I should first mention that I did not read this book with my eyes but listened to the audio book as read by Angela Brazil. I figure hearing a fictionI should first mention that I did not read this book with my eyes but listened to the audio book as read by Angela Brazil. I figure hearing a fiction book read affects the listener's perception of the characters, especially that of a narrator's reading of characters I've previously heard portrayed by other actors on the original TV series. There doesn't seem to be much thought into imitating the original actors (not that there's any reason why she should have to), in fact, the parts aren't acted out very much at all. Brazil seems to have taken the route of “just reading” the book, as opposed to full-on acting out the dialogue. This makes the characters sound a touch less emotive than I would think they should sound. At time when I would expect Monk to sound on the verge of freaking out about something, Brazil’s reading makes him seem closer to just annoyed. It also makes Stottlemeyer come across as sounding perpetually bored and tired. Again, I’m not saying she should be doing this as some one-woman show, but I think it’s worth mentioning because if you listen to it as a fan of the show, you may find yourself distractingly having to make the same disassociations I did, and if you aren’t a previous fan, you may get a different “experience” of the characters than those who already “know” them. As for the book itself. I read the first in the series, “Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse” when it first came out, and just didn’t find it engaging enough to continue with the (book) series after that. But I recently decided I’d give this one a shot, figuring I’d give Goldberg the benefit of the doubt in case the first wasn’t so great simply because it was the first. Maybe his Monk books would improve with age? I still have to say I’m not a fan of the Natalie point-of-view, or at least how it’s used here. I can understand the decision in the sense that it allows the reader to hear the observations of the remarkable as told by the not-so-remarkable, but because she’s not-so-remarkable, I don’t understand why the writer takes as much time as he does in having us follow her in her “off the clock” time. While I don’t have anything against Dr. Watson, I don’t really have any interest in hearing about what he had for breakfast, especially since it only makes me wonder what more interesting things are going on elsewhere in the story at the time. The novels allow you to find out more Natalie than you would have in the show, but the sad thing is that what you find out turns out to not have been interesting enough to be worth asking about in the first place. Oddly, there is this one thing that /was/ carried over from the television series that really shouldn’t have been: visual humor. There are various moments that are written as if they were intended to be seen on screen, and quite possibly would be funny to actually see, but hearing them described, in detail, with only words, apparently does not do them justice. They’re reminiscent of that kind of awkward moment when you describe that hilarious moment when your crazy uncle knocked over the punchbowl at the family reunion causing him to slip over the table and land on the cat and oh man everyone was rolling on the floor laughing and well the person you’re telling isn’t really laughing but you guess they had to be there. There’s a routine involving evenly filling a revolving door, which, as a pitch for a script, seems to have potential, but even Natalie herself finds the actual steps involved so dull that she doesn’t go into detail. And later on in the story Monk has an encounter with a painter in a scene that, since it has nothing to do with the rest of the story, must be for comic relief only. But it’s the sort of interaction whose only comedic content would be gotten from seeing the way Tony Shalhoub reacts to what happens to him. At least the book transition also keeps intact the show’s style of verbal humor, but this is another aspect that can be affected by the delivery of the reader. I will say that I was amused by the running gag of Randy Disher’s very own “Special Desecration Unit.” Anyway, this particular “episode” involves the death of a science fiction television producer...that science fiction television show being the cult favorite “Beyond Earth.” If you’ve seen the “Monk” episode “Mr. Monk and His Favorite Show” (which would be aired two years AFTER this book was published - please excuse me as I time-skip around a bit here), you’ll remember the in-Monk-universe show “The Cooper Clan,” which was a parallel for The Brady Bunch. If you count both that episode and this book as canon equally, that makes Adrian a big ol’ hypocrite, since here he berates his brother Ambrose for being too obsessed and sentimental about pure fiction - the Beyond Earth series, which is of course what he himself would be found to do later with his Cooper Clan. Anyway, Beyond Earth is as much Star Trek as The Cooper Clan was The Brady Bunch, right down to making sly references to the personal lives of our world’s actors by way of their world’s. Another good example would be the movie Galaxy Quest, which, hey, co-stars Tony Shalhoub as it happens! But the weird thing about Beyond Earth is that, while Galaxy Quest and The Cooper Clan are /substitutes/ for their respective counterparts, Beyond Earth exists ALONGSIDE STAR TREK. There are only a very few references, but at least one character in the Monkiverse directly mentions “Star Trek” by name. That’s actually what makes it odd: the fact that everyone talks about the cultural phenomenon that is BEYOND EARTH but only passively mentions Star Trek. In this BookWorld, is Star Trek much less popular than it is in our world? Which came first: Did Beyond Earth blatantly copy Star Trek or vice-versa? Why is this not explained? Is Lee Goldberg trolling us, by which I mean me and whoever would be baffled by this sort of thing? My meta-fan-theory is that, for the purposes of “Mr. Monk in Outer Space,” “Star Trek” is the name used for their version of “Star Wars.” I’ll wind this up before I get too long-winded by mentioning what I do appreciate about this book. Usually when fiction uses science fiction fans as characters, it doesn’t stray far from stereotypes. Some are indeed present here, but we’re also treated to a character - Ambrose Monk - who, despite being a diehard science fiction series fan (I… wouldn’t have guessed even watches television, but okay!) …. who...actually HAS FEELINGS. Yes, an “Earther” (you could guess that’s what BE fans are called, right?) can be treated as something other than just the butt of a joke! While Adrian Monk comes across too often as more than a jerk than I’d like him to be, Ambrose is actually a likeable character, and compared to certain others here more interesting. I don’t want to give away an entire chunk of the lesson of the story, but let me just say that it’s refreshing to see Goldberg actually address the motivation for /why/ a fanatic might be the way he is, and that the answer isn’t, “eh, because he’s a nerd.” It’s a shame that he doesn’t get to contribute a whole lot, but perhaps that’s fitting seeing as how the mystery(/ies) presented within are so unmemorable that I haven’t even mentioned them until now....more
As weird as it seems to rate a cookbook without having yet tried any of its recipes, I think this can qualify as an exception to the rule. Even ignorinAs weird as it seems to rate a cookbook without having yet tried any of its recipes, I think this can qualify as an exception to the rule. Even ignoring the recipe portions, it's an entertaining read. It's one part "Fifty Shades" parody to one part "series of as many chicken puns as the author could think of" to one part recipes that are amazing even just for their photographic appeal value. Even the photos are cleverly suggestive!
Keep in mind that I am partial to chickens and puns, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Oh, also...this may be the first cookbook I've encountered that would warrant a parental advisory warning....more
My only quibble is that this book isn't what what it seemed to sell itself to be. The back cover description lead me to expect the kind of book that wMy only quibble is that this book isn't what what it seemed to sell itself to be. The back cover description lead me to expect the kind of book that would make Latin more interesting to complete novices, perhaps by pointing out Latin applications and observances in every day life. But most of the book does seem to assume the reader either has some foundation of Latin knowledge, or is able to learn the fundamentals more quickly than should be expected from its brief lessons. I can imagine "Carpe Diem: Put a Little Latin in Your Life" being interesting and informative, but moreso for those with Latin already in their lives....more
Though I'm already a sucker for most books about interesting statistics and looking at the world in unexpected ways, I was surprised to read about eveThough I'm already a sucker for most books about interesting statistics and looking at the world in unexpected ways, I was surprised to read about even more than I'd read in any other of the type. My favorite parts were learning how surprisingly much went into the development of Blue's Clues and the more reasonable way of tackling the problem of teen smoking....more