Jamis Renegade (video review)

I posted a few months ago about the Jamis Renegade Elite bicycle. Well, now I’ve ridden more than 2,900 miles and it’s time for a video review. Here it is.

This has been an excellent bicycle, exceeding all my expectations. Gravel, asphalt, trails, the Renegade rolls through and over it all. The Shimano gears have been reliable with only a few mis-shifts. The disc brakes are the best, allowing for safe riding in various conditions and the ability to feather the stopping power exactly the way it is needed.

All in all, a great bike. I look forward to many more miles, losing more weight, and having lots of fun.

Canon XF 100, video review

The Canon XF 100 video camera has now entered the bag of tricks used to produce my Doin’ Time With Dan segments at The Bent Page and on YouTube. Here’s my video review of the camera, beginning with an un-boxing then close-ups of the features and finally finishing with a short test.

So far the XF 100 has performed very well. Soon it goes to Aruba, where it will be working long days recording all the fun and interesting things I enjoy on the island. One more reason why you’ll want to check in regularly here at The Bent Page. There will also be a notice posted when my streaming channel comes on the air.

Published in: on November 6, 2011 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Priceless Recovery

It’s a rare thing to find a non-fiction book that tells a great story without lionizing the subject to the point of nausea. However, Priceless is the story of Robert K Wittman, an FBI agent who rescued more stolen treasures than ever could be depicted in a dozen big screen movies. At the same time, Wittman’s tales are never over the top. They are vignettes of solid detective work, steady nerves, and clever deception.

The reader first meets Wittman in the middle of big bust then backtracks to his early days. He was successful in a private career before he took a huge pay cut to become an FBI agent for all the right reasons. The man believed in the cause of justice and quickly found his niche in the art recovery field. It wasn’t an easy climb, on that included a few tragedies, including the loss of a close friend in a car wreck that left Wittman in the clutches of the justice system. The man perseveres to achieve great things.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the frank discussion of how petty criminals are. Even the people dealing in pieces worth tens of millions are shown for what they are: bent, greedy souls. A son rats out a father. A long-term, well-liked employee fecklessly robs the museum where he works. Big-time gangsters scam each other as easily as they light a cigarette. Wittman stays above it, marveling at how these morons can be oblivious to the dirty prints they leave on history’s masterpieces.

If you’re looking for a heroic tale without the nonsense, a look at an honest man and deeds well done, then Priceless is one for the shelf. It should be required reading in college history courses.

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lost… In The Woods

Tana French takes the reader into the woods near the Irish town of Knocknaree. Some twenty years ago, two children disappeared, leaving one catatonic and lacking any memory of what happened. Present day, the surviving child, who adopts a different first name, is Rob Ryan, and he is a detective trying to solve another crime that has happened adjacent to the same patch of woods. Ryan and his two colleagues, Cassie and Sam, work hard to figure out who killed a local ballet prodigy. In the process, Ryan goes down a horrible version of memory lane without actually recalling enough of what happened to him to make sense. He runs afoul of his superior and Cassie in the process.

In The Woods succeeds as a character study, a deep look into Rob Ryan and the scars left by his childhood tragedy. He wrestles with relationships both personal and professional. He struggles to stay focused on his job while haunted by the past. He never seems to get any traction, eventually falling to pieces. Recovering, he manages to catch a killer, but loses many things that matter in between. His descent to the edge of madness is compelling as much as it is frustrating for reasons mentioned next. As a crime story it works well, too, but only for the ballet prodigy case.

The trouble with this story is its lack of resolution. The set up is great, past and present colliding, but the reader is left holding the bag. For a sequel? For self-examination? It’s not exactly clear. I do look forward to the next installment with Cassie as the lead. Maybe she will keep it together long enough to tie up the loose ends, something important in this genre, something the author didn’t do for Rob Ryan.