Operation Empire

This is obviously my personal site but my online content arsenal is vast. It includes Greater Gotham: Going Global, a blog about being out and about in New York City and what happens when you turn Gotham Girl lose on the UK; Fabulous Foodie, where food and food culture are served up a la carte. Last but not least, there is Modern Parlance -- home to my hard-working writer alter ego and headquarters in my nefarious plan to take over the world. It is also home to my work blog - Personal Parlance, where I hold forth on publishing, books, social media, communication, indexing, writing, education and anything else content-wise that catches my eye. 

I had wanted to call the whole thing Operation Empire but several of my friends suggested that might put people off. Upon consideration I decided that a) they were right (so went with Modern Parlance) and b) to effectively take over the world, I would need fewer friends and more minions. Applications being accepted now.

Scribbles & Notes

Of course, the word-smithing started long before the plan for world domination. At one time or another, my personal writing projects have included:

Take 2 Movie Reviews which proved indirectly that I once had a social life where as TV Rants & Raves suggested perhaps that I didn't. (I take comfort in the fact that I haven't updated it lately - which suggests that things are looking up.)

The only thing my ongoing Bibliomania ever suggested was that I needed more shelves and the patience to wait for  paperbacks. Publishing Grunt's Bible came about because working with books isn't the thrill ride that reading or buying them is. 

There were pure flights of fancy like Staving off Ennui, the Server Sees the Sights; there were answers to hypothetical questions like "what should go in a toy hall of fame and then there were the snarkathons - first site website I ever did - Alias Smith & Jones Site and the Dark Shadows Snarkathon.

Much older material is kept in the Ephemera Archives - moved to the backburner but not completely forgotten. Who knows what'll end up catching my attention next...

Bibliophilia: Book Diary

11/12/ 03: Ah, the printed page 

I came down with a serious case of book lust last night and now I can't decide WHAT to start with. It's an bibli-orgy!

Hmm...should I read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone first or Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George (I can't tell you how many times I've been though her Henry VIII book - fab!). Or, maybe a little fun non-fiction - I've got two Simon Winchester books - I'm currently about finished with Meaning of Everything (yes, Deb, the Dictionary Geek strikes again) and now I've got Krakatoa waiting when I'm done with that. I also bought and am gloating over:

  • Baudolino by Umberto Eco (who made me laugh and laugh when I saw him on TV the other day. The way he pronounced Little Red Riding Hood was extremely funny)
  • So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
  • The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style by Michelle Lee (I'm assuming NOT Michelle Lee of Knot's Landing fame but that would make me laugh even harder than Eco did the other day

And the frightening, fabulous truth is that I haven't even gotten half way through my LAST to be read pile that I built with the trip to the big used book barn in CT., Ah well, guess I'll just have to add them to the pile! Oh and did I mention how much I loved loved LOVED In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food by Stewart Lee Allen? If not, I loved loved LOVED it (He's the one who wrote Devil's Cup: A History of the World according to Coffee which I also enjoyed thoroughly)

10/13/03: As The Page Turns 

It's not that I need any more additions to my "To Be Read" pile (goodness knows it's about to topple as it is) but still, as I can hardly help it if the books THROW themselves at me. So - A short list of books that have caught my eye lately.

  • Novel History: Historians and Novelists Confront America's Past (and Each Other)
  • Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style
  • Grandes Horizontales: The Live and Legends of Marie Duplessis, Cora Pearl, and La Presidente
  • Da Vinci Code
  • Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies
  • Ghost Light
  • Foul Matter
  • The Meaning of Everything (which knowing my lack of self control about all things OED, I shall pick it up tomorrow)
  • Engaged to Die (YEAH! Another Death on Demand Mystery)

And by God, if it's the last thing I do - I absolutely WILL find an affordable copy of "Every Great Chess Player Was Once a Beginner". I've never ever EVER forgotten that book ("Chess is just another way of saying I hate you") and NATURALLY can't remember what ever happened to my copy.

And lastly, I have finally and at last read the last of the Hilary Tamar mysteries by Sarah Cauldwell - Sibyl in Her Grave. JUST as marvy as the others (Cantrip, Selena, Ragwort, and Julia are just as wacky as ever)- and this book hasn't done anything to change my mind about Hilary being a man.

7/28/03: Gave in to temptation

"So we instinctively prefer life to death, warmth to 
cold, comfort to pain, sweetness to bitterness, sex to spinach."

Settle down, peanut gallery. I'm sure the nice cultural historian was speaking generally and doesn't really care if you prefer pain to comfort. But keep it to your perverted-peanut selves :-)

As you can probably tell, I'm having a marvelous time reading Sweets: A History of Candy! I know it was supposed to be reading for the trip and I tried to resist but I've got LOTS to read for the trip and this is a hardcover. Who wants to haul a hard cover across the Atlantic? Especially when you have to haul it back again. Not me. And I am NOT one of those people who can get rid of books when I am done (unless it sucks). No, I have to live with a book for a while before deciding whether it has a permanent home with me. I may never read it again but some books I just HAVE to keep around. I think this may be one of them.

I've really been reading an awful lot about food in the past 6 months. Well, a year actually but the first six months were mostly cookbooks, anything written by Nigella Lawson and various collections of essays by cooks, chefs and all about the actual activity of cooking. The last few months, I've switched slightly to culinary history or cultural history with a culinary focus type stuff. What food and cooking innovations happened when and why in one part of the world as opposed to another, how people reacted to (or not) to changes that occurred and what the fall out was from those reactions (or not). I guess I really started this latest reading trend of mine when I picked up Food in History at the Berkshire Book Company about 6 months ago. I needed something to read on the train and I'd been perusing cookbooks (having just realized in the past year or so that my kitchen does more than chill soda). Anyhow - Food in History was there, it was cheap and I thought if it sucked, I'd throw it away. It didn't suck and look when it's led to. A whole new section of the library at che menikoff.

And so this latest book is all about sweets. Candy of all kinds - recent, not so recent and down right ancient. The guy who wrote it clearly loves his subject and so it's all deranged enthusiasm and delight on every page but chock full of that trivia and minutia that can actually make me squeal with manic delight. Seriously - it's happened before and no one ever believes that I can't help it. But I can't. I find out some small fact that I didn't know and which strikes me in a certain way and - boom - chortles and giggles just kinda erupt. I'm a geek. :-)

7/27/03: shop to read, read to - well, read more 

Bought quite a lot of books today (my pre-trip frenzy driven by the fear of running out of reading material - silly really considering I am going to London and can almost count of coming home with books I haven't room for. But I digress).

Bought The Tipping Point: which I'd read a review of ages ago, meant to pick it up and never did. It got lost in the Rex Stout feeding frenzy and I forgot about it until I saw it under the "People who bought this also bought" section of The Evolution of Useful Things. This was recommended to me by a friend - someone who also gets fascinated by he minutia and weird details of every day life. This may not last until the trip as I really really want to read it now.

Also picked up Time and Chance to round out the Sharon Kay Penman Eleanor/Henry trilogy but I've had two BAD fictional Eleanor experiences in a row now so despite really liking Penman's other stuff (and enjoying years ago having her gush about me gushing at her), I am bit wary. Speaking of bad historical fiction - if there is a worse recent book out there than The Other Bolyen Girl, I haven't found it. Hideous. Oh and because Food in History was UTTERLY fascinating, it's really got me interested a whole new line of historical cause and effect thinking, I got Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee, Sweets: A History of Candy. THAT led me to get Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars and on a more biblio-fanatic note - I rounded out my purchase with The Book on the Bookshelf

With the addition of these latest books, the TBR pile on my nightstand (and under the nightstand and to the side of the nightstand) has reached sort of scary proportions but suddenly there were so many titles out in paperback that I wanted. I mean, even I think it's gotten a bit out of hand. If you didn't know my reading habits, you think it LOOKS like I'm set for a year but those who know how and how much I read will look at this pile and say "OK, but what will you do next week?" Well, that's the beauty of book shopping online. The used bookstores supply the ones I hear about way to late and Barnes and Noble online (as well as Amazon) have those handy dandy wish lists and "People who bought this also bought" sections.

I do so much shopping on Alibris and Powells that the used to old ratio in the pile is about 3/1. And when I'm DETERMINED to find something, I scour bookfinder as well. The new books I usually get as I pass Shakespeare & Co, on the way home from the subway or Posman's at Grand Central but just as often, I'm on BN.com. And while I rarely BUY books from Amazon, I find reading the listings on both BN and Amazon lead me to even more things I would have missed other wise. The BN site just has the extra added bonus since I live in Manhattan of delivering anything I order by 11 am on the same day. Instant gratification wins every time with me. That - I'm sure - will come as a surprise to no one.

7/06/03: page turners 

did a lot of reading this weekend (train rides do that). Started, finished and enjoyed Order of the Phoenix. Thought (as Patrick so correctly points out) JK Rowling has created the most believable group of early teens since Judy Blume. And best of all - it gave me lots and lots of Fred and George. What more could I want? Well, I might have wanted maybe one or two less dreams about walking down long corridors of doors - after 5 we get it! - and a prophecy that doesn't leave me saying "Le Duh" but other than that I was happy with the way the story is moving forward.

Also read The Book of the Courtesans - A quick read. An overview of major courtesans through the eras and the catalog of attributes it takes to become a successful one. Should I find myself transported back to the times when this was a career choice, I might do very well as one of the grandes horizontales. I'm gonna get the book on Veronica Franco next - the one that was the basis for Dangerous Beauty.

And I've started reading Word Freak - about the competitive Scrabble players. Might make me feel more at ease with the blood thirsty play and cut-throat action around the dining room table every now and again.

annual re-read 

every year, I select a book (or in some cases a series of books) to re-read over the summer. I still read the new stuff I am endlessly purchasing to the dismay of bank balance - but in the summer I like to visit and take time with these "old friends" The pressure to get to the end is gone - I've gotten there already. In some cases many times before. And I take a leisurely stroll though the place, enjoy the writing and wallow in the characters. I'm still deciding on what to pick this summer (I found some hard to find Nero Wolfe's at a VERY reasonable price so those have taken precedence right now).

I can't tell you how many times I've reread the Peter Wimsey mysteries (which I think I've committed to memory by now) or how many editions of each I've read until they are literally crumbling in my hands. The Autobiography of Henry VIII is another one I've returned to for long days in the hammock. The Lymond Chronicles takes a bit longer than the summer unless I really scale back on the new stuff but it's worth every delayed new title to hear Lymond's delighted exclamation "Look children! It's Richard!" and the fun, angst, fights, lies and secrets start all over again. Several of the Sharon Kay Penman titles - Here Be Dragons, Falls The Shadow and The Reckoning - have kept me company many times.

Maybe some of the Terry Pratchett this year.

What do I do when not working on this site, read a bit about the guilty party responsible for this site or the answers I gave to the 'about me' survey
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