Commander in Cheat

I know, I know, you’ve heard/read/seen enough about Donald Trump. I hear you. Who wants to read another book about him? But Commander in Cheat is different. Long-time golf player, golf observer and award-winning sports writer Rick Reilly examines the character of Donald Trump by looking at his golf game (and yes, the author has played golf with Trump).

Rick Reilly is a funny and engaging writer. He gets in a few sharp jabs too, like the book opening: “This book is dedicated to the truth. It’s still a thing.”

Reilly’s message is that if Trump is playing golf, he’s cheating. Or as the author says, his nose is so long “he could putt with it.” He moves his ball (or his opponent’s), he lies about his score, he lies about the number of championships he’s won. Same thing off the course. Trump has a solid record of stiffing his golf contractors. And bragging (ie. lying) about the worth of his properties, while at the same time suing cities for overvaluing them. And on and on and on.

I rolled my eyes (a lot) when I read the chapter on Barack Obama. You may recall that Trump repeatedly criticized Obama for the amount of golf he played while president and said that he, Trump, would be too busy working his great deals to leave the White House. And the reality? To date Trump has played almost triple the amount of golf that Obama did. And BTW, Obama is a real stickler for the rules and does not cheat at golf says the author.

But so what, you might be wondering. Who cares? Does it really matter if the president cheats at golf? At the end of the book, Reilly poses this very question. Here, for your consideration, is his answer:

If you’ll lie about every aspect of the game, is it that much further to lie about your taxes, your relationship with Russians, your groping of women?

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Or check out this similarly-themed DVD, You’ve been Trumped (from 2011). Ten odd years ago Donald Trump arrived in Scotland with grand schemes for a mega golf project (on environmentally-sensitive land, no less). He proceeded to bamboozle politicians with hugely-inflated job creation numbers. He rode roughshod over the local inhabitants, grossly insulting them along the way (you know, typical Trump). Gritty local inhabitants rallied together and fought back the best they could. Have a look at the trailer.

— Penny D.

Postscript. I don’t know if a reading blog is the place to say this, but I’m saying it. American politicians from both parties and the American people as a whole need to stand up and denounce the president’s recent racist tweets and comments. Such comments—and this should not need saying– are unacceptable. — P.D.

Fascinated by Queen Victoria

Good old Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819…200 years ago!! Queen Victoria may be long dead and gone, yet in a way she lives on. She lent her name and birthday to the glorious long weekend we are now celebrating. And she lives on in numerous place and street names around the globe as well as inspiration for books and movies.

My daughter and I recently decided we wanted to watch a TV series together, something British. We selected Victoria and steadily worked our way through Seasons 1 and 2. We were enthralled — addicted? — from the get go! Just so you know, this is NOT your stout, dowdy, “we are not amused” Queen Victoria. This is a young, vibrant Victoria (just 18 years of age when she came to the throne), a headstrong Victoria filled with steely determination to do things her own way. Viewers are treated to pomp and circumstance, romance (both royal and below stairs variety), juicy scandal, and plenty of scheming and intrigue.

The cast is superb. Jenna Coleman plays Queen Victoria, Tom Hughes is her husband, Prince Albert, and Rufus Sewell portrays Lord Melbourne, the prime minister. I have to confess to a secret hankering after the Prince Ernst character (David Oakes), the oh-so-handsome and charming but badly-behaved older brother of Prince Albert.

Season 3 of Victoria comes out on DVD later this month. Cannot wait!

As we watched the series, I also read the companion book, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, the creator and writer of the TV series. Highly enjoyable. Looking for more Victoria-inspired reading or viewing? Here are a couple of newish offerings I would recommend: Victoria & Abdul (DVD) and Queen Victoria: twenty four days that changed her life (book) by Lucy Worsley.

I have become quite fascinated with Queen Victoria, so I will leave you with two facts I bet you did not know. First, when Victoria was born the chances of her ever becoming queen were extremely remote as she was the daughter of the fourth son of the old King. Also, when Queen Victoria died (in 1901) she was the longest reigning monarch in British history (at 63 years) … though that record has recently been surpassed by her great-great granddaughter, the present Queen, at 67 years, and counting.

Happy Victoria Day!

— Penny D.

Shade

In Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents author Pete Souza throws plenty of shade and how.

Souza was the official White House photographer for Barack Obama. When Donald Trump became President, Souza took to Instagram @petesouza to highlight the differences between the two presidents. So, he takes say, a newspaper headline or a Donald Trump tweet and juxtapositions it with one of his own photos of Barack Obama, and serves it up with a caption. People started to notice Souza’s work and some commented that he was “throwing shade.”

What does that mean, “throwing shade”? I didn’t know and neither apparently did Souza. So he consulted a dictionary which told him it’s “a subtle, sneering expression of contempt or disgust with someone.” Though as Souza says “You can call it shade. I just call it the truth.”

Shade is a compilation of Souza’s Instagram posts. Some of them are sooo funny. When I first picked up the book I started laughing so hard I think I scared a few people. Other posts made me feel sad or appalled—in a how-did-we-get-here kind of way.

Here are a couple of Pete Souza’s posts that grabbed my attention (though really you have to get the book and see for yourself. And yes, you really have to.)

Donald Trump’s tweet: “Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.” juxtaposed with a photo of Barack Obama and someone dressed up as Abraham Lincoln with the caption “Two, like, really smart Presidents.” Ouch, ouch, ouch.

And here is the one that really got me. Trump at the time of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist rally in Charlottesville very famously — or is it infamously — said there were “…very fine people…” on “…both sides.” And Obama on that occasion? He took to Twitter and quoted Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” Just let that sink in — the stark, worlds-apart difference between those two men.

pete-souza-white-house-obama-favorites-51I would also highly recommend Pete Souza’s previous book: Obama: an Intimate Portrait. Obama is a collection of Souza’s photos of the former president. I especially loved the photos of Obama and his family and of Obama interacting with ordinary Americans.

— Penny D.