Thursday, June 28, 2012


I was an English major is college. I hope the writing on this blog is a positive reflection of that education. Modern American fiction has always been my biggest interest. That’s what I collect and like to read the most. I am always looking for a great new book or author.

When I hear about summer reading or a "beach read" book, I am immediately suspicious. Most books with that description have very low literary content. I do end up reading a few of these books, but more often than not I am disappointed in the end. Every year the bestseller list is littered with summer books that are not that good.

I picked up Gone Girl with limited expectations. I saw that Gilliam Flynn had written two other best sellers, but I was not familiar with either of them. I did read a positive review of Gone Girl, so I decided to give it a try. After a few chapters, it was clear that this was a very unusual book. In fact, I was having a hard time putting it down.

Gone Girl is a gripping book of crime fiction about a very dysfunctional marriage. Nick and Amy have been married for five years and it is not going well. The book reveals their story in alternating points of view. Back and forth, it is a very twisted version of "he said, she said."

When Amy disappears suddenly without explanation, the mystery begins. Did Nick kill her? It sure looks like it at first. Ultimately, it is not that simple and the twists keep coming. Trust me, you will not figure this one out before the last page.

For a good summer book written with style, interesting characters and a plot that needs a road map, pick up Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Didn't Have Another

The Belmont Stakes lost much of its luster when I'll Have Another was scratched and retired on Friday morning. In spite of the disappointment of having no triple crown possibilities which reduced the crowd by 30,000 people and busted out every ticket scalper in the city, Saturday was still a beautiful day of racing at Belmont Park.

 In the end there was a feel-good story to remember as Union Rags brought the prize home to a very deserving owner Phyllis Wyeth and trainer Michael Matz tasted success again at the highest level. It is always good to see nice people win the big ones.

In a dramatic finish that echoed this year's Derby and Preakness, the front running Paytner was caught in the last strides by a very game Union Rags. For the third triple crown race in a row, a horse trained by Bob Baffert (Bob Blaffert as he is known in certain circles) was denied at the wire. I had most of my money on Paytner and was initially disappointed that the rider (pinhead) let Rags get by on the rail. In the end, I was happy Union Rags won and holding a saver exacta 3-9, we didn't have to go back to the city by railroad.

I had not been to a Belmont since War Emblem's failed bid in 2002. It really is a beautiful track with a size and scope that is breathtaking. The New York crowd included a good selection of mini wise guys and Soprano wannabes who kept us entertained all day. There also was a girl who was topless at the paddock while they were saddling the horses for the Belmont:

 It was a great day of racing. Our group parted ways after a great dinner in the city with plans to meet again at Del Mar, Saratoga or Breeders Cup for more racing later in the year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A High Five From Bob Dylan

Ever since my fascination with Bob Dylan and his music began in the mid-60's, there has been one other great friend who has shared this passion with me from the very beginning. I have referred to him as BobCat Numero Uno on this blog many times.

You could say that we spent the Bob formative years together. We went on trips to Roberts Records with Guitar Johnny Nicholas to buy our first Dylan albums. We have bought, shared and discussed hundreds of Dylan bootlegs since the release of the Great White Wonder. Beginning in 1974, we have seen Bob live countless times. Over the years, these live experiences have included some of the best and some of the worst of Bob, but we remember and enjoyed them all. If we hadn't spent all this time on Bob, we might have invented Facebook or something like that.

 Here in his own words is the BobCat's story from last Tuesday:

"So I caught a glimpse of Dylan receiving his medal live on CNN last Tuesday as I was finishing up an appointment in downtown DC. I decided to walk by the White House on my way back to the office to check out the action. From previous visits, I knew to cut through the tree lined walkway by the Treasury Department to get a less crowded look.

As I looked up from my iPhone halfway down the walkway, who was walking right at me not 20 feet away with that unique semi- shuffle, but Bob himself. He had his shades on and was fully buttoned up in 90 degree heat. I blurted out a quick: "Congrats on the medal, Bob." At which point, he pivoted toward me and stuck out his hand. We high-fived and I added: "If this was in London, I'd have to call you Sir Bob." We had a good laugh at that and he kept pointing back at me and smiling as he walked to his car."

What a great story and don't think I'm not a little bit jealous. After all, I'm a guy that dreams at least once a year about meeting Bob. I have had some close experiences in real life (See my post from July 22, 2009), but I haven't met him yet. I guess it is good to have something to look forward to. BobCat Numero Uno, you are a lucky guy.