The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency #1)


A disappointing graphic novel, The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency #1) is a tired story with stock characters and illustrations that aren’t anything special. The story revolves around 13 year-old Megan, a vegan who wanders into a pet store to buy a tarantula. The teen minding the shop informs her that while the pet sop sells pet food and supplies, it doesn’t sell pets.

The surly Megan gets in trouble at school and her father, a widower, puts her in a private school to straighten her out. The clichés abound. The kids in the school are Stepford children with no originality or backbone. Megan won’t conform and strives to find out what’s going on in this odd school.

The stereotypes are heavy-handed and tiresome. The artwork looks like a lot of graphic novels and thus out of place in a story championing creativity. At least it was a fast read. It’s odd that the premise is that adults are draining kids brains, when most teachers wish to spark thinking. The concept of adults plotting to bore kids is commonplace and tired.

Poem of the Week

An article online about poetry prompted me to find and share this one.


By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Too Long

Tonight the first of two Democratic Presidential Debates will be broadcast. Though I strongly believe in our political system, it already seems like this campaign has been going on for ages. The first primaries aren’t until January. The election isn’t till November next year.

I do wish that the time to throw your hat in the ring was August of the year prior to the election and that the first debate was at the end of September or even early October.

Hats off to countries like Japan that vote for their leaders within in a 2 week time period. I do realize they use the parliamentary system, which is different, but this campaign “season” seems to have started the day following out last election.

I don’t blame people if they don’t watch yet since several of the candidates are virtual unknowns and might not make it past New Hampshire.