We gave this book to my Dad in 2014, must have been a Father's Day gift. After he finished it, he gave it to me to read.
This is a delightful book abouWe gave this book to my Dad in 2014, must have been a Father's Day gift. After he finished it, he gave it to me to read.
This is a delightful book about a place in Texas that I had scarcely heard of before 2014. I knew there was a ferry that took people over to a place called "Crystal Beach," just northeast of Galveston Island. Last year, we finally decided to take that ferry ride and found ourselves on the Bolivar Peninsula. There isn't much on the Bolivar Peninsula. There are two roads. 87 runs the length of the peninsula, and on up into the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. 108 is a small square on the southwest end of the peninsula that connects with 87. That's it. On the Google map, you see "Bolivar Peninsula," "Caplen," and "Goat Island." There is also an old fort on the southwest end, right after you drive off of the ferry landing, called "Fort Travis." We spent an hour or so, roaming around Fort Travis, during our last trip to Galveston. We probably only drove about halfway up the peninsula on that trip, stopping at Crystal Beach, which, to be honest, we were not terribly impressed with.
Melanie Wiggins has given us a book that does two things. The first half of the book is a well-detailed history of the peninsula, and the people who have lived there. There are some fantastic stories involving this area of Texas, some of which include the famous "privateer" (I always called them "pirates;" apparently, there is a slight difference), Jean Lafitte, who spent a great deal of time in that area. Stories abound of shipwrecks, intrigue, the building of lighthouses and railroads, and of course, storms. Oh, the storms. I'm already well familiar with the great hurricane of 1900. But it turns out that there was another big one in 1915, which was actually worse for Bolivar than the one in 1900. Pretty much the entire peninsula was under water after the 1915 storm. Both storms wrecked the railroad tracks that had been laid. Until the railroad was finally successful, there was no way to get from the peninsula to Galveston other than by boat.
The second half of the book is the most fascinating, in my opinion. In this section, Ms. Wiggins met with, and recorded interviews with, people who actually lived on the peninsula. With one exception, all of the stories in this half were verbatim transcripts of recorded interviews. The one exception was the first one, Louis George Hughes, who was already dead. Melanie used portions of his diary for his story. The stories are fascinating to me. Detailed accounts of hurricane survival, along with how people lived on the peninsula back in the early 20th century, take you back to a time when things were much simpler. People spoke of playing with seashells on the beach, pretending they were cattle and goats. They didn't have toys. They didn't have electricity until the 1930s, if I remember correctly.
Some of the stories are hilarious, some are heartwarming, all are lovely. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Texas history. And the next time I go to Galveston, I'm going back to that peninsula, and intend to drive the length of it to try to soak in some of that history....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Of course, I also grew up in Mineral Wells, being born the year the Hexagon was tragically torn down.
James Pylant hasI thoroughly enjoyed this book! Of course, I also grew up in Mineral Wells, being born the year the Hexagon was tragically torn down.
James Pylant has written a masterpiece, in my opinion. This doesn't read like a "history" book at all, yet it truly is. What I really like about the way Pylant put this together is that it could almost be a series of short stories that revolve around the same, central characters. I was delighted to read of the crazy antics (and I believe "crazy" just might be literal) of Corine Griffith, the most famous person to ever come out of Mineral Wells (although Carolyn Jones had some ties to MW, as well).
I was also astonished to find that there are actually ties between Mineral Wells and the Washington Redskins! Never knew that before! Corinne Griffith married George Preston Marshall, who was part owner of a NFL team that was, at the time, named the Boston Braves (Pylant calls them the "Chiefs," but I can't find any other documentation of that . . . the team's website says they were the "Braves"). When Marshall became full owner, the name was changed to Redskins, partly because they shared Fenway Park with the Red Sox. Later, Corinne is alleged to have convinced Marshall to move the team to his home of DC, where they became the Washington Redskins.
There are pictures, galore, in the book, many, of course, of the iconic Baker Hotel, as well as the Crazy Hotel, the Hexagon, and other houses and places in the town. I even found that my childhood piano teacher had a hand in renovating the home of some of the founders of the town!
It was a very informative book about my home town of Mineral Wells, Texas, and I applaud James Pylant for writing it....more
While I enjoyed Burn, I have to say it wasn't quite as captivating as the first two books of this trilogy. In all fairness, that may not be the authorWhile I enjoyed Burn, I have to say it wasn't quite as captivating as the first two books of this trilogy. In all fairness, that may not be the author's fault. First of all, I probably waited too long to read it, which means that I had forgotten a significant amount of details from the previous books. Second, there were some family health issues going on while I was trying to finish it, which were greatly distracting. (However, upon checking the reviews on Amazon, it seems I'm not the only one who felt this way.) I just checked back to see my previous reviews, and I gave Pure four stars and Fuse five stars.
I will say that, by the end of it, I was pretty fully engaged. Burn picks up right where Fuse left off. Partridge is in The Dome, and, having just murdered his father, is now in charge of things. Or at least he thinks he is. Things are not always what they seem, though, are they? Pressia, El Capitan, Helmut, Bradwell, and the others are still in . . . is it Ireland? I think that's right. Anyway, Pressia holds the key to curing all of the Wretches. But they also have something that will bring down The Dome, which is what Bradwell wants to do. The conflict within the group increases as the story unfolds.
The situation in The Dome deteriorates as Partridge tries to change things too quickly. He is forced into the arranged marriage with Iralene, even though Lyda is carrying his child. The resulting courtship and marriage calms things down somewhat, but Partridge is fairly miserable. Plus, he is being blackmailed by the head of his security division, who knows what he did.
Pressia and company make it back to The Dome, and, with the help of The Mothers, Pressia manages to infiltrate and find Partridge. One of the tasks she was given by The Mothers was to find Lyda and get her out.
The ending, which I will not spoil, was only partially satisfying for me. Partridge wound up making a different decision than the one I wanted him to make. But hey . . . it's not my story, is it?
All in all, this has been an entertaining and unique story. I applaud Julianna Baggott for the originality of this trilogy and look forward to reading more of her work in the future. I am especially interested in one that she wrote "for younger readers," called The Prince of Fenway Park. I must see if I can get hold of that one....more
This is a great book to read while waiting for Opening Day to arrive. It's just the sort of book that can whet the appetite for the baseball season toThis is a great book to read while waiting for Opening Day to arrive. It's just the sort of book that can whet the appetite for the baseball season to begin.
Zack Hample is a master ballhawk. A ballhawk, by definition, is someone who is an expert at chasing down baseballs at major league baseball games (and even some spring training games). In The Baseball, Hample gives us a great look at that little white ball that we all obsess so much over. This is not a book about baseball, the game. This is a book about THE baseball.
Part One gives us a glimpse of baseballs in the news, from the souvenir craze to people who have actually been killed either by baseballs, or in the chase for them. (Fortunately, that last chapter is relatively small.) There are World Series balls, Barry Bonds home runs, Hank Aaron home runs, Sammy Sosa home runs, foul balls, various stunts by players and others, and even a chapter on "Foul Balls in Pop Culture." Unfortunately, there is a picture of Justin Bieber in that chapter.
Part Two gives us some history, with a great chapter on the evolution of the baseball, from 1847 to 2011. The interesting thing about that chapter is that there have always been controversies about the hotness of the ball, with allegations that the ball is juiced in some eras. The ball manufacturers swear that the ball has been made the same for a long time, now, with no specific changes that would make the ball hotter or less so. There is a great chapter on Rawlings and how the ball is made, followed by one about how they are stored and prepared for games, including a part about the infamous "Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud." Yes, for those who are not aware, mud is rubbed onto the surface of every single baseball used in MLB play. But not just any mud. It is secret mud, from a secret location, somewhere in New Jersey.
Finally, in Part Three, Mr. Hamble gives us some tips on how to snag baseballs, from the master, himself. There are tips about various ballparks, along with some etiquette, what to do, what not to do, what you can get away with, how to talk to the players to convince them to give you a ball, and so on. He lists his favorite ballparks for getting balls (and our local Rangers Ballpark is one of his top ten). He gives a rundown of the top 10 ballhawks that he knows about.
Bottom line is that this is just a fun book about the baseball. I learned a lot, as I read it, and I was entertained by it, as well. Hample's writing style is fun, even when describing the lengthy history of the baseball and its evolution.
I recommend this book for any true fan of the game....more
This book begins with a nice interaction between two characters that you think are going to be main characters in the story. But it's a trick!! They aThis book begins with a nice interaction between two characters that you think are going to be main characters in the story. But it's a trick!! They are dead by the end of the first chapter, as the antagonist of the story plows into a group of jobless people, waiting in a line at a convention center, before dawn, desperate for a job. The deed is done in a grey Mercedes, stolen from a wealthy woman in a wealthy part of town, hence the name, "Mr. Mercedes."
Bill Hodges is now a retired cop, but was on the case of the Mercedes killer before he retired. He and his partner were unable to solve the case. But, soon after his retirement, as Hodges sat, mindlessly watching TV, debating suicide, he receives a letter. The letter is allegedly from the killer. But it has the opposite effect that the killer desired. Instead of eventually driving Hodges to go ahead and pull the trigger, the letter creates a drive in him, motivating him to, rather illegally, mind you, begin investigating the case with fresh vigor.
Mr. Mercedes is not, in my opinion, a typical King novel. Sure there is plenty of action and language, but there is nothing overtly supernatural in this tale. Brady Hartfield, aka Mr. Mercedes, is simply a crazy man, living with his mother (and there is a rather disturbing relationship there, I might add). This novel is pure thriller. Not much of a mystery, because we, the faithful readers, know who perpetrated the crime early in the book. It is simply a race against time as Hodges, along with his landscaper Jerome, work to solve this case. There are many tense moments, several of which you see coming, and are helpless to prevent. There were several times that I sat up straight and said, "OH, NO!" because I knew what was coming. One of those times, it was heartbreaking.
The description of the book says that it is "Bill Hodges Trilogy #1." I find that to be rather exciting, because I enjoyed it immensely, and would definitely like to see more of Bill Hodges. Hopefully, Jerome will still be around to help him....more
How does the mind of a serial killer work? Max Peterson gets a frightening glimpse of it as he interviews notorious killer, Richard Mock, who has renaHow does the mind of a serial killer work? Max Peterson gets a frightening glimpse of it as he interviews notorious killer, Richard Mock, who has renamed himself David Stone.
What I like about As From A Talented Animal is the ambiguity of the "killer." The book is presented from the perspective of three different people, the journalist Max Peterson, the alleged killer Richard Mock/David Stone, and the prison guard Felix.
As Max interviews and learns more about Mock/Stone, the tale gets more chilling. For one thing, there is much question about whether Stone even committed the crimes. You see, he has confessed to 30 killings over a number of years. He has been convicted of eight of them, and is serving a sentence in a mental institution. The reason he was only convicted of eight of the murders is that his confession didn't match up well enough with the other 22.
The problem is that he sporadically announces that he never killed anyone. But who is claiming that? Stone or Mock? He claims (along with the psychologist), that Stone is just a pseudonym, made up by Mock. But Max Person swears that he can tell which one he is talking to by "something in the eyes." At one point, Max is pretty well convinced that Stone is telling the truth when he says that he never killed anyone. As the reader, I'm never quite sure.
The book is a gripping journey through the mind of a madman. Did he kill or not? You'll have to decide for yourself....more
I regret that I could only give five stars to this book.
Timothy Keller's book may be the best book on prayer that I have ever read. Scratch that. It II regret that I could only give five stars to this book.
Timothy Keller's book may be the best book on prayer that I have ever read. Scratch that. It IS the best book on prayer that I have ever read, hands down. So much so, that I plan to read again, much more slowly, to digest every nugget of greatness within.
A couple of statements on the front flap of the book ring very true. "Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful." This book addresses that issues head-on. Keller, being humble, says in the introduction, "The best material on prayer has been written," meaning before he wrote this book. I'm not sure I agree with that statement, after reading this book.
What Timothy Keller has done, here, however, is take some of that "best material on prayer" and gather it together in one place for us. Drawing heavily from the work of John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine of Hippo, John Owen, and several modern writers, Keller has crafted a masterpiece. He takes two different view on prayer and syncretizes them, giving us the best of the more doctrinal, clinical type of prayer, along with the contemplative (that so many modern Christians seem to be avoiding like the plague).
The book is divided into five parts, beginning with what is most necessary, "Desiring Prayer." I will confess that there was a segment of part two, "Understanding Prayer," in which I almost got bogged down, as Keller went into quite a bit of detail on the history of prayer, in general, and not just Christian prayer. That particular section, while I understand the need for it, was a bit dry, and that is absolutely the only negative thing I have to say about the book.
In part three, "Learning Prayer," he gets into the meat of the teachings of Calvin, Luther, and Augustine, as well as Owen. This is where the book really takes off, and get continually better. In part four, "Deepening Prayer," he discusses meditating on God's Word and seeking his face. Part five is the practical section, "Doing Prayer," in which he gives examples of the different parts of prayer, and gives helpful advice on how to achieve more meaningful prayer times.
In the midst of a book on prayer, Timothy Keller tackles more than just prayer, which made the book even better. One of the parts that spoke to me most was a brief section on repentance. It begins on page 208, in a section with the heading, "Remembering the Freeness of Forgiveness." Actually, it begins on the page before that heading, as he speaks of the fact that "no sin can now bring us into condemnation, because of Christ's atoning sacrifice" (p. 207). In the same paragraph, he reminds us that "sin is so serious and grievous to God that Jesus had to die. We must recognize both of these aspects of God's grace or we will lapse into one or the other of two fatal errors. Either we will think forgiveness is easy for God to give, or we will doubt the reality and thoroughness of our pardon."
If we lose our grip on "the freeness of forgiveness," Keller writes, we will fall into a life of "continued guilty, shame, and self-loathing." In the section that begins on page 208, Keller writes of Martin Luther and his "Ninety-Five Theses, famously nailed to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. These began with a call for "the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." With the wrong understanding of repentance, this sounds terribly bleak, as though we live our lives always asking for forgiveness.
But the fact that "we are saved and accepted through Christ apart from any of our good works or efforts" completely changes "the nature of repentance. When we forget the freeness of grace, the purpose of our repentance becomes the appeasement of God" (p. 208)! (Emphasis mine.) With this understanding of repentance, we are trying to stay on God's good side by trying to impress him with our sorrow.
But we don't have to suffer for our sin, because Christ has already done that! "We do not have to make ourselves suffer to merit God's forgiveness. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ . . . This profound assurance and security transforms repentance from being a means of atoning for sin into a means of honoring God and realigning our lives with him" (p. 209) (emphasis mine).
It just so happens that God has been dealing with me about this very issue for a while, now, so that portion of the book captured my attention and really spoke to my heart and spirit.
I apologize for the lengthiness of this review. As I stated earlier, there is so much "good stuff" in this book that it cries out for me to read it again, and perhaps again after that. In my opinion, this may be THE modern book on prayer that could change an entire generations's perspective on one of the most important subjects that the Christian can study....more
I really like short stories. And I really, really like haunted house stories. So you can imagine how I would feel about a book of short stories aboutI really like short stories. And I really, really like haunted house stories. So you can imagine how I would feel about a book of short stories about haunted houses!!
If I understand correctly (and I frequently don't), all of these stories were written just for this book. They all have the same copyright date as the book, itself. There are nineteen delightfully creepy stories, by nineteen different writers. The only one I had actually ever heard of was Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote the final story in the book, "What Happened To Me."
Every story in this book is well worth reading. I have eighteen new writers, whose work I am anxious to read more. It is hard to pick favorites, but I will try.
"Driving the Milky Way," by Weston Ochse, is about a group of young kids and their adventures surrounding an old, rusted out RV on one their parents' property. But one night, on one of their adventures, something strange happens, leaving only one of them behind. He is determined, as a grown-up, to find out what happened to them.
"Moretta," by Garry Kilworth, is about a house inhabited by a strange force that has killed a few people. The source is finally discovered after two near-death experiences.
"An Injustice," by Christopher Fowler, is a chilling tale about an encounter that some amateur ghost hunters have in a house that appears to be abandoned. The reality turned out to be quite disturbing.
"Villanova," by Paul Meloy, is about a father and two daughters on a cheap vacation trip. By the time you realize what's happening, it's too late to turn back.
"Widow's Weeds," by Christopher Pries, is about a struggling magician who keeps an appointment with a woman who desires to add magic to her repertoire of "atchievements." How she adds it is the catch, it seems.
"The Doll's House," by Jonathan Green, tells of a family whose quiet life is suddenly disrupted when the wife's mother brings a childhood dollhouse to their home.
And finally, "What Happened To Me," by Joe R. Lansdale, which describes an event that happens to a college guy and his two roommates. Well, at least it starts with two roommates. By the time it's all said and done, he's alone. Except for the trees. The question is, what do the trees want?
This is a great collection of haunted house stories, which I would heartily recommend for anyone who enjoys the same. ...more
This may be one of the most painful books I have ever read. I was expecting it to be difficult, as I knew some of the history, but I had no idea . . .This may be one of the most painful books I have ever read. I was expecting it to be difficult, as I knew some of the history, but I had no idea . . .
Let me start off by saying that I love Brennan Manning and his writings. After reading All Is Grace, his autobiography (along with John Blase), I have an even deeper respect for him.
Born Richard Manning, in Brooklyn, NY (and yes, he was a Yankees fan, for which I forgive him), he had a difficult childhood. His mother pulled no punches in letting him know that she wanted a girl. "You don't always get what you ask for," she would say. She had prayed for a girl. Richard Manning was born on April 27, 1934, during the Great Depression. His grandfather was an alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic. So it's no surprise that, when he turned sixteen, Richard started drinking, too. He had his first "alcohol-induced blackout" when he was eighteen.
During his school years, he discovered that he loved writing. So he went to college to study writing. But in the middle of his college years, some buddies convinced him to join the Marines, along with them. He had dreams of becoming a hero in the Marines, but one month after he arrived in Korea, the treaty was signed. Over the next three years, as he served in the Marines, he became a writer for his division's weekly newspaper.
Since being a part of the armed services could get you free college, after he was discharged from the Marines, he began the fall semester at the University of Missouri. But after only one semester, he left college to enter a Franciscan seminary. He almost left seminary after a week, but had a rather intimate experience at the 12th station of the cross, which drove him closer to God. A verse in Colossians became very important to him from that point on. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything. (3:11) He actually finished seminary and became a priest. When he was ordained as a priest was when he changed his name to Brennan, which is the name we know him by.
Later in life, he would leave the priesthood to get married. But he didn't know how to be married, so he failed at that after a number of years. One of the key elements that ran through all of this was his alcoholism. During his years as a priest, during his years as a husband, and beyond, alcohol plagued Brennan Manning. Along with alcoholism, of course, there is lying. It goes with the territory. And his brutal honesty about all of this is what makes this memoir so painful. Brennan has no pretense of moral holiness; he lays it on the line.
I have read blogs and other writings that would have us dismiss all of Brennan's great writings because he was an alcoholic and because he lied, all during the times that he was giving inspirational speeches and writing great books. I would say that the writers of those blogs don't understand grace at all. I believe Brennan chose to share these things, close to the end of his life (we lost him in 2013), that we might see what grace truly is. None of us is perfect; none of us has it all together. I have seen more of myself in this memoir than in any other book I have ever read. No, I'm not an alcoholic, but I have my own "demons," just as everyone. I have been in some very dark places, many of which occurred during my own time at seminary and during ministry years. Brennan Manning's story speaks to my heart. While it hurts badly (I was at the point of tears many times during this short book), it is also refreshing. It is refreshing to read the story of a man who was badly broken, knew it, and was not afraid to let you know he knew it.
All is grace. I think Brennan Manning understood this more than anyone I've ever read. I wish I had known him. But there's a problem with that. There were times in my life that, had I known him, I would not have liked him at all. In fact, I would probably have dismissed him, just like the writers of the blogs I mentioned earlier. But I understand grace a little bit more, these days.
Praise God for that, and praise God for people like Brennan Manning....more
**spoiler alert** At one point, I began to think that Jim Butcher has lost his mind.
Harry Dresden is in a really dark place, right now, and as Skin G**spoiler alert** At one point, I began to think that Jim Butcher has lost his mind.
Harry Dresden is in a really dark place, right now, and as Skin Game began, I'm not sure I liked it. I got over that feeling by the end of the book, but I'm not sure how much more Dresden can take. He is extremely insecure, at this point, and is even beginning to doubt whether he is one of the good guys, any longer.
In Skin Game, Harry Dresden is forced by Mab (if you're caught up, you know that Harry is now the Winter Knight, being forced to take that mantle in order to save the life of his daughter (I think that's how it went down) to take on a job for Nicodemus Archleone, one of the really, really, REALLY bad guys.
One of the main reasons that Harry can't refuse to do this job, is that he seems to have some kind of "parasite" in his head, at least that's what Mab is telling him. This parasite, he is told, if he refuses, will kill him and then go after his family (meaning Maggie, his daughter). So Harry reluctantly agrees to take on this job. He is allowed to have one person on his team, and of course he chooses Karrin Murphy.
The job? Nothing difficult. Just to break into the Underworld vault of Hades, himself. That's all. Nicodemus has brought on a large team of people, some of whom Harry knows, and some he doesn't.
There are parts of this book, to be honest with you, that I hated. I don't like where Harry is, right now. I also really struggle to visualize Dresden doing "Parkour." But there are also parts of the book that I really loved, as well, which is why it gets four stars. Harry's conversation with Hades with nothing short of brilliant. There is the usual excitement, adventure, and action. And one of my favorite characters of the whole series, Michael Carpenter, is a HUGE player in this one.
There was a bit of a deux ex machina toward the end of the big showdown, though. I didn't mind it, terribly, though. It seemed to serve the purpose. I'm not even sure it's technically a deux ex machina, either. But it reminded me of some Agatha Christie novels I have read. You know the ones . . . where she brings in information that you had no way of knowing, right at the end of the plot. Butcher would probably be flattered that I've just compared him to Agatha Christie.
The part that really caused me to think that Butcher had lost his mind was when we find out what the "parasite" really is. Turns out it's not really a "parasite" at all. And Mab has been lying through her teeth about it.
At the end of the book, Harry is still the Winter Knight. But he is also comfortable at the Carpenter's house, with Maggie and Mouse (remember the dog?) alongside him. For now, at least. Oh, yes. And he has Amoracchius. ...more
The Princess Bride has long been one of my top five favorite movies. So, when I saw that Cary Elwes, who played Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts, hadThe Princess Bride has long been one of my top five favorite movies. So, when I saw that Cary Elwes, who played Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts, had written a book about the movie, I couldn't wait to read it. When my Dad asked for the book for his birthday, back in November of 2014, of course I got it for him. And then, of course, he loaned it to me, so I could read it.
I would give this book more stars if Goodreads would let me. It's that good. I would even go so far as to say it's one of the best books I have ever read. It made me cry; it made me laugh; many times it made me laugh quite loud.
The story of the making of this movie is pretty incredible. I learned much that I did not know. For example, several people (Robert Redford being one) had attempted to make this movie before, and just couldn't pull it off. In fact, William Goldman, the author, had even bought back the rights to the book and pretty much given up on the whole thing before Rob Reiner approached him about it. It turns out that The Princess Bride is Goldman's favorite thing that he ever wrote. It is also Rob Reiner's favorite book. Cary had read it, as well, and liked it very much. So much so, that he was thrilled when Rob Reiner approached him about playing the part of Westley in the movie.
Perhaps the best parts of As You Wish are the tales about Andre the Giant. My favorite is a bit about Andre passing out in the lobby of a hotel, after having too much to drink. That, in itself, was quite an accomplishment, as Andre was known to drink an entire case of wine with barely any effect at all.
Throughout the book, Cary tells of the massive amounts of training that he and Mandy Patinkin had to go through, in preparation for "The Greatest Swordfight In Modern Times." Neither one had had any training (well, Mandy cheated just a bit and started training a few weeks before they began shooting), so they had to take up every single spare moment during the shooting of the movie to train. The incredible swordfight was the last scene filmed, so as to give them more time.
The book is very well written, probably, in part, due to there being a co-writer named Joe Layden. Included in each chapter are bits from the various players in the movie, from Rob Reiner and Andy Scheinmann, producing partner, to Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, who played Miracle Max and his wife. Sadly, Andre passed away long before the book was read, so we don't get any thoughts from him. Everyone had very positive things to say about the making of the movie, with the possible exception of Wallace Shawn, who was so terrified of getting replaced that he gave himself hives.
Possibly the funniest part of the book is when Cary reveals something about the scene where Buttercup has just agreed to marry Humperdinck, and ridden away. Rugen, the six-fingered man (upon whom Inigo Montoya has sworn revenge), hits Westley on the head, knocking him out, and carries him to the Pit of Despair. Well, it turns out that Chrig Guest (Rugen) hit Cary just a bit too hard. "And that, folks, is the last thing I remember from that day's shoot," Cary says. It really knocked him out!
I could go on and on about the great parts of this book, but, then, you wouldn't have to read it yourself, which you really should do, especially if you are a fan of this incredibly marvelous movie.
In fact, I think I'm going to go watch it again, right now....more
Who would think that a book about the creation of a dictionary would be entertaining? Well, this one is!
Simon Winchester has done a great job of telliWho would think that a book about the creation of a dictionary would be entertaining? Well, this one is!
Simon Winchester has done a great job of telling this story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, a work that took some seventy years to be completed, and, at the time this book was published, amassed 20 volumes, 22,000 pages, 500,000 words defined, and 2.4 million illustrative quotes.
"Oh, you must mean encyclopedia!"
No, I mean dictionary.
You see, the original intent of the OED, which was the first work of its kind (there were dictionaries before it, but quite incomplete in their scope), was to include every single word in the English language, all possible definitions, and illustrative quotes of the first instance that the word was used in print. Therein was the biggest challenge; finding those quotes. In order to accomplish this, the people in charge of the project enlisted the help of hundreds of volunteers, both in the UK and the U.S.
The creation of the OED began on Guy Fawkes Day in 1857, with a speech at the London Library, made by Richard Chenevix Trench. The theme of the speech was "On Some Deficiencies in Our English Language." He described ways in which the current available dictionaries were lacking. It was in this speech that he brought forth the idea of enlisting volunteers to create this new dictionary. It would be another 22 years before this project really got going.
In 1878, James Murray was brought to Oxford, to meet with the Delegates on the project, and was put in charge of editing the dictionary.
William Minor was an American doctor who had served in the Army. The book begins with a story of him killing a man outside of his apartment in Lambeth Marsh, in Victorian London. Shortly after 2:00 AMon February 17, 1872, three gunshots rang out, something which was unheard of in London. Minor had come to England, suffering from mental illness, which, as a result of the killing of George Merrett, would land him in an asylum in England for most of the rest of his life. What it was that drove Doctor Minor insane would never quite be discovered. There was much speculation, including events that occurred during the Civil War in the U.S., where he served as a military doctor.
It was during his stay at Broadmoor that he would see a flyer advertising the need for volunteers on the OED project. His response to that advertisement would launch over 20 years of communication between William Minor and James Murray. Minor would become one of, if not the, most valuable contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The book is fascinating and entertaining. Winchester writes with a style that is captivating and gripping, and not at all boring. I don't recall every being bored during the reading of this book. I would recommend it to anyone interested in history and language....more
The Prodigal was Brennan Manning's last book, and the only novel he ever wrote. Sadly, he passed away before finishing it, and had already begun collaThe Prodigal was Brennan Manning's last book, and the only novel he ever wrote. Sadly, he passed away before finishing it, and had already begun collaborating with Greg Garrett to help him write the book.
In this book, which is a modern retelling of Jesus's Prodigal Son parable, we follow events in the life of Jack Chisholm, pastor of a mega-church called "Grace Cathedral." He has fallen, and fallen hard. The book opens with him drinking the last of a bottle of tequila, somewhere in Mexico, as he is about to be ousted from a hotel because the church has cut off his credit cards. He is penniless and homeless. His wife and daughter are nowhere to be found, having taken "hush money" from the church and quickly relocated.
Coming to his rescue is Jack's father, Tom, a man with whom he has hardly spoken for over ten years.
Jack preached a "gospel" of not being good enough. His sermons were notorious for making people feel bad about themselves and proclaiming "we have got to do better." It was a gospel of working to deserve the love of God. As Jack moves back home with his father, and begins to rebuild his life, he begins to learn the truth that we cannot ever deserve God's love, no matter how hard we try. He also learns of second chances, as he meets Father Francis Xavier Malone, the fictional representation of Brennan Manning, himself, whose real name, by the way, is Richard Francis Xavier Manning. Where did "Brennan" come from? Anyway . . . Father Francis asks Jack some hard questions, and gets him to think about things.
One thing that really stuck out to me was in Chapter 12, as Jack was talking to Father Frank. Frank speaks of an encounter with another pastor in their town (which was Mayfield, Texas, by the way). Frank says, of the other pastor, "He told me that in every faithful life, there comes a second call when the first one is no longer sufficient, a call to deeper faith, hope, joy." After this, he looks at Jack, and says, "I care, Jack Chisholm, because I have been where you are. Because I believe what is happening in your life as we speak, is that second call, the one that will define who you are from now on."
I believe that this same type of thing has happened to me, personally, and when I read that page, I was floored.
Some might disagree with me, but in my mind, the turning point of the story is when Jack is invited to speak at the local Lutheran Church, the church he grew up in. For the first time in his life, he speaks good news, instead of bad news of undeservedness.
Another point that really struck me was when Jack was trying to decide whether to go back to his old church. You see, they had decided that it would make good financial sense to ask him, no, beg him, to come back. He also thought that this would be an avenue to get his wife back, as she was refusing to even talk to him. In another conversation with Father Frank, Frank asked him this: "Have they forgiven you?"
"'They're asking you to come home. Grace Cathedral. Like in the blessed story of the Prodigal Son. Have they forgiven you?' "'No,' Jack said. 'I seriously doubt it. It's a financial decision. But it makes sense--' "'When your father asked you to come home,' Frank said, 'had he forgiven you?' "'Yes,' Jack said. 'You know he had. Before I even asked him.'" Father Frank went on to quote part of the parable, and told jack that, of course, it was his decision, but that he should know that either they love him and forgive him, or they don't.
I'll leave the ending for you to read. But know that this is a tremendous tale of hope and second chances.
I wish I had met Brennan Manning. And I wish I had known about him sooner. But this I know . . . I can't wait to read more of his writings....more
First off, let me say that there are quite a few typo errors in the version that I read. However, they in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this mFirst off, let me say that there are quite a few typo errors in the version that I read. However, they in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this most excellent collection of stories in the horror genre, collected by Al Sarrantonio. This is at least the third book that I have read that was edited by Mr. Sarrantonio, and I must say that I like his choices.
This is a rather hefty book, weighing in at almost 700 pages (666 for the ebook and more than that for the paperback), and includes a very large number of stories by authors that are both instantly recognizable, and some, not so much, or at least I had not heard of them before. The chilling finale of the book is a novelette by William Peter Blatty (famed author of The Exorcist), called "Elsewhere." I think it wise that Al chose to save it for last, because it might be the best story in the collection.
Among my other favorites were "The Ruins of Contracoeur," by Joyce Carol Oates, "The Road Virus Heads North," by Stephen King (one of my all time favorite King shorts), "Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story," by Neil Gaiman, "An Exaltation of Termagants," by Eric Van Lustbader, "Itinerary," by Tim Powers, "Catfish Gal Blues," by Nancy A. Collins, "The Grave," By P.D. Cacek, "The Shadow, the Darkness," by Thomas Ligotti, "Rio Grande Gothic," by David Morell, "The Ropy Thing," by Al Sarrantonio, "The Book of Irrational Numbers," by Michael Marshall Smith, and "Mad Dog Summer," by Joe R. Lansdale. This doesn't mean I didn't like the rest of the stories. These are just the ones that really stood out.
I would recommend this book for any fan of the genre. It is, as I said earlier, a most excellent representation of the variety of the horror genre, and introduced me to some excellent authors.
Incidentally, is it a coincidence that the ebook version of 999 had exactly 666 pages? ...more