Heist of the Century by Rene Maurice

I read the translation by Ken Follett titled Under the Streets of Nice.

Based on the true story of the break-in into a Société Générale bank in Nice, France 1976.

At the time it was the biggest heist in history.

In the book the leader of the ragtag band was Albert Spaggiari. A larger than life character.

For example, Spaggiari contacted the CIA bragging that he was the brains behind the bank robbery. Offering to work for the Americans in their future clandestine break-ins.

After finally getting caught, the ringleader escaped to Argentina becoming something of a folk hero in popular culture.

He died of lung cancer on 8 June 1989.

In truth stranger than fiction, the incompetence of the French police was unbelievable.

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Red Rock – season 1

Red Rock is an Irish crime drama set in the fictional seaside town of Red Rock near Dublin

Very good.

I’ve watched the first 28 episodes of 176.

Boyko Krastanov as Garda Adrijan Kosos is my favourite character.

But the entire ensemble cast is great.

If I had to AWARD anyone, however, it would be the BAD GUY — Sean Mahon as Garda Sergeant Brian McGonigle.

Click PLAY or watch a TV ad for the show on YouTube.


You Are Not Alone by Hendricks & Pekkanen

Another hit book from Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

Highly recommended if you like psychological thrillers.

Witnessing a suicide proves almost fatal for the witness herself.

Shay Miller would not have been on that subway platform had she not taken the 22 seconds required to tie up her ponytail.

Because she did, she is the sole witness to a suicide that changes her life.

But is she stalking the friends of the dead girl, or are they stalking her?

It seems to be both, as Hendricks and Pekkanen (An Anonymous Girl, 2019) unfold another one of their intricately plotted, female-focused thrillers. …

Kirkus Review


Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The two authors seem incompatible. But they certainly work well together.

ethics, GOP USA, government, movies

Movie – Trial of the Chicago 7

On the 51st anniversary of the trial verdict, Netflix put this film on YouTube for free.

 It’s the true story of the seven people on trial (eight including Bobby Seale) for protesting the Vietnam War at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The film depicts both the courtroom drama and circus surrounding the trial, as well as the protests in which people were beaten by Chicago police for expressing their constitutional rights. …

The Wrap

Sacha Baron Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman.

Sacha Baron Cohen has become the conscience of the American people. Certainly a hero of mine.

Born in England, of course.

Any thinking person in 2021 knows that the Vietnam War was a huge mistake.

80% of Americans once supported that war, fearing Communism. 80% of Americans were wrong.

The Chicago 7 were right. Mohammad Ali was right.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


Anthem – a novella by Ayn Rand (1938)

Many young men, including myself, are influenced by Ayn Rand, a flawed human being. No doubt. I doubt I could have lasted 5 minutes of her chain smoking harshness.

Not a particularly good writer.

But her her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, introduced many to a philosophical system she called Objectivism:

  • individualism
  • pursuit of happiness
  • individual rights
  • laissez-faire capitalism

We joked that Randian economic policy would be to SHOOT the UNEMPLOYED.

Academic philosophers have mostly ignored or rejected Rand’s philosophy. But it’s been embraced by some Libertarians and American conservatives. Also, impressionable young men.

Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella in an unspecified future date. The concept of individuality has been eliminated.

A young man known as Equality 7-2521 rebels by doing secret scientific research. When his activity is discovered, he flees into the wilderness with the girl he loves. Together they plan to establish a new society based on rediscovered individualism.

Anthem is hilariously simplistic. But I can see it as a precursor to The Fountainhead.

related – We  is a dystopian book by Soviet dissident Yevgeny Zamyatin, written 1920–1921.

The novel describes a world of harmony and conformity within a united totalitarian state.

It is believed that the novel had a huge influence on the works of Orwell and Huxley, as well as on the emergence of the genre of dystopia.

books, movies

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Elan Mastai is a writer and producer on the Emmy-winning TV series “This Is Us”. 

All Our Wrong Todays his first novel. I’m sure it will be turned into a film.

There are some things I quite liked about this book. And many things I didn’t. It’s an odd book — written as a casual memoir.

Tom Barren lives in a alternative universe to our own. A techno-utopia. Unlimited clean power supply. Flying cars.

Unfortunately Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life, but the very fabric of the universe itself.

In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

Time travel is near impossible to story logically. In fact, one story line is the impossibility of time travel.


Envy The Night by Michael Koryta

That’s it. I’ve read all the Koryta books.

An excellent writer.

That said, this one didn’t really work for me. I found the storyline too muddled.

In the seven years since he learned that his U.S. marshal father lead a double life as a contract killer–and committed suicide to avoid prosecution–Frank Temple III has mostly drifted through life.

But when he learns that Devin Matteson, the man who lured his father into the killing game only to later give him up to the FBI, is returning to the isolated Wisconsin lake that was once sacred ground for their families, it’s a homecoming Frank can’t allow.
government, humour

In praise of a Trump dictatorship

Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius.

The Dictator is a 2012 political satire comedy … with the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya visiting the United States. …

Paramount Pictures described the film as “the heroic story of a North African dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.” …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Art and beauty, books

The Beauties by Anton Chekhov

I’ve never really got into short stories.  Nor Chekhov.

But I was convinced by Phillip Pullman that this short story is a masterpiece.

You can listen to it on The Guardian.

Chekhov’s genius lies in the way he manages to convey with such apparent effortlessness a profound sense of the mystery of beauty, and of the sadness of those who observe and think. The narrator of this apparently inconsequential tale fixes on exactly the right details, from a myriad of possible ones, to strike at the heart. It’s a masterpiece of minimalism.

A schoolboy is accompanying his grandfather as they drive in their carriage along a dusty road across the steppe on a sultry August day. They stop for refreshment at the house of an Armenian friend of the grandfather. The boy, the grandfather and their Ukrainian driver are all struck by the beauty of the Armenian’s daughter.

Some years later, now a student, the boy is on a train that stops for some minutes at a country station. He gets out to stretch his legs, and sees a girl on the platform talking to someone in one of the carriages. She is very beautiful.

It’s about as spare and empty of plot as a story could be; two impressions that barely even amount to anecdote.

Like Waiting for Godot, it’s a story in which nothing happens, twice

Who has not fallen in love at first glance of a stranger?