Fluke is spreading its wings

Howdy … just a quickie to mention that Fluke is now available across multiple platforms: https://www.books2read.com/u/bMGKJ7

David Elliott and I wrote Fluke during our deployments to Bosnia, at the turn of the century. It’s the first major piece of writing I finished and it will always be special to me for that reason. Otherwise, it’s a pretty quirky read. People generally love it or hate it, as cliche as that is.

Hope you all have a good book nearby!

Bart

Recovering From The Move

So, we recently moved to Texas, and it’s awesome to be back. I was born here and I’ve (almost) always enjoyed the people and climate.

For nearly 23 years I’ve rolled around to wherever Mother Air Force sent me, so it’s interesting making all the decisions that make up the foundation of my life. Or, maybe I should say executing the decisions of my better half, ha! Either way, we’re calling the shots now, and it’s weird. I choose what I wear every, single day of the week.

The food in Texas is amazing, too. God bless Tex Mex. Delicious! I cannot get enough. And this guy believes that brisket is the backbone of the bbq world. Pulled pork is good, but nothing beats some moist brisket.

But the move was brutal in many ways, and we are still sort of moving, all the chores and tasks involved. I think we’re starting to see the light, though.

Otherwise, I’ll try to be more active on this blog again and bestow upon you all my whimsical ramblings. I sincerely hope you are all neck-deep in a good book.

Until we talk again,
Bart

Hurt

I rarely play their music these days, but in the 90s, I listened to Nine Inch Nails. One day a friend of mine blared “Down In It” through the stereo in his house, and I was an instant fan.

I picked up a copy of The Downward Spiral when it came out. I liked almost every song, including this track called “Hurt,” which was a favorite from that album.

Entering the new century, I sort of lost touch with NIN. My tastes changed and all that. I forgot about “Hurt.” For whatever reason, when I reach back to old music now, the 80s tunes are my mainstay.

Then the other day my daughter and I are watching something and we see a trailer for the movie Logan. Johnny Cash was singing “Hurt,” which sounded amazing, but I was a little confused. Did Cash write the song first, and NIN perform it as a cover? That assumption was based off of Johnny Cash’s age and his being a legend, of sorts. Not to discount Reznor’s accomplishments, but you know … it’s Johnny Cash.

(Check out Cash’s video here)

I was surprised when I went to the reference section in the public library, researched it, and discovered that Cash was the one that covered a NIN’s song. Which is pretty darn cool, IMO.

Okay, I lied. I didn’t go to the library. I Googled that information. Who does research at the library? That’s so 1985.

Anyway, getting back on track … I love the Cash version of this song. It’s amazing. Usually I like the original better than the remake, but not this time.

Not this time.

And, as it turns out, Trent Reznor agrees (from Alternative Press): “I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.”

Pretty cool.

SAVING SEATS

This is sort of a random post based on things I witnessed last night.

It was our 7th grader’s end-of-year band concert, which they hold annually in the middle school gym. It isn’t an optimal location for seating so many people, but the options are limited.

The concert was at 6pm, but the kids had to be there at 5pm. There being no point in driving anywhere just to come right back, my other two kids and I took the best seats we could find in the bleachers and started our hour-long wait. My wife had an appointment, so she would join us later … and I was saving her a seat.

Philosophically, I am against the idea of “saving seats.” Or saving places in line. Or anything of the sort, unless it absolutely doesn’t affect anyone else. Then I’m okay with it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done it. Or won’t do it in the future. With a family of five, holding seats happens more often than I’d like, for one reason or another. This is life.

The gymnasium started filling up fast. It seemed most people were of the same mind, that there was no point in going elsewhere since we were all there already. People milled around. Some talked. Many phones came out and heads tilted to the screens. One of my daughters read a book while the other played a game. I just observed everything quietly.

In front of me a single, older lady put her hands out on the bleachers to each side of her body. A few minutes later, a somewhat rambunctious family of four came over and asked to sit next to her. She said she was saving seats. The family said okay, but they started talking amongst each other loudly about it. They huffed and puffed and made loud declarations about “some people” and how in this world, “first come, first served” was the right way. They sat down very, very close to the lady and continued their tirade.

The saving seats lady scooted down. I didn’t blame her. I hate to judge a book by its cover, but this “family” was what you might call a little rough around the edges. It was very easy to imagine them starting a scuffle and before you know it the phones come out and we’re all on Facebook and YouTube. And I’m just the bystander with his kids.

So, my guard went up. I watched and waited.

I should add that there were PLENTY of seats still available at that time. Many seats. But, well, we were in some prime spots. So I found myself torn.

What is right?

I was one row back from them, saving a seat myself. Granted, it was easier for me with two big kids … I just spread us out and laid my keys and phone down and most people didn’t think twice. Maybe they thought mom was off with our band kid. Somewhere in the building. Which is a more viable excuse for saving a seat, or so a person might think.

I don’t know. It was really strange. On the one hand, I don’t like saving seats, and I only was doing it as a necessary evil for the situation. I could see why the family was annoyed, though their approach to the situation was arguably childish.

I mean, they talked about it for four or five solid minutes. Glared occasionally at the lady. It was purposely, clearly audible conversation with hostile undertones.

People continued to stampede through the doors like cattle. An announcement was made over the PA for everyone to move inward to make room for people. I checked my watch. They made the announcement again.

Please move in to make room for everyone! they said.

I just sort of whistled to myself and pretended there wasn’t an empty spot next to me. Checked my watch. Twiddled my fingers. Checked my watch again.

Then my wife rolled in and we settled back for the show and I forgot about the silly stuff that had happened earlier. Well, sort of. The rowdy family of four laughed a little louder and moved a little more than everyone else. They talked just a little too much. In an ironic turn of events, they weren’t very considerate people despite being so ready to chastise others.

But, whatever … I spend a lot of time dissecting situations like that. Creating characters in my head from real situations. Thinking too much. My little brain is going to burn up one day.

What do you think? Is saving seats okay? Conditionally okay? A big no-no? A necessary evil?

Happy Reading!

Bart

My Sister’s Grave

A look at My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

I see that there are nearly 50,000 ratings on Goodreads and 12,000 reviews on Amazon for this book. I doubt I’m so smart I can give you anything new, and really, I think the best part about having so many ratings is that you have SO MANY data points … the average is probably reliable at around 4 stars. Personally, I take reviews with a grain of salt, but anything with the 3 stars or more, to me, means it could be worth a read.

I thought this book was okay. I didn’t find anything super unique. I found some of it a little hokey. Decent writing, though. In this genre I happen to like some other authors a lot more … Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Robert Parker, JA Konrath.

If I were rating it on price compared to those other authors, this one would get 5 stars. I think I picked it up for $1.99 or $2.99, and I find that to be extremely reasonable, and I appreciate that a great deal.

If you are into the crime/mystery/suspense type of books, it’s worth a look!

Happy Reading

Make Me

Make Me by Lee Child

Mr. Google tells me that Make Me is the twentieth novel in the Reacher series.

I’ve been skipping around the series, and this is, maybe, the eleventh Jack Reacher novel I have read. No worries if you’re new to them and go out of order … they’re all fully functional as stand-alone tomes, too.

And, every time I read a new one, I think to myself: Wow, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Then I read the next Jack Reacher, and it happens again. And, so on, and so forth.

The action is nearly non-stop in this high tempo thriller, arguably the best in the series (see above, ha ha). It all begins with a random stop in the town of Mother’s Rest.

Mother’s Rest? Why’s it named that?

When Reacher hops off the train to find out, he meets a girl, and encounters more than he bargained for.

But he’s Jack Reacher. Just another day at the office of hard knocks. Heck, even his mother calls him Reacher. He’ll wake himself up at 4:33 a.m. on the dot and take care of things.

He’s not a hero in the classical sense, but Reacher’s rigid internal code, sense of justice, and random curiosity thrust him into a lot of situations where he plays the role of the sort-of hero. His morals are slightly out of sync with society, but it works.

As always, the writing and story are fantastic and sharp.

Best Reacher novel yet … until the next one.

Living the Writer's Life