Thursday, April 2, 2015


Time for a new blog! I have been playing with the notion of a new blog that would be more review-oriented than my earlier efforts in the genre, and that would have a literary / bookish focus while still including plenty of posts on movies, television, music, visual arts, history, and so on. Part of the impetus - full disclosure here - is that I've signed up for the Amazon Associates program for the first time, in order to monetize what I do ever so slightly, because in these days of shrinking salaries and neoliberalism run amok, every little bit does help. A fresh approach seemed to indicate a fresh blog.

I had first thought to do this at the new blogging community BookLikes, and even got a start there, but quickly realized that there were too many restrictions on the simple things that I wanted to accomplish, and that the site was not user-friendly for my purposes. So it's back to good old Blogger. Blogger, I can't get quit of you!

Old Hawaii Five-O fan that I am, I thought that Book 'em Danno! would make a cute title. For the actual URL, though, I had to settle for, because was reserved (although apparently not in active use). Detail for trivia fans: Did you know that the classic Hawaii Five-O has the letter O at the end, while the new Hawaii Five-0 has the number 0 at the end? Me neither.

My culture blog, Patrick Murtha's Diary, has at times been very active, but lately moribund. It has never had that many readers, partly because I have not promoted it much, and partly because it jumps all over the place, as my interests do. Focused blogs undoubtedly draw a more intent readership.

Patrick Murtha's Diary

Lately I have started a new Blogger blog to describe and post photographs of my adventures in Queretaro, Mexico:

Querétaro encantador

I am a long-time user of LibraryThing for cataloguing purposes, and you can see my personal library there:

Patrick Murtha's Library

I post occasional reviews at Amazon and the IMDB, as well. I regularly comment at some of the blogs that I subscribe to, and I will probably review some of those blogs here. I take about 160 blogs at feedly, my successor tool to the late lamented Google Reader. (Repeat after me: Tech companies do not care about you.)

I'm not active on Facebook or Twitter. I had to establish a Facebook account once for a business purpose, but I keep it as hidden as I can, and I hardly ever use it. Twitter doesn't appeal to me because of the length restrictions.

As for facts about me (Thank you for asking!):

I'm a 56-year-old single guy who has been a teacher for 20 years, and a writer longer than that. I've taught at the high school, university, and adult levels, specializing in humanities subjects: history, philosophy, social sciences, art history, and literature. My undergraduate degree was in American Studies from Yale University, and I also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Boston University, jointly awarded by the School of Education and the Department of English.

I have been teaching internationally for five years in Korea and Mexico. Currently I'm teaching business and conversational English to adults in Queretaro, Mexico, a delightful city where I plan to settle down (after a long history as a vagabond).

I live "alone" only technically, as I have great animal companions, three girl indoor cats and a male ferrret, all adopted or bought here in Mexico. I'm crazy about animals and have lived with many different species in my life.

My reading focuses on classic and literary fiction, including translations, and serious non-fiction of all kinds (especially books related to my academic subject areas). I enjoy hard-boiled and noir crime fiction, and the more ambitious sort of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Other areas of reading interest include poetry, drama, children's literature, biography and memoir, belles-lettres (essays, letters, etc.), film and cultural history, travel and adventure literature, baseball history, architecture and urban studies, Canadiana, and nautical literature. I read plenty of academic books, often on fairly obscure subjects.

Lately I have been amassing many interesting older texts that are among the free ebooks offered at Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, and other sites where many real gems can be found.

I am a huge fan of movies, where my interests run parallel to my literary ones: I greatly enjoy serious films from all countries, both classic and contemporary as well as film noir and other dark thrillers. I love silent cinema.

Naturally I am also "into" music of many kinds (classical, opera and theater music, jazz, big bands, folk music, world music, Sinatra Era pop, early rock, Western Swing, etc.), the visual arts, and theater. My favorite spectator sports are baseball and golf (although oddly perhaps, I don't PLAY golf). Other interests include classic menswear and quality beer.

One fact that I didn't include in that description originally, but what the heck, is that I'm gay, as you astutely guessed from reading about a 56-year-old unmarried guy with three cats. I don't usually lead with that information because it tends to predetermine many people's take on one; on the other hand, it is kind of basic, right? Although I would describe myself as an intellectual first, before getting to any other categories.

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