Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Books Part XVII

A Field Guide to Sprawl by Dolores Hayden - Definitions of common suburban/exurban sights/sites are illustrated by Jim Wark's aerial photographs. It's mildly interesting; I would have appreciated it more about 20 years ago (alas it was published only ten years ago). 3 stars

Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: A Slightly Tarnished Southern Belle's Words of Wisdom by Celia Rivenbark - This is a decent collection of humorous essays about family life, celebrities, and southern culture. For a long time I thought her last name was Riverbank3 stars

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates - Here is yet another book based on a blog I haven't read. Yates makes snarky comments about cake decoration mistakes. 4 stars

Lab Fever: Living, Loving and Laughing with America's #1 Pet by Bruce Cochran - These single-frame cartoons provide a spot-on portrayal of life with a Labrador retriever. Funny stuff. 4 stars


     

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Books Part XVI

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield - Love is a Mix Tape was a good, pop-culturally-oriented memoir, but it was clouded by impending doom. Sheffield's second book is lighter and easier to enjoy, especially for someone familiar with 1980s music. 4 stars

Kinky's Celebrity Files by Kinky Friedman - In this quick read, the legendary Friedman writes about famous friends and their pets. And there are pictures, too. 4 stars

The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse by David Owen - Owen makes a convincing argument that we cannot solve the global warming problem with technology. Along the way, he dispenses with stupid eco-fads like the locavore movement.* 4 stars

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light - "Hallelujah" has taken on a life of its own. Light writes about songwriter Cohen, performer Buckley, and countless interpretations of the song by other artists. He also examines how this sort-of-religious song has become popular in an increasingly secular culture and how the emotions it evokes as a soundtrack have changed over the years. 5 stars

* The goal is to reduce energy use, but transportation is only a small portion of the energy cost of food. Therefore it is better to grow food in the most resource-efficient location rather than merely the closest. (Of course, some locavores may have other objectives, such as supporting the local economy.)