‘Blue moon’ rises Saturday

 This weekend, aIMG_0343 full moon will rise in the night sky, a so-called Blue Moon.

If you are curious about that, this article explains the sorted history of blue moons.

Source: ‘Blue moon’ rises Saturday — but it won’t be blue: A full moon history

To read, or not to read?

This afternoon I was struggling to read a highly-praised novel that I was hating. I thought it was just me, that I was failing as a reader, so I kept trudging along, page after terrible page. I had promised myself to read today, and read I would. After about thirty minutes I realized I had finished several chapters. I didn’t hate it anymore. But I wasn’t really reading it either. I was actually just ignoring it. I could not remember anything I had read. I even clicked back a few pages only to discover the words were entirely foreign to me.  I finally accepted defeat and closed the book forever.old-books

Despite all of that I still wanted to read. After I deleted the daydream-inducing novel, I searched through the other titles I had available. I finally noticed the icon for Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories. I don’t know why I waited so long to start reading Trigger Warning. It has been on my Kindle for months, unopened. It is opened now, and it is delightful.

Random musings from this week.

  • I finished watching Sherpa this weekend. I can’t resist the allure of Mt. Everest.
  • I really really wanted the Penguins to close out the series against the Capitals tonight.
  • I feel inspired to finish that collection of short stories I’ve been working on for years.
  • I have already grown weary of all the election coverage.
  • The final season of Banshee is great so far.

Drunken sailor fined for unwanted Thurso house calls

WALKING into a stranger’s home and climbing into a spare bed after stripping down to his underpants has landed a serviceman with a £1000 fine.

Source: Drunken sailor fined for unwanted Thurso house callsskull

I had my share of rough nights while I was in the Navy, but I never crashed at a stranger’s house. One such night inspired me to a pen a few lines…

From Once in a Blue Year:

A one-night port call. A blur. Rosyth, Scotland. Beer. Dunfermline, home of Andrew Carnegie. Beer. The castle at Edinburgh—William Wallace. Trevor Wallace. Coincidence? I think not. Beer, beer, beer. Scottish women with large breasts. Funky nonpasteurized milk. Strange milk, large breasts. There’s something in the milk—do they export?

Wrong-side-of-the-road passengers who were drivers. Beer—Guinness Stout, Harp, Tenant’s 80, or 90 if you dare. Fish and chips and beer. Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. HMS Revenge. Beer. Page three, girls in the newspaper. Nudity in television commercials. Beer. Girl at a bar, many beers.

How could Trevor have known she had a guy? Fists flying, stool tossing, shattered beer mugs, all-out bar brawl, yeah. Now this is living. The girl bawling; her man bloody, crumpled on the floor. Cops, cuffs, you know the routine. That guy was an asshole. He jumped me—you saw it.

Yeah, it wasn’t your fault. You boys get back to the boat. Don’t want to see you here again.

Aye, aye matey. What do you do with a drunken sailor?

Happy 400th anniversary William Shakespeare

Friday I set off to Stratford-upon-Avon for the annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations in his home town.

Source: Happy 400th anniversary William Shakespeare: Your genius still fires our imaginations| Fox News


To celebrate the master, some words from Hamlet (Act 3 Scene 1)…

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.


Eternal Patrol

thresherOn April 10, 1963 at 0917 the USS Thresher (SSN-593) transmitted her final chilling message: “Exceeding test depth.” Moments later her hull imploded and 129 submariners and shipyard workers lost their lives. The implosion reportedly occurred in 0.1 seconds, too fast for the human nervous system to perceive. For the sake of those lost souls, I’ve always hoped that is true.

Sailors rest your oars, your brothers have assumed the watch.

The Walking Dumb

I have infrequently posted and tweeted about my growing contempt for The Walking Dead. This will be the final such post. I will watch the finale this weekend, but I will spare the critique. I am considering it a wake – you never want to say anything bad about the deceased. And The Walking Dead is now dead to me. I have listened to all the excuses and explanations, but I have finally decided that the show is just terrible. It is TWD2terribly written. It is terribly directed. And there are terrible acting performances. There is no longer any redeemable quality to this show whatsoever. I have grown weary of the pointless and illogical plot twists. There were moments of potential, but the lack of creativity was astounding: wasted characters, insipid dialogue, and irrational choices. The zombies have become my favorite character.  I wish them well.

Other random musings from last week:

  1. The Black Sails season was so good it inspired me to write a pirate-themed short story.
  2. I posted my review of Erica Crockett’s The Ram on Wednesday. You should definitely check it out.
  3. I don’t watch college basketball, but I successfully picked three of the final four. North Carolina is still alive as my choice for winner.

Book Review: The Ram by Erica Crockett

I was eagerly anticipating the next offering from Erica Crockett from the moment I finished her stunning debut, Chemicals. Her latest novel, The Ram, is the first volume of The Blood Zodiac series. The series will span twelve books to cover each of the zodiac signs. A series of that magnitude is a daunting challenge that Erica is certainly equipped to meet.ram

The Ram follows the perspectives of two main characters, Peach and Riley. The intertwining of their perspectives is exhilarating and rewarding. Peach is a troubled counselor at a crossroads in her life. By choice, or by natural force, she is propelled to make changes. The internal struggle is poignant and real. The fear and apprehension is captured wonderfully in Crockett’s precise prose and imagery. Riley, an ex-attorney, is forced to make changes in his life as well. Although his change begins out of necessity, but he embraces it.

Developing characters is truly Erica’s superpower. She crafts them honestly. She doesn’t judge them or sympathize with them or make excuses for them. She delivers them with clarity, their flaws revealed. The supporting cast is equally intriguing. One of my favorites was Sev, a surly bouncer with the heart of a poet. He spends his time watching his girlfriend dance and penning poems on bar napkins. The juxtaposition is sometimes ironic, sometimes comical, but always entertaining.

Erica once again delivers a plot that is packed with delicious mysteries. Lambs released in the city. Symbols painted on the road. Ominous greeting cards. The birthing of a ram. A partial tattoo. A dangerous patient who mouths a cigarette, but never smokes. A stripper and her poet boyfriend. All of these are intertwined. By chance? By design? Destiny? So much to ponder.

Erica also continues to deliver beautifully crafted prose that could make any writer jealous:

  • “Riley lies back on the concrete floor and watches the chains sway overhead, a solitary link bent and open, jangling and dancing, apart from all the rest.”
  • “She hopes the process will be invigorating, completed with aplomb, and then she will take her time getting home, simmering in the spectacular events of the evening.”
  • “Peach is speechless and not just metaphorically.”
  • “It is fate, meaningful in its synchronicity. Peach does not believe in coincidence anyway. Her world is one of omens and relationships, energy and connections. Causes will always have effects, but those two things can be separated by vast amounts of time and space.”
  • “You never know when you’ll get trampled by misplaced sheep or incinerated in a vehicle.”
  • “He shoots his arms straight into the air, clenches his fists at nothing but holds on tightly, until his nails put little crescent moons into his flesh.”

Bottom line: The Blood Zodiac is an enigma wrought with suspense; it begins in spectacular fashion with The Ram. This thriller is most highly recommended.

Follow Erica on twitter (@EricaCrockett), check out her website (EricaCrockett.com), and buy her books on amazon. And if you haven’t read Chemicals yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

Random musings from this weekend

  • Black Sails killed one of my favorite characters and there is only one episode left in the season. Very depressed on both counts. On the plus side, I discovered that Michael Crichton wrote a novel called Pirate Latitudes. I am not a fan of posthumously published novels, but it’s about pirates, so I added it to the reading list.skull
  • Watched the latest episode of Better Call Saul. It keeps getting better.
  • I put the finishing touches on my review of Erica Crockett’s The Ram. I’ll post it on Wednesday to coincide with the official release. Be sure to check it out.
  • It is the first day of spring. It is snowing in western PA. What the hell?
  • I am mentally preparing myself to despise The Walking Dumb tonight. I am hoping they will eventually make me so angry that I will follow through with my repeated threats to stop watching.

What does this sentence mean?

On Wednesday night, two gunmen killed six people at a backyard barbecue.  Several local and national news outlets have reported on the incident. Since the tragedy happened near Pittsburgh, not far from where I live, I have been keeping tabs on the investigation. Today I was reading an article on CNN.com. Drugs were likely involved, one of the injured was the intended target, no suspects have been identified, etc. However, once sentence has haunted me all afternoon…

“Another neighbor said he saw a bloody dog run out of the backyard with a bullet falling off its tail. “

What could that sentence possibly mean? Is the neighbor suggesting that a bullet landed on the dog’s tail and that the bullet fell off as the poor mutt fled for his life? The physical improbability of that is staggering. Was the blood from the dog or one of the victims? Could it be a typo? What other possible sentence could include a singular bullet and a dog’s tail? Was the dog struck in the tail by a stray bullet? Did his tail then fall off resulting in the blood? Where is the dog now? Is any of this information even pertinent?

Dear CNN: I need more information.

In case they edit the article, I grabbed a screen shot as evidence. After viewing it again, I have even more questions. Did the neighbor hear bullets or gunshots? There is an important difference. Does the ellipsis indicate an expletive or did she momentarily forget what to call the concrete structure adjacent to the door? Is the random inclusion of the red bible and the white teddy bear meant to symbolize the terror?



You will be missed, Harper Lee


NEW YORK (AP) — Harper Lee, the elusive novelist whose child’s-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” became standard reading for millions of young people and an Oscar-winning film, has died. She was 89.

Lee died Friday, publisher HarperCollins said in a statement. It did not give any other details about how she died.

“The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to — in private — surrounded by books and the people who loved her,” Michael Morrison, head of HarperCollins U.S. general books group, said in the statement.

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