Say Nothing

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe

Edmond Gagnon‘s review Aug 10, 2022  

I should say something about Say Nothing.
I began this book last winter and have picked it back up a few times after and in between other reads, but after getting half-way through it I’m giving up.
Not that it’s bad by any means, just way too thick and slow for me. Loaded with tons of real-life drama about the Irish Republican Army, the story jumps around between a mother of ten who goes missing from her home, and various leaders and participants in the on-going struggles in Ireland.
Say nothing is a true story of murder and memory in Ireland, according to the book’s cover.
Read it if you dare.

The Elusive Purple Gang

The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra
by Gregory A. Fournier (Goodreads Author)

Edmond Gagnon‘s review Aug 06, 2022  

I’ve always heard about the Purple Gang and their criminal activities in Windsor during the rum-running days of the roaring 20’s, but wasn’t aware of their Detroit roots and exactly how bad-ass the group of thugs really was.
I gave the book 4 stars but feel it’s worth only a 3.5. Where it’s loaded with interesting facts and stories about long ago fabled Detroit mobsters, at times I found it too ‘statistical’ and a bit hard to follow with the numerous gang characters and their affiliates.
But for anyone who’s interested in the Detroit-Windsor booze prohibition connection, I recommend giving this book a read. It also delves into the gang’s connection to Al Capone and government corruption at all levels.

Behind The Badge – Her Story

Behind the Badge: Her Story
by Antoinette M James

Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jul 22, 2022  

I met the author, Antoinette James, at the Detroit Bookfest and purchased a copy of her book, Behind the Badge. After listening to her pitch about her memoir, a true story about her life on the Detroit Police Department, I was sold.
I got fooled on this one. The book is more about the author’s personal life, weighing heavily on events that transpired before her time as a cop.
This woman had a life-long dream of being a Detroit Homicide detective, after watching numerous tv cop shows. Her naivety started at a young age, when she tells us in great detail how she was sexually exploited by her father. By the age of 15 she is pregnant, then hooks up with one wrong guy after another, learning nothing along the way.
The author spent only a few years as a cop and says she left the force because of sexual harassment but openly admits having sex with various men for personal advancement.
Some of my women reader friends might enjoy this book but I don’t recommend it as a must read.

My Audiobooks

My first sale of an audiobook on Google Play

Can you hear me now?

I just sold my first Audiobook on Google Play.

All of my titles are listed and someone purchased a copy of Trafficking Chen.

Don’t worry about the serious commission I raked in, it doesn’t even cover the cost of an air filter for the new furnace and air conditioner we just put in the house.

I’ve had previous requests for audiobooks of my titles so it’s nice to know someone bought one.

Thank you listener 🙂

Elvis – The Movie

I can’t believe someone hasn’t done an Elvis Presley movie before this one. ‘Elvis’ is an in depth look into his life, starting with how he was drawn to music as a child, and later being ‘discovered’ by Colonel Tom Parker. I found it interesting that the rock legend’s story was actually told by the Colonel, a man who defrauded Elvis of much of his fortune.

Why is it that so many great and talented people fall for or trust the wrong person and get taken to the cleaners? Are they too focused on their career’s and assume life the finance will take care of itself. It doesn’t make sense to me, but then I’m no rock and roll star.

The movie seems to have the jitters at first, while it finds it’s footing, but you’ll be tapping your foot or singing along to the awesome music in no time. The flick is almost two and a half hours long but it moved along well. I’d never heard of Austin Butler but I’m sure plenty of folks will now. To me, his awesome performance was only overshadowed by Tom Hanks, who portrayed Elvis’ promoter, the Colonel Tom Parker.

No matter how much you think you know about Elvis Presley’s life and his music, I’m sure you’ll come away with at least a few new facts after seeing this movie. Cathryn and I did. I even learned of other black musicians where the King got some of his inspiration. And I didn’t know that he wrote some of his own songs or that he died at such a young age. Sad.

Cathryn and I saw the movie with her mother and a friend, who spent much of the film singing along with the music. The movie was good and we recommend seeing it. We both give it an 8 out of 10, not worthy of a perfect score from me only because of it was the Colonel’s perspective of the King’s life.

Jurassic World – Dominion

I lost track of how many sequels of Jurassic Park there have been but we’ve managed to see them all and have to admit they are fun to watch. We decided to see this latest instalment in Imax format for extra-sized fun. Add that to the bigger and badder dinosaurs that roamed the earth along with mankind, and this movie was a CGI extravaganza.

Dominion brings back the original cast – some almost dinosaurs themselves, and (spoiler alert) chooses not to have any of them eaten alive during the movie. But don’t fret, plenty of others are snatched up and become dino-food. It is quite amazing how they can blend real people and a gigantic computer-generated animal into the same scene.

And as with other Jurassic movies, there are bad guys and good guys – not the creatures themselves, but people who want to exploit the dinosaurs and our heroes who want to save them. Add in a greedy bio-engineering company and Dominion has all the makings of a scary but lovable family movie.

With nothing else on the big screen these days but superhero movies, Cathryn and I enjoyed the movie. She rated it a 9 out of 10, mostly because nobody really dies. I give it a 6.

Gas of Tank – Todd Ternovan with Matthew St. Amand

Gas of Tank: A Canadian Law Enforcement Odyssey 1979 – 2019
by Matthew St. Amand, Todd Ternovan

Edmond Gagnon‘s Review – Jun 07, 2022  

Best book I’ve read in a long time.
You might call me bias because like the author, I’m a retired police officer and also an author. But with the help of Matthew St. Amand, former O.P.P. Constable Todd Ternovan offers an emotional and insightful view of what policing it really all about. It’s about people.
If you want an honest and accurate picture of what it’s like to work the front lines in law enforcement, this is a must-read. Many of Todd’s stories brought me back to moments in my own policing career – the good and the bad.
Our paths crossed at least once or twice during our respective careers, somewhere in between 1990 to 2009 but I didn’t really know the man. Reading this chronology of his career made me realize we shared a lot of the same work ethic. He’s done an amazing job on his first book and is obviously a great story teller. His use of witty and colorful metaphors had me laughing out loud. His dry and sometimes sarcastic sense of cop humor showed through.
I thought the title was weird at first, but as Ternovan says, it is befitting the surreal, upside-down and unbelievable experiences police officers face every day.

Snowbirds Returning Home

Anyone who understands my travel habits knows how I hate to take the same route twice, even when returning from a particular destination. So, why would our return trip from Mexico be any different. If you read my post, Snowbirds Who Drove to Mexico, you got to see how it really is possible to drive there, and see some cool stuff along the way.

They say, what goes up must come down. But in our case we did it in reverse, driving back home from Mexico and taking a completely different route to get there. After six days of 8 to 10 hour drives on the way down, we slowed things down a bit on the way home, taking 7 days instead. Daily stopovers were chosen in advance for peace of mind.

To prep the Silver Bullet for the trip home I attended the local outdoor car wash for an in and out. I had them check the air filter, top up my fluids, and repair a sticky hood latch. All for the scandalous price of $12 Canadian.

From out winter home in Melaque, on the Pacific coast. we chose the town of Tonala as our first stop. It’s kind of a suburb, southeast of Guadaljara. We chose this stop as a place to shop, hearing that it is the place to go in Mexico for wholesale and bargain prices on everything from furniture to artwork. Our car was already quite full, but we managed to stuff in a large mirror, tin sunburst for our patio, and a set of handblown glasses, all for a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else.

We spent the next night in Saltillo, an automotive town just south of Monterrey. For safety-sake we never travelled at night and mostly stayed on the larger toll roads or highways. The drive was fairly uneventful until we hit a large rock and blew a tire, in the middle of nowhere. No problem, we thought, we had full coverage Mexican car insurance that included flat tires.

While I checked the damage, Cathryn called the emergency numbers for roadside assistance. No answer at one and a message from the other stating to call back during normal business hours. Another call to the Green Angles (roadside help) also went unanswered. Seems nobody was working on Saturday. I had the trunk empty by the time she got off the phone and found the spare tire.

Thankful that I took auto mechanics in high school, I was able to figure out the newfangled jack and how to change the blown tire. Problem #1 solved. Our GPS found a Goodyear about a half our away but they closed for their 3 hour siesta around the same time. Problem #2. Driving above the recommended speed limit on the ‘donut’ spare, we made it just in time.

After some discussion with the garage manager, with both of us faking each other’s language, he agreed to the repair. He and the tire jockey had their own discussion about working overtime to take care of us. With the new tire is was easy sailing to the U.S. border, until we got stopped for speeding about 15 miles shy of America. 117 in a 60. Shit!

Now, you have to understand that we never encountered a speed trap anywhere in Mexico the whole three months in country, and for the most part I didn’t think police could afford radar guns. I’d heard stories of them using hair dryers to extort money from gringos, but I’ve seen my share of radar guns and got to see the digital readout for myself.

Add another 200 bucks to the cost of travel. There are few posted signs in the area, where it seems the cops prey mostly on the heavy truck traffic heading for the border. Perhaps the Silver bullet set a new land speed record. I never saw a 60k sign, I swear. They call that racing here at home. The border was a welcome site and we headed for New Orleans.

Our first stop in the U.S. was in Sugarland, just south of Houston, where we found a hotel near a Rudy’s Smokehouse. We’d stopped at one near Austin on the way down and had to do a repeat for some Texas Barbeque. No more tacos! Highway signs in Louisiana for Boudin and Crackling got the best of us and we stopped to check out the local snack food. The latter being something like pork rinds with some meat still attached, and sprinkled with cajon spice.

Our Airbnb

From there we were able to get into New Orleans early the next afternoon, where we found the coolest Airbnb in Algiers Point, across the Mississippi River from downtown NOLA. Only a 5 minute ferry ride from Canal Street, we were blown away by our quaint little neighborhood, with it’s colorfully painted shotgun style houses and eclectic cafes and restaurants. Our Airbnb was actually an old gas station at one time.

I’d been to NOLA once before but Cathryn hadn’t so we started with a trolley tour along Canal Street, then through the Garden District to ogle the fine mansions. We got off in the French Quarter and took in touristy things like beignets at Café du Monde, the waterfront, and Bourbon Street. We chowed down on Willie’s Fried Chicken while listening to live music on Frenchman Street.

Crown & Anchor English Pub

The best meal we had was back across the river at the Dry Dock Cafe, where we sampled Alligator sausage, seafood gumbo, a turkey Po Boy, and bread pudding. Our best breakfast was also in Algiers Point at the Tout de Suite Cafe, where we also scored a cool piece of stained glass art. They say NOLA is all about music and food. We ate our share and Cathryn gave her leftovers to hungry street people.

Our last night was spent along the Interstate, somewhere, less than a day’s drive from home. Most of the Covid bullshit was over by the time we hit Canada, and only had to produce our passports. With our side trips in Mexico we did a total of about 10,000 kilometers or 6,000 miles. Cheers to the Silver Bullet.

Top Gun: Maverick

Bigger, better, louder, and more action-packed than the original, Top Gun Maverick will literally pound on your chest and rumble the floor beneath your seat. Tom Cruise pulled all the stops making this blockbuster, spending $11,000 an hour to use the navy’s F18 fighter jets. Yes, the jets, top gun pilots, and much of the arial action was real. Filmed live with special cameras, designed to fit the aircraft.

Cruise even put his cast of top gun actors through boot camp and had each and every one of them go up in the fighter jets so that they could experience what actual pilots go through. Their distorted faces are the real deal, while they experienced the G forces that would make most of us throw up.

This movie is a must-see on the big screen with surround sound, to truly appreciate the awesome power of the supersonic jets portrayed in this film. There is one scene with Ed Harris where a low-flying jet literally blows the roof off a small building. It was unexpected but really happened so they left it in for effect. There were several other times where the sonic booms and jet wash rumbled our seats.

The story is good, bring back an old flame of Maverick’s who’s referred to in the original. There are a few flashbacks, triggered by Goose’s son, Rooster, who is a Top Gun selected for a dangerous mission that Maverick is called on to lead. The two of them must resolve an unresolved issue between them to survive what awaits them.

Enough said, check out the trailers and behind the scenes clips to see how this awesome movie was made. It is one of a kind. Catherine and I give it 10 out of 10 and will probably see it again before long.