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We Sleep At Night Because America's Armed Forces, Police and Fire Fighters Never Do

Category: News of the Day

Let’s be clear…I stand with the Police, Fire Fighters, Armed Forces and anyone else who loves America

I generally avoid political topics in public. But in the wake of the calculated attacks on police across our country, and politicians cashing in for personal gain, I feel compelled to say something. Whether anyone reads this or not, I want my feelings known.

Readers of The Last Brigade will wonder if it is inspired by this year’s chaotic and tragic events, both at home and abroad. The answer is ‘No.’ I began writing this book almost two years ago. Everything else is either coincidence, or part of a larger plan of which I am currently unaware.

But the women and men of law enforcement and the armed forces, who stand in the storm of violence and criminal behavior overrunning our country and world, deserve my undying loyalty. Not blind loyalty: they are humans too, who make mistakes the same as anyone else. And yet the job they do for wages that are often barely more than subsistence level deserves whatever moral support I have to give.

Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind…

John Donne

While I agree completely with Donne’s epic poem, I also have no empathy to give criminals and terrorists. If they take actions to harm others, I don’t care why they do it. There is no justification.


Harming another human being for personal gain, be it physical harm or financial, strips that individual of all consideration beyond their legal rights. Motivation is irrelevant.



MidSouthCon , the Beatles, the Booker, the hooker

Good morning, bookies! Stand by for news. This is the Blog for Saturday, October 11. I have no idea why Blogger is datelining this for Friday. Is time different in Googleland?

First, a request. If you like this blog, please send a link to anyone you think might be warped enough to find it entertaining and/or informative. If you are so inclined, subscribe. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller would certainly appreciate it. The content will grow as time goes by, but this past week has been tough because aged relatives have needed some attention.

*** MidSouthCon is slowly, but surely, filling out their guest roster for next year. Yesterday Stanton Friedman was added to the lineup. If you’ve ever watched a show on UFOs, Area 51, Roswell or Alien Abductions, you will probably recognize Friedman. The GOH is Mike Resnick and the Artist GOH is Vincent DiFate. A good lineup so far, I suppose. Let’s see who else gets added.

For Memphis and Mid-Southerners who are fans of SFF (Science Fiction Fantasy) and don’t know what MidSouthcon is…shame on you. Get ye hence to yonder website and put aside your errors!


*** Obituary- Peter Vansittart died October 4 at age 88, reports the Guardian. Known for his imaginative historical novels, Vansittart always seemed to stitch the most unlikely epochs separated by centuries into a cohesive whole. His last novel, Secret Protocols, was published in 2006.

*** Heresy or truth? Although not strictly book related, your friendly neighborhood bookseller finds the linked story below interesting. A Cambridge professor opines that the Beatles weren’t folk or youth heroes, they were just capitalists cashing in on the hysteria they generated.

I certainly hope so.

I was never a big Beatles fan. I had no ill feelings toward them, but there was always this vaguely uneasy feeling that something wasn’t on the up and up. This is why I preferred The Stones, there was never any doubt about their motivation. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and money. The Beatles always implied they were somehow above all of that, and I never bought it. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. You’ll need to log in to read the link. If you don’t want to log in, ignore the link, the commentators’ name is David Fowler, he’s an historian at Cambridge University. The quote you need to know is this: “They did about as much to represent the interests of the nation’s young people as the Spice Girls did in the 1990s.” Perfect.


*** The Booker Prize will be awarded in London on Tuesday and there are dozens of articles to choose from previewing the event. I’ve picked one a bit off the beaten track, highlighting two Aussies who are up for the prize. My reasoning? I like Aussies.


Oh, and there is no hooker. That was just to jazz up the blog title for the day.

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

It’s a bit drippy in Memphis today and book news is slow.

*** Whenever I mention stolen books to people who are not in the book business, either as sellers or librarians or even author, they are inevitably surprised that book thieves are a major problem. Apparently the belief is that books are somehow sacred to everyone and nobody would steal them. If that’s what you believe then let me disavow you of the notion right now. Even in Memphis, our little corner of the world, there are book thieves. Yes, it’s hard to believe. Yes, they are little better than vermin. But they do exist. And I know that sounds awfully harsh on my part, but books are my friends, almost as if they were sentient. (And if you’re a fan of Jasper Fforde you can understand that maybe they are sentient) Stealing a book is much like kidnapping and should be treated as such. Where’s the FBI when you need them?

When I ran my brick and mortar shop theft was a real problem. One particularly valuable book that was lifted I tracked down. I know who stole it, when, who they sold it to, how much they were paid, where the book was then resold, how much it was resold for (about 25% of its value) and who now owns it. What’s more, the scumbag who lifted it knows that I know. Or, if he didn’t before, he does when he reads this. That’s right, I know who did it. Even at this moment I am looking for a book that should be here but isn’t. Was it lifted before the shop closed? Could be. If I don’t find it I may never know.

So when I run across a story like the one in this article, it makes me quite happy to pass this on. One day, no doubt, I will read about one of Memphis’ notorious book thieves being booked for nabbing books, but in the meantime I will take vicarious pleasure is seeing another city’s lowlifes taking the fall.


*** Dateline, Nairobi, Kenya. Jerome Corsi, author of Obama Nation, who was detained at the airport before a news conference where his book was to be introduced, was expelled from that country by armed soldiers with parting cries of ‘See you in hell.’ As we have learned repeatedly, the written word is not always found to be sacrosanct in much of the world, or even most of it.

*** It is doubtful that anyone other than Neil Gaiman could have dreamed up Graveyard, much less written it. Gaiman fans know that his mind just works on a different level than other people, and that this is probably a good thing. His newest is about a boy raised in a graveyard by dead people, sort of a Jungle Book with tombstones. The interview below is lots of….fun?


*** Today’s obituaries include Charles Wright, the novelist who made black street life in New York come alive in the 60’s and 70’s with three heralded novels, The Messenger, The Wig and Absolutely Nothing to Get Alarmed About, died on October 1 in Manhattan. He was 76.

Overwhelmingly overwhelmed

Good morning, bookies. Stand by for news!

First, sorry about no blog yesterday. One of those days spent doing paperwork for the government.

It’s an Ebay kind of day, as the chickens these people have been buying are streaming home to roost. I want to apologize to those of you who are bored with this topic. I think after today we’ll just let things ride for a while, unless something major happens. Anyway, this week brings layoffs, stock lows, all kinds of good news. Let’s start with an analysis from some guy I’ve heard of, but who probably hasn’t heard of me, either.

Falling into the category of ‘they really want these people gone’, we give you this infuriating look at corporate culture:

I had more links at this point, but it seemed like overkill.

And then there’s this: Ebay is fighting Congressional restrictions on online selling. This blog is intended not to be political, however, it is the position of this blogger, me, that the more Congress sticks its nose into online sales, or anything, for that matter, the more it screws it up. So one tends to side with Ebay when they oppose something which is bad for everyone except those with the deepest pockets.

And yet more. I’m starting to think this is just piling on. I’m even starting to feel somewhat sympathetic for Ebay. This first one is a firm cutting it’s price target for their stock.


Next up is an in-depth question of whether or not Ebay’s acquisition of Bill Me Later is a good or a bad thing. Given the out-and-out vitriol generated by PayPal’s sometimes heavy-handed implementation, it may well be a terrible thing. Only time will tell.


Then there’s the real question of whether Ebay’s recent moves are a moot point given the dissent and dislike they have generated this year among their once fanatically loyal seller base.


*** Ted Briggs has died. Although not book related, I’m sorry to hear this. Ted Briggs was an 18 year old Signalman in 1941, serving aboard HMS Hood when she went into battle against the Bismark, pride of the Kriegsmarine. A shell from Bismark, reportedly a 5.9″ secondary gun, penetrated to the Hood’s secondary magazine and the Royal Navy’s largest battlecruiser exploded, leaving only three survivors from a crew of more than 1500. One was Briggs.

*** Jerome Corsi, author of Obama Nation, has been detained in Kenya. Apparently Kenyans prefer the idea of an ancestral Kenyan becoming president to freedom of the press, reminding us once again that it is not one world.

Drac is back and other news

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

*** The great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker, and Dracula historian Ian Holt are teaming up to bring the original bloodsucker back from the grave, with Dutton next year publishing Dracula: the Un-Dead. The original Dracula was heavily edited. Using notes and passages left behind by Bram, the two will write this novel and at least two more, following characters and plot lines left behind by the original. And yes, the inevitable movie is already in the works. It is doubtful that Bela Lugosi will play the thirsty count this time around.

*** Dateline, New York. Sony is introducing a new version of its e-reader, the PRS700, aka The Mark of the Beast, priced at $399, no doubt to compete with Amazon’s equally pernicious Kindle. There are going to be new search features, a touch screen and some other stuff. Horrible idea. and the books for these monstrous machines are $11.99, with nothing to show for it when you’ve read the data. Books are my friends, I like having them surround me, but electronic books would probably just cause lots of static electricity and clinging socks and stuff.

*** On October 13th, Hutchison School will host the Perre Magness Lecture Series on Memphis History, at 6:30 PM. Ms. Magness is very well known in the area as the foremost Memphis historian alive, with nine books to her credit. Once upon a time she wrote for the daily newspaper, back when the newspaper was worth reading. Her lecture will be ‘What Makes Memphis Memphis?’ I’ve met her several times, she’s very engaging and her works are not only informative, they’re entertaining as well. For more info you can call Amanda Fisher at Hutchison, (901) 507-2461.

*** Once the website is up and running, reviews such as this will have their own special archive. Until then, however…here’s a review for those of you who are World War II buffs, or know someone who is. This appears to be a more or less oral history of the U.S. 99th Division in WWII. foreign units, especially German, have almost all had unit histories written about them, as have a large number of American units. The 99th was one of the divisions in the thick of the bulge fighting and is, therefore, important in the overall context of the war. the reviewer seems to be trying awfully hard to link this unit to today’s war, but doesn’t quite make it. This isn’t the most knowledgeable review in the world, but it gets the message across: http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/Content?oid=861187

Another Wold War II review. Look, I’m a WWII buff, okay? Anyway, the gist of this book appears to be that FDR, Churchill, Alanbrooke and Marshall were egomaniacs and were crucial to winning the war. No. Really? It’s probably a fabulous book, but somebody should have dreamed up a better title.

Books, books and blues

Good day, bookies! Stand by for news.

*** Ebay has not done anything robustly stupid for the last 24 hours, so let’s report on this latest bit of nonsense from that dying company. I have 25 saved searches with them. That is, when someone posts something that qualifies I get an email. Great system, I have bought a lot of stuff that way over the years. Only now the dunces killing the company have eliminated prices from saved searches. You have to click on the item to see the price. And since all that’s left there are the same items over and over again, there’s nothing fun left to discover and a lot more trouble to discover it. So I canceled all 25 searches. Does anyone really wonder why Ebay is dying?

*** Borders financial woes continue. And while I’m no fan of chain bookstores, I have to admit that Borders is the best of the lot. Not only do they have an interesting selection, they are very pro-active in offering stuff for you to entice you into their stores. The Borders Rewards program is free and offers much more than the lousy Barnes & Noble plan does, and B&N charge you $25 for the privilege of buying from them. So I’m sad at having to post this link, and hope that Borders will find a way forward. If we have to have chain bookstores, Borders is the least objectionable of the lot.

*** Beaufort Books, the US publisher of The Jewel Of Medina, has moved the books’ publication date up from October 15 to next Monday, the 6th. Nothing like a firebombing to get a book some attention. And in London, three men were arrested for said arson attack.

*** Wanna guess the 10 highest paid authors of the year? I post this link to the list without comment as to the worthiness of those involved…wait! This is a blog. I’m supposed to comment as to the worthiness of such people. Cool.

Okay, James Patterson. You must be kidding me. I know he’s immensely popular, I know that a lot of my friends read every one of his books, but I have a real problem with authors who their publishers describe as a ‘brand.’ Stuart Woods has achieved this same status. Gack. JK Rowling, fine, no problem there. Dean Koontz? Okay by me. And Danielle Steel…look, I grew up reading comic books, you wanna read her, it’s fine by me. And the best news? At least Patricia cCornwell isn’t on the list.

*** Dorothy Kilgallen was always on TV when I was growing up, usually as a panelist on some game show that I can’t remember. And I always wondered who she was and why she was famous. A new book proposal promises to tell us why. Did you know that she landed the only interview with Jack Ruby? I didn’t. And that her death might be linked to her investigations of JFK’s assassination? I didn’t know that, either.

Yesterday, Thursday, I was doing that job most booksellers dread: I was writing book descriptions for new inventory being loaded into my database. It’s tedious, not really much chance to be creative, but just as soon as you don’t pay attention you will miss a glaring defect that you will only notice the day you are preparing to mail that book to a customer. Anyway, I was logging in a pretty nice copy of Robert Gordon’s seminal Memphis music book, It Came From Memphis, when I did something else I often do: I read the first paragraph.

Weirdness enveloped me like fog in a Stephen King novel. The author begins the book talking about the blazing hot 4th of July, 1975, when the Rolling Stones played the Liberty Bowl, fronted by J. Geils Band and that quintessential American bluesman, Furry Lewis. That day is emblazoned in my mind like the symbol of a ranch on a horses’ hock. The whole paragraph could have been written by me, including seeing Lewis play under much more favorable conditions. (Namely, in a smoky bar late at night)

I don’t really remember whether the Stones were any good that day or not. By the time they finally took the stage I was in the middle stages of heat stroke and dehydration and might not even have been conscious. But I remember quite vividly when Furry Lewis came out, sat on his stool and showed everybody what authentic Delta Blues sounded like. If you love Memphis music and you haven’t read It Came From Memphis, you really should track down a copy.

This is your friendly neighborhood bookseller signing off.

Never enough Tolkien?

Good morning, bookies. Stand by for news!

*There’s never enough Tolkien. When I saw The Children of Hurin was going to be published as a novel, I found it very strange. A new entry in the Canon of Middle Earth in novel form, 35 years after Professor Tolkien died? But I loved the book. In places it was sketchy, true, but in places it was completely fleshed out, and it was all JRRT. Indeed, in some ways it was far more ambitious than was The Lord of the Rings. It gives depth to the whole history. Glorious.

Now, there is a live chat for you fanatics out there, on October 14th. No, it’s not with Professor Tolkien. Sorry. It’s with Alan Lee, the Tolkien family’s chosen artist for illustrating Middle Earth. Here’s the link. Enjoy.

And lest we forget, this is the 70th anniversary f the first publication of The Hobbit. As you may know, there is a film in the works (which the Tolkien estate fought to prevent. But they also fought to prevent the first three films, and as much as I respect Christopher Tolkien’s editing of his father’s works, I loved the movies) for sometime in the near future, along with two original films that will fill in the time gap between The Hobbit and LOTR. (These movies I am much less on board with. Original Middle Earth material from a non-Tolkien source? Color me dubious.)

*Another group weighs in on the debacle that has become Ebay. As I write this Ebay’s stock is flirting with a 52 week low of $19.94. The linked article does a good job of explaining some of the mess and why Ebay’s customers are leaving the site in droves.

And if that’s not enough for you, Morgan Stanley downgraded Ebay’s stock today. Here’s a quote from an article on the reasoning why: “Seller checks and proprietary data indicate that trends deteriorated more than expected in Q3 amid eBay’s ongoing transition in its core marketplace, greater economic sensitivity and poor demand,” he writes in a research note today. Joseph writes that he now expects greater deceleration in global gross merchandise volume in Q3 than previously expected, with a possible year-over-year decline in the U.S. And he also cautions that eBay faces a “challenging holiday season.” Jospeh also notes that the company’s current issues are likely to linger: he cut estimates not only for Q3 and Q4, but also for 2009. “We have less conviction in eBay’s strategy to transform its core marketplace from an auction-based ‘thrift’ to a transaction-oriented platform that better addresses fixed-price in-season retail,” he writes.”

Put another way, the whole thing is a mess and nobody has a clue where it will wind up, including those running the company.

* Controversy continues to follow Gwen Ifill and her role as moderator in the VP debate. I’ll say this: she stands to gain substantially from an Obama victory in terms of book sales, therefore she has a vested interest and should not moderate. Can’t anyone spell ‘conflict of interest?’

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