Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brains and Tails

Internet awesomeness knows no boundaries.

And here's a picture of lemurs in the Bronx Zoo. I love the Bronx Zoo. I actually didn't realize how easy it is to get there by train. My childhood memories were colored with very very long hikes in hot weather, which now appears to be an exaggeration. The Madagascar exhibit is very worthwhile, as it contains lemurs. Yay, lemurs!

Also, I like to encourage a positive attitude whenever possible. Boom da yada!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome, Angry Bear Readers

I promise, no more economics, politics or ascerbic commentary here. Well, maybe a little bit.

And Happy Belated Talk Like a Pirate Day:
Arrr! Nationalize the banks, ye scurvy dogs! Hoist the stockprrrices! Aye, we'll be makin' the shorrt sellers walk the plank!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Finished "The Singing Sands," Josephine Tey. Love. Need to read/reread all other Tey.

Finished "Lud-in-the-Mist," Hope Mirrlees. What an odd little fantasy novel! The writing is wonderfully approachable, even when it goes off into wild flights of descriptive fancy of the weather or flowers or the characters. The style very much follows convention of the time of Tell Don't Show, but I found it delightful nevertheless. I have little to add to Michael Swanwick's excellent analysis, but that I wish more modern fantasists would take heed of her lesson and follow unconventional models in world building.

Finished "Soon I Will Be Invincible," Austin Grossman. This book is prominently displayed in many B&N and Borders. BUY IT. The casual asides that tear asunder the tropes of comic book villainy and after page that demand to be read does not matter whether you know or even like comic books. If you've ever seen a Superman or Batman or Spider-Man movie, you will love this book. Seriously.

Finished "Black Powder War" and "Empire of Ivory" by Naomi Novik. Nice dragons, babe. I do like Temeraire. He's like a large precocious child challenging everything his human companions hold dear, and yet they learn nothing at all. And will Laurence for heaven's sake please finally quit acting on his pre-judgements as they are always wrong? He's always wrong but so damned pleasant about it that Temeraire still hasn't eaten him. Maybe in book 5???

Currently reading: The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Spouse found this book used, and because it involves chess he had to have it. On his recommendation I began it. I am hooked. Hook-ed, like a fish. It's extremely Euro in style, and I have no idea if the translation is any good but I really like the descriptions of art and the way the characters interact. The author's other novels sound interesting but I doubt I'll get to them any time soon.

Besides, I have lots and lots of knitting to do. Lots and lots. Before Christmas. Gotta go.

Rheingau 2005 Pinot Noir Edition Maximillian

Our friends poured us this wine, and after we sipped and said "Nice! Very nice!" they said they bought it at Trader Joes for about $6, and oh by the way it's German. As one of these friends grew up with a family Rhiesling vineyard in Germany, he knows a thing or two. Not only is this pinot noir very nice to drink compared to most red wines in this price range, as he said, "for a German red wine it's amazing you can drink it at all!"

While it's not successful as a pinot noir compared to highfalutin' pinot noirs that go for $25 or more, it certainly beats every other bottle I've had in the $15 or less range. There is nothing complicated about this wine. It has no tannins whatsoever. It's rich, sweet, grapey and at 11.5% alcohol very very easy to drink. Very very very easy. Yum.

Channeling Fafblog

Spouse: So, now that we own AIG Insurance, what shall we do with it?
Me: I dunno. Eliminate any dress code, first? Install day care programs at each office? Take junk food out of the vending machines?
Spouse: Do you think we ought to have them sell health insurance?
Me: No, we should encourage them to be better at selling their existing insurance products first.
Spouse: You mean we should let them keep insuring bad financial deals??
Me: Well, someone has to do it.
Spouse: Regardless, I think the bailout bill has to include executions of the executives.
Me: Good idea! Public beheadings, I think.
Spouse: That can be a bit messy. Hanging is very efficient.
Me: Yes, but you need lots of rope and a skilled hangman. A block and axe is simpler.
Spouse: The public square area at the corner of Wall and Broad, between the Stock Exchange and JP Morgan Building would be perfect. Leave them all hanging as an example. The pigeons will peck out their eyes.
Me: Pigeons and seagulls. Remember the olde English reserved the block and axe for royalty. Everyone else was strung up on a gibbet. So the top-level executives get the axe, everyone else dangles.
Spouse: Pigeons and the peregrine falcons, too.
Me: And the heads can go on pikes, like Oliver Cromwell's.
Spouse: You're right!
Me: So which of us was the Medium Lobster?
Spouse: I think you were, and I was Giblets.
Me: Me? I thought I was Fafnir.
Spouse: You were Fafnir all along.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cyclopogon lindleyanum

What a cutie this is! A miniature terrestrial "painted orchid" with pretty striped leaves (though this clone is nothing to compete with its Sarcoglottis neighbor in the pic).

Cyclopogon lindleyanum (or maybe C. lindleyanus? Google both and see which you prefer) is from Colombia and Ecuador. My friend who gifted me a potful keeps it in active growth year-round in moderate shade (about the same light as Ludisia), plenty of water, warm temperatures; his conditions include a cool period in spring and fall when he brings the plants in/out of the house. His assertion that it grows like a weed and flowers any time a growth matures might be justified by his having five large potfuls of it all grown from 1 he got just a couple of years ago.

I love love love the teeny flowers. So cute. And look how many buds remain unopened on that spike!

Several orchid nurseries offer 'Silver Screen' CHM/AOS which has very pretty striped silver leaves. I have hopes my clump will become prettier being kept under lights...slugbait likely does nothing for its beauty.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Josephine Tey, she Rocketh

Add "The Singing Sands" to the Just Completed booklist. This novel was published posthumously, so it was the last Inspector Alan Grant story.

I read half the book aloud to Spouse, both of us delighting in the lively dyspeptic prose, its ascerbic assessments of Scots, Englishmen and the world in general. Nothing very much happens, there is hardly any action other than people going back and forth in cars or boats, people going fishing or talking to one another. Nevertheless it is a true page-turner. 200 pages. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but I wonder if Tey hadn't a chance to rework it before her death. The tantalizing glimpse of Grant's future is left to our imaginations.

I'm seriously annoyed I can't find my copy of "Daughter of Time" as it remains a shining example of how to make scholarship and history enjoyable. My parents had the paperback but I read it only after having to read "The Franchise Affair" in high school English (god yes Hunter was a very strange school). Meanwhile "Brat Farrar" is on the shelf awaiting its turn. (On the bright side, digging through the 2 paperback bookcases looking for "DoT" turned up about 20 paperbacks we no longer needed or somehow had 2 copies of despite our frequent doubles-purges. Scary but not suprising how many doubles books we really had when blending our collections. How we ended up with triples of the Journal of Irreproducable Results is however a mystery.)

Domaine des Cassagnoles white wine

Domaine des Cassagnoles 2007, Vin du Pays des Cotes de Gascogne.

Nice for a late-summer sushi dinner. Fragrant of lemons, reminiscent of a nice minerally suav blanc. I noticed a lemon/lime zest finish. Crisp. Dry. Yummy. A very likeable wine overall, perfect for seafood or salad, light cheeses and fruit, or even sipping. And a screw-top to boot. And I paid only $11 for it. Happy.