Star Trek–Slippin’ into Darkness

[Spoiler alert for those who haven't seen the film yet, skip paragraph three below]Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the whole Star Trek idea and series (for TV no less), was known for his cerebral plots, in an age before CG and endless shoot em up bang bang took over the film industry. He, was the proverbial hard act to follow, and so was the strong ensemble cast led by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Yet still the reboot of the Star Trek series with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto did a … [Read more...]

Johnny Hates Jazz— Magnetized

It's not an easy thing to make a comeback 25 years after you first began to make a name for yourself. It's especially not easy when the music landscape has changed almost entirely between 1988 when Turn Back the Clock produced a handful of mega-hits and now. Furthermore, it's doubly difficult when the two main members of a group did not talk to each other for 22 years... 22 years!! Yikes.And it takes guts to say 'this album is the sequel to 'Turn Back the Clock', and yes, it sounds like … [Read more...]

The Rankin Files—Hyde… and Seek

It's always a risk to attempt to 'sample' previous fictional literature and use one or more of it's premises to write a new story. The danger of course is comparison---to the detriment of the later writer's work, especially if he is 'sampling' a classic like Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. But Ian Rankin is from Edinburgh, and he loves the literary past of the city, and in this case, the sampling is not botched or obsequious or a mistake. I would liken it to what the TV … [Read more...]

The Rankin Files— Knots and Crosses

The game of tic, tac, toe goes by a very different name in the U.K.--- Noughts (as in zeros) and crosses (as in cross or X it out). It's a game, that if one is an experienced player, can end in stalemate over and over and over again. And unfortunately, the pursuit of justice can be pretty much stalemated even by a small error here and there. There are no clerical errors in this novel to bung things up, but there are plenty of wrong turns. John Rebus, master detective looks more like Inspector … [Read more...]

What Counts as Home?

I've been pondering the way we tend to use the word home--- rather loosely as it turns out. I've also been wondering--- what counts as home? We have cliches of course---- 'home is where the heart is' 'there's no place like home' and so on. It seems to be a place where most of us long to be, but why? I call High Point N.C. my hometown, because that's where I was born and grew up (through high school). But it's not really my home any more. It appears that the normal use of the term home … [Read more...]

Billy Graham’s Prayer for America

I grew up in Charlotte, not far from where Billy Graham's family originally had their farm. I became friends with his co-worker Leighton Ford when I went off to Gordon Conwell. Billy has meant a lot to me, and one thing for sure--- agree with him or disagree with him, he was always a straight shooter, telling the truth as he saw it, and usually I agree with him. Here below is his prayer for our country.'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek … [Read more...]

The Durham Chronicles– Down by the Riverside, Up on the Tower

Spring has finally sprung here (I had begun to think the spring was broken). So, I decided to take Ian Rankin with me down to the river (the novel, not the man) and read for a while, as the river flowed by. Thing was... there were another zillion people who had the same idea on this gorgeous day. So, I got some reading done, but mostly I heard snippets of conversations--- like "I was standing in the queue at the hospital and the nurse came and got me, even though I wasn't at the front of the … [Read more...]

The Rankin File— Tooth and Nail

While I was in Edinburgh, there was a tour on offer, where one would apparently ride around and gawk at the famous writer's houses etc. The writers from Edinburgh who were listed were Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.K. Rowling (yes Mrs. Potter herself), and Ian Rankin. The only one on this list I drew a blank on was the last mentioned Mr. Rankin (pictured above).My friend and colleague, Larry Hurtado, enlightened me... "he's a crime novelist, maybe the best in … [Read more...]

The Durham Chronicles— Visit to York Part Four

Saturday, since time immemorial in the U.K., is market day... and when market day happens in old York, all the buskers, blowers, crooners, bangers, players of music show up to entertain, along with jugglers, actors and ghost hunters. It's rather like a 3 ring circus comes to town. You can even ride the Ferris wheel by the river. But I digress. Let me show you some of the likely lads I came across...Nothing like a good pipes and drum corps to get the blood pumping. … [Read more...]