What I’m Reading

Happy Saturday everyone, I thought today I’d write about this fantastic book I’m reading. It’s called The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva. It’s about a former Israeli Secret Intelligence officer named Gabriel Allon, who now works as a meticulous art restorer.

I grew up reading spy type thrillers, in Middle School I read the Ian Fleming James Bond novels, Live and Let Die was my favorite. I also read The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy which was great because I’d already seen the film The Hunt for Red October and it was exciting to follow those characters like Jack Ryan and Marko Ramius again.

I guess one of the big things is that I enjoy continueing stories, probably a result of being a life long comic book reader and get new adventures with my favorite characters each month on the regular.

They are numerous long running novel series. I’ve read 13 of the 15 Longmire novels by Craig Johnson. However, in getting back to Silva and Gabriel Allon, the book is written incredibly well. Very well paced and the supporting characters are well thought out and developed. Usually I want to get back to the main characters when other authors devote a chapter to the antagonist, but Silva makes you wanna know the back story of the entire depth of the terrorist background.

The cool thing I love about the novel is that Gabriel is also a world class art restorer and he is working on a Rembrandt and a hidden find that an art dealer picked up for cheap at a Christie’s auction that could end up being quite a prize. However the art gets put on hold as Gabriel is asked again to comeback to the spy game and possibly have a chance to assassinate the Palestine terrorist responsible for the death of his wife and child years before.

The Kill Artist is the first in a 17 book series as of 2017. It’s a tight read with deep characters and some art thrown in. Plus Gabriel is around 50 years old and that’s a neat change of pace as well.

MGM is currently in the process of making a series based on the books. Odds are this will suck, but if you wanna get a feel for the character now before Hollywood casts a 25 year old hunk meat head, now is the time. Consequently, my actor for Gabriel Allon would be Daniel Day Lewis. Enjoy your weekend and please check out fresh content daily from Mid-American-Culture.

How I learned to stop bitching and love The Last Jedi.

So I love books and movies. It’s the foundation of who I am really. A gentlemen at work says I “Love fake shit so much” in referencing the novel I usually have slid in my lunch bag or the geek t-shirt I’m wearing. At any rate, I had a pretty hard stand on the latest Star Wars offering for months. I had the feeling it would not go as I had hoped. Kinda like when Luke tells Rey something similar in regard to her force journey. I thought we’d finally get a full fledged Jedi Master Luke Skywalker taking on the First Order and being his old heroic self I’d had so many plastic versions of.  The film is incredibly smart and knows what we really want, but for the sake of story won’t give it to us. Again, Luke asks Rey what she wants? For him to stand against the forces of the First Order with a laser sword? Luke knows the actual absurdity of that even if Rey and us viewers do not.

So I was mad at this movie before I even saw it. I didn’t want to see a character I’d grown up with die on screen. I wanted Luke to have grown to a happy life after the struggles of the original trilogy, to make up for the short comings of Obi-Wan and Yoda and raise up a new class of galaxy protectors. Not to grow old and bitter on a wet rock, alone among the cosmos.  Life is hard and bitter, I get that. I’ve read plenty of books and lived through some very disappointing things myself. Life is often sad and hard. Things don’t often work out the way we plan. I complained about corporate over Lord Disney sucking the life out of the franchise and blah blah blah. It was actually quite a risk on their part choosing to tell the story the director Rian Johnson wanted  to make and not a dipped in plastic feel good romp.

The heart of the story for me actually comes from the character DJ, the code breaker. After betraying Finn and Rose to the higher bidding First Order, he shows this hologram of all these weapon sales generated by decades of war. He shows the Empire/ First Order stuff but then, an X-Wing shows up.

Questions are left in the air, why and how did the First Order rise so quickly? How could the New Republic fold so fast. Leia has fought her entire life, is it all she knows? Uncle Owen begged Luke to stay on the farm, to not get involved as Old Ben Kenobi says. What life could he have had? Family and peace? He sought adventure and he redeemed his father because of his plight, but not much else. It’s a pretty powerful insight to give into sci-fi cultural heroes.

So now I love The Last Jedi. Visually stunning, loved the new armored walkers and the crystal foxes, hell, I even love the porgs. It tells a deep, reflective story. We still have Chewbacca and the Falcon.  Keep the momentum going J.J. Abrams and May the Force Be With You All!starwars, thelastjedi, luke skywalker, rey, reinjohnson, Disney, story, childhood, heroes

Towards the Vault 

I impossibly can’t wait for this to end.

A long box and several flowers occupy the center of the mind.

Tiny cards make an attempt to convey something.

A hired gun wields the Word towards sheep that are not his flock.

I stare down at the carpet and marvel at how it’s woven together.

A giant machine must do this.

I’m beyond ready for earth to fly. Shovels full of hard soil and blades of grass. 

Surely someone benefits.  Not me or the long box contents. 

Someome pull the gear selector down. Back us up and back away. 

Push it hard down drive and just plow through.

Just get away.

Looking at Frost

Happy weekend everyone. We got a little bit of snow last night and this cold, dark time of year always makes me think of one of my all time favorite poems Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost.

Robert Frost had already failed at farming and was writing a lot and teaching to help pay the bills. He would rise to fame first in England and then find his audience at home. This poem came out four years before he would go on to win the first of his four Pulitzers.

Stopping by woods, is a about a man making his way home and it’s dark and snowy. He stops his horse by a woods full of deep snow and just marvles at it for awhile.  I figure it’s shortly after the Winter Solstice when the days are oh so short.  He was at peace being there but then comes my favorite lines of the poem. “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. I love so much that the last line repeats.  Here’s poem:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

And here’s Robert Frost reading it himself. Happy New Year everyone.

https://youtu.be/hfOxdZfo0gs 

Above the Iron Curtain: High Times with the SR-71 Blackbird

As the Cold War progressed the C.I.A. became more and more involved in aerial recon and specifically met with aircraft designer Lockheed Martin about the nation’s wants and needs.  Dating back to the 1950’s and an unsatisfactory outcome with the Korean Peninsula Conflict, the U.S. was determined to have an edge in information gathering.  Knowledge was power and the C.I.A. wanted to know as much about up to date about  movements of the nations enemies as possible. Including Cold War rival the USSR.

Continue reading “Above the Iron Curtain: High Times with the SR-71 Blackbird”

Beautiful and Ugly.

Charles Bukowski lived his life as many things.  He spent time working for the Post Office, chasing women, and he loved the horse races.  Bukowski had a spirit that would find normalcy in the sad and beauty in the savage.  Charles Bukowski’s work was powerful and hurtful, but it could also reassure at the same time.  I feel like one of the best gifts from his work is that you are not alone, someone else has been alone and crazy before.

Continue reading “Beautiful and Ugly.”