Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who's On Your Bucket List?

Seeing The Who was one of the things on my bucket list.

Ideally, I would’ve seen them in their heyday with their full lineup. With that no longer possible, I was looking forward to seeing Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center last weekend. I was not disappointed … and yet I kind of was, if that makes any sense.

For a couple of aging rock stars, Daltrey and Townshend had plenty of pep. They put together a show of sufficient length and energy. The problem is they did it while playing a bunch of songs I’d never heard of, and I’m a pretty ardent fan.

The Who could’ve easily filled two hours with their greatest hits. Instead, in pure, indulgent Townshend fashion, they featured their Quadraphenia concept album. Of course, I knew that going in and accepted it, but it still made for an uneven performance.

The show opened in familiar enough territory with “The Real Me.” But then it settled into the meat of the Quadraphenia story, accompanied by a multimedia presentation. I won’t bore you here with all the details except to say that Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters does a better job in the rock opera format with “The Wall.”

But then a funny thing happened. About the time the Who hit “5:15,” I was buying into Quadraphenia. I remained engaged until they reached a wonderful crescendo with “Love, Reign o'er Me.” Having finished the album, the Who then whipped the crowd into a final frenzy, running through such hits as “Who Are You?,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Sure, Daltrey missed a couple words. And he can’t hit two big notes in a row anymore. But he and his long-term partner ultimately proved worthy of my bucket list status, even if it took them awhile to get there.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Submarine Book Has Depth

I just finished reading my friend Todd Tucker's latest novel Collapse Depth, which is available for download at the Kindle store.

I have particularly enjoyed Todd’s non-fiction writing over the years, since this is my preferred genre. I’m just one of those “ripped straight from the headlines” kind of guys.

So I approached Collapse Depth with a little trepidation. Nevertheless, the novel worked for me because Todd made it feel real while traveling to fanciful territory. Undoubtedly, he drew upon his background as a naval officer – as well as his knowledge of history – to pull it off.

Todd’s knowledge particularly shines through as he describes life aboard a nuclear submarine, including the language, the rivalries, the living and the gadgets. He does this in a way that satisfies the curiosity of landlubbers without overwhelming us.

But this isn’t a submarine manual. Todd pays close attention to character development too as he unveils the players, their backgrounds and their motives. We meet administrators who yearn for the sea, sailors who yearn for the land and spouses who yearn for information.

Todd accomplishes this without interfering with the underlying whodunit story. He deftly switches back and forth between sailors on a submarine mission gone wrong and supporters at home dealing with the consequences. He rewards readers for paying close attention as the mystery unfolds, although there are some red herrings along the way.

Because of the way it is structured, Collapse Depth is a quick and satisfying read. Key scenes played out in my mind’s eye like an action adventure movie. (If you're optioning movies, I bet Todd wouldn't mind hearing from you).

The book met my personal need for authenticity while holding my attention with an entertaining story. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think we’ll get another history book out of Todd anytime soon, so I’ll eagerly await the sequel to this one.

Disclaimer: Todd has kindly included me in the acknowledgments section of his past books. I hold no malice that this e-book does not carry any acknowledgments.