You are a sorry lot of cookie-makers, I must say.

Three entries?  Three??  What the heck happened to the competitive spirit?  Or cookie fanaticism? *tsk* Well fine.

I got three suggestions for additions to my breakfast cookie and I liked them all.  If I’d gotten twenty, even a dozen, choosing a winner might’ve been simple, but with three really interesting choices, I’m sort of in a quandary.

Parhelion suggested cardamom and cashew with a bit of citrus, and I really liked the idea.  I’m not a big cashew fan but with the cardamom and particularly the citrus, I think I’d like this cookie very much.

Judymoe, who doesn’t consider herself any sort of foodie, made what I thought was a really interesting suggestion, and one I’d never even considered before: lavender.  Now I can’t stop thinking about it, and I know I’m going to try using it in a batch.

And NamasteNancy suggested: walnuts, coconut to taste and sun dried cranberries.  She was actually a bit more specific about her amounts, and this sounded like a really tantalizing cookie, particularly as I love all three ingredients.

What to do, what to do?  My first thought was to let Peeb decide.  I put three balls on the floor with the names of each of the entrants.  I figured that she’d choose one to play with and that would be the winner.  This is what happened:

Sleepy Girl

Clearly Miss Peeb cares nothing for cookies or reading.

So what I just did was assign a code name to each entrant — Grim, Dave, Rafe; all characters from the novella — and asked Glinda North to choose one without telling her why.  She chose Grim, and in doing so, chose Judymoe!

Miss Judy, you will be receiving your copy of Devil in the Details tonight or tomorrow.  Congrats!  Thanks to Parhelion and NamasteNancy for playing.  The rest of you suck. No, you don’t suck, not really.  But I was hoping for a metric fucktonne of ideas to carry me through the winter.

Oh and when I try the combos you three suggested, I will post the results here!  Thanks again.

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All righty, then, it’s contest time!

I finally figured out how to use this new web builder program… after a fashion.  At least enough to get my author site updated.  I’ll continue to work on it, of course.  It’s sloppy not to keep it somewhat fresh, especially since I shut down my author Facebook this week.  (Facebook’s new pay-to-play policy on posts.  I don’t think so!)

English: Standard ingredients of chocolate-chi...

Anyway, tomorrow Devil in the Details is being released, and it’s time for a contest!  Now a lot of you will remember my infamous Breakfast Cookies, aka Never Twice the Same Cookie, so called because what I put into the basic batter is always different. Always.  Sometimes it’s several different types of dried fruit, other times its a mix of chopped nuts.  I’ve used cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger, garam masala… you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always an adventure.  I’ve posted the recipe a couple of times and I’m reliably informed that the cookies are always a big hit.  They also play a part in the seduction of my hero.  Oh yes, Rafe can be had for a couple of these cookies, though he wouldn’t actually admit it.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to publish the ingredient list for the basic cookie below.  What I want from you lot is your ideal NTtSC cookie.  Tell me what you would add to it to make it the cookie of your dreams.  Peanut butter?  Cocoa powder?  Rose water? Yogurt? Ground beef? (Yeah that would be a hard sell, but maybe you could convince me.)  I’m going to pick the cookie ingredient list that sounds the best — and most likely to succeed — and award a copy of Devil in the Details to the hedonistic cookie lover who thought it up.

So here’s the basic ingredient list:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

You don’t have to give me quantities; the only reason I include them above is that it will give you a bit of an idea of what the cookie is like. (For non-bakers, it’s a big, soft, almost cakelike cookie.)  Just tell me what you’d mix in.  Spices, maybe herbs? (I love basil with chocolate!), fruit, dried or fresh; nuts, nut butters, some form of chocolate, flavoring agents… seriously, people, knock yourselves out.  What blows your skirt up, cookiewise?

I will give you until 6 p.m. central time Monday to come up with your grand creation.  I will announce the winner either on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  And I may just use your ideas to make my next batch of cookies!

Big doin’s!

I received my personal and review copies of “Devil in the Details” today which means that it’s really, truly going to happen.  Woo hoo!  Here’s an excerpt for you to whet your appetite:

“So I can expect your answer tomorrow, then?” Gavin asked, brushing Rafe’s face with impeccably-manicured fingers. “I know it will be the right one.” There was no tenderness in either his tone or his touch. He was threatening Rafe.

Rafe slipped free of his seatbelt and opened the car door. “I’ll call you when I get home from school,” he promised. Once out of the car, Rafe had to will himself not to run to the door of his apartment building. He unlocked the door with hands that shook. Only when the door was closed and locked behind him, and Rafe heard Gavin’s car pull out of the driveway, did he allow himself to relax. He slumped against the wall and took several deep, calming breaths. The dancing skeleton decorations that lined the hallway grinned down at him. Normally Rafe liked Halloween, but those skeletons were laughing at him.

Rafe was in trouble. Unless he could find some way out of this mess before the end of the school day tomorrow, he was going to end up spending the rest of his life with Gavin. The idea made him physically ill.

Rafe jumped as the elevator door slid open with a rattle, and Mrs Lempo’s dog, Romeo, came bounding out. He was followed by a somewhat more staid Mrs Lempo in her tatty old fisherman’s sweater and granny shoes. Romeo was so happy to see Rafe that his tail wagged the whole back half of his little sweater-clad body.

“Hey, boy!” Rafe squatted to pet the dachshund, who gave him adoring kisses, and made Rafe laugh. He was grateful for the distraction, and for the opportunity to be uncomplicatedly happy for a few moments. “Mrs Lempo, it’s too late for you to be walking Romeo by yourself.”

“Nothing will happen to us. I have my police whistle and Romeo is a very brave dog, aren’t you my angel?”

Romeo answered with a joyous yip that lifted his front half an inch or two off the ground. Rafe could swear Romeo was grinning. In his orange sweater he looked a bit like an elongated jack-o’-lantern.

“You see?”

Rafe was unconvinced. Brave wiener dog and police whistle notwithstanding, he still didn’t like the idea of Mrs Lempo out walking this late by herself. He also figured a little decompression time would be a good thing. “Well then let me walk with you for company,” he told her. A stroll in the cool night air and some easy conversation would be good for him, help him clear his head.

“Rafe, you look unhappy. Are you all right?”

“I have a lot on my mind is all.” They stepped out and he took her arm. “It’s a beautiful evening, isn’t it? Autumn is the best season here in Chicago.” He liked Mrs Lempo, but Rafe didn’t want to talk about what was going on in his life. Instead they chatted about the weather, the new coffee house nearby and how time tended to fly as one grew older. Rafe, who had recently turned twenty-five didn’t quite have the perspective she did, though he wasn’t certain how old she was. She could have been a well-worn forty or a well-preserved two hundred for all he knew.

“The place is beautiful!” she was saying, talking about the coffee house. “You really should see for yourself.”

“I plan to, but when I’ve got a bit more time.”

“Oh you kids, you think so many things are more important than coffee.” She laughed. “I admit they don’t make coffee as well as I do, but the pastries are superb.”

“I’ll be sure to try it soon, I promise.”

They took a pleasant stroll around the block looking at the Halloween decorations. It was a popular holiday in the Chicago area, and a great many homes and businesses went all out to decorate. Grinning pumpkins watched them pass, and strange, half-glimpsed, and often unsettling things swung from tree branches above them.

Romeo did what he needed to do, which included chasing a large maple leaf that was skittering down the sidewalk, and Rafe returned to the apartment building feeling a little calmer. Mrs Lempo was good for his perspective.

Unfortunately, as they were entering the building, Rafe spotted Gavin’s car parked down the block and realized Gavin had parked there to spy on him, a notion that made him feel sick to his stomach. Was this what his life was going to be like? He thought seriously about marching over to the car and smashing the windshield with a rock. “There’s your answer!” he wanted to shout, and maybe smash Gavin’s face, too.

“You coming, Rafe?” Mrs Lempo was holding the door for him.

Anger gave way to brief, overwhelming despair. How could he live like that? How on earth could he allow Gavin to dictate everything he did, everyone he spoke to?

But then despair gave way to determination. As he rode upstairs with Mrs Lempo and Romeo, he decided he wouldn’t give in to Gavin’s demands without a fight even if it meant getting help from some dangerous sources.

Rafe walked Mrs Lempo to her door, which was just past his own. He told her he couldn’t let her walk the whole way by herself at this hour of the night.

She seemed amused. “You’re such a nice boy, Rafe. Could I interest you in a cup of coffee?” she asked. A glittery black wreath hung on her door, and Rafe thought he really should put up his own decorations, though he simply wasn’t in the mood to celebrate anything.

“Normally I’d say yes, but I know your coffee all too well, Mrs L. I wouldn’t get to sleep until December if I drank a cup now. ‘Strong as temptation, hot as Hell, and black as sin,'” he quoted, making her laugh.

“Yes that’s the way I like it, poppet. Where I come from, we all drink it like that. But I do have some half and half for the less adventurous.”

“Another time, thank you. Night, Romeo.”

The little dog yipped again and trotted into the apartment.

“Night, Mrs L.”

“Night, Rafe.”

Once safely inside his own apartment, he took off his jacket and went to fetch some salt and a photo of Gavin. He didn’t normally resort to this sort of thing, but living with Gavin was the worst fate he could imagine; going to Hell didn’t seem a lot worse, particularly in his circumstances. He drew a circle with the salt, sat down in front of it and began to chant.

“By my will I invoke thee, Agrimillit, by my will I call thee to my circle.” He couldn’t fight Gavin’s money and power, so if he needed to get help to level the playing field a little, he was willing to do it. “By my will I invoke thee…”

There was a fracturing of light within the circle and the funky smell he’d learned to associate with demon summoning. “By my will I call thee…” A flash of light blinded Rafe momentarily and as his vision cleared he saw the demon in all its hoofed and horned glory.

“Who invokes my presence?” it intoned. “Oh, it’s you, Rafe. What’s up?” The demon was looking down at Rafe, scratching the base of one of his curving blue horns with a wicked looking claw. Little licks of flame flickered across its head and shoulders.

“Shit, did you have to blind me?”

“Sorry, sorry. That light flash isn’t really working for me either; I can’t see a damn thing for the first few seconds afterwards.”

“Yeah that could be a problem.”

It’ll be out officially on Saturday but you can purchase it now if you want.  You do want to, don’t you?

I’m also attempting to update my website.  I’ve been having a hard time trying to find a web editor that I like and that likes me.  The free ones were quirky at best and at worst made me jump through hoops before I could publish.  I finally opted for a mid-price program that’s supposed to be easy but I’m not finding it to be quite as simple as promised.  Still, the project is coming along and I hope to have it finished by the end of the weekend.

In honor of that and the publication, I’ll be running a contest for a copy of Devil in the Details.  Stay tuned for details!

 

 

Reading challenges

Fragonard: Young Girl, Reading

I fell down on my reading this year.  I’m not sure why.  Part of it had to do with the fact that the challenges I set for myself failed to engage my interest.  And part of it was that I was working more hours at my editing job, and writing more; I have two novellas being published between this month and spring.

But I like the idea of reading challenges.  Just saying “Hey, I’m gonna read 50 books this year!” isn’t as structured as I’d like, but promising myself that I’ll read 20 books on some esoteric subject is way more structured than I want to be, and probably as doomed to failure as the former sort of challenge.  What to do, what to do?

Another young girl, reading

First, I’m not going to sweat it.  I’ll read what I read.  But one thing I’d like to do is explore the Rory Gilmore reading list.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, then you never watched The Gilmore Girls, which is a shame because it was a smart, funny show (at least up to the final season which sucked rocks.) Rory was a voracious reader, and in the course of the however many seasons the show ran, mentioned reading a whole lot of books.  Bookreviews.me.uk posted a Rory Gilmore reading challenge and a list of those books taken from this forum, but she removed the travel and cookbooks.  I’m leaving them on the list below because I think they’re perfectly valid reading.  It’s varied enough that there’s always something there I’ll want to read, so I’ve decided to make this my main reading challenge for 2013.  I want to get through 20 of these.  That doesn’t mean it’s all I’ll read, but 20 of these books will be a big chunk of good reading for me.

The list below doesn’t reflect the books I’ve already read and which are not eligible for the challenge even if I do choose to reread them.  I just don’t have the energy to go through and note them right now.  There are 339 of them!

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (pére)
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronté
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I’ve seen a couple of other versions of the list but I like this one; it seems complete.  Of course my plans could change by Jan 1st., I make no claims that they won’t.  But this looks like fun.

I’m so tired I’m punchy

Brian Blessed
BOLLOCKS!

So about seven this morning I’m awakened by Brian Blessed shouting “BOLLOCKS!” which is my text alert.  It took me about a minute to even process this since the only person who ever texts me is Glinda who should have been on her way to work.  Turns out she’s outside, freaking out about the hissing sound coming from the new gas meter/pipes outside. I step out in my tee and undies (Yes, I sleep in a tee and panties, deal.) with my wrist braces still on, listen, hear the hissing and race back inside before anyone else sees me.  Promise to find out what’s going on.

Now every other morning since the dawn of time it seems, the gas company has been out here by 7:30 or so, tearing up the street, but today?  No sign of them.  So finally I call and talk to a woman who keeps asking me to describe the noise.  I keep saying “Hissing.” She keeps asking.  Says to call back when I hear it again and hold the phone to the pipes so she can hear it too.  I hang up, text Glinda that I think it’s okay because nobody seems very worried.  She remains unconvinced.

About 8:45 the workers show up to install the meter next door.  I race out — yes, I’m actually dressed by now — and ask the guy who I talked to a couple of days ago when the thing was installed.  He’s about ten feet away and I say, “Is this thing supposed to be making this noise?” and he knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Turns out it’s totally normal; it’s the sound of the pressure being reduced as the gas goes from medium pressure external lines into lower pressure internal ones.  So good, we’re not going to blow up today. I email Glinda to that effect.  She asks if that came from the crew.

LOL, I thought I was the paranoid one.

Anyway now I’m up.  I’m not really what you’d call awake, but I’m up and I keep thinking I should do something constructive.  I’m trying to finish a book (3000 words to go) and for a particular reason it’s got to be done this week.  But I’m so tired I don’t know that I can think straight.

I stayed up late last night because I got involved watching The House on Haunted Hill which I’d never seen before.  A William Castle horror extravaganza, it was one of those big, dopey horror flicks in which there’s not an IQ over 50 in the bunch which is good because if anyone had a brain there’d be no movie.  And here’s the thing that really made me want to fling my shoe at the TV: Through the whole film one character spends all his time warning the others about the ghosts.  However virtually everything that happens is as a result of human not ghostly action, so when at the end he says “They’re coming for me next.” I’m like “Dude, are you high? You just got told who did the murders and it wasn’t ghosts.  Get a grip!”

Why did I start watching?  Well I’d caught the last half of The Haunting earlier in the evening, and when that was over,

Cover of "The Haunting"

The Uninvited came on.  The Haunting is one of my favorite films, and for my money one of the best horror films ever made.  I refer, of course, to the 1963 original with Claire Bloom and Julie Harris, not the horrifically bad remake which turned a wonderful, tight, scary story by Shirley Jacksoninto a nonsensical hack-and-slash fest.

 

The Uninvited came on right after The Haunting, and it’s been years since I’d seen it, so I thought I’d make a night of it.  It wasn’t as good as I remembered, but it was fun.  By the time it was over I was pretty much stuck to my chair which was why I stayed up.  I very nearly decided to follow up with Dead of Night but common sense prevailed and I set it to record instead.  The Innocents was on after that, but I’d seen it recently, and much as I enjoy it, I wasn’t in the mood to rewatch it again this soon.

I think I had a point somewhere along the way about the nature of horror and real-life fear, but I’m not quite remembering what it was, and what I do  remember doesn’t seem nearly as profound as it did when I was stumbling around here in my underwear trying to find a number for the gas company.  I think the bottom line, for me anyway, is that like any  other kind of movie, horror just makes me forget that there is anything bad out there.  I suppose that’s why Glinda and I have a pact.  If either of us is ever in the hospital dying, the other will make sure that the Lord of the Rings trilogy (And probably The Hobbit) is playing as non-stop as we can manage.  If I’m going to go like that, I want to feel as if I’m headed towards Middle-Earth, not some hole in the ground, thank you very much.

 

 

Cate Blanchett portrays Galadriel in The Lord ...
Go back to bed

 

 

Who do we think we are?

The Units in front of the garden

I was adopted at birth.  I know a little about my biological family because it was a private adoption, and my two sets of parents met.  Apparently my biological mother wanted to meet the woman who would become my mother because she felt that as long as Mom was a good person I’d be okay.  I have a lot of reason to be grateful to her because I was eminently okay. Due respect to the people who made me, but the folks to the left were the only parents I ever knew or wanted.  I’ve had friends who badgered me about finding my biological family and while I admit to some curiosity, it was never enough to provoke me to go searching.  As I like to say, ask Pandora about opening boxes.

Still, I am sometimes curious. Mom told me that my mother was a little woman; I’m not.  Apparently I take after my biological father who was a big man with a lazy eye, a problem I had as a child. Years later that was just another clue that I had Native American blood, a fact confirmed by my dentist who checked my teeth and said “Yup, you’re missing the Carabelli Cusp.”  I also think I have a small talon cusp on my incisors.  The missing Carabelli is something peculiar to NA and Pacific island populations, and the talon is pretty strictly Native American.  I have a lot of other minor traits that point to NA ancestry.  So I did get to wondering what I’d find if I had my DNA analyzed.

I had the mitochondrial (mother’s) DNA test done as part of the National Genographic Project back in 2007 when it cost something like $20.  What I got back was really confusing and pointed to some interesting origins — not NA, that would have come from my bio father.  My haplogroup is U6a (The Cheddar Man was a U5. Interestingly enough the U6 haplogroup is not found among Native American populations,) and the origins I discovered are: CameroonOuldeme, Cameroon – PodokwoCape Verde, England, France, Hungary, Iraq – Mizrachi, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Poland – Ashkenazi, Portugal, Tunisia – Sephardic, Ukraine, United Kingdom.  If I understand the results correctly I can also claim kinship with certain north and west Africans and three different Jewish groups, Mizrachi, Ashkenaz, and Sephardic.  I find that pretty damn exciting.  Am I proud?  Hell yes, I’m proud.  They’re distant connections but I’m thrilled to have them.  And we’re travelers. Apparently my bio mother’s people are from France and Denmark.

What is this in aid of?  I guess it’s about saying that family is a lot of different things.  There’s the family of love and affinity, the one I had for so many years, a family of choice rather than blood, but no less strong or meaningful because of it.  There’s the biological family that gives you things like the shape of your teeth and the color of your eyes.  And there are greater families, genetic or just the human family that encompasses everyone who has ever lived and will ever live.  Differences seem pointless when considered in light of all the generations that made each one of us.

You want to know something crazy?  I look like my adoptive parents.  I have similar physical ailments.  And I’m the same sort of eccentric they were.  You want to put some kind of mystical had-to-happen spin on that, feel free.  I sometimes do.  We are who we are for reasons we may never entirely understand.  I find that comforting; it allows us to be so much more.