30 May 2006

Reads & Listens, May 2006


The Golden Mile Murder by Sally Spencer
Going to see The In-Laws, so in the mood for a little Blackpool Lit. Problem is, all the novels that feature Blackpool are disappointing detective stories like this one.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I was not very charmed by the movie version of this novel and so did not scoop up this book as quickly as I should have considering how much I enjoyed Jones's Chrestomanci books. Anyway, it's a really nice spring hammock read and significantly better than the film.

Ptolemy's Gate (Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book Three) by Jonathan Stroud
What will I do without more Bartimaeus books to look forward to??? There aren't many other series I can think of in which all the volumes pleased me so thoroughly. And the ending!

The Coffin Trail by Martin Edwards
Not-so-good mystery about a Oxford historian who, together with his brand new girlfriend, chuck the rat race for a quiet life in the Lake District. Alas, the country is not so quiet ... no real surprises and a whole lot of boring patches.

The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey
While on vacation in a mountain resort, Japanese-American Rei Shimura (Tokyo-based English-language teacher) is involved in a murder.


Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (read by Shelly Frasier)

Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill (performed by LA Theatre Works)
Seventy minutes too long.

21 May 2006

Beer & Chili @ the New London Rotary's Springfest & Chili Cook-Of

Took my dad to the New London Rotary's Springfest and Chili Cook-Of. We don't do father-daughter stuff as often as I do mother-daughter stuff and that seems a little unfair. The Rotary Club's twice yearly beer and chili fest seemed like a good idea as we both enjoy beer and chili.

The Husband (he does not drink and so it always the getaway driver) dropped us off promptly at 6 and, in the two and half hours we were at the fest, we sampled many beers. Some good. Some bad. Some ... indescribable. The problem is, after you drink enough different samples, they all start to taste the same. Breaking for chili helped, of course, but I'm sure there were a number of IPAs (Indian Pale Ales -- believe me, it took me much too long to work that acronym out) I might have liked if I hadn't sampled them all one after the other.

We were each handed six beer tickets at the gate and, ostensibly, this (and a strong police presence) was to keep people from over-indulging. In reality, it was probably very easy to over-indulge as most of the microbreweries represented didn't have much interest in ticket taking. The chili people, on the other hand, really wanted their money. The chili was a dollar a dixie cup and was mostly good. Different area restaurants and organizations competed to make the best chili and we drunken sots got to vote for the tastiest one. There were some really good chili, but nearly all of them lacked the proper amount of fire needed to make a great chili. Or so we thought.

Happily, along with our beer tickets, we each received a program listing all the vendors and their beers. Unhappily, not everyone listed showed up and not all the beers listed were on sample (and vice versa). My dad was smart enough to bring a pen, so we scribbled notes in our programs regarding the quality of the beers we ingested. Some of the things I expected not to like -- Diageo-Guinness's Parrot Bay Sunset Surf and Wave Runner, for example -- turned out to be pretty darned good. Other things I expected to enjoy -- like any of six IPAs or Boddington Pub Draught -- were complete washouts. After having hit all the tables, by the end of the evening we were also suspicious of the whole "microbrewery" angle. Blue Moon Belgian White Ale was one of my favorites, but it belongs to Coors, for pete's sake. Coors is a microbrewery? Pull the other one.

Anyway, without further ado, my list of beers I could happily drink more than one of:
  • Blue Moon Belgian White Ale (a smoother, milder Sam Adams)
  • Parrot Bay Wave Runner and Sunset Surf (tastes like liquid candy, smells like popsicles, and comes in scary neon colors -- a beer you would use to loosen up your underage girlfriend and totally yummy, dude)
  • NV Pear Cider & NV Chesters Cider (comes in a very pretty wine-type bottle and would be good for giving to people who equate cider with scrumpy)
  • Peels Cranberry Peach (another get-your-underage-girlfriend-drunk beer and also totally yummy)

08 May 2006

Library Conferences & Loot

Went to a conference on reader's advisory and am now chock full of ideas. Got to polish my book-talking skills and filled most of my notepad with titles to try on different patrons. Had to leave a little early so that I could head back to work before rush hour started, but got lost (was distracted by a flaming minivan and missed the right turning -- what is it with me and things on fire??) and wasted a half hour getting back to where I ought to be so, yes, did get stuck in rush hour after all. Was, of course, late getting to work and felt rather bad, but then discovered the director was away all week so there was no-one to care about my tardiness and, according to co-worker, I could have arrived even later for all it mattered. Was a bit peeved about losing the end of the conference, because (of course) we were getting into scifi/fantasy reader's advisory and I was very interested in the presenter's take on it. Oh, well. I bought one of their books and it looks like it has a pretty good section of scifi/fantasy, so all may not be lost.

I also bought a copy of Philip Reeves's Mortal Engines (Hungry City Chronicles, Book One). It's been nominated for the 2006 Nutmeg award and I'm trying to read more of them as Saturday Library makes a big deal out of the Nutmeg. Generally, I've not had the best luck with the Nutmegs, but Mortal Engines rocked my world. I read a hardcover copy a couple months ago and was just completely taken with the characters and story. When I wasn't reading the book, I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I was reading it, I was good for nothing else. It was, dare I say, "unputdownable."

Alas, while I wanted a copy of my own, the American hardcover cover art shown on Amazon left a lot to be desired, considering how much better and more correct the British cover art seemed to be. Happily, the paperbacks for sale at the conference used the British covers and so I snapped one up as soon as I could get within grabbing distance of the sales tables.

I cannot wait to get to England next month and buy the rest of the series. Yes. We are going to England to see the In-Laws. Have bought tickets, applied for time off, and arranged for my parents to cat-sit. Now I just need to count down the days until I can eat Scotch eggs and book shop like the addict I wish I could afford to be.

02 May 2006

Yay For Rain

It's raining. Huzzah. Not enough to take us out of the red flag zone for long, but enough to green up the yard and put a little spring dampness back into the air.

The scariest thing about yesterday was not the idea our house might burn down, but that something terrible might have happened to The Husband. When I was coming home from work, I saw that the high school was wreathed in smoke, but there were no cars or firetrucks about so I presumed that the landfill might be on fire. I knew we were in a red flag zone and, when I was a child, our town's landfill was always catching fire so I wasn't particularly worried.

Except that the wind blowing quite strongly toward the landfill meant there should not have been any smoke around the school if the landfill was on fire. Approaching my street, it became obvious the smoke was coming from much closer to home and then I saw my road was closed and just about had a heart attack. Had a hard time getting the guy directing traffic to let me in, but I was pretty adamant about getting home and he eventually gave over.

Of course, once I was on my street, all I could see were fire trucks filling the end of the road and smoke blowing from the direction of our house. Trembling, I parked a couple houses up from ours and then flat out bolted down the street. It was obvious once I got to our yard that the fire was in the woods beyond our lot and did not yet involve us, but that did not keep me from running into the house and grabbing ahold of The Husband.

I have never been so scared. Even when The Husband was so terribly sick with ulcerative colitis and I feared he might die, I was never so afraid as I was for those few minutes yesterday. And I was never so relieved as I was when I realized he was just fine and even oblivious to what was happening outside our door.

Yes, so the fire made yesterday afternoon just a wee bit stressful.

01 May 2006

When I Said "Light My Fire," I Didn't Mean It Literally

Well, holy crap, the woods behind our house are on fire. Lots of smoke. Ash is falling from the sky. Fire trucks from four local houses are parked all over our road. The Salvation Army has delivered a flippin' canteen truck. The state police helicopter keeps circling over head and the local police's ATV keeps zooming off into the woods looking for the fire no-one has yet to find.

Darlings, 2006 is not turning out to be my favoritest year.

Because I am, perhaps, unduly paranoid when it comes to the nasty curve balls the universe might throw me, I have collected all the "important" bits of paper I think we might need should our house burn to the ground, as well as a whole bunch of emotionally important things, and a couple changes of clothes.

Yes, I understand clothes are easily come by, but if my house burns to the ground, I do not think I will be in a fit state to even contemplate shopping.

Oh, look! The media has arrived! I feel so much better knowing we are a real news item! And look! The helicopter is dropping buckets of water! Maybe, it will all be over soon.