Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rome - Ellicott City - Albuquerque

January 3, 2016 Peace and Good, I missed a week on the blog. I was in Ellicott City for the past week for some meetings and dentist appointments. The weather was incredibly warm when I first arrived, but cooled off by the time I left yesterday. I am down in Albuquerque to give a retreat to a group of Friars Minor at our retreat house in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas. The weather in Europe has been quite cold these past weeks. Normally, at this time of year, there is a day or so of cold weather, and then it warms up a bit. That has not been the case this year. It must be one of the effects of El Nino. I will be down here in New Mexico until the end of the week, and then head back to Rome for some more meetings. I have been very relieved that there were no terrorist acts in Europe in these days. I expected the worst from all that I had been hearing. I finished some books: For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre I was first interested in this book because of its author. Ben Macintyre has written a number of good books about spies, especially during World War II. I liked his writing style. In this book he treats the author of so many spy novels about James Bond. It turns out that Bond is what Fleming was and what he would like to be. Macintyre credits the success of his books to the fact that Bond is what English men wish they could be but know that they never could. Fleming actually did work in a spy agency during World War II, and he took those experiences and extensive research into account as he wrote his books. This is a good overview of an author and a project and how they intersected and succeeded. A Warning in Red by Victor Whitechurch A man who consistenly pays his bills once a quarter with cash is found murdered by the side of a train track. The money has been taken. The detective is able to figure out that the man was not actually murdered at that site, but rather when he got off the train at his destined stop. The station manager and an accomplice then arrange to have his body carried down the track so that there might not be any connection between the man’s death and that particular site and the people working there. Meet you in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick and the Bitter Partnership that Transformed America by Les Standiford Andrew Carnegie founded and owned Carnegie Steel, which became the foundation of US Steel. Carnegie is famous for his philanthropy by building libraries all over the world. Frick was the manager of the company for Carnegie, and is equally famous for his collection of art which became the Frick Museum. Both of these men, however, were robber barons who exploited the workers who actually built their fortunes. This is especially seen in what they did to crush a strike at the Homestead Works in Pittsburgh. They eventually turned on each other, and hated each other the rest of their lives. When Carnegie, dying, invited a reconciliation with Frick, his response was that they could meet in Hell. Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, D.C. by J.D. Dickey Even though the nation’s capital was established early in its history, for the first 70 years or so it remained a backwater town with incredible hygene and crime and violence. The streets were unpaved. There were vast sections that were open field or, worse, covered in refuse. Animals were raised and butched throughout the city. Marshes bred malarial mosquitoes. It was only after the Civil War that something was done about the mess. Yet, at the same time this was happening, the inhabitants of the city lost the right to elect their own city officials. (It appears that this was at least partly due to the fact that Blacks made up a large portion of the population and Southern whites wanted to disenfrancise them.) The district was governed by the federal government for the next century. This is a good overview of the city from its founding to the time when it was finally well run (even though those running it also were thieves who enriched themselves on the projects they built). The Absence of Mr. Glass by Gilbert Chesterton This is a Fr. Brown mystery. He goes to a scientist to help him with a small problem, but while he is there, it appears that the subject of his concern has been attacked by a mysterious Mr. Glass. When they investigate, the scientist makes brilliant deductions, but Fr. Brown, in his simplicity, is able to solve the great mystery, which turns out not to be as great as everyone had first suspected. Darkfall by Dean Koontz This is a story that Koontz tells that reverts to his horror genre. A group of Mafia drug lords are suddenly and horribly murdered. The detectives investigating this crime discover a connection with a Jamaican voodoo cult. The practitioner of black voodoo has opened the doors of hell to release a series of demons who attack his enemies. The detectives and a practitioner of good voodoo must fight against him and his plans, especially since he intends to murder the children of one of the detectives. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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