While the vast majority of what I read is young adult literature, when I make time for “grownup books”  I tend to read particular fiction genres like fantasy / science fiction / mystery / horror, or else I read nonfiction.  I’ve been a fan of nonfiction books for many years, and true crime stories often have a special appeal. I’m easily swayed by excellent writing (In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt) and/or fascinating subjects (Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, celebrities, etc.).

I often find documentaries engaging and informative, even though a lot of them will bring me to tears and a lot of them make me angry.  I’ve walked out of the theater after watching some of these films feeling educated and frustrated at the same time.  Films like Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, Blackfish, and Capturing the Friedmans (directed by The Jinx‘s Andrew Jarecki) have pushed a lot of those emotional buttons in my brain.

If I’m flipping through the TV stations and I see an episode of Dateline, it can catch my attention within the first 30 seconds and then I’ll be hooked for an hour.  The same can be said for the Law & Order franchise with its “ripped from the headlines” stories.  Although in that case I might be multiplying that hour by however many hours the marathon is running … BUT I’m also factoring in who’s starring in each episode.  Is it an episode featuring Jerry Orbach or Vincent D’Onofrio?  Then I’m definitely sticking with it.  Does this episode feature Linus Roache as the super-annoying ADA?   Hmmmm … let’s flip over and see what’s on Dateline instead!  Or maybe I can find a rerun of 48 Hours, or even City Confidential!

And yes, I’m a big podcast fan, so one of the many podcasts I listen to is Serial.  I enjoy the format of listening to a controversial case unfolding one episode at a time, and that’s been another series that has been getting a lot of media attention lately.  I enjoyed the smaller scope of the first season (a 1999 murder case) and I found the transition to season 2 (a bigger case that was in the news a lot more) to be a little jarring.  But they just announced that they’re moving from a weekly to a bi-weekly format because they have so much new information coming in about the case of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, so I look forward to seeing how this will affect the story and if it can help uncover the truth about what really happened to him.

I’m giving you the background of my true crime / “true” crime reading, listening, and viewing habits so that you’ll understand my mindset when I first started watching the HBO documentary The Jinx about Robert Durst last year.  I watched the series week by week when it originally aired, and that inspired me to rent Andrew Jarecki’s earlier fictionalized treatment of the Durst saga All Good Things, which is what originally set the wheels of The Jinx in motion.  Then I recently read Jeanine Pirro’s new book He Killed Them All: Robert Durst and My Quest For Justice, and THEN I checked out The Jinx series on DVD and watched it all over again.  Along the way, my opinions about the Durst cases and the subjective reality of true crime coverage have been slowly evolving. (more…)

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Several weeks ago, I read an NPR article called “How Tinseltown Got Tipsy: A Boozy Taste of Hollywood History.”  And I thought to myself … Hollywood gossip, celebrity stories, and cocktail recipes?  That’s a book for me!!!

I reserved a copy of Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling Through Hollywood History through my library system, and as soon as I got it I started reading it right away. It’s filled with lots of gossip, stories, and alcohol-themed humor.

WC Fields on Drinking

The great thing about this book (or the problem with this book, depending on your point of view) is that the more I read it the more it inspires me to do.  Some of those tasks are small, like tracking down actors and actresses I didn’t know that well (Anna May Wong, Tom Mix, Ramon Novarro).  Some tasks are larger, like adding to my list of movies I want to re-watch or see for the very first time — Pandora’s Box, My Little Chickadee, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Gold Rush, Trader Horn, Scaramouche, The Lost Weekend. Rasputin and the Empress, The Big Sleep, The Blue Dahlia, The Sun Also Rises, It Happened One Night

But the biggest thing this book has inspired me to do is MAKE MORE DRINKS.

Of All the Gin Joints

This represents a dangerous trend.

Some of the drinks listed in this book look fascinating but are simply not manageable.  Did you know that when John Ford couldn’t get a bootlegger to fill his liquor needs that he would go to his Navy friends instead, who would get him the 180-proof grain alcohol used to power torpedo motors?  And that you can recreate his “Torpedo Juice” drink by substituting Everclear 190-proof grain alcohol?  Yeah, well I’m not gonna try it.  I’m curious, but I’m not that much of an alcoholic.  Or that much of a masochist.

However, there were a couple of gin drinks that looked cool, including an orange blossom:

Orange Blossom History and Recipe

So yes, I just bought my first bottle of gin in over a decade, and I’m going to give that a try.  I also want to try shaking things, stirring things, pouring things over the backs of spoons (?), and making orange wine.  Wait, orange wine?

Orange Wine

Yes, orange wine!

This is my ongoing project for this vacation week — take a bottle of dry white wine, pour out some of it, add orange zest and sugar, and refrigerate it for a week.  I tried it with a clementine instead of an orange, so it will technically be clementine wine instead of orange wine, but it’s a similar principle.

Beginning the Orange Wine Project

So we’ll see how that turns out.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book and I might even end up buying a copy because I think it’ll have good re-readibility.  My only criticisms are of the illustrations (I know they’re caricatures, but does each person HAVE to look like we’re seeing them through a funhouse mirror?) and of the font size in the recipes.  I mean, you DO want me to put the right amount of sugar in my orange wine, right?

Anyway, it’s definitely worth reading and it would be a cool gift for your favorite fan of old Hollywood and/or classic cocktails!

My vacation time so far has been spent doing a bunch of different things:

I read Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Roz Chast Memoir

I picked up this book with a mixture of interest and trepidation.  Interest because I’ve been a fan of Chast’s cartoons for years, but trepidation because I wasn’t sure how soon after my own mother’s death I’d be able to emotionally handle the story of her parents dying.  It was an emotional story, and while I did cry a couple of times I actually found the story more funny than sad.  FWIW, it actually reminded me more of my grandparents’ old age and deaths (in their 80’s in nursing homes) than my mother’s (in her 70’s at home).  There were a number of times that Chast’s stories hit very close to home for me, but I think I could handle reading it in part because I already DID handle this situation in my own life and I know that it’s over.

I read Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz.

Welcome to the Dark House

It’s a new YA novel that started off with an intriguing premise and an exciting story about nightmares, an essay contest, and an abandoned amusement park.  But then as the story wore on, it got progressively more frustrating.  I don’t know if the author plans to explain what the hell was going on in the sequel, but I’m not going to stick around to find out.

I started another YA novel: Hungry by H.A. Swain.  I can’t tell you much about it yet, but I can share an example of my awesome visual humor skills:

Hungry

[This picture features several things that make me happy — a “Kronie” from Jolie’s Sweet Creations and sandwiches from Num Pang]

Other than that, I’ve spent most of my time moving into my new (old) apartment.  I’ve been spending a lot of time dealing with the kitchen, since we have lots of cabinet space there so I can start putting stuff away:

Lined Kitchen Drawers

[lined kitchen drawers]

Filling Up the Kitchen Cabinets

[filling up the kitchen cabinets]

Washing the Rocks Glasses in My New Kitchen

[washing my mother’s “rocks glasses” in my new kitchen]

We also did a LOT of shopping — at local hardware stores for window screens, at Bed Bath and Beyond for lots of things we NEEDED, at The Container Store for … well, you can probably figure that part out.  We also went to Bob’s Discount Furniture to get a bedroom set, which was a very entertaining experience not just for the novelty of lying down and testing mattresses in front of a stranger (aka a friendly salesperson) but for the packaging on the bedcovers that came with that mattress:

Dust Mite Protection Barrier

[AAAAAH!  Look at the dust mite!  He’s shaking his little fist in frustration!]

Another positive aspect of moving is finding stuff that I knew was in the apartment SOMEWHERE:

Night Vale Bumper Stickers

[These Welcome to Night Vale bumper stickers were originally supposed to be part of a Christmas present.  Now they’re going to be Summer Reading Club prizes, instead!]

Overall, it’s been a positive and cathartic experience, albeit a tiring one.  I’m still off work for the next several days, so my boyfriend and I will get some more moving done this weekend and then I’ll have a couple of days to do some more setting up at the new place.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half cover

I first reserved this book because it was a nominee for best humor book of the year on Goodreads (and it ended up winning!)  So when the book arrived at my library, I was expecting a funny book, but when I started reading I discovered that while parts of it were definitely funny and even made me laugh out loud, other parts were more bittersweet.

Hyperbole and a Half Excerpt

Really, really bittersweet.

Don’t get me wrong; I definitely enjoyed this book.  I enjoyed the stories about Brosh’s dogs, about her family, and about her childhood.  I also … well, “enjoyed” isn’t the right word … I was incredibly moved by her stories about what it was like coping with depression.  When I first picked up this book, I assumed that it was going to be a traditional humor book and that it was going to be a quick read.  It turns out that I was wrong on both counts.  It’s definitely worth reading, and it was definitely worth challenging my expectations.  You can learn more about the humor and the mood of the book by checking out the blog that inspired it.

 

Maybe We’ll Have You Back by Fred Stoller

Fred Stoller cover

You might be asking yourself, “Who’s Fred Stoller, and why does he look kind of familiar?”  Well, I’ve known about him for decades, in part because when I was growing up in the 1980’s I watched a LOT of stand-up comedy on cable TV.  And as I became familiar with more stand-up comedians, several of them stuck in my mind because of their humor, their voices, or their looks.  Fred Stoller stuck in my mind for all of those reasons.

Fred Stoller

Over the years, I saw him appear on different TV shows, usually in shows that were run by fellow comedians.  I had several, “Oh, look!  It’s Fred Stoller!” moments when I watched shows like Seinfeld, Norm, and The Drew Carey Show.   In more recent years, he resurfaced in my memory as he appeared on different podcasts and as he promoted a movie that was based on a real-life friendship called Fred & Vinnie.

But it never occurred to me until I read this book what it would be like to be … well, I guess “semi-famous” might be the best word for it.  What it would be like to have people keep asking you, “Why don’t you become a regular on that show?” or what it would be like to have someone date you because of your IMDB credits.

This book was an enjoyable read, containing funny anecdotes about the big picture (trying to make a career out of a series of jobs spread out over years) and the small picture (trying to explain his career to his perpetually disappointed mother).  I also found it an insightful overview about what it’s like to work in television and movies.  You can learn more about Fred Stoller in this Huffington Post article about his new book as well as on his website.

 

Connecting Boys With Books: What Libraries Can Do by Michael Sullivan

Connecting Boys With Books cover

The first two books I mentioned were books I read because I heard about them and reserved them through my library system.  This last book basically fell into my lap because I was checking it in for a patron and thought … hmmmm … maybe I should read this.

Parts of this book are kind of dry and academic, which is to be expected when it’s a book designed for a specific audience with a narrow scope (You see that?  I used a librarian word there!)  It contains a lot of advice that is useful for librarians, but more that would have to get into the ear of library administrators in order to do any good because most ordinary librarians don’t have the power to change library policies. A lot of the advice ties into having the library provide a welcoming environment for boys, which might involve changing library policies.

For example, Sullivan recommends allowing eating in designated areas of the library, since patrons are going to eat anyway, and allowing them to eat in one area means that the candy wrappers will wind up in the garbage cans rather than hidden behind the books.  FWIW, I agree with this idea in a VERY limited way — for example, I’ll allow eating IF it’s in the program room and IF I’m there to supervise and IF every scrap of food-related garbage goes into the lined/covered trash bag afterwards.  However, I’ve heard many horror stories about “designated eating areas” at other libraries, including one at Another Branch Which Shall Not Be Named where patrons were walking into the building with pizza boxes, buckets of chicken, etc. and then leaving garbage everywhere.

He also recommends allowing board and card games in the library, which is something else that some individual libraries or entire library systems have banned at different times.  That’s something else that might be influenced by the particular patrons in your neighborhood.  Many branches in my system allow patrons to play games (either they allow it officially or they turn a blind eye to it), but I know of at least one branch that banned card games because the teens in their branch got so competitive and loud every time they played.  The book details how one library was so fixated on their “no games” rule that they had a patron who was playing chess in the library taken out by the POLICE for failing to comply with library rules.  So I think the lesson here is … um … pick your battles?

And then there are even more ideas for making boys welcome at your library …

Making Boys Welcome

Hang on.  I’m going to stand up on a chair and do WHAT now?  Oh, yeah, I could see how that could work.  And yet I could also see how that could go very badly very quickly!

Being a librarian means that I’m always hearing about different books from different sources (listservs, newsletters, podcasts, patrons) and I’m always reserving copies through my library system.  Because I reserve so many items and because some of them take so long to arrive, many times by the time a book shows up I don’t remember why I ordered it.

Working at the “service desk” means doing a small percentage of librarian work and a much larger percentage of clerical work, like checking out and returning materials for patrons.  One of the things I do whenever patrons are checking out or returning items is I flip through each book to check for damage and to see if anything was left inside the book.  That way if the book was damaged / written in / underlined / highlighted we can make a note of it so that the next patron won’t get blamed for it.  And if the patron left something inside the book (money / mail / metrocards / etc.) they can get it back.

That being said, a few weeks ago a book called S came in with my name on it.  I didn’t remember ordering it, and when I picked it up it felt oddly … heavy …

Opening S

Then I opened the book to discover that it kind of looked like a library book …

Book For Loan

And … hang on … there’s a loose paper stuck in the book?  Let’s look at this more closely …

Stolen From a High School Library

Oh, dear.  So, it was stolen from a high school library, AND it was written in by several people.  My librarian senses are starting to overload.  Let’s look a little further …

Stuffed With STUFF

Aigh!  There are all KINDS of cards and papers stuck in this book!  And lots and LOTS of writing in the margins, in different color pens written (apparently) at different times.  As I flip further through the book, I see more and more of the same:

Brazil Postcard

So now the different parts of my brain are fighting each other.

The librarian part of my brain is going NUTS.  There’s writing all over this book!  How can we tell if our patrons have damaged it?  Will this encourage our patrons to write in our books?  And what’s with all of these papers stuck loosely inside the pages?  THEY’RE GOING TO GET LOST.  THEY’RE GOING TO FALL OUT.

But the reader part of my brain is thinking … I can’t wait to start reading this, although … what do I read, exactly?  Is all of it important?  What is MORE important?  What’s going on, here?  And, just how long is it going to take me to finish this thing?

Well, I can spoil one thing for you right now, Dear Readers.  I didn’t finish this book.  Not even close.  I have over twenty books on my desk right now (primarily young adult and children’s stuff) and I don’t have the time or the mental energy needed to focus on this book.  And while the story was fascinating, it DOES take a lot of focus to follow this story.  Since I had so many other books to read, and since there was an enormous waiting list for this book, I had to let it go to the next person on the waiting list.

But let me tell you about this book called S, so that you can decide if you’d like to immerse yourself in this unique literary experience.

So, a mysterious person named V.M. Straka wrote a series of books, which were translated by a mysterious translator named F.X. Caldeira.  A copy of Straka’s final book (Ship of Theseus) was stolen from a high school library by a reader who was obsessed with reading the book and puzzling over the author’s identity.  A college student named Jen finds this book, reads some of it, and then follows the “if found please return to” directions inside the book, writing her own note underneath it.  Then the owner of the book (read: stealer of the book) writes back to her, and they continue to correspond within the margins of this book.

And basically, once you understand the concept of the book, your job is to read, and read, and read.  You’re reading Ship of Theseus, which opens with a man who wakes up with amnesia and soon finds himself aboard a ship with scary sailors who seem to know him.  Is he a sailor?  Is he the captain?  Is he alive or dead?  What happened to his memory?  Then you’re reading the notes in the margins, which are written by Jen and the book’s owner, who write back and forth about the plot of the book, about parts of the book which might or might not be clues about Straka’s identity, about the translator (who might or might not be Straka himself), and about their own personal lives.  You’re reading the translator’s introduction and footnotes, which might or might not reveal details about his own life.  You’re also reading the pages, papers, and postcards that are stuck inside the book, which are things that the readers are leaving for each other that tie into their written conversations.

So the whole time your mind is jumping back and forth between thoughts like, “I wonder how long it’s going to take this guy to get his memory back” and “I wonder if Straka isn’t dead after all” and “I wonder why what’s-his-name didn’t show up when he was supposed to meet Jen for coffee.  What’s THAT about?”

I’d like to say that I’ll put this book back on hold after the piles of books on my desk are a little smaller.  But based on the number of copies my library system ordered and the number of people who are waiting to read them, by the time it came back around to me I’m sure that some, if not all of the loose items in the pages would be long gone.  So even if I did see the book again, the reading experience would be incomplete.  I think the only way to read it, to know that you’re getting the entire book, and to have enough time to absorb all of it … well, you might just have to buy it.

Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations

Her taste for matadors, millionaires, and wholly inappropriate men had become notorious.  She believed that sexual freedom was a woman’s perogative.  Her affairs had brought her final husband, Frank Sinatra, to the brink of suicide, taken her lover Howard Hughes beyond the edge of madness, and provoked George C. Scott to bouts of near-homicidal rage.

That quote from the introduction of Peter Evans’ fascinating biography Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations gives readers an idea of the subject of this book, but not of the unique voices that tell it.  This is a story that goes back and forth in time, to various points in Gardner’s life and then back to the present day when she’s sharing her memories at all hours of the day and night.  Portions are told in Gardner’s actual voice — from her recorded conversations and from things that she wrote to Evans.  In other portions, Evans pulls back the curtain and tells us about the bewildering challenges of dealing with a tempermental woman who might on any given day kiss him on the lips, yell at him, or call him up while she was drunk.

Listening to Gardner tell her stories is one of the best parts of this book, whether she’s talking about how Mickey Rooney was a lousy husband, how difficult it was to work with Humphrey Bogart, or how Frank Sinatra was “good in the feathers.”  [On a related note, can we bring that expression back, even though most of us don’t sleep on feather beds anymore?]

One of the main reasons why people read books like this is for the juicy gossip, and the hope that in a book called “The Secret Conversations” we’ll get access to some actual secrets.  There are varying levels of honesty here, as Evans himself noticed the difference between the conversations they had during the day and the conversations they had when she called him late at night after she’d been drinking.  He also noticed when she told him several things that contradicted each other, and it’s still unclear if that had to do with her faulty memory or if she was changing her stories to make herself look better.

Then there was the issue that Gardner would tell Evans things about her life but later tell him that he couldn’t print them.  And THEN there was the issue that she ended up backing out of the project.

Time passed, she died, he finished writing the book, and then HE died.  Now this book exists as part of both of their legacies.

 

My Lunches With Orson

I’ve been fascinated by Orson Welles for a long time.  As a kid, I knew him as that imposing guy with that amazing voice in The Muppet Movie and for his narration work in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the Nostradamus documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.  It wasn’t until I grew older that I started becoming familiar with just a few of his other radio and film projects — The Shadow, War of the Worlds, Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, The Lady From Shanghai, Jane Eyre.  I also saw films that touched on Orson Welles the person, like RKO 281 and Me and Orson Welles (p.s. – if you think Zac Efron was put on this earth just to be cute and fluffy, you should see that film because he’s REALLY good in it!)  And plus … should I even mention Pinky and the Brain?  Or how about that appearance in Ed Wood?  And yes, I know all about the frozen peas.

Okay, so I find him fascinating, but my knowledge of his work is still just the tip of the iceberg.  I do have a copy of F is For Fake on hold from the library, and I just watched Monsieur Verdoux today.  More on that in a moment.

So, anyway, when I saw that a new book called My Lunches With Orson was based on recorded conversations he had in an informal setting, I knew that I wanted to read it.  The book is edited and introduced by Peter Biskind, but most of the content is the conversations between Orson Welles and director and friend Henry Jaglom.  Jaglom recorded their conversations, and Welles knew that he was being recorded.  The main reason to read this book is to hear Welles’ world-weary voice as he shares his thoughts on actors and the TV/film industry:

  • I believe that intelligence is a handicap in an actor
  • [On Woody Allen] That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.
  • [On Joan Rivers]  In her terrible way, she’s very talented.
  • Larry [Olivier] is very — I mean, seriously — stupid.
  • [On gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper]  You don’t know the power those two cows had in this town!  People opened the paper, ignoring Hitler and everything else, and turned right to Louella and Hedda.

Over the course of this book, I learned that Welles was not a fan of many celebrities including Laurence Olivier, Wolfgang Puck, Pauline Kael, Charlie Chaplin, Ronald Reagan, John Landis, and John Houseman.  And since this is a book based on conversations recorded at a restaurant, the recorder also picked up other people who stopped by the table, like Richard Burton, Jack Lemmon, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Welles was nice to some of them and rude to others, and those interactions let us see another side of him, as well.

Anyway, it’s because of this book that I just watched the Charlie Chaplin film Monsieur Verdoux, because Welles discussed how he wrote the screenplay but Chaplin rewrote some parts of it and then only gave Welles a “based on an idea by” credit.  FWIW, it’s very different from any other Chaplin film I’ve seen, and it’s worth watching both for that reason and because it’s an unusual antihero kind of film.

It’s also because of this book that I’m going to re-watch the Orson Welles movies I’ve seen before, I’ll start watching the ones I’ve never seen, and I need to track down (but haven’t found yet) the 1985 TV movie Malice in Wonderland about Hedda Harper and Louella Parsons!

But let me address the topic I brought up about the Ava Gardner book — do we learn a lot, and is what we learn honest and accurate?  Well, here’s the thing.  I think that a lot of the revelations and opinions shared here were real, or at least that the people who were talking believed them to be real.  For example, the world thought that Carole Lombard’s plane crashed into a mountain, but Welles thought that her plane was shot down by Nazi agents.  I’m not saying that he’s right, but that he believed it, and it’s an insight into his character that he DID believe that.

There are also some lies in the book, both white lies and out-and-out falsehoods.  Jaglom admits in modern day that he tried to paint a rosier picture when talking to Welles about his career prospects.  For example, he would say that a prospective deal was almost locked up when there was still a lot of work to be done.  I consider those to be white lies to protect his friend’s feelings, although they might have done more harm than good in the long run.

But then there’s the conversation where Jaglom mentions someone to Welles, and says that this man claims to be Welles’ son.  Welles replies that it can’t be true, because while Welles and his mother were friends, they never had sex.  Well, it’s 2013 and I have the power of google at my fingertips, and I can confirm that Michael Lindsay-Hogg IS, in fact, his son. So even though this was an intimate conversation between two friends over lunch, Welles still chose to conceal the truth.

So I guess what I’m saying is that while both of these books are very good reads, no matter how private a conversation is, while the content may be fascinating it isn’t always going to be 100% true.

We’ve had a few derailments over the last few days, the worst of which is that our cat got sick to his stomach on Saturday night, and didn’t stop throwing up (etc.) until Sunday morning.  So my boyfriend and I both had a bad night’s sleep, what with getting up many times to check up on and clean up after the cat.  Sunday afternoon we spent at the vet’s office, where the doctor took some blood for testing and dealt with his dehydration.  The cat is mostly better now, as evidenced by his increased appetite and the strength with which he clamps down his jaws when we try to administer his antibiotics twice a day.

The good part (?) of being around the house more often than usual this weekend is that I got to catch up on some books and movies.  Over the last few days, I’ve finished reading several books, including Sick by Tom Leveen [a gruesome and exciting YA novel about zombies], I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman [a funny and frustrating autobiography by a comedian who is childless by choice], and Fractured by Teri Terry [the gripping sequel to Slated, one of my favorite teen dystopian novels].  I also had time to watch the DVD of the magic / crime heist movie Now You See Me, which held my interest most of the way but by the end was stretching my disbelief to the breaking point.

Today’s my day off, so in addition to bonding with the cat I’m catching up on household stuff like laundry while I’m making my favorite brisket recipe in the Crock Pot.  I also got some shopping done, and as soon as I’m finished listening to the latest episode of the Larry Miller podcast I’m going to get some more reading done.  The next items in my book pile are Asylum by Madeline Roux and Ghosts Know by Ramsey Campbell, both of which look spooky enough that I’m hoping that I’ll be able to booktalk them to classes or at least share them with my Teen Advisory Group.

The rest of the week should be pretty calm — I’m not going to visit that other school until NEXT week, at which point I’ll be busy again.  And then, coming soon — food pictures!  It turns out that I’ve been taking way too many pictures of food over the last month, and I might as well share them here 🙂

And speaking of food, the whole apartment smells DELICIOUS right now.  If nothing else will get the cat’s appetite back to normal, being surrounded by the smell of brisket for hours will definitely do it!