Friday, March 28, 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - March

During our two Snow Days earlier this month, I tore through this Vermont-based police procedural mystery.

I've been reading Archer Mayor's work since he first published "Open Season" in 1988.  I actually used to  bump into him or attended his signings so often, he would autograph copies of his books with very humorous, personalized inscriptions.

This is his 24th novel in the Joe Gunther series.  Gunther is a no nonsense, old school Vermonter who now heads the fictional Vermont Bureau of Investigation.  The novel takes place in the wake of Hurricane Irene, a storm that caused us some damage (though not as much as the May Flooding did to us that year).  The Hurricane exposes two decades old secrets in the state which wind their way throughout the novel.  I was very pleased that I was kept guessing until the very end.

I really loved this book.  Some of it might be my familiarity with the locales.  I also know many people with the same last names as many of the characters...even some atypical Vermont names....the Governor is named Zigman....I know a Zigman!  One of the detectives is named Spinney....I work with a woman whose maiden name is Spinney...I even knew a Kunkle at one point!

It's interesting to me to note how the longevity of the series has necessitated some changes.  Gunther's age and military history is more muted than it was when the series started 25 years ago.  There is less of a tying him down to specifics.  When I started reading the series, I always pictured Joe as my grandfather...then later I imagined him as Mayor, I sometimes picture myself as the hero....

I'm also really excited for the next chapter in the saga...

I also abandoned one book this month.

I really wanted to like this one but I just couldn't get into it.  It was too close to "The Series of Unfortunate Events", which I started out really liking but was ready for it to end by the 13th book, in terms of clever word play, characters, plot and narration.

I've read two good quotes about this book.  The first is from The Guardian: "A Series of Unfortunate Events started brilliantly, but dipped in quality over its 13 books; this time, sensibly, Handler has limited himself to only four."  However, I'm not interested in getting into any series right now!

The second comes from a GoodReads member: "Do any actual kids like Lemony Snicket books, or are they only read by hip parents who think that they are the kind of books they want their kids to like?"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sneak Peak: Tomorrow's Post

Here is a video trailer that was created last year to promote Vermont author Archer Mayor's most recent work.


Monday, March 24, 2014

This Day in History: March 24, 1984

March 24, 1984 five teenagers walked through the doors of Shermer High and walked out enlightened individuals. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This Day In History: March 18, 1951

Today is Ben Cohen's (of Ben and Jerry's fame) birthday!

Did you know the reason so many of Ben and Jerry's flavors are full of chunks of stuff is because Ben has no sense of taste?

Because Ben could not taste the ice cream they were making, he had to really almost entirely on what is called “mouth feel” and to attain optimum mouth enjoyment he decided that his ice cream should be absolutely filled with chunks. So the entire reason Ben and Jerry’s tastes so good is because a guy who couldn't actually taste anything thought making ice cream "chunky" was a good idea. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy March!

I spent some time last month reading some comics and working in my comic book database.  It turns out that I purchased far fewer comics last year than in any year since I've been collecting.  Of the 97 comics I bought last year, only 68 were new issues, the remaining 29 were back issues.

I've set aside a number to donate shortly, which puts my current total of comics at 8785.

Here are some March cover comics!

Avengers 26 (1966)
My oldest March comic.  Cover pencils by Don Heck and inks by Frank Giacoia.  I've come to appreciate Heck's work as I've grown older.  He penciled 9 covers in my collection inked by others and 7 in which he inked himself.

Avengers 145 (1976)
One of my all time favorite covers!  Rated #80 in Wizard Magazine's Top 100 Covers of All Time (Issue 127).

Action Comics 469 (1977)
Just included to make Nan laugh...

Avengers 181 (1979)
Another on the Wizard list.  This one came in at 99.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1 (1986)
One of my all time favorites, for a variety of reasons.  Also on the Wizard list at #44.

In one of the art classes I had to take in college, I "reinterpreted" this and was quite proud of it.  However, it was one of the items that got "lost" during the dark times.

Fables 33 (2005)
Fables is one of three books on my pull list right now.  It is scheduled to end early next year with issue 150.  When it does, it will be the longest string of uninterrupted issues of any title I started collecting with its first issue.  It has some gorgeous covers.  This one was done by James Jean.

Green Arrow 46 (2005)
Also by James Jean!  In the same month! The diversity is impressive.

Saga 1 (2012)
Another comic on my pull list.  Vulgar, sweet, profane, heartwarming, hilarious, epic, intimate....the best comic book I have read in a long time.


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