Month: September 2010

Friday Nights

I’ve been busy working so far this fall, if you call getting out once a week busy. So if you’re interested in what I’ve been doing, plunge in for some navel-gazing.

I’ve covered four football games, a county championship tennis match, and am set to cover both tennis and football again this week.

Three of the four weeks I’ve covered football, I’ve followed the same team, WHS. They were expected to be quite good this year, but the first two games I saw they lost. One was a beat-down that was over early. The other was a heart-breaker in which they made some big plays late to take a lead, then lost in the final minute. Fortunately the coach is a bit of a talker so I had lots of his words to build my stories around.

I covered the same team again this past weekend, this time against a big county rival in a game played at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was my second game in Lucas, but it was still super-cool to be sitting in the same pressbox that, a week earlier, the New York media had assembled in to watch the Colts blast the Giants.

This time, WHS won easily. I was responsible for covering both teams, though, so after talking to the happy WHS coach, I had to go interview the losing coach, who lost his best player for the game on the opening kickoff.

Generally when we cover Saturday games, the stories are more about the state of the team(s) than the game itself. On Fridays I try to crank out 450-500 words that give the readers a feel of what happened, what the key plays were, and which players had big nights. On Saturdays, I condense what happened in the game to a paragraph or two, then try to put the game in context.

In this case, there are three weeks left in the regular season, and WHS has now won three-in-a-row. So I wrote about how they were still in position to win their conference, how they were becoming a team that could be a tough match-up in sectionals, etc. I’ve done that before, but it was much easier this time, having seen them play twice before and the coach knowing me. It’s egotistical and dumb, but I do get a kick out of a coach I’ve interviewed before giving other reporters a few courtesy comments, then greeting me warmly and going into a longer interview.

Another bonus for covering a game played at Lucas is there are official stats handed out each quarter. So rather than do my usual frantic collecting of play-by-play details, I could sit back and watch the game. I spent the first half in the pressbox, and went down on the field for the second half. The roof and the north end wall was open, so a nice breeze was blwoing through. Despite being (mostly) inside, it was a great day for football.

So that was fun. It was a four-game event, and after I completed my interviews I stuck around to watch the night-cap, a big Catholic game between my wife’s high school, CHS, and their traditional rival. The rival has fallen off a lot over the past few years, and S’s alma mater is very good, so it was a pounding. CHS scored 21 quick points and I called it a night. In the 10-15 minutes it took me to walk to my car, CHS scored another 14 points. It ended up being 41-0 at the half, and 41-10 at the end. We cover the team that lost, and I was very glad I didn’t have to stick around to interview their coach.

The one week I didn’t cover WHS, I covered a 3A school, IHS, that is also quite good. They pounded their opponent behind a number of big plays. That was an easy story to write, as well. I will be covering them again this week as they travel to face a conference opponent. This foe isn’t very good, but it’s always tough to win on the road. IHS is 5-1 and they face two more teams that are currently 5-1 before sectionals. This is an important week for them.

I’ve not been to the smallest school we cover, the team that’s won one game in the past seven years, but IHS’ field and press box we the smallest I’ve been to so far. The press box literally swayed as fans filed to their seats before the game and at halftime. It doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

The most interesting thing about that game was how the opposing team had a broadcast team in the press box. There aren’t a whole lot of small schools that broadcast road games, but technology has made it much easier to do so. The broadcast team was a man and his wife. The man handled all the on-air responsibilities, with his wife serving as his producer. He had a simple USB microphone jacked into a 10″ netbook that was, in turn, tethered to his wife’s Blackberry. That obviously piped their signal back to a radio station somewhere which relayed the signal out to the county. But I couldn’t help but sit there and think about the pirate radio possibilities for simply shooting a radio station’s signal out of a laptop.

This is the first year I’ve covered football weekly. In the past I only did a game or two as the paper needed me. But this year I’ve jumped up to the regular rotation. I think that shows in my stories. As I did last year with basketball, I think I finally have my in-game stats system down so I can do it without thinking. That gives me more time to get a feel for what’s going on on the field, think about how to build my story, etc. Thus, when the game is over, I just sit down and write. The first two weeks, I had my stories in 45 and 30 minutes before deadline. Week three took a bit longer, because it was homecoming and featured two passing teams that stopped the clock a lot, but my story was still in at 10:20. To put that in perspective, the first two times I did Friday night games, I got my stories filed in the last five minutes before deadline. I think I’m both a better and more efficient writer this season.

So that’s football. The other fall sports are beginning to wrap up their seasons. Tennis sectionals start this week. I’m slated to cover a first-round match on Wednesday. Soccer will hit their playoffs in two weeks. Since I’m working most Fridays, I don’t know that I’ll cover as much soccer as I did the last two seasons. But I imagine I’ll get out and see a game or two, depending on how deep the county teams make it in the playoffs.

Shocking Poll Results

The Onion nails it.

1 in 5 Americans Believe Obama is a Cactus

”I don’t care what he says or what his people say or what anybody else says,” 48-year-old Kansas resident Jake Nolan told reporters. “The guy’s a cactus, plain and simple. I mean, Christ, look at him.”

Favorite DLR Songs

As I believe I mentioned before, I recently went through a bit of a David Lee Roth-era Van Halen phase. For a couple weeks their songs were in high rotation on my various digital music devices.

That got me thinking. How would I rank the DLR songs? More to the point, what are my five favorite DLR songs?1 Purely subjective and subject to change, of course.

“Runnin’ With the Devil” – The first single that the band wrote, it was a minor hit. I’ve always dug it for its power, how little it sounded like typical 1978 music, and because it freaked me out a little when I was little. A song about the devil? Yikes!

“Panama” – This went to #13 on the pop charts, but I don’t think I appreciated it fully until years later. Looking back, it may be the ultimate DLR-VH song: a heavy rocker with a healthy dose of pop sensibility, sexuality, and humor.

“Everybody Wants Some!!” – There are a lot of great intros in the VH catalog, but I think this is my favorite. I love the slow build, the booming drums, the ominous growling from Eddie’s guitar, and Dave’s animal-vamping which explode into the first verse. Bonus points for the classic Better Off Dead.

“Intruder/(Oh) Pretty Woman” – VH was never afraid of tackling someone else’s song. Here is a classic cover, both faithful to Orbison’s original and thoroughly Van Halen. Throw in the epic “Intruder” lead-in, and you have one of the best covers ever.

“Hot For Teacher” – The last DLR single, another brilliant combination of hard rock, punk, sex, and laughs.

To be fair, here are my favorite Sammy-era Van Halen songs.

“Best of Both Worlds”

“Summer Nights”

“Cabo Wabo”

That’s right, just three. The Van Hagar songs have not aged as well as the DLR songs. I love you and have defended you, Sammy, but in truth your songs just don’t measure up.


  1. Expect to see more lists here soon. If you know me, you know I love lists to begin with. Throw in some minor writer’s block lately, and lists seem like a good way to get my writing brain pumping again. 

What To Watch

I remember the good old days, when September meant a new round of TV shows to be excited about. There would be a bevy of new comedies, some action shows (Air Wolf, The A Team), and maybe a drama that interested me. By November I likely would have only stuck with a couple of them, but for a TV freak like me, it was akin to Christmas morning, with each night bringing something new.1

That was 30 years ago, when I was an only child with a single mom who worked two jobs and my evenings were spent alone in front of the television. Things have changed significantly. I have kids that suck up a lot of our TV time. A wife to share prime time with. And a preference for live sports and reading over hour long dramas.

Still, it is disappointing to read how this fall’s new shows all seem to seriously blow. NPR’s TV critic recommended none of the new shows on the four networks. He said it was the first time in 35 years of reviewing TV shows that was the case. Bill Simmons’ buddy Alan Sepinwall was less harsh, saying a couple shows were decent. In his view, though, there are more flat-out awful new shows than promising ones this fall.

It’s hard for me to get sucked into new shows. I still have two seasons of The Wire to finish up, my addiction going off the rails in early summer. The handful of shows I do watch are all gearing up this week. And I’m several episodes behind on 30 for 30.

I want there to be a new show I can get in on at the ground floor, rather than learning about it after two seasons when it’s better just to wait for the complete DVD set (see Mad Men). We don’t have HBO, so Boardwalk Empire is out. Terriers on FX has decent buzz, but adding another hour of recording to the DVR feels like the first step in deleting them without ever watching in a month or two.

So for now I think I’ll stick with my Wire DVDs, Modern Family, Cougar Town, and NBC’s Thursday comedies.2

If I’m missing something good, let me know.


  1. Wait, that sounds more like another December holiday, doesn’t it? 
  2. Can I mention again how shitty it is that NBC is holding Parks & Recreation until mid-season? No wonder they’ve been stuck in last place for years. 

Girls, September 2010

A quick update on the girls.

M. is now a month into her real Catholic school experience. All continues to go well, although she is crankier in the morning than she was the first couple weeks. She has a BFF, and they’ve hosted each other for post-school playdates. Obviously a lot can change, but I keep thinking that my wife met her best friend when they were six or seven. It may be someone else, but there’s always the chance that someone in M.’s class will be her friend for life.

Along those lines, several parents are organizing a dinner for the parents of the two kindergarten classes. The invitation noted that our kids will be in school together for the next nine years, so we should all get to know each other. Just another reminder that M. isn’t a little kid anymore.

She aced her first big test. While the other kids at her school were collecting sponsors for a Spell-a-thon, the kindergarteners had to be able to identify all their colors, the name of their school, and define “kindness”. When I asked her how it went, she said, dismissively, that it was easy. In most areas we feel like she’s very comfortable and confident thanks to the base she built last year.

We signed her up for Girl Scouts, or Daisy Scouts I guess. Until she’s old enough for the official kickball team1, I guess this will be her big school-related activity.

C. went back to preschool last week. She was excited to be back. I think she was a bit jealous that M. got to start before her. Not much to report on her end yet. She’s happy when it’s a day for her to go to school, disappointed when she has a day off. She was pouty in the car last Friday after pickup. Apparently her best friend played with someone else on the playground. C.’s going through a crying stage, so we hope she didn’t break down during recess.

L. is still the funniest kid ever. She’s a chatterbox, sings all the time, and faithfully chases her sisters and the neighbor kids around when they’re playing outside. One of her favorite things to do it hang out with me on the couch after breakfast. We’ve been doing it since M. started school, so it’s part of her morning ritual now. After she eats, she runs into the living room, climbs up on the couch, and pats the armrest saying, “C’mon, Daddy. C’mon” I turn on a show, she snuggles up next to me, and we have a few minutes together before I help get M. off to school.

I’m in a bit of a photo/video rut. I need to break that. The girls do some cute shit that I need to force you all to look at.


  1. It still kills me that kickball is a real sport for Catholic girls in Indianapolis. I shouldn’t scoff, though. Apparently parents watching a kickball game last week noticed a man attempting to steal items from the church. If there was no kickball, who knows what he would have gotten away with! 

NFL Wrap

If I’ve learned one thing following the Colts over the past seven seasons, it’s that you don’t overreact to how they look in the preseason. They’re a well-oiled machine and will always bring it when the games matter. So pay no attention if the defense is porous, the offensive line weak, the running game non-existent. Thus my confidence in picking them to win the AFC this year.

I may have to rethink that.

That was a brutal showing Sunday in Houston. Not even my patented “take a nap when the Colts fall behind, wake up and they’re ahead” trick worked. I listened to the first quarter, then napped soundly through most of the rest of the game. From the highlights I saw and the articles I read after, I didn’t miss much.

Let’s not forget they gave up 8000 yards to Jacksonville late in the 2006 season and won the Super Bowl a month later. So one bad game doesn’t necessarily doom them.

But the big concern is the offensive line. If they can’t keep Peyton from getting hit, the Colts are not going to win. That’s the most abuse I’ve seen him take in years. In the past they’ve sacrificed run blocking to improve their pass protection when the o-line has struggled. It may take a lot more than that to get the protection where it needs to be for the offense to work.

It was just one game, though. It’s a little early to declare the Colts as we know them are dead. Still, I might be leaning towards the Patriots as AFC champs.

At least Bob Sanders got injured on the first defensive series, so we got that out of the way early.

I watched the first half of the Chiefs-Chargers game Monday. That looked pretty intense. It’s nice the rednecks at Camarohead had something to cheer about.

Perhaps the hottest NFL topic these days is the length of the season. It is clear that changing the season’s format will be a key part of the next labor agreement. I tend to agree with those who think it is a dumb idea, more because of competitive reasons than injuries. There are already some shitty games in December when teams out of the playoffs matchup. Two more weeks of games will extend that misery.

The preseason should also be addressed in this process. Here’s my proposal: three game preseason, with the first game reserved for rookies and guys deep on the depth chart. Don’t even bother running Peyton and Drew and Tony out there for a courtesy possession to justify ticket prices. Also, these games will be played in non-NFL cities for reduced ticket costs. Draft Tim Tebow? Schedule your game in Gainesville or somewhere else in northern Florida. That’ll fill 60,000 seats.

In game two, go back to NFL stadiums, limit starters to one quarter of action and cut ticket prices by 50%. Then use the final week as a full preparation game, playing starters and final cut candidates as long as each team feels necessary.

This gives every team a chance to evaluate the depth of its roster in game situations and offers the top of the rotation enough prep work to be ready for week one. It also clears a week for either extending the regular season, adding another bye week, or adding a round to the playoffs.

Easy. Do it.

Top Five Weekend

I expected my weekend in Kansas City to be good. A surprising performance by the KU football team made it even better.

First off, thanks to the R’s and B’s for hosting me last week. And thanks to Mary Y for insisting I attend her 30th birthday blowout. That alone would have made for a fine weekend.

I was not looking forward to the KU – Georgia Tech game all that much, to be honest. After KU’s horrendous loss a week earlier, what already looked like a difficult game seemed to be a hopeless cause. While it was going to be fun to return to Lawrence for the first time in five years, and to Memorial Stadium for the first time in nine years, the small detail of getting blown out by a very good team tempered that excitement. I’ve seen plenty of blowouts in that stadium over the years. I didn’t want to spoil the trip by seeing another.

It was a glorious day on Mt. Oread, though. The weather was near-ideal for a late summer weekend. While I think true football schools would still dismiss the KU football experience as small-time, it’s much better than it used to be. Get within a mile of the stadium and the tailgaters in every open space make it obvious there’s a football game. That didn’t used to be the case.

The team helped the cause by hanging in there early. They quickly matched down the field and tied the game after a quick Tech TD. They bottled up Tech’s tricky offense. Then they took the lead. This was fun! We were going to make it to halftime and still be in the game!

When Tech kicked a late field goal to take a three-point lead into the half, there was a feeling of satisfaction in the stadium. Sure, Tech was getting the ball first after the break, and would likely take over the game, but we didn’t look inept. Jordan Webb looked solid at QB. James Sims was a revelation in the backfield. Other first year players were making big plays. The constant refrain in the stands was “How did we lose last week?” While there was still a lot of football to be played, this clearly wasn’t going to be the disaster most KU fans expected.

The second half was even better.

Tech couldn’t move the ball early. Another strong drive put KU back in the lead. Seconds into the fourth quarter, Webb hit Daymond Patterson with a quick screen. After bouncing off a couple tacklers, Patterson broke into the clear and scampered 32 yards for a touchdown. It was a <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jC0vc5HirU”>Monte Cozzens-esque</a> run. Suddenly KU was up 11 on the #15 team in the country with less than a quarter to play. The stadium was beginning to believe.
Could we hold on?

After exchanging punts, Tech took over on their own four. If we could hold them here, the game was over. Busted coverage on a quick screen put the Yellow Jackets at midfield. Then a beautiful pass and a two-point conversion cut the lead to three with 7:48 to play. The mood in the stadium shifted 180 degrees: it was a nice effort, but we were all sure KU was going to lose.

A friend tried to pump us up. “If I told you we were going to give up over 300 yards rushing and still be up by three with seven minutes to play, you would take that, wouldn’t you?” Still, we weren’t optimistic.

It was a tense few minutes, but when a Josh Nesbitt pass fell incomplete on fourth down, we could finally celebrate. KU 28, Georgia Tech 25.

All day I felt jealous of the fans that got to experience the renaissance of KU football after I moved away. The first win over K-State in 12 years in 2004. Breaking the Nebraska streak in 2005. The entire 2007 season, capped by the 72 points hung on the Huskers. There were a handful of good wins when I was in school, notably the 1992 win over Oklahoma. But that came in a different era. To have experienced the more recent big wins, as the stadium and crowd have changed, was something I was bummed to have not seen first hand. Saturday was my chance to experience one of those moments.

It was also a terrific day for the program after the previous week. There were serious questions whether Lew Perkins had made the correct choice when choosing a new coach. There was a fear that a horrific season that ended with just one or two wins would destroy the recruiting momentum Turner Gill had been building. The team may still only win a couple games this year; it’s too soon to declare all the errors of week one permanently corrected. But this win goes a long way towards getting KU football back on track.

Other random bits:

A bit odd being back in Lawrence after so long. We didn’t spend a lot of time in town, but the areas I did see had changed a lot. The biggest shock was the Big Yellow House I lived in for two years is now brown. How dare they!

The beer is still cold and tasty at Louise’s West.

Love how it’s been beaten into most KU fans’ heads that we should wear blue on game days. I don’t think I owned a true KU blue shirt when I was in school. Now everyone rocks the proper color at games. A very good change.

Not a fan of the uniform tweaks this year. I preferred the gray pants to the white and the black shoes to white. Not having names on the backs of jerseys is just dumb.

In the era of Madden and lengthy NFL breakdown shows, it’s fun to go to football games and hear every guy complaining about every play during breaks in the action. “Did you see the linebackers come up? Why the hell are we doing that?” “What are we thinking not keeping a back in to block on third and nine?” Everyone is an expert now.

Taco John’s failed to properly season our post-game Potato Oles. An indefensible tragedy.

You know you’re old when you spend a lot of time in a college time saying, “I hope these kids are appreciating their college years.”

Oh yeah, Rock Chalk, bitches!

NFL Preview – We’ve Seen This Before

Another professional football season has arrived. I must log my guesses, um, picks for all to see. It is a required part of owning a blog.

AFC

East: Each year there is a team that gets too much hype, generally based on a small window of their previous season, rather than their entire body of work. Don’t the Jets feel like that team this year? They should not have made the playoffs, making it only because the Colts benched their first teamers early in the second half of week 16, then parlayed two favorable match ups into an AFC Title Game appearance. But you’d think they won 12 games and pushed the Colts the way the Packers pushed the Cowboys in ’93-94.

Don’t get me wrong, the Jets should make the playoffs. But let’s not go crazy thinking they’re an elite team before they’ve proven themselves as such.

I also think the Patriots have one more run in their old bones. I think I’ve said that before. Oh well.

NEW ENGLAND

North: The Ravens are getting a lot of love, too. They may not be the ferocious defensive team of five years ago, but they’re still pretty darn good on that side of the ball. Their offense is better, but still not elite. I’m not sure what to make of the Steelers. They have a history of rebounding from disappointing seasons, but they’re dealing with a lot of drama this year. Big Ben is either going to go nuts once he comes back, or his issues are going to tear the team apart.

BALTIMORE

South: Easiest pick in the sport. Until otherwise, we should just assume the Colts will A) win 12 games, B) win the division, and C) be challenging for home field through the playoffs. If Peyton ever gets hurt, that’s all out the window. But until then…

INDIANAPOLIS

West: Just as the Jets and Ravens are getting lots of run, people seem to be giving up on the Chargers. Sure, they were flawed last year, but when you have an elite QB and some receivers, you can go far in the NFL. Especially in this division.

SAN DIEGO

Wild Cards:
NEW YORK
PITTSBURGH

NFC

East: This division is crazy. Every team is good, each also has flaws. “Experts” like Football Outsiders, see one or two games separating the entire division. That feels about right, as does the Giants rebounding and grabbing the division.

NEW YORK

North: Isn’t just about everybody rooting against Minnesota at this point, aside form Vikings fans, of course? It’s hard to imagine them having another charmed season like they did a year ago. They’re already facing several key injuries and The Drama Queen doesn’t heal up like she used to. The Packers seem to be loaded on offense and have enough on defense to get the job done. We’re all pulling for them.

GREEN BAY

South: OK, this one is pretty easy, too. I suppose there’s a chance that New Orleans could have a big, fat hangover from last year and the Falcons could put it all together and surprise everyone. But not terribly likely.

NEW ORLEANS

West: Jeez, what’s the deal with the Wests? At least the AFC seems to have a clear leader. Who the heck do you pick in this division? I suppose the love for San Francisco makes sense when you look at the other teams in the division. Is it possible to win a division with only seven wins? That could happen here.

SAN FRANCISCO

Wild Cards:
DALLAS
PHILADELPHIA

Playoffs

Dallas over San Francisco
New York Giants over Philadelphia
Pittsburgh over San Diego
New York Jets over New England

New Orleans over New York Giants
Green Bay over Dallas
Indianapolis over New York Jets
Baltimore over Pittsburgh

New Orleans over Green Bay
Indianapolis over Baltimore

Super Bowl

Hey, a rematch! Those don’t happen very often. Will Peyton obsessing over last year make the difference, or will Payton come up with a way to keep the Colts offense off-balance? Two Dome teams playing in a semi-dome, so no advantage there. The difference will be Reggie Bush, as he spends the season reminding people he was a pretty spectacular player in college, not just some guy who was the center of the USC scandal.

NEW ORLEANS 33
INDIANAPOLIS 23

 

Reader’s Notebook, August 2010, Part 2

And now the books of August.
Star Wars: The Lost Tribe of the Sith – John Jackson Miller. These sucked. They were actually four small mini-books strung together to tell another story in the endless Star Wars novel world. They were free, so I figured what the hell. Sometimes you get what you pay for. There was nothing compelling about this series.

Peculiar, MO – Robert Williams. I selected this largely because of its title. Peculiar is just outside Kansas City. It ended up being a dandy little sci-fi/horror/thriller.

Something streaks through the sky and lands near an abandoned dairy farm just outside Peculiar. Soon strangeness begins to happen. There are some very odd, intelligent, and belligerent cats running around. Government agents and troops sneaking around the woods. Eventually the fate of the planet is at stake. It gets resolved in a rather pleasing manner. A surprisingly good read.
New Life Incorporated – Maria Rachel Hooley. And then there’s this, perhaps the worst book I’ve ever read. Had I borrowed this from the library rather than bought it, I probably would have given up. And still, at only $0.89, it was tempting to chuck it.

The dialog was stilted, cliched, and horribly repetitive. The plot predictable. It violates many rules of sci-fi, like giving your reader a clear understanding of the world the characters live in. There is even one big twist that is ruined because the author gives it away with sloppy editing early in the book.

At a certain point, to maintain interest, I replaced the characters in the book with personas from Boogie Nights. The horrible dialog was easier to digest when I imagined Dirk Diggler and Chest Rockwell saying the words. At least then I laughed instead of shaking my head in exasperation.

No Sunlight Singing – Joe Walker. Thank goodness for this book, which renewed my faith in free titles. Originally published in 1960, it had been out-of-print for some time. The author’s son, though, just rereleased it as a free ebook.

The book, based on Walker’s experiences traveling in the Australian Outback in the middle-20th Century, follows Mary, an Aboriginal woman from her childhood to adulthood. As a child, she watches her mother die after being attacked by white ranchworkers and hears her final words, Marry a white man and turn your back on the black world. Mary, who is light skinned and speaks perfect English thanks to her white father, takes the message to heart and aims at making her way from the mission she grows up on to Darwin, a city where rumor has it an Aboriginal woman can marry a white man and improve her status and rights.

It’s a long, difficult path. Although her skin tone and language skills set her apart, she still faces many hardships. To some whites, Aboriginals are viewed as free labor. In fact, the rare rancher who gives his native workers even a modest wage is viewed with disdain by many other whites. Worse for Mary, the woman are expected to serve as willing partners to both their masters and ranch hands who need a sexual outlet. Mary learns, from older women, that, as the advances can not be ignored, that the best strategy is to exchange sex for better living conditions.

Mary eventually gets what she wants, but it isn’t without a price.

I don’t know what to compare this to in American literature, but this is an amazing read. It is hard to believe how Aboriginals were treated in their own country, treatment that until quite recently was accepted. Their land was taken and their culture destroyed, as with American Indians, and they were forced into labor, as with African slaves. Australians even instituted official policies aimed at breeding out the color from Aboriginals and removing children from their homes in hopes of hiding their people’s ways from them.

The usual cliches apply: this book is heart breaking, infuriating, shocking, yet still hopeful. The writing is wonderful, especially the easy shift from proper English to Aussie English to Pidgin English. Well worth finding a way to read.
Looking Glass – James R. Strickland. This was a solid cyberpunk novel in the mold of William Gibson’s work. The author wrote it during National Novel Writing Month, threw it into ePub, and got it listed on Amazon. Unlike New Life Incorporated, this piece works nicely.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I needed to throw one classic in, and went with this. I had read some of these before; I believe I have the complete works of Doyle on a bookshelf somewhere, although I never made it through the entire thing. They’re fine tales, for the most part, and certainly important for the genre. But some of the stories don’t hold up that well after 140 years or so.

A Nail Through the Heart – Timothy Hallinan. And finally, a published work that was made available for free to promote Hallinan’s latest book.

A Nail Through the Heart is the first in a series that revolves around Phillip Poke Rafferty, an American writer living in Bangkok. In this edition, Poke is asked to help track down a missing Australian man. During his search, Poke gets sucked into the seedy Thai underworld, crossing child pornographers, war criminals from Cambodia, and corrupt Bangkok cops. It’s a pretty standard mystery/thriller, but well written and engaging.

Most of all, the free edition worked. I’ll be reading some more of the Poke Rafferty mysteries.

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