U.S. Cavalry Guidon

February 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Categories: Shaving the Yak

Hail to the Chiefs

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

M.T. Bass

In 2010, I started on a mission to read a biography of each and every U.S. President in chronological order. If seven years seems like a long time, it is–so long, in fact, that I was reading about Adams, Jefferson and Madison on a Sony eReader.   I doubled up on some of them, like Kennedy, Reagan and T-Rex, so with my “extra credit” reading, it averaged out to about seven books per year.  Not too shabby, as it probably represented about 20-25% of my total reading and many of the bios were quite verbose.

Lessons Learned:

  • The Presidents as men, as human beings, are each uniquely different personalities that run the gamut from one extreme to another, e.g. from Theodore “Bully Pulpit” Roosevelt to Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge. But the bottom line is that no man ever becomes President who does not want the job. Remember, nobody joins…

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Categories: What I've Read

How Harper Lee Helped Bring Back ‘Bloom County’

February 8, 2017 Leave a comment


Berkeley Breathed is responsible for one of the more delightful things to happen to my Facebook feed in some time: The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who created “Bloom County” and characters like Opus the penguin, has revived his beloved comic strip after a 25-year hiatus, posting new installments on his Facebook page.

In a new interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air”, Breathed says he has author Harper Lee to thank for the decision. He was stunned when Lee’s supposed second novel was published earlier this year as Go Set a Watchman:

BERKELEY BREATHED: I watched slack-jawed in horror as they threw one of the 20th century’s most iconic fictional heroes, Atticus Finch, under the bus. At the time — and this was a couple of months ago — it made me think that there would have been no “Bloom County” without “Mockingbird” because I was 12 I read it, and…

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Categories: Reblogged Posts

Book Review: Bone Dry (Blanco County Mystery, #2)

February 7, 2017 Leave a comment

A gritty-as-a-west-Texas-prairie murder mystery, Ben Rehder’s tale is more spicy gumbo than cowboy chili, stirring a Nordic blonde eco-warrior unafraid to use her feminine wiles, a big city mafioso in witness protection trying to muscle in on a home-grown business, and a girth-challenged U.S. Marshal in love with the mobster’s Hispanic housekeeper into the pot with local Blanco County LEOS and locos. I didn’t read the first in the series, but that’s okay.  Bone Dry was a quick, entertaining read with enough twists to keep you flipping the pages to the end of the trail.  (4 of 5 Stars)

Link to Bone Dry on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

On Writing: Winston Churchill

February 6, 2017 1 comment

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”

~Winston Churchill

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Categories: Writers Write

Home is Where the Odd Is

February 1, 2017 2 comments

Mitch Teemley

“Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.”  ~Charles M. Schulz

dude-80s-boomboxes-were-big-great-for-hard-rock-tooMan, those 80’s boomboxes were big!  This real house in Fafe, Portugal has a built in sound system that exclusively plays…wait for it…hard rock.

084-na.jpg“People who live in glass houses…” The completely transparent Fujimoto House Na is in Tokyo, Japan (as opposed to, say, Tokyo, France).

house-4-just-room-enough-island-is-one-of-the-famous-thousand-islands-that-straddle-the-us-canada-border-in-the-saint-lawrence-river-there-are-a-few-lawn-chairs-out-front-on-the-familys-tiny-beachJust Enough Island on the St. Lawrence River in Canada. “Visit us sometime, eh?  Nah, just kidding.  Now, go away, eh.”

house-worlds-skinniest-in-keret-polandThe world’s skinniest abode, Keret House in Poland is just 36″ wide at its widest point. Adds new meaning to the term “sleepover.”

house-3-25-houses-were-built-illegally-on-top-of-a-local-shopping-mall-in-hengyang-hunan-province-today-they-serve-as-dorms-for-employees-from-the-mallIn response to rising property prices, this makeshift suburb was (illegally) built on the roof of a shopping mall in Hunan, China.

house-mushroom-house-cincinnatiThe Mushroom House in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I live (um, in Cincinnati, not in the house). It’s for sale, so share a doobie…

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Categories: Reblogged Posts

Book Reviews: A Presidential Twofer — Bubba & Dubya

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Bill Clinton on Amazon.com


I really hate to be so negative about another writer’s efforts, but, bless his heart, this book was a major disappointment, being not so much a biography as a screed against anyone who might have uttered a discouraging word against the Clintons, from Rush Limbaugh to the New York Times–yes, the New York Times.  I fully expected to read that Monica Lewinksy just accidentally fell face first into Clinton’s lap with her mouth open and a vast right wing conspiracy blew it all out of proportion.

The funny thing is that in the attempt to show Bill Clinton was caught up in a “Kafkaeque,” persecution, Tomasky turns him into a weak, hapless victim of circumstances and his political enemies.  Consequently, I didn’t really learn much about the man who was such a gifted politician and a dominant personality in American politics for the last quarter century.

The best thing about this book is that it is mercifully short.   (1 of 5 Stars)



I was going to conclude my self-inflicted survey of American Presidents at the end of the last millennium,  because the closer I got to current events, the more bios seemed to be hysterical than historical. But this biography popped up in Arthur Schlesinger’s series and I thought, what the heck, I’ll have just one more read for the road.

Anyone who paid much attention to Democrats and media reports at the time might ask themselves how such a “dolt” got elected President twice. Well, this book answers that question in a pretty straightforward and even-handed way, rounding out who George W. Bush really was, hitting both high and low points.  Love him or hate him, at least it’s clear how the Bushes became the only other father-son Presidents since the Adams family.   (4 of 5 Stars)



In my trek through the lives of America’s CEOs, I’ve read at least 15 of The American Presidents series books. Bubba’s & Dubya’s editions represent the worst and the best of the series. Sometimes it was the only choice for lesser known Presidents. Other times, it saved me a great deal of time by offering an alternative to wading through thousands of pages in multi-volume biographies for individuals that, frankly, I wasn’t that interested in (e.g., Ford, Carter).  Overall, the series is a great resource for getting a quick overview of our nation’s leaders.



Categories: What I've Read
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