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Thursday, May 7, 2015

#SHTF in False Flag!

What will be the coup de gras in the fundamental transformation of the USA---economic collapse? Race war? Terrorism?

Maybe all of the above, and then some, in this speculative saga about a near, dystopian future.

"What's that? It's a Rocco's Retreads novel, but not a shoot-em-up?"


Fear not, Two-Fisted Blogees: there is enough mayhem spread about to slake your heathen bloodlust. False Flag not only shifts the genre, but is a segue into full-blown #TEOTWAWKI (post-apocalyptic), which I anticipate for the fourth book.

The Kindle version is live now--paperback following up in about a week (for those who thirst for the blood of trees as much as for the blood of terrorists, pirates, and telemarketers).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Triumph of the Sun

I can't believe I never read Wilbur Smith before I stumbled on this book. After reading it, I educated myself on the author and his work. Like many prolific writers who crank out historical fiction, Wilbur Smith has created some fictional family trees, and crafted multiple stories around the generations thereof. In this novel, the Courtney and Ballentine families intersect during the siege of Khartoum. The novel takes the characters years beyond that event, and makes use of the author's extensive research on Africa, and the Sudan in particular, to provide a glimpse inside 2 distinct cultures.

I suspect Wilbur Smith is a closet anthropologist...not just because of the attention he gives animals in some of his novels, but because of the human actions and interactions he depicts--usually according to type. This book has a lot to offer: adventure, romance, action, tragedy, and a couple happy mini-endings.


Read the detailed review over at Virtual Pulp!

I also recommend Exodus by Leon Uris.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

I didn't see the movie until many years after it came out. When I did, the intentional mythologizing of history really grabbed me. I just had to read the book.

The book didn't disappoint. Wolfe's account of the early Space Race was both fascinating and hilarious.

I've never forgotten his colorful expose` on the collective subconscious of the testpilots/astronauts, in particular. Like the ziggurat metaphor used to describe the egocentric construct of the unspoken hierarchy according to how much of the Right Stuff each individual thought he and his peers possessed. In fact, I was obsessed with Wolfe's depiction for a while. I was rubbing elbows with military pilots at the time, and considering becoming one myself, and could see the truth in it: huge egos and equally enormous wristwatches.

I at least had the ego.

Anyway, the psychological insights are only dressing for the thorough investigative reporting Wolfe wove into an informative and entertaining inside story of an elite subculture in history.

For those who haven't both read the book and seen the film, I encourage you to correct that. It's not a case of one being better than the other; instead they compliment each other.

To read the full review, click here!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Another Free Kindle Book (For Limited Time)

Anybody remember Mad Magazine back when it was funny? Hmm, probably not. Well, anyway, it was hilarious once upon a time. How 'bout the early movies of Mel Brooks and the Zucker Brothers? (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Airplane, Airplane II) Get the picture now? That gives you an idea of the type of humor to be found in this short political satire. But it's not from the typical/obligatory left-wing perspective--quite the opposite.

Well, hmm. It's written as if it is, in fact, from the typical/obligatory leftist/feminist/homophile slant, but with razor sarcasm that lampoons the typical Marxist (usually called "liberal"), feminist and white knight memes, tropes and so-called logic. It's free for a couple days.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fight Card Novella for the Kindle Goes Free



The Fight Card series is a growing collection of retro-pulp boxing novellas--deliberate throwbacks to the sports fiction of yesteryear by some of today's most talented authors (writing under the house name "Jack Tunney"). Fight Card has spun off into MMA, romance and such, but Tomato Can Comeback is from the original hardboiled series.

Set in Detroit, 1954, it's the story of a young man fighting to redeem himself, both physically and psychologically. It's free for a couple days on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meira Pentermann's Nine Tenths

It took me a while to get around to this book. Not because the hammer & sickle on the cover made it look like a Hillary Clinton biography, but because of all the books in my towering To Be Read pile.

If they all read as fast as this one, though, I might actually catch up one day.

There's no doubt in my mind others have compared this to 1984. Of course it reminded me of the Orwell classic, too. But it truly is a thriller--as fun a read as you can hope for considering the subject matter.

Leonard Tramer is a pain in the ass, but I couldn't help sympathizing after reading the first chapter. Despite some stilted dialog here and there, and some minor plot complaints, this was an easy novel to give five stars. Meira Pentermann knows how to hook readers, and keep them hooked. Bravo.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Remembering Shifty Powers, E/506th PIR, 101st ABN Div.



I recently received an e-mail that has made the rounds for the last few years. As I received it the story therein was attributed to Chuck Yeager. I was skeptical of that, and yet the story itself rang true. I did a little cyber-legwork and found the story was most likely originally told by a guy named Mark Pfeifer. Here it is:

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle", the symbol of the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 . . . " at which point my heart skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped.

I told him yes, I know exactly where Normandy was, and I know what D-Day was. At that point he said "I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem." I was standing with a genuine war hero . . . . and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day.

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said "Yes. And it's real sad because these days so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip." My heart was in my throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach, while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I'd take his in coach.

He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and still care is enough to make an old man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it. And mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.

No big event in Staples Center.

No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

Back in the day I attended a few 82nd Airborne Association Conventions, and met some of the war veterans who went before me. BTW it wasn't just 82nd veterans who attended these events, but there were guys who had been 101st, 11th Airborne Division, 503rd PIR and "Triple Nickle" 555th PIB.
 
A lot of these guys, had they not earned jump wings at one point in their lives, would have joined the Moose Lodge or something so they'd have a fraternity of drinking buddies to BS with. For them it was that kind of thing. But I also met some guys who were a lot like Shifty as he's presented in this anecdote. Paratroopers were bad dudes, but these guys had a quiet humility about what they did that I couldn't help admiring.
 
There aren't many WWII veterans left in 2014, and most of the US population is oblivious to the sacrifice made and what we owe them. I will never forget.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Mastermind of Men's Fiction



Using the pseudonyms Gordon Davis and John Mackie, Len Levinson has delivered some of the most entertaining war fiction of all time. His Ratbastards and The Sergeant series stand out to this day as a model of how to blend action, adventure, character development and humor, creating a virtual reality in your mind of pulpy explosions and epic bayonet combat.

At long last I've been able to ask Len some questions about these two series over at Virtual Pulp.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Free For the Kindle: The Greater Good

For a while it appeared that I would get nothing written or published in 2014. But alas, I have just released an e-book.



 I've been writing mostly serious stuff, and decided to take a short comedy break. I would classify The Greater Good as a satire, which happens to spoof superheroes and action/adventure flicks (as well as politicians, the media, rednecks, feminists...nobody is safe from my poison keyboard!).

Imagine Mel Brooks and the Zucker brothers collaborating on an all-prose issue of Mad Magazine starring the Marx Brothers. That may or may not give you an idea what this book is like.

Anyhoo, it's free to download for a short time. Enjoy!


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Amazing Spider Mash-Up



I'm going to break convention in this review and give you the good news first. This Spiderman flick has a few things going for it that make it worth a watch despite the bad news.

First and foremost, this one movie accomplishes something that Sam Raimi couldn't pull off with an entire trilogy: it got the Spiderman character right. When this actor puts the costume on, he closely resembles the Spiderman of the comic books I remember: an incurable smartass; nerves of steel; bubbling over with cocksurity even when doom seems imminent; and a selfless hero in the truest sense of the word.



As Peter Parker, the character was somewhat less canonical...but I don't mind that so much. (BTW, the Toby McGuire Peter was closer to the high school nerd of the earliest comics.) Frankly, Parker's personal life in the comics was often so angst-ridden, disastrous and...real...as to be depressing. This Peter Parker is some kind of preppie-hip, though he certainly has his problems.

Read the entire review at Virtual pulp!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spec Ops Head-to-Head 2

But wait–there’s more!

This time the original (not counting the OSS) specops warriors throw their ego into the ring to show they can trash talk too. That’s right–the SF “Green Berets.”

And in this corner…the new kids on the block…the USMC MARSOC!

Watch the video and read the discussion at Virtual Pulp.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spec Ops Head to Head 1

Okay, some of you clowns over at SOFREP and Kit Up (fans of Deadliest Warrior or some similar drivel, I’m sure), etc., have been in a pissing contest for years about who the baddest dudes are to wear a uniform…and who is truly an “operator.”  Finally, we’re about to settle the matter once and for all.

The pressing question of whether Rangers or SEALs stand atop the Great Zigarat can’t be settled by a wargame or other field evaluation. We are indebted to urban gangsta culture for providing the most empirical, objective venue for separating the hardcorps from the pogues: a video of both sides trash-talking to a beat.

Watch the video and read the panel discussion at Virtual Pulp.