Coronavirus Days 16 – Callum is Pissed!

Callum is pissed. I called him Cathal in last night’s posting. Cathal is a different nephew. Callum wouldn’t believe me when I claimed his name was changed by spellcheck in Word.

Callum is Pissed!

“Bullshit,” the angry ten year old yelled at me on FaceTime. “You’re a fucking disgrace. Darren is a much better Uncle.” Callum was furious. “You really expect me to believe that Microsoft Word would correct traditional Irish names? You’re a fucking liar Uncle Karl!”

I couldn’t argue with the kid’s logic. I’ll throw Callum a few extra dollars if I see him at Christmas. He’s small but he knows Kung Fu.

It smells like cow shit up here at the Ancram country house today.

For those that have not visited me in my Ancramdale weekend home (and I hope to see everyone for my next party soon) we are very fortunate to have 15 acres , mostly wooded and connected to my neighbors farm. They have hundreds of open acres. We have been coming here since 2002.

Life in the Sticks

Our neighbors, The Millers, are cattle farmers but also plant corn and soy in the front field. A couple of times a year the Miller’s lay down some rank smelling cow shit fertilizer. Today is one of those spray days. My eyes are watering, my coffee tastes of poo.

I will not be sitting out on the back deck for brekkie today.

The Millers are known for having the best sweet corn in Columbia County. They run an honor’s system roadside stand selling vegetables in harvest season, on Route 82. I don’t eat yellow foods myself but it’s been a big success when I’ve barbecued.

My fellow Irishman and friend, George Delaney. This is his busy with 4/1s face. He’s WFH in Bayonne, NJ. He’s on lockdown with wife Louise and the two girls, Sarah & Hannah . Stay well.

Stinking Cow shit aside – its spectacular up here again today. I feel very fortunate that we have this isolated country home. I hate to work from our apartment in Manhattan at the best of times. I have a lady, in her late seventies, who lives in the apartment above me and has been learning to play the piano for years. She sounds like she might be missing a few fingers. It’s almost worse when she gets a few notes right because I just know she’s about to shit the bed again. We have been in that city apartment over a dozen years and the old dear upstairs is still learning to play the scales and Twinkle Twinkle Little Fucking Star.

The credit for tonight’s binge recommendation goes to my fourteen-year-old nephew Ryan, back in Ireland with the banjaxed ankles. He is obsessed with Peaky Blinders. His mother, Ana, had to buy him a peaked cap. That’s all grand, as long as there are no razor blades concealed in it.

Ryan Studying

Peaky Blinders follows the Shelby family, and their rise in the criminal underworld in Birmingham, England. Beginning in 1919, immediately after WWI, we follow big brother Tommy (Cillian Murphy) as he fights for criminal dominance and respectability. Tommy Shelby’s story is on many levels similar to Michael Corleones, but with a Brummie accent. Like Corleone, Tommy also has a hot-headed brother he cannot control in Arthur. The Shelbys are an equal opportunity crime family, their women are just as tough as the men.

Peaky Blinders gives the typical gangster period piece a cool modern dynamic and look. The use of a current musical score for this turn of the last century piece works. You’ll have Nick Caves Red Right Hand stuck in your head. I just put it on the Sonos!

You can see all 5 seasons/30 episodes on Netflix.

28 Days Later / Cillian Murphy

Sticking with Cillian Murphy, he’s on my great movies you probably shouldn’t watch now, but it’s great so watch it list- 28 Days Later. There’s a Zombie apocalypse unleashed on London. Some idiot animal rights activists are infected when they get bitten by the chimp they release from a testing facility. The ape is carrying a virus called The Rage and that monkey wound makes for some fast zombies.

28 Days Later was groundbreaking in that it was the first major film made completely on digital. This meant Director Danny Boyle could get some amazing guerilla style shots of deserted London (monkey pun). He’d have an easier time getting his filming done on the empty London streets these days.

Technology is winning.
Imagine my surprise when my Big Irish Friend’s Big Irish Head popped up on Microsoft Teams video sharing today. I nearly dropped my iPhone. Dennis Greaney – Mr. Computer, getting down with automation. My coffee buddy is safe at home in NJ with wife Peggy & son Denny.

I’m going to stick with the zombie theme for my book recommendation. World War Z by Max Brooks is the only zombie book I’ve ever read. The book is an oral history of humanities war for survival against the zombie apocalypse as told by survivors. Each chapter’s story is told by a different character acrosd various global locations. It’s a fast paced page turning read that was adapted into a very good movie, also called World War Z. It was produced by and starred Brad Pitt. Read the book watch the movie.

For you trivia nerds, author Max Brooks is Mel’s son.

Porch View

Coronavirus Days 15 – Jacks

I’m feeling a little like Jack Torrance today, isolated up here on top of my hill.

Jack Torrance, in The Shining, felt confident that he would not lose his marbles and slaughter his family during his weeks of confinement at The Outlook hotel. This unlike the previous uneducated caretaker there. Jack theorized that as he was an educated reader, he would never get bored, lose his shit and kill everyone within reach.

Heeeeeeeerres Karly!

Much like Jack, I feel shielded from boredom. Fortunately, I’m ace at entertaining myself. I have been a reader since I can remember. I’m that nerd who would have to be kicked outside by my mother on a summer’s day. I was happier stuck inside reading Salem’s Lot. I remember sitting on the floor between the bunk beds tearing through Interview with the Vampire while other kids were out playing rounders. As long as I’ve had a book I’ve never felt alone or bored. I’m never without one. My sister Ana always said I was odd.

Jack Torrance’s theory proved to be horseshit.

Seldom Bored

So tonight, I’m going with Jacks.

I would be remiss to do this lousy Jack Torrance imitation and not recommend The Shining. It’s a double Jack movie – Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrance. This arthouse haunted house story by director’s director Stanley Kubrick, was scorned by author Stephen King on its release. King wanted a sane looking everyman actor, who appears to go insane, cast in the role of Torrance. He felt Jack Nicholson always looks insane. This is one of those roles you now couldn’t imagine anyone but Nicholson playing.

I got to visit the Stanley Hotel in Colorado back in 2018, on my road trip. It’s King’s basis for the Outlook and it is that spooky.

This is another rewatchable and one of the better Rewatchables podcast episodes.

The Stanley

I’m also recommending The Shining as a novel. It has a lot of similarities with the film, but you’ll also enjoy it for all the differences. The book delves more into the origins of evil in the hotel, detailed in a scrap book found in the boiler room by Torrance. And I learned what a topiary is! It ranks as my choice King book.

Nephew Ryan recovering from his second ankle break playing rugby. Callum keeps it safe and only plays Pub darts.

On the book front we have Jack Reacher series, by Lee Child. Reacher, a giant of a man, is an ex military police officer who aimlessly roams the country. As his life on the road would have it, he always just happens on some badness in the making. Lee Child writes perfectly readable mysteries punctuated with bursts of extreme violence. His first novel, Killing Floor, is as good a place to start as any. He’s not winning a Pulitzer Prize, but when you are in the mood for a Jack Reacher novel there’s nothing quite as much fun.

In the which Jack show to binge category , I’m going with Jack Shepherd and Lost. The series (6 seasons/121 episodes) follows the many survivors of crashed Oceanic Flight 815. The past, present and future lives of the passengers are explored as they struggle to survive on the mysterious island they are marooned on. This was a weekly addiction for we fans when it aired. For any dissenters, I thought the last episode was great. I’m ready for a re-watch.

Aine & Ciara McIntye getting some exercise in Cape Cod. Two of the nicest girls you could meet.
Megan brought them on a TP run.

Coronavirus Days 14 – Ripped

I’m determined to take advantage of the additional time I have up here in the country.

So, I’ve pulled out all that gym equipment I’d bought years ago and never used. It was covered with all kinds of debris in the garage. The dumbbells must be broken. I can’t lift them. The Bowflex adjustable weights were glued to their base with filth and dust. I had to take a hose to them. If I ever lie down on that yoga mat I’ll need to be separated with a spatula. The elliptical has no power. But Netflix is working on the TV on top of the garage fridge. I’ll step and binge.

I’ll be ripped by May.

Golds Ancramdale

I ran out to Stewart’s and got some provisions today. There was green mold on my Wonder Bread. I was afraid it would catch fire in the toaster. Stewart’s was quiet but fully stocked and fully staffed. The gas station/grocery store chain has the best self branded ginger ale in the country, for those that drink it. I’m always reminded by Stewart’s low prices just how expensive Manhattan is.

I once saw a 70 year old man wearing only red Speedo’s order a hot dog at the counter at Stewart’s. I’ve never been able to eat hot dogs since. I also stopped wearing Speedo’s.

Moldy Bread Emergency


Note to self: Google if green bread mold is poisonous.


Tonight’s binge, book and movie linkage is Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. The selection tonight simply because I was exchanging recommendations with my Scottish mate, James Whitelaw. Clan Whitelaw is on lockdown in San Fran. James is another man who always has a book in hand and a few opinions.


I first saw McGregor starring in the magnificent 1994 indie Shallow Grave. This black comedy crime film tells the tale of three selfish roommates in an Edinburgh flat. The story centers on their dreadful behavior after they come into a lot of money from the fourth new apartment occupant, and the lengths they are willing to go to to keep it. McGregor plays a smug arsehole journalist and the worst influence in the shared apartment. You’ll be rubbing your shins after one scene courtesy of Ozark’s Peter Mullen.


Maddy Naylor told me she’s getting sick of Dads sour dough. Max is probably sick of cleaning up Kev’s kitchen mess. Alfie is always such a happy child, so I’m sure he’s not complaining about anything. Kevin’s bread looks pretty fantastic to me though (see earlier Wonder Bread musings). London’s on a two week lockdown.


This was Danny Boyle’s first movie and it introduced him and McGregor to the world. Their next movie, Trainspotting , made them stars.
Trainspotting, put quite simply, is one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s the story of four young heroin addicts in Edinburgh. Spud; Rent Boy ; Sick Boy and Begbie. None of them offer much to like but Christ they are fun to spend time with.

This 1996 film is hilarious, vile and sometimes disturbing. The film’s dynamic look and feel was groundbreaking when it landed and it hasn’t aged since. It’s also got THE greatest soundtrack ever. The Lust for Life explosive opening introduced Iggy Pop to whole new generations. If you don’t watch the film at least download the music. I’m always amazed that a film that packs in so much is only 95 minutes long. It’s mega rewatchable and quotable.


The movie is based on the 1993 book Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, a twisted soul. This is his first.The novel is formed from individual short stories, in different voices and dialects, coming from the people involved or effected by the heroin culture in Scotland. It is a challenge but definitely one you should read. Not for the easily offended, so I found it a little tough.

Lust For Life


And finally on the Ewan McGregor front – Fargo Season 3. McGregor plays twin brothers who have no love lost for one another. Robbery, leads to murders and there’s organized crime and bulimic gangsters involved. The three seasons of Fargo can be watched independently of each other. The cast and storylines have the tiniest of connections across seasons. I’m highly recommending all three seasons (that’s thirty full episodes).


Billy Bob Thornton is a standout in the first season as an off the wall hit man. Series one does have a single small link to the Coen brothers film Fargo, but that’s sll (it involves a snow scraper). For Coen fans it is fun to watch out for the Easter eggs. Binge it!

Season 4 coming soon with Chris Rock.


AND watch the movie Fargo – it’s a gem.


My mother told me I should have mentioned William Petersen in Manhunter yesterday. She loves him.

Nora, Maeve & Caroline are passing some time playing with the latest Geary family member, Zoey. All at home in Westchester , NY.

Coronavirus Days 13 – Mindhunter – Manhunter – Mann – Movies


My mother and father weaned me on film.

Binge Central

My earliest memory is my father sitting on my bottom bunk bed recounting the plot of Goldfinger (it’s still my top James Bond movie). My Mother, Maree , could name every lead actor and support in every film she had seen. Or she would drive you nuts trying to recall – “You know the fella that was in the film with the other fella with the hat. Go on. Of course you know. The lad with the horse.” Eventually I did know them all too. Love you Maree!


I started going to movies on my own in the Claddagh Palace as young as I was allowed. Films would back then take an age to reach Ireland after their original release in the United States. I often had months of pent up anticipation before getting to see a movie. Every Irish teen knew the words to every song in Grease by the time it arrived in Galway. They’d all been hits long before the film got to to the Claddagh Palace. Grease was a singalong event in my home town cinema. Jaws couldn’t get to Galway fast enough for me. I could tell you everything you needed to know about great whites in advance – my original shark week. Before illegal film replication, streaming and the blockbuster release format, films were a slow trickle getting to Ireland.


So fuck the wheel .

Laserdisks- I was that fool.

The VHS player was the greatest invention in history. As soon as I could afford it I bought one of the first players, on Hire Purchase, from O’Connors Electronics . I was in college then. I then bought or copied every film I could afford on VHS tape. Hundreds of them. I was then the idiot who bought Laserdiscs; chrome disks the size of LP Vinyl that only played an hour a side and needed to be flipped over to finish a movie. They were a short lived fad, soon replaced by my DVD collection. And now I have every movie I’ve ever wanted on Blu-ray. I’m a hoarder. And YES all the drawers are filled with movies and I’ve watched and rewatched them all.


Abbie, my niece back in Ireland, is taking advantage of her down time to train as a newscaster for RTE.

The Abbie Hour – RTE2


I’ve often mused that if we had as many serial killers as films about them we’d all be toes up. I don’t muse about serial killers a lot, by the way.


This gets complicated.

The 1981 novel Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris , introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter. The book covers the investigation of FBI profiler, Will Graham, into a the serial killings of families by a murderer nicknamed The Tooth Fairy. He leaves bite marks on his victims. Lecter is a support character in this book, helping(?) Will Graham, the man who locked him up.


Manhunter, is the visually stunning 1986 neo-noir based film on Red Dragon. The film bombed on release but has grown in critical esteem over the years. I was a fan first. Brian Cox (Succession) is mesmerizing as Lecter, caged in a stark white cell. Directed by the master , Michael Mann, this is my favorite Lecter film. A total rewatchable.

Will Graham is based on real life profiler John Douglas who’s autobiography , Mindhunter is the loose basis for the Netflix series of the same name.

Mindhunter


Mindhunter is like Pringle’s. There’s not enough in one episode – you need to keep going. I mean that in the best of ways. It’s a series that gets right under your skin. Director and producer David Fincher brings the same bleakness and realism he did with his three hour movie monument Zodiac. Another rewatchable.


Manhunter Season 1 centers on the formation of the FBI’s behavioral science unit, with our protagonists interviewing incarcerated killers . Mindhunter positioned all 6’ 9” of Edmund Kemper on my radar as the most unknown and underrated serial killer in history. That man was messed up. Brienne can give you the episode number for the Sword & Scale podcast with audio interviews of old Ed. That one will keep you awake.

With the characters firmly established, Mindhunter S2 puts you squarely inside the Atlanta child murder investigation.


My Bestie Kevin Naylor, is currently on lockdown with bestie family Max, Maddie & Alfie in their London home. That’s the reality TV show I’d watch. Kev reminded me I should have included Miller’s Crossing on my St. Paddy’s day list. He’s very right.

Alfie & Maddie’s First Outhouse – Dutchess Vounty Fair 2018.
Squeeeeeeeeeze Alfie.


Millers Crossing is the The Coen Brothers take on an Irish prohibition gangster movie.

Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney lead the superb cast in this telling of a power struggle between two rival gangs in a nameless American city.

Millers Crossing’s dialogue is endlessly quotable.
Kevin once phoned me, sooooooo pleased with himself. He’d seen a man run after his hat on a London city train platform. Kevin got to quote – “Nothing more foolish than a man chasin’ hid hat”, to the man chasing his hat . I was very pleased for Kevin too. There’s a lot of hat chasing in Miller’s Crossing.


Is this my favorite Coen Brothers movie? I could watch that brilliant dialogue free Danny Boy scene on repeat. But favorite Coen movie is a tough one. I have four or five, for later.

Miller’s Crossing is way up on there my rewatchable list.

I went outside today for five minutes and got my first deer tick of 2020. You’re right Alfie Naylor, it’s not safe in those woods.

Citibank did make good on my debit card delivery. The only person I saw today was a fedex driver.

But the world is still functioning.


Spring is in the air.

Coronavirus Days 12 – Eggman

If things were not bad enough, now a blizzard in Ancramdale. Well a dusting of snow at least. Granny told me a million times I exaggerate.

Foraging


Well I got my self an unintentional little project today. The local Keh Bank ATM shredded my debit card last night. I’d just pulled out of the drive through and realized I’d forgotten my card in the cash machine. It only took two minutes and Copake ate my card. They were very nice on the phone today, when I rang about it, despite shredding my fucking card. I learned that banks are a critical service and remain open.


Can one survive a pandemic on credit cards alone? Can I get a replacement debit card in these turbulent times? These first world problems haunt me.

Whiskers – The New Order

I had my first ever FaceTime face timing today with John Sullivan. He looks like shit and I look worse. We’re turning into the great unshaven.

Send me your whiskers photo.


I fucked up another load. It seems I had a wad of tissues in the pocket of the sweatpants I put in the wash. It looked like I threw an unplucked chicken in the spin cycle. It must have been a big wad. Will all those paper scraps come off in the dryer?


Steven was feeling so sheepish about flat leaving me at golf yesterday that he snuck out of his home, broke curfew and delivered some of his free range eggs to me . Sheepish me hole – he just forgot about the golf. But I’m an egg whore and his yolks are delicious. I didn’t know eggs could have such flavor until I free ranged up here.

I Am The Eggman


My other neighbor Big Lou used to drop off his free range eggs in the past. But he lost the herd of chickens, as he put it. They were taken by raccoons, coy-dogs, hawks and traffic. The free range chickens run very free up here in Ancramdale, just as nature intended. Only last year I was attacked by Steven’s cock as l dropped off some freshly cut day lilies at his home. Not the first cock attack in the Irving driveway, as I understand.


I was useless at sports as a child. I’m useless at sports as an adult. I know nothing about sports. I never watch sports.I was the number 17 pick on the soccer team. But I do love movies, books and films about sport. I couldn’t name a single football player, but I can list five great football movies off the cuff (and I still don’t understand the rules).

Sports Night

So my good friend Tim Schaentzler reminded to put Friday Night Lights on the binge radar.


Friday Night Lights gets a Triple Toole recommendation, for the book, the movie and the television series. Is there another triple out there?


The book, Friday Night Lights, follows the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team as they take a run at the Texas state championship. The nonfiction book gets deep into the dedication of the players and their coaches and the fanaticism the Odessa town folk for this football tradition. It also delves into the glory days attitude of ex high school players who never escaped their home town.


The excellent movie adaptation of FNL stays true to the book. Billy Bob Thornton leads the cast as Coach Gaines. Where the film excels is in creating the excitement of the games. The movie also deals with the heartbreak of failure, something rarely represented in sports stories.

Any Given Sunday


We all love Connie Britton. She plays Coach Gaines wife in the movie AND plays Coach Taylor’s wife in the 5 season series.

The Friday Night Light series is set in the fictional Texas town of West Dillon. The football games are edge of your seat viewing and the family dynamics are the most realistic I’ve seen in any long form drama. This show was great because it was smart and real. We all came away from FNL with our favorite character ; every bodies best friend Landry; misunderstood hunk Riggins; hot white trash Tyra.

It was always Tyra for me.


This is a nice show Shelley. Trust me.


The series is available from Hulu, Amazon and a few more providers.


I’m throwing in another recommendation for a movie that always reminds me of my buddy Sean “The Liger” Jackson. Any Given Sunday (NetFlix) is directed by Oliver Stone and takes a cynical look behind the curtain at the business of football . Its a big production with a big cast : Pacino is in full on shouting mode; a young Jamie Fox is in full on cocky mode and Cameron Diaz is in full on bitch mode. Sean The Liger blew my sub-woofer watching this at my house a dozen years ago and still hasn’t paid me for a replacement.


My last shout out on the football viewing front goes to Last Chance U (Netflix). The first two seasons of this docu-series center on the football team from East Mississippi Community College. It’s a team of misfits and losers thrown together for one last shot at making a future for themselves. If you’re not hooked after the first 30 minutes of this show next coffee is on me.

Kudos to Citibank, they are shipping a replacement Debit card to me tomorrow with no shipping charge.

Stormy Monday

Coronavirus Days 11 – Copake Lake

I think I may grow a beard.

It was another spectacular day in Columbia County. Playing what may be the last round of golf for a while, Trey and myself got out for 18 at Copake Lake Country Club. We had two no shows, some excuse about a knitting club.

Copake may not be the best golf club in the county but it’s the most beautiful. Is sits high over Copake lake with panoramic views of the surrounding Berkshire Mountains. The Greens, the clubs attached restaurant, is one of the best in the region. It’s usually open year round.

Me (center) at Copake Lake


Today was amongst the busiest days I’ve seen at Copake Country Club. People are taking to more outdoor activities it would appear. They do walk at the appropriate social distance of course. They charged no fees if you walked the course today (I always walk) and only $10 to drive a cart. It’s encouraging to see these businesses do the right things to keep up community spirit. I played the ladies tees again.

Another unattended club bathroom.


So recommendations. My top show from last year, and an excellent 20 episode binger, is Succession on HBO. The storyline centers on the Roy family, the majority owners of a global media empire. The Murdoch family comparisons are not subtle.

When I watched the first episode, back in 2018, I found all the characters so despicable that I left it on the shelf. But realizing that even I can be wrong sometimes , I went back in last year and got hooked.

This Roy family is toxic. But what’s more fun than watching really rich assholes behave really badly. The dialogue is whip smart and quotable. Watching this You’ll wonder why you care about any of these hateful selfish characters. But surprisingly you do.

My Four Fry Friends: Matt – Henry – Lauren – Harper.
Hiking Sandy Hook Beach today.


The standout amongst the flawless cast is Brian Cox (the first and best Hannibal Lecter), as patriarch Logan Roy. It’s Dad’s seat on the throne his aggressive offspring are vying for.


Much of the Succession is filmed downtown Manhattan by our TransRe office building, One Liberty Plaza. I did see co-star Kieran Culkin riding the 4 Train beside me one morning, obviously on his way to set location. He looked like he needed a good scrubbing. I’d have approached him but I hate to have to talk to anyone in the morning, especially not on public transportation. This is Manhattan – the original training ground for social distancing.

A Snack Not A Meal.
Outside One Liberty Plaza.


Succession is my best show of 2019. I even downloaded that ever repeatable opening theme onto a playlist. I plan on rewatching both seasons , as soon as I catch up on Westworld.


Continuing with my rich people behaving badly theme, my book recommendation is A Season in Purgatory by Dominic Dunne.

Dominic had a real issue with the rich getting away with murder. The Bradley family at the center of this novel are rich Irish Americans , who probably made their money in organized crime and have their eyes on the presidency. This family is based in Connecticut, but sounds very like another clan of narrow backs who summer in Hyannis.

Double Bill


Dominic Dunne became obsessed with the judicial system, and how it interacts with the wealthy, after his daughter was murdered in 1982. His child Dominique played the part of the oldest daughter in the original Poltergeist. The rich behaving badly and the failure to get true justice are common themes in Dunne’s writing. All his novels are extremely readable.


On the movie side, and positioned firmly in the rich behaving really badly corner, we have The Wolf of Wall Street. As none of us are too happy with Wall Street these days, this may just be the time to watch and hate on the story of corrupt broker, Jordan Belfort. This was my first time seeing Margot Robbie in a movie. All of Margot Robbie. I only paid attention to what a great actress she is later when I watched I, Tonya (another recommendation).

The Wolf of Wall Street


Since TWOWS is one of only a few comedies Scorsese directed I’m also giving a shout out to another favorite of mine – The King Of Comedy. This odd pairing of DeNiro and Jerry Lewis will make you cringe. Watch it just to see what an influence it had on Joker. There’s a double bill for you.


Wolf is the only one of Scorsese’s films I have truly liked since Casino. Just rewatch De Niro in last year’s (overrated) The Irishman giving that guy a beat down outside the deli and you’ll have to admit, The Irishman is no Goodfellas. That’s how I’d imagine my granny would look mugging a homeless person.

This note and photo are from my good friends Rick & Jane in Florida. Their beautiful new home overlooks the community golf courses.
Our neighborhood gater, Alex, is staying close to home during the pandemic. Greetings from Wellington. We’re hunkered down in the good weather.

Gator in The Welly

New York is now limited to essential travel . Let me know what you’re up to.

We finished Suzanne’s Jigsaw!

Coronavirus Days 10 – Undermountain

I do feel that this isolation thing is a good opportunity to explore new experiences.

A New Adventure


Today I decided I would try doing a load of laundry. I found an instruction video on YouTube. I’d start with something simple – maybe our bed sheets and those dark hiking socks I wear a lot. Bleach or no bleach ? I’m sure there’s no difference really. A cup of bleach will probably help kill viruses.


Much as I’d love this blog to be all about me it shouldn’t be. Send me your photos and tell me how you’re killing time. I need content.

Me (on the left) – Tim – Steven – Trey


I went golfing with three of my good friends today at Undermountain Golf Club. It’s a no pressure family owned nine hole course that can be played as eighteen. It’s off route 22 between Hillsdale and Millerton, and, as you may have guessed from the name, it’s under a mountain. Not a very big mountain, but there are some beautiful hikes up there that start close by the golf course. It’s part of the Taconic range. There were more people there hiking today than I’d seen before.


So my golf buddies. Trey is an ex Marine; Tim is an ex British army officer; Stephen was a troop commander in the Brownies and I was a captain in a brass band. Who would you want in a fight?


We four golfers greeted one another with distant blown kisses, despite a deep yearning to bro-hug.

Me (on the left) & Trey


It was a spectacular day on the course. There was only one other foursome behind us the whole afternoon. In order to maintain some semblance social distancing my group forced me to play off the ladies tees.


One of the only other four players behind did almost take off Steven’s head with an errant drive. Steven is the kind of person who would get killed by a golf ball during a pandemic. The offending golfer , did get drinks for us as an apology (kinda). He claimed he yelled fore. He must be hoarse. We didn’t hear him.


Tim squeaked out a 13 skin win in our match. We had a blast today. We had glorious weather and the course to ourselves. We’re going out again tomorrow.

For All Your Landscaping Needs!


None of today’s recommendations would pass the Shelley Smell Test. You’ll not feel like singing in the rain after watching, reading or listening to any of the following. A pretty dark list but all great.


My good friend Brienne Bannister suggested the Root of evil podcast as a binger. On one surface this non-fiction series has a retired L.A detective proving that his father was the Black Dahlia killer. He proves it difinitively. That would usually be enough plot for any podcast but it’s just one strand. There’s a lot fucked up with the featured Hodel family.

Me (on the left) – my only photo of Brienne – Stacey

The Black Dahlia is one of the most written about murders in American culture. There have been multiple fictional and non-fiction versions since the killing in 1947.

James Ellroy’s novel The Black Dahlia is the first of his L.A. Noir Quartet. The four books are loosely linked, with one book’s secondary characters often taking the lead roles in another of his novels. His noirs could be described as factional – they blend his version of historical figures and events into fiction. He’s my favorite writer.


The Quartet novels in order are : The Black Dahlia; The Big Nowhere; L.A. Confidential and White Jazz. There’s no one else writes smart hard boiled mysteries like Ellroy.

L.A. Noir – more soon….

I’ve gone to a number of his readings . He is 6’ 3” bald and scary but always a gentleman when he signed my books. One of his lead characters hails from Galway so I guess he likes the Irish (but really, who doesn’t). Ellroy’s mother was found murdered in a ditch when he was a young teen. There’s little doubt that helped set the tone of his writing.


John Gregory Dunne also wrote an excellent fictionalized version of the Black Dahlia story. His novel True Confessions approaches the story from the viewpoint of two Irish Catholic brothers, one a priest , the other a bent cop. It’s a emigrant Irish mother’s dream team. This fictionalized version is a complex morality tale, pitting the hypocrisy of the Catholic church against the corruption of the L.A. police force.


True Confessions was adapted into an excellent 1940s set murder mystery starring Robert DeNiro, as the priest, and Robert Duvall as the cop. You’ll never see two better Roberts in a film together.

L.A. Confidential

There was a film version of The Black Dahlia directed by Brian De Palma but it’s miscast and missed the mark. The supreme Ellroy movie adaptation I’m recommending is L.A. Confidential. It deservedly won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 1997.

This is the film that put Russell Crowe on the map playing tortured cop, Bud White. Favorite scene – Bud shreds that chair.


L.A. Confidential is a full on, widescreen rewatchable experience. Don’t watch it on an iPhone, please.

Mutt

This dog tried to take a shit on my golf ball today. We were on the 16th green. Tim is going to google for dog turd related rules when he gets home.

Because they nearly killed my poor Steven .
Fore!


I just emptied the dryer. I may need to buy new bed sheets.