen our planet from 240 miles in space. From a window of the ISS (International Space Station), to astronaut/author Ron Garan, earth looked like an enormous unfolded physical map as he sped across its vast oceans and continents, great mountains and plains.

One can only imagine his feelings. Although the earth appeared to be a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place to live, in reality, Garan says he was fully aware of the troubles overwhelming its inhabitants: struggles for enough food, for clean air and water; battles over geographic boundaries; disagreements over religious beliefs; and above all, the on-going fight for personal freedom.

The book, The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles, is the result of the profound influence of (1) his early training as an astronaut and (2) his shared life with foreign astronauts in the ISS. Both experiences shaped his thinking about ways to solve our planet's problems. Early in the book, he discusses how fellow astronauts of different tongues overcame language barriers. Yet, the major hurdle for all involved in building, and then living in the space station, was trust.

According to author Garan, for years, the United States and Russia distrusted one another. A giant chasm existed between the democratic way of life and communist philosophy. Yet working together on a daily basis with foreign astronauts eventually toppled the wall of mistrust. Each country's leaders and scientists learned that if a habitable space station was ever to take place, trust was the critical attribute necessary. Collaborative effort to develop the myriad support systems necessary for life inside the ISS was the key to success, not political gesturing, not "ego and arrogance."

The book is an outright call to action. It explains Garan's suggestions for building world trust or as he calls it, The Orbital Perspective, a world--WE. He outlines ways in which global teamwork can come about, not just get talked about. Personally, he hopes to establish The Star Harbor Space Training Academy that will provide training for astronauts from any country so that successful future private ventures in space become a reality.

I liked The Orbital Perspective because it changed my thinking. It motivated me to
incorporate collaborative thinking into my own daily life. It is easy to imagine what could happen if politicians and preachers and presidents started to view humanity through orbital perspective lenses rather than just my country, my citizens, my achievements. This book is a definite message of hope. It is a book and a time for readers to bring about change!

In the end, we are one, a species with the unique capability of preserving ourselves and our planet for as long as possible. Garan's idea of acting and thinking--WE--will do it.

Brothers Forever: The Enduring Bond between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice
Brothers Forever: The Enduring Bond between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice
by Tom Sileo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.16
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond This Life Together, May 19, 2014
Brothers Forever
Tom Sileo and Col. Tom Manion

The bond between sister and brother or brother and brother can indeed be strong and enduring. In my mind, it is so profound and powerful that one person would readily sacrifice his/her life for the other if necessary.

In Brothers Forever, two young men who are not biological brothers achieve a deep longstanding friendship that follows them to their graves. The bond between them grew during years of intensive training through the Naval Academy. Both continued to serve in the US military. What makes Brothers Forever so fascinating is that one hero had trained as a US Marine, the other as a Navy SEAL.

The battle for the city of Fallujah in Iraq claimed a host of civilian lives and those of Iraqi and US soldiers. It is hard to imagine how Marine Travis Manion endured the heat of battle dressed in full protective military gear in a geographical area where the heat of day could easily climb well over one hundred degrees.

The mental and physical duress must have been terrific when Manion and his squad found themselves pinned down in their broiling Humvees in one of the narrow alleys of Fallujah. Desperately, they needed to eliminate the snipers who had the advantage of shooting down from roof tops or windows high above the bullet riddled Humvees.

Using their vehicle as a barricade, the men climbed out to take positions behind it so they could engage the snipers if only they could spot them. In an effort to draw fire hoping to expose the hidden shooters, for a few seconds, Manion moved a few feet out into the open. Shortly after, another Marine looked toward Manion and “…confronted an image that would stay with him for the rest of his life.”
Several years later and miles away in Afghanistan, Navy Seal Brendan Looney flew in a helicopter for his fifty-ninth combat mission toward a high mountain landing area. Ready to jump from the lowering copter, the SEALs had unhooked their safety belts. They wore all their protective military gear, carried their weapons and were ready to leap to the ground. “Suddenly, a terrible, piercing sound stunned everyone aboard the helicopter …!”

Although three years separated their deaths, Brendan Looney and Travis Manion were buried together in Arlington National Cemetery. Brothers Forever gives readers a thorough reenactment of how these brave men died and why they were interred together. In a positive way, it summarizes their lives and also gives readers a glimpse of the mental obligation to their country these two men experienced only two days after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

If you are a person seeking insight into what our young men and women go through serving militarily in a foreign land, read Brothers Forever. This book will grab your interest from its first few pages. For example, on page three, it tells that after a violent explosion, “…two Americans flew out of an armored Humvee and landed on the street.” The vehicle had struck an IED (improvised explosive device).

In Brothers Forever, you will discover how true heroes think—defending freedom is a true American ideal even if it means helping foreign peoples achieve it.

I would highly recommend this book to all, particularly high school students and collegians, who might be thinking of serving their country like the two heroes, Brendan Looney and Travis Manion who stared death in the face. Surely, they will find the book deeply moving, inspiring, and maybe just a bit troubling.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
by Marina Keegan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.10
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hello," I'll say to outer space, "this is my card.", April 12, 2014
Book review by Regis Schilken
The Opposite of Loneliness
Marina Keegan

So often we read in the news of the death of some famous person—a movie star, a singer, a political figure, a writer—who has passed away after a long lifetime of achievements. In a way, the news is sad yet inevitable when that person has reached the end of what would be a normal life span. We might wish otherwise, but our final demise is merely the end of The Cycle of Life.

Not so for author Marina Keegan. This young woman had a promising career ahead of her which, for me, was so fittingly evident in the release of her book, The Other Side of Loneliness. This collection of essays and stories provide evidence of a young woman who was well on her way to gifted stardom as a writer.

Early in her book, almost prophetically, she worries about what could have been. She talks about “… impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves.” It is obvious that she is fearful of her own freedom as she found herself ready to leave Yale to become, what?

Up until then, her life seemed planned. It seemed that only yesterday that she’d graduated from high school, yet here she was, saying “Goodbye” to her protective Yale where she felt “so remarkably, unbelievably safe.”

In a more profoundly prophetic sense, in the first section of The Opposite of Lonliness titled, FICTION, Keegan tells of Brian, a former lover, a somewhat athletic man who suddenly died of an undiagnosed ailment. Although their intimate relationship had ended, still they remained close friends.

Only after his death did Keegan’s mind reel with thoughts of Brian. Could he have been a life-mate? The idea became truly painful as she searched her conscience for words after Brian’s latest female commitment asked her to speak at his wake. She ends that story with “… I saw everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.”

In one of her tales, “Challenger Deep,” author Keegan speaks as a member of an exploratory submarine crew trapped on the ocean’s bottom, waiting for rescue—or is it death? All power usage in the submarine including food consumption has been kept at bare minimum to keep her and the others alive as long as possible.

Lights are forbidden so she stares out one of the sub’s windows waiting for the “jellyfish to return” because earlier ones she’d see brought a luminescence she found hopeful and comforting. She and other crew members wonder “… about why and how the international community might be able … to get us out.”

The Opposite of Loneliness is a great book for everyone to read. It is filled with author Keegan’s narratives about life and equally important, about death. This very young woman had an unusual gift with words—a skillful, mature way of assembling them into paragraphs to keep a reader wondering—a better word might even be “worrying”—about the outcome of a tale. Why? Because we’ve all shared similar feelings!

I would highly recommend The Opposite of Loneliness as an excellent source of encouragement and inspiration for all students, particularly those interested in writing and journalism as a career. Keegan’s unique ability to create a fascinating anecdote around just about any scenario could goad new writers to try the same tactic. Get a copy of Keegan’s book, but ponder it thoughtfully from page to page. You will not be disappointed.

Do you wanna leave soon?
No. I want enough time to be in love with everything . . .
—Marina Keegan, from the poem “Bygones”

Tragically, Marina Keegan died 5 days after graduation from Yale in 2012

The Hidden Child (Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck)
The Hidden Child (Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck)
by Camilla Lackberg
Edition: Paperback
146 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nazi Medal for--for Valor?, February 19, 2014
Forgive and forget: an ancient adage that has helped heal a wronged person both physically and psychically. But surely, that axiom cannot always hold true. There are evils, which are so heinous to human nature, that they must be remembered in their unconditional horror. Why? So some unwary distant generation might recognize a crazed value system and not be propagandized into following it.

The Hidden Child is a story that takes place both today in Fjallbacka, Sweden and yesterday during the hideous years of the notorious Third Reich. Erica Falck, a successful crime novelist, works on a new novel while her detective husband Patrick, on paternity leave, labors at homemaking while taking care of their young daughter.

Taking a break from her writing, curiosity eventually overtakes Erica; she wanders up into the dusty attic. She musters the courage to reopen an old trunk containing bits and pieces of her late mother’s life. Her mother had never been close to her. Erica had grown up feeling inadequate. “Why else would her mother not want to touch her? (412)” From the very bottom of the trunk she lifts out a baby’s dress soiled with blood spots, yet even more unsettling, in its folds is a Nazi medal.

The tiny dress and the medal haunt Erica. What possible connection could exist between that WW II medal and her mother? In The Hidden Child, as Erica strikes out to investigate, she visits a professor who tells her that the medal “was awarded for particular valor during the war. (345)” She dares to begin reading her mother’s diary.

To her shock, within days of that visit, two teens, who have broken into his home, discover the history teacher murdered. Erica cannot help but assume a deadly link between her visit and the killing. She learns that the victim was one of a small group that shared time and place with each other over sixty years ago.

In The Hidden Child, Author Lackberg shares with readers the depth of her own hatred for the Reich’s degenerate ideals. Erica’s psyche finds it perverse that any nation could inflict on Jews, the torture and agony, the humiliation and death that inhuman Hitler and his German Reich had done. How could her mother have treasured a medal that surely depicted depravity at its deadliest?

Erica obsesses about war criminals who escaped capture. Without doubt there must be Nazi’s living in exile in other countries—in Sweden for that matter. But then she learns of a resistance fighter named Hans who had escaped from Germany. Is he still alive? Could he be a link to her own mother? But now, one by one, each of the past contacts of the murdered professor are, in turn, exterminated. Erica becomes terrified for her own life and that of her husband and tiny daughter as well.

The Hidden Child is a good book for any reader seeking to know more about the Nazi era and the carnage left in its wake. While it may be good for the psyche to forgive and forget, it is critical that the Third Reich and the methodical way it persuaded the entire German nation into thinking it deserved to rule the world as a super nation must never be forgotten. “There was something deeply frightening about being faced with such fanatical conviction.” (335) No people deserve systematic extermination. History need not repeat itself.

While I found The Hidden Child an enjoyable read, there was an issue that interfered with straightforward reading. Throughout the book, author Lackberg repeatedly jumped to and from different time periods and places. While this practice is often used by authors to juggle many events—times and places—in order to keep the reader abreast of them all, in The Hidden Child, the technique was overdone and at times, downright confusing. It was as if I started reading a paragraph—then suddenly in the middle, I was thrust into another one—only to be brought back to the first just a few pages later.

I would recommend the book be read in long clumps of time so that people, places, and times become firmly fixed in the reader’s mind. Although the main characters in this tale can be found in other Lackberg mysteries, the people in The Hidden Child are developed well enough that this mystery can stand alone.

I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War
I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War
by Jerome Charyn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.99
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abe Lincoln Speaks His Mind, February 8, 2014
What kind of mind could pen the immortal words of The Gettysburg Address? What kind of man could guide a nation knifing itself as he watched? What kind of husband could weather the eruptions of a wife, battering the encroaching downward slope of lunacy? Jerome Charyn’s I Am Abraham paints a potent portrait of this gaunt, ungainly but fatherly man with words that will survive his own time.

I Am Abraham is an excellent book—a true 5 star read. It was written by Abraham Lincoln’s mind! From his early years when the males of New Salem pulled him drowning, from the waters of the Sangamon River, until his last quick thoughts as an assassin’s bullet ripped his skull, author Charyn’s saga illustrates the depth, devotion, compassion and philosophical mystique of Abraham Lincoln’s thinking.

Lincoln was an ambitious man given to melancholy. As the more industrialized North became cognizant and critical of the wealthy slave-held South, even as a young man, Abraham agonized over the animalistic treatment of blacks. He witnessed the bloody slashing of their bare backs—those who dared escape tyranny. Yet, there was little he could do. Years later during the Lincoln/Douglas debates, Abraham delicately tiptoed on a tightrope afraid to lose votes on either side. If he was to steer a nation, he must win big!
___"The greatest lie of all was that the colored man was not included in the Declaration of Independence (144)."___

While this dichotomy between right and wrong might have been the main cause of Lincoln’s melancholic depression, for sure, I Am Abraham exposes another cause: his worries about his wife’s mental condition. Thoughts of committing her to a mental institution tore at his deep revered love.
___"I knew mother was dancing at some edge, on her velvet slippers. I didn’t want those slippers to crash—and imagine her in the mad house."___ (348)
Mary had an inborn tendency to neurosis. When, as First Lady, her maternal instincts endured the despicable knowledge of enormous numbers of young soldiers—crying out, suffering, limbless, dead, she insisted that no son of hers would ever become “cannon fodder.”

As I read I Am Abraham, I became aware of Lincoln’s faltering doubts about signing the Emancipation Proclamation. He did not want history’s judgment to show he signed the document so blacks could somehow join the anti-slavery movement to revenge the South. No, he wanted a death blow dealt to slavery itself, because it was unjust, unnatural, immoral and ungodly. He genuinely believed in freedom for all people documented by America’s founding fathers: “… all men are created equal…." He wanted slavery suffocated because a united American people recognized it as its most heinous evil—not because blacks had to gain it for themselves.

Lincoln’s deeply torn mind longed for a decisive Union battle win that was so significant that he could foresee an end to the war.
—And it happened!
It happened at tiny Gettysburg. It happened when Lee made a fatal tactical error. It happened because buoyed up idolized Lee tossed aside known battle engagement strategy. He dared encounter an entrenched battle line of Union troops on an upward slope. This overwhelming northern victory was the pinnacle Lincoln longed for. It finally provoked him to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

In I Am Abraham, Lincoln reveals his thoughts of replacing General George McClelland, his own appointed Commander of all Union troops. What troubled Lincoln was this: Even with an overwhelming number of fresh fully armed men, McClelland appeared to falter when battling outnumbered Lee.

Lincoln sought a general with the guts to fight—and the one man who seemed to have an increasing number of victories was Ulysses Grant. He had none of the flamboyant excesses of McClelland. Rather, he was concerned with one end—win the war and do it quickly. Eventually, Lincoln replaced McClelland with Grant who won battles by persistence and attrition of southern troops. Grant's command did not escape criticism!

Why? The man was relentless. If he won a minor skirmish, he gave his enemy no time to recoup or regroup. Almost fanatically, he hounded the southern army with wave after wave of Union troops. There seemed to be no end to the number of youthful recruits who died in battle after battle. Not so for the South where the number of young and old, willing to fight, was quickly dwindling.

I Am Abraham is a book worth reading and worth remembering. I’ve often wondered how any person could have written the unforgettable words of the Gettysburg Address. But after following the mind of Abraham Lincoln through the challenges he faced during the time period author Charyn brought to life, I now see a great man, a very great man, a towering man, a gaunt soul, a prayerful man hovering over a lantern, trying to give birth to words that would praise every soul buried at Gettysburg. Thousands upon thousands died—their early deaths rested solely on the conscience of Abraham who often wondered about his own righteousness as he stared in a mirror:
___"I’d become a bag of bones. It was the terror on my brow—fierce and unfriendly as an open sore. My face was a silent scream that suddenly cracked open, shook the chandeliers, and shivered right through the glass (389).___

This book is as unforgettable as Lincoln’s famous address. As you read it you will visit the battlefield seen through his eyes. Can you imagine the rotting horrors of a war he could have prevented by tolerating southern secession? Visualize your loathing that might exist today if you hightailed through the South knowing that the extremely wealthy still ate food offered up by the blood of their enslaved.

And how did Lincoln favor his wife—dare he keep his son Robert out of combat? Could any man stay sane under the mountain of grief and hardship this lone man had caused because he felt it was right in the sight of our forefathers and his God?

Read this work. Keep it by your nightstand. Its haunting passages are worth reading again and again: “Forescore and seven years ago …”
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 28, 2014 11:20 PM PST

the BEST of Chuck Klein: How Guns, Hot Rods, Police Ethics and Sacred Rights Shape America
the BEST of Chuck Klein: How Guns, Hot Rods, Police Ethics and Sacred Rights Shape America
by Chuck Klein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.95
22 used & new from $11.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Basketful of Chuck Klein, November 21, 2013
In his book, the BEST of Chuck Klein: How Guns, Hot Rods, Police Ethics and Sacred Rights Shape America, the author covers such a variety of topics that for the ordinary reader, there is bound to be some story, essay, opinion or comment of his that stands out as captivating reading. In particular, I liked his early on story that tells how he learned to drive a semi by the seat of his pants.

I can identify with this story because when I first graduated from high school, I worked for Kraft Food Company in Pittsburgh's Strip-district. There, I had to bring huge rigs from the truck lot, back them into a bay at the other end of the building, and wash them. Good grief, Chuck Klein, you had guts!

So when Klein describes climbing behind the wheel of a huge 18-wheeler and learning how to shift, double clutch, downshift, up shift, and split shift, I knew exactly what he was talking about, especially when he described backing huge trailers against a narrow dock. I cannot imagine his terror at the sound of the air pressure relief valve popping off, and he thinking it was a severed brake line (84)

From his earliest days, Klein was obsessed with automobiles, particularly ones he rebuilt into sleek hotrods. His facts about rebuilding them were often beyond my knowledge of automobile engines. Yet, for young men who grew up during the Klein era, knowing about sparkplugs, carburetors, points, condensers, timing guns, not to mention changing brakes and oil, was truly the manly thing to talk about--that and/or sports.

In the BEST of Chuck Klein, I learned a lot about law, particularly about how officers are taught to think. It is encouraging to know Klein believes that the possession of a firearm for protection is on the right side of the law and might make a lot of people who could become victims, such as the elderly, feel less threatened as they grow older and weaker (like this writer). It is also great to know that Klein does not feel our Constitution gives people the right to possess the same assault weapons carried on the battlefield.

On page 235, Klein states: "Somewhat over 3000 years ago, God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses." I then assumed he would use the dictum "Thou shalt not kill" as a lead-in to his short essay, "Whose God?" I--stopped--reading. At first, I took this as a factual statement showing Klein's religious belief, and it bothered me, because personally, I'm not a believer that God wrote down, or inspired people to write down for him, the words in the Bible.

One of the Ten Commandments forbids killing, and clearly, thought I, the angry Old Testament God told his people to plunder and kill in order to occupy Canaan Valley. Believe it or not, it wasn't until later that I resumed reading. On the very next page (236) I realized Chuck Klein had made the statement so he could then poke fun at it. "... why would He (God) urge the slaughter of His own making?"

The book the BEST of Chuck Klein is a good read for anyone who enjoys a multitude of topics that can be read over a period of several days without losing interest. His stories are short and to the point always resulting in some kind of unforgetable flourish. I particularly enjoyed Klein's take on the Constitution, "heroic" (146) police and detective work in general. But there was one issue that seemed to contradict Klein's belief in law and order.

Early on, he talks about the cars he turned into supercars--those that could easily maintain his personal 90 miles per hour highway speed limit. He talks about the times police gave chase and tricks he used to escape them. He tells how he hooked up each tail light to a dashboard switch, so that when chased at night, he could turn off one light to fool pursuing police into thinking they were chasing the wrong vehicle--the one with two taillights must have turned at the last intersection.

This may seem like a very minor point, but after Klein's rigorous diet of Law and Order, I'm sure he feels differently today about the Rules of the Road and some of the dangerous stunts he wrote about. If you want a book that will jangle your thinking, one you can read in several sittings without losing your curiosity, get a copy of the BEST of Chuck Klein. It will provide much chow for thought.

The Cool School: Writing from America's Hip Underground
The Cool School: Writing from America's Hip Underground
by Glenn O'Brien
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.52
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool is KOOL, November 7, 2013
The Cool School

Editor Glen O'Brien has collected fifty-seven individually penned pieces that could give any reader, depending on maturity, an appreciation of what it meant to belong to The Cool School: Writing from America's Hip Underground; the beat generation; the hipsters. In this volume you will find letters, essays, lyrics of songs, poems, excerpts from novels and stories, comedy routines, memoirs, and a host of meaningful quotes.

Before each selection, O'Brien provides a masterfully written introduction for the writer whose relatively short work follows. At times he gives an intro a slight biographical slant, yet always explaining why that person's work was chosen for The Cool School. Then too, as in his introduction to Ismael Reed (p320), he targets precisely the accomplishments of Reed as an African American poet, essayist, and novelist. The excerpt taken from Reed's Mumbo Jumbo is amusing dialogue to explain the grip that sensual music and dance had on the times.

So who were the The Cool School people? What critical attribute set these individuals apart from the rest of the world? After reading O'Brien's book, I would dare say that two words--deliberately different--was their characteristic. But what spurred this movement?

The cool or beat generation found itself having existence with no real purpose. From the eclectic collection of writings in The Cool School, it struck me that this generation opened its eyes to find itself in a world it never asked to join. Life seemed to be an accident, a relatively short emptiness--only to end in nothingness via the grave.
_____"So what right had a government, a church, a family, or for that matter, what right had any other person to set down laws or maxims for us to follow?"

As a result of this reasoning, a cool person adapted in the only way s/he knew.
_____"I must think for myself. There is no one like me and I'm absolutely nothing if I don't even have my own original thoughts. I will live for today and do precisely as I feel."

Quite often, one of the first noticeable differences was physical appearance. Dress became a matter of accentuating individuality.
_____"It's important to show the world that I'm different and that I just don't give a damn--I'm tuned out and proud of it."

From The Cool School, it became clear why many from that era chose to enhance their lives with drugs.
_____"I mean, c'mon, man. Why not?"
Since life had little meaning, pills, uppers, downers, particularly marijuana, or any mind expanding drug became avant-garde. Some, like LSD, proved deadly. At "reading" parties where groups would gather in private so members could recite their own poetry, many in the group would lie down with one hip on the floor as they smoked and got stoned. Some believe that the words "hip" or the "hipsters" came from lying in this hip-on-floor position.

It is important that the readers of this review know that my descriptions above of The Cool School surely cannot apply to all persons of the hip generation. Obviously, there were the vast majority of mainstreamers who went about living in what one might call a more normal way.

Although the book is a quite interesting read, in some ways it is overkill. One need not read all of the articles chosen by Editor Glenn O'Brien to get the essence of just who and what comprised The Cool School. In fact, to truly enjoy the book, I found it best to read several articles at one sitting, then put the book down until the next day.

I would recommend this book to all who grew up during the hip underground era and were actively a part of it (maybe unaware) or were traditional mainstreamers living alongside it. The read will point out just what influence the cool generation had on music, plays, dancing, song lyrics, movies, poetry, and even politics. In so many ways, while the apex of that generation has passed, it is fascinating to see how much of the The Cool School still affects our thinking today.

The Ganorch Under the Porch
The Ganorch Under the Porch
by Connie Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from $40.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Woodland Creatures Find Courage, July 27, 2013
This timeless children's book, The Ganorch Under the Porch, will live in any child's memory for a long time. A small group of woodland creatures discover a frightening looking creature deep inside a tree-root porch. Can they build up the courage to find out what it is? The clever words and extremely imaginative drawings should put this book in every library.

Regis Schilken is the author of the suspense/mystery: CIPHER.

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