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Showing posts from July, 2010

Cannonball Read 2 #47: Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow

After reading all those very heavy non-fiction war books, I felt like I could use a little break. I needed something fluffy and simple to relax my poor over-extended brain, so I picked up Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow. It's an historical fiction romance, much like Bristow's other book, The Jubilee Trail (one of my favorite no-brainer romances.)

In the Calico Palace, young Kendra ends up on the west coast of the USA during the mid-nineteenth century, just in time to be involved in the 1849 gold rush. This is the story of her and her friends (including Marny, an independent woman who runs a gambling parlor) and their struggle to thrive in the newly settled wilderness as gold fever takes hold. The characters are met by a variety of obstacles, including abandonment, disease, weather, fire, and human nature. They all manage to overcome and end up more or less happily ever after.

To be honest, it's almost the same basic plot and character types as The Jubilee Trail, though I found…

Summer TV: 2010

It's that time of year again, when I tell you what's great to watch if you are a couch potato like me. The summer shows are surprisingly good this year, and I have also found that reality TV is playing almost no part in my summer. Which is good--I think supporting scripted television is totally the way to go.

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT Mondays 10pm): This isn't anything particularly special, but it's a competent procedural, and it's nice to see a show with females as the leads in this genre. I always liked Angie Harmon when she was on Law & Order, and Sasha Alexander was great during her stint on NCIS. The two of them are believable as friends, though they're only a few episodes in to the series and are still finding the characters' rhythm. I'm pleased to see Donnie Wahlberg working, since I think he is the less attractive but more talented of the Wahlberg brothers. Main distraction: every time Bruce McGill comes on screen I find myself …

"The streets are not like the ER. There's no walls, no controls." - Bringing Out the Dead

I knowit's not cool, but anyone who knows me (or has read this blog at least twice) knows I have a totally irrational love for Nicolas Cage. I don't know what it is--his insanely rolling eyes, his slightly over-large teeth, his totally inexplicable and rapidly-worsening hair? Maybe it's the sense that he's probably a douchebag in real life...but one of those hilariously entertaining douchebags, the kind who are just self-aware enough to to be in on the joke of their douchebaggery. I really don't know, but I find him irresistible. Bringing Out the Dead is Nicolas Cage as I love him best--with echoes of the style of The Weatherman or Lord of War--a character who is calmly voicing-over totally chaotic events as they unravel around him, despite the fact that somewhere along the line he himself has gone mad.

In Bringing Out the Dead, he plays EMT Frank Pierce in events that span the course of three nights. Pierce is living in a strange nightmare life--existing on alcohol…

Cannonball Read 2 #46: We Were Soldiers Once...And Young by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway

The full title of this book is We Were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam. It's a true story, written by two men who were there--Col. Moore, who was the commanding officer of the first part of the battle of Ia Drang, and Joseph Galloway, who was there as what we'd now refer to as an "embedded" reporter.

The battle of Ia Drang, which happened in November of 1965, was one of the first real battles of Vietnam. It was the first time the Americans had met the North Vietnamese on a real battlefield, and was also the first time that helicopters were used in battle. Col. Moore was in charge of the newly formed 7th Cavalry division (a division that hadn't existed in the US Army since Custer's 7th cavalry were slaughtered at Little Big Horn) which was the first "air mobile" unit in the army. The idea was to use the helicopters to move men quickly on and off the battlefield. In this particular engagement, orders wer…

Give him a hand, folks!

Just a quick post to let you know that The Boyfriend now has his own blog, The Frugal Bostonian. He's going to be posting about two of our favorite things -- cooking and eating! (Okay, well admittedly, cooking is not one of my favorite things, but I do love eating the things he cooks, so I think that should count.) From now on, my BorkBorkBork posts will be going up over there, and since we now own a camera, I'll be able to take photos of my culinary efforts so you'll know how they're supposed to look...or rather how they look when I make them, anyway. Mind you, there probably won't be any cooking posts from me any time soon, since it's been approximately a million degrees here lately, which makes me lose all motivation to do...anything, really. However, I'm told that someday it WILL cool down, so there you have something to look forward to.

For those of you who are local (I'm not sure any of you readers are local, but who knows, you might visit!) we'…

Cannonball Read 2 # 45: Helmet For My Pillow by Robert Leckie

Helmet For My Pillow is another of the three books upon which the HBO miniseries The Pacific was based, and as far as the miniseries goes, Robert Leckie was by far my favorite character. His book begins with him joining the Marines, follows him through training camp, and into his first several battles in the pacific theater.

It's hard not to compare this book to E.B. Sledge's With the Old Breed. While both books are very similar in some ways--they are both men who are in the same places at approximately the same time enduring the same circumstances--there are some marked differences. The first and most obvious is style. Sledge's memoir is much more "Just the facts." He is quite direct in his descriptions, while Leckie's past as a newspaper writer shows in his more "literary" style of writing. Another difference is that Sledge was a mortar operator, while Leckie began as a rifleman and eventually ended up working in intelligence, so they got very diff…

Poetry Corner #1

In a rather lazy attempt to class up the joint, I decided to begin a poetry corner. People like poems, right? Okay, well I like poems and guess what? It's my blog and if I want to post poems I will! So there!

I figured I'd start with one I particularly like. I actually wrote a paper on this one years ago for some class. The paper is long gone, but I still like the poem. If any of you out there have poem suggestions, please feel free to leave them. (Also, if you're nice to me I may try to locate some of my really appalling high school poetry, which is always good for a laugh.)

The British Museum
by Miroslav Holub

To the tune of "Bolero,"
any ark
will be ruined
once, the trilingual
Rosetta Stone will be broken, steles of Hallcarnassus
will turn to dust, sandstone Assyrian spirits
with eagle heads will shyly take off,
the carved man-head lions of Ashursirpolis will croak,
the last red-granite hand of the Colussus of Thebes
will drop off, the Indian supergod Harik…

Cannonball Read 2 #44: Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

I had not read any of Jon Krakauer's books up until this point, because the two I'd heard of frankly didn't interest me that much (I am particularly uninterested in the story of some idiotic trust-fund baby who wanders out into the woods and freezes to death.) However, this story sounded interesting so I ordered the book.

Under the Banner of Heaven was described almost as a true crime novel, however, once I actually started reading I discovered it was more a history of Mormonism. It's definitely not an objective view -- Krakauer is quick to point out the history of lies, violence, oppression, and struggles for power within the Mormon organization, and also the destruction caused by its numerous splinter groups.

It is slightly out of date, as some of the figures named in the books as persons of power withing the splinter movement have had changes of fortune (i.e. Warren Jeffs who was arrested and charged with several sex crimes related to his taking of multiple young wive…

BorkBorkBork#4: Mexican Lime Pie

I found this recipe on a site called That's My Home! while trying to find a dessert for a Mexican-themed dinner I was making (perhaps my next BorkBorkBork entry will be the recipe for my oh-so-gooey and unhealthy creamy chicken enchiladas...then again, perhaps I should keep that a secret...). This is ridiculously easy to make, and it is so wonderfully refreshing when the weather is hot and muggy.

Lime Pie La Lechera1 prepared 9-inch graham cracker crust 1 can Nestle La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk 1/2 C. (about 3 fresh limes worth) lime juice
1 tsp. grated lime zest 2 c. frozen non dairy whipped topping, thawed

1. Beat sweetened condensed milk and lime juice in small mixer bowl until combined; stir in lime peel. 2. Pour into crust, spread with whipped topping. 3. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.


This is extremely delicious -- you could probably substitute real whipped cream for the Cool Whip, but you'd need to add sugar because the pie is a little tart and ben…

Cannonball Read 2 #43: Generation Kill by Evan Wright

Evan Wright was a reporter embedded with the First Recon Platoon, the first Marines to enter Iraq during Gulf War II. Wright travels with them, getting to know the twenty-six men and their commanders, and experiencing modern warfare from the enlisted man's point of view.

The platoon is the first to enter Iraq, and it doesn't seem that the plan of attack is very well organized or explained. The men basically drive around Iraq, drawing fire and eliminating enemy targets. They spend a great deal of time lost, confused, exhausted, and hungry. Their equipment doesn't function properly, they don't have enough food, and their vehicles are uniquely unsuited for the task at hand--in fact, the specialized training they received as a recon platoon is uniquely unsuited for this assignment. They are engaging in a mission that doesn't make sense to them and that they were not really trained for. It's a constant barrage of stress, never knowing if the people they see by the si…