Friday, October 30, 2020

Weekend Links 10-30-20

This weekend marks both Halloween and the end of Daylight Savings Time here in the United States. Have a safe weekend and enjoy that extra hour of rest. Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading:

Here is how trick or treating became popularized. 

Why Arsenic and Old Lace is the perfect movie for Halloween.

With the time change this weekend we will be setting our clocks back. For most of us it's not a big deal. At Windsor Castle, however, one man is responsible for changing the 400 clocks in the castle. 

This gave me chills: a Colorado high school choir performs "Down to the River to Pray" in a hotel. It is amazing.

Prepare to be heartwarmed: finding love at the Dunkin' Donuts. It's a wonderful story. 

This is the kind of news story I am  here for: an airport security officer rescued a kitten that had wandered onto the ramp.

Readers of this space know that I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie's novels. Here is a great list of her "essential" works. 

Ever wonder why lightbulbs don't last? It's because of a conspiracy. 

There's an app for everything these days including one that will let you know whether the McFlurry machine at your local McDonald's is working. 

The KGB museum in New York was one of the countless casualties of the pandemic. The good news is that their entire collection of artifacts is for sale. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Weekend Links 10-23-20

 Congratulations on making it through another week. Here are a few links for your weekend reading.

They say there is a Shakespeare quote for every occasion. Does that also apply to Shakespeare mugs? 

Speaking of Shakespeare, a first folio set a record for the most expensive work of literature ever sold at auction. 

This year marks the eightieth anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation of Rebecca. Here's the story of the woman who helped the director bring the novel to life on screen. 

This is fun: select the year you were born and the engine will show you the words that first appeared in print during that year. 

It's a rite of summer: the joyful sounds of music in the streets means that the ice cream truck has come to visit your neighborhood. There were many times my girls would be overcome with excitement at those sounds. This is the story of the company that makes virtually all the music boxes installed in ice cream trucks. 

Talk about an expensive Christmas present: the puppets used in the 1964 stop action animation television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are up for auction. 

The problem with home renovations is you never know what you will find hidden in the walls. 

Lucky detectorists: two British teens found ancient coins over a thousand years old. 

These kinds of stories warm my heart: a painting looted by Nazis from a Jewish family in 1933 was returned to its rightful owner. 

These two soldiers literally stared death in the face. Their story of survival is remarkable. 

This one is for Doctor Who fans: A dispute featuring a town council, a science fiction museum, and a Dalek. 

Weekend podcast: one of my favorite musicians is Diana Krall. She is an incredibly talented singer and pianist. I loved listening to this episode of The Checkout podcast where she discussed her craft as well as her new album This Dream of You. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Weekend Links 10-16-20

 This weeks post is going to break all the rules. By that I mean that I am purposely disobeying my own ground rules for assembling these posts. First of all, I try to draw from as many different sources as possible. However, some of my reliable sources had so much good content this week that I am offering multiple posts from the same site. 

Secondly, and more importantly, I purposely avoid politics in these posts. The links featured here are meant to be a distraction from politics and other current events. However, I ran across a couple of articles this week that were too good to pass up. I will put those at the end so that you can skip those if you like. 

Now onto the links for this weekend:

This year marks the centennial of the publication of Agatha Christie's first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. To celebrate, here is a wonderful collection of the book's covers through the years. Just looking at this article will help show you why I have different editions of the same novel in my own collection. 

Sophie Hannah selects ten underrated Agatha Christie novels. I haven't read all of them yet but can agree that a couple of them certainly don't get the attention they deserve. 

One more Christie related link: How I Learned to Stop Being Sexist and Love Miss Marple. Exit question: who would you like to see portray the spinster sleuth? I like the author's suggestion a lot. 

If you ever lose your jewelry you can always call the Ring Finders. 

With more and more meetings moving to Zoom these days we are getting a look at other people's bookshelves. Why are we so focused on them? I think in a way it helps reveal something about a person. The fact there is an entire Twitter feed devoted to bookshelf credibility tells us how a real our obsession really is. 

Besides Agatha Christie another of my favorite mystery writers is Anthony Horowitz. Here's an introduction to his novel series for adults. By the way, the television adaptation of his Alex Rider series premieres in the US on November 13th. 

Weekend playlist: this week I have been listening to Palo Alto by Thelonius Monk. In 1968, a sixteen year old high school student hired Monk and his quartet to play a fundraising concert at Palo Alto High School. An enterprising school janitor recorded the session which is now available to stream. It's quite a performance. 

The reason why it is hard to spot your own typos. It makes a lot of sense. Thank goodness for autocorrect.

It's been 70 years since C. S. Lewis published the first volume of The Chronicles of Narnia. Why the novels still hold our imagination even as adults. Of all the books I read to my girls when they were younger these are still my favorites. 

This is some fascinating research: how readers rate New York Times bestsellers. 

Finally, a couple of articles about the election. The headline of the first article sums up how I feel: Why can't they both lose?  I don't identify any longer with a particular political party and I don't necessarily endorse everything that this site would stand for. However, I think the article makes some important points about what is at stake and what the two major candidates for president represent. I find myself agreeing with Joel Belz that someone other than the two major party candidates would be preferable in this election. 

Friday, October 09, 2020

Weekend Links 10-9-20

Hard to believe that we are already into the second week in October. Where has this year gone? 

Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading:

Secrets of strong writing from the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There's a lot of great advice in this article. 

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the finest art museums anywhere. It's also the place to go if you want to see the works of Claude Monet. 

I've always been curious about this even though I don't own a dog: why do dogs bury things? 

Longread of the week: how to misread Jane Austen.  I'll be honest and admit I have only read one of her books which was Pride and Prejudice. I had to read it for a college literature class. I have seen adaptations of almost all of her novels so I am at least somewhat familiar with the canon. But I think that many people want her works to say what they want them to say rather than reading them at face value. 

Craig Johnson, creator of the Longmire novels, researches the mystery of an American painting that could once be found in most watering holes across the country that has since totally disappeared. 

Found: tapes from a 1962 Ella Fitzgerald concert in Berlin. I have been listening to this performance and it is every bit as wonderful as you would expect one of her concerts to be. 

I don't endorse cheating. However, this was a fun thought experiment. How the 1919 Chicago White Sox could have thrown the World Series and gotten away with it. 


Friday, October 02, 2020

Weekend Links 10-2-20

Hard to believe it is already October. This year continues to fly by. Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading.

I don't read the news too much because it's mostly depressing. But this post from Gracy Olmstead on reading the news in dark times really struck a nerve. You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter at the link. I highly recommend it. 

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. In fact that was my plan until I grew too tall to be a test pilot. Anyway here are some interesting facts about astronauts. Related: what it's like to live and work on the International Space Station. 

The Society for American Baseball Research debunks eight myths about the Black Sox scandal popularized in Eliot Asinof's book Eight Men Out and the film of the same name. 

Found: a rare edition of William Shakespeare's last play. 

Also believed to be found: the Amber Room which was once part of a tsarist palace and was looted by the Nazis during World War II. 

Answering the important questions: why do milk jugs have those inverted circles?

Weird history: the unsuccessful plot during World War II to fight the Japanese with radioactive foxes. 

Remembering mystery writer Jacques Futrelle who sadly is probably best known for perishing on the Titanic. 

This is something I hadn't considered: how the U. S. Postal Service selects literary stamps

I had one of these as a kid and probably many more people did too. A brief history of the Wooly Willy. 

This is another article that really struck a chord with me. Things I did that my kids never will. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Weekend Links 9-25-20

 As summer gives way to fall, 2020 continues to churn on with uncertainty. It sure seems like this year has been no other in terms of the challenges we have faced. Perhaps that is why I have been committed to finding diversionary links to fill these pages. I hope you enjoy this weekend's collection of links.

Letters play a key role in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Often a letter will help propel the story forward. One author has worked to bring those letters to life in a new edition of the book. 

These are some amazing photographs: capturing Ellis Island's lost period before its restoration. 

I suppose this gives new meaning to the term "epic battle": this Dungeons and Dragons game has been going on for 38 years!

All British people are potential murderers according to Richard Osman, author of the upcoming novel The Thursday Murder Club which looks like it will be fantastic. You can read an excerpt here

Answering the important questions: If I haven't read X book, am I reader? I think this is a fascinating question particularly there are a number of books that many folks would say I should have read and that I haven't. 

True crime solved: a fortune in rare books that had been stolen in London have been found under a floor in Romania. 

I tend to read a lot of mystery novels written in the so-called Golden Age (basically the period between the two World Wars). Here's a list from Martin Edwards, current president of The Detection Club and an expert on Golden Age fiction of authors from that period that deserve a lot more attention

The Walther PPK is known as a classic spy gun because it is so closely associated with James Bond. However, when the gun was first introduced in 1930 it revolutionized the way that pistols were made

Travel to Europe or anywhere else isn't really feasible right now but here are a list of American towns that will make you feel like you are in Europe. 

Without a doubt one of the most difficult sequences to film in Star Wars was the fighter battles near the end of the movie. Director George Lucas turned to footage from World War II aerial battles for inspiration. 

A new adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small has just premiered in the UK and will air in the US on PBS in 2021. Herriot's children reveal the truth behind the beloved books

Friday, September 18, 2020

Weekend Links 9-18-20

 Happy Friday! Here is your weekly roundup of interesting links for your weekend reading.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. So what better way to celebrate then with a life-sized cake shaped like Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

Speaking of anniversaries, it is also the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the short-lived but beloved PBS series Wishbone. Here's a fascinating oral history from the creators of the show.

 Now I know where I want to take my next vacation: Lindt has opened the world's largest chocolate museum in Zurich. 

Selecting the best P. G. Wodehouse books. Because he was so prolific it is often difficult to narrow down a "best of" list when it comes to Wodehouse. Still there are a lot of interesting selections on this list even if it omits my personal favorite, The Code of the Woosters.

Throughout baseball history, there have been many players who only played in one major league game. In fact, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, there have been approximately a thousand players who have only played once. I had no idea they tracked this information. Perhaps the most famous was Archibald "Moonlight" Graham who was also a prominent character in the movie Field of Dreams. But this story is probably the most unique "one game wonder": a player who made his major league debut in a game he didn't actually play in. What's even more interesting is that while he never had a major league career his younger brother was a Hall of Famer. 

Speaking of baseball oddities, you don't see this every day: a player who gets ejected while crossing home plate on a home run. 

How a thirteen year old's comment to her father changed the course of asthma treatments

Ever wonder what happens to books left behind in public places such as subways, airplanes or hotels?

There are many reasons why Agatha Christie is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. One reason could be because she can draw readers in with some fantastic opening lines. 


Friday, September 11, 2020

Never Forget

The following post was originally written on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. It is my own family's history of our experiences on 9/11. I am reposting it today because we can never forget what happened on that terrible day.

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I will never forget 9/11. No matter how hard I try, I can't block out the memories of that day. They will be forever burned in my memory.


I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Bala Cynwyd (just outside of Philadelphia) on 9/11. My wife and two daughters (ages 4 and 5) went up a few days early to explore the Amish country as well as downtown Philadelphia. We had had a great time visiting an area that we had never visited before. But that Tuesday morning everything would change - in ways far greater than we could have ever imagined.

The day started normally enough. My meeting was supposed to start at 9:00 so I headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant early to eat breakfast. My wife and daughters were a little later getting ready.

Our meeting started on time and was underway for about an hour before taking our first break of the morning. Many of the folks in this meeting were from New York. While we were on the break, several guys tried to call the office but couldn't get through. One of them finally decided to call the operator and see what was wrong with the telephone lines. He would be the first one to share the news with us: the World Trade Center had been hit. Another person came in and said it was the Pentagon. It would be a few minutes before we realized that it was both.

By the time we managed to get a TV brought into the conference room we were able to see the replay of the South tower being hit. Moments later it collapsed. It took all of us only a split second to decide we needed to go home. The fourth airliner, United flight 93, would crash in Western Pennsylvania within the next few minutes.

My wife had taken the kids next door to Denny's to eat breakfast. A waitress told her that the Pentagon had been hit. Her sister's husband often worked at the Pentagon. Was he there? Frantically, she was calling her unable to get through. It would be much, much later before we found out he wasn't there and was completely safe.

My wife came back to the hotel not knowing how to find me. At the time, I didn't carry a cellphone (I have ever since). She was in the lobby trying to call her sister when I finally came upstairs. I looked at her and said "We're going home".

At the time we lived in Richmond, VA, almost directly due south along Interstate 95 from Philadelphia. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken about five hours to drive home. But Washington, DC is directly on Interstate 95. Due to the attack at the Pentagon, Washington was completely locked down. Our only choice was to head west and then south in a long circle along interstates through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virgina. It was a long drive home.

As we were leaving the hotel we turned on the local news on our radio. The mayor of Philadelphia was holding a press conference announcing the evacuation of the city. Everyone was being ordered home since at that time we didn't know where the hijackers intended to fly United 93. It was reasonable to assume that Philadelphia was a target.

One thing was clear: we were at war. We weren't sure yet who was responsible but we knew we had been attacked. The peaceful setting of Lancaster County was strangely appealing. Surely whoever this was wouldn't attack the Amish. We would be safe there, wouldn't we?

As we drove on there was this eerie feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Would there be further attacks? Who was responsible? Why had they attacked us?

Our daughters tahnkfully were oblivious to what was happening. At least until the announcement was made that Walt Disney World had closed (we had made our first visit as a family the previous year). Then it registered with them that something was wrong.

Everywhere we stopped along the way home people seemed to be trying to carry on with life as normal even though they all knew that life would never be normal again. Everything had changed.

By late afternoon we had made it to Harrisonburg, VA (about 3 1/2 hours from home). At first we thought we would just find a hotel room and spend the night but there were none to be found. Greyhound had ordered all their buses to stop wherever they were and as a result people had to find hotel rooms. Everything was closing down: restaurants, stores, shopping malls were all closed. We managed to find a gas station that was still open. When I went in to pay there was the extra edition of the local paper with the photo of the burning towers above the fold. This was not just a bad dream. This was real.

As we left Harrisonburg and headed towards home I can remember the eerie sight of a single jet plane crossing the sky. I knew it was a military plane since all civilian aircraft had been grounded much earlier in the day. This is what it felt like to be at war.

We eventually made it home safely that evening. But we knew that everything had changed. A couple days later we got another grim reminder of just how serious things were.

Where we lived, we never saw military traffic. But around 9:00 one evening just a few days after the attacks we were buzzed twice in the span of a couple of minutes by a pair of F-14 fighter jets. It was yet another reminder that we were truly at war.

There would be other reminders, as well. I went to Las Vegas for a meeting a couple of months later (a meeting that was originally supposed to take place the week after 9/11). The sight of armed soldiers patrolling the airport was a clear sign that things had changed.

While I was in Las Vegas I stayed at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. As the name suggests, the hotel is supposed to remind one of the New York skyline. Even three months after 9/11, there was a memorial of flowers, posters, and messages of support for the police, firefighters, and people of New York City. I couldn't help but be struck by the sight.

Driving by the Pentagon several months after 9/11 and getting to see firsthand the devastation caused by the terrorists would be yet another grim reminder of the war we had been dragged into by our attackers.

I can't forget no matter how hard I try. We should never forget for this is why we fight.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Weekend Links 9-4-20

Hard to believe it's already September. It seems like summer flew by. Hope that you take this long Labor Day weekend to rest if you can. Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading. 

There's a new documentary coming out featuring the last Blockbuster Video store in existence.

As the school year starts back up many families are choosing to homeschool. Here's some advice to parents homeschooling for the first time. 

There is one particular occupation that is well-suited to being Jeopardy! contestants: authors.

Vin Scully may no longer be broadcasting Dodgers games but he still has a lot to say.  He's also starting his own social media accounts.

Road trip ideas: 8 places in Virginia that aren't what they seem. 

8 fascinating facts about Disney's Monorail system.

The history of the paralyzed World War II veterans who invented wheelchair basketball. It's quite a remarkable story. 

Revisiting the genius of Monk. This is still one of my all-time favorite crime dramas.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Weekend Links 8-28-20

 Better late than never....I usually try to have these posts written so that they post first thing Friday morning but nothing has gone as planned this week. At least I can still share these links with you before the weekend gets started. Hope you enjoy these articles as much as I enjoy assembling them. 

Their ads appear on Facebook and other social media sites all the time. But what is MasterClass actually selling? 

Ranking the greatest crime films of all time. There are a lot of excellent films on this list though I am not entirely sure I agree with all the rankings particular the films in the top 10. 

Odd, but true: how a brand of chalk achieved cult status among mathematicians. It's also kind of surprising there are some of the last people to give up chalkboards. 

Anthony Horowitz's latest novel Moonflower Murders has just been published in the UK and is due to arrive in the US in November (review coming soon to this blog).He's making the rounds of British media outlets. First, he talks to the BBC about writing mysteries. Then, a longer interview with Sci-Fi Bulletin about his writing career including his Alex Rider novels.

The wildest insurance scam you have ever heard of and one man's determination to reveal the truth. 

How has Dolly Parton managed such a long and illustrious career in music?

A brief history of the Mason jar

Walk into any bookstore and you're liable to find a book on almost any subject written "for dummies". Here's how the long-running series came into existence.

This is what happens when you have too much time on your hands: employees at a Krispy Kreme run a donut through the glaze machine 25 times. This story reminds me of when my daughters were younger. We used to take them to the Krispy Kreme in Richmond, VA they would spend countless hours just watching the donuts being made. The store had a large glass window that allowed you to watch the entire process from start to finish. Just the thing to keep your kids occupied.

The true story of the con man who sold the Eiffel Tower - twice. 

Speaking of cons, Olivia Rutigliano checks in to explain why The Sting is still the greatest grifter movie of all time. Warning: this article contains spoilers. If you haven't seen the movie do yourself a favor and go watch it first. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Weekend Links 8-21-20

This week doesn't feature quite as many links as past weeks. I attribute that mostly to lack of time to search out interesting stuff. Be sure to follow me on Twitter as I am often tweeting other articles that I don't feature in these posts. Also you can send me a tip if you see something that you think should be included in a future post. Finally, don't forget to subscribe to the blog (see the sidebar) so you will be notified of future posts. Here are this week's links:

This article about the lawyer who tracks typos at The New York Times is a fascinating look at the modern state of journalism and its current lack of editorial oversight. By the way, I don't think the Times is alone in struggling with typos and grammatical errors. I have seen the same issue crop up at other media outlets too. It's just interesting to me that someone makes a pastime out of catching these errors. 

Followers of this blog probably know I am a big fan of Agatha Christie's novels. This year marks the 100th anniversary of her debut novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Here's a look at the novelist's lasting legacy.  Related: mystery novelists with upcoming new releases talk about Christie's influence on their own works. 

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Baseball Leagues. At a time when racial discrimination was institutionalized in many places the Negro Leagues flourished. Major League Baseball commemorated the anniversary last weekend and is starting to discuss officially recognize the Negro Leagues as official major leagues which is a designation that is long overdue. The Negro Leagues are also responsible for the rise of the popularity of baseball outside the United States. Finally, take time to listen to this conversation with Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.  

Strange snacks: the curious history of Astronaut Ice Cream. 

It's the time of year when kids are normally thinking about going back to school. But in the midst of a continuing pandemic, many kids are having to shift to online learning. For families that are considering homeschooling textbooks might seem like a good investment. But as this writer argues, instead of textbooks, parents should be relying more on primary sources

Longread of the week: twenty five years and the theft of millions of dollars worth of rare books


Friday, August 14, 2020

Weekend Links 8-14-20

Your Friday roundup of interesting stuff for your weekend.......

I have always heard that you can't train cats to do anything apart from using a litter box. I guess that is just wrong. 

This was never really up for debate: Sean Connery is the best James Bond of all time. 

You can build just about anything with LEGO including a grand piano. I love the fact that you can actualy play it. 

To Catch a Thief is arguably one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films (and a personal favorite of mine). Here is the story behind the novel that inspired the film that was based on an actual crime. 

Maybe it's because I love cheese that I found this article on how a cheese goes extinct so fascinating. 

Victory gardens were common during World War II as a way to contribute to the war effort. However, when the war broke out the U.S. Government was opposed to them. 

The history of the Ponzi scheme and the man whose name became synonymous with fraud. 

Friday, August 07, 2020

Weekend Links 8-7-20

It's been another interesting week. Today's post contains quite the assortment of interesting links. Hope you enjoy.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Gary Larson had started creating new editions of The Far Side cartoon. The world has changed a lot since Larson stopped drawing the comic. Can the new version adapt to our new world? 

Here's an interesting list of defunct Disney rides. I actually remember some of these from my first visit to Walt Disney World many, many years ago. 

John Donaldson may not be a household name but if you look closely at his record he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Hard to believe that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy turns 42(!) this year. Here are some fun facts to celebrate. 

Netflix has announced they are going to create a series based on the beloved C. S. Lewis series The Chronicles of Narnia. Here are some things to be simultaneously hopeful and concerned about in the new adaptation. 

The incredible story of Henrietta Lacks. Hard to believe now that she received no credit for her contribution to medicine. Related: a 2010 interview with the author who brought her story to light and turned it into a bestselling book. 

These are difficult times for many of us. But some would argue that it is a time of great distraction. Some practical tips on how to deal with these difficult times

Ranking the best caper movies of all time. I haven't seen all of these movies so I can't full attest to the rankings though a number of my favorites did make the list. I have no argument at all with the film ranked #1. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Weekend Links 7-31-20

It's hard to believe we have already reached the end of July. I tend to think like a lot of other people I talk to that the sooner we can get 2020 behind us the better. In the meantime, here are a few links of interest for your weekend enjoyment.

I'm not into comic books much these days but I still found this history of the comic book fascinating. 

There is a sculpture at CIA headquarters in Langley that contains a code no one has been able to crack

Longread of the week: Why is Bob Ross still so popular? It's been 25 years since he passed away yet The Art of Painting is more popular than ever. His calm demeanor and relentless positivity seem to be a soothing balm for our troubled world. 

A list of recommended books for baseball fans. I have read most of these books. I would consider this a great place to start if you've never picked up any baseball books. Thanks to my sister-in-law for the tip.

Artist Mark Truelove shares an amazing gallery of colorized baseball photos from the early 20th century.  

What happens to all the baseballs being hit into empty stands? Zack Hample was unavailable for comment. 

The Blob has to be one of the campiest movies I have ever seen. But is the sci-fi classic based on a real life event? 

There are good reasons to be leery of adaptations of your favorite books. While there are some adaptations that are relatively faithful to the original books I can't think of an adaptation that I have been wholly pleased with. 

Some tips on how to start a long-running mystery series. It's harder than you think. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Weekend Links 7-24-2020

Last night the Major League Baseball season finally got underway after a four month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. While there were only 2 games on the schedule last night the rest of the league will start their season today. An abbreviated 60 game season is sure to be a recipe for chaos. Bring it on!

In the meantime, here are a few things that caught my eye this week.....

10 strange weapons invented during World War II. Reading the descriptions its easy to see why none of these weapons made it into mass production. 

This is exciting: Anthony Horowitz is adapting his novel Magpie Murders into a miniseries that will air on PBS Mystery! I loved the novel and can't wait to see how they handle the adaptation. 

I don't normally post spiritual or theological pieces in these posts but I couldn't pass this one up. As someone who notices a lot of arguments on Twitter (and have been in the past guiilty of crusading on this blog in the past) I found this article challenging and very timely

I'm always curious to discover what writers I enjoy read in their spare time. Here's what John Grisham is reading this summer. 


Every episode of Psych, ranked. When I first saw this article I only cared about whether they picked the correct episode as the best which they did. It's not even close. The rest of the rankings are up for debate. Related: James Roday Rodriguez, Psych's fake psychic detective.  There's a lot of really cool insight information on how the show became such a huge hit. 

My rule of thumb is to read everything Olivia Rutigliano writes at CrimeReads. She doesn't disappoint with her latest essay on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Weekend Links 7-17-20

Happy Friday! If all goes well next week there will be baseball. Given how things are these days it's hard to predict the future. Personally I hope we have baseball. It has been a long summer without it. 

A quick word about the purpose of these posts. Each week I accumulate links of interest. These are things that I found interesting or particularly diverting. I hope that you will find them enjoyable as well. Now, on to this week's links.

Perhaps because we watch a lot of Korean drama in our household we have a pretty good feel for Korean culture. Maybe that's why this article on young South Koreans rebelling against cultural norms was so interesting. 

This is good news: The Far Side creator Gary Larson is sharing new cartoons after a 25 year hiatus.

I didn't know that burning the fields is a recommended method for growing blueberries.


Satchel Paige is arguably one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball. Here's a long look at his storied career.

Albert Mohler has released his list of recommended summer reading which features a selection of top non-fiction titles. I am currently reading The Splendid And The Vile which is on his list and am thoroughly enjoying it. I always look forward to this annual list. 

Speaking of book lists, here is a list of the top 10 Agatha Christie novels. Having read most of these I can vouch for this list. 

Meet the schoolteacher that sparked America's craft beer revolution

A history of playing cards from around the world.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Weekend Links 7-10-20

A roundup of interesting articles for your weekend reading...

This was supposed to be the farewell season for the Pawtucket Red Sox, AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Next season they will be moving to Worcester. When the coronavirus pandemic canceled the minor league baseball season, the Sox converted their ballpark's outfield into a diner. 

Wal-Mart is converting some of their parking lots into drive-in theaters.

Steve Martin remembers Carl Reiner who passed away last week at the age of 98. 

Ranking the five best James Bond books. In some ways the books are far better than the films. 

Everyone needs a hobby: meet the college student who has collected over 6000 take-out menus.

Long read of the week: The Hero of Goodall Park - a true-crime drama fifty years in the making.  It's a simultaneously tragic and fascinating story. 

Knowing our "mad" ancestors. This is a fascinating look at how mental illness has been evaluated through history. Key question: Can we accept that someone with mental illness might also be a competent hero?

A screenwriter and author shares what makes the best film adaptations of books.  It's not as easy a process as one might think. 

Answering the important questions: how many books will a Kindle hold? 

Who did what in every Agatha Christie novel in graphic form
 
Nothing says summer like ice cream or ice cream trucks for that matter. Here's how the invention of the ice cream truck changed summertime forever. 


Friday, July 03, 2020

Weekend Links 7-3-20

Hard to believe we are already halfway through 2020. What a year it has been so far. Hopefully you're taking time off to enjoy the long holiday weekend. Here are some articles of interest for your weekend reading. By the way, if you don't want to miss a future post be sure to subscribe in the sidebar.

Coronavirus has been particularly tough on the restaurant industry. One Canadian chef employed an ingenious technique for keeping his restaurant going despite the fact he can't serve customers in his eatery.  

The inventor of the pain killer ibuprofen once tested the drug on his own hangover. While it didn't cure rheumatoid arthritis as originally intended it did become one of the best selling pain killers of all time.


Speaking of baseball, minor league teams have to be creative when coming up with promotions for their teams. The Erie Seawolves have already announced that next year they will play a game as The Wonders to mark the 25th anniversary of That Thing You Do!

The fascinating story behind the efforts to restore the first Air Force One used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

35 years ago, a number of major pop music stars came together to record We Are The World to raise money for famine relief in Africa. This is the story of how the unlikely recording session occurred

Answering the important questions: why does everybody hate comic sans?

Author Leah Konen explains how reading novels by Daphne Du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith helped her to appreciate the films of Alfred Hitchcock. 

The amazing story of the accidental invention of that fixture of summer: the Slip 'N Slide. Though the warning labels on the package will tell you that it's not intended for adults it is possible to build one that will be suitable. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Weekend Links 6-26-20

Congratulations on making it through another week. The best news of the week was the announcement that Major League Baseball will return July 23 or July 24. They will play only 60 games instead of the normal 162 game season so there's an excellent chance that crazy things will happen. Bring it on. In the meantime, here are a few things that caught my eye this week.

Marvin Olasky reminds us that while we have been missing baseball we have been missing the best of games.

A profile of the widely prolific author of the Perry Mason novels, Erle Stanley Gardner.  I have read a couple of these books and have found them to be very enjoyable. On a related note, what Perry Mason taught us about the criminal justice system. 

Strange, but true: the U. S. Government developed a plan during the Cold War for nuking the moon

Most of us are being bombarded with notifications these days. The best thing to do is turn off the notifications and read a good book. 

Revisiting the creators of classic crime fiction. On a related note, I just finished Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time and it was excellent. 

Long read of the week: how one man created the world's largest virtual pub quiz

Video of the week:

Give credit where credit is due: this video published by the Kansas City Royals is just perfect. The narrator is Bob Kendrick who is president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Just the message we need to hear in these difficult times.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Weekend Links 6-19-20

Happy Friday! Here is your roundup of interesting articles for your weekend reading.


Lessons learned from Alan Jacobs' How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. This looks like a good book to read.

I don't necessarily believe the British Museum is haunted but the article is interesting to read anyway.

Charles Dickens had a complicated relationship with the police force of his day which is personified in his character Insepctor Bucket from Bleak House


The mystery surrounding Hattie McDaniel's missing Oscar. McDaniel made history in 1939 by being the first black performer win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Gone With the Wind.

This Sunday is Father's Day here in the United States. Here's a history of how the holiday came into being. 

Somehow this article on the enduring appeal of Peanuts really resonated with me. 

An appreciation for Alan Bradley's Flavia De Luce novels. I have read a couple of these and have thoroughly enjoyed them. 

Friday, June 05, 2020

Weekend Links 6-5-20

We are back after an unexpected hiatus. Actually, I had taken some time off from the day job and consequently spent less time online than normal. As a result, this week's post is a little bit longer as I have been saving a few things that I had wanted to share. Hopefully this week's post will offer you will a needed diversion from the concerns of the week.

As I write this I am waiting for baseball to return. Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated checked in with Vin Scully to see how he is recovering from his recent fall. Turns out he is missing baseball too. 

Meanwhile, MLB.com writers share their favorite baseball books. Lots of great titles on this list. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Check out this article on why black baseball still matters after all this time. 

Recently at Arlington National Cemetery they opened a 105 year old time capsule. They discovered that the contents had hardly aged. 




Why is classic crime fiction still so popular? You can't do any better than asking Martin Edwards. His book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is an indispensable resource. 


Alan Jacobs' advice to journalists: stop saying "experts".

This brings back memories: the history of Pac-Man.

An appreciation of one of the best crime dramas of all time: The Rockford Files.

Finally, if there is one writer I can heartily recommend in these dark times it is P. G. Wodehouse. His sunny dispositon and endless optimism is the perfect antidote to these dark times. This New Yorker article explores what happened to Wodehouse following his ill-advised radio broadcasts from Germany during his internment.  Meanwhile, this BBC article headline says it all: the man who wrote the most perfect sentences ever written. 


Friday, May 22, 2020

Weekend Links 5-22-20

I hope that wherever you are you will be enjoying a safe Memorial Day weekend. Take some time this weekend to give thanks to the men and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom. In the meantime, here are some fun links for your weekend enjoyment.

This was fascinating: the song history of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" It's certainly one of the more unusual songs in the history of rock and roll.

The Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales is one of the largest literary festivals in the world. This year due to the ongoing pandemic the entire festival is being hosted online. Here are all the details on how you can enjoy the festival.

Feeling burned out? One way to combat it is to learn the art of saying no.

Grab your passport and discover how to travel like an Agatha Christie character.

Volkswagen may be best known for their cars but they actually sell more sausages than vehicles.

Thirty years ago, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave a commencement speech believed by many to be one of the best of all time.

For the uninitiated, analytics (sometimes referred to sabermetrics) can be intimidating for baseball fans to understand. In this podcast, MLB.com writer Anthony Castrovince discusses his new book on understanding these newfangled stats. 

Speaking of baseball, we're getting our fix by watching Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) games on ESPN. They are currently playing without fans in the stands. But there is one man who manages to get into games. 

I can totally relate to the sentiment in this article. Bookstagram is the sole reason that I stay involved on Instagram at all.

Finally, something fun to try: antidepressants or Tolkien. Can you correctly identify which are the names of antidepressants versus Tolkien characters. All I can say is I did reasonably well given the fact that I've never read a Tolkien novel.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Weekend Links 5-15-20

Congratulations on making it through another week. I'm starting to think as states begin to open up that we are headed into a phase where things we once thought were odd (such as wearing masks out in public) will become part of the new "normal". It will be interesting to see how much things change from the way things use to be prior to the pandemic. In the meantime here are a few non-coronavirus related links for your weekend reading enjoyment.

It's no secret that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a huge hit for Nintendo especially since folks have been confined at home. I know in our household we have been spending a lot of time developing our own island. A peek behind the scenes at how this game is uniting people.

This is neat: an online school for junior archaeologists.

Recommendations for other authors like Agatha Christie. This is a very interesting list. I can only vouch for is Anthony Horowitz. I was glad to see him make this list.

Speaking of Christie, she is regarded as one of the queens of crime fiction. There are plenty of reasons why these authors remain popular today.

Long read of the week: The Day the Live Concert Returns. I do wonder what concerts are going to be like post-pandemic.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Negro Baseball Leagues. 35 players from the Negro Leagues have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame thanks in large part to Ted Williams' Hall of Fame induction speech in 1966. 

This is definitely an unusual hobby: a couple that collects novelty Jim Beam decanters. The wonderful irony is that they are teetotalers.

Another long read but definitely worth the time: why are we so susceptible to falling for conspiracy theories? 

Ranking the most iconic detective sidekicks. It's quite a list.

Decision fatigue is a real thing. Especially if you are a parent.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Weekend Links 5-8-20

Happy Friday! Hope you have had a safe week this week. Also wishing all mothers a happy Mother's Day this weekend. Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading. Sorry the post is so brief. Good stories have been hard to find.

It's tempting to think that the legal thriller genre is a fairly new subgenre of crime fiction. The truth is that it's been around for a long time. 

This one is for baseball fans: the curious origins of the dropped third strike rule. 

Speaking of baseball rules, here are ten baseball rules that you probably didn't even know existed. Some of these are pretty odd.

While we wait here in the United States for Major League Baseball to return we can at least get our baseball fix by watching Korean baseball and that's a good thing. I can attest that it's been fun to watch the KBO on television. 

Nancy Wake may not be a household name but she was the most decorated heroine of World War II. Her story is a fascinating one.

Here are seven libraries you can tour from the comfort of your sofa.

Finding space for art in dark times - an essay on the creation of Captain America.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Weekend Links 5-1-20

Hard to believe we have already reached the first of May. This year certainly has flown by. Here are a few things of interest I found this week.

What do Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino have in common? For one thing, they could have both directed James Bond films. Here's the story of films from the long-running franchise that didn't get made.  If you're new to the franchise and not sure where to begin these seven films are a good place to start.

The story of the enduring appeal of Scooby-Doo. We just introduced this series to our daughters not long ago and they immediately became fans.

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue. Now it has a vending machine to provide your late night barbecue fix. 

The Ironbridge Bookshop is one my favorite book stores. Even though I have never visited I have spoken to the owner, Meg Prince, a number of times. She's helped me expand my Penguin collection which you can see on my Instagram feed. Meg's story is an interesting one as she became a bookseller as a teenager and has been working hard to make her shop a success. She's also a delight to work with.

While we are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis it may seem like all the answers are obvious. The truth is that they aren't. .That pretty much applies anytime we are in the fog of a crisis.

Aficionados of yard sales will tell you the fun is in the unexpected things that you will find while shopping. It's safe to say that these shoppers had no idea they would find these items while perusing yard sales. 

Fake news is a commonly used term these days. However, the idea of reporters sometimes fabricating stories is not new. Here's the true tale of one false newspaper report that nearly derailed one of the most infamous murder cases in American history. 

Steve Dalkowski, who passed away last week, was known in baseball circles as the hardest thrower to ever pitch. He was even the inspiration for Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham. Despite the fact he never pitched in the major leagues (he blew out his pitching arm while in the minor leagues) he was still known by many to be a pitcher like no other. The problem is the lack of documentary evidence besides those who actually saw him pitch. But if you listen to the eyewitnesses it's hard to dispute that he truly was the fastest pitcher ever. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Weekend Links 4-24-20

Back again with another roundup of interesting links. Unfortunately not as many items of interest as I would like. It's either because there isn't much of interest out there or that I am not spending as much time on line as I used to searching for stuff. It's probably more the latter as I continue to try to consciously avoid reading the news because it's depressing.

There's no doubt the coronavirus pandemic will be disruptive to many business sectors. I didn't realize that so many processes in the grocery industry were so manual until I ran across this article. I will say that I had first heard of and used Instacart several months ago as a way to save time. But I didn't realize what an essential part of life it would become.

The origins of baseball are a bit fuzzy and certainly debatable. For the record, Abner Doubleday definitely did not invent the game. However, it is clear that its popularity grew out of a need for exercise in light of pandemics in the late 19th century. By the way, this looks like it will be a fascinating book.

This week marked the 70th anniversary of Vin Scully's debut as the voice of the Dodgers. Here's a look back at the beginnings of his storied career.

An appreciation of Simon and Garfunkel. I used to listen to them a lot and need to go back and revisit their music.

A history of the iconic McDonalds Happy Meal. It's far more controversial than you might think.

Recommended historical non-fiction to read during the quarantine. I have only read the last two books on the list and thoroughly enjoyed both. Also, Erik Larson is one of my favorite authors. I've been looking forward to reading his latest book too.

Add Ikea to the list of companies that is publishing its popular recipes. Now if we could get the recipe for their cinnamon rolls....

Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Weekend Links 4-17-20

Congratulations on making it through another week. Here is a collection of items for your weekend enjoyment.

During Prohibition, breweries had to engage in other businesses in order to survive. For example, Pabst made cheese.

This seems somewhat ill-advised but I can see how current circumstances provide a unique opportunity. A Cannonball team set a new cross-country record. This story naturally makes me think of The Cannonball Run although I have always thought The Gumball Rally was the better film. This guide to the New York locations from The Gumball Rally is a lot of fun.

Folks are doing a lot more cooking these days and some places are sharing their recipes. For example, Disney has shared the recipe for their iconic Dole Whip treat sold in the theme parks. Meanwhile, Doubletree by Hilton has shared the recipe for their signature chocolate chip cookies. 

Last weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 13 moon mission. How NASA turned what could have been its greatest failure into a triumph.

In every baseball box score you will see runs/hits/errors. Why those statistics used to define the game but don't any longer. 

I really miss baseball. I agree with this columnist's thoughts. 

Video of the week: why are ballparks all different dimensions? The answer might surprise you.


These are tough times for independent booksellers. However, thanks to Bookshop there is a way for them to sell their merchandise on line.

Some recommendations of classic detective novels to read while quarantined. Quite a few of my favorites made this list.

Lots of folks are baking while quarantined but are having trouble finding yeast. Here are a collection of yeast free recipes to try. Beer Bread has been a staple in our household for years. Also, here's an easy recipe to make your own bagels with just a few ingredients. My oldest daughter made these the other day and they were terrific.

What I am listening to: my current favorite podcast is the Shedunnit Show. Author Caroline Crampton discusses classic crime fiction as well as some of the real cases that inspired golden age fiction.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Weekend Links 4-10-20

Unfortunately this week's links are not as bountiful as previous weeks. I blame the pandemic dominating the news. Hope you enjoy this brief selection of links.

This is probably the most intriguing headline of the week: Do We Want to Go Back to Normal? Lots of interesting things to think about here and whether we want things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic started. I don't think there is any doubt that things will change dramatically in the coming months. Exactly what will change and to what extent remains to be seen.

Audible is making a number of audiobooks available for free right now.

Strange, but true: Ludwig Bemelmans, beloved author of Madeline, once shot a man. 

In 1995, Major League Baseball was recovering from a work stoppage that caused the cancellation of the World Series the previous year. Fortunately they had Cal Ripken, Jr. who helped saved the sport.

The Washington Nationals won their first World Series last year. They came a long way from that inaugural season in the nation's capital.

Leave it Dave Barry to give us something to laugh about during these trying times.

Finally, this made me chuckle especially since I am spending a lot of my free time playing Animal Crossing: