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Book Report: “The Ultimatum,” by Dick Wolf

Dick Wolf (insert howl here) created the “Law and Order” television shows. Before that he produced episodes of “Miami Vice” and wrote episodes of “Hill Street Blues” along with the screenplay for a movie I recall liking, the thriller “Masquerade,” 1988, with Rob Lowe and Meg Tilly. More recently, he…

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Music Post: Claude Bolling’s masterpiece, orchestrated

In the years 1975 to 1980 – the Sixties really lasted until 1975 – babyboomers found their musical world had changed. The music of their teens – Beatles and Stones, late Motown, early Steely Dan, progressive rock like Yes and ELP and Moody Blues, acoustic rock like CSNY – gave…

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When is price-hiking, price gouging?

The U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed Friday it sent letters to several airlines including American, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue asking for records on their fares before and after the May 12 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia. The goal: find out if any of these airlines gouged travelers on ticket prices. “This department takes all allegations…

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Music Post: First impressions

In 1858 the critic and poet Theophile Gautier, who wrote the ballet story “Giselle,” wrote a short story called “The Romance of the Mummy” that was an immediate hit. Ernest Fanelli, who was eight when “The Romance of the Mummy” was written, learned of the story not sooner than 1860…

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“Mockingbird” and “Watchman”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was the story of a man who had the decency to stand for justice in a Southern town too set in its ways to care about that sort of thing. So when the sequel, “Go set a Watchman,” portrayed the same man as a segregationist, there…

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Raiders of the tossed shark

In 2013 “Sharknado” was showing on SyFy, but it was so bad I kept trying other channels. Nothing else was on so I went bacjk, but each time I went back it was so tedious and awful I punched out again. Ian Ziering not only couldn’t act, but he had…

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Music Post: Early recorded Hawaiian music

In a time when you can fly nonstop to Hawaii from New York or Washington D.C. or Osaka or Auckland, a bygone time when even West Coast residents needed several days to sail to Aloha Tower seems quite distant and hazy. And in a time when music from Mongolia can…

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An early riser’s feelings about coffee

Unlike a doctor, who struggles to keep up with medical research in his or her own speciality, I read reports on all medical research of general interest. I’ve been doing this for four decades, and especially from 1977 to 1997 when, working at one of three radio networks, I would scrutinize the…

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Music Post: Alternate takes

When I entered high school in the fall of 1968 the number one hit in America was “Hey Jude.” But by November it was been dethroned by the third biggest hit the Supremes ever had – “Love Child.” It was an exciting record then – and strikes me 47 years…

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Have you been mugged by the weather?

There are so many things to love about Hawaii – the aloha, the scenery, the food, the people – but at the moment what I appreciate most is the trade winds. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Decades ago, as an annual visitor to the islands from Washington, D.C., I…