But Whose Car Will I Be Driving?

I’m not exactly thrilled about working Halloween. Eggs shall fly at my car and children will dart into the street in full costume, causing me to slam on my brakes while their parents scream at me for being on the road at all. On the bright side, since we haven’t set our clocks back an hour yet, it’ll be lighter (safer!) later, and in my experience, after about 7:30pm, there are no further Halloween pizza orders (probably because everyone’s home munching on candy).

The question becomes, “Whose Car Will I Be Driving?”

I’m at Brooks-Huff HV right now. Monday, I noticed my brakes were grinding when I was, y’know, braking. Particularly disturbing as I just had all my brakes replaced less than a month ago. I’m hoping whatever’s wrong will be easily corrected: an adjustment, a cleaning. Something minor and cheap and quick (although any work should be covered by my warranty). In a “worst case scenario”, where my car can’t be returned to me by 11, Greg’ll swing through and pick me up on his way into work, and I’ll use his car on deliveries.

While it’s been my hope to get my Celica up to 200k before I replace her, lately, I’ve had it in the shop at least once a week, it seems. Not particularly surprising: pizza delivery is hard on a car, and my baby’s pushing one-hundred-and-eighty-thousand miles on her odometer. I’ve been pricing possible replacement vehicles on CarMax (and especially ValuMax). Yet, I’ve got my fingers crossed that maybe this repair, or the next one, will be the one that’s needed before the car runs problem free for another 10,000.

Hey. I can dream.

(And, yes, while I’d love for my next vehicle to be a Jeep Wrangler, I currently need to be more practical: when I do find a job in/around DC, that’ll mean a commute, which means gas mileage is the most important* factor to consider).

*My Celica gets 32 town/37ish highway.

UPDATE: Rear-brakes got an adjustment (a sanding!) and they aren’t grinding any more (plus, it’s like their brand-spankin’-new again, instead of three-week-old-new.)

Uncle Bill’s Hosting Thanksgiving Every Year Now

It’s an odd coincidence: last time my family had Thanksgiving in Connecticut, the Boston Red Sox had won the 2004 World Series, and my Uncle Bill was so excited that what started as a reverential Catholic prayer turned from religious to sportious as he praised the Red Sox.

Anyway, so the Red Sox won their second World Series in three years, and we’re having Thanksgiving in Connecticut again. As soon as Uncle Bill figures this pattern out, he’s going to insist on hosting it every year.


1. When I call you to confirm your address, I’m doing so because the ticket says “78 So-and-So Circle”, and the people at that address claim they didn’t order pizza. When you tell me your address is “76 So-and-So Circle”, fine, someone wrote the address down wrong. No big. When I knock on the door and you open it, you don’t have to ask if I need you to give me directions to your house. By this point, I’ve found it. Which is why I’m standing at the door. Because I found your house. See?

2. Three people this weekend stopped me at deliveries or gas stations to ask for directions to “the new Wal-Mart.” It wasn’t until I gave directions to Hunt Valley Town Center to the fourth person, who shook his head and said “No, that’s the old Wal-Mart”, that I realized Cockeysville does, in fact, have a New Wal-Mart (apparently, it’s a “Super” Wal-Mart, which apparently means its trying to pass itself off as a poor man’s Wegmans, which is bullshit, because Giant is a poor man’s Wegmans*). I’m not certain if the Old Wal-Mart is still in Cockeysville (contrary to popular belief, Hunt Valley Town Center is in Cockeysville) or if it just got relocated. For the record, the New Wal-Mart is right across York Road from the Hummer dealership (there’s some irony, for you).

3. With the DVD release of HBO’s “The Sopranos” season six part 2 (because releasing and promoting that last stretch of episodes as season seven would’ve made every sense in the world, so why the fuck not just do it that way?), I’ve been able to catch up with what everyone and their cat has been talking about for the last several months. Oh, there were no surprises for me, I knew everything: Bobby beating up Tony, Stephen Baldwin playing a “Tony” like character in a low budget horror, Tony’s murder of Chris Moltesanti, Phil Reatardo getting his head popped like a watermelon, the black-out at the diner which left most of HBO-viewing America wondering “WTF HAXXOR!” and mass-contemplating how best to kill David Chase (the bastid!)

Here’s my take on the ending: Tony Soprano is dead (I made my case the afternoon the final episode aired). Meadow walked into the diner in time to see that bloke on the counter draw down and pop her dad dead in the head. Remember what Bobby said about dying in the first episode of the half-season? “It just goes black”, or something similar. Why’d the episode black out? Are we supposed to believe that Paulie fuckin-Walnuts came up behind us, the audience, and strangled us with a wire? Please.

I know that David Chase is going around telling everyone who’ll listen that Tony Soprano isn’t dead, but an ending like that invited interpretation. Okay, so I’ve interpreted. It just seems to fit the pattern of the season: you go fucking around, making bad mistakes, there’s bad news coming for you. Johnny Sack takes up smoking and his life expectancy (even in prison with cancer) goes from three months to episode #2. Chris M. falls off the wagon, murders the one friend he’s got who wants to see him kick his habit, and the next episode, Tony’s got his hand over his nephew’s nose killing him. Phil Leotardo gets all power-trippy, and he’s shot in front of his kids/grandkids. Tony’s been a mess for the show’s entire run, and this last season: hoo-yah. His one redeeming action might be in not killing Paulie W., but of all the choices he made, that was probably the worst. He kills his nephew. He has his rival, Phil, popped in front of Phil’s family. And he died in that diner.

Or, maybe he was able to foil the hit, but his family got killed instead.

Either way, karmic retribution was big this half-season, and I doubt Mr. Tony Soprano got off quite as lucky as David Chase might want us to believe.

*Wal-Mart will always be a poor man’s K-Mart.

doing shit about actually making any of it happen


This comment from Standing Cheese was left on my post regarding my contemplation of a move to the Washington D.C. area. Now that I’ve been contemplating his comment for a couple of minutes (which, when coupled with this post, is more time than anyone should spend thinking about SC), I’ve got two trains of thoughts on his comment, but I’m not quite sure which one is right.

1.) SC’s memory is going bad.
2.) SC is utilizing reverse psychology so I will move far, far away from him.

Oh, SC is right about a couple of things: I did want to buy a house in Remington. I do want a job in a cubicle farm. But I’m confused about his apparent failing in remembering that I graduated Towson last spring — particularly given the context in which he mentions it (i.e., “things I’ve wanted to do but have so far failed to accomplish or given up on”). While I haven’t found a job yet, that hardly means I’ve “failed at” or “given up on” finding a job. Perhaps SC found a job quite quickly out of college, but when I send out batches of resumes and cover-letters and recieve no or scant reply, I find myself taking comfort with a comment left by TFG: “When I graduated, I sent over 500 resumes and it took 3 months to find a job.” Okay, so I’m at five months (not three), but then again, I’m also not “the greatest Engineer to walk the face of this mofo” (and I haven’t taken TFG’s advice and begun stapling $20s to my cover-letters, especially since I’ve been e-mailing them).

But this post isn’t about Standing Cheese. Or, at least, it isn’t supposed to be, although his comment certainly got me thinking on the subject: namely, you know, the revelation that came to me while contemplating his cryptic message. That while I could be overly critical about what I haven’t yet accomplished, I choose instead to be happy in what I have, and resolute that the beginnings of my various successes have only done just that: begun.

Meanwhile, don’t forget, this Friday is the Octovember Blogger Happy Hour in Hampden. I remember wondering what reception I would find as a newcomer when I went to my first Blogger Happy Hour in March ’05, and I like to think that Baltimore bloggers are still as friendly and welcoming as ever.


Check engine light came on, figured it was something relating to emissions — yep. The “converter”, whatever the fuck that is. Something to do with the tailpipe. The car is still, for now, driveable, but I was advised I’ll eventually begin to see performance issues. Since the repair issue isn’t as pressing as, say, blowing my clutch out, I think I’ll probably wind up taking it to Ed’s Garage in Hereford. If the things customers look for in businesses that they patronize, Ed is three for four: he’s cheap, talented, and honest. However, he’s not particularly quick. (But I’ll take the three he’s got for what he doesn’t).

I don’t see anyway I’ll avoid paying this repair, short of moving right now to DC, or buying a new car. Since breaking my lease would cost more than the repair, that’s not an option. Since buying a new car would be far more expensive than the repair, that’s not really an option, either.

Hopefully, I will soon find a job in or near DC that enables me to quit my pizza delivery job and use my vehicle primarily for my commute (to the nearest MARC station). When that happens, and my vehicle becomes more for transport and less as my primary source of income, I’ll be far more comfortable (less mileage, less breaky-breaky).

I bought my Celica in July ’03. It had 35,000 miles on it. It now has close to 180,000. If I keep it, I’d like to be able to run her into the mid two-hundreds before I go shopping for a replacement. For the most part, she’s been a great little car.

The District of Columbia

I want to move to D.C.

Lately, I’ve had this recurring daydream. I get a job that’s walking distance to the DC Metro. I get an apartment that’s walking distance to the DC Metro. I sell my car. I live happily every after.

I know actually moving to DC wouldn’t be easy. I’d wind up paying more a month in rent and having a much smaller apartment than I currently do (from two-bedroom to studio), but that could be an opportunity to go through all my shit and keep what I want/need, and sell or pitch the rest. It’d be a way to simplify.

As for selling my car … I’m sure it would be hard, at first, adjusting to the lack of “wheels.” Even considering the car is paid off, I don’t want to think of what I spend on insurance, repairs, upkeep, and gasoline over the course of a year. Moving to DC, of course, I’d probably cut a lot of my driving (and thus, a lot of the associated costs), but why not just get rid of the entire thing?

Meanwhile, moving to DC would be an opportunity to reconnect with a lot of friends from my school years. I grew up right outside of DC, in Adelphi. I attended a Catholic school in White Oak for grades 1-6, and a lot of my former classmates reside in or near the District. Several of my close friends from middle and high school (when I was in Columbia — WLMS and AHS*) live in or near DC.

Okay. Really, I just want the Metro.

*Points if you can identify those schools!

Anyway, I Never Much Liked Bambi

If there’s one thing that irks me more than drivers who don’t bother to use their turn signals, it’s deer.

Several years ago, I wrote a paper for a LitEssay course in which I described deer as being “pathologically suicidal”, following a six-month stretch where I ran into (or over) six of the tick-infested pests. It really seemed, to me, the only explanation for why a deer would be standing on the side of the road, look to its left, see my oncoming Jeep, and step out into my path. Generally, the deer would then find itself on the opposite side of the road in a pool of its own blood, blinking at me with its big dark eyes, while the responding County Cop would ask me if I wanted to take the deer home, or should he call animal control?

That sounds like a retarded thing to say, but for every dozen deer I’ve seen smashed into goo on the side of Paper Mill Road or Jarrettsville Pike, I’ve seen traffic slowed by a cop while some big dude hauls his road kill into the back of his over sized pickup truck.

Michael Dresser’s article in today’s Baltimore Sun is all about these creatures.

I did not, initially, despise deer. I thought it was so cool to see them grazing in our backyard when I lived with my parents in Columbia. I remember going to some boy scout camp and seeing one running at a distance while on a hike. But then I grew up. Literally. I was a kid, and then I wasn’t a kid. And deer stopped being cute animals to cluck over and verbally admire their cuteness. That’s fine for rabbits and cats and dogs, but, in the end, deer need to be brutally eliminated from the region (possibly by the introduction of genetically-bred saber-toothed tigers*). Instead, deer became another dangerous — and highly unpredictable — element to deal with while driving. Bad enough, the lousy fellow drivers, but animals that charge into the road? Animals that seem hellbent on causing damage to you and your vehicle? I’m sure the guys who own body shops love ’em, they’ve probably got Bambi posters on their walls, and multiple copies of the DVD in their homes. “Deer? Bringin’ in the bacon, baby!” I am not one of those.

I have to admit: it isn’t the fault of the deer population. As we continue to build new roads and new housing developments, we’re shrinking their habitat. Natural predators? None in the area. Their biggest danger is traffic (also, precisely where they offer the biggest danger to people). But pretending that their population doesn’t need to be brought into check is delusional.

*Yeah, okay, but it’d be really cool if it did happen!

Garfield Food

It’s in the oven: lasagna! Snay-made, too.

Of course, being the idiot that I am, I misread the box. Boil 1/2 the noodles? I boiled the entire box (which means I tossed half of what I boiled out). Also, three and a half cups of mozzarella? I only picked up one 2-cup bag, so I’m lacking a bit on the cheese.

Really, though, I’m just hoping it comes out better than my Mac & Cheese last week.

Farm Hit

I remain addicted to AstroEmpires (MMOG), although it usually doesn’t keep me up all night. I’m planning a strike on a world in an adjoining galaxy (Ceti 24), and I’d love to pull all the elements of it off in a way that I can hit the astro, recycle the debris, and retreat my fleet before my opponent realizes what has happened. In the slang of the game, this is known as a “farm hit” (in the way that farmers plow their fields to earn a living, players “farm” other players in order to earn additional income). Unfortunatly, most of my Mobile Battle Fleet is still returning to my home galaxies from guild-coordinated combat Friday night (a limited “police action” against another guild), so my available force is limited to Carriers (weak), Battleships (good!), and a handful of Cruisers. I plan a fighter-drop to eliminate my enemy’s unshielded fleet units and weaken his base defenses, then bring in my Battleships and Cruisers to finish the job. From there, I will pillage his planet, rape his cows, tip his women, and leave his Trade Routes unplundered (‘cuz I’m not a fucking pirate — I’m a Farmer!) Fortunatly, my Recycler Defense Force (recyclers convert debris into economy): 2600 Recyclers with a ton of stellar units: Destroyers, Corvettes, fighter-carrying Ion Frigates, arrived home faster than the bulk of my fleet.

I assume this is why I’m not tired: that I’m worried about the outcome.

Then again, today was hectic at both pizza shops, so maybe I’m just overly wired.

I had a weird experience on one of my deliveries today. I keep saying “today”, but I’m writing this just after 2:30am, so, really, when I say “today”, I mean “yesterday”: Saturday.

There’s this McMansion, up north of the County Line, that I’ve been delivering to ever since I started work at the Franchise. The customer’s name is similar in spelling to “fuck”, and is quite frequently changed to more closely resemble that whenever someone delivers to her. The first time I dropped off pizzas — and we’re talking a woman with two teenage kids — she handed me a check, and I had to go back three times — “Do you know you just gave me a blank check?” “You need to make this out to The Franchise.” “You need to sign, date, and write out the amount.” Her handwriting resembles a two year-old’s (my point exactly).

Today — yesterday — had to be the worst experience I’ve ever had delivering there. Greg had, for some reason, decided to accept an order out of our delivery area. It wasn’t too far out, and they tipped really well, but I got stuck behind a hay-ride, and it was much longer than I anticipated from when I pulled onto the property to when I pulled out of the property. So I got up to the Fuckers’ House much later than I’d thought.

I knock on the door. And I hear screaming. Not screaming at me, just screaming: like a fucking temper-tantrum. “GET THE DOOR! OMG GET THE FUCKING DOOR! WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET THE DOOR THE FUCKING PIZZA GUY IS HERE GET THE DOOR WHO IS IT? GET UP HERE AND GET THE DOOR WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” On and on and on. High-pitched, voice cracking, etcetra, etcetra. Meanwhile, I’m standing at the door — for several minutes, as this tirade continues (I’m surprised the neighbors couldn’t hear) — wondering how long I have to wait before I can just fucking leave.

I’d assumed it was the daughter screaming for her mom to write a check. Er. No. It was the mom, screaming for her daughter and her daughter’s friend to get the door. I mean, “GET THE FUCKING DOOR YOU CUNTS!” just made me wonder how any decent parent could possibly drop their kid off at this woman’s door.

Even when the daughter and her friend came to the door, did the tirade stop? Did Mrs FUCKER think that her door was sound proofed and I wasn’t listening to everything she said? Nope. The door opened, the daughter and her friend both gave me the “We’re going to off-the-continent colleges, thank you very much” looks, plus a check, and I gave them their pizzas, and then I beat hell to get out of there. Meantime, while the door was open, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE SUCH A BAD INFLUENCE ON MY KID YOU BITCH CALL YOUR DAD TO COME PICK YOU UP”, was going on in the background.

I do not, for the life of me, understand what this woman’s problem is, was, will be, or whatever. I don’t mind drawing some conclusions: she was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth, and she didn’t marry money — she was married for her money. It’s the only possible way I could imagine anyone putting up with her for any amount of time without punching her in the face, ripping out her tongue, and stapling her lips shut.

Sexual Orientation and Harry Potter

It’s true*: Albus Dumbledore is — well, wasgay.

J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall. After reading briefly from the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” she took questions from audience members.

She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds “true love.”

“Dumbledore is gay,” the author responded to gasps and applause.

She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. “Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling said of Dumbledore’s feelings, adding that Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down.”

Dumbledore’s love, she observed, was his “great tragedy.”

This explains away a lot of Cornelius Fudge’s conduct in Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix. Clearly, Fudge was a very orthodox Christian. “Dumbledore says Voldemort’s back? But Dumbledore’s a lying God-hating homosexual**!”

*I wasn’t even aware that people were talking about Dumbledore’s orientation until I read the article, and, while I’m on it … HT: Right Thunkin’ from the Left Coast.


More Than Meets The Eye

I wasn’t a Transformers fan as a kid. I mean, I’d watch the cartoon, but I remember being so frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to turn the stupid robot into a cool jet-fighter. You had to like duck his head through his chest or something. Really, whenever my parents took me to Toys “R” Us, I always wanted GI Joes.

Anyway, so, when news surfaced that Michael Bay was making a Transformers movie, my reaction was “Lovely.” But a sarcastic lovely. Because, while I wasn’t a Transformers fan as a kid, I was a Michael Ban fan. Well, not as a kid, but as a high-schooler/college student (but emphasis on “was”). The first Bad Boys was kick-ass awesome. The Rock was a terrific movie. Armageddon was a decent flick (I own the Criterion DVD, and I do, on occasion, watch it — and, yes, I tear up at the end when Bruce sacrifices himself, STFU). But then came Pearl Harbor, and Bad Boys 2, and any affection I might’ve had for Michael Bay’s film-making talents went down the toilet. It isn’t enough to have flashy action sequences and a cool score and amazing cinematography: without a great script, it all just falls apart.

So, when Transformers came out in theaters, I was all like, “Oh, I might go catch a matinee”, but I didn’t feel like spending the money, so I added it to my Netflix queue.

Flash forward to Tuesday afternoon, when the movie showed up in my mailbox (which is the cool thing about Netflix — stuff shows up in your mailbox!)

I waited until I got home from work Tuesday evening to throw it into the player. Before pressing “play”, I actually went and tried to make a pumpkin pie. Danielle says I shouldn’t make pumpkin pies while it’s still 80-degrees out, but we’re halfway through October and Mother Nature, the tease she is, won’t comply with my desires for autumn to hurry on up and get here already.

As it was, the pumpkin pie came out okay, but the crust crumbled when I tried to cut into it. I wonder if I bought a crumble crust? Or maybe it was “pre-cooked” or something — it was certainly preformed. Do they sell crust-dough in the freezer section? I should never be allowed near an oven and cooking utensils. (Actually, the pumpkin pie itself turned out okay, although it wasn’t really capable of being cut into slices, and the crust was a little burned).

As for the movie …

… I liked it. Sometimes it moved a bit too slowly. Some sequences were drawn out far too long. A lot of characters never got closure (DefSec and his crew at the radio room). I wonder how much was cut from the film, because it really felt like some scenes were butchered to make room for sequences that ultimately did little but feature Transformers trampling around suburban yards trying to shoot dogs and messin’ up the lawn. Mostly, though, the movie was a lot of fun. Optimus Prime apparently listened to a few too many Churchill speeches on his way in to Earth (his speech is full of phrases like “At the end of today, one will stand, one will fall”, yada-yada).

So. Enjoyable. I might even go see Transformers 2 in theaters.

Just When You Needed Another Reason To Distrust Politicians …

Remember during the ’04 elections when it came out that George W. Bush and John Kerry were related? Okay, distantly related, but, still, related.

Yeah, well, they’re not alone: Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are, too. Related, I mean.

Just when you needed another reason to distrust politicians, it turns out they’re all fuckin’ inbred.

(Okay, granted, you go back far enough, I’m sure everyone’s related to everyone. Still.)

It’s Really Kind of Obvious

I can’t quite figure out if this is a joke or not … (video unsafe for work!)

… but I’m having a hard time figuring out how anyone thinks this is a good idea.

Driving on a delivery a few hours ago on Paper Mill Road, I noticed, as I passed Cooper Road on my right, what appeared to be the moon, shining through the trees in front of me. Shining very LARGE through the trees in front of me, for that matter. And very bright. For half a second, I actually thought the moon was crashing into the Earth and my life — as with everyone else’s — was about to come to a fiery end.

Then I came around the bend and realized what I was looking at: some asshole decided to mount a giant spot-light thing on his roof. I’m sure his neighbors appreciated the giant light blazing through the rural evening. I didn’t care: delivery to take, money to make.

So, anyway, around 10pm I’m driving home, again on Paper Mill. The asshole in front of me slowed from 50mph (I know because I was going 50 and keeping four car lengths off his rear) to an amazing 15 mph as we passed Spotlight House. He probably would’ve kept slowing down, but I flashed my brights and lay on the horn, and he sped up and disappeared.

I don’t know what’s so amazing about a spotlight on a house that’s going to get someone to oggle it to the point they drop thirty-five miles off their speed, but if this dude was willing to do that to oggle a fucking spotlight, what would he’ve done to oggle some topless chick waving a speed limit around?

Sure — the idea sounds great. Who wouldn’t slow down to oggle half naked attractive chicks? Me, for one (unless I was on my way to a really big tip). Gay guys and straight chicks wouldn’t be slowing down, Grampa’s too blind to slow down any further, Christians with kids in the back of the Jesusvan would probably speed up and rear-end the cars in front of them, all of which would be a complete retardation of the purpose of the half-naked speed limit girls to begin with.

Once you’re past the half-naked speed limit girl, wouldn’t you just speed back up again?

Look, here’s my point: people are stupid. Half-naked speed limit girls are stupid too (I mean, depending on the pay). The idea is really stupid. Anyway.

Oh, yeah: according to the WBAL evening news, temps are going back up to the 80s by the end of the week. I WANT AUTUMN. I WANT COLD CRISP WEATHER.

HT: Instapundit.

In A Strange City

A few weeks ago, I picked up copies of “Baltimore Blues” and “Charm City“, the first two books in Laura Lippman’s “Tess Monaghan” detective series, set in BodyBaltimore.

They’re not bad, although, as I make my way further into the series (I’m currently about 60 pages into the last in the series, “No Good Deeds“, I’m noticing several things. I’m going to start with the things I dislike about the series (because that way, I can end the post on a positive note):

1. The latter books seem to be less mystery, more thriller (boo!), although this last book seems to be heading back towards that ‘mystery’ catagory.

2. Secondary characters, in particular, Feeney, Tyner, Kitty, et al, seem to get short-thrift. What happened to Jackie? Tess’ parents? Spike? (Okay, so Spike’s probably dead in a gutter somewhere, still.) I was disappointed that Crow wasn’t in “By A Spider’s Thread“, which, to my mind, was the weakest of the series.

3. Assholeish nit-picking: revolvers don’t have safeties, so why is Tess always taking the safety off her revolver? Also, in one of the books, someone is carrying a 9mm revolver. I’m reasonably certain that there are no revolvers chambered for 9mm (but I could be wrong).

Things I like:

1. “In A Strange City”, the novel revolving around the mysterious ‘Visitor’ who leaves cognac and roses on Poe’s grave every year, is the absolute best of the series.

2. I don’t know if she invented the word “Baltibilia”, but I can guess what she thinks of all those folks running around with Boh t-shirts: read “Sugar House” for insight. (I’ll be hiding my Natty Boh beer glass…)

3. Tess trades in her Toyota (which probably got great gas mileage) for an SUV, then worries about how she’ll weather the “dry season” of her PI biz. Clearly, she’s got a few screws loose. (Why didn’t she buy a Jeep Wrangler? Top down doors off in the summer, and the big wheels for killing some snow when she needs milk and TP!)

All in all, not a bad series of novels. When the novels are mysteries, they’re well thought out and compelling and keep the reader interested. When they tend to slide to the “thriller” aspect, they can be a burden to get through. My absolute biggest complaint about the series are the interesting secondary characters Lippman invents, who either vanish or are relegated to one or two minor scenes.