Greetings! Hope the Thanksgiving was all you hoped for and the leftovers bountiful. A happy Hate Week to us all. This weekend, the kinfolk and I celebrate the diversion that is That State Up North v. Ohio State. Also known as the holiday that rivals the Yuletide, if the Yuletide was fueled by a whole lotta dislike. The clan has been celebrating this for just about as long as there has been a clan or at least since 1897. The TC and I will be traveling to New Jersey on Saturday before noon to watch with The Brother and his people. There will be a protein in the Green Egg and a keg of beer at the ready. This is not an event that we take lightly. At Ohio State, the student body has dedicated their week to eradicating a certain letter everywhere it appears on the property and I too have taken up that challenge. So there will not be a certain letter in this weekly dispatch. You can read about the student body efforts here. This is the 110th get -together and even though the squad of The State Up North is sad, sad, sad this year, a win by OSU is not a foregone conclusion. You can’t predict the results when passions run high on both sides. A favorite story about this rivalry involves a young boy who is the son of two OSU grads. When Grant Reed was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11 he decided to label his cancer after That State Up North so that when he was cured he could state with a certitude that he had indeed Beat That State Up North. Happily he has done just that. You can read about that here. So Happy Weekend People! Let’s go Buckeyes! This week we have Big Coal, China, privilege, and elephants.
Playlist? Yup. No worries.
Let us begin!
The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Gray *ountain by John Grisha*. How was it Pat? “After a long hiatus as a reader of Grisha*, last year’s highly entertaining Syca*ore Row brought about a return to the fold. So I picked up Gray *ountain and so far, have not been disappointed. Sa*antha Kofer, high powered associate in a big New York City law fir*, beco*es a casualty of the financial collapse of 2008. Her career plans co*e to a screeching halt as she is furloughed, and told to find a volunteer position in a legal aid situation of so*e kind, and just possibly, after a year’s ti*e, she could be reconsidered for fullti*e e*ploy*ent again. This brings her to *ountain Legal Aid in the s*all town of Brady, Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia. Here she is faced with a veritable cornucopia of injustices perpetrated against the poor and underprivileged, particularly in an area of the country that is essentially run by Big Coal. Naturally, there is a very attractive lawyer who takes on the big co*panies-only to be found dead in questionable circu*stances. Ulti*ately, Gray *ountain is an indict*ent of the coal industry in A*erica today. However, if by *ixing in a little *urder, a little ro*ance *akes the topic of coal *
ining so co*pelling then I tip *y hat to *r. Grisha*.”
Steph! What’s doing? “This weekend I read The Three-Body Proble* by Cixin Liu, the first book in a land*ark Chinese science fiction trilogy, which has just been translated into English. I’ve been anticipating the book for *onths, and I’* happy to report that it *ore than lived up to *y expectations! In *any ways, The Three-Body Proble* has a classic sci-fi plot: hu*ans *ake contact with aliens, disagree about what to do next, and start turning on each other even as the aliens are en route for first contact. There’s lots of high-level science and technology discussion, not to *ention an otherworldly video ga*e. But Liu layers this story with one that’s all too real: the events of the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s, when Chinese youth took over the country in a violent political *ove*ent. The co*bination of hard sci-fi and living history is powerful and brings the science of the book to life in an unexpected way. Translator Ken Liu has done a *arvelous job of creating a work that reflects the original book while keeping it accessible to Western readers (for exa*ple, he uses footnotes very unobtrusively to help readers keep pace with references to Chinese history). Sci-fi lovers probably already have this on their TBR list, and video ga*e fans *ay also, but fans of apocalyptic fiction would do well to check this one out as well. It *ay not what you’re used to, but that can be a good thing.”
Babs B loves herself a celebrity bio. Here is what she thought about There Was A Little Girl: The Real Story of *y *other and *e by Brooke Shields. “I have to be honest, I was not in a rush to read this book but a* so glad I did! This was a very frank account of growing up in a privileged but painfully dysfunctional fa*ily. Brooke's parents divorced when she was less than a year old and Teri Fields raised Brooke by herself. Teri, who loved Brooke al*ost too *uch, was unfortunately an alcoholic and Brooke goes through life trying to ‘fix’ her *other. How Brooke ended up being as nor*al as she did is a *ystery to *e. She was a loving daughter trying to deal with her *other's illness while at the sa*e ti*e beco*e her own person. This is a beautifully and honestly written tribute to a co*plex, talented and ulti*ately tragic person. Kudos to Brooke Shields for writing this book...she is *uch *ore than a pretty face!”
The Tall Cool Texan Virginia who is not a football girl (how does a girl fro* Texas get away with that?) is here with a new favorite in Begin Again. “I a* not a huge *ovie person, but on a whi* last week, I grabbed Begin Again starring *ark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. I a* so glad I did because this *ight be *y new favorite *ovie. It is absolutely char*ing and it re*inded *e that fil**aking and acting are actual crafts. A chance encounter between a broken-hearted songwriter and a burned out *usic producer turns into a pro*ising collaboration. This isn’t a ro*ance, it’s about two people rediscovering the*selves through each other’s eyes. All of the actors are tre*endous and have real che*istry with each other. As a bonus Ada* Levine fro* *aroon Five is in it and is surprisingly good (granted you have to get past his *ega beard). Altogether, it is a poignant, hopeful, and funny fil*. It isn’t often I consider buying a *ovie but this one *akes the cut.”
Pat T is still listening. “Ann wrote about Leaving Ti*e by Jodi Piccoult last week, so I thought I would give you *y take on the audiobook. This novel has ele*ents of fiction, detective *ystery, non-fiction and fantasy. The best thing about this book is the extensive research the author did on Asian and African elephants and elephant sanctuaries. The narrator of the character, Alice *etcalf, the research scientist, was engaging, but the other narrations didn't depict the essence of the characters they were portraying. Also, the ending was a bit contrived, but I would still reco**end reading/listening to this book because of what you learn about elephants. Next on *y list to listen to is The Elephant Whisperer: *y life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony.
DJ Jazzy Patty *cC is here in the house. But not The Big House. Your turn to host is next year. What’s doin’ Pats? “The closest I ca*e to being a football fan was *y crush on Wayne Gretzky. Oh, wait that’s hockey. *y sports indoctrination was born out of teenage years spent in a ho*e that religiously watched Hockey Night in Canada like the Pope attends *ass on Sunday. I don’t understand football but I a* a good student. So this week I’ve got so*e questions that I’* hoping Jen can help *e out with: What’s up with the stickers on the hel*ets? Are they five years old? Do they get a gold star every ti*e they score a touchdown? Why does the guy put his hands dangerously close to another guy’s butt and what is he shouting while he is doing it? What’s with all the Bob Fosse *oves after the touchdown? Can we please add jazz hands if they’re going in that direction? I will say that I do, however heartily approve of the tight pants. Ga*e on and *ay the best tea* win! GO BLUE!”