Monday, October 16, 2017

Musical Monday - Southern Accents by Tom Petty

Tom Petty was a Southerner. Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Petty's life was steeped in Southern tradition and a love for where he came from. In this video, he is singing in his hometown and you can see just how much this song, sung in that place, meant to him. I defy anyone to challenge Petty's bona fides as a proud Southerner.

But Petty was not going to put up with any of the "heritage not hate" bullshit about the various Confederate flags that people associate with the South. He knew what they really represented, and knew that it wasn't "Southern pride", but rather Southern racism. And he wanted nothing to do with it.

Petty didn't always think that way. Like many people who grew up surrounded by symbols, he never really thought about what they truly meant. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Petty said:
The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida. I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn't give it much thought, though I should have.
The element that sticks out here is the unthinking nature of his acceptance of the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee (which is what most people think of when they hear the words "Confederate flag") as a symbol of Southernism. He even used it in his tour in support of his album Southern Accents, putting it on stage when he performed the song Rebels, a decision he came to regret later. When Petty thought about the flag, and what it really meant, he stopped using it, asked his fans to stop bringing it or wearing Confederate-themed clothing to his concerts, and had it removed from subsequent releases of his albums. That doesn't mean he stopped being proud to be from the South, he just stopped using a racist symbol to represent that pride. He said as much in the interview:
That Southern pride gets transferred from generation to generation. I'm sure that a lot of people that applaud it don't mean it in a racial way. But again, I have to give them, as I do myself, a "stupid" mark. If you think a bit longer, there's bad connotations to this. They might have it at the football game or whatever, but they also have it at Klan rallies. If that's part of it in any way, it doesn't belong, in any way, representing the United States of America.
Petty criticizes himself here - he just didn't think about the meaning behind the flag when he used it, and he offers others a way out of their devotion to a racist symbol. If you are Southern, you can still love where you are from even if you shed the symbols of the Civil War. From the interview with Rolling Stone:
Again, people just need to think about how it looks to a black person. It's just awful. It's like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn't be on flagpoles.
Petty understood that no matter how pervasive the symbol was, and no matter what he associated it with, the reality was that it was, and is, a symbol of racist oppression and violence. Here's the thing: If someone as proud of being Southern as Petty could get it; if someone who loved his home as much as Petty did could get it, then no one else has any excuse.

Previous Musical Monday: Learning to Fly by Tom Petty

Tom Petty     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Blogger Hop October 13th - October 19th: The Sassanid Dynasty Was Founded by Arshadir I in 224 A.D.

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Who is your favorite horror/suspense author and why?

I don't read much horror or suspense, so I'm going to have to pick someone who kind of sidelined in that area. Perhaps Ray Bradbury or Robert Bloch would be good choices. I'd pick Bradbury on the strength of stories like Mars Is Heaven, and Bloch on the strength of stories like That Hell-Bound Train, The Hungry Eye, and Space-Born. Neither of them were primarily horror or suspense writers, but they were both really good writers in general, and so when they turned their work in the direction of horror and suspense, they turned out really good stories.

On reflection, there is a lot of science fiction that tends towards horror - encounters with inscrutable, mysterious, and hostile aliens frequently take on a horrific tone with stories like Opening the Door by Philip José Farmer, or You'll Never Go Home Again by Clifford Simak. Sometimes science fiction touches on the terrifying with horrible dystopian visions of the future such as Wake Up to Thunder by Dean Koontz or That Only a Mother by Judith Merril. And sometimes science fiction just provides creepy stories such as Its a Good Life by Jerome Bixby or The Dark Room by Theodore Sturgeon. No matter the exact format of horror story they choose, science fiction authors dip into the genre so often that seeing a horror-ish science fiction story is an ordinary occurrence. It happens so often that most science fiction authors are actually fairly good at writing horror style stories.

The only real difficulty this situation poses with respect to this week's question is that while there are a lot of authors who I like who have written some pretty good horror or suspense stories, none of them make it their primary focus, and their horror output represents only a tiny fraction of their work and only a small part of why I like them as authors. I suppose this is a really long-winded way of saying that while I don't have a "favorite" horror and suspense writer, I have an array of authors that I like who have waded in that pool from time to time.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ad Astra Review - Apple Crumble by Chet Gottfried

What Is It? Sliced apples with a brown sugar and ginger sauce topped with a buttery cinnamon flavored crust.

Delicious apples
Made even better with some
Cinnamon and crust

Review: I know I said that I was going to make, try, and review all of the recipe's in the Ad Astra cookbook in the order they appear in the book, but I needed a dessert recipe for a gathering of my game group, so I skipped ahead a bit.

I am glad I did. This is a really good apple crumble.

Apple recipes are, in my experience, surprisingly tricky. Some recipes call for far too much seasoning - too much cinnamon, too much ginger, or too much nutmeg, and the resulting mix overpowers the apple flavor. Others call for too little, and the result is bland. This recipe, on the other hand, strikes almost exactly the right balance, with just enough cinnamon and ginger, and a crumble topping that is perfectly balanced by the apple base.

The other thing about this recipe is that it is really quite simple and easy to make. The entire recipe only has nine ingredients, and two of those are apples and water. The recipe only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to make - and most of that time is taken up peeling and slicing the apples. If you had an apple peeler, you could probably cut the prep time down to five minutes or so.

The recipe says to eat it warm and with vanilla ice cream, so we did. It was glorious. This is easily one of the best apple recipes I have had, and as one might guess, I highly recommend it. If you like apple dishes, you should try it out.

Previous recipe in Ad Astra: Wizard's Piglets in Blankets by Rosemary Jones
Next recipe in Ad Astra: Pudding Course: Apple Fritters by Gail Carriger

Chet Gottfied     Ad Astra Cooking Project     Home

Monday, October 9, 2017

Musical Monday - Learning to Fly by Tom Petty

Petty was an amazing performer who always seemed older and wiser than his years. When he died, one of my coworkers said that she was surprised he was only 66 years old - she had always thought he was much older than that. Part of this misapprehension may have been because his friends were mostly older then he - Petty was the youngest Traveling Wilbury for example. But I think the real reason for this was that his music so frequently had a weatherbeaten, almost weary feel to it.

Born in 1950, Petty was still a Baby Boomer, but only just barely. He was born at the tail end of that generation, and didn't rise to prominence until the mid-1970s, with the meat of his career coming during the 1980s and 1990s, after the burst of youthful Boomer exuberance of the 1960s and early 1970s had passed. He was never really a Boomer icon, but rather a figure that loomed large for people my age - who came of age in Reagan's America and were disillusioned from the get-go. His music hit the country when it was tired and worn down, and often, his lyrics speak to that part of us that feels overwhelmed but still refuses to stop fighting.

Now he's gone, and far too soon. There was more music left in him, and we won't ever have it now. But we can be grateful for what we do have, and remember.

Go and fly Tom. You'll never have to come down again.

Previous Musical Monday: The Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
Subsequent Musical Monday: Southern Accents by Tom Petty

Tom Petty     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Blogger Hop Halloween Edition! October 6th - October 12th: The Chinese Scholar Xi Kang Was Born in 223 A.D.

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein are both considered classics. Have you ever read either of them?

I have read Shelley's Frankenstein.

I have not read all of Stoker's Dracula. I have read excerpts of the book, and I have read so many derivative works built upon it that I almost feel like I have read it, but I haven't. I'll rectify that one of these days.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ad Astra Review - Anouchka's Grandmother's Salmon Pâté by Cat Sparks

What Is It? Salmon blended with cream cheese and spring onions covered with chopped pecans and chives.

This needs a kick of
Cayenne pepper for flavor
And use red salmon

Review: The second recipe in the Ad Astra Cookbook under the heading "Savory Snacks" is one for salmon pâté from Cat Sparks. I tried this recipe out on my regular game group, and it got mixed reviews from them, mostly because they didn't like the texture (and one just doesn't like fish, which I did not know until then, but didn't surprise me at all).

The redhead and I, on the other hand, found this to be quite good. The recipe is basically canned red salmon, cream cheese, sour cream, spring onions, and cayenne pepper blended together with a coating of finely chopped pecans and chives. The recipe is pretty easy, and doesn't require an oven or any equipment other than bowls, knives and some sort of blending equipment - the recipe says to use a food processor, but I used a stick mixer which worked just fine. We ate it on crackers, which seems like the ideal way to eat it, although the redhead suggested possibly adding it to pasta with an alfredo sauce, a suggestion that seems like it would be worth investigating.

The instructions say that the recipe makes a lot more than one might expect, and that seems to be accurate. When I blended the cream cheese and salmon, the volume of the mixture ballooned quite noticeably. I suggest being generous with the spices, especially the cayenne pepper, as the mix is just a little bland unless one does so. Even though you are using red salmon which has more flavor than pink salmon, the mix of fish and cream cheese doesn't really have much kick on its own. The recipe says to shape the mixture into a log, but it was so sticky that the best I could manage was an kind of half sphere. The pecans and chives also add a lot to the dish, with their crunch adding a needed break from the creamy texture of the pâté itself.

Overall, this was a really good recipe. I can see this being something that I'll bring to family holiday gathering as an appetizer. If I was going to make this for anything less than a large gathering, I would definitely halve the recipe. The redhead and I have been eating it for three days now and we still have some left. On the other hand, it is good enough that we're not tired of it yet, so you could take that as an endorsement.

Previous recipe in Ad Astra: Ajvar by K.V. Johansen
Next recipe in Ad Astra: Bastilla by Erin M. Hartshorn

Cat Sparks     Ad Astra Cooking Project     Home

Monday, October 2, 2017

Musical Monday - The Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog

59 people dead.

527 wounded.

This is the world we live in. The world that Americans have made for themselves, piece by piece and decision by decision. We didn't get here all at once. We got here using baby steps. Chipping away one protection here, preventing another there, all in the name of the insane ideology that has consumed modern conservatism.

It didn't have to be this way. We had people who envisioned a better world. People like Jim Henson. Listen to this song, which seems to me to be the one piece of music that best captures his worldview. He was a dreamer. He believed in a better world than the one we had. A world in which people loved one another. In which artists were valued. In which humanity was the most important thing.

We could have had the world Jim Henson saw. We still could. We just have to choose it.

I really wish we would.

Previous Musical Monday: Learning to Fly by Tom Petty

Kermit the Frog     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Blogger Hop September 29th - October 5th: "222 (Live & Uncut)" is the Unedited Version of Patton Oswalt's Album "Feelin' Kinda Patton"

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever slept with a favorite, beloved book under your pillow, or cradled in your arms?

While I have unintentionally fallen asleep while holding a book more than once, I can't recall ever doing so by design. I'd be too worried about damaging a book to ever purposely choose to sleep with one under my pillow or while holding one.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: Sherlock Holmes Lived at 221B Baker Street

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, September 29, 2017

Review - 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire by Greg Stones

Short review: Ninety-nine stormtroopers join the Empire. Then they all die.

Many stormtroopers
Die in lots of funny ways
And then, the Death Star

Disclosure: I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. Some people think this may bias a reviewer so I am making sure to put this information up front. I don't think it biases my reviews, but I'll let others be the judge of that.

Full review: 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire is an absolutely adorable little Star Wars-themed picture book. The book opens by introducing the ninety-nine stormtroopers who have joined the Imperial forces, and the succeeding pages show how, in groups from one to thirty-six, they meet their demise. The various deaths are played for humor, with the troopers dying from a variety of causes that will be fairly recognizable to anyone who has seen the Star Wars movies. The entire book is illustrated in a cute, kind of whimsical style, with cartoonish and somewhat surprisingly (given the violence inherent in many of the deaths) bloodless artwork.

The entire book has kind of the same tone as Ed Gorey's Gashleycrumb Tinies, mirroring it somewhat with the creative ways the stormtroopers die. It is also somewhat reminiscent of the old children's song Ten Little Indians, especially since the book keeps a running account of how many stormtroopers are left as each page goes by. One the other hand, such comparisons aren't entirely accurate. Unlike Gorey's Gashleycrumb work, there is no rhyme to the text, and unlike both of the aforementioned works, there is no apparent pattern to the forms the stormtroopers' deaths take or how many stormtroopers die per page. I suppose the fact that the deaths are so completely random is part of the joke - disposable stormtroopers dying in completely unpredictable ways highlights the casual, almost offhand manner in which the characters in the movies treat these fatalities.

One question that comes to mind when reading this book is exactly who is its intended audience. At first, one might think that this is a cute Star Wars book aimed at young children, but I suspect it really wouldn't work for them. The "jokes" are really only funny if you know what the author is alluding to: "One stormtrooper fails to shoot first" isn't really funny unless one has seen the cantina scene from the original Star Wars (and followed the ensuing controversy as the scene was cut and recut in various editions of the movie). "Two stormtroopers think the security droid is on their side" is really only funny if you have seen Rogue One. And so on and so forth. The problem is, kids who are still in the "picture book" stage generally won't have latched on to the Star Wars movies yet - they are just too young to appreciate them, at least in my experience. Some of these sorts of works, such as Darth Vader and Son, work as humor even if one doesn't really get the references. They are enhanced when one knows what the author is alluding to, but that is unnecessary for the enjoyment of the book. Without the references, 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire is just a bunch of guys dying creatively, and that's probably not all that interesting. I can only surmise that the true intended target for this book are people who grew up on the film series who want something cute they can put in their infant's nursery because it looks cool to have it there, or possibly leave on the coffee table as a conversation piece.

Overall, 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire is a cute little book that delivers exactly what one would expect. Ninety-nine stormtroopers enlist, and then amusingly die as a result of a combination of the Empire's callous indifference and their own ineptitude. The book is not really much more than silly fun, but it is fairly clever silly fun, chock full of Star Wars references that are used to humorous effect. This book is unlikely to change anyone's life, and probably won't occupy anyone for more than ten or fifteen minutes, but it will be a joyful and goofy ride while it lasts.

Greg Stones     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ad Astra Review - Ajvar by K.V. Johansen

What Is It? A roasted eggplant and bell pepper spread flavored with garlic and chili sauce.

This is really sweet
Much sweeter than expected
But still good on bread

Review: The first recipe in Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is one that K.V. Johansen discovered when some of her books were translated into Macedonian and she began traveling to the Republic of Macedonia, presumably to promote her work.

Ajvar is an eggplant and bell pepper concoction flavored with garlic, cider vinegar or lemon juice, and hot sauce that can be served as a spread on naan or bread. I have to say that this recipe really doesn't taste anything like I expected it to. The roasted eggplant is almost completely overwhelmed by the sweetness of the roasted bell peppers, and even though the recipe calls for a quite generous amount of roasted garlic, it isn't really noticeable either.

After roasting all the vegetables, peeling the eggplant, garlic, and bell pepper, and then puréeing the lot (I used a stick mixer rather than a food processor), the end result was a lot runnier than I had thought it would be. I don't think I added too much liquid - I didn't add any more olive oil than had been used in the roasting process and I only put in a little bit of cider vinegar and hot sauce. I was anticipating something more hummus-like in thickness, but this turned out to be more "uncooked pumpkin pie filling" in texture.

The flavor of the ajvar is basically that of a sweet bell pepper. I was expecting more of a kick, but even when I went back and added more hot sauce, salt, and pepper, the flavor of the mixture was still mostly just bell pepper sweetness. This isn't bad, but it is blander than I was prepared for. The redhead and I ate it with naan bread, and she had a similar reaction to mine. Her exact quote was "That was a lot of work to eat puréed bell peppers". I can't really disagree. It wasn't really all that much work compared to many other recipes, but the end result seemed kind of underwhelming. It might be improved by increasing the amount of garlic in the recipe (although the recipe itself calls for the reasonably generous amount of eight cloves of garlic), or reducing the number of bell peppers used.

Overall, this was decent, but it didn't knock my socks off. I might try it again, but if I do I'll probably add some extra spices or garlic or something. The redhead suggested adding a can of chickpeas to thicken it up, which might be a good adjustment as well.

Next recipe in Ad Astra: Anouchka's Grandmother's Salmon Pâté by Cat Sparks

K.V. Johansen     Ad Astra Cooking Project     Home

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Ad Astra Cooking Project

I recently acquired Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook, a collection of recipes from members of the Science Fiction Writers of America edited by Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde. As with all things, I intend to review it, but reviewing a cookbook poses a challenge that most other books do not: There is really no way to accurately review the book based upon reading it. Cookbooks are interactive - you can only appreciate them if you cook the recipes and eat them. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

There are somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred recipes in the book, so I'm not going to make them all at once, or even in the near future. I'm planning on making, trying, and reviewing about one recipe a week for as long as there are untried recipes in the book, starting with the first one and going through them in order. As I review the recipes, I'll post links to them here, adding to the list on an ongoing basis. I'm saying that I'm planning on doing that, but it is unlikely to be a hard and fast schedule: Some weeks I might review more than one recipe, in some weeks I might not be able to review any, but that's the plan.

The book was created to raise funds for the SFWA Legal Fund to support writers in need. The overall theme of the recipes in the book is supposed to be "party", working on the theory that writers know how to throw a party. A lot of the recipes were solicited for this work, but some were originally collected by Astrid and Greg Bear for a cookbook that was never published. The introductory material includes Connie Willis passing on some excellent cooking advice from Charles Brown, and Carrie Vaughn explaining how to create a cocktail laboratory, including a couple of recipes for some classic cocktails to try. Larry Niven contributes a chapter on how to serve hundreds of cups of Irish Coffee to eager convention-attendees, an essay that is clearly informed by lots of experience.

Jennifer Stevenson describes how to throw a pig roast, which is an involved process that should only be attempted by those with lots of room, sufficient handyman skills to do a lot of nuts and bolts work as part of their cooking, and lots of time to cook. The end result does seem like it would be delicious. Ken Schneyer and Janice Okoomian give a detailed account of how they hold a Prancing Pony party ever year in late September to commemorate Frodo's arrival in Bree, complete with three recipes. These recipes, like the cocktails in Vaughn and Niven's chapters, aren't listed in the table of contents, but I'll get to them and try them anyway.

Esther Friesner gives some opinions on cake, mostly extolling its virtues. Ricia Mainhardt gives just over a dozen recipes for sweets for one, designed to be cooked in a mug in a microwave. I don't actually have a microwave, so trying these out will have to wait until I do, but as I estimate that it will probably take me something on the order of four years to work through all of these recipes, I figure I have plenty of time to get one. The final introductory piece is by Michael J. Martinez, and discusses the joys of home brewing beer, with some loose instructions on how to go about it. Just as I don't have a microwave, I don't really have space to let a five gallon bucket sit for two to four weeks at a time fermenting beer, but there's a decent chance I will at some point in the future, so I might be able to give home brewing a try.

That's all the introductory material. Here are the recipes. There will only be a few at first. I'll be adding to this list as I get to each one in turn:

Savory Snacks
Ajvar from K.V. Johansen
Anouchka's Grandmother's Salmon Pâté by Cat Sparks
Bastilla by Erin M. Hartshorn
Big Bang Brussel Sprouts by Sean Williams

Sweet Snacks and Desserts
Apple Crumble by Chet Gottfried
Pudding Course: Apple Fritters by Gail Carriger
Apricot Mascarpone Poppers by Julie Jansen

Cat Rambo     Fran Wilde     Home

Monday, September 25, 2017

Musical Monday - Can You Picture That? by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

Yesterday was Jim Henson's birthday. He would have been 81. He died in 1990 at the age of 53 from toxic shock syndrome that probably could have been treated if he had just paid attention to the signs his body was telling him and gotten medical attention earlier.

I am the exact right age to have been influenced by Jim Henson. Sesame Street debuted in 1969, the year I was born, and by the time I was ready to watch it, it had hit its stride. When he made The Muppet Show, I was seven, which is pretty much the perfect age to first watch that series. When The Muppet Movie came out, I was ten, and once again, the perfect age to watch it. When he followed that up with The Great Muppet Caper, I was twelve, and despite the movie's odd flaws, I was in overjoyed to have it. When he put out the somewhat surreal Dark Crystal movie in 1982, I was thirteen, and ready for the quirky fantasy story. I even liked The Muppets Take Manhattan. I didn't really appreciate Fraggle Rock when it was first aired, but in 1986 when he put out the movie Labyrinth, and in 1987 when he made the Storyteller series, I was primed and ready.

The Storyteller series was essentially the last major work we got from Henson.

Between 1969 and 1990, Henson produced one of the most magnificent bodies of work in the entertainment world. Under his guidance, puppets became a major force in the entertainment world. He gave us educational children's entertainment, snarky humorous shows and movies, surreal fantasies, all which was packaged with vibrant, beautiful music, and a perspective on how people should live that was joyful and optimistic. Even his "failures" (such as, for example, Labyrinth, which lost money at the box office) were brilliant.

He contributed more than just the Muppets though. He was instrumental in so much of what Sesame Street was: He appeared in several stop-motion pieces that were regularly aired on the show, and one recurring "counting" feature always ended with a chef proudly presenting a number of confections as he walks, and then fell, down a small set of stairs. The triumphant voiceover announcing what the chef was carrying was Jim Henson's voice. Every day I am grateful that Henson hit his high points during my childhood, when I was of the age to be able to truly appreciate them. Even things I discovered later, such as his production of Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, are so good that I wish I had first seen them when I was younger. It is hard for me to explain the influence Henson has had on my life, in part because I am almost certainly not aware of the full extent of it. I grew up awash in Henson's life philosophy, and I am certain I wouldn't be who I am without that.

And yet, every year when his birthday rolls around, I am also angry. Henson's primary creative career spanned a period of twenty-one years. (Yes, he did stuff before Sesame Street, but that show marks the beginning of the explosion of creative output from him). He's been gone for twenty-seven years now. Even if you assume that he would have retired at some point between then and now, there is no question but that we have missed out on years and years of fantastic work that he could have done. I know it sounds greedy, and I am grateful for all of the work we have of his, but I will always wonder about what might have happened had he just taken some time out of his workaholic schedule and gone to see a doctor a couple of weeks earlier.

Previous Musical Monday: Walk Away Renee by the Left Banke
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Rainbow Connection by the Kermit the Frog

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Blogger Hop September 22nd - September 28th: Sherlock Holmes Lived at 221B Baker Street

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: In regards of Banned Books Week (, what are your favourite books that has been banned or challenged?

Given my love of science fiction, one might think that my favorite banned book would be a classic work of science fiction, such as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, or even George Orwell's 1984. However, my favorite banned book is none of those. Instead, my favorite banned book is, and likely always will be, Harper Lee's To Catch a Mockingbird. I suppose it isn't really a big revelation that the book in which a lawyer is the hero would be my favorite banned book, but given that it was one of the primary influences that made me decide to become a lawyer, it seems almost inevitable that this would be my choice.

I also quite like Joseph Heller's Catch-22, which is a very different book from To Catch a Mockingbird in almost every way possible. I'm not sure what that juxtaposition means, but there is probably some deep insight into my psyche that could be gleaned from figuring that out.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, September 18, 2017

Musical Monday - Walk Away Renee by the Left Banke

By now, pretty much everyone should know the drill on these. I know a woman named Renee. She is, in fact, one of our best friends and part of the most badass couple we know. As usual, the lyrics of the song have no relationship to the actual person other than the fact that her name is in them.

On a more song-related front, I picked the recording by the Left banke because it is my favorite version of the song, but it has been recorded by a surprising number of artists. The most famous other version of the song was performed by the Four Tops, but it has also been done by Linda Ronstadt, Herman's Hermits, and Cyndi Lauper among others. It seems kind of odd that so many much more famous artists have covered the song, as the Left Banke really only had two hits (this song and another titled Pretty Ballerina), and has mostly fallen into obscurity now. Their song lives on though.

Previous Musical Monday: Melissa by the Allman Brothers

The Left Banke     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Blogger Hop September 15th - September 21st: Imperator Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus Married a Vestal Virgin in 220 A.D., Which Was a Huge Scandal in Rome

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever bought a more expensive edition of a book, when a cheaper edition was available, just because you preferred the cover of the more expensive one?

I buy most of my books second-hand, so I generally take what I can find. I have been known to buy a book that is more expensive if it is in better condition, or if it is a hardback instead of a paperback, but I can't remember a time when I bought a more expensive edition of a book simply because the cover art was better. Of course, my idea of better artwork might not match up with that other people have - I've always been partial to a lot of the art style used on science fiction novels from the 1960s and 1970s, and I know a lot of people think they are terrible, so I might not be buying a more expensive copy to get my preferred artwork. I won't rule out ever buying more expensive copies for better cover art in the future, but it isn't something I recall actually doing.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: Sherlock Holmes Lived at 221B Baker Street

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