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Christmas gift ideas, part 1

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Front cover of book Cancergiggles

Cass Brown over at cancergiggles has long been on many a blogroll but it’s difficult to recommend blogs to non bloggers because, well, you know how it goes: “So tell me again, what exactly is a blog?”

Enter Mountains are easy. All they need to know is that the book is full of Cass’ wonderful, inspirational humour – well go read what others have to say.

You’ve just got time to order in time for Christmas.

Go on, scoot!

I’m as tired as a very tired thing

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

I’m sure I’ve linked to this in the dim and distant past but here it is again because it’s a hoot: Worst analogies ever written in a high school essay.

A couple to tempt you:

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
Gary F. Hevel, Silver Spring

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
Chuck Smith, Woodbridge

Thanks to Baldrick for the title quote.

Monday, November 21st, 2005

I might have linked to Longmire before but I’ve just been enjoying the site all over again so here is Longmire Does Romance, Naughty submissions from readers and more reader submissions.

If you liked those then you’ll also enjoy Cap’n Wacky’s Unfortunate Cards.

And finally… David Shrigley‘s photos would normally come in a photography post but I think you’ll agree that it sits happily alongside the two previous links.

From Messina to Bournemouth

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Did anyone see David (Cold Feet) Nicholls’ adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing last night? Hugely enjoyable and much recommended if you can catch a repeat. I almost didn’t watch it, I was busy on other things and planned to watch the wonderful Brannagh version at the weekend (again). But the updated setting and punchy one liners (just as they’re about to go on air Beatrice mutters that Benedick “puts the w into anchorman”) really worked and I was hooked. Shame then, that I hadn’t factored in a bathroom break and by the time the 90 minutes was up I had to hobble cross-legged up the stairs.

Still to come in this series of four 90 minute dramas are The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

One Lone Star

Monday, October 24th, 2005

When Time magazine published its list of 100 Best Books in the English language ( from 1993 to the present day), who would have thought to scour Amazon reviews looking for alternative reactions from the great unwashed public? Matthew Baldwin (of Defective Yeti fame) did just that over at The Morning News in an article called Lone Star Statements. Simple but brilliant.

It’s hard to pick a favourite but here are two that had me laughing out loud.

On The Lord of the Rings (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien:

“The book is not readable because of the overuse of adverbs.”

On The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S. Lewis:

“I bought these books to have something nice to read to my grandkids. I had to stop, however, because the books are nothing more than advertisements for “Turkish Delight,” a candy popular in the U.K. The whole point of buying books for my grandkids was to give them a break from advertising, and here (throughout) are ads for this “Turkish Delight”! How much money is this Mr. Lewis getting from the Cadbury’s chocolate company anyway? This man must be laughing to the bank.”

[Thanks to Adrian]

Gently does it

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Isn’t it funny how awkward it is to get back in the swing of blogging after a break? I’ve been sitting here with oodles of links to share but unable to string a sentence together. Best thing is to just dive right in so here goes.

Andrea continues to post a lovely mix of geekery and literary (geeklit?) such as this poem by Yehuda Amichai, translated from the Hebrew by Chana Bloch.

Anan and her fellow authors are writing up a storm over at ode.a-blog while Jo has picked up Blackbird’s meme “show and tell” and posted pictures of bookcases throughout the house. Don’t you just love seeing photos of books like this? Which reminds me of this useful little tool, the single sheet cutter.

Jo has also introduced me to the music of Amos Lee so I’m busy shuffling things in and out of my Amazon shopping basket in order to include it while I spend the remainder of my birthday vouchers.

I’m half tempted to ask for a refund – once again they appear to have lost a shipment. I ordered a book on 6 April that was despatchable “in 24 hours”. I chose super saver to save on postage so it should have been here by the 11th at the latest. I finally got round to ringing them today (well, yesterday, the 18th) only to be told that “if it doesn’t arrive by Wednesday give us a ring back and we’ll chase it.” Excuse me? I used to love getting Amazon vouchers but lately their prices have been going up (each time I check my shopping basket I get notification that at least one of the stored items have shot up in price) and customer service has gone downhill. It’s not the love-fest it used to be.

By the way, if you need the closely guarded secret that is the Amazon customer services number for the UK it’s 0800 279 6620 (open from 08:00 to 18:00).

And besides, who needs books when you have hugely funny posts like this from Mary? Or rebelling against the hokey-pokey from Celia? Or any of Mark’s wierdly wonderful offerings? Then of course there’s Harriet’s deeply satisfying snippets of London life and Briggy’s wonderful writing (and a yummy redesign!).

You want more? How about Drew, readjusting to the move from New Zealand back to London?

You know, ‘twould be quicker if I just pointed you in the direction of the sidebar. Have fun.

Another book meme

Monday, March 28th, 2005

More passing the buck baton – a meme from SB on books (scroll down to see her choices).

You’re stuck inside Fahr enheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I’ve not yet read Fahrenheit 451 but SB (helpfullly) writes that folks in this story memorized books to save them (to save the books) from the fire; they became the book they memorized.

Hmm. First thought was Pollyanna but to be honest, I think being or having a full time Pollyanna in your life would be bloody infuriating, much as the world might need one right now. So I’ll go for Jane Eyre. Even though the first part of her life is no picnic, once the nasty business is over and done with I imagine that she and Rochester would live a very happy and contented life.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
A crush? No. But I’d adopt Donald Zinkoff in a heartbeat.

The last book you bought is:
A Sweet Obscurity, Patrick Gale. Our local Ottakers bookstore is selling them at 99p as a “taster” to his other work. The theory is that you buy this one cheaply and come storming back for everything else he’s written. Sounds like a good plan. Will let you know.

The last book you read:
House with a Past, John Courage. Sadly out of print now and I treasure my copy (ex library stock). To be honest, it’s not that well written (too many exclamation marks! and the ending is crammed into two pages where the villians recap their evil deeds to the victims before killing them, as if the reader hasn’t guessed it all by now) so I can’t quite explain my attachment to it. Maybe because it reminds me a little of something Nevil Shute might have written, or perhaps because it was one of the first grown-up, hardback books I ever bought second hand.

What are you currently reading?
Cascading Style Sheets: The Designer’s Edge, Molly E. Holzschlag . Brilliant. Except for the title. I’m sure designers can learn css from it too but it’s extremely well written and suitable for the non designers among us. I wonder if the title puts people off?

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
I read fiction very quickly so the list would have to be books I know I love and can reread at the drop of a hat.
House with a Past, John Courage (out of print)
A Clergyman’s Daughter, George Orwell
[something] by Bill Bryson
Book 4 to be added
Book 5 to be added

Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?
Anyone who hasn’t yet completed it? But especiallly Huwge (when he’s back), Nancy (because we’ve been having an email exchange recently, exclaiming at the similarities in our personalities so I’m keen to hear her selection), Leah [for obvious reasons], Mary, Donna, Neil and lovely Briggy because they’ll all have great answers.

But feel free to join in!

Bill Bryson

Thursday, March 10th, 2005

Tonight at 18:30 BST (about 40 minutes from the time of this post), Bill Bryson will be discussing his book A Short History of Nearly Everything.

If you miss the live broadcast you’ll be able to see it via the archives, along with talks by Jared Diamond, David Attenborough et al.

I say tomato

Friday, February 18th, 2005

It occurred to me earlier to wonder again why fringes are called fringes in the UK but bangs in the US.

The Word Detective has this to say:

… “Bang” continued to evolve, and by the 19th century was used to convey suddenness or finality, which brings us at last from Old Norse hammers to modern haircuts. “Bangs” are so-called because they are created by cutting the hair “bang- off,” abruptly and straight across the forehead. And finally, at the risk of offending our bang-coiffed readers, I must tell you that “bangs” as a young lady’s hairstyle almost certainly originated with the practice of cutting horses’ tails straight across, a style known to this day as a “bang-tail.”

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10 books by the same author

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Another meme while I work on my apathy issues – I still care what’s happening in the world, just having a hard time getting my head round some of the crap that’s happening in this country lately.

Anyway, this one’s from both Billy and e. I realise that it reveals a compulsive side to my nature (if I like a book I have to read everything the author has produced) and I would love to add a second list of “authors I’ve read everything of, even if they’ve written less than 10 books” but this’ll do for now.
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