Human Highlight Reel

There once was a boy named Vincent, whose life lent itself easily to hyperbole.  One of ten children born to a single mother in abject Alabama poverty, Vincent had a severe stutter and a mean streak a mile wide.  That’s where his resemblance to mortals ended.  Superlatives lacking, tales of his exploits resembled that of baby Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Bill Brasky.   Thing is, most of them were true.  The laws of physics and the rules of sport simply didn’t apply to Vincent.

Vincent was what analysts call a pretty decent athlete once he found an outlet for his aggression.  He landed in the state track finals in an event he first attempted a couple weeks prior…as a high school freshman.  Despite a hatred of lifting weights, Vincent exhibited Herculean feats of strength the few times he actually entered the weight room.  Not content to be good at one sport, he ridiculously dominated in all of them.   His duplicity extended into adulthood, being a star in both the NFL and MLB at the same time.    Okay, game is over.    You know Vincent better by his  nickname “Bo”, an athlete in a class all his own.  You have to go back to Jim Thorpe to find anyone of such DC Comics omnipotence.

If you made the mistake of throwing Bo a fastball , you might still be on Youtube today.  Sometimes those 500-foot home runs would damage stadium lights and scoreboards a la The Natural.  Bo regularly clocked sub-4.2 second 40m dash times.  A pedestrian 4.2 AFTER destroying his hip.  Ever see that in the NFL draft?  No, you do not.  As a running back, Bo would trample defenders so soundly their ancestors could feel it.  With a howitzer as an arm, Vincent would throw men out at home from the warning track — skipping the cutoff man.  He ran up an outfield wall.  He broke a bat over his head.  Alas, anyone of age in the late 80’s or with an internet connection has likely seen video of these exploits.

That being said, the best parts of this book are recollections of the “human” mashing those NASA mission homers.  Despite possessing great generosity,  he is someone against whom you should not quarrel.  Prior to high school he was on a pathway to prison.  Since the age of 18 he has been a man beset on all sides by unrelenting autograph hounds.  He has a degree in Family and Child Development.   He has been married to Dr. Linda Jackson for 35 years.  That’s the real Bo Jackson, and the reason to check out this book, The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman.

Those Who Fight Monsters

The scariest monsters are the ones who hide in plain sight.    Unsuspecting men with a penchant for casual cruelty.   Murder-for-hire, extortion, and lurid sex crimes bought and sold by doughy dweebs, trusted father figures, and secret millionaires operating in the public library stacks.   This book is nonfiction.

Tracers in the Dark: the Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency is  a globetrotting technological thriller, from Bangkok to far flung data centers in Scandinavia.

Shortly after cryptocurrency’s birth in 2009, its inability to be traced financially made it a bastion for purchasing unspeakable acts on the darkweb.
Who can find and vanquish these faceless ghouls?  Enter a cast of intrepid heroes seemingly plucked from a technological Homeric tradition.   We have Tigran Gambaryan, the forensic IRS agent born into abject Soviet poverty.  Sarah Meiklejohn is  the computer scientist weaned on cryptographs.  At the age of ten she hunted in Mom’s law office for patterns among cancelled checks.  She beat the NYTimes Crossword daily by 14 and became obsessed with the Rosetta stone and cracking ancient languages.  She’ll do nicely.  And then, of course, Michael Gronager – Cofounder of Chainalysis. The man who turned cryptocurrency from assumed anonymity to a permanent breadcrumb trail back to far-flung dens of villany.  All savant superheroes in their own regard.
Evil was outrageously outmatched.

It’s satisfying to hear how this crew uses their powers…impossible to pity the ones that get caught.

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult

The extremely-likable Maria Bamford recounts with candor a lifetime of mental health battles in her book Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult.  Her sincere quest for wellness has passed through a number of cloistered organizations, (Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous) hence this work’s title.

If you are blessed enough to listen to this book, you’ll recognize her default state vocally as an animated Nickelodeon child.  Periodically Maria seamlessly lapses into a dozen distinct audio impressions of women with various degrees of entitlement.   Several are, yes, permutations of mother.

Maria is remarkably candid about the less-than-flattering moments from her personal life, including the hilarious as well as mortifying.  You’ll laugh at both.  Her romantic experiences from 25-50 alone warrant a checkout.  You’ve heard the standup routines.  Now meet the person.  You’ll like her quite a bit.

Interested? Download Libby, by Overdrive and find the ebook!


The Joy of Costco by David & Susan Schwartz, illustrations by Martin Hargreaves

Borne of a love of all things Costco, a husband and wife duo created their own press and were given backstage access to Costco for this casual read.    In all, they visited 200 of Costco’s 850 worldwide locations.

Skim for a couple hours, you’ll be able to amaze your friends with tidbits such as:

  • Costco parking spots are 2ft wider
  • They sell 11 million eggs per day
  • Starbucks roasts all the Kirkland brand coffee
  • Costco sells 7x as many hotdogs as all MLB ballparks combined — at $1.50 of course, a doff of the cap to the same high prevailing price from 1985.
  • The record for hotdogs, incidentally, FAR from middle America…Shin Masato Japan with 64,512 hotdog combos in one month.

Speaking of baseball, one of the coolest features of this book is the inside baseball of their internal processes and terminology, i.e. “the cage” and “deathstar”.  Costco employees are incentivized to find  ways to reduce costs, internally known as a “Save Story”.  Mere tweaks to packaging and pallets, for example, result in seismic shifts to reduce CO2 emissions and landfill waste.

Due to Costco’s sheer size, they have incredible negotiating power as an entity.  Enter CWI, (Costco Wholesale Industries), a manufacturing subsidiary solely to reduce costs on products such as glasses, hotdogs, and ground beef.  Ostensibly, this benefit is exercised to pass the value on to members.  You don’t have to have a Gold Star membership to check The Joy of Costco: A Treasure Hunt from A to Z out of our collection, either.   Heck, we won’t even check for your card at the door.


Leslie F*cking Jones

Everyone knows the unapologetic and undeniable Leslie Jones.  Even if you never watched SNL, she never let you have a choice in the matter.  A print copy of this particular biography exists, but thankfully we have the e-audio book.  It was maybe recorded using notes.  As it should be, there is simply too much off the dome for her to be reading a manuscript.

Fun Facts:

  • Was a Division I women’s basketball player and reliable enforcer at Colorado State.
  • After twenty years as a wildly successful standup, Saturday Night Live was ready for her.  At SNL, she started pulling all-nighters at 47 with kids half her age.
  • Worked for a considerable amount of time as a Scientology telemarketer after lying on the job interview.

Stack this book next to all the others where the artist transmutes genuine pain into laughter.  Also, the title is no joke.  Needless to say, if you didn’t know every permutation of THAT word prior, you’ll hear them in short order and get plenty of exposure.   Any film record the Wolf of Wall Street held is shattered here by Chapter Two.


Black AF History by Michael Harriot

History is written by the victors.  For U.S. History, “written” equals selectively curated and glossed-over before mass dissemination.

Hindsight of an 80’s grade school being 20-20, this fact-laden and exhaustively-researched audiobook is more than a little illuminating.  Christopher Columbus came here….for SPICES?  Did we honestly believe that?    Don’t get me started on the Pilgrims.

Take, for example, Mansa Musa who ruled the Mali Empire 1312 – 1337.  It would be easier to just call him the richest person in the history of planet Earth.  Comparatively, like, Jeff Bezos taking his empties back to Hy-Vee.  Mansa Musa handed out his gold bar milk money on his hajj to Mecca and crashed the Middle East gold economy.  Heard of him?

Then there is Juan Garrido the black conquistador and first known African in the future United States.  He helped discover Florida with Ponce DeLeon and he certainly didn’t get here on a slave ship.  Those came a century later.  Heard of him?

And then there is Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the godmother of rock and roll who fused gospel and blues and sick guitar licks in the 1940’s, long before influencing some kids named Little Richard, Elvis, and Johnny Cash.  She shredded and was the first to use heavy distortion.  Does her name ring a bell?

I’ll admit all these names were new as the freshly driven snow to my insular ears.  Clocking fifteen hours, there is plenty of grist for the mill in Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot.

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin

I was operating under the Southpark-inspired misconception that the worst thing about being a Baldwin is….NOTHING! Quite the contrary. The story arc of Alec’s father is an arduous downhill path. Roughly the first half of the book is a serious downer, touching on all the travails of the working class poor. Marry this with the accompanying drug problems of Alec’s burgeoning fame, and wash it down with a healthy dose of painful romances.

Of interest is the inner machinations of his rise from Knots Landing to 30 Rock, with a sidetrip down a little film called The Hunt for the Red October.

No, Alec does not gloss over his sensational answering machine message. Yes, he does wrap up this work with a somewhat inspiring testimonial of what constitutes an empowered citizenry.

Of course, Alec reads the audiobook himself with his signature snarling whisper. Not surprisingly, Alec has an expansive vocabulary and repertoire of impressions of his fellow actors. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Playing Dead: A Journey through the World of Death Fraud

Finding herself in a standard thirtysomething situation, our intrepid author ponders the likelihood of faking her own death to escape student loan debt. And thus, was born the premise of Playing Dead: A Journey through the World of Death Fraud.

What an uplifting audiobook.

So, what is the best way? Awash at sea? Nope. Unless you’ve wronged the mob, people don’t sleep with the fishes as much as wash ashore.
Hiking is better. Those bears are ravenous.

How about staying gone? Olivia Newton John’s “drowned” boyfriend Patrick McDermott made it a decade before a website tracking his location saw repeated hits from his new home in Mexico.  Oops.

In 2017, the ability to vanish successfully with longevity is unlikely. To commit insurance fraud and get away with it? Nearly impossible. Enter the cloak and dagger world of the skiptracer. If you’ve used a ballpoint pen or a keyboard since 1988, you’re not exactly D.B. Cooper.

Do you already have an existing electronic footprint? How do you plan to pay for things until your last day?  What circuitous message bouncing technique will you employ to communicate with others in an untraceable manner?

How long before vanishing did you beef up that hefty life insurance policy?    Red flag.

This book skewed away from the grim and grisly to focus on the fascinating. Did you know there is a thriving marketplace in the Phillipines for unclaimed bodies? Private air conditioned storage facilities are happy to part with them to “next of kin” for a modest fee, providing of course you are, ya know, bereaved and such.  You wouldn’t believe it, but the purchasers always want them cremated.

African safari adventures offer a variety of packages a la Apple Vacations, complete with grainy VHS video recordings of third-tier thespian funeral mourners. Who knew I was such an avid naturalist and so popular on the savannas of Tanzania?  Yes, yes, I was, and the Masai were so sad to hear what happened with the warthog, Mr. Insurance Agent.

In the end, insurance companies have big pockets, they hire Liam Neeson Taken-types who’ve done this dance many times. These guys never fail, and they’re willing to hump it to a mountain in Kazakhstan with a spade to make sure your skeleton is there, not that of an unlucky goat.

Back to playing the lottery.

New CD’s for November

Bon Jovi — This House is Not for Sale

The first Bon Jovi album without longtime guitarist Richie Sambora




Alicia Keys — Here

The fifteen-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and producer will release her highly anticipated sixth studio album. From the human condition to global politics, Here offers a keen glimpse of everything that matters most to Keys.



Miranda Lambert — The Weight of these Wings

Miranda Lambert’s highly anticipated sixth studio album was inspired by both heartbreak and newfound love. Among the tracks is the new single Vice.



Bruno Mars — 24K Magic

After four years, and two Super Bowl halftime appearances, Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars is back with his highly anticipated third album, which includes the hit title track.


Metallica — Hardwired…To Self Destruct

Metallica releases their eleventh studio album. The two disc set is their first studio album since 2008’s Death Magnetic.



Now That’s What I Call Music 60

The 60th installment of the popular music series that features the hit song from Calvin Harris and Rihanna, This Is What You Came For.



Doug Stanhope — No Place Like Home

Doug Standhope tackles an abundance of hard-hitting issues, from caring for the mentally-ill, to Vietnam vets, being locked up abroad, and why everyone should kick like they kick. He also take on ISIS, global poverty, TMZ, and LGBT related issues. No one is off the table in this one-of-a-kind stand-up special including Gabrielle Giffords, the Duggars daughters, Caitlyn Jenner, and Robin Williams.

New Books on CD for November

David Baldacci — No Man’s Land
Special Agent John Puller, combat veteran and the army’s most tenacious investigator, is back in this action-packed thriller from worldwide #1 bestselling author David Baldacci.<br> NO MAN’S LAND Two men. Thirty years. John Puller’s mother, Jackie, vanished thirty years ago from Fort Monroe, Virginia, when Puller was just a boy. Paul Rogers has been in prison for ten years. But twenty years before that, he was at Fort Monroe. One night three decades ago, Puller’s and Rogers’ worlds collided with devastating results, and the truth has been buried ever since.
Lee Child — Night School

Discover the thriller series that The New York Times calls utterly addictive. After eleven straight global #1 bestsellers, Lee Child sends readers back to school with the most explosive Jack Reacher novel yet.

Clive Cussler — Odessa Sea

Over the years, Dirk Pitt has always had a knack for finding trouble. This time, it has found him. <br> The extraordinary new novel from the grand master of adventure and #1 New York Times -bestselling author.

Janet Evanovich — Turbo Twenty-Three

Speed is the name of the game as Stephanie Plum returns in “Turbo Twenty-Three” the thrilling, fast-paced new adventure from #1 “New York Times “bestselling author Janet Evanovich.”
Danielle Steel — The Award

Capturing historical events, terrifying moments of danger, tragedy, the price of war, and the invincible spirit of a woman of honor, The Award is a monumental tale from one of our most gifted storytellers Danielle Steel s finest, most emotionally resonant novel yet.