What? You've never read Kinky Friedman? You've been deprived, buddy. The future governor of Texas has been writing for well over 20 years. Even more if you go back to his days as a fringe country western artist with Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. His most famous character is a detective in New York, who, oddly enough is named Kinky Friedman, and surprise, surprise, is a former country western singer with a band called Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. O.K., by now you've guessed that the detective is the Kinkster himself. I reccomend you read just one of the series, you'll be hooked. Start with Greenwich Killing Time the first in the series.
Kinky is also a very good essayist. The collection here is proof. Some of the pieces come from his column in Texas Monthly, a rather yuppiefied magazine, but worth picking up just for the Kinkster's musings. You will see such articles as what to do (as well as what NOT to do) to your pick-em-up truck in Texas. (You just gotta have a grill guard, but don't get no damn furriner truck, only genuine Ford or Chevys.)
And if you ever have come into contact with a snippet of Kinky, you've bound to run across a word or phrase that sent you scurrying to a slang dictionary only to come up empty. "The Guide to Kinkybonics" will let you know just what is meant by being "Bugled to Jesus" and clear up once and for all, what the hell the "Medina wave" is.
And speaking of dictionaries, for any of you who might be slated for a prison term in Texas, the Kinkster gives you a thorough list of all the terms you will run across during your stay, just so you won't be lost.
Scattered amongst his musings are several fun lists, such as the "Texas Cheerleader Hall of Fame" , famous people who were cheerleaders at one time in their life.(some of which may surprise you) "Texas Inventions and Inventors", "Texas Firsts" and "If the Ten Commandments Were Written by a Texan..." ('Specially #7. It's the one that will get you in the most trouble if you break it.)
Rate this one 9½ stars.
Next book is "The Walrus was Paul" by R. Gary Patterson
On occasion, I will reveiw books that I read years ago that had a profound effect on me and my outlook on life in general. This is one of those books.
If you've seen the movie version with Jack Nicholson, you've only gotten part of the story. Ken Kesey wrote this tale from the eyes of the Chief, a supposedly deaf-mute Native American, who in reality is neither. But this makes him a valuable eavesdropper on the events at the mental hospital at which he is a patient.
Every patient in the mental hospital is classified as either "acutes" or "chronics". The "chronics" are the ones that are considered unreformable, while the "acutes" are ones that are deemed possible to help. Each of the acutes has one common theme to their mental state, and that is how they deal with certain women in their lives. Billy Bibbit has his overbearing mother, Charlie Cheswick his philandering wife, and Dale Harding, who has never had a relationship with his wife, due to the fact that he is a homosexual, are just a few of the characters.
Over them all is Nurse Ratched, who represents everything the patients fear in women, and uses it to full effect. Into this scenario enters Randle Patrick McMurphy, the exact opposite of the inmates. He is loud, obnoxious and in his own words likes "to fight and f*** too much". He almost immediately scopes out the situation and sees Nurse Ratched for the evil figure she is, and takes it upon himself to help the inmates overcome their fear of her.
He has some success at the beginning, but then learns that he is "involuntarily committed" and as a result is wholly dependent on the Big Nurse and her staff to say when he can be released, as opposed to the rest of the acutes who are there voluntarily and can check out at their own time. This sends McMurphy into a docile state, trying to cozy up to the staff, but has the effect of dismaying and even alienating the inmates who had started to look up to him.
Throughout the entire story, you get an insight into the veiws of the Cheif (remember him, our narrator?). The whole story is full of neat little nuances and symbolism of the kind that literature majors drool over, but don't be intimidated by that. It is an excellent story, and one you will find hard-pressed to put down.
Rate this one 8½ stars.
My first reveiw. As I stated in my disclaimer (see sidebar) there are people on Amazon, Barnes and Noble (and other book review sites) who will disparage a book just because they disagree with the book's content, not even having read the book in the first place. The morons who disparage this book can't even see the title says Bert Sugar is the book's editor. It is not "wriiten by" Bert Sugar. This is a dead giveaway that some people just found the book while browsing, and being the Dallas fans they are, wrote scathing denouncements of the book without ever having come in contact with the book. Of course, this is not a surprise to me, having lived in Texas all my life, I know how Cowboy fans are.
But this is supposed to be a review of the book, which is what I will do. Sugar has collected some two dozen essays from sportswriters, athletes and others on the subject. I will write about only a few of them so as not to spoil the entire book for you.
My favorite piece of this book is plain and simple. A writer, and even better artist, Bill Gallo draws the truie "America's Team" as an editorial cartoon. Hint:: none of them ever played for Dallas. These real America's team members are heroes from the heyday of cowboy movies (as opposed to Cowboy movies, like "North Dallas Forty") They include such notables as Gene Autry & Tex Ritter (true Texans and cowboys) and John Wayne (not a true Texan, but definitely a true cowboy).
The next one is by a guy named Thom Loverro who writes a fiction piece about a future where the destruction and decay of society is directly related to the sins of "America's Team". A father is telling his son of those days when the Cowboys were everywhere and doing everything evil for which they are known (drugs, hoodlumism, etc.).
Bill Conlin and Skip Bayless, veteran sports writers for Philadelphia and Dallas newspapers are featured here. If you are familiar with Skip Bayless' books about the Cowboys, you know he doesn't pull any punches, despite having worked in the city of Dallas. He doesn't here either. Most of the sports writers, by the fact of their profession do a better job of writing than do the athletes. But one of notable successes is Steve Bartkowski's piece. Although to be fair, it appears Steve's main grudge is that Dallas didn't use their draft pick on him. Suggesting that somewhere deep inside he would have liked to play for them.
At only 192 pages, it is far too short, but it is easily readable in an hour or two.
Rate this one 8 stars.
Next book is "Texas Hold-em" by Kinky Friedman