Stash Enhancement Saturday: Moon Pie Edition

Bell Buckle MuralA couple of weeks ago, my partner in crime Alice and I took a little road trip to the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Bell Buckle, population less than 500, is a wide spot in the road that, if it weren’t for this silly paean to the quintessential Southern snack, would be utterly unremarkable and garner no attention whatsoever.  It’s a two-street town, centered at the intersection of a couple of rural two-lane blacktop highways on the way to nowhere.

This isn’t to say the town lacks a certain charm.  There’s a quilt painted into the road on the main drag.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0116.JPG
Image copyright Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

Plus the sheer whimsy of a festival devoted to a now fairly obscure carbonated cola and a chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwich speaks for itself, yes?

The parade was cute.  Alice took these photos:

RC Cola Moon Pie SnackNaturally, we indulged in the delicacy being celebrated.  I can’t remember the last time I had a Moon Pie, much less an RC Cola.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw RC Cola in the grocery store.  Of course, I seldom shop the soda aisle, so it may be there, hidden somewhere among all the Pepsi and Coke products.  Although I remember preferring RC Cola to Coke or even Pepsi when I was a kid, these days I’m a Pepsi drinker, if I drink a cola.  (Unsweetened iced tea is my preferred beverage at restaurants; Dr. Pepper or root beer otherwise.)  By the way, if you’re at all interested in RC Cola’s history and, specifically, how the Cola Wars of the 80s and the battle over artificial sweeteners affected the brand, take a gander at this Mental Floss article from April 2016.  Also, if you can find the back issue, Rolling Stone published a big article on the Cola Wars sometime in the late 1980s.  (This subject fascinates me, if you haven’t noticed.)

After the parade, we wandered around the festival booths.  There were the usual souvenir T-shirt stands, kettle corn and hot dog stands, “vintage” or “bohemian” clothing booths, plus a couple of guys selling sunglasses and ball caps.  We stopped at the hand-made dog treat booth where Alice indulged in special yum-yums for her baby.  And we both stopped dead in our tracks at the booth with the yard critters made out of sheet metal.

Just look.

Metal Yard MonstersAren’t they precious?  One of the triceratops belongs to Alice; the other triceratops and the flying pig (I know!) are mine.  (They’re currently in the garage because I can’t make up my mind where to put them in the back yard.)  This booth had all sorts of other critters I liked: flying pigs on stakes so you could position them above your shrubbery; giraffes; a T-Rex; so much more.  I should have taken a photo of the booth itself, but I was so enraptured by the dinos and the pigs that I forgot.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought this was a stash enhancement Saturday post.  Where’s the new stash?”

Silk Traveler 1Wait no more.  After a few hours, we were done with the festival, and we headed up the road a little further to Murfreesboro and The Knaughty Knitter.  Nice little store, easy access, good parking, sufficient and varied stock.  I came away with two skeins of indulgence, Meadowcroft DyeworksSilk Traveler, in the Pisgah National Forest colorway.  It’s gorgeous.  I’m going to pair it with a skein of purple or maybe a green sockweight that I already own and turn it into a lace cardigan.  Eventually.  (In reality, these two skeins will probably sit in stash for about three years before I do something with them.)

In other news, I finally finished the Wildflower Cardigan.  Photos and a blog entry coming soon.  Also, more book reviews.

New York, Day 6

Baby Juice GlassesFriday was our last day. Our plane left in late afternoon, and hotel checkout wasn’t required until noon, so we dilly-dallied around in the morning, taking a subway ride down to 72nd Street to (a) find an ATM for our bank and (b) find breakfast.

Breakfast was at Utopia Restaurant on Amsterdam. It was delicious.  Please notice the tiny baby juice glasses. We were served juice in these itty bitty plastic tumblers everywhere we went for breakfast. They’re just so cute!  Then we wandered up and down the street for a while in search of our bank.  Turns out the ATM wasn’t at a bank branch at all, but inside a Duane Reade store.

These stores are ubiquitous in Manhattan. I had never heard of them before we arrived, but it seemed like every time we turned around, we saw one. They were quite handy, though. I had accidentally left my reading glasses at home, so Day 1 found us inside the store across the street from our hotel buying new reading glasses and bottled water for our long walk down to Times Square.  And we were in and out of the store for in-room snacks and more bottled water throughout the week.  (That Google image above is interactive, by the way.  You can move it around to see the neighborhood surrounding our hotel.)

Dinos Pack Themselves 1In case you were wondering, we left the dinosaurs back in the hotel room for this little excursion. They did most of the packing while we were gone. Very efficient, those dinosaurs.  We finished up what was left, and called the bellman to come take our luggage downstairs.

Did I mention that our hotel didn’t have an elevator?  And we were on the fourth floor?  Yes, Virginia, that does mean that every single day, after wearing ourselves to the bone walking around playing tourist, we had to drag our tired carcasses up four flights of stairs to our room.  Four narrow flights of stairs, at that.  It also means that the bellman was allowed the privilege of carrying both suitcases, one of them massive, up and down those narrow flights of stairs.  Don’t worry, he was tipped well.

Since our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 PM, we were going to check out but leave the luggage at the hotel while we wandered around some more, and then take Uber to the airport in mid-afternoon, but the bellman told us we could catch a bus just a couple of blocks up the street that would take us directly to our terminal, and we could use our subway transit passes to pay for it.  He checked the schedule for us, and the next bus to LaGuardia left in about 30 minutes.  After a brief consult — “Do you want to see anything else?”  “No, not really, I’m kind of tired of walking around and looking at stuff.” — we decided we were really tired of Manhattan and were ready to get started on our outbound trip.  So we dragged our luggage up to 106th Street and caught the bus.

Said bus took us through Harlem, right past the Apollo and other landmarks.  I didn’t have my camera or my phone out, so we didn’t catch any photos as we drove through.  Here’s another interactive Google image, though.

We got to the airport about five hours ahead of our flight, so we wandered around, ate lunch, read, played on our phones, and killed time chitchatting while we waited for our plane to board. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, as was picking up our car from long-term parking and making the Back to the Jungle 2short drive home. One of the advantages of living in a major metro area like the ATL is we’re less than 20 minutes away from the airport. Still, we were exhausted when we arrived at the house and went straight to bed.

The next morning, while we picked up the critters from the kennel (that was a shock to the wallet), the dinosaurs headed back into the jungle, there to await their next trip. So long, dinos; we’ll see you again soon, I hope.

People have asked me what was the best part of this trip.  Naturally, seeing all the things in person that I had only ever seen in photographs or movies or TV ranks really high, but truly, the best part was spending an entire week doing stuff with my husband and remembering that, not only do I love him, I really truly do like him.  Here’s to many more anniversary trips, honey.  I love you bunches.

Book review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story of a newspaper, told alternately in flashback and in current happenings. Each present-day chapter focuses on an individual connected with the newspaper, in Rome, Paris, Cairo, all over Europe: as correspondent, editor, reader, publisher; and each flashback provides us with the chronology of the paper’s history. These are fascinatingly flawed people, each desperately trying to bring meaning to their life, to justify their existence, to get one more article published, to save the goddamn paper somehow. Because the internet threat looms and circulation is falling.

So how does an international English-language print newspaper stay afloat in the digital age? Perhaps not like this, but it’s an entertaining read regardless.

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Book review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rachel’s daily commute takes her past the neighborhood where she once lived, when she was married. The train frequently sits for several minutes at a railstop right behind the back yard of a young couple whom often Rachel spies sitting on their patio; she has built up an elaborate fantasy existence for these two, fueled by the unfulfilled wishes of her own failed marriage. One day Rachel sees the woman kissing someone other than her husband, shocking her out of her fantasy. Shortly after that, she hears that this woman has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Convinced the strange man being kissed has something to do with the disappearance, Rachel goes to the police, only to be dismissed because of her well-known drinking problem. Undeterred, Rachel continues to investigate the disappearance on her own, in the process raising the spectre of her dead marriage and the issues that led to its failure.

The story itself is well-written and, although I started to get an inkling of how things would shake out somewhere about 2/3 through the book, the final twist isn’t telegraphed and still managed to surprise me.

But none of these characters is likeable. Except one. Rachel, the ex-husband, the new wife, the husband of the missing woman, all of them were simply awful. The only person who seems to have any compassion and goodness of character is Rachel’s roommate, who is treated shabbily and still shows Rachel kindness. And while that may make these people more realistic and human, it also makes them difficult to side with: even Rachel, who is her own worst enemy and manages to sabotage herself at every turn. (Having struggled through and overcome a substance abuse problem myself, I am predisposed to empathy for her; even so, I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shout at her more than once. If nothing else, she made me realize how incredibly patient and loving my loved ones were with me when I was in the throes of addiction.)

So, to sum up, a good story, an engaging story, but one peopled by unlikeable characters being unkind to each other. Such is the drama of the London suburb.

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New York, Day 5

Me in HarlemThursday was our last full day in New York. Being tired of waiting in lines for things, this was the day we planned to hit some of the little spots we wanted to see. First thing after breakfast, we took the subway to the nearest store of the chain that employs my husband. He wanted to take a look at how it was laid out for comparison’s sake, and he wanted to be able to tell his employees he saw the Big Apple version. Said store happened to be in Harlem.

Said store was really no different than spouse’s store.  I bought a little sunhat because we were going to be outdoors most of the day, and the top of my head was already sunburnt and tender from our long walk on Day 1 and the Statue of Liberty tour on Day 2.  Note to self: remember to take a hat next time you plan to play tourist outdoors.

Knitty CityWe headed back to the Upper West Side next, and found the yarn store.  Stop shaking your head.  Of course I had to visit a New York yarn store!  This was Knitty City on 79th Street, and it was a perfectly lovely shop, with a helpful and friendly staff.  The dinosaurs browsed while Kathi and I chatted; I wanted to buy local yarn, and she showed me several Project Bags 2options.  I walked away with two skeins of hand-dyed Chelsea Sock (Yellow, Chrysanthemum) from the local Nooch Fiber, which is 80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon; and one skein of a MadTosh Merino Light colorway (Urban Flagstone) dyed exclusively for this shop.  Also in my cool shopping-cum-project bag was another project bag, and three pattern books (the Interpretations series, Volumes 1-3) from two designers (Joji Locatelli and Veera Välimäki) I’d never heard of but fell madly in love with their work.

InterpretationsThese books are chock full of elegant (in all meanings, but especially the scientific sense of “gracefully concise and simple”) designs for cardigans, pullovers, and accessories, with clean lines and uncomplicated silhouettes, with careful attention paid to details like cables or lace or colorwork, and all beautiful and eminently wearable. It looks like this is an annual series, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for Volume IV, which I expect will be released sometime in 2017.

Oh, before I forget, here are the yarn-browsing dinosaurs.

Dinos Buy Yarn 2

NYPL and MeNext on our list was the New York Public Library: specifically the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch.  The dinosaurs and I had a hankering to visit the lions, Patience and Fortitude.  By this time, spouse and I were getting pretty good at figuring out which trains and subway stops we needed, so we made our way to Bryant Park and had lunch al fresco.

Have I mentioned the weather was absolutely spectacular that entire week?  It was no different Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade, eating a sandwich and fruit from one of the park vendors, watching the passersby, and enjoying the fragrance of the flowers.  The park was crowded like everywhere we’d been, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Even with the crowds, it was relaxing to sit and commune with a little bit of greenery in the midst of all that concrete and steel.

Dinos Visit the Lions 2

After we finished our meal, we wandered around the park and eventually made our way to the front of the library.  And there they were, the great stone lions.  These lions have fascinated me for ages.  I once read a fantasy/SF novel — can’t remember the name; in fact, the following tidbit is the only detail I remember of the novel — that took place in a devastated future New York, in which the lions had come to life and prowled the city, doing no harm, of course, but acting as protectors of the downtrodden and weak. So that’s how I think of them, always.

Spouse took my photo with Fortitude, on the north edge of the steps.  (Patience lives on the south edge.)  The dinos had their photo taken too.

Next stop was Tender Buttons, the button store on the Upper East Side that I told you about in this Work In Progress Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago.  Spouse is a tolerant man, but his tolerance extends only so far, and he’d already borne through an extended yarn shop visit this day; thus I didn’t spend nearly as much time in this little shop as I would have done had I been by myself.  I saw enough to know I want to go back there every time I need buttons.  Sadly, that’s not feasible.

Wall StreetOur last stop of the day (nyuk, nyuk, get it?) was Wall Street.  This was especially for spouse.  Long ago, in another life, before he took up retail management as a career, he worked for an investment firm where he guided his clients’ purchases of equities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and so forth.  He doesn’t really miss that rat race but he has some fond memories.  That being the case, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the New York Stock Exchange.  And here he is, in his Master of the Universe pose.

Master of the Universe 3

Isn’t he the cutest?   We saw the bull, too, because it would be un-American to go to Wall Street and not pay homage to the bull.

Bull on Wall Street 2

After all these adventures, we were plumb tuckered out and went back to the hotel to crash.  Later we realized we hadn’t taken ourselves out to a fancy dinner for our anniversary, so spouse found a little Italian restaurant within easy walking distance of the hotel, and that’s where we went.  La Piccola Cucina is tiny, maybe ten tables at most; the atmosphere was calm and soothing with lovely instrumental music playing at a just-right volume over the speakers; our server was attentive but not hovering; and the food was divine.

One more day for this New York adventure.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Book review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Fates and FuriesFates and Furies by Lauren Groff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mixed feelings about this one.

Lancelot, known to his intimates as Lotto, and Mathilde meet when they are in their early early 20s and baffle everyone who knows them — who knows Lotto in particular — by quickly marrying. The novel follows them throughout their married life, from dead broke college students to successful and well-to-do middle age and beyond, first from Lotto’s perspective (Fates), and then from Mathilde’s (Furies).

Good things:

  • The language is gorgeous.
  • After having been married for quite some time myself, I’d say this a reasonably well-drawn and not entirely implausible study of a particular marriage, although not mine.
  • I rather liked both Lotto and Mathilde for the majority of the story. The two of them reminded me in some ways of a married couple I know: a pair who met and married very young; who, to all appearances, are still passionately in love with each other after all these years; who wholeheartedly support each other in all their endeavors, business, artistic, and otherwise. (Special note just in case one or both of them might happen to read this book AND this review: By no means do I mean to imply that either keeps the kinds of secrets that make up the crux of this novel. In fact, I’d be shocked to the core to discover such a thing.)
  • I loved the chronological synopses of Lotto’s plays as a device to show the passage of time. And the synopses themselves made me wish these were actual stage productions I could see performed somewhere.

Quibbles (some spoilers ahead if you haven’t read this): Continue reading

Book review: Split Second by Douglas E. Richards

Split SecondSplit Second by Douglas E. Richards

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Physicist Nathan Wexler discovered how to send matter back one-half second in time. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But the mathematics involved are of desperate interest to two separate groups, both of which are willing to go to any lengths to get their hands on Dr. Wexler and his equations. Wexler and his fiancée, Jenna Morrison, are kidnapped at gunpoint by one group and “rescued” by the other, but the rescue goes horribly horribly awry, and now Jenna is on the run. Alone.

The first half of the novel has to do with Jenna retrieving Nathan’s math. Although it’s revealed in the cover blurb, it isn’t until we’re halfway through the novel that the big time-travel idea makes its debut. The last half of the novel involves our heroine and her new-found protector, Aaron Blake, trying to stay out of the hands of the two mysterious factions after the time-travel formula. Car chases and hand-to-hand fighting and explosions abound.

As I read this, I was reminded of why I usually don’t read mass market genre fiction. Oh, it was a serviceable enough story, but predictable, cliché-ridden, and to tell the truth, so awful I could barely stand it. The reader is told on countless occasions — in fact, is nearly pounded over the head with the fact — that Nathan and Jenna both have incredibly unbelievably brilliant brilliant brilliant intellects; they must be the brightest people to have walked the face of the earth since Leonardo da Vinci. Plus, their colleagues’ brilliance is dimmed only by the supernovae that are Nathan and Jenna. And the former Special Forces/Black Ops-soldier-turned-private-detective, Aaron Blake? Wow, he’s just the most amazing, clever, resourceful reconnaissance-and-getting-out-of-scrapes guy ever!

By the time the time travel formula and its uses made an appearance, the only reason I was still reading was because I hadn’t figured out which group chasing our heroes were the good guys. But if you like predictable clichés, hyper-brilliant scientists, and lots of action and explosions, then this is the story for you.

I expect it to become optioned as the next Michael Bay movie at any moment.

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Book review: I Am No One by Patrick Flanery

I Am No OneI Am No One by Patrick Flanery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This passage right here:

“…I wonder if, in the past, we didn’t trust each other more, knowing there would be stretches of every day when we would not be able to contact our spouses or children or parents, trusting they were simply getting on with their lives and being faithful to us and whatever they later reported having done was true, or at least plausible. For each of us, the freedom of not being reached, of wandering untracked through the city, browsing in bookstores and libraries, living life in a way the the mind did not feel hunted or followed or simply distracted by the silliness of unwanted messages and the ability to check stock prices every thirty seconds or receive alerts of breaking news, must have meant that as recently as a decade ago we were thinking more and reacting less. Is it any wonder we entered a more reactionary age? Our technology is teaching us to react rather than reflect, so that even the leftwing movements of the present seem no longer to be based in ideas as much as in the constantly shifting desire to respond to offense or inequality or injustice, and yet the discourse surrounding whatever the movement or outrage du jour might be seems too often founded on a wafer of historical and ideological ignorance.”

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. And I recognize the inherent irony of posting a book review on a social media site while longing in some ways for a return to a less public, less monitored and scrutinized way of life.

Jeremy O’Keefe returns to New York after more than a decade of teaching at Oxford. He had originally fled to England after his divorce and a failure to gain tenure at a particular American university; he left Oxford when offered a position with another equally well-respected institute of higher learning. He finds an apartment and settles back into the daily routine of a New York City dweller. At the same time he realizes he’s lost touch with his old friends and they have moved on; he doesn’t fit anymore. His relationship with his now-married daughter is awkward and strained; he has no contact with his ex-wife; he spends a great deal of time alone, ruminating on his life and his circumstances; he pretends he likes it that way.

One day a young man strikes up a conversation with him in a coffee shop. A few days later, he encounters the same young man at his daughter’s party. And then a third run-in… In a city the size of New York, Jeremy thinks these meetings can’t be mere coincidence. Is this young man, Peter, following him? Is Peter behind the mysterious boxes of computer printouts that begin arriving at his apartment? Or is it the US government? Or is Jeremy imagining all of it?

The novel jumps back and forth between the years in Oxford and the present-day happenings in New York, gradually revealing the circumstances which led to Jeremy’s acceptance of the New York job offer, and which may be cause for government surveillance and questioning Jeremy’s loyalty to the country of his birth.

This novel moves at an almost glacial pace, with a great deal of internal (and self-serving) monologue, but it’s so beautifully written, I can forgive the navel-gazing. Truthfully, though, don’t most of us have these internal conversations? Maybe my empathy for Jeremy and his endless introspection stems from being an introvert myself.

Thank you to LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer program for the opportunity to read this book.

(Personal aside: I read this novel shortly after my husband and I returned from our first trip to New York. We stayed entirely in Manhattan and spent a great deal of time in the areas where the New York sections of this novel take place. It was great fun to place the streets and landmarks on the map of the city I now hold in my head; to recognize what it’s like to ride the subway and get out at Columbus Circle; to acknowledge how crowded the sidewalks are and how unlikely it is to see the same person in three different places on three different days. This extra bit of personal knowledge will enhance any book set in New York that I read in the future.)

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New York, Day 4

We spent our anniversary visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

The subway trip to MOMA was more involved than all the previous subway trips we had undertaken by ourselves. We had to change trains twice, I think, to get to the right stop.  And then we nearly walked right by the museum because the exterior didn’t look anything like what we expected.

Dinos and Degas
Dinos admire a Degas sketch.

First stop was the Degas exhibit, A Strange New Beauty.  Be advised that link will probably only be good through the end of the exhibit on July 24, 2016, so I’m going to steal the website copy that describes the exhibit:

Edgar Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet, yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The monotype also sparked a host of experiments for Degas, who often used the medium as a starting point from which an image could be reworked and revised. This process of repetition and transformation, mirroring and reversal, allowed Degas to extend his approach to the study of form. The profound impact of his work with monotype can be seen in his variations in different mediums of key motifs, revealing a new kind of artwork that was less about progress or completion than endless innovation.

The exhibition includes approximately 120 rarely seen monotypes—along with some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints—that show Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; liberating mark-making from tradition; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction.

I loved this exhibit’s insight into Degas’s process, working out his art in multiple forms and media before committing to paint and canvas.

Dinos View The Starry Night
Dinos admire “The Starry Night” while dino wrangler cries.

We then wandered through most of the permanent collection.  I had my eye out for The Starry Night, and when I finally saw it, hanging on a feature wall all by itself, I squealed:  “There it is, there it is!” and ran, I mean literally ran, to stand in front of it.  And I cried.  Of course, I knew I would because this has been my favorite painting for nearly 40 years; seeing it in person was an intensely emotional experience.

True confession: I got all misty again, just looking at the photo I took. Reproductions don’t do it justice. The actual painting is incredible: vibrant, glowing, pulsing with color. It’s alive. It positively sparkles.

Persistence of MemorySpouse had nearly the same reaction to his favorite painting, The Persistence of Memory.  It’s behind glass: you can just barely see spouse framing the photograph in the reflection, with the rest of the gallery behind him. “Persistence”‘s reputation looms so large, I was surprised at how tiny the actual painting is: barely larger than a standard sheet of typing paper.

MOMA Jaguar 3Spouse also fell in love with the 1961 Jaguar displayed in the sculpture gallery.

Yeah.  That’s an awfully pretty piece of machinery.  And it had its own guard making sure no one stepped over that perimeter line marked on the floor.

MOMA has so many artists whose works I admire but had only ever seen in books: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Modigliani, Rousseau, so much more…

I could have spent all day here, because there’s so much to see, but spouse can tolerate paintings and sculpture and modern design and multi-media exhibits for only just so long.  After three or four hours, he was done.  So we made our way back to Times Square because we had noticed a couple of other exhibits at the Discovery Museum down there that spouse wanted to see and to which our GoPass granted entry.

Dinos and Tai Chi ManThe first was Body Worlds, a fascinating display of anatomy, functionality, and the sheer beauty of the human form, stripped down, literally, to its barest essence.  I don’t recommend this exhibit if you’re squeamish about body parts or nudity, but if that doesn’t bother you and you’re at all curious in how all our moving parts work together, this is absolutely a must-see.  I’m posting only one photograph in case there are some squeamish readers.  Just scroll past quickly.  Or not.

We Come From the Land of the Ice and SnowThe second exhibit we saw, at the same museum, was Vikings.  Wow. The first thing to greet you when you walk through the door is a replica of a Viking longboat.  It’s spectacular. The rest of the exhibit is equally gorgeous: tools, clothing, jewelry, weapons — most of them the actual items, with just a few replicas because the originals are so precious or rare that they can’t be risked on public display — along with some interactive displays, like handling a replica sword, and lots of dioramas (I believe they were stills from The Vikings TV show on Discovery‘s sister channel, History) and information stations discussing religion, village life, exploration, all manner of cultural and sociological background.  It’s a niche exhibit, just right for a history and archaeology nerd like me.  Highly recommended.

As can be expected, we were exhausted by the end of the day and didn’t manage to go out for our fancy anniversary dinner that evening.  But we and the dinosaurs tried out several eating spots throughout the day.  Just a couple more pictures and we’ll call this one done.

There’s one more full day to tell you about.  Stay tuned.

Book review: The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington, #2)The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A solid action-packed SF tale filled with military hardware and battle strategy. Great stuff for those folks who appreciate naval battles and C.S. Forester/Patrick O’Brian tales. Not so great for those who don’t. Like me.

Okay, I like Honor Harrington and think she’s a great character. She’s especially outstanding in the genre of Military SF, in that she’s a high-ranking military official in charge of a battleship, respected by her crew, and unafraid to make the tough decisions. This story in particular makes the point that Honor being a woman is a hindrance in certain corners of space; the very fact of her femaleness drives a good many plot points hinging on the misogyny and chauvinism of the planet she is charged to defend.

Social commentary aside, I’m still not an aficionado of technobabble about hardware and military strategy. So, while I give kudos to David Weber for his feminism in action, I won’t be visiting Honor in space again.

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