Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Dec262014

Trivia--Heaven And Hell In "Blood Feud"

Front Cover
Regnery PublishingJun 23, 2014 - History - 320 pages
#1 New York Times Bestseller

In this highly anticipated follow-up to his blockbuster The Amateur, former New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Edward Klein delves into the rocky relationship between the Obamas and the Clintons. An old-school reporter with incredible insider contacts, Klein reveals just how deep the rivalry between the Obamas and the Clintons runs, with details on closed-door meetings buttressed by hundreds of interviews. Blood Feud is a stunning exposé of the animosity, jealousy, and competition between America’s two most powerful political couples.
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Edward Klein's "Blood Feud, the Clintons vs. the Obamas" is the source of this week's trivia.  It's a very quick read and frankly is more gossip than history, the kind of thing I like to reward myself with after pouring through more important matters.  (I read this in a day and was left feeling a bit guilty that I enjoyed it, but truth be told, it is rather enjoyble, especially if you want to know the dirt on both Obamas, both Clintons, and Valerie Jarrett).

A pair of juicy Presidential quotes, one regarding heaven, the other hell, are trivial fodder this week.

The first quote is one I'd actually read somewhere else, so it appears to be true.  Which President, the day after his election, told his party's chairman (page 167), "Before we proceed, I wish it clearly understood that I owe you nothing.  Remember that God ordained that I should be the next president of the United States"?

The second quote (page 169) is new to me, but I like it a lot.  Which Prdsident allegedly was known for the dictum, "You never tell somebody in politics to go go hell unless you can send them there"?

Need some choices.  Let's begin with my two worst Presidents of all time.

Woodrow Wilson

Lyndon Johnson

John F. Kennedy

Richard Nixon 

Jimmie Carter

Bill Clinton

 

Answer--in fact, they were my two least favorite Presidents.  Wilson felt he was ordained by God; LBJ spoke of the need to be able to send political opponents to Hell.

 Confession--I didn't buy the book.  It seemed to be screaming, "Take me home" as I passed by the new non-fiction section of the library. It's priced at $27.99 and only rates two (of five) stars in the source I googled.  I'll get it back to the Manchester library the first of the year, so it can start screaming at other people innocently passing by.

Monday
Dec222014

Trivia--We Bid YOU Adieu, Craig!

Say it ain't so CBS.
Say it ain't so Craig Ferguson.
My favorite show of television, one I sadly didn't discover until the ninth year of its 10 year run, is no more.
With his gay robot Geoff Peterson (voiced by the multi-talented Josh Robert Thompson, whom we finally got to meet last week) and his not a real horse Secretariat alongside--and Jay Leno a bonus--Craig Ferguson bade adieu to late night television Friday night.  
"I bid you adieu" was one of his favorite gag lines, one of the few CBS censors didn't have to replace with sounds like "ooh-la-la" and "ay-karamba".
Apparently CBS will run reruns for a while then bring on a few guest hosts until the full-time replacement shows up in March.  
Craig seemed to indicate he'll be back in the talk business soon...although he appeared contractuallly bound not to say just when or where.  I'll be looking for his return; his new game show Celebrity Name Game just doesn't make it, at least not for me; I believe I caught it around 2 p.m. on TV38.  If only he could bring Geoff Peterson or Miriam or the Queen on there, the show might be watchable, but there's little chance of that.
Here's a bit of trivia.  I left Craig Ferguson with the tought--no wonder I liked him so much.  He revealed the name of the person he most regretted not having on as a guest, one of my favorite all time writers as it turns out.
Was that?
John Irving
Leon Uris
Kurt Vonnegut
J.D. Salinger
Art Buchwald
Hint--Think Dresden.
The answer, of course, is the American soldier who was a prisoner of war being held in Dresden, Germany, that February, 1945 day when Dresden was bombed.  Vonnegut died shortly after the Ferguson show hit the air waves.  What a combination they would have made together.  (I'm also very fond of John Irving who, at last check, was still very much alive splitting his time between Vermont and Ontario.  Which is better, Slaughterhouse Five or The Cider House Rules?  Tough call; I guess it depends on what mood I'm in.  Cider House Rules is certainly longer).
Here's a story about Craig's final show with some links to enjoy over the holidays; the final musical number is fantastic!  It puts Bette Midler on Johnny Carson to shame, not that there ever was anything wrong with JC of course.
 
Oh well, I guess I'll have to check out the new guy on CBS or else subscribe to Turner so I can go back to getting Conan.  Letterman just doesn't  cut it for me; I can't get into Jimmy Fallon; and Jimmy Kimmel was better in the later slot.
Long live Craig, Geoff, and Secretariat!

'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson' finale recap: Keep bangin' on

CRAIG-FERGUSON.jpg

Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Craig Ferguson doesn’t have a band. That’s been a long-running joke of The Late Late Show—he didn’t have a lot of things that most late-night talk shows have. It’s why, among other things, his sidekick is a talking robot skeleton. But on Friday night, Ferguson began his final show with the biggest band of all: A montage of nearly 50 celebrities, all former guests on his show—from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Quentin Tarantino and Kristen Bell—sang and danced to “Bang Your Drum” by Glasgow group Dead Man Fall.

 

 

Craig Ferguson’s tenure on The Late Late Show didn’t feel like the latest incarnation of a 20-year-old franchise, or even like any other late-night talk show, period. A lot of this is due to Ferguson’s honesty and charisma; when you watch him, it’s like having the most affable man in the world as your best friend.

His tradition of tearing up talking points when speaking with guests, plus the raw honesty he displayed during moments of frustration (debacles like the cold open he had to scrap when he couldn’t get the rights to play a version of the Doctor Who theme tune) or great personal sadness (Ferguson eulogized both of his parents during the show’s run) all radiated a feeling of deep authenticity. He wasn’t just funny or likable—he liked you, and wanted to entertain you, specifically.

In his final monologue, Ferguson talked about his intent—to make art. To make something that wasn’t there before, to win over not just an audience, but a country that he wanted to be a part of. (Ferguson famously taped his citizenship test and oath for the Late Late Show in 2008.)

“Really, the show belongs to you… and I hope you keep it, because I’m done with it,” said a deadpan Ferguson.

 

After one last reading of tweets and emails, one last dance with Secretariat, and one final guest—Jay Leno, who, along with Larry King, reached out to Ferguson to ask him not to quit—Ferguson stood in front of his fireplace, talking to his robot skeleton sidekick voiced by Josh Robert Thompson, for a final bit of bizarre late-night humor: the entire show was all a dream.

 

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was something special, proof that one of television’s oldest formats still has plenty of room for something unique and personal. Maybe you didn’t catch his show all that often—staying up until 1:30 a.m. can be tough—but whenever you did, it was usually worth it.

Craig Ferguson didn’t get emotional at any point during his final episode of The Late Late Show—and he doesn’t think you should, either. As he said on the show, and in a recent interview with People—he’s just a guy who tells jokes, and he’s not going to stop telling jokes.

So congratulations to Ferguson and his team for telling jokes in such a singular way—one full of puppets and robot skeletons and a dancing horse; what they built certainly felt like art. Here’s hoping they never stop bangin’ on that drum.

Monday
Dec222014

Trivia--The Military Mutiny Against FDR

The Mantle of CommandFDR at War, 1941-1942

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 514 pages
"This is revisionist history in the best sense of the word -- it forces us to rethink assumptions and to reconsider the way that history unfolded . . . This bold argument is extensively researched, well stated, and will undoubtedly change the way we see Franklin Roosevelt." -- Christian Science Monitor

"A fine beginning to an important project." --
 Wall Street Journal

Based on years of archival research and interviews with the last surviving aides and Roosevelt family members, The Mantle of Commandoffers a radical new perspective on Franklin Delano Roosevelt's masterful -- and underappreciated -- leadership of the Allied war effort. After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt devised a global strategy that would save Churchill and the British and defeat Hitler and the Japanese. As Nigel Hamilton's account reaches its climax and U.S. forces conduct Operation Torch -- the successful invasion of French Northwest Africa -- the tide of war turns in the Allies' favor, and FDR's genius for military command is clear. This intimate, sweeping look at a great President in history's greatest conflict is gripping, essential reading.
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Having read the 850 page book Hitler's War (by the infamous David Irving) and the final book of the trilogy on Winston Churchill, I deicided to give Nigel Hamilton's latest effort a try.  Hamlton has written a half dozen book on General Montgomery (far too much for my taste), but with The Mantle of Command, FDR At War 1941-42, he's produced what anyone interested in World War II hsitory should consider a must read.

As the title would suggest, a sequel is in the works, but in focusing on the first two years of FDR's war, Hamilton should should kindle all kinds of contoversy.

The sections about the love-hate relationship between FDR and Churchill are pretty standard; there's a great chapter on MacArthur and the loss of the Philippines; but Hamilton is at his best as he goes into well documented detail about how the American military came close to open mutiny over the commander in chief's decision to open a second front in 1942 not across from the English Channel in France gut rather in French Africa (Morocco and Algeria).  History has proven FDR's judgement correct; just look at the slaughter of a small conginent of Canadians who tried to land at Dieppe in 1942, but some of the comments from military commanders and civilians in charge of the military are simply shocking, and don't think Hamilton just throws these allegations together; the book comes with 50 pages of footnotes, including many citations from diaries of the partipants.

Talk about Barack Obama having trouble with his gnerals; that pales in comparison to what FDR experienced in 1942.  One comment, in fact, seems to border on treason.  

Who was among the most opposed to the Northwest Africa landing and in insisting on the landing in Frnace asked one of his comrades what he would do if he were in fact President or dictator?

Secretary of War Henry Stimson

General George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff

General Douglas MacArthur

Secretary of Navy Frank Knox

George Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

The answer is Stimson, the 75 year ole Republican Secretary of War, but I don't feel comfortable leaving it there.  Allow me to quote the passage from the book, from page 367, chapter 26 entitled "A Failed Mutintiny".  Stimson was speaking to Marshall.  The reference to Churchill is in regard to his mission to Moscow to inform Stalin about FDR's plans.  Torch and Gymnast are code words for the African landing.  Much of this passage is from Stimson's own diary.

 

"If the war secretary (Stimson) was to come out and openly oppose the President, he wanted "to be sure I'm on solid ground."  Taking the army cheif of staff aside aside, Stimson had a "careful talk with Marshall over the strategic situation getting out teeth right into it and into each other--a very frank talk and a rather useful one," the secretary confided to his diary that night.  As Churchill prepared to fly on from Cairo to Moscow to tell Stalin in confidence about Torch, Stimson thus asked General Marshall point blank if he, Marshall, "was President or Dictator" of America, "whether he would go on with Gymnast and he told me frankly no.

Marshall as President or dictator?  Such language, exchanged between the country's most senior military officials on August 9, 1942, was sailing close to sedition--as even Marshall began to recognize the following day when the war secretary howed him exactly what he had in mind."

 

Great stuff and the book is full of such great stuff, a major new contribution to our understanding of America's role in the war.

Monday
Dec222014

Trivia--Why Harper And Not Nelle Lee

This trivia question is courtesy of the fun new book The Mokingbird Next Door, by Chicago reporter Marja Mills. 

Nearly ten years ago, in celebration of Chicagoland's focus on To Kill a Mockingbird, she was assigned to go to southern Mississippi to get an interview with Harper Lee...or at least to discover enough local color to profile the town that was the basis for the 1960 classic To Kill A Mockingbird, the only book Lee ever wrote. Although the Mills' book is generally favorable to the famous author, Harper Lee appears to claim it was never authorized...see story below (Alice recently died at age 103; both Lee sisters could barely here at the time Mills was researching the book).

Mills got in on the good side of Alice Lee, Harper's older sister, and before long, she had met the reclusive author and had moved in next door to the Lees.  

This book is the result, not quite biography, not quite memoir, but a very quick read with some insight into the life of the author who spent 50 years avoiding the limelight.

We learn much about the complicated relationshwip between Lee and Truman Capote, the basis for the Dill character in Mockinghbir.  (Lee accompanied Capte to Kansias on his research trip for In Cold Blook, a hgily overrated book in my opinion).

We also learn how Harper Lee is really the author's middle name.  She decided not to use her first name, Nelle, thining that people might add an I and call her Nellie.]

The question is--After whom was Nelle Lee named Harper?

Was it?

A Mississippi preacher.

A newspaper editor in the town which became the basis for the book.

A doctor who may well have saved the life of Nelle's sister.

Her mother's father (the non-Atticus side of the family).

The law partner of her father (the Atticus figure).

 

Answer--Author Mills explains how there were three Lee sisters.  The middle sister nearly died as a child; she couldn't keep down any food until a Doctor Harper solved the problem, thus keeping the child alive and relieving stress of Nelle's high strung mother.  By the way, Nelle Harper Lee never forgave Capote for spreading the rumor that Lee's mother tried to drown her.  She refers to Capote as having a career of li

Fun book. 

I first read To Kll a Mockingbird in 1968, my junior year in high school.  I've read it twice since and am on the fourth go round now.  It could well be the best novel ever written...at least until The Emperor of Quebec is finished.

 

Harper Lee: should Marja Mills' memoir have been published?

A war of words broke out this week following the publication of a memoir featuring To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee. So what are the ethics of telling someone else's life story?
'To Kill A Mockingbird' Film - 1962
 Is there a truth in this case? … Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird from 1962. Photograph: c.Everett Collection/REX c.Everett Collection/REX/c.Everett Collection/REX

'Every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible," wrote Janet Malcolm, in the famous opening lines of her 1990 study The Journalist and the Murderer. "He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse." The lines are arresting, and while not entirely true – not least because of a kind of glibness – they do get at something true about the often uncomfortable transaction that is the telling of someone else's life story. "Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone," she continues, "so the consenting subject of a piece of non-fiction learns – when the article or book appears – his hard lesson."

And so, often, does the journalist. On Wednesday Penguin published, in the US, The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir by journalist Marja Mills of her friendship with the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (it will appear in Britain at the end of this month).

Malcolm was writing about a case in which journalist Joe McGinnissbefriended a murderer and convinced him to talk by claiming, among other things, that he believed in the man's innocence when actually he was convinced of his guilt (incidentally, he later ran into trouble again with a biography of Sarah Palin). Mills is nothing like as unscrupulous or faithless: The Mockingbird Next Door is on the whole a warm portrait of a place (Monroeville, Alabama) and two people (Nelle Harper Lee and her sister, Alice)at a golden moment late in their lives. Although it covers all the bases – childhood, young womanhood, family, relationships, character strengths and flaws – it is not prurient, or given to hunting down answers where they are not offered. "Did she date?" Mills asks each sister at one point, curious about the fact that neither ever married. "A little," came the answer, from each. "And that was that." There is much space given to process – how and when she approached them, and why – and mostly the proceedings feel honourable.

And yet. There is little surprise, to the reader, that news the memoir was being written was greeted in April 2011 with a categorical statement from Harper Lee: "Contrary to recent news reports, I have not willingly participated in any book written or to be written by Marja Mills. Neither have I authorised such a book. Any claims otherwise are false." Mills counters that the letter was written after  Harper Lee suffered a serious stroke, and has released a May 2011 letter from Alice: "Imagine my shock when I began to read and get clear about the statement … Poor Nelle Harper can't see and can't hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence. Now she has no memory of the incident." This week Harper met the actual publication of the book with a clear reiteration of her position, and an elaboration: "Miss Mills befriended my elderly sister, Alice. It did not take long to discover Marja's true mission: another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised. I immediately cut off all contact with Miss Mills, leaving town whenever she headed this way. I understand that Miss Mills has a statement signed by my elderly sister claiming I co-operated with this book. My sister would have been 100 years old at the time."

It should be pointed out, in the interests of fairness, that this latter suggestion of incapacity is somewhat belied by the fact that Alice Lee was still practising law at 100, prompting various gobsmacked newspaper profiles at the time. Nevertheless, Harper Lee's feelings seem clear enough, do they not? "I think the letter from Alice to me speaks to the conditions under which the 2011 letter was written," replies Mills, who spoke during her book tour of the US, "so I question that Nelle really wrote the letter that was released in her name this week."

Marja Mills Marja Mills … ‘Harper Lee would crook her finger at me and say “now put that in your book”’. Photograph: Teresa Crawford/AP

Harper Lee stopped giving interviews in 1964, and is well known, along with a handful of other writers – JD Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, Emily Dickinson, Cormac McCarthy – as a stalwart of guarding her own privacy. This, of course, gives the book, however quiet its tone, a massive frisson. It also plants a seed of doubt – it contains much detail of how it all started with a commission for a newspaper feature, how Mills expected nothing, how Alice invited her into the house then Nelle, intrigued, dropped round to her hotel to say hello – and cannot answer the silent question in the reader's mind: can it really be the case that someone who once said that their answer to any request for an interview was "hell, no" has suddenly let down their defences so completely?

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Then again, people are complicated, and they change; they are reachable at different points in their lives, in different ways. And there is the question of friendship. After the newspaper article was published, the sisters seem to have reached out to Mills, who moved from Chicago to Alabama and lived next door to them for 14 months. At the height of her involvement with the Lees, Mills regularly went driving around Alabama with Harper, as well as accompanying her to McDonald's for coffee, to the laundromat, to feed ducks, and even to exercise classes. She spent precious time at their house: "They were reading peacefully, companionably, as they did so many evenings. Routine for them. Magical for me."

She is not the only chronicler of an artist's life to have arrived at her story through assiduous friendship. In 2013, for instance, Geordie Greig published his account of Lucian Freud, another categorical life-writing refusenik who once sent an East End gangster round to a putative biographer's house to make his point. Greig literally moved in – to the basement of the building in which Freud worked. (McGinniss moved next door to Palin.) He dropped round with copies of the Evening Standard when he was editing it; he brought his children to breakfast with the artist. He manipulated Freud into being photographed by asking him to be in a frame that was meant, ostensibly, to focus on Freud's oldest friend, Frank Auerbach. One reviewer noted a "forced-entry feel to much of the book, [which] adds to its sense of a private life, once guarded with menaces, now exposed".

In Mills' book, friendship allows not only access, but a structural dodge: she has written a memoir – about the process of research and discovery, about her life and affliction with lupus (about which the sisters were extremely kind; another slight unease, because, as Alice Munro once wrote, "a sick person … emotionally, holds all the cards"), and the progress of their friendship. It is not a biography – although, in fact, it does a great deal of careful biographical work. Of course, says Michael Holroyd, author of biographies of Lytton Strachey, Augustus John and Bernard Shaw, "had [Mills] written a memoir without such an illustrious neighbour, it would not have been published. [But for a memoir] she doesn't technically need permission."

Friendship – especially, perhaps, the informed, imbalanced friendship of fandom – blurs the lines in all sorts of ways. It invites confidences, flatters a certain kind of understandable vanity. "People like to confide," as Louis Menand once wrote in the New Yorker. "They want their stories told, and they somehow persuade themselves that in the right, sympathetic hands … readers will appreciate the challenge, the complexity, the sheer human variousness of what it is like to be them."

Harper Lee in 19 Categorical statement … To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee in her hometown of Monroeville, 1961. Photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

With the Lees there was also, Mills argues, the issue of age. Their stories had not been told, and they – in particular Alice, who had made a study of her family and the history of the area – wanted to tell them. She notes how close friends worried about how "the tangle of myths and half-truths [has] flourished amid Nelle's decades-long silence … 'When she and Alice go,'" said one friend, "'people are going to start "remembering" things as they didn't happen, or outright making things up, and they won't be here to set the record straight. So keep taking notes, girl.'" Mills says now that "Nelle (Harper) Lee was often my guide … Once she and her sister Alice gave me their blessing to write a book, Nelle would often crook her index finger at me at an especially interesting moment in conversation and say, 'Now you be sure to put that in your book.'"

It is interesting how clearly this – and, for that matter decades-long silence – speaks of the need for control. For Lee is a writer, even if she never published again after To Kill a Mockingbird; and writers, says Holroyd, never want to cede control of the narrative. Especially to lesser writers. There are exceptions to the latter, of course: Ian Hamilton on Salinger. He famously made the fatal error of sending his manuscript to Salinger for approval; Salinger sued for copyright because of the liberal use of quotation. Forced to rewrite entirely, Hamilton eventually produced, says Holroyd, a brilliant and more original work, In Search of JD Salinger. There was also Lytton Strachey on Eminent Victorians, and Virginia Woolf on Roger Fry – but Mills, while conscientious and clear, is no Strachey or Hamilton or Woolf.

Mills is a reporter, formerly of the Chicago Tribune. At the height of her research, she was interviewing Alice Lee, on tape, for hours every Sunday afternoon. So no hint here of another perennial challenge for the biographer, the constraining relative: a Dmitri Nabokov, a Valerie Eliot, or an Elsie Kipling, who not only demanded two-thirds of the proceeds from Lord Birkenhead's biography of her father, but also its copyright. When it was finally written, in 1948, she banned its publication entirely.

However, asked directly, Mills suggests that while Harper Lee seems to have directed operations to a certain extent ("Nelle and I would discuss which comments I wanted to use, and which experiences with her I wanted to relate. Often, her directive was to use my own judgment. To her credit, much of what she wanted off the record was to spare the feelings of a relative or a friend"), she was given no formal interviews. "She did not wish to be interviewed, and I respected that."

Harper Lee photographed in 2007 Harper Lee photographed in 2007. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Perhaps this is why Lee now insists she did not give permission or authorisation – which is both understandable, and if true, rather naive. Surely she must have known, from the moment she knocked on the door of Mills' hotel room to see who this person was who had made such an impression on her sister, that everything would be noticed and recorded. That first meeting was strictly, absolutely off the record, and true to her word, Mills did not put it in the resulting newspaper piece. But she obviously took detailed notes, because it appears in the book with warp and weft, and with direct quotation. It is both an immediate scene, and a slightly troubling one. Fascinating, too, in perhaps unintended ways, and further illustration of why novel after novel – AS Byatt's Possession, Robert Harris's The Ghost, Jonathan Raban's Surveillance (about a reclusive writer tracked down by a journalist) uses the trope of the relationship between writer and subject.

Birkenhead's biography of Kipling was published after Elsie's death in 1976, when, as Ion Trewin, himself the biographer of Alan Clark, notes, "it was highly praised". Greig waited until after Freud had died. Was this something Mills ever considered? "No. They both knew at the time that they were coming to the end of their lives, and they wanted to make sure especially that their family stories weren't lost. It was a joke among them and our friends in Monroeville that when Alice passes on, it will be like a library burning, so great was her knowledge of their family, their region and their history. I believe they co-operated with me with posterity in mind." Asked if she spelled out what exactly she was doing, Mills replies, "they knew this was a memoir of my time spent with them".

But doesn't publishing now, when Alice is 102, and Harper 88, and both in assisted-living facilities, risk hurting people in old age who, as Holroyd puts it, "have not asked to be hurt"? Their claims and counterclaims about the other's frailty in their lawyers' statements raises that worry. Did she have any ethical qualms? "I do not. I was a witness to the joy, love and respect between the two of them as the three of us rode the back roads of south Alabama, and I saw how much they enjoyed sharing their stories with each other and with me." Though not, from Harper Lee's point of view it seems, with the rest of the world.

Monday
Dec222014

Mastering The Art Of Doing Nothing...Ignoring The Clown Prince

I feel like I'm in a Seinfeld episode; in fact, I feel like, I have co-opted the basis of all Seinfeld episodes.

I seem to have perfected the art of doing nothing.

I haven't turned this computer on in three weeks; wasn't even sure I'd still have a spot at nhsider.com when I turned on again.  Thank goodness for the annual auto inspection (think of the number of times I fought with Rep. Keith Murphy to get it down to every other year) or I wouldn't even have ventured out of the hosue today...so I seem to have a few minutes.

To all those who have been wiring me about goings on at the State Houe, I can honestly say that you know much more than I do.  I only know what I see on the Channel 9 or NH1 News, and I've been avoiding most of those reports as well.  Rumor has it that the person I most loath on god's good earth is the speaker...yet another reason I'm glad not to be there.

Most States have a Speaker...New Hampshire seems to have a Clown Prince rather than a speaker.  I just loved how he tried to say how the Speaker should not get into partisan things.  Majority and minority leaders should do that.  Then, sublime hypocrite that I've alwys knows him to be, he refused to appoint the Republican who was favored by the majority.  That in itself should have been enough to file a motion to vacate the chair; he obviously has no confidence in the vast majority of Republicns.  Have I heard that there's a betting pool as to when he'll be removed as the Speaker.

I could write pages on that, but that's specifcially why I haven't turned on here.

It truly is none of my business.

I've spent most of my time reading, a book every other day or so, and loving it.

Unfortuntaley, the list of all the books is in the car which is being inspected.

My favoite is a new one by Nigel Hamilton.  I've read much about Hitler's war and Churchill's war, but this is the war from FDR's perspective.  It's called The Mantle of War, FDR at War 1941-42.  Yes, there will be a sequel which I'm already lookng forward to.  This book not only details how FDR and Churchill didn't always see eye to eye, but it spends a great deal of time explaining how FDR's decision to land troops in Northwest Africa in 1942 nearly led to a military mutiny by Secretary of War Stimson, General Marshall and others.  It's a great story, very well told.  I wasn't sure I would read the entire thing, but I leiterally couldn't put it down...450 pages in three days.  I highly recommend it.

I also breezed through The Mockingbird Next Door about a Chicago reporter who spent a year and a half living next to Harper Lee who was known to be rather reclusive for decades after the publication of her classic To Kill A Mockingbird in 1960.  Alice Lee, Harper's sister, was practicing law at age 100 at the time of the book; I googled it and learned that she just died at 103.  It appears that Harper (better known as Nelle) is still alive; she must be 88 and living in a nursing home.  Interesting but not a great book.

Of course, I'm saddened that my favorite, Craig Ferguson, did his last show last Friday.  The replacement isn't coming aboard till March; I don't have high hopes for him.  At least we got to meet the guy who's been doing all the voice (and the gay robot Geoff Peterson) last week, but neither half of Secretariat surfaced.  Craig jokes he plans to wander the earth solving crimes.  I caught his new game show, Celebrity Name Game, last week...thumbs down from me.

I realize I have all my end of year awards and 2015 predictions to make, and now that I've tuned in here again, I suppose I'll be back.  In fact, I'm hoping to write from Vermont on Christmas week and Montreal (the Second Cup coffee shop) on New Years.  I have a great story to tell about my July 4 trip to the border...I have been holding it, but it's worth waiting for.  You won't believe what happened to me and why.

I'll try to get a trivia question from each book I've read lately.  Rememver Nelle Harper.

Peace.

 

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