Richardderus's Thirteenth 2010 thread

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Richardderus's Thirteenth 2010 thread

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Edited: Sep 28, 2010, 10:11pm

Books Off the Shelf group thread is there, where I will review 25 books that've sat on my shelves since who-whipped-the-cat and also 75 new books...published no earlier than 2008...this year.

Reviews 1,2,3: first thread
Reviews 4-7: second thread
Reviews 8-12: : third thread
Reviews 13-20: ... fourth thread
Reviews 21-30: ... fifth thread
Reviews 31-37:... sixth thread
Reviews 38-42: seventh thread
Reviews 43-46: eighth thread
Reviews 47 & 48: ninth thread
Reviews 49-51: tenth thread
Reviews 52-57: eleventh thread
Reviews 58-65: twelfth thread

I now have a second Homeless Reviews thread in Club Read 2010. I've set a completely arbitrary goal of 50 books to review that I don't own, and were published before 2008, so they don't fit anywhere else.

FOR THOSE JUST TUNING IN: I don't know the readers of my reviews personally, for the most part, so I don't have any way to gauge whether you'll agree or disagree with me. It's always perfectly fine with me either way, and I invite comments from all.

Books are reviewed in post number:

71. The Shape of Water...#244.

70. The Case of the Missing Servant...#200.

69. Tongues of Serpents...#164.

68. The Good Psychologist...#134.

67. My Trip Down the Pink Carpet...#129.

66. Packing for Mars...#114.

Sep 12, 2010, 12:38pm

... Hellllloooooo?

Sep 12, 2010, 1:09pm

still among the living Richard Dear?
or completely crashed after the fabulous party?

We are not used that you have nothing to say ;-)

Sep 12, 2010, 2:03pm

Sep 12, 2010, 3:53pm

Quiet in here, isn't it?!

Sep 12, 2010, 3:59pm

Oh sure... start a new thread and then disappear ... neat trick, Richard.

Sep 12, 2010, 4:21pm

It's echoing my footsteps, it's so quiet.

Sep 12, 2010, 5:11pm

I can assure you that his time was devoted to a noble and worthy pursuit: buying books.

Sep 12, 2010, 6:39pm

Sorry. I don't think this counts as a new thread my post on your last thread is still relevant!

Sep 12, 2010, 6:42pm

#9 I think you may be the new thread police, by default.

Sep 12, 2010, 6:46pm

10: Nah, I'm just temporary relief until Richard gets sober again. So...just for a few more days, I think. :)

Sep 12, 2010, 7:46pm

I see he started this at 11:54 a.m. We arrived at his house at 11:56. I think that he started it because he expected THAT WE WOULD GET LOST AGAIN AND BE LATE and we fooled him by following the directions this time and we arrived before he thought we would! Ha!

Sep 12, 2010, 7:50pm

>12 tloeffler: LOL...I'm so proud. And without a GPS, too? :) (And before you start throwing things, remember I got lost yesterday too)

Sep 12, 2010, 7:59pm

Yeah, we shoulda got the GPS. It took us 2 hours to get home last night--lost again...
But today we got there & I got back with nary a glitch! It was great to meet you, Mary! I had a wonderful time!

Sep 12, 2010, 8:07pm

>14 tloeffler: It was nice to meet you too! I had a great time, it was so much fun. I was telling my family it was much more like continuing a conversation with friends than meeting people for the first time...

BTW, Thanks, Richard, for inviting everyone! I'm sure I'm just echoing what we all feel when I say it was a real pleasure and honor to be invited to your birthday. :)

Sep 12, 2010, 9:55pm

I wonder.... did Richard forget that he started this new thread ....

Sep 12, 2010, 10:12pm

Going back to your comment on the thread before about the tights, etc: Take a close look at the pictures of Richard. He wore orange shorts and a purple shirt.

Stephen, do not take fashion lessons from this man.

Sep 12, 2010, 11:36pm

I mean, after all, they took three hours to make the 20min drive the FIRST time and two to make it the SECOND, how was *I* to know they'd learned their collective lesson?!

We had a lovely, lovely day roaming the Strand, and thence onward to the MOther Ship of all Buns and Nubile stores on Union Square. It was drizzling fairly heavily and was about 60 degrees. I thought I was in HEAVEN!

Ffortsa lives near the store and enabled my use of Jude's amazing and generous gift certificate, since I screwed up and brought the WRONG PRINTOUT!!!! She kindly let me use her computer and print out the correct thing. It was a life-saver!

Since Les Girls needed to be back in PA on a 6pm bus, TLo and I dropped them at the proper spot at 5:40pm and headed back to my house. TLo opened the door, shoved me out (much to the dog's excitement), and ran away to hit the fleshpots of Queens...I understand there are dancing boys at The Landing Strip being harassed even as we speak....

It's been a lovely, lovely brithday! I've met some of my nearest and dearest (with A FEW EXCEPTIONS *brimstoning glare*) and I've learned that friends are friends are friends, and no one can ever convince me otherwise now.

April in the Great White North, everyone! Hop to!

Edited: Sep 13, 2010, 6:46am

bla blah blah...

Truth is.. sorry I had to miss it, but such is life....

Sep 13, 2010, 5:58am

" I've learned that friends are friends are friends, and no one can ever convince me otherwise now."



Sep 13, 2010, 6:16am

Sorry I couldn't be there - sounds like a great time was had by all. Lots of happy smiling faces:)

Sep 13, 2010, 8:59am


Sep 13, 2010, 10:14am

The love and attention is well deserved, sir.

Edited: Sep 13, 2010, 10:23am

The best weekend I've had in a long time! I loved the chance to meet all of you face-to-face. What a treat! >12 tloeffler: Terri, I was incredulous that Richard actually called me at 2 minutes after 12 with the day's plans. So punctual.

confession - after a weekend talking to book people, I stayed up to watch The Lord of the Rings on TV while updating my new computer. I won't get back to actual reading until tonight - but I'll probably have to read about the candidates in tomorrow's primary first. Yuck. And new paper ballots to confuse us all.

eta: Who is this 'Jude' who almost usurps my name?

Sep 13, 2010, 10:57am

>24 ffortsa: Ummm, Judy me bairn, Jude as in "jdthloue" came *first* usurpation seems to flow the other way...but hey! Who knows the secrets of the ancients? (Recognize the paraphrase and earn extra points, anyone can play {another paraphrase, no points for this one though}!)

Jude started a "25-Books Challenge" forum for readers more deliberate than celeritous of pace.

Sep 13, 2010, 12:09pm

Happy Birth Day, Richard! Sounds like you are using it to recuperate from the weekend.

Sep 13, 2010, 12:13pm

>26 ronincats: I am indeed resting and recuperating and eating leftovers.


Sep 13, 2010, 12:45pm

Glad you had such a good time! :) Sounds wonderful.

Sep 13, 2010, 1:49pm

Happy birthday Richard - glad you had such a fantastic weekend (and really enjoyed all the photos - always good to be able to put a name to a face).

#27 My kind of day.

Edited: Sep 13, 2010, 3:22pm

I expect to see menus...... what yummy stuff did you make?

And where are the pics? Never mind - found the birthday party thread.

Sep 13, 2010, 5:01pm

>18 richardderus: Well, I had to go somewhere. You certainly didn't provide any dancing boys for me...
And I agree, Judy--the best weekend I've had in a long time!

Sep 13, 2010, 9:06pm

Leftovers? There are leftovers and no pickings were sent to me in a little care package? Bad enough I had to miss the party of the century and a field trip to The Strand thanks to a husband with the planning sense of one-eyed mouse, but now I find out there were leftovers and I didn't get any of that fried chicken?!!!

*mutters...friends he sez....friends are friends are friends, he sez....huh!*

Sep 13, 2010, 10:30pm

Oh, the fried chicken was the *least* of the leftovers! More of the sausage, peppers, and potatoes tonight...and pasta salad with spinach and cannellini for lunch...and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Toll House cookies I'm still eating. And will still be eating for days. Terri liked them so well that she partook generously of them.

Now I expect that will make coming to Missouri for the wine tasting trip guided by TLo a little more of a priority, eh what?

Sep 14, 2010, 5:08am

You've already had the party but I just wanted to say

Have a great day Richard!

Sep 14, 2010, 5:53am

He may be getting online late today.. as one ages, it takes longer to make it to the computer.........

Sep 14, 2010, 6:39am

Happy Birthday, Padre! Isn't today the actual day? I could have sworn that's what Facebook told me, but I couldn't confirm it just now.

Sep 14, 2010, 7:37am

Finally, it's the right day to say, Happy Birthday, Richard!

Edited: Sep 14, 2010, 7:47am

Happy Birthday to you, Richard!

I'm glad you had such a fun and friend-filled party!

Sep 14, 2010, 7:46am

Happy *actual* birthday, Richard!!!! :)

Sep 14, 2010, 8:07am

Happy Birthday, Richard!

Sep 14, 2010, 8:55am

Happy Birthday!!

Sep 14, 2010, 9:11am

My birthday wish: A comfy place, stack of books beside you, your preferred beverage at hand, peace and quiet, a day of reading.

Sep 14, 2010, 9:23am

Happy Birthday Richard
You sure hold one heck of a party
Those of us who traveled there laughed long, loud and hearty

Love you dearly my friend!
Happy, Happy Birthday!

Sep 14, 2010, 9:32am

Happy Birthday, Rdear!

Sep 14, 2010, 9:32am

Another official Happy Birthday from me! And, if you do come to our little wine tasting book group here in one of those flyover states, I'll make you some Toll House cookies!

Sep 14, 2010, 10:47am

Have a wonderful birthday, Richard! Hope it includes lots of reading.

Sep 14, 2010, 11:07am

Thank you one and all! I'm creaking to the front door as I type this...have to let the home health aide in...and I plan to finish Packing for Mars and The Cleft later on.

Go see the party thread...I've just had a lovely, lovely gift.

Sep 14, 2010, 11:20am

For those of you who are interested, please go to the party thread and you will find photos of the birthday boy and his band of mighty worshipers!

Sep 14, 2010, 3:24pm

Happy official Birthday, Ricardo. Toll House cookies and milk .. what a wonderful accompaniment to Packing for Mars

Sep 14, 2010, 3:51pm

Happy, happiest birthday, Richard! I hope you're able to relax with all those wonderful books you received from the party-goers :)

Sep 14, 2010, 3:58pm

Happy "real" birthday, Ricardus Rex!

Sep 14, 2010, 5:26pm

Happy birthday, Richard. I'm glad the party was such a success.

Sep 14, 2010, 6:18pm

Thank y'all so very much! It's been...*snore*

To coddle my tum this morning I drank no coffee. I have slept this day away. I will have no trouble sleeping tonight. I will *barely* remain vertical long enough to make dinner.



Sep 14, 2010, 6:19pm

NO COFFEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! are you insane???

and why don't you pick up your email.. huh?

It is the lack of good clean caffeine I bet..

Sep 14, 2010, 6:24pm Oh, the stand mixer stuff from Woofie! That came, yeah, I followed the link and read up on 'em and I think I want the Cuisinart now instead of the DeLonghi.

Sep 14, 2010, 6:27pm

Sep 14, 2010, 6:33pm

Did I post on here to say "starred" and Happy Birthday? I think I'm going senile.

Sep 14, 2010, 8:35pm

I hope you haven't already turned in for the night. I'm just popping by to add my happy birthday wishes to the chorus!

Sep 14, 2010, 9:36pm

I also want to wish you a happy, happy birthday today, Richard! Who knew turning 50 could be such fun??

Sep 14, 2010, 9:41pm

Who knew turning fifty could take so long? Happy Birthday week Richard! My hubby celebrates it like that too.

Sep 15, 2010, 2:58am

Slightly belated happy Birthday from this side of the pond.

Sep 15, 2010, 3:01am

I am recuperated enough to investigate the new thread. Thanks again for the party, Richard!

Sep 15, 2010, 5:27am

I'm not sure, but I think that the longer you celebrate, the older you get ....

Sep 15, 2010, 5:54am

Hey Richard, re: food processor/blenders etc. The last two I've purchased here in Europe have parts that won't come apart so you can never get them really clean... might watch out for that. Moulinex is one brand. Can't recall the other. Really irks me!!

Sep 15, 2010, 9:01am

Happy Day After the weekend after! I hope you were able to rest, relax, read and simply enjoy your day.

Mainly, I hope you had, and are having a pain free day.

Sep 15, 2010, 12:36pm

As to being pain-free, Linda, not so much...I didn't drink coffee yesterday to give the tum a chance to recover from the anti-inflammatory assault after the two-day overuse of the limbs.

*note to self: gastrointestinal effects preferable to agonizing headache and inability to see or locomote*

Thank you all for many, many delightful hours of company and entertainment! Birthday wishes were amply met, since the entire affair was a huge blast and was capped by yesterday's lovely message from my unkind sister offering a heartfelt and moving statement of love. I can't think of a birthday ever that was more fun than this one was.

Now...the next meet-up...I personally can't do another this fall, but think y'all who're less tied down could do a wonderful tour of Missouri's wineries during their harvest-time next month! I myownself plan to be at the April "Books on the Nightstand" junket. (Side note: Does anyone else remember a dessert called junket? My grandmother loved it, and I remember it as a bland, blah, uninteresting blancmange-y quivering mess.)

And at some point, I have to post my first review in this thread! Good gravy, Tim and the PTB are about to start charging me fees for the bandwidth I'm using! (Little-known fact: Stasia's fourteen cybernetic eye-stalks each cost her $10 a month in INternet overuse fees. I've reported Caro for the same thing, but don't tell her or I'll be "mysteriously" consumed by a flesh-eating microbe of "unknown" origin.)

Sep 15, 2010, 12:53pm

Wasn't junket one of those dishes that was fed to invalids in the Victorian era? I think you're right; it was a bland, milk-based dish guaranteed not to upset irritable guts, etc.

Sep 15, 2010, 12:55pm

>67 Chatterbox: My guts get irritable at the mere notion of such an insult! Or maybe that's my palate....

Sep 15, 2010, 1:00pm

I used the BRAT diet for upset tummies when my kids were little. Bananas - Rice - Apple sauce - Toast

Happy B'day, fellow Virgo.

Sep 15, 2010, 1:14pm

Richard..I'm so sorry you are not feeling well. Drat!

What? Stasia had to pay for her gif? You have to pay for the broadband you are using? How did you discover this?

What the heck is happening?

Hugs to you with the hope that you will feel better soon!

Sep 15, 2010, 1:15pm

>69 mamzel: Thanks! But I *loathe* bananas, can't bear applesauce, think rice without butter and cheese is an affront to a serious diner, and potatoes need to be a) scalloped b) french-fried or c) mashed with a stick of butter, a cup of half-and-half and a cup of parmesan/romano blend cheeses. Plain? *shudder* Never!

Sep 15, 2010, 1:19pm

>70 Whisper1: *smooch* I'll be fine. The hangover from TLo's bottle of *excellent* red wine that I had for dinner last night could play into the suffering of today....

Sep 15, 2010, 1:20pm

Sometimes a night's enjoyment is worth a little misery the next afternoon.

Sep 15, 2010, 4:31pm

Glad to see that you cam to your senses regarding coffe.. you silly man.

Sep 15, 2010, 5:08pm

>74 mckait: If I ever, ever say I'm planning to decaffeinate again, someone, anyone, please shoot me! It is NOT WORTH IT. I'd rather give up cigarettes! (Easily done, I've never smoked.) I'd rather give up drinking! (Less easily done, but waaay easier than decaffeination.)

Pardon me, I need to go kiss my coffee pot.

Sep 15, 2010, 5:10pm

Just don't burn your lips, RD!

Sep 15, 2010, 5:12pm

Looking forward to your review of Packing for Mars!

Sep 15, 2010, 5:13pm

>63 mckait: No, Kath, the more you celebrate, the younger you get! All those antioxidants in the wine make you all fresh-faced.


Sep 15, 2010, 5:15pm

All those antioxidants in the wine make you all fresh-faced.

I have never in all my born days heard a better denial of what gin-blossoms really are! Two points, TLo!

Sep 15, 2010, 5:38pm

So is it true that AARP contacts those who are about to turn 50?

They haven't found me yet but I have nearly 6 months.

Sep 15, 2010, 5:54pm

It is, indeed, true. Wait another few months. Generally a week before your birthday, or a few weeks after.

I thought about taking umbrage, but hey...I *am* retired.

Sep 15, 2010, 6:46pm

I am just tired....

Sep 15, 2010, 7:51pm

>66 richardderus: I remember Junket with great fondness, at least the chocolate flavor. A standard during my childhood, and I don't want to taste it again for fear of ruining the rosy glow.

Sep 15, 2010, 8:46pm

Oh Sweetie

JUNKET i remember from Childhood...was a big Hoo-Ha..i know i ate was "cool & creamy" that phrase means something totally different..

COFFEE.....i can't "live" without three cups, at least, every day......stay away if if i haven't had my "daily requirement"

AARP....odd to say, I am not bombarded by their pleas/threats....and I am 59....maybe I live Right...or have a good Spam Filter on my eMail

I do love you, Sweets...semantics notwithstanding


Sep 15, 2010, 9:32pm

What is the April "Books on the Nightstand" junket????

Sep 16, 2010, 8:25am

Never heard of Junket. Maybe I lived in a cave all my life. It sounds rather not-so-good.

Coffee in my house is referred to as Tad Repellent. It's a taste I would have loved to physically helpful on foggy mornings and socially useful on any occasion...but I just can't stand the flavor in any form. Even mocha. I'm a confirmed tea drinker.

AARP: I find them rather funny and like their hotel discounts. That's about it.

Have you gone diving in any of the books you received, yet?

Sep 16, 2010, 8:48am

>82 mckait: Never mind, my dove, Cory being home will spruce you right up.

>83 ffortsa: I feel the same way about Nehi sodas. I don't like soda and was never allowed to have it as a kid, but when I was out with friends I'd sneak a Nehi pineapple soda. (This was South Texas, obviously, since in the 1960s that wasn't a common flavor elsewhere.) It was wonderful. I know better than to try it now.

>84 jdthloue: WHAT?!? You are not a retired person?!? Wow.

>85 leperdbunny: This is the junket info.

>86 TadAD: *pauses to mourn Tad's disability* *pauses to revile Tad's inexplicable taste for boiled-up Asian hedge trimmings*

I've been deep into Packing for Mars and I've about finished The Cleft; River of Lost Footsteps has proven to be painful to read, such a huge waste of a potentially rich place!; the others sit next to my bed, gleaming their new-book gleam, reminding me that without coffee there is no reading!

Sep 16, 2010, 8:49am

Ok, I have to admit, that one got a snort of tea up the nose.

Sep 16, 2010, 9:42am

"boiled-up Asian hedge trimmings" - LOL!

Sep 16, 2010, 9:51am's what tea *is*! They go plant these huge camellia hedges for reasons best known to themselves, and when they need trimming, they bag up the detritus and sell it to ignorant English people and their descendents. Oh, and the Chinese got a taste for it, too, doubtless at British compulsion during the Opium Wars.

Nasty stuff.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:03am

Oh, coffee. Sweet, sweet, morning love.

A friend once came to stay with her 18-month-old in tow (her son is a week older than my oldest). She had heard me joke about my ... antisocial mornings, but she thought it was just that - a joke.

That is, until she witnessed first-hand Brooks and I sitting at the kitchen table, glaring at each other over our respective cups of coffee and milk.

I call Brooks "karma." He is my child in temperament, through and through.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:04am

That being said, I love tea - I drink it all day long. :)

Sep 16, 2010, 10:06am

Bizarrely, Luxx, I am a chipper and cheerful soul in the mornings. I am safest if I let The Divine Miss have at least a half-hour to adjust before I bound out, happy and smiley, to challenge her immune system.

Coffee merely makes me energetic, too.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:10am

We have reached a lovely compromise in our house. I get a second wind in the evening, so I hand bedtime for the monsters. My partner, who is able to function from the moment he opens his eyes, now gets the monsters ready while I sit down with the sweet nectar of life and my laptop.

I can function without coffee. I've given up coffee for months at a time. I'm just not very happy about it. I can actually sleep after drinking an entire pot, so I think it's more about habit than the drink itself.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:11am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:12am

I've given up coffee for months, too, but it's just not worth it. I don't enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of Turkish Delight anywhere near as much, so why bother?

Edited: Sep 16, 2010, 10:46am

I'll give up coffee the day I give up oxygen.

until she witnessed first-hand Brooks and I sitting at the kitchen table, glaring at each other over our respective cups of coffee and milk.

When I first read this I thought that you and Brooks were drinking coffee with milk. Yep, it's time for more coffee...

Sep 16, 2010, 10:30am

I made the mistake of letting B try a sip or two of my coffee.

... I tend to drink "candy coffee."

This summer I convinced him that chocolate milk is coffee, so he's content with that. I do tell him he's only allowed to have "one cup of coffee a day." You should see the looks on visitors' faces when my 2-year-old comes up asking for, "coffee, please?"

Sep 16, 2010, 10:49am

"Candy coffee" is the way my brother drinks it; lots of creamer and lots of sugar, which is about as light tan in color as you could imagine, and absolutely undrinkable, IMO. A couple of times a year I'll go for a "dessert drink", like a soy chai latte, but otherwise it's a dark roast with no sugar for me.

Sep 16, 2010, 10:50am

Coffee makes me talkative and outgoing. I used to work in an office which had a coffee shop nearby, and my colleagues always reckoned they could tell when I'd bought a latte on my way in to work in the morning, because I'd be running up and down the stairs instead of walking.

The Chinese were drinking tea centuries before the British took it up. Although why anyone would want to drink it, I can't imagine. Vile stuff.

Sep 16, 2010, 11:00am

I like coffee without sweeteners, but I do like my first cup to be cafe au lait. Of course, my first cup is 36oz.

Caty, I prefer to blame the British for everything just warming, poisonous class distinctions based on unimportant sort criteria, tea-drinking...because I'm reading a history of Burma.

Sep 16, 2010, 11:31am

Another morning person here, happy and 'chipper' and no coffee required! :)

Sep 16, 2010, 12:04pm

God, anyone who tries to talk to me before about 11 a.m. gets short shrift. Coffee doesn't help. I quite like the taste, but have never become an addict, happily. Quite like cafe au lait but find it hard to get a good cup here (vs latte, which is not the same animal, really.) What I love? the sort of burning smell that comes from roast coffee beans. Really. It reminds me of living in Europe as a teenager.

Edited: Sep 16, 2010, 12:19pm

#101 The River of Lost Footsteps from the birthday haul? How is it?

(Class distinctions? Us? Surely not. And don't forget imperialism and the mass production of chocolate.)

Sep 16, 2010, 12:23pm

Must have at least a couple of cups of coffee in the morning but a strange thing happened about a year ago: got my usual Tim Horton's coffee (ring a bell, Three Pines addicts?) one morning and instead of my usual black with a little sugar it had cream and a little sugar. Of course I didn't realize it until I drove away. After cursing the illustrious TH, I drank it anyway and lo and behold have not wanted black coffee since. What have I been missing all my life??

Sep 16, 2010, 12:23pm

You guys are going to make me cry... I miss coffee sooooooo much! I cut down to one cup (my way black, no sugar) a day when I got pregnant, but the last month it's been making me sick when I drink it. Doesn't stop the longing though....

*drools unrepentantly on Richard's thread...*

Sep 16, 2010, 1:33pm

I love coffee! Cream, no sugar and a chocolate bar every morning!!! I like tea too!! and it's good for you!!

Sep 16, 2010, 2:40pm

Coffee and chocolate--love it!

Edited: Sep 16, 2010, 2:59pm

Years ago, I could drink any quantity of coffee at any time of day. Then I got a job at a place with a French Roast coffee wagon selling supersized cups of same, and the job was toxic, and pretty soon the coffee was toxic. Had to go cold turkey to eliminate the panic attacks. And eventually I ditched the job, too.

I crept back to a cup in the morning, black, sometimes iced. Sometimes I treat myself to a frappucino (a friend says if I get a new blender I can make my own - heaven). Old age has brought erratic sleep patterns, so I don't dare have any caffeine after noon, alas. Even in tea.

Jim loves the smell of coffee but hates the taste. Neither he nor my prior honey drinks coffee, and they are both morning people, too. Where do I find these weird guys? When left to my own devices, I revert to a night-owl coffee-drinking fiend.

Sep 16, 2010, 3:02pm

Not a morning person. Not a coffee person. I am afraid that if I were a coffee person I would never sleep.

Sep 16, 2010, 3:05pm

mmmm Coffee, Dairy and Chocolate - three food groups taken care of early in the AM! Sounds good to me! But I'll take my coffee black with chocolate and cream filled donuts on the side! I like my sugar outside the cup.

Remember when we used to be able to eat those yummies - guilt-free? Blast nutrition research!

Edited: Sep 16, 2010, 3:14pm

Jim loves the smell of coffee but hates the taste. Neither he nor my prior honey drinks coffee, and they are both morning people, too. Where do I find these weird guys?

We're not weird! Just...ummm...different?

Ok ok, we're weird.

And I agree with mr. Jim. The smell of coffee is delicious, unlike the taste. :)

Sep 16, 2010, 5:06pm

I am a morning person.. I am a coffee person.
First cup has milk and sugar, but not "Candy" coffee..
just a bit of sugar .. enough 1% to lighten it some..

After that? almost anything goes.. milk/sugar/black/ no sugar..
whatever. Cannot start my day without it.

Sep 16, 2010, 5:06pm

Review: 66 of seventy-five

Title: PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


Rating: 4* of five

I deeply envy those not claustrophobic or clumsy or tall...they can aspire to astronautcy, where I for reasons here presented, cannot. Fatness, it seems, was once mooted by a NASA consultant, as a desideratum...20 kilos of fat = 184,000 calories! Why send food up? Fat folks can do a little slimming and science at the same time!

Leaving aside the Donner-Party-in-Space horrors of the clueless and thin, Mary Roach's delight of a book is packed with interesting and surprising research, her own and others's. I can't imagine *how* anyone came up with zero-gravity toilet research subjects. Filming you at this well, ummm, intimate moment of activity? Discovering thereby that uhhhh curls form in zero G? *shudder*

And Roach, as readers of previous books (Bonk, Spook) know, is irreverent to the point of being a female frat boy about every-damn-thing, and completely unafraid to deploy wit and sarcasm at the drop of a...cheese curl. She's funny, she's curious, she's smart, and damn it all, she's married.

So she marshals a raft of facts in her quest to know, and impart to us, necessary background information and bizarre little side-trails of information about the quest of the US and (now) Russian governments to put and keep humans in space. Each chapter tackles different specialties in the space race: food, water, safe arrival and departure, etc. etc. Her completely unserious side is always on display, and makes what would otherwise be a government briefing document (anyone who has ever read a government briefing document will attest that there is no reading matter more effective in inducing short-term coma) into a sparkling, sprightly tour of a quixotic, hugely expensive boondoggle.

At the end of this particular garden path that Mary's leading us down is a manned mission to Mars. She asks baldly, "Is Mars worth it?" All the money...half a trillion bucks!...all the risk, all the inevitable bureaucratic wrangling.

Benjamin Franklin said it best: Asked what use the first manned balloon flights were, Franklin replied, "What use is a new-born baby?"


Sep 16, 2010, 5:08pm

Look everybody! Look! Look! A Review! A Review!

Sep 16, 2010, 5:13pm

#114: I have got to get a copy of that one after I finish Stiff. Great review, Richard!

Sep 16, 2010, 5:15pm

A very nice one too, rd...

Sep 16, 2010, 6:00pm

Great review Richard, I certainly couldn't have said it better myself (2 months ago.)


Sep 16, 2010, 7:20pm

Great review, Richard. I ran right out and bought Packing for Mars in hardcover after reading several good reviews here on LT. Glad you liked it too.

Sep 16, 2010, 7:41pm

That was a fast read Richard. I seem to remember that you bought this book at Barnes and Nobel on Sunday!

I hope today is a good day for you and you are pain free.


Sep 16, 2010, 8:28pm

rd. mail. Friday.

Sep 16, 2010, 8:31pm

Richard, did you get hit badly by that storm that went through NYC this afternoon?

Sep 16, 2010, 9:38pm

I've been enticed by you and Stephen to give Mary Roach a try. I am not a science all. But such is the wonder of LT:)

Sep 16, 2010, 10:58pm

>121 mckait: Feeling cryptic today? Am I to *go* mail something? What have I forgotten? Or to watch for something? Elucidate, please.

>122 phebj: Pat, we got rain (are still getting rain, yay!) but nothing like the trees down in Park Slope or the flooding in Seaford. I am deeply grateful!

>123 brenzi: Bonnie, I predict you won't be sorry. The pleasures of silly, irreverent Mary Roach are many!

Sep 16, 2010, 11:00pm

>116 alcottacre: Thanks! I'd send you mine, but it's in the Permanent Collection. I won't be releasing this one.

>117 mckait: Why thank you, madame!

>118 Ape: *ignores oh-so-superior little pisher who's barely old enough to exist*

>119 phebj: Thanks, Pat!

>120 Whisper1: I loved it, Linda, so it was fun to read and hard to stop.

Sep 16, 2010, 11:04pm

#125: It will probably be in my permanent collection as well, so I completely understand!

Sep 16, 2010, 11:23pm

One final birthday note to bring up:

My friend, writer Nicky Drayden ( sent out her newsy September zombiefest of a newsletter. She included, "bless" her, a shout-out to me in it:

"Lastly, only marginally zombie related, my good friend Richard turns fifty today! But don't let his sallow skin, mumbling, and odd odor fool you! He's alive and well. He's horribly missed in Texas, and when he returns for a visit, there's a slice of Chez Zee lemon cake waiting for him."

Followed by:
You have received this newsletter because your email address was purchased from email bank.
If you would like to unsubscribe, that is too bad. I paid a good $20 for that list, and I intend to use it.

I love her! She's my kinda crazy!

Sep 17, 2010, 6:52am

123: Hurray!! You might as well go ahead and buy all her other books while you're at it. I mean, you're going to want to as soon as you start reading Packing for Mars anyway... :P

Richard, we're probably lucky she is married. If she wasn't, we'd have to compete for her somehow. I'm thinking a thumb war, rock-paper-scissors, and an intense game of Checkers. Best 2 out of 3 wins...

...or do you think Mrs. Roach would be creeped out by that? ... ;)

127: Haha, I don't know how you manage to meet so many great and interesting people, Richard, but I'm amazed by it. I guess being great and interesting yourself helps! (Not that Mary Roach would be impressed by that, of course...)

Edited: Sep 17, 2010, 12:43pm

Review: 67 of seventy-five



Rating: 3.9* of five

Beats there heart so dead to love and laughter that it hasn't rejoiced to the sight of Will & Grace's Beverley Leslie and Karen Walker having a bitch-fight? I know mine does even yet. Leslie Jordan is my hero for that role, and for the fearless and wonderful job he does as Brother Boy, the Tammy Wynette-tribute drag queen in Sordid Lives: The Series, whose tragic seemingly permanent hiatus causes me great spiritual pain.

He is also my hero anew for this line: "I write to keep the conduit open so the light can shine through me." Now, keep in mind: This is a 4'11" fey-as-hell Southern Babdiss of a Certain Age, renowned for hilariously being gay as a May morning, mildly famous for writing HILARIOUS one-Leslie shows and delivering them with verve and gusto, talking about being a conduit for universal love.

This is the moment for you to reel back in startled, impressed respect. Men like Leslie Jordan used to kill themselves before they would have a chance to get famous and write a book. And very tragically, the boys these men once were are still killing themselves thanks to the hate-filled "teachings" of the predominant religious strain in their world.

Yet here he is, folks, all of him such as it is, a morsel of protoplasm that's jumping up and down and hollering loud as he can: "It's all about love, it's only about love, can't we agree to see, it's all LOVE!"

Yes sir, Mr. Jordan, you are correct. That is all that it is about, whatever "it" is the subject of conversation. Thank you for saying it, clearly and forcefully, with examples of what hate and fear have done to you personally before this blindingly simple truth smacked into you.

So why should you read this book? For that message? Hell no! Read it because *this* little queen has ogled the packages of Luke Perry, Dean Cain, Billy Bob Thornton, on and on! In Person!! And he tells of his adventures in Hollywood, surprisingly, without cattiness or prurience. His sense of comedic timing is flawless, flawless, flawless, and he knows when to leave an anecdote instead of letting it drag on into anecdotage.

Why, then, have I given it a chary 3.9 stars? Because it's not perfect, as what can be; but its narrative flaw is that it's scattershot. It's not quite focused enough to be a real autobiography, and it's not as gauzily self-exculpatory or brutally self-excoriative as a memoir needs to be in this marketplace.

It's a reflective essay, a pulling-together of his life's strings and strands, with little obvious attempt to match the colors up. Flawed or no, it's colorful and fun and, if you care to see it, quite uplifting.

It's a Victoria's Secret bra of a book.

Sep 17, 2010, 12:57pm

Richard...Yet another great review! Thumbs up...again!

Sep 17, 2010, 1:07pm

Great review!

Sep 17, 2010, 1:15pm

"Victoria's Secret Bra" of a book...I like that..because I like VS's bras....hard to fit a gal like me and they do the a price

oh, and I gave you my usual DAINTY THUMB for the review


Sep 17, 2010, 1:18pm

Thanks, Linda, Roni and Jude! I really enjoyed this little bagatelle. (The book, not the author.)

Sep 17, 2010, 6:07pm

Review: 68 of seventy-five



Rating: 3.7* of five

Wonderful line-by-line writing! Lovely images, and a very delicate hand at description. Characters that make an impression on your readerly senses.

But not a novel, really. More like the internalized effects of living a life in the psychologist's seat made into an essay. Not so much acted out as acted. The unnamed psychologist, a damned decent man, can be summed up in one clean metaphor: He finds a broken-down old piano, hauls it home, and gets a professional piano-tuner to come and fix its battered old carcass up. The tuner, being a responsible sort, says the Good Psychologist could go get a new piano for less than it'll cost to bring the old one back to life. The psychologist thanks him, and orders the remake to proceed. It does. Beautiful music ensues.

Well, that's it, really. Not that this is in any way a bad book, but it would HUGELY irritate me to pay twenty-four United States dollars for it. Twelve, yes. MAYbe fourteen. Over twenty? Oh HELL no.

First novels, such as this is, published initially in harcover are a bad idea, in this climate of frugality and underemployment. Take heed, publishers, and move to a trade paper format.

How interested are you in the inner life of a shrink? If very, buy the book. If mildly, don't.

Sep 17, 2010, 6:12pm

Great review, Richard, but the inner life of shrinks scare me.

Sep 17, 2010, 6:15pm

lalalalalalala .... *sticks fingers in ears* .... lalalalalala .... *tries to ignore blue words*

Drats ... I failed ..... rushing off to add The Good Psychologist and My Trip Down the Pink Carpet to my obese wish list.

Sep 17, 2010, 6:23pm

told ya. glad it worked for you ..
hoped it was right?

Sep 17, 2010, 6:29pm

>137 mckait: Yes, o Cryptic Mistress of the Keyboard, and it's delovely!

>136 cameling: if you're just buying one, make it "Pink Carpet", Caro...I don't think the shrink book is all that and a bag.

>135 phebj: Wise woman, Pat. Quite wise.

Sep 17, 2010, 6:34pm

I'll buy Pink Carpet since I know a friend who'll likely want to borrow it when I'm done, and borrow the shrink from the library. :-)

Sep 17, 2010, 7:26pm

Great review of Packing for Mars, Richard! I'm adding this to my wish list.

Sep 17, 2010, 7:45pm


and borrow the shrink from the library. :-)

Be careful, the "shrink" might not be wrapped tightly.

Sep 17, 2010, 8:57pm

Since I got my copy of The Good Psychologist for free (it was a paperback review copy) I probably liked it better than Richard. I've never had the opportunity (nor do I want one) of participating in 'therapy' and thus found the writing and the story fascinating, and quite an easy read.

Packing for Mars sound like it would really liven life up, but for now, it's going to go onto the 'someday when I have time' pile. Great review as always.

BTW, Richardo, it's so nice to have you back in somewhat more serious reviewer mode. You always grace us with such wisdom. The birthday celebration has been a hoot, but it is now time to get back to work.

Sep 17, 2010, 9:25pm

>139 cameling: A plan of merit. Recommended.

>140 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl! It's a really interesting book. And Roach, of course, is a hoot and a holler.

>141 Whisper1: Bad Linda! *swat* Bad Linda! *swat* Bad Linda! *swat*

Sep 17, 2010, 9:29pm

Hey, Richard! Great reviews as usual.

Edited: Sep 17, 2010, 9:29pm

>142 tututhefirst: Tina, I got my copy via Early Reviewers, so I wasn't irritated by the cost...I think it's a good idea to mention the fact that this isn't an investment-grade book, though, given that others won't necessarily have that luxury.

I wonder sometimes if the nutball Big Publishing world isn't suicidal. I mean, trade paper editions long ago replaced hardcovers as first-novel and even first-anything editions in the UK. Really, it stands to reason. Lower fixed costs = quicker earn-outs, duh.

>144 alcottacre: Thanks, Stasia!

Edited: Sep 18, 2010, 7:46am

>114 richardderus:: I've seen Packing for Mars mentioned several times but it never really hooked me, despite having enjoyed her Bonk. (Hmmm, that didn't come out entirely right but, what the heck, this thread is R-rated occasionally anyway.)

This review caught my, I'll add it to the wish list.

Sep 18, 2010, 9:27am

I've never had the opportunity (nor do I want one)

I think a good friend is better than any therapist.

I do love Mary Roach Rd... haven't read that one yet.. but will sometime. Nice reviews as always.

Sep 18, 2010, 9:57am

Richard, you are indeed 'back to work' with a vengeance...taking over the Number 1 and 2 positions in the Hot Reviews. Way to go!

Sep 18, 2010, 10:07am

>146 TadAD: Oh good! I've added to SOMEone's wishlist! My work here is done.

>147 mckait: Thanks, sweetness! And Mario has already come in handy....

>148 Donna828: Wow! Thank you for letting me know, Donna! I certainly didn't expect that. *warm glow*

Sep 18, 2010, 11:39am

*warm glow*

Sep 20, 2010, 6:12pm

Ricardo - When do you NOT add to SOMEone's wish list, oh evil tempter, you?

Sep 20, 2010, 6:24pm

Richard's threads sure have been quiet lately! :(

Sep 20, 2010, 7:53pm

>151 cameling: I? Good cyborg, er, madam **I** am not the Alternate Championess of the World at Book-Bullet-Lobbing! That honor belongs to...well, shall we just say that mirrors in Boston reflect that multividual.

>152 Ape: I can't seem to finish anything. I hate everything I read. I ***loathed*** The Passage so much that I attempted to hurl it aside, and sprained several necessary muscle groups. I can't abide the new Temeraire novel, Tongues of Serpents. Doris Lessing came near to having The Cleft pulped. I seem to be in a foul humour, no idea why.

>153 mckait: Yaaah boo, I can't use it because it's a pay site and I am forbidden! *thhhbbbpppt*

Sep 20, 2010, 7:56pm

full moon nearing?

Are you hairier than usual?

Sep 20, 2010, 7:56pm

#154: I seem to be in a foul humour, no idea why.

After party blues have set in! I hope they go away soon.

Sep 20, 2010, 9:30pm

Or perhaps just choosing bad books? ;)

I don't know why The Passage disagreed with you (and I haven't read it myself), but there seems to be a general consensus that Tongues of Serpents was a big disappointment, and I personally wouldn't touch a book with a 2.84 average rating (like The Cleft), unless it had regrettably forced itself upon me in the ER list. Maybe not even then--Across the Endless River still sits unread on my shelf from last October(?), since the ratings and reviews of the speedier readers left me with no desire to open the thing.

Sep 20, 2010, 9:42pm

#154 - huh.... Stasia or Darryl moved to Boston and didn't tell me?!! I'm wounded beyond belief ... there could be no other reference to that ACWBBL title you're hurling about here willy-nilly, Ricardo.

Sep 20, 2010, 10:18pm

>155 mckait: Possibly; and no, in that order.

>156 alcottacre: I think it's just a life circumstances grump. Those happen. This too shall pass.

>157 _Zoe_: "Disappointment" is pretty mild. Tongues of Serpents is a set-up for a book, not the actual book. Ariana Franklin did this once...the book was much to-and-fro-ing, like this one is, and frankly I begin just not to care. That's dangerous in a series.

>158 cameling: Since you're already barging down Denial, do give Cleopatra my regards.

Sep 21, 2010, 4:42pm

I will ... perhaps she'll send her cats to you, rdear. ppplllbbb.

Sep 21, 2010, 5:36pm

tip toeing through....

Sep 21, 2010, 7:44pm

I'm tip toeing through with Kath..and leaving a smooch in the air!

Sep 21, 2010, 7:47pm

*air hugs* to RD!

Edited: Sep 22, 2010, 11:36am

Review: 69 of seventy-five



Rating: 3.4* of five ***SPOILERS***

And I'm being generous.

I didn't like this novel very much. Looong stretches of it were dull, flat, and waterless, like the countryside Temeraire and company flew over. The characters were as flat as the land. Rankin, whom we have seen and abhorred before, is propped up as a shadow we're to dislike, but few telling details are offered as to why...we just have to trust the author. Granby, Laurence's great friend, is almost MIA from the story. Riley, another Laurence ally, gets under 200 words total.

So little was explored! So little was even noted! This is AUSTRALIA, a huge new continent, in a very different world, there HAD TO BE MORE! I wanted more about Larrakia-the-port and the people...something, some little thing, about them that might help explain their unprecedented possession of a trading port! It didn't happen in OUR world, why did it in this one?

I gave this one entire star more than I planned to because Laurence, Royal Navy to his shoe-buttons, *finally* sheds that skin and becomes a reasonable man, appalled by jingoism and venality at the highest levels of his society. This alone was worth the slog for a series lover. But the next book is the last I'll read if it's as affectless and unrewarding as this one was.

Sep 22, 2010, 11:38am

Hmmm... thanks for the heads up, Ricardo. I think I'll pass on this book.

Are you enjoying this last burst of summer?

Sep 22, 2010, 11:44am

>165 cameling: NO! I want my 60s back! And breezes from Canada laden with Canada geese! And clouds that block the (($%*!^%)$& sun from beating mercilessly on my lily-white skin, making freckles and burns!

I *hate* all things summer.

Sep 22, 2010, 11:48am

You're welcome to all the Canadian geese that make over the border. I hate them pooping everywhere, making it impossible to walk barefoot in the parks and having to watch my step in the parking lots.

As to freckles, what's wrong with freckles? I think they're kind cute ... maybe because they're littered around face, arms and knees. Anyway, there's always sunscreen. Want some? It's a gorgeous day ... go outside and dance around the yard!

Sep 22, 2010, 11:54am

They fly over our house on the way to Hempstead Lake State Park, making that wonderful goose-honk, in graceful skeins dipping and circling lower and lower...geese mean fall, too, so there are so many pleasures I associate with them.

Don't want to cook another one, though, greasy things.

Side note: My father, whose convoluted complicated and multi-layered stories told to me as a child featured our Los Gatos house, magically transported to different places and times. He always called it "Goose-grease Grange." Took me *years* to get that one!

Sep 22, 2010, 11:59am

I've never cooked a Canadian goose before ... there's a thought .... here, goosey-goosey ...

My mom makes the most delicious roast goose at Christmas. Moist, crisp skinned, and so flavorful. She usually stuffs it with pine nuts, carmelized shallots, spinach, sage, and couscous. Served up with a beautiful port sauce, mmmmm.....

Sep 22, 2010, 12:03pm

>164 richardderus: Good review of Tongues of Serpents. I was rather underwhelmed by it (I think the reason I gave it a rather generous 4 stars was because that's sort of my default for "I would reread this as part of a series only"), but I liked the others enough to at least give the next book a shot.

Sep 22, 2010, 12:18pm

Nice review of Tongues of Serpents; I'll give it a pass, though.

I don't think I've ever had roast goose. Roast duck, on the other hand, sends me into a swoon.

Sep 22, 2010, 1:45pm

Roast goose is heavenly....but way too much fat...for "special occasions" only......i've had my "goose cooked" more times than I care to mention..but have lived to tell.

I think I'll pass on the serpent tongues.....they look skeevy and....underwhelming.

Sep 22, 2010, 2:39pm

The wild geese that were 'harvested' from the NJ golf courses a few years ago were fed to the homeless - who couldn't eat them because they were incredibly gamey. Better stick to the farmed ones if you're interested in roast goose.

Sep 22, 2010, 3:08pm

Judy, one of my colleagues just told me that the wild geese also have fleas. I think I'll stick to the ready plucked ones I see in the supermarket.

Sep 22, 2010, 3:09pm

>164 richardderus:: You have confirmed my abandonment of that series.

Sep 22, 2010, 3:14pm

I think I just lost my appetite for goose. Especially since they've been taking off from right outside my back step. What a sight when they all take wing at the same time. Beautiful.

Sep 22, 2010, 3:27pm

Goose is tasty, a lot like duck without the ammonia tang, but it's waaay messy to cook. As for the Jersey homeless, someone just needs to know how to cook the things. And people who get free food need to belt up, too.

Sep 22, 2010, 5:00pm

I too want my nice weather back. AND I want some dragons to come and eat up.. or just fry.. all of the BLASTED stink bugs from hell.

And ... the heat was on at work today
the temps were mid 80's outside

I love to watch geese fly too..

now.. off to go to the vets office.

Sep 22, 2010, 5:04pm

#164: I think I may just stick to the couple of books in the series that I already have. Sorry the book was not better for you, Richard. I hope the next one is!

Sep 22, 2010, 6:00pm

Well it doesn't look like turning 50 has hurt you any :) You're really cranking out the reviews. Glad you none of your recent reads have been abysmal!

Sep 23, 2010, 10:51am

Hi Richard - I'm posting in an effort to keep up...

Sep 23, 2010, 11:09am

>178 mckait: When you work in the Mills of Satan, Kath, it's an occupational hazard.

>179 alcottacre: I'd say that's a good, cautious policy, Stasia. I'll let you know if #7 warrants braving the blahs of #6 to understand some story points.

>180 suslyn: Hi Suse! Good to see you! I send smoochings Romania-ward, and remind you how much you were missed and discussed at the aforementioned bash.

>181 dchaikin: Good luck with that, Dan, I've completely surrendered to my inadequacies and admitted to myself that I am powerless over the speed of social life. Still, very glad to see you here!

Sep 23, 2010, 5:27pm

182 true dear....

Sep 23, 2010, 5:36pm

#182: OK, keep me posted, RD.

Sep 23, 2010, 6:42pm

Hi, Richard. I hope the crabbies are leaving you.

I cooked a goose (I mean other than all those times that I have in fact cooked my own goose) once, in my carefree youth. It was tedious to degrease it. Very, very tasty, but not worth the work for me.

Baked ziti, anyone?

Have you read the latest Gamache Sweetie, and I missed (sob) your thoughts? I was very mixed about it. I'm dying to see your take on it, and if I missed it somehow, do point me in the right direction, please.

Sep 23, 2010, 7:18pm

>185 bohemima: Okay, Gail, go here for my thinkings.

Sep 23, 2010, 8:08pm

I don't think I've ever had goose either. Duck is quite nice, but I think I've only ever had that in Chinese dishes, never plain roasted.

The Temeraire books never appealed to me. Dragons I don't mind, and the Napoleonic Wars have fascinated me for years, but somehow the mere concept of the two together really doesn't work for me. They're like roast beef and chocolate cake: great, but not on the same plate.

Sep 23, 2010, 9:15pm



Sep 24, 2010, 7:00am

188: Actually, Linda, I think ducks quack...

Sep 24, 2010, 7:35am

Caro posted this in Stephen's thread.
it made me think of you...

Sep 24, 2010, 10:04am

Roasted duck with either orange or cherry sauce---delish!

Sep 24, 2010, 10:06am

Ah, thank you, Richard. I had quite the same sort of feeling about the book that you did. I was very happy about the resolution of the Olivier plot line; I am still madly, if hopelessly, in love with Gabri; I'm intrigued by what will possibly happen next. Something I really enjoy about her books is the complexity and messiness of her characters, so like real life.

Sep 24, 2010, 11:34am

Drive-By Wave (no guns)


Sep 24, 2010, 12:42pm

188/189- LOL!

Sep 24, 2010, 1:21pm

Funny.. While they all plan vacations to exotic places to while away the time.. I plan vacations to Three Pines.. ( or perhaps a move)

Sep 24, 2010, 2:52pm

I hope you're planning the Three Pines vacation with me in mind, Kath! I'm going to be sorely put out if I don't find myself on the invite list.

Sep 24, 2010, 4:02pm

I wouldn't dream of going without you and the other 75'ers.

Sep 25, 2010, 12:25am

I am definitely in for a Three Pines vacation! (as long as no one plans to murder me while I am there - and if they do, I insist that Gamache investigate!)

Sep 25, 2010, 5:56am

see my post in the kitchen re: a Three Pines vacation.........

Edited: Sep 25, 2010, 5:47pm

Review: 70 of seventy-five



Rating: 3.5* of five

There was a popular song during my youth by a band called 10cc. The chorus of this song was, "I'm not in love/so don't forget it/it's just a silly phase I'm goin' through...." India, books Indian in setting and theme, Indian food *dripdrool*, Hindu theology, henna tattoos, all objects of fascination for me and much of the American culture just now. Fairly soon, I understand we're to get our first Tatas on these shores. (Go Google "Tata.")

So what's a weentsy-teentsy little shoestring publishing house like Simon and Schuster supposed to do, try to buck the trend? Heavens to Betsy! Perish forbid! Must needs we leap aboard the wagon, fringe on the top gaily floofledy in the breeze of our passage on to the NEXT trend! And then where will Tarquin Hall be?

Tarquin who?

Vish Puri, our sleuth for this inaugural outing of the "Most Private Investigations Ltd" series, will be rattling around in iUniverse, his loyalists ordering a few copies here and there, and perchance Tarquin Hall coming up with the odd (a very advised use of the term) new entry but probably not.

The investigations here are not in the least bit the point of the book. The point is India, Indians, and the astonishing amount we here in the West don't know about any and all of those things. As such, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. I'm on record in several previous reviews as saying we'd best get used to Indian influences in our literature, because their influence is finally catching up with their numbers. I for one welcome this, because I find India completely fascinating, and I really really enjoy chances to add to my store of knowledge of the place.

Hall makes a very good guide, since he's as white a white boy as my blue eyes have ever seen. This means that things which would not need saying, like the fact that servants must fill washing machines by buckets, get said and our spoiled, spoiled eyes get big at the very *notion* of not simply twisting a tap for instant, clean water of whatever temperature we desire. (PLEASE GOD, plagues wars famines whatever, DON'T MAKE ME GIVE UP HOT SHOWERS!)

Oh! The story! Well, least said soonest mended, and let's move on to the important part: Should you read the book?

Nah. Fun, for me; pleasantly charmingly amusing, for me; but for a mystery reader, it would be a horrible experience, and for a snootybootsy four-hankies-and-a-pistol reader it would be a horrible experience, and for the general what's-new-this-week reader it would be a disorganized mess. If you're in the mood for a curry, though, could do nicely. Just don't go in with expectations too high.

Sep 25, 2010, 5:48pm

oh dear... another one???

completely agree re: showers (and flush toilets)
My days of roughing it are long gone... and fondly remembered.

Sep 25, 2010, 6:00pm

>201 mckait: No, no, not like The Passage or as I'm now calling it "The Pissoff"! I didn't hurl this anywhere, and the dog didn't come and lick me to soothe my evident fury. It's just not a very good mystery, and in ten years' time, no one will remember it.

Now you watch...there'll be a TV series, fan conventions, Vish-a-thons....

Sep 25, 2010, 6:02pm

Vish-a -thons?

You may be right.. lol

Sep 25, 2010, 6:10pm

If only Diocletian had succeeded, the horrors of being right about the wrong things would be unknown to us. Blast him!

Sep 25, 2010, 6:18pm

Hi Richard

I hope your day is a good one!

Sep 25, 2010, 6:20pm

Thanks, Linda! xoxo

Sep 25, 2010, 6:23pm

Hmm.... so would you say that the Vish ramble was less on mystery and more on showcasing Sahib and Memsahib living in India among the uncivilized natives, Ricardo?

Sep 25, 2010, 6:31pm

there are uncivilized natives everywhere...

Sep 25, 2010, 6:35pm

are you referring to stink bugs, Kath? *evil snicker*

Sep 25, 2010, 6:38pm

et tu, caro ?

Sep 25, 2010, 6:42pm

I was just biting into a vanilla fudge Drumstick when I saw this and I bit my tongue....... I LOVE this, Kath ... LOL

Sep 25, 2010, 6:46pm


Sep 25, 2010, 7:13pm

I have a copy of the new Vish Puri book. I got it as an ARC and thought it looked attractive and fun. I like Indian things so perhaps I will like this book - if it is as good at explaining the culture as you say. Anyway, don't think I will run and throw it out the door, but will probably move it way back on the list of TBR's.

Sep 25, 2010, 7:59pm

I thoroughly enjoyed both the Vish Puri books I've read. I agree, this is not in the realm of Agatha Christie, but there is a certain Sherlockian taint to it. They are thoroughly enjoyable and as our thread host has pointed out, a terrific way to imbibe Indian culture. Richard....perhaps a vindaloo?

Sep 25, 2010, 8:06pm

#200: I already have the book on the way to me, Richard, so I am going to give it a shot.

Edited: Sep 25, 2010, 10:01pm

Well, Richard, you didn't say no cat jpgs :)

Me, discussed at your bash?! *shivers at the thought of what could have been said*

ETA RE: India. Stephane is en route from Delhi to the Taj Mahal as I write this. I'm a bit envious (and that's a bit of an understatement), but as ROni pointed out: I get to stay home with the animals and read :)

Sep 25, 2010, 10:25pm

>207 cameling: Actually, Caro, Puri-ji and Rumpi-ji *are* the natives and there is very little we can say about sahib and memsahib because they're not upper enough.

>208 mckait: There's a stink bug in your hair.

>211 cameling:,212 Exactly. Karma. Instant.

Sep 25, 2010, 10:30pm

>213 benitastrnad: I don't think hurling it out the door is warranted, but don't sprain anything getting it to the top of the pile.

>214 tututhefirst: Since I dislike Sherlock Holmes, Tina, I'd have to agree with that assessment. Vindaloo, here I come! Actually, I made curried rice, potato(e), and peas because I was so starved for Indian food!

>215 alcottacre: No harm in that, Stasia, since eyes 9 & 11 can be spared to scan it. I'd recommend a 32-bit analysis speed, and a maximum of 128 megabytes dedicated for 11.6 nanoseconds.

>216 suslyn: Have I mentioned how much I abhor Stephane? He's young, handsome, has a loving and lovely wife, and works for Renault. *hatehatehate*

Sep 25, 2010, 11:18pm

I didn't like the Vish/Tarquin Hall novel even as much as you did -- tho I agree with your broader point about Indian themes/ideas/writers and with the fact that a decade from now this book will be forgotten. I suppose if someone shoved an ARC of the next book into my hands I would get around to reading it sometime -- but far from immediately. I was underwhelmed on all levels...

Sep 26, 2010, 7:56am

218 you are an evil evil man.

Sep 26, 2010, 8:34am

Hi Richard!
I tried the pineapple stuffing with 1/2 cup brown sugar and it was much better. Thanks for the tip!

If Kath says you are an evil man, I'll have to agree. But if all evil men were like you, this would be a fun world! ;)

Sep 26, 2010, 8:54am

I have to buy some bread and try that...

rdear is indeed evil. funny, interesting, a tad eccentric, kindhearted and evil.

Sep 26, 2010, 9:01am

Evil? Evil! As if ***I*** was the one who brought stink bugs to Pennsylvania, a place I have not even traveled through...well, scratch that; anyway, Kath has seen stink bugs since she was a child, and since that event occurred at least a century before my own childhood (the 90s), I am innocent of charges presented. The habeas corpus is over to you.


Sep 26, 2010, 9:06am

see what I mean?

Although, that is nearly true... about the stink bugs. Someday I will tell you about the horrible place we were forced to live for a few years after my dad wandered off. Huge massive amounts of waterbugs.. a black swarm in the basement. Roaches all over .. had to scald dishes before we ate, and keep the salt etc in the fridge. Had to sit with my sister when she bathed to kill the nasty things.

Thank the goddess that house was haunted, to take my mind off of the bugs.
Archie was quite interesting as spirits go.


Blah blah blah rd

Sep 26, 2010, 9:56am

Geeze! And I thought I had a terrible childhood...
still trying to figure out what stink bugs are????
They don't sound good. 'course I don't like any bugs!
For that reason alone I could not live in the South.

Sep 26, 2010, 10:01am

Hot showers are definitely a Good Thing. We built and outdoor shower last year at the cabin and that is the ultimate luxury: hot water, sunshine and pine trees simultaneously.

The Tarquin Hall, which was on my Wish List, is now in the View Askance pile.

Sep 26, 2010, 10:37am

I have to reserve judgement on the Tarquin Hall...I actually received an ARC of The Case of the Missing Servant....but it seems to have gone walkabout..not on my ARC shelf....hasn't been given away. Oh well, maybe it ran of with another book and they're making booklets somewhere!

Stink bugs I have..not as many as Kath but I do have wasps...getting in my kitchen somehow...have to be careful with things on the countertop, since the little bastards hide very well and a wasp sting...while picking up the pepper no fun!...Oh, and i have spiders...building huge webs all around my house..lovely to look at...nasty to run into..

It's cloudy/cool here today...Rain tomorrow!!

Sep 26, 2010, 10:47am

mckait, My parents are in PA and they are always telling me about those stinkin stink bugs. They get them frequently. I have never seen one while visiting and hopefully I won't ever. Wonder why they are so prevalent in PA and not anywhere else.

Sep 26, 2010, 11:20am

According to WIKI: "The brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced into the United States from China or Japan. It is believed to have "hitched a ride" as a stowaway in packing crates. The first documented specimen was collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania , in September 1998.
It was quickly documented and established in many counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and New York. By 2009, this agricultural pest had reached Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Oregon.
2010 Population Explosion
Higher than normal amount of stink bugs have been reported in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey. Stink bugs typically have one generation per growing season, but an unusually warm and early spring and summer have allowed them to produce three generations in this growing season.
Adults are living longer, depositing eggs longer and maturing more generations to lay even more eggs. "
Don't squash them! They will stink. Flush.
>227 jdthloue: Those wasps may be your friends: "Several species of parasitic wasps have been found to attack stink bugs" But who wants wasps in the kitchen?

Sep 26, 2010, 11:40am

maureen.. I hope that you never have to see one..

what kind of wasps???? that could work..!
That story is flawed.. originally they told the truth :P
They changed it in case anyone ever finds out who brought them in..

They have them in NC too.. Amy saw a few..

All I can say is ewwwwww

Sep 26, 2010, 1:55pm

They are all over the place here in MD. Thankfully, they seem fairly easy to shoo away.

I had to chuckle when I saw my mother's boss pacing on the phone outside with three of the little buggers on his back...

Sep 26, 2010, 3:19pm


I am sure he was grateful when you got out the flamethrower to get them away from him...Cory never told me that they had them there... :PPPPPP

Sep 26, 2010, 3:30pm

bahzah thanks for the stink bugs info. I live in CT but luckily have never seen them. My parents are in Bethlehem, PA next to Allentown where they were 1st documented in the US. I know the parents have said don't squish if you see them--or else blech...

Richard sorry the stink bugs topic has taken over your post...

Sep 26, 2010, 3:34pm

thanks for the good news on Tarquin Hall's placing the Indians as the focus in the book rather than colonials, Ricardo... I'll add this to my obese wish list and give Vish a shot.

Sep 27, 2010, 6:34am

*Looks under pillows... behind the door... leaves*

Sep 27, 2010, 10:23am

>235 mckait: There's a stink bug in your hair.

Sep 27, 2010, 1:55pm

... and a zebra mussel lurking in your drains, Richard.

Sep 27, 2010, 6:10pm

>237 Chatterbox: *screeches in terror*

...wait...what's a zebra mussel again? Don't they afflict powerplants or something? Aren't they good to eat?

Sep 27, 2010, 6:53pm

mean mean mean

Sep 27, 2010, 8:26pm

Richard- they're triangular shaped sharp mussels, usually clogs things up. I think they're too small to eat although the bigger variety are eaten in Australia. I think the Sydneyites call them Pipis.

Sep 28, 2010, 12:57am

chortle. I'm a deeply evil curmudgeon.

They will bung up your drains, Richard....

Sep 28, 2010, 5:49am

oh dear....

Sep 28, 2010, 7:53am

>241 Chatterbox: The amount of caustic chemistry I pour down these drains, they'd have to be bionic to live. In which case, civilization as we know it is doomed, doomed I tell you, doomed!

>242 mckait: There's a stink bug behind the seat of your car.

Sep 28, 2010, 4:35pm

Review: 71 of seventy-five



Rating: 4* of five

Television made me do it.

No. Really. There's an Inspector Montalbano mystery series made in Italy, filmed in Sicily, and all in Italian with subtitles. Since there are no Italian people in New York City and environs, our local PBS stations AND the city's wholly owned TV station neither one carry it. {/sarcasm}

It was left to a not-very-cultured bud of mine in **DAYTONA, FLORIDA** of all the lowbrow, low-rent places, to gush and rave and generally make a to-do over scrumptious Sicily and handsome Montalbano blah blah blah. Wench. And oh the insufferable coos of "Really? Truly? You haven't even *read* the books? No! Get out!"

THEN, to add insult to injury, who but our very own cyborg-siren second class Caroline should pop up with more rapturous flutings about Camilleri and Montalbano and well, you see?? See?! How on earth is one two-eyed human supposed to resist a nine-eyed cyborg's enticements? Okay, she's not up there with Stasia yet, but just a few more eye grafts and it's Katie bar the door! (This exempts Suzanne, who has read 365 books as of today, apparently by means of aetheric osmosis, since she's also busy writing articles of six to ten thousand words, per minute mind you, and giving speeches in multiple locations...someone tell Hermione her time-twister's missing.)

So fine fine, I give, five lights, I'll go get the blasted thing. I did, at 2:10pm yesterday. I finished the second read at 4pm today. It's short, obviously, but it's just completely fabulously delicious. It's wry, it's witty, and it's got my favorite quality: Good people do the right thing, even if it's illegal, and bad people don't get away with dick.

Montalbano's got a lover in Genoa, a hot chick who happens to be his friend's daughter all worked up for him, and a murder suspect who is an Italian man's wet dream: tall, blonde, Swedish, racing car driveress. Does he cheat on the lover? No. Does he seem to want to? Not so much, he really can't be bothered about silly stuff like that when the local party big-wig is found half-naked and dead in the local errr, mmm, uuuh "playground" shall we say. The man's widow, completely unfazed by this, helps Montalbano see the details that are wrong, the little discrepancies that shouldn't be noticeable, but when added up make the whole picture...askew.

The resolution to this case is one I wish some publisher would allow an American author to get away with. I just can't say enough about the rightness of it all. Sicily needs me, I must fly there immediately! Well, via Camilleri's books. And over Boston, where I plan to *bomb* a Certain Party's residence.

Sep 28, 2010, 4:50pm

Very entertaining review, Richard! I will have to check this one out. Ooh, and a thumb from me.

Sep 28, 2010, 4:57pm

watch the mail

Sep 28, 2010, 5:23pm

A thumb from me too. And yet another book to get at the library courtesy of Ricardo Dearest! Methinks I should avoid this thread so I have a prayer of finishing a book!

Sep 28, 2010, 5:27pm

oh and I will NOT be reading that book, or any other new series. NOT NOT NOT

Sep 28, 2010, 7:25pm

RD- Good review of THE SHAPE OF WATER! I now have this one and another in the series, waiting in the stacks, thanks to Caro's enthusiastic opinion. I have to try and squeeze one in soon!

Sep 28, 2010, 8:48pm


I'm thinking of you and hope your week is better than the one you experienced last week.


Sep 28, 2010, 9:00pm

Hi Richard, finally you read a Montalbano book, I'm up to book 8 and love them. I love the tv series as well, though of course, it isn't shown here so I have to hunt down a dvd library that has the the later ones. They're my guilty pleasure reads and I try to space them out, I was so glad to find them after Ian Rankin retired DI Rebus over in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. I'll join you in Sicily whenever, if ever!

Sep 28, 2010, 9:25pm

I want to come to Sicily too, for many reasons. Fabulous review Richard. Caro didn't snag me but you, yes, you did.

Sep 28, 2010, 9:26pm

I already own The Shape of Water so I am dodging that particular book bullet. Nice review as usual, Richard.

BTW - Time for a new thread :)

Sep 28, 2010, 9:47pm

A friend of mine persuaded me to give this series a try -- the first book has just arrived, and I must give it a try. She and her husband were in Sicily this year and are now working on organizing a series of food-themed/Montalbano-themed tours of the island (she's a wine expert) and are even thinking of moving there. (She's Belgian/Dutch/French; he is Polish and while they live in Canada, they have the EU citizenship that permits them to do this. Pshaw.)

Sep 28, 2010, 10:18pm

As I have been reminded, it's new thread time.

>245 phebj: Thanks, Pat!

>246 mckait: Ooo ooo ooo! Are my stink bugs coming at last?!?

>247 LauraBrook: Laura, to quote my cryptodaughter Luxx: "Resistance is futile."

>248 mckait: Yes you will. Otherwise there will be stink bugs in your car every morning, and Barb will buy the house where the deaf people live.

>249 msf59: Thanks, Mark! This is a series I can really, really enjoy.

>250 Whisper1: You are an angel flower, Linda. *smooch*

>251 avatiakh: OMG Kerry, I can't imagine you would not really, really enjoy these characters! As for Sicily, what say to May in Agrigento?

>252 brenzi: C'mon! Let's all go! It can be Three Pines Sicilianu!

>253 alcottacre: Since eyes fourteen through seventeen were frowning at me, I have complied.

>254 Chatterbox: Suzanne, we need to cultivate them as LTers...and get them to open a B&B...and offer STEEP discounts!

Sep 28, 2010, 11:26pm

Ciao Ricardo!

This Italian broad LOVES Montalbano and I too have been royally p***ed that the TV series in not available in the states (nor is Donna Leon's Brunetti series). Camilleri gives us a real man with an insouciant Sicilian attitude toward everything, that you just gotta love. You will love the next ones in the series. Keep them for when you need a good Italian soap opera cum crime investigation....

Now if I could just convince the author of my latest ER book The Confirmation by Ralph Reed, that THERE IS NO "J" in the Italian alphabet and that there is no such word as BonJourno in either Italian or French, then I might be able to look more favorably on this piece of father, my grandfather and my 7 Italian uncles are all turning over in their graves!!

Edited: Sep 29, 2010, 8:21am

Hello Richarddear - as promised, here I am visiting your thread. To get caught up I really need to read from message 46 to message 243 because you kindly linked me up to message 244. I'll try to catch up fully at work today in between meetings with Indians from India about implementing SAP financials, stripping a database of one company's data to set it up for another company's data, giving the new plant controller an overview of our business systems and showing him the financial software, and working the Washington Post's megasudoku MegaSudoku

I love your review and am going to search out the book. As if I don't already have more than enough books tagged tbr (1,071) I'll have to find, add, and read this one. You wretch.

2:15 a.m. Sigh. I hate insomnia and it's too late to take drugs - I have to be up at 6. But the yawns are coming more frequently and I just might be able to go back to sleep soon.

XO Horrible

edited to fix the megasudoku link

Sep 29, 2010, 5:54am

Book 8?!?!?!?

Glad you liked the book. I am not going to get tangled in another series though. Too much for me right now.

Sep 29, 2010, 6:06am

>256 tututhefirst: There is, of course, a new with a sad, platry few posts in it...that we can use...but I have to comment that "BonJourno" is the sort of amateur mistake that makes me put a book down and refuse to pick it up again. That you're persisting is a sign of your saintly Italian nature.

I hate to make a bad thing worse, but the Montalbano TV series *is* available in the US, and is being broadcast on PBS's World digital channel. In some markets. Only some. *wailing and gnashing of teeth* Why not OURS?!?!

>257 karenmarie: *evil Muttley laugh* Ah, Horrible, ain't it a bear when someone whose taste you trust turns you on to a long-lived, ongoing mystery series? Hmmm? Oh, like, I don't know, Rutledge and Hamish?

But these are very different. They aren't as dark or as angushingly involving, because Montalbano's such a different, more devil-may-care sleuth. I suspect you'll really enjoy them.

>258 mckait: Okay.

Sep 29, 2010, 9:45am

I have the first Montalbano book on my shelves but haven't read it yet...glad to know you enjoyed it! :)

Sep 30, 2010, 7:22am

I feel like I must be quite odd (no s*** Sherlock!). I've read the first three of the Montalbano series and find the OK but nothing to rave about. I prefer the Donna Leon's Camilleri series. I certainly seem to be in a minority.

Oct 1, 2010, 2:43pm

Just chipping in to say that I also love Camilleri's Montalbano series. I also love Sicily, and I think a Montalbano-themed tour would do extremely well. I'm fairly sure it's not much more expensive from the US than cruising to Alaska......

Edited: Oct 1, 2010, 3:18pm

Richard, do you need some Thread Police intervention here?

Oct 1, 2010, 3:24pm

Did Padre fail to link the next thread?

I'm pretty sure I just caught grief for doing the same thing...

Oct 1, 2010, 3:46pm

Richard linked to his new thread in post 255, but he did it at the beginning of the post right before responding to lots of people, so it's easy to miss.

Oct 1, 2010, 8:29pm

Heavens! A dead thread resurrected! And Luxx...this is fuel for your Dracula paper.