30 March 2007

Reads & Listens, March 2007


Love: Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings (illus. by Christopher Myers)
While good ol' Edward Estlin usually rocks my world, this collection left me shrugging my shoulders. Aside from the cover art, the illustrations are unappealing and I am not sure what relationship most of them are supposed to have with the accompanying poem. Also, not sure about the age appropriateness of some of the poems selected for this book (published by Hyperion Books for Children). I mean, I am all against brainwashing the little dahlings with neo-Victorian mores, but the whole "may I feel said he" poem ("(cccome?said he / ummm said she / you're divine!said he / (you are Mine said she)" ) seems a bit ... explicit. But perhaps I just have a filthy mind.

Heartmate by Robin D. Owens
Heart Thief by Robin D. Owens (didn't complete)
I was hoping for something akin to Sharon Shinn's Samaria books, but was horribly disappointed. Celta and its traditions never seem real and her characters seemed like the worst sorts of cliche. It seemed as if Owens didn't believe in the world she was building?

Girls: Volume 1: Conception written by Joshua Luna (Art by Jonathan Luna)
Somewhere in Small Town America, boy goes on a bender at the local bar and is chucked out by the John Law. Boy is angry and something happens -- related to boy's anger? Who knows? Boy then meets mysterious girl and takes her home. Bad things happen. Giant bouncy sperm is discovered. People flee. Town ends up encased in giant ova. The end of Volume 1. (Slow plot development, but the illustrations are so good and the story so ... unique ... that I didn't mind).

Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis (illus. by Tony Ross)
Tadpole and Caterpillar fall in love and promise each other they'll never change ... I will admit the ending came as a shock to me. A highly amusing shock.


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Kate Willig (read by Kate Reading)
The Masque of the Black Tulip by Kate Willig (read by Kate Reading)
The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Kate Willig (read by Kate Reading)
Dear Kate Reading: Stop saying "Ant" for "Aunt." You did such a marvelous job turning these mediocre romances into highly entertaining romps, but your "Ants" made me want to pull my car over and jump up and down in a way which would surely have terrified the other commuters.

Pattern Frequency by William Gibson (read by Shelly Frasier)
I always enjoy listening to Shelly Frasier -- her excellence is unfailing no matter how poor the text. This isn't a "bad" novel (although Neuromancer fanboys may disagree), but too often Gibson glossed over the things I wanted to know and spent too much time on things I cared less about (how many times did the under-decorated London apartment need to be described??) Still, I quite liked this book and might actually get around to reading my copy ... one of these days.

All Creatures Great And Small by James Herriot (read by Christopher Timothy)
No doubt I've been spoiled by the television series, but I could not get into this audio book. Christopher Timothy ought to have been a pleasure to listen to, but I found myself annoyed by his interpretations of Siegfreid and Tristan. Frequently, I could not tell them apart in conversation and they both seemed a bit wooden. However, Timothy's rendition of the local farmers' broad accents was quite brilliant.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (read by Kate Reading)
Kate Reading did an excellent job with this and I can fully forgive her "Ants." This is the Commuters Library edition of P&P and just very nicely put together. Back of the case tells me which volume (of three) is on which disc and which chapter numbers correspond with what track numbers. Also very nice in that there's a pause and a little music at the end of each disc to tell you to move on to the next one and (even better) each disc starts with a sentence or two repeated from the end of the previous disc.

24 March 2007

Second Act: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures

I've been going through my library's catalog, trying to read as much of the ostomy stuff available because I've been feeling a little out-of-sorts about life with an ostomy lately and I don't really have anyone to talk to who won't try to bolster me with platitudes. Alas, the list of materials isn't very long and quite a chunk of it's outdated.

However, I just finished reading actress Barbara Barrie's Second Act and it's such an encouraging (and entertaining) book. It's a very intimate, honest, and funny look at her experience with colon cancer and colostomy surgery. Some of it's absolutely toe-curlingly terrifying -- the herniated stoma that looked like "a pink penis coming out of a donut," frankly, just make me want to vomit. But Barrie treats it all with a fine dose of humor and spirit which is extremely admirable and practical behavior I shall try to keep in mind the next time my stoma is shooting undigested peas at the bathroom mirror as I try to put on a new faceplate.

Second Act: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures by Barbara Barrie (Scribner, 1997)

22 March 2007

Bacon Makes Asparagus Even Better

I ate an entire recipe of pan-roasted asparagus for dinner, tonight. Originally, I was going to eat just about half the pan, but then I thought the asparagus might not be so fine upon reheating ... so I ate it all.

Obviously, the dish was pretty darn yummy. The recipe -- "Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Red Onion and Bacon" -- is found on page 20 of the new (March/April) Cook's Illustrated and comes with four variations. While I really enjoyed eating this dish, it was a little on the sweet side for me and I made a note to halve the amount of maple syrup next time. Or use different balsamic vinegar -- my balsamic is made from port and so just a tad on the sweet side, anyway. Paired with the maple syrup and it's almost all sweet with just the barest tang. Anyway, the bacon and red onions came out delish and worked really well with the asparagus. When The Husband comes home, I will try the "Red Peppers and Goat Cheese" variation on him as he is not a bacon-lovin' guy.