Saturday, February 16, 2013

News of the Week

Sandi is the winner of the complete set of E.J. Copperman's Haunted Guesthouse series! Sandi, please contact E.J. with your info.

Banana Joe. Dog, or Ewok? You be the judge.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  We don't tend to comment on current events much here (unless they're related to Downton Abbey!) but after a week like this last, how can we resist? Last Saturday, those of us on the East Coast were buried under The Snowstorm Of The Century (TM). In the seven days since then:

1. The President gave the State of the Union address
2. Benedict announced he would be the first pope in 600 years to resign
3. An Affenpinscher was named Best in Show at Westminster
4. North Korea exploded something nuclear
5. "Blade Runner"/Olympian Oscar Pistorius was arrested for murder
6. Lady Gaga cancelled her 29-city North American tour after 13 stops
7. The Illinois State Senate passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the Land of Lincoln.

"Missed it by THAT much, chief."
Whew! What do you think about the interesting times we live in, Reds?

 HALLIE EPHRON: Interesting, isn't it, how what passes for today's "news" ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. You didn't mention them, but I'm riveted by the stinky cruise ship limping into port and impending asteroids. Which makes me wonder if "news" isn't a ploy to keep us from paying attention to the really scary stuff (like global warming and untreated mental illness) that we tell ourselves we can't do anything about.


Most inappropriate head shot EVER.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I read the newspapers, three of them every weekday, the Times, The Globe and the Herald, in the car on the way to work. Often I read the articles out loud, so Jonathan isn't only the chauffeur. (Weekends, we read at the breakfast table.) Some days I say: How am I supposed to KNOW all this knowledge?Like--oh, Timbuktu is in Mali? The what, the sequester?

How do I know what really MATTERS? (That's what haunts me about the news.It's all NEW things. Some of it will be history, but what?)

And Julia, how about the rogue cop on the run in the shootout in California?  And the desperate drink of water by Marco Rubio? MIchelle Obama's bangs? And what the heck is the Harlem Shake?

Sometimes I make up stuff when I am reading out loud to Jonathan just to see if he'll notice. He rarely does. 

Am I the only one who hears the Love Boat theme?
JULIA: I can't believe I forgot the Poop Boat.

LUCY BURDETTE: Yes, I too am obsessed with the cruise ship, both because we see a lot of them in Key West. And I've been on cruises. And cannot imagine how AWFUL that experience must be! Decks awash with poop? Nothing to eat? People getting sick left and right? No amount of sanitary hand cleanser could save me...

And the rogue cop--absolutely terrifying. All those families worrying they are next in his sights...the scariest kind of thriller, but REAL!

and ps, I did not care for Michelle's bangs...

The Pope shows the expiration date in his zucchetto.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I'm still getting over the shock of Lady Sybil dying - oh wait, you meant real news.

I think the Pope's resignation has been the big recent news for me. I'm officially Catholic (not that anyone, including my Jewish husband would notice) but it is something of a big deal. And I coincidentally watched a terrific HBO special called Mea Maxima Culpa about scandals in the church and how Benedict, before he was Pope, was charged with handling (finessing?) many of them.

I've stayed away from the rogue cop, poop decks,and anything to do with Lady Gaga. That said, LOVED Michele's bangs. Hated Scalia's hat.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: How can we not talk about the asteroid fly-by! The 150 foot Asteroid 2012 DA14 whizzed by a mere 17,150 miles from earth, the closest known approach of an object that size.  This was a near-miss in astronomical terms, and an impact would have been the stuff of science fiction. And at the same, but merely coincidentally according to scientists, a meteor slammed into the Ural Mountains in Russia, injuring a reported 1,100 people.  The meteor, estimated to be about 10 tons and 49 feet wide, entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered into pieces about 18-32 miles above the ground.  This was fireworks, folks.  Real fireworks, real news.

And on a slightly lesser scale,  I'm fine with Michelle's bangs. Why shouldn't she have bangs?

Real ad. You can't make this stuff up.
JULIA: Ambivalent about the bangs. I'd really love it if she went natural.

For me the most shocking news was the famous "Blade Runner." I mean, what is up with athletes these day? One has a fake dead girlfriend, and another (allegedly) kills his real live girlfriend? The Smithie, who ran throughout high school and who still avidly follows the world track stars, texted me, 

I can't help but think that somewhere, there's a smart scriptwriter working on a draft of POSEIDON 2013: a group of cruisers, including a rogue cop, a troubled double-amputee, a lovable Affenpinscher and Lady Gaga, are on their way to see the pope's final mass when their ship breaks down. Can they escape before they get radiation poisoning from the North Korean nuclear bomb launched to stop the killer asteroid on a collision course with earth?

How about you, dear readers? What's your take on the news of the week? And what do you think of Michelle O's bangs?


  1. Is it any wonder we read mystery books? The real world can be way too frightening to contemplate.

    Since my husband spent his police years with the LAPD, we most definitely followed the rogue cop story . . . and the asteroid/meteoroid stories were hot topics around here . . . like everyone else, I’m surprised about the Pope, but if he feels he can no longer do the job, kudos to him for having the courage [grace?] to actually say so and step aside . . . stunned disbelief over the whole Oscar Pistorius mess [sadly, he’s not the first athlete to hit the news in a negative way] . . . felt bad for the cruising folks, but on the plus side they are all safe [even if they did have a rough go of it] . . . .

    I’m ambivalent about Lady Gaga canceling her tour . . . the Affenpinscher was cute . . . I don’t really care how Michelle wears her hair, but I am a big fan of bangs, so I suppose you’ll have to count me in on the side of those who like her new ‘do . . . .

    If any of the Reds wrote a book with this week’s news as the central plot, no one would ever believe it . . . perhaps the “Poseidon 2013” writer would get away with it since Hollywood plots often tend toward the fantastic anyway . . . . Mark Twain surely was right when he told us that the truth was far stranger than any fiction . . . .

    After all this, I think I’ll practice being an ostrich for a bit and just go read a good book where, in the end, everything will be okay . . . .

  2. I am obsessed with Michelle O and am stunned that I never thought of her going natural. How beautiful she would be with her hair an inch long and huge earrings, no? (Yes, I too hate the bangs.)

    I also stunned that nobody mentioned the Agatha nominations that were also news this week! I guess they weren't widely read world news, but are big in our circle here. (Wild clapping ensues.)

  3. News in my week was the real thing: a shooting at the county courthouse that left two women dead, and six young girls without mothers. A really tragic story that has been in and out of the news for years. A local optometrist, with the help of his mother, kidnapped his three young daughters after convincing his ex-wife to let him take them on a trip to Disney. They were missing for 19 months, finally found in Costa Rica, after appearing on America's Most Wanted. He'd told the girls their mother had committed suicide. He went to jail, as did his mother.

    That was 5-6 years ago. This past year, he was released from jail and supposedly living in a halfway house in Texas. On Monday, he had a hearing at the courthouse about child support, although his parental rights were severed after the federal kidnapping conviction. He wanted to regain parental rights. So his ex-wife, whose home apparently was like Fort Knox with so much security, and her best friend went to the courthouse on Monday morning. The courthouse should be a safe place, considering it is crawling with cops all the time. In the lobby, they were both shot by the ex-husband's father, who also died and who shot two officers as well. Rumor has it the shooter had a brain tumor, so why not take out the mother of your grandchildren since you're going to die anyway?

    This story bothered me so much, not only because it happened a few miles away and I've been in that courthouse many times, and know people who work there. I keep thinking about these three little girls, who attended the school on my street, who were told once that their mother was dead. It was a lie, but they believed it. This time, they were told she was dead again, only this time it was the truth. And their mother's friend? She'd gone to the courthouse to provide moral support.

    I've seen the story referred to as "a nasty custody battle" which I think is an almost flip description, although it is accurate. Six girls with no moms because one selfish man wanted revenge. That sounds like a tragedy to me.

    I'm sorry this is so long. It's been bothering me, so thank you for a place to get it off my chest.

  4. How horrific, Ramona. I wonder how the grandfather got a gun into the courthouse? There is usually very tight security.

    Two other recent stories:

    The famous Navy SEAL, the "best sniper in US history", who wrote a book about his experience taking out targets in Iraq and Afghanistan, was shot on a gun range by another soldier, a man with PTSD who the sniper had been helping. I mean, if you are armed to the teeth and still shot, how does having more guns help?

    And the unprecedented use of a filibuster for the nomination of a cabinet member, for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Which makes me better understand why someone could be super angry at public officials.

  5. Hmmm, if this was a thriller or PI novel, all of these threads would tie neatly into one plotline by the end of the book, but for the life of me, I can't get that affenpinscher into the story.

    I'm thrilled by the news in IL. Along with Iowa, I'm seeing marriage equality take hold in the Midwest, so I have high hopes. Plus the huge story of 2013 is likely to be the Supreme Court decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, which could drastically change rights (or not.)

  6. There was so much woe to woe-rry about this week - I loved the comments on Daniel Kurtzman's About Political Humor on .. Rubio's watergate... the " gulp heard round the world!" Read it, folks, and giggle... that Kurtzman - he makes my day - daily!! Thelma in Manhattan

  7. The rogue cop story frightened because I have relatives who are/were in law enforcement. It's been a couple of days since I've seen anything about it in the newspapers, and I feel like the story isn't over yet. It certainly isn't for the families involved. From the beginning it sounded like something out of fiction. It was hard to know if the radio reports I heard were book reviews of a suspense novel or were actually news.

    The meteor in Russia is almost too frightening to think about. Not only can meteors not be controlled - there is no way to be prepared for one to hit YOUR area. At least we in the northeast knew that a blizzard was coming.

    I didn't know there was controversy about Mrs Obama's bangs. There are more important things for bangs critics to be concerned with! (I have bangs. Some people think that women "of a certain age " shouldn't have them. Too bad!)

  8. And, did you hear that, after finally getting off the disabled Triumph cruise ship and onto buses, one of them broke down?

    Adding insult to injury...

  9. @Karen, this was in the lobby, between the doors and the metal detectors. There's an area where people filter through, because it's a huge building and, on Monday morning in particular, scads of people show up for jury duty, ticket payments, court dates, etc. There are armed security officers, but there is a gap between the doors from the street and the elevator doors, and the metal detectors. He was waiting in that area. He had to know he'd never make it out that building. The two officers he shot are okay, but ironically, the shooter died by his own bullet. They shot him a couple times, and then he shot himself in the head.

    Okay, I'm letting this go now, I promise.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. (Sorry, posted from the wrong account!)

    It's tough to know where to start this week. Being here in Los Angeles, I was riveted by the live news updates to the Dorner story on Tuesday, as it all unfolded in Big Bear. I used to live in Torrance (where the two women in a pickup truck were shot at by mistake by cops) and we always used to joke that it was a very safe town because the cops where known to shoot first and ask questions later. Guess so?

    And Pistorius ... I've been trying not to read too much or dwell on his story too much because it's so unbelievably disappointing. Do we have any heroes left?

    And have you all heard about the horse meat scandal in Europe? A few beef-processing plants have apparently been slipping a little horse (and sometimes pig) meat into their "beef" and they're finding horse DNA in "beef" lasagne on the shelves in major markets, as well as in school lunches, in a variety of countries. Yuck.

    I think we're due a slow news week where all we have to talk about Beyonce lip-synching or not. Yeah, let's go back to that and take a break!

  12. Oh, Ramona - that story reminds us all of the real pain behind screaming headlines and makes us glad we all write fiction.

  13. I can't believe that my comments disappeared yet again. What evil force on the internet swallows them?
    Now I just have to add "ditto to what they said."

  14. Actually, horsemeat is not so bad, and a lot of countries have used it as part of their staple diet for a long time. We in the US are horrified, but I know I've had it many times. (A local diner used it in their very popular meatloaf, unbeknownst to their hoity-toity customers.)

    I've been thinking about the "hero" athletes a lot lately, since so many of them have come up as having feet of clay. Think about the attributes of top athletes, and physically beautiful people, and those who are powerful in some other way--money, fame, acting, etc. It all boils down to one thing: fitness for procreation. The strongest, healthiest, smartest, and most physically beautiful are more attractive to humans because of natural selection. The fittest get the best mates.

    So, it all boils down to sex.

  15. Lady Gaga? Who cares? While Steve, now safely out of rehab, settles in to a day of ESPN with Paul, Kendall and I are going to the SinC meeting in Tucson where Rhys is our very special speaker today!

  16. I love Michelle's bangs.

    I wish "celebrity news" would go away. I'd like it fine if it would live on a show like "Entertainment Tonight" only and not on what, I think, should be "real" news. It makes me grumpy (could you tell?).

  17. Now they're saying the meteor had nothing to do with the asteroid. Come ON.

  18. Yay, Reine and Steve!!! So glad he's home, and that you are getting to see Rhys.

    Any chance you can come to the PP to see me next week?

  19. When the story of the horse meat came on the news I thought of being in Guangzhou, in southern China. Someone in our group ate "hamburger" that we later found out was most likely dog meat and had a severe case of food poisoning.

    As for Michelle Obama's bangs, I say any woman with arms like hers can style her hair any way she wants.

  20. To amend the horse meat story, a friend in Europe tells me that it's not the horse meat that is the problem, but the fact that it came from uncontrolled sources, was imported illegally, and contained horse pain killer, which is harmful to humans. While also being labeled and sold as "beef," of course.

  21. Yikes! That makes a difference, Tammy. Thanks for the addendum.

    For the record, I think way too much attention is paid to the looks of public figures. If they are women. With the exception of John Boehner's oddly orange skin, hardly any attention is ever paid to male celebrities and their looks. As an example, Hilary Clinton.

  22. Although I am riveted by the news, I know why I read your books. What a relief!

  23. I live in Austin, where Lance Armstrong was considered a hero. I watched the Olympics and considered Oscar a hero. I think that successful athletes start believing their publicity and figure the rules no longer apply to them.

    I think that at times people who believe they can kill someone who stands in their way think the same way. Why else would someone kill people who have rightful custody of a child? Or shoot people who discipline them for breaking a law?

    And I too am soooooo sick of hearing so called celebrity info. I do not care who is sleeping with whoever. I do not care where someone very wealthy buys their clothes or rents their jewels. I do not care that someone whose only claim to fame is nice hair but no acting talent has just gotten a zillion dollars to do another picture, tv show, or commercial for toilet bowl cleaner.

    I am now stepping off my soap box and returning to my dark cave.

    And I agree, if all this stuff were in a book, it would probably be considered too far out there.

  24. I'm tickled to say that I was there at the Garden for Banana Joe's win. New York really rolls out the green carpet for the WKC Best in Show - he or she appears on all the morning news shows and enjoys steak at Sardi's (a real tradition). This year, Joe made a cameo in Edwin Drood on Broadway, and there's a photo on FB of him and his handler Ernesto palling around with Michael Kors.

    What asteroid? ... Kidding! :)

  25. Oh Debs, I am o sorry that I will not be able to make the trip to Scottsdale. I'd read that you were going to be at the Poisoned Pen. I have no way to get there with my driver out of commission. Until I can get my own specialized wheelie van, I'm dependent on others to drive me.

    I'd hoped you might be at the Tucson Festival of Books this year. I haven't checked the updated list yet. Will you be here for that? It is huge--a great event for authors and readers!