Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Books (Page 1 of 2)

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Animal Head

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever! has seen some changes down through the years, as seen in this Flickr gallery. The best part is that they added more girls, but did so by adding bows to heads and flowers to clothes. And let’s not forget nearsighted cats. 🙂

Did they really have to change the caption “He comes promptly when he is called to breakfast” to “He goes to the kitchen to eat his breakfast”? Perhaps children in 1963 could count on being called for breakfast, while children in 1991 were counted on to make their own.

Link courtesy of Amazon Bookstore Blog and Boing Boing.

Fictional Women are hot…

The blog Girlfriend ’07 lists ten fictional women who make it difficult to date real women:

Hollywood has a tendency to create female characters who make it nearly impossible to ever be truly satisfied with real women. Because not only do these women tend to be beyond beautiful on the outside, but they’re always unbelievable on the inside too. They’re cool. They’re fun. They always know what to say. And they always have that one little thing that makes you fall in love with them. Maybe it’s because they usually have guys writing their lines and making them perfect, but either way they’re a tough act to follow.

I either don’t agree or I’m not familiar with much of their list, except for Terry Griffith from Just One Of The Guys. That was pretty cool, although disturbing for the male lead. Anyway, I decided to put together a list of fictional women that either have or do set expectations for what I expect out of real women.

Betty and Veronica (Archie Comics)
I don’t know how popular they are now, but when I was growing up a boy could be defined by his preference for Betty, the quintessential girl next door, or Veronica, the rich, hot girl. I was always more of a Betty fan, but as I grew up I appreciated how the Veronicas of the world could be really distracting. Now? Let’s see, the girl next door who’s good-looking, modest, compassionate, smart, low-maintenance, and loves sports? Definitely Betty.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)
Intelligent problem-solver. Intuitive thinker. Independent, yet still ends up being a great daughter and a better girlfriend than her boyfriends deserve. She’s a college student who solves murders. What else do you need?

Willow (Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Great with computers, willing to fight vampires, one of the most powerful witches in the world. For the sake of this list, we’ll ignore the lesbian part. Considering the fact she acts almost the same part in How I Met Your Mother, it just leads to the idea that maybe the character is a real woman.

Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin in Firefly)
A Companion of the future, she’s highly educated, psychologically astute, and a diplomat on a crew that needs one.

Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian in Babylon 5)
Second in command of the most difficult outpost in the galaxy, Ivanova can charitably be described as “prickly.” That being said, she was honest, direct, and could likely kill you before you realized she was moving. There’s something sexy about that, particularly when it wrapped up a conflicted soul who had felt guilty for most of her life about tragedies she couldn’t control.

Elizabeth Bennet (Pride & Prejudice)
Independent, intelligent, witty, and outspoken, during a time when women were encouraged to be anything but. Played by Jennifer Ehle in a memorable movie version, the written one is still the best.

Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby)
The best of the screwball comedies, Bringing Up Baby features Susan, a person who, if older, would probably be described as eccentric, looking for a lost leopard with an uptight Cary Grant. Sometimes you need a woman who’s a little crazy.

Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter)
Well, it is Wonder Woman, and we’ll just say there were a lot of guys who were watching this show when they first realized they really liked women.

Drusilla (Juliet Landau in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Take Susan Vance’s craziness, add to it the ability to rip out your throat, mix in a cool accent, and you’ve got Drusilla. You’d enjoy it, for a little while.

Marion (Solveig Dommartin in Wings of Desire)
Sad, lonely, only one foot in our realm, and able to draw an angel down from heaven just to be with her. Hard to argue with that.

McMurphy (Dana Delany in China Beach)
Sad, lonely, stuck in a war she didn’t start, a compassionate person who was forced to watch people die for little reason she could find, Colleen McMurphy was distant in a way that begged for people to try to get her to open up.

Irene Adler (A Scandal in Bohemia)
Only appearing in one Sherlock Holmes story, Adler is an adventuress who outsmarts the great detective. Holmes called her the woman, and one can only agree.

Rebecca (Ivanhoe)
Completely overwhelming the traditional heroine (Rowena) in Scott’s work, she keeps the protagonist alive and has the antagonist fall in love with her. A classic character, highly intelligent, resourceful, and practical.

Honorable Mention: Lauren Bacall
Real person, so she doesn’t really belong on the list, yet throughout her career she played some of the sexiest characters in film, a status she imparted to them.

Luckily, unlike the guys at Girlfriend ’07, I’ve already found a real woman that I dated and married. Note any common themes above? It’s possible to find smart, resourceful, sexy, caring, independent, a little crazy, and mysterious women in the real world, and I have, thank goodness. Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to watch much TV. 🙂

Original link courtesy of Best Week Ever.

Update: Can’t say I expect this out of real women, but I can’t believe I left out Joy from My Name Is Earl! Yeah, I’m kind of a redneck from North Carolina…Want to make something of it? 😉

Our Thanksgiving Trip, or There’s No Place Like Home

One of our traditions is to not spend Thanksgiving with family…well, except for the family comprised of my wife and myself. It got started when we first got together and decided instead of trading off the Thanksgiving holiday between our families we were going to take advantage of a long weekend and go on trips ourselves. We see our families pretty regularly anyway, so no one worries about it. I think it’s seen as just one of our quirks.

The first time we took a trip on Thanksgiving, we went to Wilmington, NC and figured out the real trick to traveling on Thanksgiving is finding a place to eat. We ended up with Waffle House for lunch and room service for dinner, since we didn’t have reservations anywhere. We had a good time, though, and the city turned into one of our favorite long weekend destinations.

We decided to recreate it this year and drove down to Wilmington on Thanksgiving day. We stayed at a place downtown, and had Thanksgiving dinner reservations at the Pilot House. (Lunch was a convenient Wendy’s.)

We found out that the hotel’s staff was going to be out of town for the day, so we were able to let ourselves in and pick up our key. One advantage to more of a bed-and-breakfast-style place, but we really didn’t see anyone around much otherwise either, despite a few trips past the office. I’m guessing Thanksgiving may not be a big travel holiday for them.

Dinner was good. The Pilot House has a fairly traditional Thanksgiving menu, despite its reputation for seafood. No pecan pie left by the time our reservations rolled around, unfortunately.

Our hotel room was…interesting. I’m not going to mention the name, because I don’t want to give an unfavorable review to a place I’ve only stayed in once. However, I’ll just say the best I could describe the decor is “quaint,” by which I mean “1985,” we had one 20″ TV that was situated to make it hard for both people to watch it from bed, and no alarm clock. I’m cool with the decor, and the TV, but the missing alarm clock was different. Admittedly, they didn’t list alarm clocks as one of the features of the room, so maybe I shouldn’t complain. 😐

Breakfast/lunch (brunch?) the next day was at Front Street Diner. Good food, and normally crowded with locals. I miss their fried bologna sandwich, but it’s probably best that it’s gone. I think the greasy goodness probably cuts my life expectancy short a few minutes each time I have one.

I started to take some pictures of the trip, and the camera battery died immediately after taking the first shot. You can see photos from our past vacations here, though, and imagine what I would have taken pictures of this time. 🙂

We hit a used bookstore, as usual. This trip was to McAllister & Solomon Books, which has a decent selection of pulp SF & Fantasy novels. I always end up finding a couple of Doc Savage novels I don’t have. Another good bookstore is Daughtry’s Old Books. Mr. Daughtry is usually in his shop, and he likes to talk to visitors.

Dinner was at Caffe Phoenix, another downtown eatery that we’ve walked past in recent years and passed up because the food seemed too…ah…complex for our tastes. Trying it this time was a good decision. Thinly-sliced marinated flank steak for me, and vegetarian lasagna for Lorrie, were both excellent dishes. We’ll be back when we get down there again.

The next morning, after the skylight in our room started leaking, we realized we really didn’t have anything planned for the day that required us to be in Wilmington as opposed to our house. So, one early checkout and a remarkably easy drive later, we were back home, relaxing in familiar surroundings. Not the most exciting trip, but fun because of the company I shared it with.

I will have to say, though, I’m still craving the one thing Wilmington…well, Wrightsville Beach…has that we couldn’t replicate back home: The Oceanic. We’ll be back in Wilmington again soon, though. It’s one of our places.

Random stuff from the past

When I run across interesting things to link from my blog, I usually send them to my Gmail account with the best intentions of blogging about them “when I get some time.” Well, that doesn’t happen as often as it should, so I’ll clear out a few items now:

5 Lamest Charlie Brown Cartoons – 10 Zen Monkeys covers the five worst Peanuts animated specials. I can’t agree with the inclusion of Snoopy, Come Home, though. Link courtesy of TV Squad.

The Last Panel – A dedicated fan adds the all-important last panel to some For Better or For Worse comic strips. They finally become funny. Link courtesy of The Comics Curmudgeon.

Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala – Wikipedia creates reality. A take-off on the Encyclopedia Brown books I devoured as a kid. Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave – Did a comet hit the Earth 4,800 years ago?

PHP Eats Rails for Breakfast – Is tracking new lines of code the best way to compare the relative popularity of two languages? That assumes languages evolve to the same level of code complexity when addressing common problems. Might not be a bad assumption, but it would be nice to see some analysis of it. Link courtesy of O’Reilly Ruby blog.

Empires with Expiration Dates – Niall Ferguson examines the short shelf lives of modern empires. Empires are defined as largely political and military entities, with direct power. The question I have is whether global capitalism encourages indirect power, namely economic and cultural. Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

Myths of British ancestry – Who were the Celts…and does it matter? Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

synerG Web Site Design Competition – Deadline December 31, 2006.

An Introduction to’s AppExchange – How to build your own hosted application to sell to users.

Election Day 2006 – Whose Side is your Favorite Superhero on? – Dave’s Long Box predicts how superheroes would vote. The Hulk’s a Libertarian…he just wants to be left alone.

Twitter – There’s no way I’m using this, but I can see it being pretty interesting for a lot of folks. Kitta, for one.

Utopias and Dystopias, Stupid and Sexy

Strange Horizons comments on utopian/dystopian ideas through the centuries:

The Ten Stupidest Utopias!

The Industrial Revolution gave the world a new idea of the ideal society. “Try sniffing the abominable stench behind the piles of books,” wrote Japanese Futurist Hirato Renkichi in 1921. “How many times superior is the fresh scent of gasoline!”

The Ten Sexiest Dystopias!

Roll down your window: see the metaphors go by. There’s Zhora the replicant, smashing through plate glass windows; there’s Jake lost in Chinatown, and Tod Hackett running through Hollywood, bloody faced, chased by a mob. “Los Angeles is probably the most mediated town in America,” writes Michael Sorkin, “nearly unviewable save through the fictive scrim of its mythologizers.”

Link courtesy of Boing Boing

It’s a flat world after all…

I haven’t read Thomas Friedman’s new book, The World is Flat. However, if these are actual lines from the book, I may need to, just for the experience:

As I left the Infosys campus that evening along the road back to Bangalore, I kept chewing on that phrase: “The playing field is being leveled.”

What Nandan is saying, I thought, is that the playing field is being flattened… Flattened? Flattened? My God, he’s telling me the world is flat!

Very unflattering, but funny, review in the New York Press.

Edit: I’ve been reading the reviews. Almost uniformly good, with the exceptions of folks who disagree with his stance on global capitalism. It’s the #3 book on Amazon right now.

What I find interesting, though, is that there seems to be very little criticism of his writing. Like I said, I haven’t read this book, so I may not be giving it a fair shake, but as the review points out, “flat” and “global” aren’t exactly useful metaphors in this sort of analysis. A few years ago, I would stop and read a Friedman op-ed piece, because at the time he seemed somewhat insightful and down-to-earth. Now his op-ed columns seem more like David Brooks’ — when you take out the obvious and look at the evidence for any new ideas, there isn’t much left.

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