(This "About Me" page was last updated by Bob in January 2005. Obviously, it's now over a decade out of date. I haven't been able to track him down, but Bob, if you find this page, feel free to update as you see fit!)
Who I AmEdit
My name is Bob Ames and I live about twenty miles west of Boston. Early fifties, divorced, I work for a large defense contractor which is trying to get out of the business of making things of value and wants to be an engineering firm. I've got twenty-five years of Union seniority and I'm hanging onto a job by my fingernails. Go figure.
I work the 10 pm to 6:30 am shift so I am probably sound asleep while you are reading this. It does take some getting used to, but the benefit of being able to concentrate on getting the job done while the idiot management people are in dreamland is a blessing. The downside is that outside of work I am out of sync with everyone but my own third shift friends, but it is so much better than the last couple of years when I was forced to work on first shift. An alarm clock set for 5:30 am is an abomination unto all that is holy.
Prime-time television is a distant memory, which is fine with me. I used to be a TV junkie but I cancelled my cable subscription years ago and never missed it. $35 a month and the most interesting thing to watch is Emeril kicking it up another notch? No thanks, I'll just pull another book down from the shelves. .
As far as pictures go see I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille (Note: these didn't survive the move to the Internet Archive)
Some other authors you might want to try:
- Lawrence Block. The man has been writing forever, and can't get the books out fast enough. The guy actually sends out a newsletter to his fans. Two of my favorites series are:
- Matt Scudder. For years he was an alcoholic ex-cop who worked as an unlicensed private eye. Some books back he found AA and turned things around. You have to admire an author who has the courage to do a 180 degree change on his main character, and has the skill to pull it off.
- The Burglar series starring Bernie Rhodenbarr, a mild mannered thief who somehow always finds himself mixed up in a murder. They are very funny, and usually wind up with a "you're probably wondering why I asked all of you here" ending. Mr. Block loves poking good-natured fun at his detective fiction colleagues.
- Do you remember a band called Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys some years back? Well, the Kinkster has been writing detective stories for some time now and they are hilarious. His take on life is just a little bit twisted. Get the books, you'll love them.
- Elmore Leonard. The man is a legend; another of those people who have writing forever. He got a lot of publicity when Get Shorty became a hit movie. IMHO Travolta still looks too young for his age to play Chili Palmer, and someone took the fact that the main character was shorter than you might think to cast a pudgy midget to play the part. I love Danny DeVito, and he made the movie, but he destroyed the book. The sequel, Be Cool, is also good. Pick up anything with his name on it.
- Lawrence Sanders. The McNally series is a very funny read. The son of a wealthy Palm Beach lawyer handled discrete inquiries for the upper class on Florida's Gold Coast. There is some controversy over the fact that the latest novel was ghost-written after his death and the publisher went out of its way not to let it be known. Some readers claim to have noticed a difference in style, but I wonder if they were biased by their advanced knowledge. It seemed a good addition to the series to me, and I look forward to future volumes.
- Donald E. Westlake. Another prolific writer. Someone traced no less than nine pseudonyms (see http://www.myunicorn.com/bibl4/bibl0480.html ) My personal favorite is the Dortmunder books, about a thief whose "best-laid schemes...gang aft agley." I discovered this series when What's the Worst That Could Happen? was the latest and had to read all of the previous volumes. It's ROTFLOL stuff.
- The Annotated Bob: the above quote is from the Scottish poet Robert Burns, in his poem To A Mouse, November 1785. Since it doesn't concern the Spenser series I decided not to include it in the Poetry section, but I invite you to visit http://www.electricscotland.com/burns/mouse.html for the full text.
- Lois McMaster Bujold. One of my other pleasures is science fiction. The Vorkosigan saga blends Space Opera with a complex examination of human emotions. Besides Parker, she is the only author for whom I will demand bookstore personnel go into the back room and tear open boxes to look for the newest arrival.
- J. K. Rowling. Okay, I was another one who lined up after midnight to buy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when it came out. And I'll be there for the next one too.
What else do I like?
- Forbidden Planet: Classic science fiction with great animation by Disney for the monster-in-the-force-field sequence.
- Repo Man: Emilio Esteves, Harry Dean Stanton, and a soundtrack album I still keep handy.
- Buckaroo Banzai: (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.) The cast listing is incredible. Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd. "A cult classic" hardly describes it. My favorite viewing was my sixth, at a midnight showing in my boring town. There was me and one couple in the theater. Before the end they had left, but I made the projectionist show every last minute of the closing credits.
- Army of Darkness: What can I say? I'm a big Bruce Campbell fan. Too funny to be considered a horror film, to me this was the pinnacle of Sam Raimi's directorial career.
- Lord of the Rings: The first movie finally got it right. I have several issues with the second but the third one brought it all together.
- Team America, World Police: I mention my love of Supermarionation later but to mix that with the minds behind South Park is just surreal. Every time I watched it I almost passed out laughing when the bad guys released the panthers.
- Anything by Kevin Smith: Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are magnificent. Chasing Amy and Jersey Girl didn't do much for me, but others think elsewise.
- Anything starring Jim Carrey: Ace Ventura, The Mask, The Truman Show, Liar Liar. The man is a genius.
- Anything starring Danny Kaye: A professional from the old school. Singer, dancer, actor; master of the subtle gesture or the broad take as the role required. Hans Christian Andersen, The Court Jester, White Christmas, The Inspector General (based on a play by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogal.)
- Anything starring Humphrey Bogart: Nuff said.
- Musicals: Little Shop of Horrors, Singin' in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu (Olivia Newton-John, let me be your love slave.)
- Pretty much anything from the past century, with the exception of do-wop and rap. I can go from jazz, swing, big band, and show tunes to 60's pop or screaming heavy metal. Satchmo's voice can still make me shiver with awe, but I also like to spin my Zappa collection. A playlist that starts with Billy Holiday and ends with Metallica is fine with me. My album collection (remember those?) contains such rarities as an original Captain Beyond (with the 3D cover) and one by the illustrious team of Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon. Also two 45 rpm copies of "Red Rubber Ball" by Cyrkle (in case one wears out) and a cover version by Neil Diamond just for laughs.
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Shine on you crazy diamond is my favorite PF song of all time.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Rick Wakeman. Back up a keyboard genius with the London Symphony Orchestra and see what can happen.
- Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. Actually anything he wrote, but this is the cream of the crop.
- Year of the Cat by Al Stewart. What can I say? It has some of his best songs.
- Out of the Blue by the Electric Light Orchestra. I have a complete collection of their stuff on vinyl, and they all lead up to this. Downhill after that, IMHO.
- The Wild Cats. A Korean band from the 60's. I have a priceless piece of vinyl that I've listened to so many times I can sing along, even though I know the translation of only two or three words. Heavy on the bass and synthesizer, two female singers, and a big picture of a pussycat behind them.
- Anything by Hawkwind, Aerosmith, Talking Heads, Traffic, Cream, Steeleye Span, Shel Silverstein, the Doors, Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa.
As mentioned above it's a habit I have broken myself of almost completely, but I do have complete tape libraries of a few shows.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. The original series is classic, but they were fighting a battle on too many fronts: primitive and expensive special effects processes, budget constraints, time constraints, a concept called "science fiction" that no studio heads at that time could respect. It was lucky to have lasted as long as it did.
- This one came at the right time. Mind boggling FX were to be had for pennies. People had come to respect Science Fiction after a few good quality motion pictures made megabucks. Gene Roddenberry had years to look back on all of his former mistakes and correct one or two of them (OK, the captain usually stays on the bridge. But the second officer, head of engineering, head of security, and all the other honchos always form the away team. In TV land you still can't get away with beaming down a Corporal and five PFCs to secure the danger zone, neutralize the enemy, and hang a few "Officers Only" signs on the best bars and brothels.)
- Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula is a fine actor and a great singer. Dean Stockwell was brilliant as the somewhat flamboyant Al. I can only watch M.I.A. (episode #30) about once a year because the ending is just too powerful and I am one of those who couldn't be happier with the final show, Mirror Image. If you're not a dedicated fan you have no idea what I am talking about. Good for you.
- Brisco County Jr. I mentioned above that I am a fan of Bruce Campbell, and this series was what hooked me. The cheerful anachronisms were incredibly funny.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: A show that you absolutely had to tape, because the jokes came so fast and furious you couldn't possibly catch them all in one sitting. It's gone now, but it was a fine run.
- Supermarionation: God bless Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. I now have boxed DVD sets containing every episode of Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet, plus videotapes of the movie spinoffs.
- XM satellite radio: When my dashboard cassette player bit the dust I replaced it with a CD deck that could also tune in the satellites. It makes on-air radio seem as outdated as as as one of Edison's waxed cylinders.
That's it for now. Go back and look at the interesting stuff.