Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction’

Book Review: All Facts Considered by Kee Malesky

All Facts Considered – The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge, by NPR librarian Kee Malesky, covers a wide variety of interesting facts, some worth knowing, some not. Here’s a small spray of topics covered:

–The abbreviations et al. (Latin, et alii or et aliae) and etc. (Latin, et cetera) have the same basic meaning: and others, and the rest, and so on. The difference is that et al. should be used when referring to people, and etc. when referring to things.

–The platypus and the anteater are the world’s only monotremes, or mammals that lay eggs.

–Male seahorses get pregnant.

–A cheese connoisseur is called a turophile.

–It takes nearly a year and about 450 different laborers to make a Steinway grand piano, which has over 12,000 parts.

–18th century physicians used a tobacco smoke enema to revive drowning victims.

–Frankenstein is not the name of the monster, it’s the name of the scientist who fabricated him; in the book, he named his creation Adam.

–Martin Van Buren was the first president born in the United States; all the earlier presidents were born in the colonies.

There are many, many more. Good book.

2012 Half-Over Book Review

We’re directly in the middle of 2012. Here’s what I’ve read so far, with a brief summary of each book.

William S. BurroughsNova Express – Don’t let people or machines or language control you.

Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale – Women are stripped of freedoms to ensure their “protection,” and are forced into a very awkward mating ritual with an old guy and his wife.

James DickeyDeliverance – It’s okay to murder a hillbilly who sodomized your friend.

Robert GravesI, Claudius – Weak simpleton becomes emperor of Rome.

Dave RamseyThe Total Money Makeover – Guy who used to be rich, then went bankrupt, then got rich again tells you that if you don’t spend money, you’ll have more money to spend.

Frank MillerThe Dark Knight Returns – Batman, now 55 years old, comes out of retirement.

Thomas PynchonThe Crying of Lot 49 – Oedipa Maas searches for the Trystero.

Robert Anton WilsonPrometheus Rising – Widen your reality tunnel.

-The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-written with Robert Shea) – An 800 page philosophical, psychological, historical, mythical, science fictional, psychedelical trip through various conspiracy theories.

Philip K. DickDr. Futurity – A doctor is transported to a future where death is glorified and saving lives is frowned upon.

-Ubik – People search for Ubik as they uncontrollably travel backwards in time.

Robert A. HeinleinStranger In a Strange Land – Man with human parents who has been raised by Martians is brought to Earth. Mucho grokking ensues.

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching – It’s all about the art of non-action. My kind of book.

H.P. LovecraftAt The Mountains of Madness – Weird alien things found in Antarctica.

Hunter S. ThompsonHell’s Angels – The Strange And Terrible Saga Of The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs – Thompson hangs out with the Hell’s Angels for a year.

Help Yourself, Pt. 6 – Chapter Two, Pt. 2 – My Rough Childhood

February 15, 2012 2 comments

Here’s the continuation of Monday’s post about how to craft an inspirational back story that will garner the sympathy of readers. It tells the saga of my life growing up in a rough neighborhood.

Have An Inspirational Back Story, continued

     Allow me to loosen the belt on my story-telling kimono, and let my tale flop out. My own path was filled with class warfare, racial tensions, and social embarrassments. To know why I am the way I am, we must traverse time and space to the 1980’s in New Ulm, Minnesota. It was during this dubious time and place in which my spirit chose to materialize from the ether. And yes, it is the New Ulm you are thinking of. If Las Vegas’s slutty sister gang-banged penal colony era Australia, the half-lit offspring would undoubtedly be New Ulm. A vile, lubed-up, stick-it-anywhere discotheque of a town where police are sometimes forced to send two, and on rare occasions three, firmly-worded overdue notices for parking tickets. Teens wear black t-shirts with logos of rock and roll bands on them. My friend’s older brother once heard about a guy tripping on marijuana just a couple blocks away from my house.

My time there began under less than desirable circumstances. The night of my birth, my parents were at a cocktail party across town, when my Mother went into labor. Making it to the hospital was out of the question – it was time to improvise. The host’s in-house governess was forced to perform the delivery – in this family’s so-called “library.” The first things I saw were paperback copies of Tom Clancy novels. Four years later my first word was “tacky.” This was only the beginning of a childhood marked by fantastic disappointment. On the night of Halloween in 1991, my family was out of town, so we left a bowl full of candy on our porch with a sign that said “Take ONE.” We returned to find the bowl empty. We knew for a fact that there had been 47 fun-size Snickers bars in that bowl. We also knew for a fact that there were only 31 youth of trick-or-treating age in the neighborhood that particular year. Treachery was afoot. We looked at our neighbors differently after that. To this day, we don’t know who robbed us that night. We added second locks on all our doors, and a coded keypad on the garage. The night before I was to begin middle school, my Father looked through his binoculars across the train tracks that separated the good and bad sides of town. He witnessed an interracial couple kissing. Can you imagine? A German boy necking with a Norwegian girl. And that was happening on the good side. Just think of the dimwitted half-breed such a union would produce. I had to grow up in these surroundings. It only got worse from there. After witnessing that depraved scene, my Father said he was going out to buy a pack of cigarettes. I didn’t see him again. Until later that evening. I don’t know what he was really doing in the two hours he was gone. The gas station was just right up the street. I guess the stress of working one job at a pharmaceutical company with strong regional influence coupled with the arguments that he and my Mother were having over what color their new car should be just got to him. Even the most galvanized of men show rust from time to time. In 1997, the year I entered eighth grade, the private school I attended made us start wearing uniforms. Uniforms with navy blue shorts. A blatant fashion disaster. When I was waiting for the bus on the first day of school, a guy in a Camry rolled down his window and called me “fancypants.” I was being talked down to by a guy in a Camry! When I turned 16, my parents refused to by me a car. I had to use their Ford Focus hatchback if I wanted to go anywhere. Every time I drove, I put on a wig, sunglasses, and fake mustache. I knew what I had to do. It was time to leave my hometown and discover what it really was to be me.

Books Read In 2011

Here are the books I read in 2011. Some were good, some were bad, some were a’ight.


-Christopher McDougall – Born To Run

-Alan Weisman – The World Without Us

-Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

-Steven Johnson – Everything Bad Is Good For You

-Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything

-Juliet Sharman-Burke – The New Complete Book of Tarot

-Stephen Colbert – I Am America (And So Can You!)


-China Mieville – The City & The City \ King Rat

-Peter Watts – Blindsight

-Jeff Vandermeer – Finch

– John Grisham – The Firm

-Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitriou – Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth

-Various Authors – Twin Cities Noir

-Neil Gaiman – American Gods \ Neverwhere \ The Sandman volumes 1-10 (Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll’s House, Dream Country, Season of Mists, A Game of You, Fables & Reflections, Brief Lives, World’s End, The Kindly Ones, The Wake)

-Cormac McCarthy – Blood Meridian

-Steve Martin – The Pleasure of My Company

-William S. Burroughs – Naked Lunch \ Cities of the Red Night \ The Place of Dead Roads \ The Western Lands

-C.S. Lewis – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

-Richard A. Knaak/Jae-Hwan Kim – Warcraft: Shadows of Ice

-Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin

-Mark Twain – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

-Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time

-Richard Ford – The Sporstwriter

-Garrison Keillor – Lake Wobegon Summer 1956

-Arthur C. Clarke – 2001: A Space Odyssey

-Jack Kerouac – On The Road \ The Dharma Bums

-William Gibson – Pattern Recognition

%d bloggers like this: