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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic


Bots and Spammers are routinely purged.

Currently reading

The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Progress: 10/383 pages
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
Nancy MacLean
Progress: 134/574 pages
The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
Northrop Frye
Progress: 43/200 pages
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
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The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer
The House of the Spirits
Isabel Allende
History of Witchcraft in England from 1558 to 1718
Wallace Notestein

Yeah. Right.

The following was posted in a discussion forum on Etsy.com concerning the site's push to get sellers to offer "free" shipping.  No further comment.


More of that "You can't make up this shit."

Space relations: A slightly gothic interplanetary tale - Donald Barr

From the Amazon listing for this 1971/74/75 (lots of dates listed):


When all galaxies are colonized, John Craig, A youn[sic] space diplomat, is captured by interplanetary pirates and sold into slavery.


Written by Donald Barr, father of Attorney General William Barr, during the general time frame the senior Barr was headmaster of the Dalton School and hired Jeffrey Epstein as an instructor.




See also:  https://twitter.com/page88/status/1149778880628252676


The whole thing put me in mind of that BBA on GR who wrote similar space opera sex slave books.  I think she was a friend of Carufel, but I can't think of her name right off the top of my head at the moment.

You can't make up this kind of shit

Shaking my damn head







If you don't already, here's a blog . . . .

A mixture of good food, cats (!), flowers, France, and the inimitable Robin Ellis.







I was having a troubled morning.  His little orchid people brought a smile.

Essential Romance? For starters

Most of these are pre-2000, because that's when I was in school and my fun reading dropped off, but these are a few of the genre romance novels I found exceptionally entertaining, well-written, and contained something special above and beyond the ordinary.  Some of them I've already reviewed.  I'll go back and add links after I put together a preliminary list.


1.  Black Silk by Judy Cuevas, aka Judith Ivory.  I think this was her first big seller.  The hero is an absolute cad, but he has a profound sense of decency and obligation, too.  The heroine is a widow with a remarkable inheritance. 


2.  Enchantment by Coral Smith-Saxe.  I fell absolutely in love with the cover, but the story matches it.  Colonial America, a little bit of witchcraft, lots of delightful twists and turns.  I wish this book had made a bigger splash.


3.  Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney.  There is a lot of darkness in this book, which opens with the hero's violent rape of the heroine.  Is it unforgivable?  Some readers insist this went too far and he cannot be redeemed.  I thought otherwise. 


4.  Maybe This Time by Kathleen Gilles Seidel.  Contemporary romance featuring high school sweethearts torn apart by tragedy, then reunited years later to make all the wrongs right.


5.  The Last Highwayman by Katherine O'Neal.  A widowed duchess and an outlaw.  What's not to love? 


6.  Wine of the Dreamers by Susannah Leigh.  Not quite time travel.  Not quite reincarnation.  Parallel lives of two beautiful women, one in Ancient Egypt, the other in 19th century France.  Susannah Leigh was highly under-appreciated as a writer of historical romances that featured strong, determined female characters.  Her Winter Fire is almost as rapey as the worst/best of Rosemary Rogers, but when the heroine tells the hero "Consider yourself fucked," you know this is not Rosemary Rogers.





Why so few romance novels?

I just read through the whole Essential Bad-Ass reading list of 463 books.  Damn few were romance novels.




I put a few on my original list -- Hummingbird and The Rainbow Season, even The Wolf and the Dove, plus those pre-Woodiwiss historicals that still featured a romantic relationship and the obligatory Happy Ever After ending, like Lord Johnnie and Prince of Foxes.


One of Nora Roberts's books made the list, but only under her J.D. Robb pseudonym for the "In Death" series.  One Courtney Milan book. 


How about Kathleen Gilles Seidel's Maybe This Time, which I enjoyed much more than her RITA winner Again.  I didn't much care for Laura Kinsale's Prince of Midnight or Seize the Fire, but they addressed issues romance novels hadn't been eager to tackle before.


I loved Mary Jo Putney's controversial Dearly Beloved; hated Patricia Gaffney's To Have and To Hold, both of which dealt with rape front and center.


Black Silk by Judy Cuevas aka Judith Ivory contains two of the most unforgettable characters, caught in a fascinating dilemma of a relationship that twists the old conditions of inheritance into a pretzel.


Is it because there are so many books, so many authors, that too few of them stand out?  Or do we just lose ourselves in the reading and enjoy the escape, but never give the books and their messages another thought?

Re Kathleen Hale

(Edit #1 at the end)



I've just received an email notification that someone going by the name "Sarah Hutchins" posted a comment to a post I wrote on a long-abandoned Wordpress blog.  The post is dated 22 October 2014.






I had completely forgotten about this blog.  It was one of those things I started and then . .  dropped.  I do that far too often.



Edited Sunday morning, 23 June 2019, to add


When I posted all this last night, I was took stunned and too tired to do any real research.  Thanks to GreyWarden aka darkwriter aka John Green over on Twitter, I looked for a link back to the writer of the post and (double facepalm) there it was right at the end of the email notification:




I just forwarded the emal to Scaachi Koul, writer of the Buzzfeed article that seems to have brought Kathleen Hale back into the spotlight.



Essential Reading -- A Few Additions

1.  Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams -- The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower.  There are others related, but this is the foundation. 


2.  The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins -- The stereotypes are almost eye-rollingly laughable, but the solution to the mystery is deliciously clever.


3.  Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber -- Witches, like science, don't require that you believe in them.  The film version, variously titled Burn, Witch, Burn and Night of the Eagle, terrified me the first time I saw it.


4.  The Amethyst Box by Anna Katharine Green -- Sometimes called the mother of the detective novel.  I've read two of her novels, The Amethyst Box and The Forsaken Inn, and enjoyed both of them.  I have several more Kindle freebies downloaded, just waiting for the time to read . . . everything. 

Reading for Space #36 -- Travel to Europe.

Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes

I thought about reading Above Suspicion because it was one of the old paperbacks in my collection, but what made the decision for me was reading author Helen MacInnes's "Introduction" to the paperback edition.  I'm not sure precisely when the paperback was published, though apparently some time in the 1960s, but the book was originally published in 1941.  MacInnes comments in her opening that this and some of her other books were written during World War II, and that she had to be careful how she set events in Europe while the war was still going on.


Because I grew up during a very different kind of conflict, the one we call the Cold War, I'm familiar with the spy thrillers of that era, the James Bond and Jason Bourne adventures.  Mostly they're set in Europe, and I have to admit that until I read MacInnes's words, it didn't really sink in for me how different the reality and the legacy of war are when you're in the place they've been fought, a place where the physical threat s far more present than the ideological one.


Given the times we're living in now and their frightening resemblance to another, I thought this might be a good choice.  We'll see.

Linda Hilton's BookLikes-opoly Game Tracking Post

Edited to add: I will be adding new info -- rolls, spaces, books, etc. -- at the TOP of this post so you don't have to scroll through.


I'm now on Space #36 w/Scottie Dog card in reserve.


Space #36 - Read a book that involves travel to Europe, or that has an image of any European city or monument on the cover, or that the letters of the title can spell the name of any European city* that I visited on my trip *Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Geneva, Rome, Florence, Venice & Barcelona.


21 June 2019 -- Finished The Hounds of Carvello by Frances Cowen for Space #20 (because th bok also features a lake)  208 pages = $3.00



3 June 2019 (the day of the wind storm that damaged my house and turned my whole life into chaos which is why I can't figure out where I am on this game!) -- Finished Sea Glass by Anita Shreve for Space #13.  376 pages = $3.00


25 May 2019 -- Finished The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden for space #6 Stay-Cation.  321 pages = $3.00



Next regular roll (I'm not sure if this is a day for a roll or not, because it's been so long!)



That puts me on Space #13

13. Read a book with sunglasses, swimsuit or other beachy items on the cover, or that has a cover that is more than 50% yellow.


While I'm on this computer, I'm going to add my two holiday week-end rolls while I'm at it, then figure out what I'm going to read!



Holiday Roll #2



Space #29:

29. Scottie dog: Roll again & hold card to play later; post a list or poll of 4 books, and ask your fellow players/followers to "fetch" you a book.



Holiday Roll #1



Space #20:

20. Read a book that features a dog or which has a dog on the cover or that is set in an area known for its lakes or on a fictional lake.





Scottie Dog roll again (If needed???)



And Scottie Dog card held in reserve:


Space #36:

36. Read a book that involves travel to Europe, or that has an image of any European city or monument on the cover, or that the letters of the title can spell the name of any European city* that I visited on my trip *Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Geneva, Rome, Florence, Venice & Barcelona.


Whew!  Now I just have to find some books. . . . 






I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to try to join in this game!



Starting Bank:  $20.00

Game piece: Lighthouse






Space #6 - Stay-Cation.



Time to read a library book!


UPDATE 20 May 2019 --


I have several library books that are due 5 June and can't be renewed again.  Among them is Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale.  So that's what I'm going to read!


This book would never have made it out of a critique group

The Hounds of Carvello - Frances Cowen

Disclosure:  I own a very battered, tattered paperback copy of this book, obtained years ago from an unknown source.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance and contemporary gothic romance, as well as various and sundry non-fiction.


Lots of spoilers, but I don't think anyone here is ever really going to hunt up this book to read it.  It's not as ridiculous as Fog Island Horror, but it's not very good.


Half a star because it's not totally offensive.


The Hounds of Carvello had very little to do with this story, but they're in the title, there is a dog in the book, and there is a legend about the historical hounds, so I'm letting this qualify for my BookLikes-opoly post, which I've forgotten the details of and will update later.  I just know it had to have something to do with dogs, and this book was in the pile of old gothics, so I read it.


The plot is nonsensical, and both the main female character and her predecessor are TSTL.  Maybe the publication date of 1970 suggests the publishers were desperate for romance novels -- both traditional gothics and Harlequin Romance were very popular -- but this book in its manuscript form would never have survived any of the critique groups I've ever been in.


Young Englishwoman Ann Mannering has been governess to the children of a rich and powerful Italian for 18 months.  She has become frightened of something, so she breaks her two-year contract with the Carvello family and plans to return to England.  But she offers her young, recently widowed cousin to take her place!


Okay, wait a minute.  Ann's afraid of something so dire that she's willing to break her employment contract, but it's okay to put her cousin in the same danger?  Um, no.


The explanation given is that since Harriet Newcombe, the cousin, doesn't speak Italian, she'll be fine.  Say, what?


So Harriet, who is well aware of her own beauty, hies off to the Italian countryside to teach the seven-year-old twins, Carlo and Isabella, of the Marchese and Marchesa of Carvello.  Their Palazzo -- yes, it's always capitalized -- is almost as big as Blenheim and larger than Castle Howard.  The Marchesa is an American, so she speaks English, and the two kids do well, too.  They referto their mother sometimes as Momma, sometimes Mom, sometimes Mommie, and maybe even Mommy, but I'm not going to look to confirm that.


The Marchese has a younger brother, Niccolo.  He's Harriet's love interest, but unlike in most gothics, he never comes across as menacing.  The other potential, American Mark Rathner, is much older (40s) and never becomes a serious contender.


Within a day or so of Harriet's arrival, she learns her cousin Ann never arrived back in England.  Well, of course, Ann has been murdered but it's all covered up.  Harriet's father -- who is Ann's uncle -- comes to Italy to collect Ann's body, and he begs Harriet to come back with him.


She refuses.


Of course, she does, because she's already in love with Niccolo.  So much so that she's going to defy common sense.  Of course.


She's also determined to find out what really happened to Ann.  Except through the course of the book she never makes the slightest effort to do so.  And indeed, neither does the author!  The book ends, and we don't have any idea what happened to Ann!


The actual hounds of Carvello are a legend, but there is real dog in the story, sort of. Enough to make this count for the game, I think.


The plot is dumb, but the writing is dumber. I don't know who edited this thing, but they really needed to go back to basics.


I can overlook the unnecessary capitalization of Palazzo, Summer, Uncle (when not part of a personal name), and so on.  But why is the head of the household staff referred to as the Major Domo?


Some of the errors are simply typos, like the La Scale opera house or the ancient Italian noble families the Sforsis and E'estes.  Typos don't explain the varied use of Contessa, Comtesse, Comtess, and Comptesse for the title of a minor character.  The repeated use of "condittiori" instead of the correct Condottieri made me want to hurl the book against the wall.  (These are things you learn from reading books like Prince of Foxes and Lord Vanity.  Thank you, Samuel Shellabarger!)


But there were other writing flubs that just made no sense.


She went to her bedroom, undressed, then took a bath in the deep shallow bath off the suite, she used the salts there, accepted the luxury.  (p. 124)

In another scene, she's writing a letter to her mother back in England, describing the preparations for a Royal visit to the Palazzo:


She was expiating on these preparations when there was a sharp knock on the door.  (p.144)


As for that Royal visit, there are frequent references to the Prince, but what he's Prince of is never identified.


All in all, it was a really disappointing read, but I pushed through because it was 208 pages for the game.





Brief update on all the chaos

1.  I'll be finalizing orders for the repair work on my house sometime today and/or Monday so work can begin.  Insurance will cover most of it, though I'll be left with a sizable deductible because there are two separate claims involved.


Not that it came as any surprise, but some contractors, even those who have been in business for 30 years and have good reputations, are not exactly honest.


2.  The Woodbury fire is now listed as 40% contained, but it has moved further east (as expected, given our winds this time of year) and now the areas of Roosevelt and Roosevelt Lake are being evacuated.  I am way WEST of the fire, by a good 12 to 15 miles, so nothing her to worry about at least for the present time.


The fire has now covered over 66,000 acres.



3.  I finally read a book for BookLikes-opoly last night and it was laughably terrible!  review to come later today.


4.  I can't count.  ;-)

Essential Reading -- The Books That Made Me A Writer

(Updated with links)


I had always been a reader, but there was a point at which the telling of stories became as liberating as reading them.  When did I decide I wanted to be a writer?  I don't think there was a specific point; I just started writing.  I began, as maybe a lot of pre-adolescent girl writers did, with horse stories, but long before I was out of junior high/middle school, I had moved on to adult fiction.  That is, writing about adult people leading adult lives, or what I thought of as adult lives when I was only eleven or twelve.


A lot of different books and types of books influenced me along the way, everything from traditional children's books to, well, here they are.  Some may be surprising.  In no particular order . . . .


1.  Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl  -- This was the first adult book I ever read, my dad's book club edition.  I had started to outgrow the Black Stallion and Nancy Drew but wasn't quite ready for adult fiction, so I was probably no more than nine or ten years old.  I was fascinated by the adventure and danger, but I also learned facts from this book that I never forgot.  I learned about Peter Freuchen and the Humboldt Current.  This was a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but it was also true!  Aku-Aku, Heyerdahl's book about Easter Island, was published in English in 1958 (I was 10 at the time) and much of it was published in one of the American magazines my parents subscribed to, Life or Look or the Saturday Evening Post.  I devoured that, then went out and bought the paperback edition.  I lost my copy somewhere along the way, but picked up another used several years ago.  I also have his earlier Fatu-Hiva


2a.  Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey -- This was the first adult novel I ever purchased, though it wasn't necessarily the first one I read.  I have never lost my fascination with plots, because this one is so precisely and neatly perfect.


2b. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey -- As an entertaining mystery within a novel, The Daughter of Time is thought provoking, especially in light of recent discoveries.  But it's also a case study of character.  Inspector Grant starts out just being bored and needing something to occupy his time while he recovers from a broken back, but author Tey takes over by literally showing the writer how to develop a character.  Not telling, but showing.


3a.  Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger -- Back in those junior high school days, I had seen the movie -- with Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Everett Sloan -- on television and was immediately entranced with costume drama.  That there was a romance involved didn't hurt.  I found the book at the public library, then discovered my dad had Shellabarger's Lord Vanity in a book club edition.


3b.The Highland Hawk, Lord Johnnie, The Hepburn, The Saracen Blade, Caravan to Xanadu, Yankee Pasha, and all the other historical adventure/romance novels in my dad's collection.  Over the years I've picked up almost all of them in one edition or another.


3c.  The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss -- I include all of these in a group because the whole idea of historical romance, and of "the romance novel" as a genre, did not begin with Woodiwiss and The Flame and the Flower in 1972.  If The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables are "romantic," they lack the "happily ever after" ending that marks the romance novel.  But HEA was very much a part of the books written by Edison Marshall and Samuel Shellabarger, Rafael Sabatini and Frank Yerby, Lawrence Schoonover and Jan Westcott.  All of them are essential reading in order to understand the genre.


4.  Peyton Place by Grace Metalious -- I actually read Return to Peyton Place first, because my mother had a paperback copy stashed in her nightstand drawer and I sneaked reading it when babysitting my younger brother and sister.  It wasn't the sex that interested me as much as the wicked relationships between the characters.  Years later, long after the television nighttime soap opera version put a slightly sanitized Peyton Place in our living rooms -- along with Ryan O'Neal and Nick Nolte -- I would understand how this novel altered the public's view of sex and, ultimately, paved the way for 50 Shades of Grey.


5.  Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence -- I discovered this when babysitting for the son of a high school English teacher, Mr. Kalisch.  Of course I was drawn by the forbidden, but what kept me interested was the relationship between Connie and Mellors.  She was young, her husband was invalided by the war,  so what was she supposed to do?  I would love to see the story written by a woman . . .


6.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas -- I read an abridged version when I was in junior high, when I was of course too young to understand the power of this novel of revenge and what it can do to a good man's soul.  Now I think of it as one of the purest novels ever written, one that should be studied in depth more often than it is.


7.  Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier -- Non-fiction by the author of Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn and The House on the Strand.  I didn't like Rebecca, and even on the first reading years ago of Jamaica Inn I found problems with it.  I much preferred The House on the Strand, though it, too, may suffer on a closer reread.  Vanishing Cornwall is about the place, and about the relationship between the person as person as well as as writer and the place.  I will probably never get to Cornwall.


8.  Poldark (The Renegade) by Winston Graham and the rest of the series -- I fell in love with the 1970s BBC series, which as far as I can tell was far more faithful to Winston Graham's original than the more recent edition.  Graham added to the novels after the television production outstripped them, but he kept the created world alive throughout. 


9.  The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye -- I started this book several times and couldn't get past the first 150 pages.  Booooooring.  But something drew me to try it again and again, whether the cover art or the lush writing or what, I don't know.  On a long flight from San Francisco to Fort Wayne, Indiana, I determined to get into it.  And boy, did I!  Got home and couldn't put it down. I lost two or three nights' sleep until I finished it.  I've reread it a couple of times since.  Ash is a boy and then a man without a country, forced from birth to believe he is Indian, then forced to live as an Englishman, he slips between both worlds with uncomfortable ease and very much aware of their failings.  His ability to live in both worlds also fuels his love for Anjuli, herself an outcast of a different kind.  There are odd moments when I look out the window at the mountain that dominates my own landscape and imagine my own far pavilions, complete with Ash's "It's not fair!" complaint.


10.  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Because.


11.  The Writing or the Sex, or why you don't have to read women's writing to know it's no good by Dale Spender.  This is where I first read Margaret Atwood's observation:  "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them."  Also by Spender Women of Ideas, and what men have done to them.


12.  The Rainbow Season by Lisa Gregory/Candace Camp, and Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer -- Those of us who plunged head first into the historical romances of the 1970s and 1980s got plenty of aristocrats, kings and princes and knights and men of wealth and power.  When I first read Hummingbird in about 1984, it was the humor that stood out. But when I put it together with Camp's The Rainbow Season, I recognized that the power in both stories was that they were about ordinary human beings who had to deal with everyday real life.  They also had women characters who struggled physically and emotionally but never lost their dignity.  See also Alexis Harrington's Homeward Hearts.


13.  The Eye of Argon by Jim Theis -- It's so bad it's good.  All kidding aside, this is the book to read to get a feel for what truly bad writing is.  You can also read Paul Clifford for the original dark and stormy night, but The Eye of Argon is in a class by itself.


14.  The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler -- Larry Block's Writing the Novel from Plot to Print is good.  So is Stephen King's On Writing.  But to understand what the various parts of a novel's structure mean and how they operate together to make the whole. this book is absolutely essential.  If you want to be a writer, or if you want to understand writing better, read this.  Then read it again.  Then read it again.


15.  Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson (and sequels) -- Told in first person in the viewpoint of a shamelessly chauvinistic male, these are a fantastic departure from the norm of 1980s sword and sorcery.  Roberson made her name with these.


16.  Be Buried in the Rain by Barbara Michaels -- I've read most of the Michaels/Peters books and this is the creepiest as well as the best written.  When we read Ammie, Come Home for a buddy read here on BookLikes, we found glitch after glitch after glitch, to the point that I personally wondered how it ever got published, or why no editor caught the errors!  But by the time Michaels got around to Be Buried in the Rain, she had worked out all those pesky glitches.  This one is structurally clean and deliciously creepy.  


17.  King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry -- From about third grade on, I read every horse book I could get my hands on, and a lot of the dog books, too.  The Black Stallion and the Island Stallion series by Walter Farley.  Jim Kjelgard's Big Red and sequels Irish Red and Outlaw Red.  Albert Payson Terhune's collies.  Bob, Son of Battle.  And most of Henry's other books.  None of them left the emotional stamp King of the Wind did.  Again, it's that struggle of the underdog, the little horse with indominatable spirit and the voiceless boy who stood faithful watch over him.  They were taken from one culture and thrown into another utterly alien to them, left to struggle and survive on their own. Of all the books I first read as a child, this is the one that mattered the most.  It still does.


18. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy -- We had to read it senior year in high school, and I never did finish it then.  A few years later I did, and I honestly wondered what Miss Leonard was thinking of when she had us read this tale of lust and adultery and infidelity.  It's actually a damn good romance!  But once again, it's the characters that make the story, and if maybe Hardy lays it on a little thick about Egdon Heath and the gorse and furze and the turf cutters, the people still stand out.  Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye.  Damon Wildeve and Diggory Venn and Thomasin Yeobright. 


19.  Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody -- I had read Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa when I was in college the first time (1966/67) and I think that somewhat prepared me for Moody's autobiography when I read it at the beginning of my third attempt at college (1998).  I never did find out if the title was a play on Mead's, but I suspect it was.  There was nothing of the innocent South Sea island paradise in Moody's account; it was quite the opposite.  Interestingly, the courses in sociology and anthropology that I took later, after reading Coming of Age in Mississippi, put it in a whole new light: Instead of the academics being the observers and recorders, Moody got to tell her own story.  And maybe that's why I was so outraged over The Help.


20.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand -- because she got so very much so very, very, very wrong.


Most of my selections would probably fall into the category of "fluff," and that's okay with me.  I had enough of the "Life's a bitch and then you die" bull shit:  The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl.  Although I don't entirely agree with Jayne Ann Krentz, as she wrote in Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, that romance novels are our fertility myths, I do think the narratives and tropes and themes we find in popular culture have a very powerful impact.  Academically and maybe even culturally, we ignore that power at our peril.

This is what happens to you when you read

Grandson #2, the hockey player in New Jersey, has been an avid reader almost since he was born.  He's now finishing eighth grade and will be entering a STEM magnet high school in the fall.  (I don't know what the name of the school is.)


His middle school, East Hanover MS, has an annual Vocabulary Bee, where the students have to define various words that they've encountered in their reading through the school year.  What I didn't know was that Elliot had won the school vocabulary bee in sixth grade and in seventh grade.


This year he won again, the third year in a row, and became the first EHMS student ever to do so.  According to my daughter, the school board was so impressed with his accomplishment that the Vocabulary Bee is now going to be named after him!


There are some pictures, but no reporting, on the EHMS Facebook page.


The contestants



The field narrows (and that kid on the end is very bored?) but the boy at the microphone will not be the winner.



And one remains.



It runs in the family.



(She came in 7th in the state, but didn't make it that far the following year.  She is always horribly embarrassed when I mention it.)



Because Dogs



Dogs’ Eyes Have Changed Since Humans Befriended Them

Two specialized muscles give them a range of expression that wolves’ eyes lack.




A really fascinating article for all of us who see -- and treat -- our canine companions as almost human.


And maybe they do the same.  Moby wasn't too sure about this mannequin when I set it up in the living room to model some scarves last summer.  He barked and growled, then finally went up to it to make sure it wasn't a threat  . . . to me!



Wildfire update

As if the disaster of my wind-and-hail-damage insurance claim weren't enough, we are now contending with a wildfire.




As of 10:00 P.M. yesterday, the Woodbury fire had covered approximately 26,000 acres in a remote, rugged area of the Superstition Mountains.  The blaze started last Saturday -- we noticed the smoke as we were driving home from dinner -- and has 0% contained.


The smoke was particularly thick a few nights ago, but then lessened.  This morning the smell of smoke was very noticeable again with a faint visible haze, and when I drove into town, the low-lying plume was visible drifting north well into the Mazatzal Mountains by Four Peaks.


Right now the fire itself is about 12-15 miles away from me.  It's not in any populated areas but it is also almost impossible to contain because of the terrain.  The prediction for 100% containment is 1 July.  That's two weeks away!




My house is down in the lower left corner of the map, just a few blocks north of the little green block labeled "Silly Mountain Park."  There's no imminent danger, but it is hot and it is dry and now it's rather breezy, too.


I think I'll take a nap.