May 302011

Once I start a collecting something I have a very hard time stopping, which may be why I have 75 different bottles of hot sauce in my home office. Similarly, when I start a series I have a hard time stopping as long as there are books to be read.  In fact, I can’t remember the last book or series I didn’t finish once started. Basically, if I start it I finish it.

This series is testing me; the desire to move on to something else get stronger with every additional book I read.

So, if you are going to read the book let me suggest you first swithc off your brain — that will help with the inconsistencies and plot holes.  Further, if you read and enjoyed the Ludlam books don’t read anything beyond #3. Should you do that you will, like me, keep hoping that Lustbader will eventually find the magic that made Bourne such an awesome story and re-instill the sense of wonder missing so far.

Not gonna happen.

In fact, the series is going downhill rather quickly. Lustbader has managed to create some very fun characters such as Soraya Moore who we met in the last book. In the last book she was smart, resourceful and fearless. The plot of this book apparently required that she behave as if she’d had her brain removed, so she had her brain removed. I have a hard time with a plot that requires that people go out of their way to be stupid, and in this series we see it again and again and again. Frankly, I’m tired of it.

Another aspect of the books that is getting old is the idea that the US government is filled with evil men who are desperate to kill Bourne. This is what, the 8th book in a row where someone in our government tries to kill Bourne only to have Bourne save the day at the end of the story to great acclaim? At some point you’d expect our leaders would say “Hey, maybe we should stop trying to kill this guy. Wadda ya think?” Never happens.

The other irritant is that in this world time and space don’t seem to matter. It seems like you can pick up the phone in one country and call someone in another without worrying about what time it is there. Nor does traveling from one hemisphere to the other leave anyone weary or in need of sleep. I don’t mind the idea of suspending belief to advance the plot on occasion, but one of the selling points of the thriller genre is that it is set it the world of what is. This series has piled unbelievable action on top of unbelievable action to the point of being set in the world of what never was nor will be.

So I’ve made the call, this series will go back to the bench unfinished. There are too many other books that I want to read to spend more time here. I absolutely love the Jason Bourne developed by Robert Ludlam. Further I really liked Lustbader’s Ninja Cycle. I really, really wanted to like his treatment of Jason Bourne, but as of now I’ve given up.

 Posted by at 9:44 pm
May 222011

We all know that I tend to look at the world through humor filled lenses. That may be one of the things that make me enjoy Stanley Bing as much as I do. If you ever forget that he is telling you a joke the magic leaves and the books are no fun. The parallels between Bing and Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert are many. They both start and made good livings in the worlds they lampoon. Both bring a healthy dose of cynicism to their works. The biggest difference may be in the depth of that cynicism. In either case, I enjoy them both for a lot of the same reasons.

In Rome Inc., Bing takes the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and casts it in the light of an American Corporation, referring to the leaders as CEO. The book isn’t very long so there isn’t a lot of detail about great stretches of Roman history and when we do hear about a period of history it is fleeting and transitional. Still, there are lots of laughs to be had. I enjoyed his description of the forming of the Roman empire, the changes brought about by Julius Caesar and really enjoyed his description of Marc Anthony being lead around by his gonads. I’m not sure about the accuracy of everything written here, most especially his conclusions about the Rome & Carthage war. SI still enjoyed reading about the conflict.

With the subject being Roman history there are a few references to sex and with the author being Stanley Bing there is some salty language, including half a dozen bombs of the eff variety. While not a true page turned the book is an easy read and the level of humor is pretty high. If you are a fan of history or work in a corporation its worth the effort. Happy reading.

 Posted by at 4:42 pm
May 172011

As I’ve often said, I love Q-4-U out in West Valley. I’ve been a fan of theirs for a lot of years, and in fact I am still featured in their “Customers Say” page. I also enjoy Pat’s BBQ in South Salt Lake. The trouble is both joints are a bit of a journey from my humble home in Draper. I don’t get to have great BBQ as often as I would like.

As an aside, Goodwood is not great BBQ. They use as much gas as wood to “smoke” their meat and that makes a difference.

So having set the table, I am thus very excited to read on that Sonny Bryan’s is coming to Sandy. Word is they will open on Memorial Day Weekend and be located at 33 East and 11400 South, minutes from home base. I know where I’ll be that weekend, eh?

When I was doing the travel bit for SmartDial we would often end up in the DFW area and on more than one occasion would walk onto the plane carrying a gallon milk jug full of Sonny’s BBQ sauce. Yet another thing that wouldn’t happen these post-homeland security days, eh?

Sonny had a shop on Inwood. He would buy some meat and smoke it up. He would open the restaurant when the meat was done and put up the “Closed” sign when it was gone. Some days that was 11:00 – 3:00 and other days it was 10:30 – 1:30. In those days I always listed Sonny as my #2 choice for good eats behind Carolina Country BBQ in Gastonia, but then he opened additional outlets and got more “corporate” in his approach and the food lost its magic. It was still good, but it wasn’t a lot better than any other chain BBQ not named Goodwood.

Its been a decade or two since I lost the faith of Sonny Bryan’s, but based on the recent reviews and awards it may be that they have re-discovered the magic. I hope so — come Memorial Day weekend we’ll know.

 Posted by at 9:23 am
May 132011

I’ve decided to do a longer review of this book than the first four, mostly because I can. This is the second book written by Lustbader and it further reinforces the difference between Ludlum and Lustbader. When Ludlam was the writer he portrayed a very multidimensional character that went far beyond the usual “James Bond” normally seen in this genre. In book one while he was running for his life we see Bourne struggling with the question of who he is. In book two he is busy trying to fulfill his mission while struggling with the duality of the Borne and Webb identities. In book three we watch as Bourne struggles with the impact of his advancing age. In each of the three books the conclusion ties both the James Bond action and the other aspects of the story up and leaves very few questions unanswered. If Bourne is injured at the beginning of a section he stays injured for the rest of the story, healing at what would be a normal rate. Time, place and season are all correct and complete.

In  Lustbader’s version of the series the deeper aspects of Bourne are lost. When book three closes we leave a Jason Bourne who is clearly struggling with the idea that he is nearing 50 and he can no longer perform physically as he could before. There is a very marked tension between the two aspects of his personality. In the books by Lustbader his age is never mentioned again. The two aspects have seemed to reach a peaceful accord where the proper personality takes control at the proper time. Once Lustbader takes over the multidimensional Jason Bourne/David Webb character becomes a paper thin James Bond.

Having said all that, this was a very enjoyable book to read. The basic plot involves Islamic terrorists and I felt like Lustbader did a very nice job of fleshing out their motivations and emotions that drive their actions. The plot was more straight forward than previous books and there was many fewer characters as well. While there wasn’t much real growth in Bourne, we did get to meet some new, fun people. I particularly enjoyed meeting Soraya  and Tyrone. Soraya filled the same role as Marie in previous books as the very competent female foil for Bourne without the angle of the love interest. Tyrone was cast in the role of Cactus the younger and I really enjoyed his resourcefulness and drive. If a movie is every made of this story Tyrone will steal the show.

As to problems or shortcomings, the book ended with more of a whimper than a bang, and left a number of loose threads that I didn’t think were tied off well enough. I would loved to have heard a bit more from Soraya and Tyrone after the book ended, perhaps that will come in the next book. Finally, there were a few glitches in the book. There was a scene where our man Jason was stabbed in the side and then spent the next 24 to 36 hours dealing with it and then all of a sudden it wasn’t a problem any more. I don’t remember this ever happening in the Ludlum books.

Overall I give the book a Transformers rating, lots of fun to read, very engaging but not a lot meat. There isn’t a lot of swearing, no sex at all that I can remember and tons and tons of huge, over the top violence. Read it and enjoy.


 Posted by at 2:48 pm
May 122011

  • Mostly I am posting to test a new plugin I installed for yesterday, I know that the vast majority of you don’t care much about my morning commute. 🙂
  • I just gotta say, 45° is a bit cold for a ride. It will be in the 60s this afternoon when I ride home and that is going to be much, much, much, much nicer. Even from the start of the ride to the end it got 8° warmer and that made a big difference. Overall it wasn’t too bad, but my feet were cold the entire ride. I’m glad I geared up extra after I checked the temp before I left the house.
  • I used my new-ish Motorola Rokr SD-H9 headphones. They are bluetooth, lightweight and super duper nice. There are volume and track controls on the headset and you can hear the music and the cars around you at the same time. I love them, but make sure you get the SD-H9 model and not the SD-H10 if you are going to get some. They ruined sound in the 10s.
  • I put my birthday present (Conti Hardcase tires) on the bike last weekend and they are awesome. They are a hardened tide as you can tell from the name and they ride like butter. I am really looking forward to a season of no flat tires. I’ll keep you posted.
  • I also put new cleats on my shoes last weekend. They are the same brand as the cleats that came with the pedals, even the same model but they work so much better. I had now idea that new cleats would make such a huge difference, but it is almost like clipping into a bucket. I struggled at times with the old cleats to get hooked up, in these cleats if my foot is anywhere close to the pedal it seems like there is a magnetic force that locks the shoe to the pedal. So awesome.
  • Finally, today is a new record: 216 pounds post commute. If I can stop the galloping gut syndrome maybe that number will go down. Let’s hope.
 Posted by at 9:44 am