Friday, February 3, 2012

A Battle Between Good and Evil

Well, all right, I know we're not talking about THE battle between good and evil, okay? We're also not talking about a battle between the sexes, planets, nations, political philosophies or parties, superheroes and supervillains, man and nature, man and machine, predators and prey or natural enemies such as cats and dogs.

We're not even talking about the battle between dirt and cleanliness so extraordinary one can pretty darn well semi-safely eat off the floor if the floor owner is your German or Swiss grandmother or other nationality that has raised cleanliness next to godliness or maybe not, but you're up to date on your vaccinations such as tetanus, one hopes, or hope to God your luck holds, and don't ask yourself why in the world you don't pick up the food, shake it off, and stick it on a plate for pete's sake unless maybe you're out of plates because you're a bit behind on washing up or you're lying on the floor any way, and you just so happen to see something lying down there, uneaten for who knows why by the family dog or cat or your spouse or kids.

And we're not talking about sports that rightfully have umpteen billions of fans like soccer, known in most parts of the world as football or fútbol or whatever other name your native language calls it. (Pause for a breath and to mention writer Leighton Gage's blog about one of the sport's most wonderful players on and off the field, Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira.)


No, we're talking here about the American sport of football, and its Great Big Day, Super Bowl Sunday. THIS SUNDAY. When the New England Patriots, ably led by quarterback Tom Brady, meet the New York Giants, I hope less ably led by quarterback Eli Manning, in Indianapolis, Indiana. While the Patriots and the Giants crack heads in Lucas Oil Stadium in Super Bowl XLVI, fans at home will (again, I hope) not crack heads over bowls of guacamole and chips and bottles of beer or Coca-Cola. Even people who aren't football fans will be watching, because this is the day that ad agencies try to outdo themselves and each other in debuting creative TV commercials (yes, "creative TV commercials" is too frequently an oxymoron), and Madonna, of all people, who in the world chose her to sing I'd like to know, tries to outdo herself and previous performers in entertaining us viewers at halftime.

Americans who aren't watching the Super Bowl will find shopping malls happily drained and ski slopes tantalizingly bare during the game. On the other hand, they will be tragically unable to compare favorite commercials (mine is always the Budweiser beer Clydesdales), intelligently criticize Madonna or argue bone-headed Super Bowl plays at the office water cooler on Monday.

If you can't bring yourself to watch the biggest football game of the year, you can excuse yourself by watching Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VIII.

Or by reading one of these good mysteries, in which sleuths and criminals butt heads and engage in battle:

Bill Eidson's The Repo is set in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where former DEA agent Jack Merchant now lives on his sloop, The Lila. Sarah Ballard, who makes a living repossessing boats for banks, hires him to look for a missing couple and their yacht. It's an action-packed book with well-drawn characters. The Mayday is the next Ballard/Merchant book.

Walking Shadow, by Robert B. Parker, is the 21st appearance by Spenser, ex-boxer, ex-cop turned Boston private eye. In this book, Spenser is asked by his girlfriend to investigate the stalking of a theater company director. Fists fly and bodies pile up, but Spenser handles all of this with his usual aplomb and rustles up gourmet dinners at the same time. Some of the Spenser books are a little phoned in, but not this one.

Brattleboro, Vermont, is the ultimate New England town for artists and eccentrics. In Archer Mayor's Surrogate Thief, a gun involved in a shooting is linked to a robbery/murder that cop Joe Gunther handled 30 years ago as a rookie. This is a great small-town police procedural, and you don't have to begin at the series beginning.

Jane Langton's God in Concord is set in the town of Concord, Massachustts, home of Thoreau's Walden Pond and destination of Paul Revere's midnight ride in 1775. Developer Jefferson Grandison wants to build on the edge of Walden Pond. This doesn't sit well with everyone. This is the ninth book in the traditional mystery series featuring lawyer and ex-cop, now Harvard professor Homer Kelly. It contains Langton's charming line drawings.

Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are about as good as it gets when it comes to a pair of New England hardboiled private detectives. Begin the series with A Drink Before the War, in which Kenzie and Gennaro look for a cleaning woman who took some papers belonging to a senator. Some terrific Lehane standalones include Mystic River, Coronado (a book of short stories), and The Given Day (a book of historical fiction).

There you are, a bunch of good mysteries set in the beautiful northeastern states of the USA, home of the New England Patriots. At about oh, say, 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, I'll be happy to read a good book set in New York, home of the New York Giants. I'll leave it to a Giants fan or someone else to suggest some. Right now I need to rustle up some snacks for Super Bowl Sunday.


  1. You ate something bad off the floor that affected your judgement, Geortette. It's the Giants by 3. not one but two books you must read, Lou Manfredo's Rizzo's War and Rizzo's Fire abou t the NYPD. Not at all hopeful about Madonna, Tom

  2. I'm a New Englander and a huge Patriots fan, but we've been on sports blackout here because all the Super Bowl game hype can make you crazy. We'll turn on the game at kickoff and try to avoid all football stuff before then.

    I'm not at all optimistic about Madonna either. I saw her on the Graham Norton show last week and MAN she's obnoxious. Unbelievably full of herself and downright rude to her poor fans. Halftime is looking like a good time to go for a walk.

  3. Why not Madonna 20 years ago rather than now? I'm cheering for the Giants. My NYC contribution -- an FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast book, Brimstone. Authors Preston and Child throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Satanic killings, missile sales. This series is my guilty pleasure. Nikki

  4. Today's the day. I'm with the good women of this site. I think a psyched Brady wil deal with the Giants pass rush and its the Pats in overtime by 7. I'll donate a New York thriller for the hell of it. Thick as Thieves by Pete Spiegelman. Bad guys target even worse Wall Street guys. In these days of OWS protests, whats not to like about a book like that? Kev

  5. Thanks for the New York City book suggestions, Nikki, Tom, and Kev. I haven't read any of them, but they all sound fun.

    I'm hoping Brady and Gronk woke up feeling good and that the game won't go into overtime. That's a heart attack scenario, Kev. You can join Sister Mary and me in wishing the Pats luck this afternoon. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Madonna does a super job. Whatever she does, it will be good for dissection after the game.

  6. Kev, I'm thrilled you're on the Patriots' team, but OT?!!! I practically hyperventilated when I thought the AFC championship game was going to go into OT.

    My husband has succumbed to watching pre-game stuff and I've already spent two hours outdoors and vacuumed the house so I can avoid it.

    Have fun, everybody!

  7. Enjoying your blog. Brady will avenge the ruin of the Patrots perfect season the last time they met the Giantss in the Super Bowl. Who played at the half then? Springsteen? No matter, he should be on tap today. I predict the Patriots by a hair. GH

  8. Though not a true Madonna fan I could hear her from the other room while reading Reggie Nadelson's HOT POPPIES. Her voice sounded clear, strong and as good as I have ever heard her.

    At the moment the Patriots are ahead, go Georgette!

  9. What happened to the Patriots in the second half? They had that 17 before halftime, when we switched to the Puppy Bowl. Didn't come back until the fourth quarter, which was certainly exciting.
    Sorry, Sister and Georgette. Next time!

    This year's Bud Clydesdale commercial wasn't quite up to earlier ones, but the vampire one was a winner.

  10. Oy, Periphera, don't ask. The offense just fell apart. Dropped passes, a Brady underthrow that resulted in an interception, and so on. And the defense failed to convert any of the three fumbles they forced. I imagine that even worse than losing is to know that they didn't play their best.

    But it's another day, and a beautiful one at that, so I'm going to try to forget about it ASAP.