The normally taciturn librarian became very animated when I checked this book out. Ms. Rule is a storyteller, and apparently something of a local trea...moreThe normally taciturn librarian became very animated when I checked this book out. Ms. Rule is a storyteller, and apparently something of a local treasure. And she's quite a hoot, as I discovered while reading. I'll have to catch one of her talks in person one of these days.
Just a few of the things I learned:
Glacial erratic -- when the glacier went through, it picked up boulders and deposited them in strange places. That’s what we call the huge boulders in the middle of everything.
“Hotter’n the hinges’a hell” – anything over 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line Storm – Ferocious final winter storm that marks the coming of Spring. Also the storm that signals the end of fall and the beginning of Winter.
Native – someone born in a place who—years later—remains. Requires between five and seven generations to be considered so in New Hampshire.
Pissa – of high quality. (See ‘wicked pissa’)
Yankee Hug – consists of standing side by side about a foot apart, arms crossed, then rutning your heads so you’re looking into one another’s eyes. Nod.
"Your personality is showing" – a polite way of saying a gentleman has forgotten to zip his fly after shaking the dew off his lily. (less)
It's not that the recipes are bad--I tried a couple and found them both good. It's that the author was touted as HILARIOUS! but I just find her incred...moreIt's not that the recipes are bad--I tried a couple and found them both good. It's that the author was touted as HILARIOUS! but I just find her incredibly ANNOYING.
Plus, the recipes are arranged every which way, with clam chowder on one page and cinnamon rolls on the facing page, for example, which I'm sure is fine, but not what I prefer.
Plus, she arrogantly insists her recipes for each item are the absolute best, but I'm already terribly fond of my own versions of several of them (like my chocolate fudge icing) and feel no desire to try hers.
Plus, she includes that stupid Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe.
PLUS, she wants me to bake my own graham crackers, and insists I will be "sad" if I do not. (I gave away Mark Bittner's cookbook because he wanted me to make my own vinegar--you're not going to fare any better, sweetheart.)
And no, Ms. Hodgman, not EVERY recipe is improved by adding bacon. I cannot tell you how tired I am of hearing that. My husband doesn't eat pork. What the hell am I supposed to do?
(I'm glad I ordered this because of a catalog recommendation and it did not come from a friend. That would have been awkward.)
I'm very fond of the Eyewitness Travel Guides--they're helpful while traveling (I always enjoy the 'Streetsmart' section), and their level of detail a...moreI'm very fond of the Eyewitness Travel Guides--they're helpful while traveling (I always enjoy the 'Streetsmart' section), and their level of detail and gorgeous, full-color photos make them a great trip souvenir afterward. The Top Ten guides are more concise, like slightly expanded bullet points, but with the same appealing features as the full guides.
This one claims to be a guide to San Antonio and Austin (as well as the Hill Country). For San Antonio it does a good job, comprising over 3/4 of the book and zeroing in on everything from area history to architectural highlights to where to go with kids. However, if you're looking for anything beyond the bare basics on Austin or the Hill Country, look elsewhere. I was disappointed, and thought the guide could easily have been twice as long if Austin and the Hill Country had been properly covered. A real mixed bag. (less)
This is a fascinating collection of travel writing, from a vast array of sources--Paul Theroux’s own books as well as authors as diverse as Evelyn Wau...moreThis is a fascinating collection of travel writing, from a vast array of sources--Paul Theroux’s own books as well as authors as diverse as Evelyn Waugh, Fanny Trollope, Jack London, Jon Krakauer and William Burroughs. It’s all cleverly arranged into a variety of chapter topics dreamed up by Mr. Theroux, such as “The Things They Carried,” “Travelers Who Never Went Alone,” “Perverse Pleasures of the Inhospitable,” and “Evocative Name, Disappointing Place.” It must have been quite an organizational undertaking, and yet it seems to be just enough, all bound up in what looks like a large Moleskine notebook—itself ready to travel. The effect is like a marvelous cocktail party, full of some of the world’s most interesting people and Mr. Theroux is making the introductions--if he’s done his work well, you’ll find someone you want to go home with, or at least get to know better. I certainly did. I got my second introduction this year to Freya Stark, and some completely gonzo passages by Redmond O’Hanlon in the “Everything is Edible Somewhere” section had me hooked. There are few things better than a book that makes you want to read more books.
It’s also a goldmine of travel-related quotes, from authors who don’t mess around:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on those accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
--Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad (1869)
“You are simply not lonely enough when you travel with companions. Spells of loneliness are an essential part of travel. Loneliness makes things happen.”
--Jonathan Raban, Driving Home (2010)
But possibly my favorite bits were Theroux’s own wry, biographical comments on some of the authors—Thoreau, for instance:
“And then there is Walden, the last word in solitude. Or is it all theoretical? Thoreau’s cabin was only a mile and a half from his house in Concord, where his adoring mother waited, baking pies for him and doing his laundry; and throughout the Walden experience he went home most days.”
There’s an awful lot to like in these 272 leather-bound pages. If you tend to wander, as I do, you’ll find yourself in very good company. (less)
I'm told Ms. Harris has signed a contract to do two more books after this one. While I'm sort of grimly determined to see things through to the bitter...moreI'm told Ms. Harris has signed a contract to do two more books after this one. While I'm sort of grimly determined to see things through to the bitter end, it really IS time to put this series to bed before it veers into a Patricia Cornwell-style disaster zone. This one is a lot of filler--more vampire politics (something I've actually enjoyed up to this point), an intriguing fairy artifact, a couple of old baddies return, and Ms. Harris sets up the framework of what she's going to cover in the last two books. I really hope she's got a bang-up finale hiding up her sleeve--we shall see. One very bright spot: Bubba is back! (He's the reason for my third star.)(less)
Every time I take my car to be washed at the ‘touch-free’ car wash, I realize how completely I’m at the mercy of that giant robotic arm, and I indulge...moreEvery time I take my car to be washed at the ‘touch-free’ car wash, I realize how completely I’m at the mercy of that giant robotic arm, and I indulge in a little shiver of terror: what if it went crazy? And my coffee maker, too--I’m pretty sure that sucker would kill me if it could just figure out how to do it. (Or maybe it already has, and is just biding its time.) Daniel Wilson obviously thinks things like this too, and having a doctorate in robotics, he knows exactly how it all might go down. And here it is.
I picked this up at the library for some Hurricane Irene reading, and decided that since it had been panned, spanked and spat upon by several of GR's snootiest reviewers, I'd probably enjoy it, or at least find it entertaining. I was right.
Told almost exclusively in flashbacks, it’s an account of what might happen if the machines decided to think for themselves and wipe us out. The story is told via a tricky device that appears to be ‘first-person omniscient’ point of view, which, while it kind of works here, makes me glad I don’t see it more often. And yes, it’s true, the prose has a certain dick-swinging swagger, which fans of the delicate and nuanced might find off-putting. But it serves the character, and I have a fondness for techno-thrillers, so I liked it just fine. But then, I’m a visual and technical freak with a seriously overheated imagination—I can’t speak for anyone else. It is what it is: a fun, sometimes gory sci-fi thriller about robots who take over the world and the little band of people who fight to survive, some of whom are better-developed on the page than others.
It’s an extraordinarily visual novel--something I of course really like—and some of the images Wilson invokes will be burned onto my brain for a long time (like the hands pushing at the car window as it goes under the water, the biological research station, and the robot feeling around for the lock on the yogurt shop door, just to name three). The strong visual sense turns out to be very a good thing, as the book has been picked up by Steven Spielberg as his next directorial effort; something that makes me feel completely the opposite of what I might be feeling if I heard that say, Michael Bay had optioned it. So the summer of 2013 already looks promising, and so does Mr. Wilson’s career.
One note: the author’s photo on the dust jacket is scarier than anything contained in the pages. It’s downright creepy; the industrial background, the perfectly composed, expressionless face, the inhumanly blank stare. It’s robotic, which is probably why he chose it. Unfortunately it’s also the face you would see if you came to in a surgical suite, strapped to a chair, and this guy is there holding a power drill and looking at you as though you were a microbe under a microscope. That kind of thing never ends happily. I Googled the author and found lots of photos of him that show him to be a good-looking and quite probably nice guy…but that particular photo…nightmare fodder. (less)
My mother used to subscribe to Victoria Magazine, and would pass me the issues once she was done with them. They were always filled with such stunning...moreMy mother used to subscribe to Victoria Magazine, and would pass me the issues once she was done with them. They were always filled with such stunning, softly-lit photographs of gardens and teacups and antique things from an era that really cared about making things beautiful, that each issue seemed like a mini-vacation. This book, by the editors of Victoria Magazine, is just like that. It's a little light on content--just a page or two at a time between photos--so anyone really looking for depth may be disappointed, although I did learn a few things about the early tea trade and made a note of a wonderful place I want to visit the next time I'm in Boston (Tealuxe). But the photographs...from a simple shot of an almost-empty teacup ready to have its leaves read to a grand view of the most amazing, ornate bridal shower spread I've ever seen, they're every bit as soothing and delightful as the beverage they illustrate. (less)
Fun, quick read simply crammed with details about everyday life in the White House, everything from who does the President's laundry (White House laun...moreFun, quick read simply crammed with details about everyday life in the White House, everything from who does the President's laundry (White House laundry staff), to known secret passages, presidential pets (John Quincy Adams had an alligator), and ghosts in the West Wing (there's a spirit of a black cat in the basement that is most often seen just before major disasters, such as assassinations or stock market crashes--the thing must be visible 24/7 lately). There's even a diagram of how many vehicles are in a Presidential motorcade, and a section on Presdidential vacation time taken: George W. Bush, 98 days a year; Clinton, 19 days a year; George HW Bush, 135 days a year; Reagan, 41 days a year; Carter, 19 days a year.
Fascinating stuff, most of it. I picked up my copy at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, which seems most appropriate. (less)