Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Q. What do 15,000 bottles of scotch and Mary Jo Kopechne have in common?
A. All were killed by Ted Kennedy.

Roto-Reuters News Service. U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, died at age 77, his family said.

One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history -- a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker -- Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

Q. What is the difference between Ted Kennedy and Pamela Anderson?
A. Pamela had life guard training.

After his brother Robert Kennedy's death, Edward was expected to waste little time in vying for the presidency. But in 1969, a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne drowned after a car Kennedy was driving plunged off a bridge on the Massachusetts resort island of Chappaquiddick after a night of partying.

Kennedy's image took a major hit after it emerged he had failed to report the accident to authorities. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and received a suspended sentence.

IN RELATED NEWS: The Kopechne Family Party Starts Today.

When contacted by Roto-Reuters for a statement, St. Peter responded, "Teddy who?"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy ... My Literary Twitter Review

I am critiquing Pat Conroy's new novel as I read it. (August 17-20) Think of this as Literary Twitting.

THE PROLOGUE: Conroy is famous for his poetic prologues. The one in "The Lords of Discipline" was great, and the prologue in "The Prince of Tides" was amazing. But this time ... come on ... Conroy seems to be reaching a bit for a romantic, sepia-toned description of Charleston. It reads more like PR copy written by someone from the Visitor's Bureau. One description - "or hear the bells of St. Michael's calling cadence in the cicada-filled trees along Meeting Street" is odd because we all know the major sound on Meeting Street these days are leaf blowers.

One other odd statement about Charleston, Conroy writes that the city is "tolerant of nothing mismade or ostentatious." Yeah, I never see anything ostentatious in Charleston. No ostentatious houses, no ostentatious people.


CHAPTER ONE: Let's see, another sibling suicide. Another overbearing unloving mother. More lapsed Catholic angst. I've already read "The Prince of Tides."

CHAPTER TWO: OMG. The book has recipes. Leo describes how to prepare benne wafers. *sigh* I expect recipes in a Benton-Frank novel. Not here.

More lapsed Catholic angst.

Okay ... no high school kids are this witty.

Found a continuity error. The mother keeps telling Leo they are having lunch at the Yacht Club. "Noonish," she says. However on page 39 there is this sentence: "Just after three, I began packing the cookies in a tin ... " and on page 45 it says "it was the noonday hour ..."

So, is this a time-travel book also?

CHAPTER SIX: Huge continuity and character error on page 99. Previously, (pg.37) Leo spends half a page about how his mother NEVER cooked, how in 18 years he had "seen his mother in the kitchen only during those times when she was passing through on her way to the garage ... I could not swear she had ever lit the stove ... or even knew the direction to the spice cabinets."

Pg. 99 - Leo's mother is making hot chocolate for everyone after a late night disturbance! Hmmm, good thing hot chocolate doesn't need something from the spice cabinets.


PART TWO: Okay, This section is written in present tense. *sigh* There are dozens of books I haven't read because they are written in present tense. It's pretentious, disconcerting and, unfortunately, becoming more prevalent. I cannot think of any novel that is improved by the use of present tense vs. past tense.

Resisting the urge to skip along. These characters are waaay too clever and I have yet (pg. 175) found a character that I like.


Again, I don't like ANY of these people! Conroy has created a perfect Politically Correct group of friends. The books starts in 1969 and Leo becomes friends with two blacks (one who becomes Police Chief in Charleston), two orphans from the mountains of North Carolina (outcasts that are snubbed by Charleston society), a brilliant brother and sister whose mother is a drunk and father is a psychopath (the brother is a brilliant pianist and homosexual and the sister is gorgeous and becomes a major Hollywood star) and oddly enough, a couple of Charleston elites named Rutledge. Leo (the narrator) is such a wimp (even wimpier than Tom Wingo in "The Prince of Tides") who lives in Charleston society but is not part of it. Why is he friends with these awful people and why is he so devoted to them? There had better be a good explanation later in this book, cause if not ... he is a total wuss!


PART THREE: This section is also written in present tense. *sigh* Here comes the cliched AIDS section. During the 1980s the brilliant pianist lives in San Fran and contracts AID, and suddenly becomes mussing; all the Charleston high school friends come running to the rescue.

Basically, I am now reading this book just to finish it. HIGHLY DISAPPOINTING. I'm beginning to think that "Beach Music" is a better than this novel! And "Beach Music" was tedious. Wow.


Finally finished the San Fran section. Talk about weak plot points. The Chas. group is in San Fran searching for their missing friend and one of them gets mugged and (wait for it) the mugger turns out to be a man from South Carolina who the Chas. men had played football against in high school!!!!! The mugger went on to play professional football for the Oakland Raiders and then became a crack addict and is living in an abandoned car. *WHAT?* So, the Chas. group helps him, reforms him ... I'm sure he will show up later in the book and perform some heroic act.

PART FOUR: The predictable flashback back to high school and the events that made this group to become close friends. *Yawn*.

QUESTION: Why does Conroy keep talking about the palm-shaded streets and " the city of palms". Last time I looked, 99% of them are Palmettos, not palms.

Less than 100 pages to go. YEA!!

Finally, DONE!

Okay, Conroy validated something I already knew - most Charleston people South of Broad are inbred morons. You'd have to be to think that riding out a hurricane on Water Street was a good idea.

Predicted the ending 100 pages ago. VERY cliched ... very overwrought. *yawn* The main problem with this novel is - I didn't give a shit about any of these characters.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE!!! Go back and read "The Great Santini", "The Lords of Discipline" or "The Prince of Tides." Those are great books. "Beach Music" sucked. And this one sucks AND blows.

Let's see. Conroy will have another novel written in 10 years (maybe) and I'm pretty sure I won't read it.

Friday, August 7, 2009


There are hundreds of lists of THE MOST ROMANTIC SONGS on-line. I am astounded by how many bad songs people seem to think are romantic. It doesn't give me hope for their idea of romance. So, here is my list. Feel free to tell me all my songs suck, but you'd better come up with your own list.

Alphabetically listed. Click on the song to listen to a sample.

  • A Good Feelin’ To Know – Poco. C’mon! One of the happiest songs I’ve ever heard. Why this song was not a MASSIVE hit in the early 70s is one of the greater mysteries of pop music. If Ritchie Furay never did anything else in his professional life, (and he did a lot more!) he wrote this amazing song about the joys of being in love.
  • Because – The Dave Clark Five. Great 60s rock ballad. Beats any love song the Beatles ever recorded. The answer to every question is “Because, because, I love you.” (Note: the version of the song linked is NOT the original.)
  • Chances Are – Johnny Mathis. Lush and dreamy. Mathis is always good to set a romantic mood.
  • Drunk On Love – Radney Foster. A really fun love song about a man sitting at a bar who realizes he has just fallen in love. Greatest line: “That kiss you just hammered me with, girl/ it’s a staggering revelation.”
  • Fade Into You – Mazzy Starr. Most people first heard this song in the movie “Angus”. Once you hear it, it haunts you. Hope Sandoval’s voice is barely a whisper floating on top of an ethereal beat lush with tambourine, acoustic guitar, a weeping slide and tinkling piano. Lovely.
  • Fooled Around and Fell In Love – Elvin Bishop. Okay, I’m showing my 1970s roots here. But if the music critic on Yahoo can choose ‘Let’s Do It’ by LL Cool J as a romantic song … I can choose this simple love song with a killer guitar solo by Bishop and a yearning vocal by Mickey Thomas. This is the song that makes me forgive Thomas every time I hear him singing “We Built This City” with the Starship.
  • Fools That Dream – Radney Foster. Foster is an amazing songwriter. This is one of his best … a man realizing that sometimes love leads you in a direction that others don’t agree you should pursue. However, the best love stories are when people (fools) are not afraid to take a risk.
  • I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me) – Buck Owens. A bright happy love song that opens with the great line “Well, I don’t care if the sun don’t shine / I don’t care if the bells don’t chime / Just as long as you love me.” Perfect.
  • I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline. Almost everyone chooses ‘Crazy’ for a romantic Patsy Cline song. I go against the grain. If you’re in love with someone who does not love you in return, Patsy sympathizes, and she’s got your back.
  • I Knew Love – Nanci Griffith. A bitter sweet ballad about love lost and the enduring hope that it is not forever gone.
  • I’ll Be Around – The Spinners. This may be one of my favorite song from the 1970s. Granted, it’s about a man who loses his love but resolves to be around for her should she ever need his friendship. That’s true romance. Greatest line: “And now it’s up to me / To bow out gracefully.”
  • It’s Magic – Keely Smith. An old fashioned love song, arranged and orchestrated by Nelson Riddle and sung with great emotion by Keely Smith. Riddle’s arrangement makes this version and allows Keely to sing the song twice … first as a slow ballad and then … as a swinging love song. All within 4 minutes!
  • I Saw The Light – Todd Rundgren. Another upbeat, happy love song. One of those songs that always makes me smile and feel good.
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Frank Sinatra. Frank is one of the ultimate make-out artists. I’ve always appreciated this ‘under my skin’ concept. Swingin’ and sexy. Try not to snap your fingers as you listen.
  • I Was Made To Love Her – Stevie Wonder. When compiling a Romantic Song list most people choose Stevie Wonder’s cheesy “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” or the atrocious “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” This song however, is fun, brimming with the joy of being in love.
  • Just My Imagination – The Temptations. Could be the prettiest song I’ve ever heard. Eddie Kendricks’ last song as part of the Temptations is one of the greatest love songs of all time. His voice is fragile and soaring.
  • Let's Pretend - The Raspberries. A classic pop song. Eric Carmen was a musical sponge and this song is a perfect distillation of The Beatles, Beach Boys and the Byrds.
  • Let’s Stay Together – Al Green. A love song about the hardship of cultivating the longevity of a relationship, sung with typical passion by one of the all time great soul singers.
  • Only Want To Be With You – Shelby Lynne. Originally recorded by Dusty Springfield as an up tempo pop song, Shelby Lynne slowed it down and turned it into a smoldering torch song. Absolutely stunning.(This will be our first dance when Rebel and I get married in January 2010.)
  • Our Love Is Here To Stay – Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald. The last song by George and Ira Gershwin is one of their best. The duet between Louis and Ella is, of course, masterful.
  • Power of Two – Indigo Girls. An amazing love song about the transforming power of a relationship.
  • Return To Me – Dean Martin. Are you kidding me? For sheer romanticism this is tough to beat. Lush strings and Dean singing in his inimitable style, and even breaking into Italian at one point. Also, the title and main song of one of my all time favorite movies.
  • Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly. One of my all time favorite song because this is one of the greatest movies ever. You cannot separate the song from the famous scene of Kelly realizing he is love with Kathy Sheridan and celebrates his joy by cavorting in the street during a heavy rain. Sheer romantic magic! I still get a shiver when he Kelly sings "I've got a smile on my face."
  • Starless Summer Sky – Marshall Crenshaw. Another happy love song. Listen to this and you will have a smile on your face, and tapping your toes. Crenshaw should be an American Institution.
  • Sure Thing – Foster & Lloyd. Another Radney Foster song. Greatest line: “You dream of sure love and I dream of your love / Your dream and my dream are one in the same.”
  • Whenever You're On My Mind - Marshall Crenshaw. One last great pop song. Greatest line: "I leave the world behind / Whenever you're on my mind."