Letters of the Century:America 1900-1999

Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999Edited by Lisa Grunwald & Stephen J. Adler

Jason and I are reading this together in the evening before Gage goes to bed.  I think it’s a good thing that he hear us both reading aloud.  Usually just a letter or two, so it’s going to take a while to finish this 676 page chunkster. Instead of a review at the end I thought every month or so I’d post a letter that I liked.

July 19, 1901, Mark Twain to Edward Dimmit (this was a response to an invitation to attend Missouri’s 80th birthday celebration)

By an error in the plans, things go wrong end first in this world, and much precious time is lost and matters of urgent importance are fatally retarded.  Invitations which a brisk young fellow should get, and which would transport him with joy, are delayed and impeded and obstructed until they are fifty years overdue when they reach him.

It happened again in this case.

When I was a boy in Missouri I was always on the lookout for invitations but they always miscarried and went wandering through the aisles of time; and now they are arriving when I am old and rheumatic and can’t travel and must lose my chance.

I have lost a world of delight through this matter of delaying invitations.  Fifty years ago I would have gone eagerly across the world to help celebrate anything that might turn up.  It would have made no difference to me what it was, so that I was there and allowed a chance to make noise.

The whole scheme of things is turned wrong end to.  Life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages.  As things are now, when in youth  a dollar would bring a hundred pleasures, you can’t have it.  When you are old, you get it and there is nothing worth buying with it then.

It’s the epitome of life,  The first half of it consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.

I am admonished in many ways that time is pushing me inexorably along.  I am approaching the threshold of age; in 1977 I shall be 142.  This is not time to be flitting about the earth.  I must cease from the activities proper to youth and begin to take on the dignities and gravities and inertia proper to that season of honorable senility which is on its way and imminent as indicated above.

Yours is a great and memorable occasion, and as a son of Missouri I should hold it a high privilege to be there and share your just pride in the state’s achievements; but I must deny myself  the indulgence , while thanking you earnestly for the prized honor you have done me in asking me to be present.

Very truly yours,

S.L. Clemens

Animal Love Quiz – guessing closed

I love animals, but I don’t read many stories that focus on them, mainly because I think they’ll break my tender heart.  Let’s see how you all do in identifying these real life and fictional animals.  You can give me the animal’s name OR the title of the book for 6.5 points each.

You have until noon Saturday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round lasts til the end of March and the person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Good luck!

1. Marley, Marly & Me 2. Orson, A Good Dog 3. Georgia, Saddled 4. Dewey 5. Oogy  6. Rinn Tin Tin, Rin Tin Tin:The Life and the Legend  7. Merle, Merle’s Door  8. Miasy, Maisy’s Book of Things That Go  9. Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances  10. The Cat in the Hat  11. Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Doghouse  12. Curious George, A Treasury of Curious George  13. Babar, Babar Loses His Crown  14. Sounder  15. Clifford, Clifford’s First Easter  16. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Persuader, by Lee Child

Persuader (Jack Reacher Series #7)Finished 2-23-12, rating 4/5, thriller, 465 pages, pub. 2003

Book 7 in the Jack Reacher series (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5) (Book 6)

I don’t usually read a series the whole way through but after my last enjoyable outing with Reacher in Without Fail I just wanted a little more time with the studly renegade.

Jack sees a flash from the violent past as he’s walking down the street and is shocked enough to contact someone from his days in the military. His request for information sets off alarm bells in the FBI and Reacher is contacted for answers and then help.  He will be working off the books deep undercover for a drug kingpin and his family.

I love Reacher and his uncompromising view of the world.  He thinks bad things should happen to bad people and he doesn’t mind making those bad things happen, even permanently.  The body count in each book is fairly high and there’s usually a sexual conquest in each book.  I’ll be interested to see the total numbers for both when the series is over.  This wasn’t my favorite one, it was a little meandering, but I did like the flashbacks that allowed us to see Reacher in the military, before he became a lone wolf combing the country.

I think if you like the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford you’ll like this series too.

This book was from my personal library.

Words with Gage

Gage had a few words at 14 months and a few more at 15 months, Up, No, Uh-Oh, Pop and Wow being his go-to words.  Now he’s a big boy at 16 months and new words are coming more frequently.  His favorite word this month is That and he uses it ALL THE TIME.  The pointer comes out and he wants to know what everything is.  Sometimes it’s a blank wall and sometimes it’s the 15th time I’ve said sock that day.  Either way it’s nice to hear him use words even if we’re not exactly having a conversation.

So, what’s the danger of this explosion of new words?  Well, they aren’t exactly perfected quite yet and by far the most embarrassing is Gage’s love for clocks.  He tries to say it, he does say it, quite a bit.  Loudly and in public and without an important letter.  There’s no l in his clock yet and both Jason and I have had to laugh when people look at Gage as he yells his mispronounced word. I am sure they are asking themselves why we would use such language in front of our kid.

I know this is just the beginning of embarrassing things Gage will say and I’m looking forward to it.  Now that he’s repeating words I’m really going to have to watch what I say!

His other new words this week are Cracker, Cookie, and Dog.  But just today he started saying Ball with his friend, Brooke.

And he just said Car for Daddy. I wonder what his next word will be?

Regina Brett book signing winner and Words with Friends

Regina Brett is a local columnist for the The Cleveland Plain Dealer and a breast cancer survivor.  I’m not a regular Plain Dealer reader, but I have read some of her columns and really enjoyed them.   One man asked at the signing last week why she felt the need to write about every aspect of her life and she explained that it’s just the way she writes and it resonates with a lot of people, saying, “I can’t be anybody but Regina Brett.”  I like that.  In her last book, God Never Speaks, she shares some life lessons and my friend Molly is doing a wonderful series of posts on them.  If you check out Tuesday’s post you’ll see the most adorable picture of Sammy and Tedy.

I found Regina Brett full of energy with lots of enthusiasm for journalism and bookstores, both under fire and no one is sure what the future of either will be.  On her most cynical days she sees her job as “the best seat on the Titanic.”  Her new book, Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible, tells about everyday heroes that make a difference.  I loved the few stories that she shared and look forward to reading more.

So, who was the big winner of the signed book?  Gage chose Kathleen by picking her number out of his bowl.  For some reason I can’t find the pic right now (grr).  I’ll add it if I do.  Also, we had a second book signed for Molly since she is the one who made me think I would like this new book, which is all about everyday miracles.  So, Kathleen and Molly, Be the Miracle, is already on its way to you!!

Also, I don’t have this blog connected to my Facebook account for a few reasons and for a long while I thought I would keep Facebook for face to face friends only, but a few bloggers have snuck in there with requests.  Jason and I love playing Words With Friends and if you do too, please friend me so we can play 🙂  I look forward to some stiff competition!

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens

Still MissingFinished audio 2-17-12, rating 4/5, suspense, pub. 2010

Listened to this on a Playaway.  9 hours unabridged.  Read by Angela Dawe.

Annie is a real estate agent and after an open house she finds herself kidnapped by ‘the freak.”  She is held captive for over a year, repeatedly raped and forced to endure truly unimaginable things.  You know right from the beginning that she survives and is somehow set free because the story is told by Annie’s sessions with a psychiatrist after the fact.

I may be one of the last bloggers to read this and I’m glad I finally got around to it.  I’d read so many reviews that I was amazed that a few things still surprised me.  For the gripping thriller everyone says it was, I thought it took awhile for me to really get interested in Annie’s story. It wasn’t until a certain point in her captivity (no spoilers here) that I really wanted to know that she would be okay.  I was worried about her!  Also, I was under the impression that this was mainly the story of her being kidnapped, but in reality much of the story deals with what happens after.  And there is no shortage of things that happen upon her return to the real world.  Just when you think Annie will catch a break, another twist will keep her and the reader guessing.  My heart really did break for Annie even if when we meet her in the sessions she has a hard edge and is pretty messed up.

I liked this debut novel even if there were a few things that kept me from loving it.  One of them being what my expectations were and what this story really was and the other being the somewhat slow start for me.  I think lovers of thrillers with sometimes graphic descriptions will love this one.  If you are more the cozy mystery type then this is probably one to skip.  I am looking forward to reading her next one.

I really liked the reading by Angela Dawes.  I thought her voice really captured Annie’s spirit, broken as it was.

I checked this out of the library.

President Who? Quiz- guessing closed

We just celebrated President’s Day so I thought I’d see if you could identify these presidents.  Tell me the president for 6 points and the name of the movie OR actor for another 4 points.

You have until noon Saturday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round lasts til the end of March and the person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!

1. Teddy Roosevelt. Night at the Museum. Robin Williams.

2. George Washington. The Crossing. Jeff Daniels.

3. George W. Bush. W. Josh Brolin.

4. Richard Nixon. Frost?Nixon. Frank Langella.

5. John F Kennedy. JFK. Bruce Greenwood.

6. John Quincy Adams. Amistad. Anthony Hopkins.

7. Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson in Paris. Nick Nolte.

8. Franklin D Roosevelt. Pearl Harbor. Jon Voight.

9. Abraham Lincoln. Young Mr. Lincoln. Henry Fonda.

10. Ulysses S Grant. Wild Wild West. Kevin Kline.

Last week’s Agatha Christie Quiz here.  Leaderboard and rules here.

Sundays with Gage – A Neighbor AND an Author

It’s no secret that the Cleveland area is left-leaning politically.  I consider myself an independent voter, but due to some unfair laws in Ohio I had to declare myself a democrat to vote in a chosen primary.  I wasn’t very happy about it, but it did lead to one good thing.  I was able to be a polling location coordinator (only possible if you are the party of the current governor, sort of, there are some really weird laws out there).  Anyway, election days are long and can be made longer if the people you are working with are, um, let’s just go with ‘fun-challenged’.  That day I had a great group and that was due in large part to My Republican and his lovely wife.  As a coordinator I was in charge of lots of paperwork and most things had to be signed by a republican and a democrat.  All well and good unless there is a big shortage of republicans.  Bob, spent the better part of the day laughingly responding to my frequent calls of “Where’s my republican?”  He was seriously such a great sport about it and he was full of positive and happy energy all day long that he made my day a lot easier.  Don’t worry, I think this story is going somewhere.

Flash forward a few years and nice fall day when my parents were visiting and we all went out for a walk and decided to stop by an open house down the street.  The door opens and Bob greets me by name and I greet him with, “My Republican!”  Come to find out that Bob wrote a children’s book (and turned independent) and I knew I’d have to get my hands on a copy.  So, Gage and I went by this week to pick up a copy of The Littlest Lamppost.  As you can see, Gage thinks Bob is a fun guy 🙂

This is the story of a real highway lamppost by the Cleveland airport.  Why is he so small compared to all the other posts around him and how does he feel about it?  This is the story of how and why he was made the way he was.  The story is a sweet one to read with an older child and has a great moral lesson.  It’s all about loving yourself and others even when some of us may be different from everyone else.  It just means that we have a special reason for being here.

I thought the story was great and I know that Gage and I will be reading it together in a year or two.  It’s never too early for children to understand that different is just different, and it doesn’t mean it’s bad or something to make fun of.  I am looking forward to my next trip that takes me by the airport so I can look for the littlest lamppost.

The Littlest Lamppost is available through Amazon and directly through the Littlest Lamppost’s website www.littlestlamppost.com.  The Littlest Lamppost also tweets ( @llamppost ) and has a facebook page www.facebook.com/littlestlamppost !

I told the story about how I met Bob because I thought it showed what a great sense of humor he has.  He never once took offense and instead spread good cheer the whole day long and was also very gracious when Gage and I stopped by.  I am happy to recommend his book!

Book vs. Movie – Under the Tuscan Sun

When I posted last week about one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun, I was surprised by how many of you hadn’t seen the movie.  I read the book in 2010 (here) and watched the movie, again, last week (here) so I can easily compare the two, and it’s made easier considering that the two are so completely different.

The Story/Plot  The book is a travel memoir of a San Fransisco couple that buys and restores a house in Tuscany, on a part-time basis.  It is very detailed, includes recipes and makes you feel like you are in Italy.  The movie is about a San Fransisco woman who has been jilted by her husband and goes to Italy on vacation but stays because she has nowhere to go.  She finds the life she always wanted while immersing herself in another culture.  I did not think there was much of a story in the book, but the movie had a great story of discovery.  Thumbs Up- Movie

The Visual  No description can compare to the beauty of Italy.  The movie did an excellent job of showcasing Italy while still telling a story.  Thumbs Up- Movie

Characters vs. Actors  Frances Mayes seems like a fine person, but trying to compare to Diane Lane is tough.  Frances’s boyfriend was nowhere to be found in the movie, but again hard to compare with Diane’s first Italian boyfriend…

The secondary characters in each were completely different too.  Thumbs Up- Movie

The Ending  In the book Frances and her boyfriend go back and forth between Italy and California and in the movie Frances finds a home and new life in Italy.  Again, nothing wrong with the book, just a preference for the movie.  Thumbs Up- Movie

And the winner is… Obviously, I think the movie was a runaway winner.  Just goes to prove that the book isn’t always better.

Now it’s your turn to vote

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) (Good Morning, Midnight/ The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)