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Barb's Books & Chat (III)

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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 7:05:29 PM PST
Hey, love....sometimes carpets are cream and clean because of the chemicals used to clean them. Use some lotion, get back home. We miss you.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 7:18:50 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012, 7:19:29 PM PST
M. Bernstein says:

I think I owned the 12", 33 1/3 record.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 7:43:57 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Sherlock fans:

Just downloaded the pilot of ELEMENTARY from Amazon--the US version that takes place in NYC which James recommended and really enjoyed it. I think my son who liked SHERLOCK would love to see it. Always fun to find something your kids will watch with you when they come home. It's $1.99 from Amazon per episode. A new addiction--cheaper than drugs, at least. Cheaper than a book, too.

Mr. B~you owned the record to RHAPSODY IN BLUE? or a Brubeck record?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 7:59:41 PM PST

Have been watching Elementary every week and really enjoy it. Trivia fact: Jonny Lee Miller who plays Sherlock was once married to Angelina Jolie. She was his first wife. He's smarter than Brad Pitt but not as good looking.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 8:06:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012, 8:14:04 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:

Wow--pretty boys like Brad always worry me. I don't like a man prettier than me. Of course, Jolie, doesn't have to worry about that. I'm not particularly attracted to blondes either although I'd make an exception for Daniel Craig. Is he blonde? I like his eyes.

Clarke Gable is still my type. Haven't seen any like him around lately. He came across as a MAN. Pitt always seems like a boy to me.

Sorry, got sidetracked. Do the episodes stay consistently good? I saw it got People's Choice award for best new series for the year. How many more episodes this season, I wonder. I did 15 minutes on the treadmill watching it as I kept getting off for the good parts. Don't tell Mr. B. I only did 15 minutes. Have to order another episode to see if I can stretch it to 30 mins.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 8:19:44 PM PST

The episodes have been consistently good. Great writing with interesting plots. Sherlock is a rehabbed druggie and Lucy Liu plays Dr. Watson who is trying to keep him on the straight and narrow. Some great banter and interaction between these two. Highly intelligent TV for a change which is surprising for American commercial Network TV. I wouldn't be surprised to see it win some Emmys.

I too have always liked Clark Gable. No one on the scene like him any more, except perhaps for Daniel Craig.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 8:42:19 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:

I never thought of Daniel Craig being like Gable--Gable seems warmer but the only thing I've seen Craig in is these Bond shows where he plays a cool guy. Oh, and in that Swedish crime show where he played a cool editor.

Just ordered episode 2 of ELEMENTARY. Back on the treadmill....

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 8:49:28 PM PST
James and Keefer,

I've really enjoyed ELEMENTARY also and been pleasantly surprised at the caliber of both acting and writing. I love the opening credits--one of the more creative ones in a long time.

I like Robert Taylor who played Walt Longmire. One of the few mature men (in contrast to pretty boys) that are usually featured on American television. Naturally, he's not American but an Aussie.

If I weren't so stubborn, I'd give up on 'TIS THE SEASON TO BE MURDERED. It's 235 pages long but is reading much longer. It's less a murder mystery than a meditation on upper middle class suburbia during the holidays.

Linda S.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 8:58:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012, 10:42:32 PM PST
M. Bernstein says:
I downloaded from iTunes RIB by Gershwin, i.e., Gershwin on piano. I have another 12 " 78 RIB, but not w/Gershwin on piano. I also owned Brubeck and Davis in original 12" 33 1/3.

I too like Elementary, which in a sense in similar to the Mentalist.

I'M watch THEIF with James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Jim Belushi. A Michael Mann caper movie. Watching these guys work, with their skill set, they probably could have held down good union jobs in Chicago. I do so love this movie.

Speaking of Gable,[make that Gregory Peck] finally got a netflix download of 12 O'CLOCK HIGH, about a B-17 Wing [bomb group] flying in the 8 AF, 1942-43. Another walk for me down memory lane.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 9:39:04 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Linda S. and ELMEMENTARY watchers:

What night is it on? Will it be on during the spring, after the New Year, do you think?

The next one is on a child predator--might skip that unless Linda S. tells me it's not too bad. I don't like seeing children in danger.

Mr. B, have you heard Michael Finestein/Feinstein sing Gershwin? I see he has a CD of their music which he sings out. Wonder if he's good. What he sounds like.

Haven't watched the MENTALIST. Is that good? Now that I'm through FROST, need some more to exercise to. Crime shows are great for that.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 9:44:51 PM PST

ELEMENTARY comes on CBS at 9 PM (CST) on Thursday nights. I haven't seen anything that would indicate it's coming to a close. The child predator episode has an interesting twist to it.

Has anyone seen the 25th anniversary dvd on MORSE'S OXFORD? Amazon had a pretty good offer on it today, and I wondered if it is good.

Linda S.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 9:47:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012, 9:48:14 PM PST

It's on CBS Thursday nights at 10 p.m (EST). Have no idea how many episodes are being produced but I assume it will run until Spring. Hope it doesn't get cancelled. The Mentalist is another good show we watch.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 9:54:43 PM PST
Tonight, I got home in time to watch a local news report about the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. One hundred boys, at least, were murdered or mistreated until death at this state-run boy's prison. Boys as young as three years old. Some of these children were Maggie's childhood friends. She knew them by name, and they really were her friends.
The boys picked out by the staff at Dozier were murdered and buried in unmarked graves in the woods like rabid dogs. Maggie's friends told her that when they were kids at Dozier, they were lined up in the mornings and sprayed with high pressure water hoses just for discipline. Just for fun.
Murdered....raped, some of them. Murdered because no one was paying attention. This is my South.
I love the South....it's my home, and the place that created my passion and formed my soul.
Maggie and I drove to Tallahassee and back tonight (a three hundred mile round trip) to visit a dying friend. We decided to drive the back roads from Panama City to Havana (pronounced Hay' vannah), along the path of Shade Tobacco, grown for over a century along the top of my state. Along this trail of dilapidated houses, shacks breaking now under their own weight, there are white mansions of tongue-and-groove heart pine and cut glass, turrets on every floor, wrap-around porches and iron-horse halter posts made to look like Black Jockeys, and there was the Dozier School for Boys. There, you'll see mile after mile of door-less shacks with no glass in their windows, where poor Whites and Blacks lived and died working to produce that tobacco.
I'm a child of the South. I became a Liberal during the Civil Rights Movement, in the days of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I've never looked back. I've never expected anyone else to follow or agree with me.
These boys at Dozier were murdered by the people who still live, still commit their crimes with impunity, and I'm heart sick.
We drove through Greensboro tonight, the birthplace and childhood home of Ray Charles. We passed cotton fields, brown and dying now in the first cold snap of Winter. Just outside Greensboro we passed a fast food chicken joint advertising, "Special! 10 piece pork chop bucket!"
If you don't know why that makes me laugh and makes me happy, then you don't know the South.
State Highway 12 ambles through that land of shade tobacco; of still-existing, leaning barns - huge and wooden, swaybacked like an old horse, once holding the leaf that provided the outer cover of Florida cigars. A few mansions, there because those folks who owned that land invested their shade tobacco profits in a young Atlanta company called Coca Cola; surrounded by dirt floor shacks of the poor Whites and Blacks who worked the land - that's what makes up Florida's Northern boundary.
The Dozier School....once called the Marianna School for Boys, was lavish in painting its prison in this merry season with Christmas lights that families throughout the panhandle drove to, and through, to enjoy. Maggie's father took her and her brothers and sisters to see those lights. They never suspected the terrible horror that was being experienced by those incarcerated children.
I'm sitting up tonight with a glass of good whiskey because I can't sleep until I write this down. Someone needs to remember.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 9:56:07 PM PST
As for Craig....watch Flashbacks of a Fool, and The Mother.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012, 10:21:00 PM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Michael, Linda S, Mr. B, James,

I'd heard about that school on a news program. It's difficult enough to be away from parents or orphanned, but to be mistreated like that is horrible. You wonder no one reported it. Was all the staff sadistic, I wonder? Is the school still operating?

Thanks for the recommends on Craig.

I will remember Thursday night to watch ELEMENTARY and save $1.99.

Linda, don't know about the 25th anniversary edition.

Did almost 40 mins tonight treading, Mr. B. Will do an hour tomorrow. Start earlier....

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012, 10:44:36 PM PST
M. Bernstein says:

You go, girl. . .

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 12:55:43 AM PST
Hi, everyone,

It's beginning to feel like Christmas here. Set for several days of winter weather here, though no snow predicted, just cold. I'm going to put vegetable beef soup in the slow cooker before I go to bed, so it'll be ready for lunch tomorrow. Yum!

`TIS THE SEASON TO BE MURDERED by Valerie Wolzien is one of her series featuring Susan Henshaw of Hancock, New York, as an amateur detective who's solved several murders. The action occurs between late December 25 and New Year's Eve.

Susan's well known in her suburb for a fabulous New Year's Eve party, but this year she's hired the exclusive catering and party planning firm The Holly and Ms. Ivy so that she can enjoy the season without all the preparations. When Z Holly, partner in the firm, is murdered on December 26, she's immediately concerned for her own party. Z's partner Gwen Ivy is the police's only suspect, and Susan refuses to believe her guilty. As Susan snoops around at various holiday parties, she finds that Z has quite a reputation with women, especially those whom he charmed as he planned the extravagant themed parties that he so loved. Did one of them, or a husband, kill him? For some reason Hancock Chief of Police Brett Fortesque and Susan's friend, former detective Kathleen Gordon, try to keep her out of the investigation, but she perseveres until she solves the case.

Wolzien skillfully misdirects readers' attention to conceal the motive for Z's murder and thus his killer, but she gives few clues to enable readers to pick up on them. It makes the resolution rather unsatisfactory. The story is 235 pages in length, but it read longer. The mystery portion is secondary to what seems a meditation on upper middle class suburbia during the holiday season. Solving the mystery involves an excess of coincidence; Susan keeps finding herself in a position to overhear needed information in the woman's bathroom at a party, a phone call in the mayor's office, a conversation outside one of the parties. She finds a page of notes about the case in the break room at the police station. She unexpectedly meets people who can give her information. And nobody ever tells her that the answers to her questions are none of her business.

It's not clear why Susan Henshaw is so determined to be part of the murder investigation, other than sheer curiosity. None of the characters are developed to the point of seeming to be real people. Despite her husband Jed and her two teenaged children, Susan seems to have no family obligations to prevent her running hither and thither during the week after Christmas, chasing clues and crashing parties planned by The Holly and Ms. Ivy. She pulls a major TSTL that could have resulted in a charge of tampering with evidence when she not only goes to Z's apartment and tosses it before the police arrive, but admits two social competitors who also go through it. Point of view is limited third person, through Susan's eyes, but it doesn't add to characterization. Instead it seems to slow down the plot. Little attention is paid to setting or atmosphere.

`TIS THE SEASON TO BE MURDERED is okay, but it's not memorable. 3/5 stars (C)

Next, a holiday re-read, Mark Schweizer's THE ALTO WORE TWEED, the first in his liturgical mysteries involving Hayden Koenig. This is the one with the Christmas pageant featuring the penguin solo and the Living Nativity competition between the Kiwanis and the Rotary Clubs. It's still available for Kindle for $0.99. The mystery's not bad either.

Linda S.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2012, 5:34:02 AM PST
No, the school was closed finally. The investigation's been going on in stops and starts for years. For a sparsely populated, rural part of a big state, the North Florida region held tremendous power for so many years, and some of the most powerful had connections with that school. Politicians like Dempsey Barron and others before him were part of what was called The Pork Chop Gang, and with one vote per county in the legislature back then, just one of them could show up with a pocketful of votes from the other rural counties and control the house.
I've wanted to write a book about it all, but I'm so slow that I'm not sure there'd be time. I wanted to call one chapter Alabama and the Forty Thieves.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 7:42:56 AM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Mike & Linda S.:

Mike: The pork chop gang--wonder how they got that moniker. Glad the school is closed.

Sounds like that might be a depressing tale to tell, Mike. Would it drag you down too much to write it? Lots of painful research.

It's sunny and may hit 50 degrees here.

Linda S., wonder if we'll get your weather tomorrow. Ooh, the vegetable beef soup sounds good. How do you make it in the slow cooker? I have one, but haven't used it yet. It was a gift. What kind of beef do you use? I made ground turkey chili over the weekend--threw in a lot of veggies: onions, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, corn and black beans and froze 1/2 so will break it out today.

Have some books on education to read--does anyone ever have trouble reading about their field of work? When I taught or administered a school all day, the last thing I wanted to do was read about education. Unless someone was doing something really exciting and fun with kids. But, it seemed like "work" when I'd read the stuff and wanted to read about business or design or history or something besides my field. Still feel that way a bit.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2012, 8:15:30 AM PST
Yeah, I worry about that. I obtained Florida law enforcement records years ago about a famous murder here. A powerful doctor murdered his wife and moved his girlfriend into the house. His only son killed himself when he found out. The doctor was tried, found guilty - used his influence to get a retrial, the verdict was overthrown and he now lives a life of luxury out of the country. With his girlfriend, though now she's his wife.
The more I researched the more depressed I got because I learned how easy it is to get what you want if you can afford it. I re-wrote the entire event, almost word for word from the records and turned it into fiction as part of a novel I've finished (after only 15 years) that's making the rounds of private resources I have that read my work. My greatest fear in writing is that I'll make some blunder not found until 'after' a book is released. The idea on these forums of releasing a book and letting 'beta' readers have at it would trouble me no end.
So, I'm working on the Pork Chop Gang....have been for years....but it may never be finished, and if it is I don't know yet what treatment I'll give it.
And the Pork Chop Gang got that name because they opposed all 'progressive' legislation from the more populous (southern) part of the state, calling that legislation 'lamb chop' bills and theirs pork chop. Back when each county had one senator no matter how big the county, nor how many people lived there, a county with a thousand people had equal power to Miami's Dade County or Tampa's Hillsborough, and The Gang controlled almost all Florida's politics for a very long time.
Dempsey Barron, whom I mentioned in the other post, was a powerful senator who once said that a good argument could be made for having slums in this country to give folks an idea of what they could work up to from there.
(by the way, when I find a good buy on picnic or Boston butt ham I season it, sear it in a cast iron skillet then put it in the slow cooker with a couple of cups of apple juice and let it cook on low for about 7 or 8 hours. It makes great barbeque when done)

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 8:24:15 AM PST
L. M. Keefer says:

With folks like that doctor, what is a comfort, if they will do it with you, they'll do it to you say psychologists. Or the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. That second wife can never be secure she won't be the next victim and what father, no matter how villainous, wants to think their actions caused the suicide of their son? He can't be too happy. What kind of bimbo would marry a guy under suspicion of murdering his first wife?

Do you make barbeque pork sandwiches, too? I love those....

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2012, 8:28:35 AM PST
That slow cooked pork makes great sandwiches.
Mike (wanting to prove I can write less than a page)

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 10:03:49 AM PST
Hello, everyone,

Two inexpensive books today:

Georgette Heyer, THE GRAND SOPHY, $1.99. One of her very best Regencies, IMO.
Stephen Colbert, AMERICA AGAIN: RE-BECOMING THE GREATNESS WE NEVER WEREN'T, $3.99. Quantities limited, so order soon if interested.


Check out the directions for your slow cooker so you know size and can get some feel for how long it's going to take for something like soup. I use a Westbend 5-quart rectangular metal slow cooker, so my quantities, such as they are, are based on that; if you have a 6-quart or larger, up the amounts.

My preferred meat for vegetable beef soup is oxtails. When available at my store, they come in about four-pound (bone-in) packages. Put ox-tails in cooker, cover with water, and add a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar. The vinegar helps to slightly de-mineralize the bones which adds to the flavor and texture of the soup. Cook until tender, then refrigerate the cooker until fat congeals and can be removed from the broth and meat. This is enough for two batches of soup for my cooker, so I freeze half the broth and meat for another time. The amount of meat depends on 1) how much meat you have, and 2) how much you want in the finished soup.

If I don't have ox-tails, I use boneless chuck roast, about a pound. (I buy roast when on special and divide for what will be soup and what will become pot roast.) Put it in the cooker with a large bag of vegetable mix for soup (available frozen in the South), a pint of crushed tomatoes (or to taste), and a touch of salt. Add water to fill cooker. Turn on low and simmer 6 hours or so, until meat is tender (falling apart when pushed with spoon). This is a good beefy soup, but to further emphasize the beef, use beef broth as part of the liquid. It's "juicy," so it's good served over or with a piece of cornbread to get all the liquid. The vegetable soup mix contains potatoes, onions, green peas, green beans, corn, carrots, celery, lima beans, chunks of tomato, and cut okra. I sometimes add about half a cup of dry macaroni about an hour before I'm ready to eat. Any shape is ok, but I like to use orzo. This makes enough for quite a few meals--I eat on it for a couple of days, then freeze the remainder for another time.

When we lived in the country and had a garden, Mom would can quart jars of soup mix that contained corn, green beans, limas, green peas, okra, and tomatoes. Then in winter, she'd add the potatoes, onions, carrots, and usually more tomatoes to make the soup. Of course, soup also used up leftover vegetables, so it was never quite the same two times running. It's a good way to feed a lot of people a nourishing meal without large quantities of meat.

Linda S.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 10:25:06 AM PST
L. M. Keefer says:
Linda and soup lovers:

What a great idea to have a soup mix. I wouldn't know okra, however, if it bumped into me at the supermarket. What does okra taste like?

A designer said he would freeze all his remnants from his veggies (cores, seeds, onion skins) and then boil them in water to make a broth for a beef soup. So, I decided to try that and felt very virtuous saving pepper cores, onion skins, carrot tops etc. So, gamely got them out one day to boil and the water turned kind of purple from the skins and it didn't smell particularly appetizing and I looked at what I would normally put in the compost heap boiling on my stove and thought, "I'm cooking garbage." Dumped it soon after and never regretted it.

Instead I boil onions, with out the skins, celery for the broth and then later added carrots, green beans--but I prefer them fresh, add frozen corn, a can of tomatoes sometimes. A few potatoes or brown rice.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012, 11:23:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 11, 2012, 11:26:20 AM PST

Vegetable beef soup is one of the things that there's no set recipe for, in my book. It all depends on what's on hand. I use the frozen mix for convenience, but when I don't have it, I use whatever's in the house and fridge. I have several soups that do have definite recipes that I follow, but vegetable soup is not one of them. It is the only one I do in the slow cooker, except for green pea or bean soup. I don't even do chili in it, and I rarely make bean or pea soup anymore. As I've gotten older, my digestion doesn't deal with them well.

I'm not really sure okra affects the flavor of the soup very much, but it makes for a slightly thickened "juice" for the soup. I can definitely tell a difference in the texture without it. If you've eaten jambalaya or gumbo, you've eaten okra, because it's usually an ingredient in both. Some old timers even used to call okra "gumbo." Of course, you can use whatever vegetables you like, but I avoid peppers as a general rule; their flavor to me overpowers. If I have them, I'll add a chopped up, peeled turnip or maybe a cup of shredded cabbage to the vegetable beef soup, but they also have very aggressive flavors that will take over the soup if too much is used.

I have some things that I use recipes for, but most of my day-to-day cooking (what little I still do) is by the country method that doesn't involve specific measurements. When Mom gave me her recipe for what we called chili sauce (like a cooked tomato chutney), she listed ingredients but no quantities. I asked her how much onion to how much tomatoes, and her answer was, "Enough."

I'm well into THE ALTO WORE TWEED, which is a fun read. I've just gotten to the point that eight life-size sex toy dolls inflated with helium got loose from the back of a pickup truck headed for a bachelor party, causing great consternation, including the death of a woman who thinks it's the Rapture and jumps out of a rapidly-moving car to join it.

Linda S.
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