Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blogging Around: Two Tributes to Mother Angelica

I was never much interested in EWTN, as I've mentioned, though I knew it did untold good. Likewise, I was never really drawn to Mother Angelica, the nun who founded EWTN, although I did read and enjoy a book or two of hers soon after I entered the Church.

Therefore, I was interested and pleased to read these heartfelt tributes from people in whose life she made a big difference. It brings me closer to what she accomplished for Christ.

Foolish Enough to Achieve What She Was Not Qualified to Do

I even remember the first episode of Mother Angelica Live that I watched where she had Fr. Groeschel on as a guest talking about his book “In the Presence of Our Lord”. Now if Mother Angelica’s appearance caught me by surprised originally, the same could be said for Fr. Benedict Groeschel. In this day and age? The banter between them quite amused me. Wow these odd looking Catholics can be pretty funny. His book was the first Catholic book I purchased.
Jeff Miller (The Curt Jester) gives a wonderful view of the paths through which Mother Angelica led him to a deeper Catholic faith.

How the ‘Pirate Nun’ Changed a Gay Man’s Life

“So (Jeff) comes in, and I’m laughing mockingly at this nun with a patch over her eye, a distorted face … and a complete old-fashioned habit,” Darrow said. “We both mocked her and laughed at her — you know, ‘Gosh, these crazy Christians.’”

Jeff left the room and Darrow was about to change the channel, when Mother Angelica “said something so intelligent, so real and so honest that it really struck me,” he said.

“You see, God created you and I to be happy in this life and the next,” Mother Angelica said through slumped lips, her good eye still twinkling behind her glasses.

Mother Angelica’s words struck a chord with Darrow that day, and he found himself secretively snatching glimpses of her episodes every chance he got: “He cares for you. He watches your every move. There’s no one that loves you that can do that.”
Jeff Darrow, a same-sex attracted man tells how he saw Mother Angelica (complete with eye patch after a stroke) and it changed his life. Via The Curt Jester.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Too Late for an Autopsy - I talk about books with Jenny at Reading Envy

I haven't talked books with Jenny at her Reading Envy podcast since episode 3. This week I was again her guest, on episode 55! Yes, it has been several years since the last time.

Maybe that's why the list of extra books mentioned is so long. Or it could simply be that I can't help peppering people with lots and lots of book ideas.

Join us to see what we've both been reading lately. Reading Envy, episode 55.

Tom Hiddleston and Stephen Colbert See the Light

I was already interested in seeing I Saw the Light, the Hank Williams biopic, though I did wonder how Tom Hiddleston could possibly pull off the role. I liked both the insights and the brief music sample from this clip.

Monday, March 28, 2016

An Easter Weekend Story American Media Isn't Mentioning

I was shocked and saddened to see the story of terrorists bombing a park and playground in Pakistan because Christians are known to gather there on Easter. I know this might seem like a stupid reaction but I can't help thinking, "what is wrong with these people?"

I was equally shocked to read reports that the Indian priest kidnapped by ISIS linked terrorists was crucified on Good Friday. (Though those reports are currently unsubstantiated.) I've been praying for him and the report unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes.

Mother Angelica died on Easter and that news seems so appropriate. I've never paid much attention to EWTN but I know the huge contribution it made and the big impact that Mother Angelica has had on so many lives.

These are all stories you see floating around news aggregators and social media.

Here's one, though, that American media has all but ignored. As reported by GetReligion,
Coverage in British newspapers [as opposed to BBC broadcast] has been much more blunt. Consider the top paragraphs in The Telegraph, which jump straight to the religious details that make this crime so dramatic.
A popular shopkeeper was stabbed to death by another Muslim in a "religiously prejudiced" attack hours after posting an Easter message on Facebook to "my beloved Christian nation".

Asad Shah, 40, a devout Muslim originally from the Pakistani city of Rabwah, had his head stamped on during a savage attack, according to one eyewitness.

Around four hours earlier the victim wrote online: "Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation. "Let's follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds."

On Friday afternoon, police confirmed that a 32-year-old Muslim man had been arrested in connection with Mr Shah's death.
The victim had a history – in social media – of rejecting violence by radicalized Muslims and calling for peace and understanding between people of different faiths. His neighbors, of all faiths, immediately began raising funds to try to help his family.
My husband and I were just discussing this morning why more moderate Muslims weren't speaking up or otherwise helping to stop the radicalized terrorists. Of course, one answer was just the sad response that we see from the story above.

But I love that Mr. Shah didn't let that stop him, though the danger would be obvious. He is a real life hero. His courage deserves to be celebrated. Shame on American media for not even reporting the story.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Well Said: Christ and the Interesting Life

There is no need to fear that living in Christ and working for him would be consigning ourselves to a drab, colorless life. The life stories of the saints are a refutation of that worry. As a general rule, the saints who lived and worked for God are seen to have highly interesting lives. There is an ancient Latin phrase that runs: cui servire regnare est — to serve him is perfect freedom — a freedom, one might add, that is not devoid of joy.
Monsignor James Turro

Worth a Thousand Words: Fin

painted by James Neil Hollingsworth

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mother Teresa to be Canonized on Sept. 4

This was announced with the upcoming canonization of four other saints. Having just finished Dante's Paradiso, I can't help thinking of all of them using that imagery: as part of the Empyrean (the celestial rose formed by Mary and the saints as they gaze on the face of God in the center, with angels fluttering back and forth like bees).
...  the Holy Father announced the upcoming canonization of five new saints, including Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (née Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu), whose work among the “poorest of the poor” won her worldwide acclaim. Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, members of the religious order founded by Mother Teresa, are expected to be in Rome for her canonization, set for 4 September 2016.

From Poland, Blessed Stanisłaus of Jesus and Mary (né Jan Papczynski) was a member of the Piarist Order. After leaving the Piarists, Bd Stanisłaus founded the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Blessed Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden, a convert from Lutheranism, founded a new branch of Bridgettine sisters, dedicated to working and praying for the unity of Scandinavian Christians with the Church. She will be the first Swedish saint in more than 600 years.

The two northern Europeans will be canonized together on Sunday, 5 June, of this year.

The Holy Father also announced the canonization of Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario, from Pope Francis’ native Argentina, known as the “gaucho priest.” Like the famous Argentinian cattlemen, he travelled on a mule throughout the vast territory of his parish in order to be close to the members of his flock.

He will be canonized on 16 October 2016, along with Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río of Mexico. Blessed José was just fourteen-years-old when he was martyred by the Mexican government during the Cristeros War, after refusing to deny his Faith.

Worth a Thousand Words: October and November once more

October and November series
by Brian at the blue hour

The Holly is Alive with Bees!

Stock photography

Idly looking out the window on Sunday I saw a lot of gnats flitting around our holly bushes. When I got out there it turns out they were actually bees. So many bees, all busily going from blossom to blossom. Even the occasional wasp was in the crowd. They had a very different style though. Instead of quick canvassing, the wasps were slowly and methodically covering each blossom thoroughly before moving to another.

Now I'd never even noticed the holly bushes had blossoms. They are tiny and nondescript to our eyes. But they have a heavenly scent. I'd wondered for years what was giving off  that scent as I'd go into our office or front yard. As I said, the blossoms are so nondescript that I never noticed them before.

When I walked onto our porch after bee watching I was hit with the scent which had accumulated under our eaves. Directly sniffing the blossoms (at my own risk from busy bees) yielded nothing. The scent had to gather, it seemed.

These holly bushes suddenly took on extra value. I'd always liked that they provided berries for sparrows, cardinals, and robins in late winter. I also appreciated that squirrels and small birds liked hiding in them. Now I could see they perfume the air and feed the bees!

It makes me look at those prickly leaves much more forgivingly. Once again, there is so much that we think we know all about but which has hidden dimensions, if only we open our eyes and see. (Or noses and sniff. Take your pick!)

Ours are Burford Holly bushes which you may read about here.

Well Said: The flavor of scripture

To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.
Saint John Chrysostom

Monday, March 14, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Margin O

A face drawn inside the O on the title page
of Rye House Plot Trials, 1683-4.
Via Letterology

Well Said: Because of a Presence ...

"But a very little while" and a change we could never imagine will happen. The lowly will find joy and the poor will rejoice. Why? Because of a Presence that even a blind man can sense. "Have pity on us!" The Lord Jesus took compassion on us in order that he might call us to himself and not scare us away. He comes as someone gentle, someone humble.
Saint Ambrose

Beginning on Forgotten Classics: Talents Incorporated by Murray Leinster

Now beginning on Forgotten Classics: Talents Incorporated by Murray Leinster.

This is a light-hearted story about planetary invasion and misfits with oddball paranormal talents. Can Talents Incorporated information save Kandar from bloodthirsty conquest? You can depend on it!

When Watson Met Mary: The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Jesse, Maissa, and I discuss the second of the Sherlock Holmes novels, one with unexpectedly exotic story lines, on SFFaudio.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Let Sleeping Swine Lie

James Ward, The head and front leg of a sleeping swine

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Slow Horses (Slough House, #1)Slow Horses by Mick Herron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Slow Horses builds from the idea that the punishment for spies who have failed at their jobs is to send them to Slough House where they do paperwork. The idea is logical but humorous at the same time. They spend all their time longing to get back in the field.

When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, everyone from Slough House is intensely interested. Then they realize that they will simply be part of the viewing public since they aren't really spies anymore. Except, of course, that wouldn't make much of a story. River Cartwright sees this as an opportunity to redeem himself and soon the rest of the Slow Horses are pulled into the effort.

My favorite character was the Slough House boss, Jackson Lamb, who makes sure his crew knows they are mediocre, doesn't care a flip for them, and yet commands their respect because they all know he was a big field agent back in the day. His sardonic comments never failed to crack me up.

This was simply terrific. The humor is understated, the writing evokes London wonderfully, the plot twists like a pretzel but never loses you, and the suspense ratchets up so that by the end I was simply longing to see villains get their comeuppance.

I listened to Sean Barrett's reading, which was simply wonderful.

Well Said: Fighting error

Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.
St. John Cantius

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: October and November

October and November series
by Brian at the blue hour

Well Said: Criticism and Authors

In a recent criticism on this position I saw it remarked that all this is reading into Dickens something that he did not mean; and I have been told that it would have greatly surprised Dickens to be informed that he "went down the broad road of the Revolution." Of course it would. Criticism does not exist to say about authors the things that they knew themselves. It exists to say the things about them which they did not know themselves.

G.K. Chesterton, Appreciations and Criticisms

of the Works of Charles Dickens

This Just In: When You Suffer by Jeff Cavins

When You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and UnderstandingWhen You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and Understanding by Jeff Cavins
When You Suffer is a refreshing look at the mystery of pain and suffering and how to find meaning and even joy in the midst of it. Jeff Cavins discusses why we suffer and how our suffering can draw us closer to God. He explains that suffering is the greatest opportunity to love as Christ loves and how, by “offering up” our suffering, we join in Christ’s mission to redeem the world.
Lent does seem like the perfect time to read this book, especially as we draw closer to Holy Week. Reading a book about suffering, though, isn't normally my cup of tea. But all it took was the first chapter for me to change my mind.

By comparing an ideal day to a real day, Cavins reminded me that suffering often isn't on the grand scale of experiencing an earthquake. Plenty of small things add up to suffering in everyday life. None of us escape it. He uses that as a springboard to compare the classical idea of happiness (living as a good person) to the modern idea (feeling good). From there he examines the different types of suffering (physical, moral, etc.)

Our "ideal day" isn't ever going to happen because real life is messier than our dreams. So how do we live real life with meaning and even joy?

That's just the first chapter but the stage is set for us to discover more. It's all written in a personable, practical way that is easy to understand.

I can't wait for the rest of the book but since I've got a tall "to read" stack ahead of this, I wanted to give you a heads up on this one.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: In the Artist's Studio

In the Artist’s Studio (1892). Frederik Vermehren (Danish, 1823-1910)
via Books and Art
What are they discussing? Is it a portrait of one of them? Of a loved one? Is the artist a protogé, despite his age?

Well Said: Jokes and Government

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
Will Rogers
I don't have to say why this never gets old, do I?

I Can't Wait to Read ...

These are far enough in the future that I can't get a Kindle sample, but I've been waiting and waiting and waiting ...

City of Strangers (Luis Chavez #2)
by Mark Wheaton

This one's so far in the future that they don't have a cover for it yet. Or a description. I'm not surprised since the first book, Fields of Wrath, just came out in January.

You might remember I loved that book for the tough, gritty mystery and the nuanced look at priests. I especially loved Father Chavez. I'm really hoping this book upholds the promise of the first!

Poisonfeather (The Gibson Vaughn Series Book 2)
by Matthew FitzSimmons

Another one so far in the future that there's no cover. Since I wrote last week about new, fun books I had on tap, I actually read one - The Short Drop, which was FitzSimmons' first book. I found it a tightly written, suspenseful book and really enjoyed it. So naturally I want more!

From behind bars, a disgraced Wall Street financier has arrogantly hinted at the existence of a stolen fortune that by all rights should not exist. But if it does, Gibson Vaughn has vowed to return the money to its rightful owners. He’ll have to stay one step ahead of a horde of ruthless rivals who also have claims on the fortune. And behind it all lies Poisonfeather, a secret that just might get Gibson killed—or worse.

Sixth Watch (Night Watch)
by Sergei Lukyanenko

I thought we were done! New Watch was supposed to be the end of the series. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

"the Prophets have all reached the same chilling conclusion: The world will end in five days’ time. To ward off the apocalypse, an ancient council called the Sixth Watch must be assembled. After both Light and Darkness select their emissaries, Anton must enlist the unwilling aid of the four other Great Parties: the Vampires, the Witches, the Form-Takers, and the enigmatic Foundation. "

Tried by Fire: The Story of Christianity's First Thousand Years
by William J. Bennett

I loved Bennett's "American: The Last Best Hope" so much. It was rare to find an even-handed history, praised by conservatives and liberals alike, which was thorough but didn't bog me down with so many facts I couldn't keep track of the story. Fingers crossed, this history of Christianity does the same!

"the riveting lives of saints and sinners, paupers and kings, merchants and monks who together—and against all odds—changed the world forever. ... Challenged by official persecution, heresy, and schism, they held steadfast to the truth of Christ. Strengthened by poets, preachers, and theologians, they advanced in devotion and love."

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
by Rosamund Hodge

You know how much I loved Hodge's first two books, Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound. She's got a real talent for evoking a familiar story but telling us something completely original. This one uses Romeo and Juliet as a springboard and I really can't wait to see where it takes us!

"When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die."

The Hanging Tree
by Ben Aaronovitch

I discovered this series last year which pulled me back into urban fantasy, something I thought was impossible. Peter Grant is a young constable who doubles as apprentice to Inspector Nightingale, England's last wizard. I know, it sounds quite typical. It isn't though. Aaronovitch gives us a fresh look at London as well as urban fantasy.

"The Hanging Tree was the Tyburn gallows which stood where Marble Arch stands today. Oxford Street was the last trip of the condemned. Somethings don't change. The place has a bloody and haunted legacy and now blood has returned to the empty Mayfair mansions of the world's super-rich. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Tom Hardy Reads

Tom Hardy Reads
via Awesome People Reading

Lagniappe: Holmes the busybody!

"I know you, you scoundrel! I have heard of you before. You are Holmes the meddler."

My friend smiled.

"Holmes the busybody!"

His smile broadened.

"Holmes the Scotland Yard jack-in-office."

Holmes chuckled heartily. "Your conversation is most entertaining," said he.
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
That story is in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I've begun rereading for an upcoming episode of A Good Story is Hard to Find. I love these stories so much!

Julie shot her iPod. Scott burned his socks.

Neither was able to get Father Job to like them. Stoke the fire before watching Ostrov (The Island, 2006)! Then listen to our discussion at episode 128 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Well Said: Words are charged with power

To a Jew a word was not merely a sound; it did things. As Dr. John Paterson puts it in The Book That is Alive: "The spoken word in Hebrew was fearfully alive. It was not merely a vocable or sound dropped heedlessly from unthinking lips. It was a unit of energy charged with power. It is energized for weal or for woe."
William Barclay,
The Revelation of John, vol. 2
This concept is one I knew but that "unit of energy charged with power" has rung in my brain since I read it. We know this deep in our bones. It's why we get so hurt and strike back if someone insults us. It's why this political year is so charged and so many people seem to be angry and ready to take offense. We aren't guarding our tongues, our words, our power, enough.

A Movie You Might Have Missed #53 : Meet the Patels

Mom: She lives in India. She’s a bit heavy but has a Master’s in engineering. 

Ravi: So she’s overweight and an engineer and an Indian. That’s not the best pitch, Mom.

#53. Meet the Patels (doc.)

Ravi Patel is a first generation Indian-American. After a failed relationship he realizes that his ideal bride would be an Indian raised in the U.S. since he was too. But he has trouble finding such women. His mother is overjoyed to help since she's a famous matchmaker who has been frustrated because her own children won't accept her help. Filmed by his sister, Geeta, Ravi spends a year trying to find love in traditional Indian style.

A lot of reviewers have called this predictable and in one sense it is. We have a feeling that we know who Ravi will wind up with the entire time.

However, there are a lot of other threads combined in the year of matchmaking Indian style. It is those threads that provide more depth than simply who Ravi will like enough to marry.

Vignettes give context for cultural views of marriage, whether of older Indian couples talking about how their marriages were arranged or of young married couples containing either one or both Indian spouses. The comments that both Geeta and their parents drop throughout the filming combine to become a reflection on the importance family and attachment to culture plays, especially in immigrant families.

It was fascinating watching everyone struggle to adapt their native culture to that of their adopted American homeland. For instance one wonders how the Patel parents felt as they adapted the standard Indian matchmaking process in an effort to meet their American son halfway. We also see how this struggle makes Ravi look more deeply at his own life.

This is an amusing, light piece, but one that is also heartwarming and genuine, with insights to share beyond what you might expect.

Worth a Thousand Words: Smallest Owl in Europe

Smallest Owl in Europe
taken by Remo Savisaar

Friday, March 4, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Corn in the Sun

Corn in the sun, Jose Malhoa

Lagniappe: The Sex Life of Corn

Next time you pull a piece of silk from between your teeth while you're eating a fresh ear of corn, remember that you've just spat our a fallopian tube. Corn has a curious anatomy: the tassel at the top of the plant is the male flower; when mature, it produces two million to five million grains of pollen. The wind picks up those grains and moves them around.

The ear of corn is actually a cluster of female flowers. A young ear contains about a thousand ovules, each of which could become a kernel. Those ovules produce "silks" that run to the tip of the ear. If one of them catches a grain of pollen, the pollen will germinate and produce a tube that runs down the silk to the kernel. There the egg and pollen grain will meet at last. Once fertilized, that egg will swell into a plump kernel, which represents the next generation—or a bottle of bourbon, depending on your perspective.
Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist
Okaaaaay. That next ear of corn is going to feel a little different when I eat it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Poppies

Henri Fantin-Latour, Poppies, 1891
via Arts Everyday Living

On My Kindle - fun, new stuff

Just last week I was wondering why the only interesting fiction I could find was all from the turn of the century. And not the recent turn of the century.

I love Rafael Sabatini, Edgar Wallace, and H. Rider Haggard, but eventually you want something that's new.

Suddenly I've got new books out the wazoo. Now Lent is kicking in with a vengeance because my "add on" was to finish half-read books and read books that have been pressed on me, "you'll love this!" Not to mention book club and podcast obligations. Believe me, I'm reading as fast as I can!

I want to get to these books now! Here's a quick look see in case any of them hit you just right.

The Brotherhood of the Wheel
by R.S. Belcher

"... a small offshoot of the Templars endure and have returned to the order's original mission: to defend the roads of the world and guard those who travel on them.

Theirs is a secret line of knights: truckers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers, bus drivers, RV gypsies--any of the folks who live and work on the asphalt arteries of America. They call themselves the Brotherhood of the Wheel."

Knights Templar in big rigs? C'mon! This is begging me to read it!

I found this when looking for Bronson Pinchot's latest narrations on Audible. If I thought I could handle the violence or sex audibly, I'd definitely listen because Pinchot is superb. But I know I'll want to skim or skip those parts. So I chose this for my March book purchase (yes, I'm still trying to limit my book buying ... and mostly it works!)

I'VE READ IT: and can't recommend it.

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's)
by Jodi Taylor

"Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. ...

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process."

I'm fairly sure that when your mother tells you she's laughing continually at a really fun Daily Deal, you have to buy it. You know. For conversation. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Also, time travel. And humor. And super cheap. So that was a done deal.

Amends: A Novel
by Eve Tushnet

A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a troll. A conservative journalist woos a homeless Ethiopian visionary. A teen hockey star licks a human heart. And a collections agent pays some of his own oldest and saddest debts.

From backhanded compliments to accidental forgiveness, "Amends" proves that there's a place you can go when you've given up on reality: reality TV.

Not my usual thing. At all. Reading about alcoholics is dreary in the extreme (The Shining aside). But I was curious because it was Eve Tushnet and it was fiction. She certainly sticks the entry because the Kindle sample was enough to make me go for the whole enchilada. Also self-published and cheap for Kindle. Which were the final deal makers.  Via Brandywine Books.

The Short Drop
by Matthew FitzSimmons

A decade ago, fourteen-year-old Suzanne Lombard, the daughter of Benjamin Lombard—then a senator, now a powerful vice president running for the presidency—disappeared in the most sensational missing-person case in the nation’s history. Still unsolved, the mystery remains a national obsession.

For legendary hacker and marine Gibson Vaughn, the case is personal—Suzanne Lombard had been like a sister to him. On the tenth anniversary of her disappearance, the former head of Benjamin Lombard’s security asks for Gibson’s help in a covert investigation of the case, with new evidence in hand.

Mentioned by a friend who was reading it free with her Kindle read everything subscription (whatever that is called). Not having that, but tempted by the preview, it's my free March library choice for Kindle Prime.

I'VE READ IT: and liked it a lot.

by Eric James Stone

In the near future, a fluke of quantum mechanics renders Nat Morgan utterly forgettable. No one can remember he exists for more than a minute after he's gone. It's a useful ability for his career as a CIA agent, even if he has to keep reminding his boss that he exists.

Naturally there are complications beyond that brief description. This preview kept me coming back month after month until I finally gave in and got it. Imagine growing up when your mother forgets you if she leaves the room for more than a minute.

I really enjoyed his short story collection Rejiggering the Thingamajig which contained the incredible That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made. So I'm a fan.

Envy of Angels: A Sin du Jour
by Matt Wallace

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour - where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

Ok, this was just because I was in buying mode and it was one of the Daily Deals. But the preview looked fun, which seemed to be my main criteria. in this book spree.

Jennifer the Damned 
by Karen Ullo

When a sixteen-year-old orphan vampire adopted by an order of nuns matures into her immortal, blood-sucking glory, all hell literally breaks loose.

Ok, not on the Kindle but free because the author sent me a review copy. I'd had my eye on this one for a while.

A teenage vampire, adopted by nuns, who goes to Catholic school, and yearns for the chance to take Communion ... with many reviews at Amazon praising it as "literature, rich with vampire lore and intertwined with Catholic doctrine." Right down my alley.

Lagniappe: A Little Splash of Water

Do not be timid about adding ice or a splash of water to a drink. It does not water down the drink; it improves it. Water actually loosens the hold that alcohol has on aromatic molecules, which heightens rather than dilutes the flavor.
Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist
See, it isn't all just odd facts. Sometimes there's info that makes a difference in our lives. In mine anyway!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lagniappe: Lightning Pear

Pears also contain a nonfermentable sugar called sorbitol, which adds sweetness but has one drawback: for people with sensitive systems, it acts as a laxative. one popular English pear variety, Blakeney Red, is also called Lightning Pear for the way it shoots through the system. This quirk has earned cider pears yet another folk saying: "Perry goes down like velvet, round like thunder, and out like lightning."
Amy Steward, The Drunken Botanist

Worth a Thousand Words: Pear and Pond

Callery pear and pond in Mount Tado, Yōrō Mountains, Kuwana, Mie, Japan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lagniappe: Which apples did dinosaurs prefer?

The DNA of apples is more complex than ours; a recent sequencing of the Golden Delicious genome uncovered fifty-seven thousand genes, more than twice as many as the twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand that humans possess. Our own genetic diversity ensures that our children will all be somewhat unique—never an exact copy of their parents but bearing some resemblance to the rest of the family. Apples display "extreme heterozygosity," meaning that they produce offspring that look nothing like their parents. Plant an apple seed, wait a few decades, and you'll get a tree bearing fruit that looks and tastes entirely different from its parent. In fact, the fruit from one seedling will be, genetically speaking, unlike any other apple ever grown, at any time, anywhere in the world.

Now consider the fact that apples have been around for fifty million to sixty-five million years, emerging right around the time dinosaurs went extinct and primates made their first appearance. for millions of years, the trees reproduced without any human interference, combining and recombining those intricately complex genes the way a gambler rolls dice. When primates—and later, early humans‚encountered a new apple tree and bit into its fruit, they never knew what they were going to get.
Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist
I had no idea. Fascinating.

Worth a Thousand Words: Portrait with Apples

August Macke (1887–1914), Porträt mit Äpfeln