Thursday, November 14, 2019

New Book About Janis Joplin Is Eye Opening

I was only 7 years old when Janis Joplin died in October of 1970 in a Hollywood motel. I lived in a house where Jazz was played and Frank Sinatra and Big Band music with some Partridge Family thrown in. I don't remember hearing about Janis Joplin. Her very loud singing may have turned off my parents and I just never heard about her till I was older. In this new book Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren it goes all the way back to her childhood in Port Arthur Texas. This from the website:

She was a tomboy who was intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beat poets and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

When I was listening to the audiobook I would stop it and listen to some of her music. Then in the book it mentioned that she was a Bessie Smith fan. So I would go a listen to some of that and also Lead Belly was mentioned. I would also go on Google and look at some photos of her. 

The book is read by actress Nina Arianda (Billions and Goliath fame). I'm a big fan and it was the reason I picked this book. She did an amazing job reading this. She would actually do a subtle impression of Janis when she read parts where Janis was talking. It sounded just like her with her Texas accent.

I learned a lot and appreciate the talent of Janis Joplin, it's a great book. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Necrosearch, also known as the Pig People, great audio book

By: Steve Jackson
Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
Length: 14 hrs and 3 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-04-15
Language: English
Publisher: WildBlue Press

Necrosearch boasts a brain trust of the nation’s top scientists, specialists, and behaviourists who use the latest technology and techniques to help solve “unsolvable” crimes, no matter how decayed the corpse, no matter how cleverly the killer has hidden the victim’s body. They are also known as "The Pig People" because of their experiments in locating graves using the carcasses of pigs. The book goes though several very interesting cases and how Necrosearch found the missing bodies. It's really a fascinating book and a must read for anyone interested in the topic. It's almost like a primer. I highly recommend this book. Also the reader Kevin Pierce is wonderful. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What will replace Windows?

With Microsoft admitting, yes our business is concentrating on services like Azure server and with Windows really not a big priority anymore there will come a time soon that an operating system will come along and replace it. Also it's all the big tech companies misusing our data, privacy is really important now and people are asking themselves, what they should do about that? I know I have. And for a long time we have heard about Linux. It's faster more secure and there is a fierce competition to build a operating system that people that use Windows would be willing to switch to. There are more than 300 distros they call it, types of Linux out there that people are using, mostly geeks and developers. A website called Distrowatch shows the ranking. Programmers take the source code and tweak it to make it look a certain way and change the menus and and add their own software. All of them are free to download and use. But all of them use the basic "kernel" of Linux, there is a whole history there. I have been playing around with this for about 10 years. But it's always been a little hokey. They were interesting, but not worthy of daily use. Well today things are getting so advanced that one or more of these Linux operating systems may break that barrier. I can download one of these OS's and put it on a thumb drive and install it on my computer. I have a modern browser like Chrome. I can do just about everything I can do on Windows. 

Then comes one operating system called Zorin OS. Just upgraded to version 15 in June 2019. Artyom Zorin and his brother Kyrill who live in Dublin, Ireland (their parents are ethnic Russians) in 2008 they started building this OS. They were 12 and 14 years old at the time and did not know how to program. They learned in a hurry. Now over 17 million people have downloaded their OS. They have an Ultimate version which I bought that costs $39. It comes with a ton of software programs. But they also offer free versions.

I have been using this OS for 24 hours and it's just damn impressive. The Zorin OS is now at number 10 in the Distrowatch rankings. I love this story and the dedication it takes to do this. I'm just really rooting for these guys. 
Check it out for yourself at
They are now selling laptops with their software too.

Also an interview with Artyom Zorin is on Youtube from 3 weeks ago.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Alienist By: Caleb Carr Narrated by: George Guidall Length: 20 hrs

This is one of the best told murder mysteries I have ever heard. If you are one of those True Crime fans this is a must hear, even though this is fiction. Amazing writing and dialog that brings all the characters to life, they feel like real people. And the setting in New York in 1896 is breathtaking. You get a real sense of the place including a place frequented often in this book Delmonico's restaurant. I would loved to have seen this city then. And to hear what Teddy Roosevelt would have sounded like was incredible, he appears in this book as the Police commissioner as he really was during that time exclaiming "bully!" 

This is a very fast moving story with carriage rides from here to there on named streets in Manhattan. It does cover a dark underbelly of child prostitutes and a hideous crime perpetrated on them. This story is not for kids or weak stomachs.

And it can not be understated what an amazing job the reader of this book George Guidall did. The voices he employed in this book are like a room full of actors doing them. Just reading the novel or watching the TV show will not give you what this unique audiobook will. I am looking forward to seeing the TNT series (supposed to be on Netflix soon), but like they say it can't be better than this book. I give this 5 stars way up. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Must Read For True Crime Fans

The Misbegotten Son: A Serial Killer and His Victims - The True Story of Arthur J. Shawcross - By Jack Olson 2015

This book is chilling in every way. The true story of New York States' more notorious serial killer. I'm listening to the 17 hour long audiobook and it's fascinating, sick, deranged, and sad. 

Arthur Shawcross experienced bloody killing in Vietnam and it never left him. He said he cut up bodies, heads, ears. Did horrible things over there. Then he came home and killed two little kids. He was convicted and went to jail for 14 years and then got out on parole.  

He moved to Rochester and started killing prostitutes, 12 of them over a two year period. Police arrested Shawcross on January 5, 1990. He had been spotted by a police surveillance team (and by an eyewitness) standing near his car, apparently urinating, on a bridge over Salmon Creek; upon whose frozen waters the body of his final victim was dumped.

This book is extremely graphic, both in depiction of the crimes and the profanity spoken by the police and Shawcross and his friends and family. Nothing is held back in this book. It's also a very deep dive into the mind of a killer, like nothing I have ever heard before. 

I recommend this book highly.  

Monday, July 8, 2019

Francis Gary Powers and the campaign to build him a Memorial

I wrote this chapter in 2005 as part of a book I wrote about growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970's. Today I put up a website to campaign to get Francis Gary Powers a Memorial at the site of his helicopter crash where he and his cameraman George Spears died. He was a large historical figure of the Cold War and that history should be saved and shared in the community where he worked and lived.

Francis Gary Powers
Across Victory Boulevard, about 4 blocks from the Haynes house was a youth center with a dirt motocross track and beyond that was undeveloped land till you got to the LA River. The LA River cut a large swath, and across from that was Balboa Park, where there were tennis courts and baseball fields and a place called the Velodrome. This was a racing track for bicycles. To get over to the park area you had to walk across a train trestle. This track was never used by trains anymore. We would go there all the time to throw stuff off into the water just for kicks. Walking across the trestle could be scary because there were spaces between the railroad ties and you could see all the way down to the concrete and the water. Cascadden and I made a dummy out of some of his old clothes stuffed with newspaper and threw it off the trestle. We filmed it with 8mm camera for our film “On the Run”. There was a baseball field just at the end of the trestle.
August 1st, 1977 Francis Gary Powers, the famous U2 pilot that got shot down in Russia in 1960 was working for KNBC channel 4 in Burbank covering a fire in Santa Barbara. His helicopter ran out of gas about 2 miles from Van Nuys airport and crashed into a baseball field in Balboa Park, right next to the train trestle where we always walked. I had heard this mentioned on the news the day after it happened. I remember seeing smoke and didn’t know what it was. I had heard his name mentioned in history class and knew that it was important. The day after the crash I ran over there at around sunset with a shoe box to see if they had left any parts of the helicopter behind. Alone, I walked the burned black area of the baseball field, just a few feet beyond first base. I picked up enough pieces to fill my shoe box. Plastic pieces, painted and clear. Electronic parts, fiberglass, honeycomb pieces, insulation. It felt very strange knowing that two people had died there on that spot. The camera man, George Spears as well as Mr. Powers died that day. I went home and taped up that shoe box and wrote a description on it and dated it. I kept that box unopened for over 20 years in storage. After the Internet came into being I tried to find information on Francis Gary Powers. I found the Cold War Museum curated by his son, Gary Powers Jr. I emailed him and told him the whole story. He was interested in having this box. He had never been to the actual site. I overnighted him the box and he was very grateful to have it. I think it gave him some closure.
The crash of Francis Gary Powers’ Bell 206 Jetranger helicopter, with N4TV painted on the tail was apparently caused by a malfunctioning fuel gauge which had been repaired without his knowledge. Powers had 381 flight hours in this type of aircraft. Francis Gary Powers, an Air Force pilot, was flying a U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union taking pictures of a Soviet missile installation when he was shot down by a Russian missile on May 1, 1960. President Dwight Eisenhower, believing Powers did not survive the crash, denied it was a spy mission until Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev produced Powers alive. Interestingly the aircraft that Powers was piloting, the U2, was built in Burbank at Lockheed’s secret Skunk Works. On the Burbank Airport property.
Sue Powers his wife, moved to Las Vegas permanently in 1994, after the Northridge earthquake destroyed her home. She died in Las Vegas on June 17, 2004, of pulmonary problems. She was 68. Their was a private service for Powers on the following Saturday in Las Vegas. Powers was buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery July 13, 2004. Powers had two children Dee and Francis Gary Jr.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

That Brazilian Sound

João Gilberto died today at age 88. I only knew about him peripherally. I had heard the name and probably heard some of the album he did with Stan Getz in 1963. My mother was a huge fan of good music like this and she did play Stan Getz in the house when I was growing up. Gilberto wrote the first Bossa Nova song, titled "Bim-Bom" which is on a 1959 album called Chega De Saudade that I'm listening to on YouTube as I write this. It's only a minute and 16 seconds long. Check this out, I can sit here in front of my computer listening to very high quality sound of an album from 56 years ago as I read about João Gilberto's life on Wikipedia. These are amazing times. He made wonderful music. Gilberto's father, upset by his son's bizarre singing style and refusal to take 'normal' work, had him committed to a mental hospital. He got out in a week.

There is something special about Bosa Nova and lyrics sung in Portuguese. That language is soo beautiful to listen to. I love an album by Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin from 1985 called Harlequin where a Brazilian singer named Ivan Lins sings 3 songs. An incredible album if you get the chance to hear it. 

Gilberto gave us 39 albums to listen to forever. Rest in Peace.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

American explorer Robert Peary spent the 4th of July in Northern Greenland

July 4, 1892

American Explorer Robert Peary was the first white man to see the north coast of the island of Greenland. thereby proving that Greenland was an island. Peary's first transection of Northern Greenland was made with a single companion, Eivind Astrup, It was a sledging journey of close to 1,200 miles over inland ice. Peary and Astrup were able to sleep comfortably in air temperatures which ranged from 40° F. to −60°F. Of the twenty Greenland dogs taken, eight survived the eastward crossing, and five the entire journey. At the eastern end of his crossing, Peary on July 4, 1892, looked down upon a great fjord which he named Independence Bay, with the cliff above which he stood, he named Navy Cliff (Peary was a Navy draftsman). Eastward he looked out over a land without snow cover. The large northeastern land now on the maps known as Peary Land. Peary was most famous for reaching the North Pole on April 6, 1909.

Fjord in the south-eastern part of Greenland

Monday, July 1, 2019

An open source way to save your audiobooks

In recent news Microsoft is pulling the plug on their ebooks. They are paying people back for what they purchased, but what a huge hassle. What if that were to happen to audiobooks on It may happen someday, things change and services come and go, you never know. So here's the deal... someone wrote an application to strip out the copy protection so you can save them as an MP3 file. Is it legal? That's iffy but most things like this are OK for personal use. And a lot of people in this new project agree. It's called and they have an application that is free to use. I personally want this to back up my stuff that I purchased. I'm just downloading it now and it's beautiful. It's laid out with simple controls, looks pretty easy. Then once your done you can save the files to what ever you like. I will be putting mine on the Google Cloud. You can get 200GB for $2.50, that's cheap.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Tesla Book Find

Saw this at Costco today. This is surprising to find something like this there, it appears to be leather bound but the website says it's vinyl, just beautiful and less than $10. From Canterbury Classics out of San Diego.

This from their website: At the time it was first published in 1893, The Inventions, Researches, and Writings of Nikola Tesla was considered the bible of electrical engineering and inspired generations of inventors. This volume, edited by Tesla’s contemporary, Thomas Commerford Martin, includes extensive discussion of Tesla’s early work and inventions and contains more than 300 illustrations that demonstrate the practical application of his ideas. Tesla, who was born in what is now Croatia, is best known for his research into the use of high-frequency alternating currents and wireless transmission. Many of his ideas have found practical application in the modern world, and he continues to be a source of inspiration and fascination to this day.  

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Big Little Lies Music

The great theme music for the HBO series Big Little Lies is done by Michael Kiwanuka from an album he put out in 2016 called Love and Hate. This music for the opening of the show is soo good I always look forward to hearing it. So I searched for who did the song and found the album on Google Music. For the last week I can't stop listening to it. The songs are so heartfelt and melodic, soulful and memorable. 
This tremendous album must be found out by more people. 
Also there are some great youtube videos.

Lyrics to the song

A home for my stuff

I have been struggling to find the right way to put my stuff online. I wanted to get away from social media having all my stuff. I tried building a website but it was soo time consuming and it didn't really work for what I wanted to do. They basically use templates. I wanted simple, I like simple. I'm back to using Blogger, the blogging site from Google with my own domain I can post long form ideas here, movie and TV reviews, book and audiobook reviews, interesting podcasts, comments about this or that and have that sidebar (on the right side of the page) filled with links to my archived content. I've got links to my art, audiobooks, my articles I've written on including my book (Fulton Avenue) and my Uncle Jack's unpublished book (film and TV director Jack Smight). I have links to the original photos of the two monuments I help build, The Jack Norworth Memorial and The Toto Memorial. I have links to websites I have designed. I'll be writing posts about good content, things that are new and interesting that I want to share. Stay tuned.