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Archive for December, 2014

2014 in Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2014

At the end of the past two years, I believe, I’ve written about what took place during that year, so I’m doing so again. Here’s the synopsis, as best my memory can recollect.

In January, my mother celebrated her 84th birthday, so we spent a little time with her. The month was otherwise uneventful.

In February, we put our old house on the market and moved to our new house. We’re pretty grateful for the trade. Our old house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, but it was actually nearly a ghetto. It was very loud and had a lot of crime. Now, we’re up on top of a mountain in a quiet neighborhood with no crime. We feel good about that.

February also saw the death of our beloved cat Toby. He was only six and it didn’t seem fair. He essentially died of kidney failure, although we sadly had to put him to sleep (which seems to me to be a pansy way of saying we killed him). We had him cremated and keep his ashes with my late cat Rocky’s ashes. We still miss Toby a lot.

We also got a membership to a good shooting range in February and have enjoyed that a lot.

March was pretty uneventful.

In April, I got a new car. I traded in my lemon BMW 530i for a 2011 Toyota Camry and couldn’t be happier. I found it on Autotrader at a dealer in Atlanta and went down there, beat someone else coming to buy it — barely — test drove it, and left with it to come home. It’s been a great car.

Sometime around April also saw the return of my head pain that I’ve had since 2010. I have trigeminal neuralgia, so I have to take a lot of pain pills and have had a number of procedures to try and combat it.

Additionally, Gretchen’s birthday is in April, so we went up to Baltimore to celebrate it with her friends and family. We had a very good time. It was great to see everyone and we got to go to an Orioles game, a museum, some good restaurants and even saw some friends in Virginia on the way.

Finally, we celebrated our one year anniversary in April. It was pretty low key, but we had a good time remembering our wedding and honeymoon to the beach the year before.

In May, I got a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm through an online auction site for a very good price and a Beretta PX4 Storm at a gun show. Neither gun has turned out to be my favorite — a Ruger SR9c is — but I was happy to have them. Meanwhile, Gretchen turned out to be a pro with our Marlin .22 rifle.

I believe it was May, too, when Mom moved from here back up to Knoxville, her old home. It was sad to see her go, but it was good for her to be back with her many friends and at her old church, which she had missed. She got a nice one level condo and is living on her own. We do worry about her though.

In June, we thought we had a buyer for our old house, finally. We had had to lower the price three times and it was going for practically nothing. We were about to take an $18,000 loss on it. However, the financing for this buyer fell through, so we were back at square one.

In June, I also had a disability hearing. It was my second time in court for it and I was denied for the fourth time. However, my lawyer appealed. And the judge left open the chance that he might rule in my favor if my orthopedist provided appropriate information.

July was the one year anniversary of my father’s death. That was very sad. We went to visit his gravestone in the cemetery where he’s buried in Knoxville. In July, I also had the first of three neurological procedures for my head pain. It didn’t really work, so that was disappointing.

We also had a new buyer for our old home in July. They were doing FHA financing though, so it would take awhile. They agreed to buy the house at very nearly the price we were asking. The closing was set for October.

I think August was pretty uneventful. I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville to help Mom out with things. That got old. We also started looking for a new church, even though I was on the vestry of our old church. It was simply too small and too old. We were the youngest people there and people were dying off and no one new was joining. It was a dying church. So we started going to other Episcopal churches, as well as Methodist and Presbyterian.

In September, I celebrated my 48th birthday and tried not to get too depressed.

During that month, I also had two more surgical procedures for my head pain, but neither helped. It was discouraging.

October came around and the financing for our house’s buyer fell through the day before the closing. We were livid and so were they. However, our realtor worked the phones and found a new lender within two days, so they were approved and a new closing was set for about two weeks away.

I also had my third court hearing for my disability. My lawyers prepared me for disappointment. They said everything would hinge on what the medical expert would say and they didn’t expect much. When the judge started questioning the expert, though, I was shocked to hear him say my back was too bad to work and that, combined with my trigeminal neuralgia and other assorted things, meant I couldn’t work at all. So the judge finally ruled in my favor and I got disability. I was shocked and elated, because I had been trying for this for over three years and now finally I got it.

During this time, my insomnia had gotten worse and I was consistently getting up between 2 and 3:30 AM, which was frustrating.

We did something pretty fun in October. For my birthday, Gretchen got me Penguins tickets to go see them play the Predators in Nashville. So we went up there, went to Bridgestone Arena, which was nice, and saw the Pens win 3-0. It was very fun and we had a great time. We also had a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant before the game. Oh, and there were a ton of Pens fans there too!

October is also the month for Halloween. We never had kids come to our house at our old place, but we had about 25 kids come to our new house, so we were tickled about that.

In November, we traveled to Saint Simons Island GA, where I used to live, to go to the beach and take a nice vacation. The weather was still good and we had a nice time. We also went to Savannah and Jekyll Island. It was a great vacation.

In November, we also finally sold our old house and with the money I was able to pay off all of my old student loans, which was a sizable sum, so that was great. However, we discovered a water leak in the kitchen the day before the closing. The buyers still bought the home, but we went through a nightmare getting repairs to the floors and cabinets done while these people got impatient waiting to move in. I don’t blame them, but they drove me nuts.

Additionally, we had a new addition to the family this month. Ace, a three month old tabby cat, joined, per Gretchen’s strong wishes. He’s a bundle of energy, but he’s been fun.

This month, in December, I finally got my disability award letter and a lump sum for my back pay. I also got my Medicare card, even though I’m retaining my Obamacare insurance cause it’s frankly better.

We also found a new church we’re joining next week. It’s Rivermont Presbyterian Church, which is a UPUSA church. It’s bigger with more people of all ages and has a number of Sunday Schools to attend, so we’re excited.

We celebrated Christmas last week and had a great holiday season. We sent and got a lot of cards and exchanged some great gifts and had a good time. Of course it’s also bowl month, so that’s good.

In sports, my Steelers have made the playoffs, so I have big hopes for them. My Pirates made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but didn’t get anywhere. There’s always next year, right? My Penguins made the playoffs, but got bounced out in the second round by the Rangers, so that was disappointing. They’re playing now and even though they have a TON of injuries, they’re still having a good season. Meanwhile my Vols made a bowl game for the first time in four years and they’ll be playing Iowa on January 2. I’m hoping for a win.

So, it was an up and down year. I still have head pain. I still have insomnia. Gretchen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus. That’s bad. But we got a new house, a new car, paid off my student loans, and I got disability, so that’s all good. We’re hoping for a great 2015 and we hope all of you have a great 2015 too. Cheers!

 

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2014 in review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 30, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas 2014

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 26, 2014

Hi All! Well, Christmas is over and I’m sad. We’ve had a great holiday season. I got the Christmas spirit early this year. I sent out all of our Christmas cards by the end of November. And we got quite a few ourselves, but not as many as in years past, so I’m guessing we’re either no longer popular or people aren’t sending them out like they used to. LOL! I’ve heard some relatives aren’t sending them out anymore, so I understand.

I started buying Christmas gifts in October and I got some good ones for my wife. I’ve been so excited that I could barely contain myself. I just wanted to give them to her early.

We’ve been listening to Christmas music every morning while sitting in the glow of the lights from our Christmas tree which we put up after Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely tree, but we’ve had to put a big and tall fence/cat guard up around it to keep Henry and Ace away from it. Oh well. At least the tree and its ornaments have been saved. So, I’ve been playing traditional Christmas music, not contemporary pop Christmas music. I don’t like that. It’s been great to sit there drinking coffee and just enjoying the sounds.

We went to our church a few weeks ago for a dinner and a program. Afterwards, we went to the sanctuary with Chrismon ornaments to hang on the big tree. It was nice.

So yesterday was the big day. We’re having Mom come down from Knoxville to be with us, but today, not yesterday. We just wanted to exchange presents and be together by ourselves. We got up early and had our coffee. Then we opened our stockings. We got some pretty great stuff. One of my annual favorites is getting chocolate covered cherries. I just love those and Gretchen came through for me in a big way.

After we opened our stockings, we had breakfast. Gretchen fixed us scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and a pastry. Now you have to understand — I don’t eat eggs. I HATE eggs! I haven’t touched them since I was a teenager. But I was in a good mood, so I volunteered and I did it. I took six bites before giving up, but Gretchen was proud of me for going that far and I am too. It would take a lot for me to develop a liking for them, but at least I tried.

After we ate breakfast, we got ready for the day. I put on my Pittsburgh Penguins sweatshirt and cap. Gretchen dressed comfortably. Then we returned to the living room for gift giving!

I have an unfair advantage when it comes to getting gifts. Gretchen’s parents always get me things, which is darn nice of them, and my awesome friend Marcy gets me gifts, as do I for her. So I usually open those first. However, first of all Gretchen opened her first gift from me. It was a Weird Al CD. Heh. I got her three. She’s a huge fan. She was very excited. Meanwhile, her parents got me a great book on Steve Jobs and some great clothes, so that was very nice of them. Marcy got me a DVD and some books, including one on Queen and another on the inventors of the digital revolution, which ironically Gretchen got for me too, so one will have to be exchanged. Still, darn nice of Marcy. During this time, Gretchen was opening presents from her parents to her, which included a cool purse, some jewelry, and some clothes. They always get her nice things. Among the things I got her were some sweaters, a coat, several Hitchcock DVDs (she’s a huge fan), and a computer game. Gretchen got me some t-shirts and socks, which I need, and a couple of books I’ve really been wanting. Sweet. I got her a Ravens travel mug and an Orioles t-shirt. Sweet. Then it was time for the big stuff. She gave me a beautiful Fossil watch which I had actually picked out, and I gave her a nice watch as well, so it was a good trade. Then I opened a box and inside was an authentic Sidney Crosby jersey. I was very excited. I’ve been wanting Penguins jerseys. She opened a box and found some very cool cowboy boots, which she had been wanting. Unfortunately, they were a little too small for her, so we’ll have to exchange them for a larger size. I’m going to UPS this morning to send them back. I then opened my last box and was shocked. Inside was an authentic Mario Lemieux jersey! I had been wanting one for years. I’ve never been able to find many, and none in my size. Now here’s the story. She told me weeks ago that she had found one overseas and ordered it. But it never arrived. And she couldn’t get the company to respond to her calls or emails. She had been charged, but got nothing. So she was disappointed and got the Crosby jersey. In the meantime, it did arrive! Late, but it got here. So she gave me both. That was very sweet of her and I was very excited. Meanwhile, she had two last boxes to open. One held a digital camera with a case. She had been wanting one for a long time, so this was a good gift. The last one was the one I’ve been most excited about. Inside the box were three envelopes, to be opened in order. The first one held tickets to a Chicago concert. The next one held tickets to a concert by The Who. The final one held tickets to a Barry Manilow concert. He’s one of her all time favorites, so I knew she’d be excited. And she was. For all three. She’s always wanted to see all of them and now she’ll get to, so it’s pretty awesome. Joan Jett is going to open for The Who. All of these tickets are for next spring and summer, so she’ll have to wait awhile before she can go, but it’s still very exciting and I was just thrilled to be able to give them to her.

Well, gift giving was over and there was carnage. The cats were getting into everything, of course, but that was okay. We cleaned up a bit and then got ready for lunch. After lunch, I took a nap because I had been up since 2 AM. I have severe insomnia and have been up since 1 AM this morning. During my nap, Gretchen went downtown and went for a brisk walk. Later, during the afternoon, we read and relaxed and then had some meatloaf for dinner. That may not sound exciting, but my wife makes the best meatloaf in the world and I love it, so it was pretty awesome. We read some more, played with the cats, watched a little TV and went to bed. It was a damn good Christmas!

Here are some pictures.

 

2014 Christmas tree complete with cat guard fence.

2014 Christmas tree complete with cat guard fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steelers socks!

Steelers socks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orioles t-shirt

Orioles t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fossil watch

Fossil watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen's new winter coat

Gretchen’s new winter coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidney Crosby jersey

Sidney Crosby jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mario Lemieux jersey

Mario Lemieux jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen's concert tickets

Gretchen’s concert tickets

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New Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 21, 2014

Since today is the first day of winter, I’d like to announce the publication of the Winter 2015 issue of Ray’s Road Review. Read, enjoy. I hope you like it.

Since I’m the poetry editor, I may as well promote the poets. There are some really great poets in the new issue of Rays Road Review. They are Simon Perchik, Bruce McRae, Lyn Lifshin, Michael Mark, William Miller, and Rich Ives. Really good poetry. Check it out.

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A Review of Icon

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 18, 2014

IconIcon by Frederick Forsyth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book by Forsyth. It was epic in scale. And he pulled it off masterfully. The first half of the book is plot set up, which is typical of the author. He’s really into details and logistics, so this part of his books often bores some readers. But not me. I like finding out about all of the details that go into an operation. The second half of the book was action packed and I had a hard time putting the book down.

The plot revolves around post-Soviet Russia circa 1999. It’s falling apart, is broke, its leadership in shambles. Up steps a charismatic leader named Igor Komarov, who’s expected to become president in the upcoming election and who vows to return Mother Russia to its glory. However, he’s not what he seems to be. He’s a Hitler wannabe who is going to practice genocide on Jews, ethnic minorities, the military leadership, etc. And he’s got all of his plans written down in a “Black Manifesto,” of which there are three copies. One of them is foolishly left on his secretary’s desk and an old ex-soldier who now cleans Komarov’s headquarters sees it, reads some of it, realizes its importance and steals it. He then gets it to the British embassy, where it works its was back to British intelligence. The document is shared between British and American governments, but they choose to do nothing, so a group of highly influential and secretive world leaders meet to discuss the situation and come up with a solution — to send in a spy to destabilize Komarov’s platform and discredit him, thereby ensuring he loses the election. The person chosen to do this is ex-CIA agent Jason Monk. Monk fights it, but Sir Nigel Irvine (a great character!) convinces him to do it, and so he goes in.

When Monk arrives in Moscow, he immediately calls in a favor of a particular Chechen who is head of the Chechen underworld and he gains their support and protection. He then starts making the rounds, contacting the military’s leadership, the state police’s leader, the head of the Russian Orthadox church, and a major bank president who also presides over the television media. These people, after being confronted with the facts of the Black Manifesto, turn on Komarov and his security chief, Colonel Grishin. Meanwhile, Grishin finds out Monk is in the country and has an old score to settle with him, so he puts his Black Guard troops at work trying to locate him. Monk moves around, and this is a weakness of the book I think, and is almost omniscient in anticipating their moves and making adjustments for himself and his Russian collaborators. Sir Nigel makes it to Russia to meet with the clergy and comes up with the idea of returning Russia to a czar-based country, which is accepted by said clergy. He then comes up with a distant heir to the throne and promotes his return to Russia to take over.

When Komarov and Grishin realize their time is almost up, they do something completely crazy — attempt a New Year’s Eve coup in Moscow. But Monk anticipates this and helps prepare the military the the police, so the coup attempt fails and everything works out beautifully. The climactic scene between Grishin and Monk is largely anticlimactic, though, and that was disappointing.

It’s not Forsyth’s best book, but it’s an entertaining one, with a lot of research having gone into Russia, their crime scene, politics, etc., and it’s certainly worth reading. Monk is a bit too super human to be very believable, but he’s a likeable character, so one can overlook that. Recommended.

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A Review of Where Eagles Dare

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 16, 2014

Where Eagles Dare Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where Eagles Dare is the most fast-paced, action-oriented, craziest thriller I have ever read. Which is good, because it’s largely unbelievable. The plot is too crazy, the characters too unreal, etc., et al for this to be read as a believable book. And that is a shame.

In the book, a team of six British commandos and one American OSS agent parachute into the Alps to gain entrance to a German fortress that can only be accessed by aerial gondola. It’s also the headquarters for the Gestapo and Nazi intelligence. It’s surrounded by a barracks of German alpine troops, who are supposed to be elite.

The reason for this mission is, theoretically, to rescue a downed American general who is in charge of coordinating D-Day. They need to get him before the Germans get info out of him, so time is of the essence. We soon see, however, other reasons for the mission.

The protagonist, Smith, though is problematic. See, he possesses super human strength and endurance and is generally omniscient. In other words, not remotely believable. He rides atop the gondola twice without being blown off, in one case with Germans grabbing his legs and trying to throw him off. With the altitude, the high winds, and the cold, it just doesn’t seem likely. Additionally, this book is full of double and even triple agents and Smith knows all. We’re never told how he comes by half of his information; we’re just to accept it. I have problems with that.

Nonetheless, as I said, it’s an action packed book, a real page turner. It’s rather stunning how they pull this off, all the while with people dying off all around them, and the twist at the end is a real shocker. Of course Smith knew of the twist. Yeah. I’d give this book three stars for believability, but it’s so good, I’m giving it four. Recommended.

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A Sports Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 10, 2014

Here’s another sports update.

Well, the regular college football season is over. Tennessee finished strong to finish with a 6-6 record, good enough to make a bowl. This is big, because we haven’t been to a bowl in four years. This year we’re going to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, against Iowa, a tough opponent. I can remember playing them in previous bowls and going 1-1 against them, I think. We’ve been bad for too long. We used to be great. We used to have 10 win seasons consistently and in 1998, we won the national championship against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. I was there for that game. It was awesome. Those were our glory days. We’ve won six national championships and have had some other great seasons, but for some reason we’ve fallen on hard times. However, we have a new second year coach — Butch Jones — who seems good, has gotten some excellent recruits, and seems on the right path. We’ve played 23 freshmen this year, more than any other team, so we’ll have experience in coming years. Next year, I expect us to win 8-9 games and challenge for the SEC East.

UT is now also in the middle of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. The men’s team lost most of its players from last year and has only one decent player and a bunch of new ones. So far, we’re 3-3. The Lady Vols have been decent, but not great, and are ranked 11th in the country so far.

Meanwhile, my Steelers have had a schizophrenic year. They’re 8-5 and in the middle of the wild card race for the playoffs. They just had a great win against division leading Cincy. The problem is, we play great against the best teams and have gotten beat by some of the worst teams in the league, teams we should easily pound, like Tampa Bay. It’s been really frustrating. Still, some of our players are having outstanding years. Career years. Ben Roethlisberger has passed for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He became the second player in league history to have two 500 yard passing games in the same season. Second year running back Le’Veon Bell has rushed for over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns and with his receiving totals, has nearly 2,000 yards, which is outstanding. Last week, he became the second player in league history, joining Walter Payton, to have three consecutive 200 yard games. And wide receiver Antonio Brown has 105 catches for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which lead the league. In fact, Brown is the leading receiver, Bell is the second leading rusher and Big Ben is the fourth ranked quarterback. All of this is really exciting and I hope they all make the Pro Bowl, because they really deserve it.

Additionally, my Pittsburgh Penguins are having an excellent year. They’re 18-6-3 and leading their division. Sidney Crosby is second in the league in scoring, after leading the league last year. Evgeni Malkin is fourth in the league in scoring. And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is fourth in the league in wins and is having perhaps his best season with a great goals against average of about 2.07. That’s  awesome for him because he’s taken a lot of criticism over the past few years for fading in the playoffs, even after helping the team win the Stanley Cup a few years ago. Even though we make the playoffs every year, we haven’t been to the Stanley Cup in five years, so I’m hoping this year we can do it. One of the problems, however, is we have tons of injuries. We’ve lost so many players to injuries that it seems these three great players are playing with all minor league players surrounding them. It’s amazing we can win any games at all. Hopefully we’ll get some players back soon because this has been ridiculous.

I guess that’s about it. I’m happy UT has made a bowl and hope we win. I’m hoping the Steelers make the playoffs and then anything can happen. A Super Bowl would be awesome. And the Penguins will go all the way to the Stanley Cup again, barring continuing injury problems. A good fall. Here’s to a good winter.

 

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An Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 8, 2014

Four years ago today, out of the blue Gretchen told me of some feelings she had for me, which was a really big step on her part. I felt similarly, and soon we had a special relationship. Of course, we had no idea it would lead to marriage. Now we’ve been married over a year and a half and we have a wonderful relationship and I’m eternally grateful to her for her bravery. Bebe, I love you!

(Here’s another picture of our new kitten, Ace.):

Ace

Ace

 

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A Review of The Night Ranger

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 5, 2014

The Night Ranger (John Wells, #7)The Night Ranger by Alex Berenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was an interesting read. On one hand, it was an exciting, action packed thriller that was hard to put down. On the other hand, the author wrote in some loose ends and his portrayal of women in general leaves something to be desired, much to my surprise.

In previous books, former CIA agent John Wells saved the country and maybe the world from biological weapons, nuclear war, etc. Big stuff. So this one is on a smaller scale. He gets a call from his estranged son, Evan, who pleads with him to go to Kenya and Somalia to track down four college age aid volunteers who have been kidnapped. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But it is. He discovers a conspiracy on the part of the leader of this aid group to kidnap his own nephew and three others, hold them for awhile, and release them with the release of his new book, making him a best selling hero. But things don’t work out that nicely. First, the young people are all very unlikeable. Scott is a frat boy dick who gets away with anything. Owen wants Gwen, a vapid, beautiful blond sorority girl. And the other girl just seems to be along for the ride. So a Somali warlord finds them, kills the fake kidnappers, kills Scott when the kid mouths off to him, and takes the remaining three to his camp in Somalia to hold them for ransom. Wells figures this out. Problem. Corrupt Kenyan police arrest him for nothing at all, so he has to escape and now he’s being hunted by them. He’s trying to use his old CIA contacts for help locating the camp, which works out, and he goes there, one against 60 or 70 armed militia men. Seems a little unbelievable, but Berenson is such a great writer, he can have you believing just about any scenario he writes. And so he saves the day. As you knew he would. It’s more exciting than that, but I don’t want to give the plot away.

My problems are these: Wells went to Africa as a favor to his son, yet we never hear anything that results from this action. Do the two draw closer? Does his son forgive him for “deserting” he and his mom when he was little? We never find out. Additionally, John’s girlfriend Ann just seems to be a minor plot device that is literally useless. We never get to know her, so we really don’t give a crap when Wells is kissed by an African woman who’s after him (or so it seems). Screw Ann! I couldn’t care anything at all for her because the author hasn’t given her a remotely significant role to play in these books. Also, the women all seem to be pretty stupid in this book, led by the two college girls. Absolute airheads. If I were a feminist, I think I would be pretty ticked about this representation of women in the book. Moreover, there’s the Evan problem. He turns from this total nerd in love with Gwen into this vicious monster, willing to kill just about anyone and anything and it seems completely out of character for him. I had a hard time believing it.

So how do I rate this book? Considering all of the problems, it probably deserves three stars. But considering the action and how exciting this book is, it probably rates five stars. So I’m giving it four and going with that. If you like the John Wells character, you’ll probably like this book. Recommended.

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A Review of The Golden Rendezvous

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 4, 2014

The Golden RendezvousThe Golden Rendezvous by Alistair MacLean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an odd book to read and is an odd book to review. On one hand, so much of it is unbelievable and downright stupid, I want to give it two stars. On the other hand, it’s pretty action packed and is somewhat of a page turner. I couldn’t put it down. So I’m not sure what to say.

An atom bomb is stolen from an American base. A British ship, however, is where the plot takes place. It’s truly bizarre. It’s a cargo ship, okay, but has also been converted into a luxury liner — without the traditional luxuries. It’s just got 12 luxurious rooms and good food, but no pools or dancing or gambling or ports of call or anything. It goes where the captain wants it to go; there’s no itinerary. And there’s a waiting list of kings and presidents trying to get aboard, willing to pay millions to do so. And yet they transport cargo. Simply stupid as hell.

Be that as it may, our hero, Carter, the first officer, helps run the ship. And he turns out to be nearly omniscient, omnipotent, has near super human powers and it’s simply too unbelievable to make you feel like it’s remotely real. Murders start occurring on the ship. Carter figures out what’s going on. Pirates from a small third world government hijack it for the purpose of hijacking another ship carrying $150 million, as this country is broke and needs the money. Carter gets shot in the leg, while others get shot too. He’s transported to the hospital bay, where he is treated — and from where he escapes to save the day, in a manner that’s altogether unbelievable, again. And again, he figures out exactly what’s happening — the pirates have the bomb and are going to blow the ship with its passengers and crew to pieces so there will be no witnesses to the piracy. So he disarms the atomic bomb. With the help of a gorgeous rich girl. Naturally. And when everything is over, he is surprised to hear that they are getting married in a month. She tells him so. Bizarre ending. It reminded me of a Doris Day, Rock Hudson movie ending. Of course, this book was published in 1962, so perhaps that makes sense.

Even though there’s nothing remotely believable in this book, I actually enjoyed it. It was fun to read. It had a a lot of action. It had evil characters, good heroes, the pretty girl, guns — everything. If only the author had put some more time into making it seem real. Oh well. I guess this book is somewhat recommended….

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