A memoir of a man who's been involved in the Disney publicity machine for over 50 years - he covered the opening of Disneyland in 1955 as a reporter,...moreA memoir of a man who's been involved in the Disney publicity machine for over 50 years - he covered the opening of Disneyland in 1955 as a reporter, and a few years later was hired on by Walt himself; his last job was to write the press book for Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005. A basic knowledge of Disney theme park history is helpful as the book is mostly recollections & stories and jumps around chronologically quite a bit. I noticed a few editing flaws (typos) but otherwise quite enjoyed reading about this aspect of the House of Mouse.(less)
It was pretty much as advertised, a look at words & phrases in other languages that either don't exist or aren't as succinct in English. I would...more It was pretty much as advertised, a look at words & phrases in other languages that either don't exist or aren't as succinct in English. I would have liked to have seen some more literal translations of interesting phrases & apparently the research is a bit dodgy (the Internet should not be one's main source), but a fun little reference book nonetheless. (less)
A collection of Cecil Adams' Straight Dope columns - he answers all sorts of cultural, scientific and occasionally just weird questions. This collecti...moreA collection of Cecil Adams' Straight Dope columns - he answers all sorts of cultural, scientific and occasionally just weird questions. This collection also references the online message board (then found at AOL) - there's a couple of names mentioned that are still active members... :^) (less)
I picked up a copy of The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts several months ago, about the same time I was re-listening to the show tapes. I finished r...moreI picked up a copy of The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts several months ago, about the same time I was re-listening to the show tapes. I finished reading thru this just in time for the movie.
Arthur Dent, an unremarkable human on an unremarkable planet in an unremarkable part of the galaxy, is swept up in a wholly remarkable adventure when his planet is destroyed to make way for an interstellar bypass. He is rescued by a writer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; they in turn are rescued by Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy who stole the ship Heart of Gold in order to search for a mythical planet. Things start getting complicated at this point.
Not only do the scripts replicate the radio shows, but some of the lines that were cut for time or other reasons have been restored. In addition, notes about each episode are included, as well as forewords by Adams and Geoffrey Perkins. Having first been introduced to the Hitchhiker universe via the novels, I found it quite interesting to see how the story evolved from this version to the novels, since a good chunk of the later episodes ended up in The Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy. If you're not used to reading scripts, sifting your way thru the directions can be a bit of a challenge at first, but worth the work.
Recommended to Adams fans, whether or not you already have the radio shows or not.(less)
I used to have the audiobook version of Last Chance to See, but it disappeared sometime in a move & I finally broke down & got the book.
Wonder...moreI used to have the audiobook version of Last Chance to See, but it disappeared sometime in a move & I finally broke down & got the book.
Wonderful and heartbreaking - Douglas Adams discusses several trips to see animals that are on the brink of extinction: komodo dragons, white rhinos, the mountain gorilla, and several others. Mark Carwardine was Douglas' companion on most of the trips and contributes some marvelous photographs that are included in the center of the book.
Adams complains about the travel arrangements (and in a couple of cases, the travel companions) and marvels at the men & women who have made it their lives' work to rescue these creatures. He recognizes his tendency to anthropomorphize, but yet allows the readers to recognize and share in the poignant circumstances of his visits.
The story of the kakapo, a flightless and hapless parrot of New Zealand, is perhaps my favorite... even though it leaves me feeling rather depressed. The writing is definitely up to his usual high standard and is even better when read aloud - especially by the author.
Highly recommended to wildlife lovers with a sense of humour. FYI: Addresses for contributions towards the conservation works are included at the end of the book.(less)
Continuing in my Douglas Adams re-read, I checked out Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul from the library, as I seem to have misplaced my copy.
The story...moreContinuing in my Douglas Adams re-read, I checked out Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul from the library, as I seem to have misplaced my copy.
The story opens with Kate Schechter attempting to catch a flight to Oslo, even though Fate seems to be conspiring against her. An explosion, deemed an "act of God" confounds her plans. She becomes involved in the events around whom the god involved in the aforementioned act are developing.
Meanwhile, Dirk Gently, holistic detective, remembers that he has a client, with whom he was supposed to meet about five hours previous to his realization. He arrives a little too late to assist with the problem for which he is hired, but ends up doing some detective work anyways. The two protagonists eventually collide (literally) and the story proceeds from there.
This novel posits the question "What happens to the immortal gods once humanity is done with them?"; a theme also explored by Neil Gaiman's American Gods :: checks publication dates:: Yes, Douglas was first, by about 12 years, but both are very good, IMHO. Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is, I believe, a better written book than its predecessor, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Adams seems to have a better grip on where he wants to go with the story.
Recommended to those who like their alternative universes well-leavened with humour. (less)
It's a rather disjointed book, with the first chapter only making sense once you've reached the very end. Richard MacDuff, a computer programmer, is dating the sister of his employer, Gordon Way, and doing a lousy job of it. He's invited to a Coleridge memorial dinner at his alma mater. St. Cedd's, by Professor Urban Chronotis, his counselor.
Something rather odd happens at the dinner, which ties in with the nastiness that occurs to Gordon. Dirk, a former schoolmate of Richard's, gets involved and finds out just how odd everything is turning out to be. And this is before they meet the Electric Monk.
I don't suppose it's a very typical (or maybe even good) mystery, but it's a fun read with the typical Adamsian turns of phrase:
"[He] had a memory that he himself had once compared to the Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly, in that it was colorful, flitted about prettily hither & thither, and was now, alas, almost completely extinct."
"The word impossible is not in my dictionary ... in fact everything between herring & marmalade seems to be missing."
Recommended reading once you've covered the first 3 books or so of the Hitchhiker's increasingly-inaccurately-named trilogy. (less)
I found Maia at a used bookstore & have been reading it on & off for the last few weeks.
It's a very, very long book - just over 1200 pages in...moreI found Maia at a used bookstore & have been reading it on & off for the last few weeks.
It's a very, very long book - just over 1200 pages in my PB copy. It follows Maia, a beautiful country girl, who gets sold into slavery and becomes a concubine in the household of the High Counselor of Bekla. On the way, she makes friends with Occula, an exotic bed-girl (not much older than Maia) who is scheming for revenge. Amid the court intrigue (of which she gradually becomes aware), Maia proves herself with heroic (and erotic) acts, having adventures that are just this side of unbelievable. Her goodness and beauty seem to be her saving graces, as well as a huge dose of luck.
The descriptions are lush and the characters are about as stereotypical as you'd expect from high fantasy. The "slang" was amusing without being intrusive. I would have liked to have seen little less of the political adventures; at times, it seemed as if it were trying to be two different books - Maia's rise to fame and the battles & intrigue of the Empire. Sometimes the stories meshed well, other times the segue was jarring.
IMHO, it's not Adams' best work, but neither is it his worst. Check it out from the library and have a wrist brace handy.... :^)(less)
Gave up on this about 1/2 - 2/3 of the way thru. Too many names & dates for my taste .... the insights & humour I was expecting were a lesser...moreGave up on this about 1/2 - 2/3 of the way thru. Too many names & dates for my taste .... the insights & humour I was expecting were a lesser part of the book than I had hoped.
Might be better if accompanied by a "traditional" history of the times - any recommendations? (less)