|Rita Hayworth feeling bookish|
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
1. What are you currently reading? The Adventures of Ellery Queen by Ellery Queen. The Harvard-educated son of Inspector Richard Queen, NYPD, Ellery believes that crimes can be solved using deductive reasoning, and he often puts his estimable intellect to work to help his dad catch killers.
Ellery Queen never really existed. He was the brainchild of a collaboration between two writers. I've always wanted to give this series a shot, and finally, here I am!
This series of short stories is from the 1941. 80 years ago! It's a product of its time, so it is not remotely PC. I admit I've winced more than once at the racial and sexual stereotypes. But since I've read most of the Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe books of the same vintage, I didn't expect to wince this often.
Once I get past that, though, I am enjoying the stories. I wonder if the dynamic between the rough hewn, old-school cop and his erudite son influenced TV's Frasier and his father, Martin.
2. What did you recently finish reading? The Way It Was: My Life with Frank Sinatra by Eliot Weisman and Jennifer Valoppi. If the title hadn't already been used by James Goldman, this could be called The Lion in Winter. It's about Sinatra during the last 20 years of his life as remembered by his last manager, and the executor of his will. Sinatra's decline was inexorable and sad, but he faced it with as much dignity and courage as he could muster.
Death didn't scare Sinatra. There are stories of him flying coolly through storms and remaining calm even after an engine failed. But he did fear no longer being "Frank Sinatra," not being able to inhabit that larger-than-life persona. So the moments when he realized he was losing it are heart wrenching. But universal. Time is a tremendous equalizer, and not even The Chairman of the Board can beat it.
As moving as those passages were, I didn't enjoy this book. It's not a biography, it's Weisman's memoir, and I found him to be petty and vindictive. His snarky asides about Tina Sinatra and Liza Minnelli turned me off because they were more about settling scores than advancing the story. However, I did thoroughly enjoy his pages-long takedown of Donald Trump. Sinatra loathed him, and with good reason. If Trump's unscrupulous dealings with Sinatra are any indication of how he typically ran his business, it's no wonder the SDNY is scrutinizing his finances.
3. What will read next? I don't know ...
1. A song that makes you feel cool. Good as Hell by Lizzo
2. A song that you can relate to. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning by Sinatra
3. The last song that was stuck in your head. Badlands by Bruce
4. Your favorite song from a musical. Get Happy by Judy
5. Your favorite song from the 70s. Band on the Run by Wings
6. Your least favorite song from a band you like. Mr. Moonlight by The Beatles
7. A song you think is underrated. Teacher, I Need You by Elton
8. An album you think is underrated. The Funny Lady Soundtrack (not the movie; the movie sucks)
9. A song you never want to hear again. See #6. Really, I hate everything about it. Even John's organ playing.
10. A song you love but used to hate. Yes It Is by The Beatles (I now appreciate how John sings, "But it's my pride, yes it is!")