Monthly Archives: January 2013

Postcards from the Zoo by Darill Clements

Darill Clements stumbled into her job in PR and Marketing for Taronga Zoo almost on accident. She answered an add in the paper–and even though she’d never liked animals–she landed the job that would change her life. For 25 years she worked closely with people and exotic animals at one of Australia’s most famous zoos and now, after retirement, she shares her experiences.  postcards-from-zoo-darill-clements-paperback-cover-art

I just want to start off by saying how extremely jealous of her I am. I’d love to work at a zoo and I’ve always LOVED animals. It wouldn’t be like going to work at all, and would teach you a lot about life. (I’m still devastated that Steve Irwin will never be my husband/best friend. I cried for two weeks when he died).

I couldn’t really get into Postcards from the Zoo, though. It was one of those books where I’d find myself at the bottom of the page and not remember how I got there. I don’t know if there were just too many superfluous dates and places thrown in there, to where it read too much like a timeline and not enough like little anecdotes.

The stories were cute, but not very entertaining. Oh, the monkeys escaped, and oh the pandas came to visit. I’ve read similar books with funnier/sweeter/more touching stories. I did like her describing the transformation the zoo underwent through the years, from concert slabs and bars to more natural habitats. Not only is it more visually appealing to the guests, but also a much more pleasant place to live for the animals. Plus, she gained a newfound love and respect for animals that she never had before. The little blocks of text with animal and zoo facts were very informative, but also distracting.

It was an easy read, but I’d skip it.

2 blue giraffe tongues of 5

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Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

So all my Facebook friends know that I love cooking and I try and make something yummy for my boyfriend every night. When I lived in England I cooked up a storm! (The food there actually is gross. And then there’s this… I knew the burgers tasted too gamey…) Well, my mad skills carried over back in the States and I haven’t looked back.

Cooking for Geeks combines two of my greatest loves–science and cooking. From the time I was a little kid I used to go in the kitchen or bathroom and mix random ingredients together to make “potions.” (I still don’t know why my mom wouldn’t drink Listerine/glitter/concealer potion–sheesh).

cooking_geeks_620I figured that CFG would be a cookbook with interesting little Pop Up Video-style notes in the margins talking about why this ingredient reacted to that and blah blah blah. Not really. It was more of a whole book of scientific methods involved in cooking–like the Maillard reaction involved in browning meat–with recipes interspersed here and there.

They also had mini-interviews with well-known geeks who were into cooking, like Adam Savage from Mythbusters. My inner geek glowed.

Potter clearly loves experimenting with food and encourages people to not be afraid to fail in cooking. You have to make some nasty food before you can figure out how to make something truly delicious. (Like the time I cooked chicken IN red wine and got purple, tough meat. Blegh!) After all, he notes, you can always order a pizza.

He talks a lot about food safety and cooking things to the correct temperature–and how long things last before they get dangerously full of microbes. Yikes. I’m a little paranoid now.

I do think that he went a little too in depth with some of the cooking methods–either that or this manuel is clearly not for beginners. A lot of these techniques I will probably never use (who has time to foam an egg?) but they were interesting to read about all the same. I’m never gonna make instant ice cream with dry ice, but hey–whatever floats your boat.

This is NOT a cookbook, but rather a kitchen guide for the scientifically-minded.

Enjoy, fellow geeks!

4 in-oven pizza stones of 5


Quote of the Day: Danielle Wood

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“Faye’s giggle is one of the things Tamsin likes most about her. It is a delighted, girlish giggle, and far from being at odds with her old woman’s face, it gives purpose to every crease. When Faye giggles, Tamsin does too. She has never known anyone to approach death so cheerfully, as if it were just a thing she had never got around to doing before.”

-Danielle Wood, from Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls 


Quote of the Day: James Harriet

This is the newest addition to our family, Cairo! We adopted him from PetSmart a few days ago and couldn’t be happier. He’s the sweetest and most beautiful cat I’ve ever met.

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“I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.”

-James Harriet


The Mammoth Book of Erotica edt. by Maxim Jakubowski

The Mammoth Book of Erotica has been sitting on a bookshelf somewhere in my vicinity since I was a teenager. I started reading it back then, killed a hundred pages, and then walked away. I still had an old piece of ripped paper marking the spot where I left off. Maybe I was afraid of my mom busting me or something. Who knows?

But I finally came back and finished the job. 1319904

As with all anthologies, TMBOE had it it’s ups and downs (tee hee). Rarely did I find any of these stories arousing or titillating (I love that word) but many of them were entertaining outside of the sexual spectrum.

Some of my favorites included:

  • The Isle of the Dead by Thomas S. Roche- Queen of the Damned meets transgender lead singer. 
  • Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice- An excerpt of Rice’s famous Beauty BDSM trilogy.
  • Hollow Hills by Michael Hemmingson- Six youths get frisky in the back of a 1971 Mustang.
  • A Carcass of Dreams by Marco Grassi- His “story” was several separate individual pieces. Some were of strange subject matter, but all were well written. (Coprophilia, anyone?)
  • The Girl in Booth Nine by Adam-Troy Castro- One of my favorites of the whole anthology. A sci-fi thriller about a guy who visits viewing booths at a XXX store and how a virtual video vixen gets her revenge.
  • The Safety of Unknown Cities by Lucy Taylor- Sodom and Gomorrah meets hermaphrodite meets evil sorcerer. My other favorite.
  • Violent Silence by Paul Mayersberg- A poolside desperate housewife meets dangerous stranger and they get down in a cabana. (It’s much more intriguing than it sounds–don’t judge me!)
  • Equinox by Samuel R. Delany- Bisexual pirate love! Need I say more?
  • Baubo’s Kiss by Lucy Taylor- A vacationing lesbian stumbles upon a mythical goddess and magic ensues.
  • The Age of Desire by Clive Barker- A secret lab experiment goes horribly awry and an insane man with an insatiable sexual appetite is unleashed. Loved this one.
  • L’Enfer by Alice Joanou- A kept man and his mistress visit a hidden erotic club and things turn violent. Very Jack the Ripper-esque.

So, I guess seeing as how 11 out of 30 stories were very well-written or entertaining, 1/3 of this HUGE book was really good. These were all worth reading. The rest were either boring or rambling. Don’t expect arousal though, because these aren’t smut. They’re graphic, but they’re more erotically-themed short stories than out and out raunchy porn.

4 virtual video vixens of 5

(I think I’m just going to work “virtual video vixen” into as many conversations as possible from now on…)


The Book of Other People edt. by Zadie Smith

I was really really disappointed with this book. It was like that 2008 movie Jumper–amazing concept, terrible execution. Zadie Smith gathered a couple dozen well-known writers to do short stories/character sketches but they really fell short of the mark. I mean, I know that they weren’t supposed to be stories that focused on the plot–character development was the whole point–but even as such they were boring and pretentious. 126

I only found a few stories that were worth my time:

  • The Liar by Aleksander Hemon-a brief retelling of Jesus’ crucifixion. 
  • The Monster by Toby Litt-about a creature who can’t see himself and all he knows of his appearance is based on touch.
  • Soleil by Vendela Vida-one of the better-developed sketches that actually made me interested in learning more about the wild-child “aunt” Soleil.
  • Theo by Dave Eggers-a lonely and jilted giant seeks solace in the beautiful mountains.

The rest you could totally skip and save yourself the yawning. I just felt like so many of the stories were written to sound extremely pompous and egotistical. I don’t like associating with snobby socialites, so I’m not interested in reading about them either. I don’t care about your Upper-East-Side-bagels-and-lox-can’t-find-a-good-nanny-problems. I want to read about someone real. Real problems and real courage.

It reminded me too much of A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff, which I hated.

Maybe I’m shallow. Maybe I haven’t started crying into my gin and tonic at 10am and I just don’t understand. Who knows?

All I know is that I won’t be reading this ever again.

2 vagina-faced monsters of 5


6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person via Cracked.com

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person via Cracked.com

I absolutely love the writers of Cracked.com. Not only are they HILARIOUS, but they’re also extremely smart. You need to read this. It inspired me today, maybe it will inspire you too…