Tag Archives: feature

NEW FEATURE: BOLLI VOLUNTEERS!

Recently, we’ve been thinking about the wide range of volunteerism in which BOLLI members engage and would like to highlight them in this venue.  Are you involved in a program that you find particularly rewarding, especially one that would benefit from additional volunteers? Share your volunteer experience with us!  Here’s Lydia to start us off–

THINKING ABOUT VOLUNTEERING SOME TIME AND ENERGY?

Two Suggestions from Lydia Bogar

The storm warnings came across the bottom of the TV screen before the 5:00 news. I checked the radar on my computer and went back to washing the kitchen floor.

Within minutes, my old memory stem woke up as I put the mop on the porch. Tomorrow would be the anniversary of the Springfield/Brimfield tornado.  The video of that tornado as it crossed Memorial Bridge in Springfield remains as vivid today as it was then…

That old memory stem also brings back the first responders from across the state, and, most especially, the contributions made by two groups of volunteers:  first, SKYWARN, severe weather spotters, all trained volunteers connected to the National Weather Service in Taunton (www.weather.gov/box/skywarn) and second, the Worcester area CISM team (www.centralmasscism.org).

My first SKYWARN training was in October of 1999 when I was a disaster services volunteer with the Worcester Chapter of the American Red Cross. It was a very interesting training–especially good for campers and boaters.  Glenn Field from NWS Taunton gave us a lot of information about clouds, reading radar, and thermal convections. As a civilian, retired from the Red Cross, I have continued SKYWARN training and strongly recommend it to the BOLLI community. You can contact Rob Macedo at rmacedo@rcn.com to schedule SKYWARN training for any community group with a membership of 15 or more. It is very much worth three hours of your time.

I’ve also spent 16 years training and volunteering in CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management), a peer support network for first responders. There are 15 teams in Massachusetts, covering all police, fire, and EMS personnel from North Adams to Provincetown.  Our teams consist of trained peers as well as fire department, clergy, and mental health professionals.  It is an amazing global system that includes volunteers who served in New York in the fall of 2001, Boston after the Marathon bombing, southern Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and the western part of Massachusetts after the tornado in 2006. If you are a retired mental health professional or retired member of the clergy who is interested in volunteering, please contact me at Toehead8@verizon.net, and I will refer you to the Team Leader in your residential area.

BOLLI Matters Co-Editor, Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar provides BOLLI Matters with a wealth of material on a variety of subjects including her own regular feature “Lines from Lydia.”  

 

 

YOU HEARD US!

YOU HEARD US!

There’s something wonderful about opening up the BOLLI Matters “dashboard” to find the Comments box full of flags!   Your comments are so welcome, and we can’t thank you enough.  We just hope you’ll keep them coming–every one takes us another step toward our blog becoming a truly interactive vehicle…BOLLI’s voice!

 

AUGUST TECH TALK: NET NEUTRALITY

NET NEUTRALITY

by John Rudy

For a few years, there has been a fair amount of coverage regarding what is called “net neutrality.”  Unless you tend to pay close attention to the computer world, you may be unaware of what this is or how it matters to you.  The Obama administration took a position on NN two years ago, and the Trump Administration has already announced that they are going to reverse it (presumably after the community has an opportunity to provide comments).  But this is something that is important to you, so here is some information that should enable you to follow net neutrality issues in the press.

What is Net Neutrality?  The principle that Internet Service Providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.  Some governments regulate Internet services in the same ways that their public utilities (electricity, gas, and water) are regulated.  This also involves limiting providers and regulating the options they can offer.

The Issues: Can a service provider slow down or speed up your service because it is better for them or because you pay them to do it?

Some Examples:

  • Could Netflix pay Verizon to provide more bandwidth to their movies?
  • Could Verizon give more bandwidth to a service they provide compared to what is being made available to a competitor?
  • A widely-cited example of a violation of net neutrality principles was when Comcastwas secretly slowing (“throttling”) certain uploads. Comcast didn’t stop blocking these protocols until the FCC ordered them to do so.

2014 Obama decision

For three months, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received 3.7 million comments to change the Internet to a telecommunications service, which would allow the FCC to uphold net neutrality.  In February of 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 as well as section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996 to Internet service providers.  In April of 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new regulations which took effect on June 12, 2015.   

What is the FCC Doing Now?

FCC Chairman Pai claims he wants to end the “utility-style regulatory approach” to the Internet and “re-establish” the power of market forces in regulating the Internet. Details of his proposal include the reclassification of broadband access as an information service and a decrease in legal regulations on Internet service providers.

Pai says the reversal will increase infrastructure investment and innovation among broadband companies. In his proposal, he also suggests redirecting authority from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oversee privacy practices. Pai advocates ending the broad Internet conduct standard that allows the FCC to intervene if they deem that a broadband provider either acts in a harmful fashion or is anticipated to do so.

In a 2-1 decision on May 18th, the current FCC voted to proceed with the motion to scale back the net neutrality protections put in place in 2015.

Bottom Line

  • In April 2017, an attempt to compromise net neutrality in the United Statesis being considered by the newly appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Varadaraj Pai. In  May, a process began to roll back Open Internet rules that had been in place since 2015.
  • A decision will be made soon and whether or not the FCC takes the millions of comments seriously will be known in time.
  • See https://www.aclu.org/feature/what-net-neutrality for a lot of information favoring net neutrality.
  • Who wants net neutrality? Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix
  • Who is opposed to net neutrality? National Cable and Telecomm Association, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast

My opinion

I don’t trust the cable providers.  If they think that they can make more money by selectively providing better service to someone who will pay them more, they will.  The FCC can’t wait until there is a violation and then spend months, or years, to address it.  Then if Comcast, say, takes money from Netflix to move their movies faster than, say, Hulu, will you switch your service to Netflix?  Netflix doesn’t want to be put in the position where they have to pay off the many service providers.  See the names above for who is pro and who is against the change.

Our “Tech Talker” John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide,  John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic .

 

 

 

AUGUST SENIOR MOMENT WITH ELEANOR JAFFE: Do You Plan on Growing Old?

This month, Eleanor muses on the recent “skinny repeal” Senate vote, and her thoughts remind all of us, regardless of our politics, to be extremely mindful–even vigilant–in terms of how our health care might be affected by changes to our current system.  Thank you, Eleanor!

DO YOU PLAN ON GROWING OLD?

Information about Medicaid and what it provides to so many of our citizens emerged in recent weeks as the revisions to Obamacare or its potential cancellation bubbled to the surface in the Senate.  In a July 1st NY Times article by Ron Lieber, I read that:  “One in three people who turn 65 end up in a nursing home at some time.”  And, “62% of those people cannot pay the bill on their own.”

We cannot predict our own futures.  We cannot know whether we will need nursing care over a longer period than we can afford to pay.  Even when we have planned for a financially solvent old age, unexpected illnesses and costs may develop.  Even long term care insurance may be insufficient.  We cannot know how long we will live (my mother, for example, is now 104 years old) nor who will be there to care for us.  Family members often live great distances from one another and cannot disrupt their lives to sufficiently care for their elders. This creates a lot of uncertainty, many “unknowns.”  We like to think that we will be healthy and self-sufficient until our deaths, but that is often not the case – as we know, as we can see around us.

Medicaid is our safety net.  It is the same Medicaid that cares for the young, the poor and sick, and those with disabilities.   Medicaid still supports the elderly in nursing homes who need assistance.  I read that, on average, the annual cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home is $82,128.  Medicaid also currently pays for home and community based care for older adults.  Most people cannot afford the high nursing home costs, especially if their retirement funds have already been reduced by the protracted illness of one of the partners in a marriage, leaving the widowed (usually woman) with insufficient capital for their own care.

This fact (and the multitude of safeguards provided by The Affordable Care Act for most of us in the U.S.) is why we all probably breathed a great sign of relief when the Republican Senate plan to wipe it off the books was defeated.  People all over the country had rallied to support the admittedly imperfect Obamacare, but most Republican Senators turned deaf ears to their activist constituents.  Only three: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and John McCain were able to hold the line against the attackers.  Good thing for us!  Great thing for us — to date!

I learned that each state has its own requirements to determine qualifications for Medicaid.  Lieber recommends a “plain-spoken guide,” How to Protect Your Family’s Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs. He also writes that many people hire elder-law attorneys to help them navigate state Medicaid rules.

The proposed Republican changes to health care legislation that would have affected us directly as we age and possibly become infirm are real and very, very significant.  This recently defeated plan to eradicate Obamacare would have directly affected all of us seniors, some in devastating ways.  We need to stay alert to possible/probable further actions which could significantly alter health care benefits.  We all need to be vigilant.  We need protect our self interests by advocating for universal health care in whatever forms appeals to us–but certainly not by eliminating it.  Become an advocate!  Your health care–and mine–may depend on it.

BOLLI Matters “Senior Moments” writers Eleanor Jaffe (left) and Liz David (right).

As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of over 50 years, my friends — and my 104 year old mother.  What does it mean to be growing older in today’s society?  Please share your thoughts below!

LINES FROM LYDIA: My First Girdle

Lately, Lydia has been focusing on memoir writing–and, here, she gives us all a little inspiration for memoir writing of our own.  We hope you’ll think about sharing some of your memories with other BOLLI members on  our BOLLI Matters blog!  

MY FIRST GIRDLE

By Lydia Bogar

Me and Daddy

Daddy was sitting at the dining table, back to the thermostat wall.  He was doing paperwork – shop stuff – not painting.  I had been shopping with Mom, maybe at R.H. White’s, and we had bought my first girdle.  It was a pink and white striped thing with garters that was not purchased for a look-thinner purpose but, rather, to hold up my first pair of nylons. I believe it was 1957 or 58, at least one year before he died.

Daddy was a brave and determined man.  In 1938, he had come from Europe to America from Europe to live with Papa, Mimi, and Paul–to have a better life.  To be a soldier.  To fall in love and raise a family.  To be an artist and a hairdresser.  To be an American.   He was suave, sophisticated, very conscious of his appearance–hair, mustache, posture.  Was that a generational thing?  A European thing?  A proud new American thing?  He was tall, thin, beautiful—with tanned skin that never hardened.  His hair never turned grey.  He never turned 50…or 60…or more.

Daddy was not only an immigrant, an artist, a husband, and a father. He was also a son, brother, uncle, Catholic, a craftsman, a golfer, a Main Street businessman, fisherman, and gardener.  He was then a photographer, patriot, and anti-Communist.  Finally, he was a patient and a survivor.

I look back now at the black and white photos of him–in uniform, on his passport, on his citizenship papers, with his fedora, with the puppy named Bobo, with me.  Golfing with Papa and Paul.  Fishing with Uncle Fred and Uncle Eddie.  Lots of images saved from the house that wasn’t sold until Mom entered a nursing home.

It seems a little strange to me that one of my more vivid memories of Daddy was him sitting at the dining room table the day I came home with my first girdle.  And yet, for us girls in the 50s, that first was a big one.  Having him there for it was just as important.  How I wish that my other memories of him were clearer and more abundant.

Maybe they are just deeper–and writing will bring them to the surface.

BOLLI Matters Co-editor Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.   (We’re glad she decided to join this one!)

 

 

WHAT’S ON MY MIND? ERMA BOMBECK

Recently, our Writers Guild prompt consisted of a line from Erma Bombeck about house guests.   I made one false start after another on the house guest theme and finally gave up.   Eventually, I realized that what I really wanted to write about was Bombeck herself.  So,  this is what I ended up with–and I thought that some of you might be able to relate.

ERMA BOMBECK:  CHOICE WORDS

When LBJ was signing the Civil Rights Act in Washington in 1964, Erma Bombeck was signing a contract with the Kettering-Oakwood Times to write two columns per week for a sum of $3 each.  Five years later, in 1969, that column, “At Wit’s End,” was being nationally syndicated, appearing in over 900 newspapers across the country and lifting the spirits of suburban moms everywhere.

But in 1969, we suburban kids mostly didn’t get Bombeck’s “homespun” wit.   At breakfast, Mom would turn to Erma’s column in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer and chuckle over whatever the humorist was skewering that day—carpooling, one drive-through-something or another, meat loaf.  Reading bits and pieces aloud, Mom would attach her current favorite to the refrigerator door, and we would provide obligatory smiles in response.  For us, though, lost socks, dirty ovens, and teenage zombies drifting through the house opening cabinets and never closing them just weren’t particularly funny.   Didn’t cabinets, after all, just close themselves?

I guess we didn’t really think all that much about how our parents spent their days.  Our dads mostly “went to the office,”  but what they did there, if we thought about it at all, was something of a mystery.   Our moms mostly stayed home and took care of the house. (Apparently, in those days, even Erma’s kids didn’t really quite get it.  When he was asked what his mother did, her young son Matt indicated with a clueless sort of grimace, that “she’s a syndicated communist.”)

In the 60s and 70s, it just didn’t seem to occur to most of us kids that our moms might have found their seemingly perfect, Leave-it-to-Beaver style suburbans lives to be boring or, worse, depressing.   But Bombeck knew that life welll—and she was able to find humor in all of it.  In The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, for example, she wrote about “Loneliness,” saying:  “No one talked about it much, but everyone knew what it was.  It was when you alphabetized the spices on your spice rack and talked to your plants, who fell asleep on you.  It was a condition, and it came with the territory.”

It was territory that Erma, my mom, and my friends’ moms knew all too well.  It consisted of their homes, their appliances, their husbands, children, neighbors, and friends…their lives.  Motherhood in suburban America.   Fertile ground for humor with an edge.

By 1978, Erma Bombeck’s unique ability to find humor in what so many of us thought of as simply trivial or mundane, if we thought about it at all,  had taken her from earning $3 per column to garnering million-dollar book advances.  Every single one of her fifteen books was an instant best-seller.

So, it came as something of a surprise to me when Bombeck said that the initial inspiration for her column had come from none other than the early feminist Betty Friedan.  As the story goes, in the 50s, Bombeck heard Friedan give a speech about the dull and dreary chaos of the life that women like Erma and her friends were leading.  Bombeck said that she kept waiting for the story to shift into humor and was horrified when it didn’t.  What Friedan had detailed, Bombeck said, “just had to be funny.  Without humor, after all, how could it be endured?”

In 1969, my friends and I were protesting an ugly war and watching television news reports of civil unrest in our cities.  We were too busy to give a Dayton, Ohio housewife any more attention than the obligatory smiles we managed when our moms read us bits and pieces from her columns or attached them to our refrigerator doors.

But now, it’s time for us now Medicare card carrying kids to give her credit for the role she played in the women’s movement.  She was a champion of women’s rights, working tirelessly for the passing of the ultimately doomed Equal Rights Amendment.  But her greatest form of feminist activism was her humor.  By providing women like my mom the opportunity to laugh at the details of suburban family life in the 60s and 70s—including the boredom, loneliness, and depression that came with it for many—she showed them that they were not alone.  In so doing, she helped a generation of women discover that they had choices—and not just when it came to floor wax or what to pack for their kids’ lunches.

I think we owe Erma significantly more than an obligatory smile.  And what might be the most fitting of tributes for her?  A  permanent spot on the refrigerator door.

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

 

Like the late Bombeck, Sue is an Ohio native–whose respect for good humor runs deep…

THE SCREENING ROOM: SHIRLEY MACLAINE

SHIRLEY MacLAINE:  STILL KICKIN’ IT!

A few days ago, I was browsing through “On Demand” and happened upon yet another “little” Shirley MacLaine movie.  I happen to love MacLaine and so, of course, went right for it.

Once again, we have Shirley in a good, even rather meaty, role for a woman “of a certain age.”  In this case, she’s playing Harriet Lauler, a former advertising executive, who is alone at this point in her life. In the opening sequences of the film, which cement not only Harriet’s very controlling and even domineering nature but her very solitary and lonely existence, MacLaine is at her finest.   In the last of these opening scenes, Harriet sits at her dining room table, her untouched dinner plate in front of her.   She spills a glass of wine and moves to mop up the liquid with the newspaper she has at hand.  It is at that point that she notes an obituary for a former acquaintance and is, somehow, spurred into action.   Striding into the office of the city’s newspaper editor, she announces that she wants the obituary writer to do her “last word”–which she must approve.  From there on out, the film takes a generally predictable path in which the lives of both Harriet and the young writer (Amanda Seyfried) are changed as a result of this unusual partnership.  And while the path may be a rather predictable one, and while the overall “message” is somewhat “cluttered,” MacLaine, as always, provides a stellar performance.

There’s something about Shirley MacLaine…her spirit, energy, and “grit”…that seems to prevail, regardless of the make or model of the vehicle she is steering.  She’s just that good.

She’s equally as good in two other fairly recent movies available on Netflix.  In Wild Oats (2016), she and fellow Oscar-winner Jessica Lange go on the trip of a lifetime when she receives an insurance check for $5 million instead of $50K and is persuaded to just…spend it.  The chemistry between these two consummate performers is delicious.

In Elsa & Fred (2014), the chemistry between MacLaine and Christopher Plummer is even more compelling.  MacLaine, in fact, is quite radiant in this gem.

And what’s coming up?  Apparently, a live-action version of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid  (not connected with the Disney version) is in the works.   MacLaine plays an “eccentric” older woman  (of course) who apparently opens the story.

It’s so wonderful to see this feisty, quirky, indefatigable actress–one of our best–keep making movie after movie after movie.   It is partly due to the persistence of stars like her that “meaty” roles for women “of a certain age” are being written!

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

As a drama teacher/director, speech coach, English and social studies teacher, Sue has been called “Wurster, the Wily Word Woman” by a host of former students.   At BOLLI, she continues to ply her wordy trade in her work with CAST (creative acting, storytelling and theatre) and the Writers Guild.

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO…

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO:  JOHN McCAIN

Thoughts from Editors Lydia Bogar & Sue Wurster

Senator John McCain

You don’t have to be a member of the Grand Old Party to care about Senator John McCain. Certainly, we East Coast Liberals do not tend to be among his constituents or his friends, and yet, we are saddened and fearful whenever a notable member of our generation is given a cancer diagnosis.

Senator McCain returned to Congress on Monday, bruised from surgery for glioblastoma, one of the most malignant of brain tumors.  This past week, hundreds of Americans were united in their response to a New York Times Op-Ed piece by Jessica Morris who has lived with glioblastoma for the past 18 months.  While hiking in upstate New York, she had a seizure.  Within days, she went through surgery and was given that dreadful diagnosis.  She hopes that reasons for optimism come to fruition—not only for herself but also for Senator McCain, and in memory of both Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden.  Her inspiring blog can be accessed by going to: https://jessicamorrisnyc.wordpress.com/about/

When Senator McCain returned to the floor in Washington this week, he generally spoke clearly, with little hesitation.  Yes, at first, he voted the party line on the vote to open debate on the Republicans’ health care bill, but he also drew a line in the sand, “Let’s trust each other,” he said. “We’re getting nothing done, my friends.”  He voted to extend the conversation.  Then, when it came to the most crucial vote on the “skinny repeal,” he put party politics aside and voted his conscience–for the American people.

So we want to thank this real American hero for all of his service to our country–in the military, in war, and in the halls of government. We want, in fact, to see him continue to serve–as the conscience of his party, the party of Abraham Lincoln.  Perhaps the party will continue to unravel before our eyes—but that just might make it possible for the real conversations to begin.

Thank you, John McCain.  Here’s hoping you will continue to kick butt–on both sides of the aisle–as we all move forward!

BOLLI Matters co-editor, Lydia Bogar
BOLL Matters co-editor Sue Wurster

MEET MEMBER BEVERLY BERNSON: A RARE FIND!

MEET MEMBER BEVERLY BERNSON:  A RARE FIND!

by Sue Wurster

BOLLI Member Bev Bernson

 

“I guess I’ve always collected art,” Bev says about her favorite pastime.  After studying at Colby Sawyer Jr. College,  Vesper George School of Art, and then Mass College of Art, she became a graphic artist.  She then worked at Beth Israel Hospital and the now defunct Newton Times.  Her work included quite an array of creative art projects in Newton, and she was a founder of the New Art Center.  All along the way, she was exposed to art,  artists, and dealers, curating shows and buying works.

In the early 1960’s, Bev started Any Old Thing, an antique business she undertook with her long time friend Lorraine Altschuler.  “We were friends since junior high,” she says.   “We did not have a shop but, rather, traveled around New England and New York City, renting space at antique shows and, at times, other shops,” she says.  “It was a wonderful life.”  Sadly, after 29 years in the business, Lorraine passed away, and Beverly carried on alone.  In all, Any Old Thing lasted 45 years.

Now, Beverly’s home in Newton houses her extensive and extremely varied collection, all placed with care for maximum enjoyment.  A few years ago,  Bert Yarborough, an artist and professor at Colby Sawyer where Bev is on the President’s Council, saw her collection and was intrigued.  When the college decided, then, to build a new art center, he asked if she would be interested in having works from her collection be the opening show in the gallery.  “I was flattered and eager to get it underway,” she says.  “I had loaned works to other shows in the past—but never something like this.”  The show, entitled Inner Visions, features work by self-taught and mainstream artists.  At the moment, Yarborough is working on the catalogue for the show which will open on October 13 and will run until early December. “Very exciting!”  Some of the pieces to be mounted in that exhibit include…

CABALLERO by Martin Ramirez (1895-1963) –considered one of the most accomplished self-taught artists of the 20th Century.
Bird woodcut by Milton Avery (1885-1965), American modernist and abstract expressionist artist who influenced Rothko and others.
Ceramic Plate by Todd McKie, contemporary fine artist who says he tries to make the “most beautiful, mysterious, most colorful, funniest and truest” work he can. “Once in a while, I succeed.”
WOMAN by Bill Traylor (1853-1949) who was born into slavery and began to draw in 1939 to record his recollections and observations. Between 1939 and 1942, this self-taught modern artist created nearly 1,500 works.

 

Beverly is also involved in Gateway Arts, a workshop for adults with disabilities, where she sits on the advisory board and helps with fundraising.  “The artists’ lives are changed profoundly—socially as well as artistically—and the interaction is a joy for all,” she enthuses.  “We have a store on Harvard Street in Brookline Village where the artists sell their work.   It is a truly wonderful place which gives the artists an opportunity to earn money for their work and a reason to be deeply proud of what they do.”

When it comes to pride, Bev is quick to point to her family—husband (Bob), 2 sons (Peter and Teddy), 1 daughter (Julie), 2 daughters-in-law, 2 granddaughters, 1 grandson…and another grandson on the way.

As if work and family were not enough to keep Bev busy, she has also devoted a good deal of time and energy to tennis, playing regularly since her 20s.  In her 40s, she started playing team tennis (doubles only) and kept at it until she was 70.  “I still play, all year long, two to three times a week at the same club—the names keep changing.  Now it’s Boston Sports Club in Newton.  We play outdoors in the summer.”

After retiring from team tennis eleven years ago, Bev started taking courses at BOLLI.  She has taken two courses each semester and has attended several of the winter and summer lecture series as well.  In addition, she is now the art editor for the 2018 volume of The BOLLI Journal.

“BOLLI is an amazing place,” Bev says.  “The people who give their time organizing activities, teaching courses, giving programs, and doing all the behind-the-scenes work that makes it all happen are truly wonderful and greatly appreciated.   BOLLI is a gift to all of Brandeis’ surrounding communities.”

But, of course, it takes interested and committed members like Bev to keep it an amazing place!

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better!  I hope you’ll leave a comment for Beverly in the box below.  It means a lot to each of our profiled members to hear from others.   (And I’d love to hear from you about YOU!)

 

 

 

 

 

MINING MARILYN’S MYSTERY “OLDIES” – DAVID MCCALLUM

Mining Marilyn Brooks’ popular blog, Marilyn’s Mystery Reads, for some of her past reviews, yielded another gem, this one from a more recent past and featuring none other than Illya Kuryakin!  

A NOTE FROM EDITOR SUE (Who Couldn’t Resist…)

Yes, it’s THAT David McCallum, “Dr. Ducky” on the popular TV show, NCIS.  But I’ve never actually got into NCIS–I was a Man from U.N.C.L.E. fanatic.   For me, it was all about Illya Kuryakin.  So smart.  So smooth. So…totally cool.  

Many years later, as an adult drama teacher in New York, I was traipsing the hallway connecting The Chapin School’s two buildings. A gathering of the parents of students accepted for the following year was in progress in the multi-purpose room, but one father seemed to be significantly more interested in the Lower School art work that covered the hallway.   He was crouched in front of an array of 3D pieces featuring fantastic flowers. As I approached, the man stood up and turned.   And I stopped–one foot frozen, I believe, in the air.  “Oh, my God…Illya Kuryakin…” I burbled.  “I wore black turtlenecks for years because of you…”  Oh, my God–I couldn’t believe it had fallen out of my mouth.  But, luckily,  McCallum laughed, graciously….just as graciously as he gave of his time to drama and speech events for the next many years.   A very gracious man indeed.

I had no idea he had begun writing mysteries and look forward to this treat.  And if you haven’t discovered it either, I suspect you will too. Thank you, Marilyn!

ONCE A CROOKED MAN by David McCallum: Book Review

Once a Crooked Man is a terrific read.  Starting with an overheard conversation outside the Fiery Dragon Chinese restaurant in New York City, traveling to South America and London and back again to Manhattan with corpses everywhere, David McCallum will have you hooked all the way.

It all begins when Carter Allinson II stops by a Starbucks in New York City and shares a table with a beautiful young woman.  Fiona Walker comes from a wealthy family, and shortly after their meeting the couple become engaged and Carter is welcomed into Fiona’s father’s investment firm.  As a college student Carter had supported himself by a little drug dealing, but with his upcoming wedding he wants to leave that behind him.

Not so fast, says gangster Sal Bruschetti, head of the organization that has been supplying Carter.  You don’t need to be doing any more minor-league dealing, but we need you for another reason.  We’ll be investing money with your father-in-law’s firm, and you’ll be handling all the investments in legitimate ways.  Otherwise, we’ll let the Walkers know about your history.  Carter doesn’t see that he has a choice in the matter, and so begins the long-term relationship between Carter and the three Bruschetti brothers.

None of this has anything to do with Harry Murphy, a fairly successful actor who works in television, on Broadway, and does voiceovers for commercials.  He’s on a Manhattan street when he has an immediate need for a bathroom.  Spotting the Fiery Dragon, he walks in on the Bruschettis in the midst of a “business” talk.  They order him out, but his need is so great that he decides to use the alley outside the building to relieve himself.  Thus he can’t help overhearing their conversation concerning a man in London that the trio is going to have killed.

The plot of Once a Crooked Man is a great one.  Ever impetuous, when Harry learns what the brothers have planned he decides to fly to England and warn the victim.  Once there, there’s no controlling the events that follow.  But Harry is a resourceful man with many talents.  Sometimes he’s a step ahead of the Bruschettis, sometimes a step behind, but he’s always in the midst of the action.

All the characters in this novel are terrific.  I was constantly surprised by the twists and turns the book took because of the things the individuals said and the ways they responded to events.  Carter, Harry, the British detective Lizzie Carswell, and Sal, Enzo, and Max Bruschetti are wonderfully drawn.  The plot goes from one cliffhanger to another, keeping the reader totally engaged up to the last page.

You may remember David McCallum from his many roles, starting with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and continuing to the present in NCIS.  Now he is an author as well.  Let’s hope for many more books from this talented man.

You can read about David McCallum at various sites on the web.

Click (on the green) to check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads  where Marilyn posts new reviews every Saturday.  And be sure to leave a comment in the box below so we know you’re out there and reading!

Our MYSTERY MAVEN Marilyn Brooks

I’ve always been a reader and, starting with Nancy Drew (my favorite, of course), I became a mystery fan.  I think I find mysteries so satisfying because there’s a definite plot to follow, a storyline that has to make sense to be successful.  And, of course, there’s always the fun of trying to guess the ending!

 

 

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