Leslie's Omnibus

Book Your Ticket

I knew a read a lot, but documenting my year in books has been a real eye-opener for me. First, here's my December list, followed by links back to my monthly lists for 2010:

December – 19/181

Kay Thompson ­– From Funny Face to Eloise, Sam Irvin*

Home at Rose Cottage, Sherryl Woods*

Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Inoclasts, and Misanthropes, Bill Peschel*

Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City Novel, Armisted Maupin[1]*

Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery, Lorena McCourtney*

Return to Rose Cottage, Sherryl Woods*

The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Pötzsch[2]*

Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Debbie Macomber[3]*

How I Learned to Love the Walrus, Beth Orsoff*

A Dog Named Slugger, Leigh Brill*

Zero Game, Brad Meltzer[4]*

A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film, Jean Shepherd*

How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish Without a Trace, Frank M. Ahearn[5]*

The Matchmakers, Jennifer Colgan*

Skitty (Shipscat), Mercedes Lackey[6]*

A Better Mousetrap, Mercedes Lackey[7]*

A Tale of Two Skitties, Mercedes Lackey[8]*

Saint Training, Elizabeth Fixmer*

Millie’s Fling, Jill Mansell*

[1] I adored the original Tales of the City series, so this was like meeting a cherished old friend after an absence of many years -- perfectly lovely.

[2] Fascinating fictional mystery set in 17th century Bavaria, based on the actual history of the author’s ancestors – the Kuisl family, who were executioners for centuries in that area.

[3] I generally like Macomber’s books, especially her Christmas angels series. This, however, was a direct rip-off of Miracle on 34th Street. I’m disappointed, quite frankly.

[4] Think John Grisham’s Pelican Brief goes to Congress. Just okay, okay?

[5] First lesson? It’s a bad idea to buy this book with anything other than cash. That’s fine with me, as I was more interested in how this is possible from a writer’s point of view.

[6] Novella.

[7] Novella.

[8] Novella.




Inspired by Professor Bainbridge's look back at his Amazon purchases for 2010, I did a little analysis of my own reading habits.

Of those 181 books, there were only 133 authors. I'm likely to look for more of an author's work if I like the first of their books I read.

160 of those 181 books were read on Kindle. Most of those 21 books in hard copy were either out of print books or remaindered books I found on a sale table. I'm more than willing to wait for a new book to come out on Kindle.

23 Genres read include Biography (21), Business (1), Cartoons (1), Chick Lit (11), Children's (2), Classics (8), Cozies (6), Fantasy (8), Fiction (33), History (2), Humor (1), Mysteries (12), Romance (17), Romance/Humor (10), Science (1), Science Fiction (5), Social Issues (2), Spirituality (1), Suspense (9), Technical (2), Thriller (8), Young Adult (3) and Zany/Capers (7).

Teed up on my Kindle for 2011?

Traitor's Wife, Susan Higginbotham
The Year She Fell, Alicia Rasley
Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys

What's on your reading list for 2011?


Swiped from the Advice Goddess, this is very good advice indeed:

If you insist on making at least one New Year's resolution, let it be to watch this video.


Put-Down of the Day:

That's a thing of beauty, isn't it?

Now here's a novel idea -- let nature take it's course.

Greatest letter ever sent on NFL letterhead here.

Tower of the Hand is having a contest regarding George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons. You can enter if you want to, but I'm convinced ADWD will not be completed until A Game of Thrones runs its course on HBO -- long past 2011 -- so I will not be entering. Until and unless he gets tired of running from set to set and con to con and writing with partners on other series he authors, Martin simply won't have time to complete ADWD. Hmpffff.

Wonder of wonders, for once I agree with PETA:
Vick is not allowed to own a dog while he is on probation, and PETA wants the restriction extended when he is up for review in 2012. In the same way convicted pedophiles are not allowed to be alone with children, PETA's board says, it believes convicted animal abusers should be denied unsupervised access to pets.

"Children and animals are completely defenseless to an abuser," Lange said.
He may have paid his debt to society, but he'll never pay his debt to all those dogs he already killed and/or abused.

A different kind of love story:
Frank still urges Anthony to move inside without him. Anthony tells him to be quiet.

"Some people say I'm crazy. Some people say I'm loyal. I just say he's my brother," Anthony says.

"I love him," Frank says.
Go read the whole thing.

Update: One of the Nowotnik brothers is in the hospital and the other has gone missing. The good news?
Meanwhile, Anthony, who is expected to remain in the hospital for several days, has been fielding calls in his room from long-lost relatives who read the story and got in touch after an estrangement of nearly 20 years.

"It's kind of hard to talk to people when they're crying and you're crying," Anthony said Wednesday, lying in a hospital bed, a breathing tube in his nose and an IV in his arm. He said he's looking forward to getting reacquainted with his seven half-siblings and 17 nieces and nephews.

"It took that article to get me back to my family," he said. "A couple of days after Christmas, but I still enjoyed the present."
Update 2:
A 34-year-old businessman moved by a Tribune story about homeless twin brothers is paying for a week's hotel stay for one brother while the other remains hospitalized.

The west suburban businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was looking for an opportunity to help and do something more than put a check in the mail.

"A lot of people talk the talk, including myself," he said. "But walking the walk is another story."
That's a lot of love all the way around.

Ear Worm of the Day:


Traffic Lights

There are great love stories and there are small love stories. This is high-tech love story:
What do you do when your sweetheart asks you for something that is not commercially available anywhere at any price?

Well if you're me, you make it yourself!

Daisycat watched a little girl wearing light-up shoes stride and trip her way down the auditorium walkway at a recent Christmas concert we attended. She declared "*I* want a pair of shoes like that!"

Well. The only problem is that the shoe sizes of light-up shoes stop at kid's size three! I searched high and low, and there are a lot of other people searching for this impossible gift also. All of the "answers" websites come up empty. The only "adult" light up shoes are clear acrylic platform heels for women that have lights in the soles.

Not...quite Daisycat's style...
Now that's real love!

Joy to the World!

The Most Beautiful Child in the Word ("TMBCITW"):

The Most Precious Angel Ever ("TMPAE"):

Little Miss Mischief ("LMM"):

Mr. Monkey Toes:

One most happy Nana and pal:

My Christmas was full of magic. And yours?

Glad Tidings

To all my readers, new and old, Merry Christmas!

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy--

One for the Road

Later, my friends!


Remember Reverend Meeks? The Chicago Mayoral candidate who ran his racist mouth off earlier this week saying,
“The word ‘minority’ from our standpoint should mean African American. I don’t think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title,” he said. “That’s why our numbers cannot improve — because we use women, Asians and Hispanics who are not people of color, who are not people who have been discriminated against.
It seems that in the black community, that declaration was not a negative.
Meeks has been under fire since last week when he suggested that only African Americans should be eligible for city contracts set aside for minorities and women. He later backtracked.

But Wednesday afternoon, Meeks’ campaign spokesman Bryan Zises, while confirming the meeting took place, said Meeks was “very clearly not dropping out’’ despite the uproar about his remarks about minority set-asides.

He’s gotten nothing but encouragement from people, particularly in the African-American community, for speaking out about the minority- and women-owned business program,’’ Zises said.
While I am not a fan of Haley Barbour's recent remarks, they are hardly more incendiary than those of Rev. Meeks, especially as Barbour's are looking backward and not his view of race relations today, but Meeks' brand of racism is forward-looking.

I don't understand why the Meeks blunder hasn't gotten more press. Oh, wait! Could it be because Barbour is a Republican and Meeks is a Democrat... and we all know that a Democrat, especially a prominent one, couldn't possibly be a racist?


Giggle of the Day:


Quote of the Day:
There are no lilting flutes here, or delicate harps. The pitch ranges from "deep" to "deeper" to "sperm whale mating call."

Decide for yourself:


Ear Worm of the Day:


In Memorium

It's a bad, bad day for firefighters in this town:
Two firefighters died after a wall collapsed during a 3-11 alarm fire at an abandoned South Side commercial building this morning, authorities said. Fourteen other firefighters were injured, including two who were trapped with the ones who died.

The firefighters killed were identified as Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum.
What makes it worse is it comes on the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Union Stockyard Fire.

God bless all who put themselves on the line for others every single day. Please say a prayer for speedy healing for the wounded, and for comfort to the family, friends and coworkers of each and every one of these brave me.


Giggle of the Day:


Here's a great review of the candidates for RNC Chairman. Read up, then follow the links and go visit their sites.

Joanie asks and I deliver. Go read this, and then offer up a prayer or two if you're of the prayerful persuasion.

Chicago restaurant owners apparently have their knickers in a knot over the fact that we're finally about to get food trucks that allow cooking on the premises.
“If these things really work by social media, they could just go to food deserts. There are plenty of neighborhoods in the city that have a shortage of restaurants and grocery stores or late-night places to eat,” said the association’s president, Sheila O’Grady, Mayor Daley’s longest-serving chief of staff.

“The thing that appeals to people is they think some fabulous chef will be producing some amazing street food. They use Twitter to say, ‘I’m gonna be at this corner at this time. Come meet me.’ If that’s really how it works, people will follow you regardless of where or who you are.”
First of all, I can assure the owners throwing the biggest tantrums that someone who would choose to dine from a food truck on any given day probably didn't even consider a bricks & mortar fine dining restaurant as an alternative. Second of all, food trucks have been successfully integrated into the food scene in such cities as Los Angeles and New York with no harm at all to the B&MRs.

Suck it up, fellas. Offer a great product at a reasonable price and you've got nothing to worry about!

Some people apparently don't know when to quit. Personally, I think the Spider Man musical is doomed to failure. When the Fates send you a message, you really ought to pay attention.

Style Points

My results are in!
This is what your flirting style means for your dating life. For all of these responses, you are compared against other people your same age and sex. The flirting style with the highest score tells you the most about your dating life.

Physical style: very physical

You scored higher than 90–100% of other survey takers in your demographic.

You are very comfortable and competent in expressing your sexual interest to potential partners. You are very capable of figuring out that potential partners are interested in you, and very effective at conveying romantic interest to potential partners. In your last serious relationship, it was very likely that you:
  • Felt attracted right away.
  • Were successful when you flirted using your body language.

Traditional style: very traditional

You scored higher than 90–100% of other survey takers in your demographic.

You strongly believe that men should make the first move and women should not pursue men. You are very likely to feel uncomfortable in a flirting situation where a woman takes charge. You tend to be very choosey about who you flirt with, and it is very likely that you are selective about who you pursue romantic relationships with. In serious relationships, you strongly believe that you should know a potential relationship partner for a long time before approaching them. You are very likely to seek out important and meaningful romantic relationships.

Polite style: not very polite

You scored higher than 20–30% of other survey takers in your demographic.

You do not really believe that courtship should be cautious and rule-governed. You are not very likely to use proper manners, non-sexual communication, and less forward behavior during courtship. You tend to be not very choosey about who you flirt with, and it is not very likely that you took a long time to get to know someone before you knew you were romantically interested in them. You are somewhat likely to like the singles scene [NOT!] and the way people typically flirt with one another. You are not very likely to seek out important and meaningful romantic relationships. [Yep.]

Sincere style: very sincere

You scored higher than 90–100% of other survey takers in your demographic.

You are very interested in seeking emotional connection and showing sincere interest when flirting. You find flirting very flattering, and strongly believe that personal and private conversation is the best way to develop romance. When flirting, it is very likely that you are:
  • Successful
  • Confident
  • Able to quickly determine relationship potential
In serious relationships, you are very likely to experience a strong emotional connection and sexual chemistry.

Playful style: very playful

You scored higher than 90–100% of other survey takers in your demographic.

You are very likely to use flirting to boost your self-esteem and to have a good time. You do not believe that flirting should be reserved for the purpose of developing a relationship. You are very likely to flirt with those who you have no long-term romantic interest. You are very likely to find romantic interest in many other people, and to flirt everywhere you go. You strongly believe that flirting is flattering and enjoyable. In your last serious relationship, you were very likely to have a short and unimportant relationship that moved quickly, but didn’t last.

Want to know your own flirting style? Take the survey here.


Oh, snap!
This reminds me of my friend with the farookin' fabulous hair for some reason...

Oh, snap!

Yes, I have.

Oh, snap!



I swear that CharlieDelta must have a Serbian cousin:
Dragan Stevic of Serbia is the new Egyptian hero who killed a large shark which had previously terrorized numerous tourists (injured 4 and killed 1) at the famous Egyptian resort Sarm El Sheikh.

The Serbian hero was too drunk to remember what had happened, though one of his friends who witnessed the incident explained it all for the Belgrade based media....

Milovan Ubirapa, one of Stevic’s friend who witnessed the incident explained that Dragan had decided to go to the beach for a swim after a long night of drinking. As Dragan and his friends approached the beach, he saw a fairly high positioned jumping board utilized earlier in the day by divers.

“Dragan climbed on the jumping board, told me to hold his beer and simply ran to jump. There was no time for me to react or to try to stop him, he just went for it” says Milovan.

“Dragan jumped high and plunged down to the sea, but didn’t make as much splash as we thought he would”, explained Milovan.

The reason could be because Dragan Stevic ended up jumping straight on the shark which was lurking near the beach, probably looking for its next victim. Dragan had nailed it right in the head, killing it instantly. The Egyptian police found the shark washed out on the beach that morning.

Dragan was able to swim to the shore and told his friends he had twisted his ankle, telling them the water was not that soft.

The water is soft buddy, you just landed on a shark. At the moment, the fearless hero is in a hospital recovering from alcohol poisoning. After Dragan gets well, he will get a chance to have some more drinks as the resort had awarded the Serb tourist with a free vacation for his heroic deed.
CD would do that. Seriously.

Sunday Schedule

More on my Christmas list?

These fun and funky recipe cards. They'd make great stocking stuffers.

Vintage Edition Scrabble. Seriously awesome!

This ultra-slim, ultra cool laptop stand.

And, while I'm getting greedy here, Santa, I've been really, really good this year. I'd love to find a bounce flash kit in my stocking Saturday morning.


What's a meme?

And anything left out of that description is probably covered here:


(Oops! Missed one, and it's a biggie.)

Breakfast only a man and his pals could conceive of:

Bacon (in several incarnations), ham, steak, potatoes, cream cheese, stuffed French toast, chocolate, waffles, beer batter and whiskey maple syrup. My arteries whimpered in fear... and awe.

Saturday Ramblings

Normally he's the most serious of babies, so this shot of Mr. Monkey Toes grinning at the camera made my day!

He may look like his daddy, but he's got his mama's sweet smile!

As cool as this is (and it is)...

... the fact that the animation was done by a high school freshman is just amazing!

Mary Schmich lists her nine best books for 2010.

While I still haven't posted my list of December books read, here's my own Top 10 Books Read in 2010 (I'm choosing by what I read this year, not necessarily what was published this year)
  1. Beatrice & Virgil: A Novel, Yann Martel -- In turns beautiful, comical and horrifying. This one has stuck with me like no other. I highly, highly recommend it.
  2. Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, Tom Burrell -- Written by a black man to a black audience, but for anyone who wants to understand race relations in this country it's a must-read.
  3. Born Under a Million Shadows, Andrea Busfield -- My favorite character since Piscine Molitor Patel. I'll read this one again and again.
  4. Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter, Rick Sammon -- If you want to do a whole lot more with your little point-and-shoot camera, this book is packed full of good information and written in terms that won't intimidate the techno-challenged (like me).
  5. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón -- Set in post-war Spain, it's a quest novel of heartbreaking beauty.
  6. Packing for Mars – The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Mary Roach -- It made me laugh out loud and it was stuffed with interesting data.
  7. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love, Kristin Kimball -- Not a life I'd choose for myself, but one that certainly is rich and wonderful. I could practically taste, smell and feel every element of life on an organic farm.
  8. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel, Helen Simonson -- A reminder that there's no age limit on finding love.
  9. The Believers, Zoe Heller -- Whether you're liberal, conservative or independent, this is a fascinating fictional peek into the mind of the liberal left. Favorite quote: “’You want to know what I’d do if the truth revealed itself to me and it wasn’t the truth I wanted to find?’ ‘Yes’ Audrey smiled. ‘I’d reject it.” Bang on.
  10. Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City Novel, Armisted Maupin -- I loved the original series and was delighted that Maupin treated my old friends, all of them dearly missed, with such affection.
What are your Top 10 reads for the year?

Speaking of love stories, here's a dandy:

For the back story, go here. Sappy. Hilarious. Charming.

So my underwire bra is a threat to national security and requires a groping that left marks for days, but an Iranian-American can get on a plane with a Glock in his bag? Sooooooooo glad to see that the TSA has it's priorities straight and is so effective in its mission.

By the way -- this story about a TSA agent stealing travelers' laptops is exactly why I object to having to step away from your stuff for a body scan or grope fest.

It's no secret that I'm fully in favor of repealing that obnoxious "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. I'm happy to report it's on it's way out the door! Well done.

(John McCain can go pound sand, as far as I'm concerned.)

More Game of Thrones geekery:

Beautiful, no?

I just had to swipe this from Becky:


Tootin' The Horn

It's one year to the day since I woke up and decided to see if I could make it through the day without a cigarette. I didn't use a patch or gum or lozenges or inhalers or Welbutrin or Chantix or e-cigarettes -- most of which I tried in the past and failed at miserably. I did it cold turkey. Not only did I make it through the day, I made it through the year (and with little real discomfort in the process). Yay me!

I'm not going to lecture anyone who's still smoking. Seriously, I can't judge you.

If you want to quit, however, this is what worked for me, and why:
  • Don't wait for January 1. You doom yourself from the start if you play that game.
  • Be ready, but not stressed about it. For me the best time to quit was when I woke up one morning, realized that I'd smoked the last cigarette in the pack the night before and didn't have any more in the house. That kind of timing just works.
  • Take it one day at a time. Anything else can get overwhelming.
  • Don't use crutches -- the side effects can really suck and you can blame your failure on them, rather than your own failure to stick to your guns.
  • Treat cravings like you would a cranky child. Most of the time simply not engaging will nip it in the bud. Sometimes, however, the most effective way to stop a kid in the middle of a temper tantrum is to mimic them by throwing yourself down on the floor and wailing, pounding the floor and rolling around. Silly? Yes. Effective? Yes. (Positively refreshing sometimes!)
  • Say "I quit," not "I'm quitting." Words are powerful things, and positive statements can really reinforce your resolve.
  • Take responsibility for your own behavior. It's not your friend's fault if you backslide: It's yours. Suck it up and be a grownup, pal. (And, even though I haven't backslid, if you do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Don't beat yourself up and make a big deal about it.)
  • Pat yourself on the back each day for making it through one more day, especially if the cranky craving problem child has been particularly naughty that day.
Now I'll have to figure out how to celebrate this big milestone, and I promise it'll be something good.

A big "Thank You" to all of my friends who've provided encouragement throughout the year!

P.S. -- If you love someone who smokes and want them to quit, here's what not to say to them. Guilt, love, science, rationalization -- none of it works, and just makes most of us dig our heels in and get way more stubborn.


I'm still not back on my A-game, but here are a few goodies for you in the meantime:

They've now wrapped filming on the first season of Game of Thrones. Here's a behind-the-scenes peek that has me positively giddy:

I put the tee-shirt (either one of 'em, actually) on my Christmas list.

Now if George would just get back to finishing A Dance With Dragons, I'd be a completely happy fan girl.

Also on my Christmas list:
I got this for a couple of my bosses. They've all raved about it and loaded it up immediately. Now I want one for myself!

Excuse me while I howl with laughter:
Mayoral challenger James Meeks scrambled Thursday to put out a political fire touched off by his suggestion that only African Americans should be eligible for city contracts set aside for minorities and women.

Meeks made the statement on Wednesday during an interview on WVON-AM (1690). It happened during a discussion of why African-American businesses got a 7 percent sliver of Chicago’s $1 billion spending pie through Aug. 31, down from 8 percent a year ago.

“The word ‘minority’ from our standpoint should mean African American. I don’t think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title,” he said. “That’s why our numbers cannot improve — because we use women, Asians and Hispanics who are not people of color, who are not people who have been discriminated against.”

Hours after making those remarks, Meeks back-tracked by saying he would only exclude white women if elected mayor. The set-aside program currently earmarks 25 percent of all city contracts for minorities and 5 percent for companies owned by women.
Now tell me again who's the racist?

Buh-bye, Reverend Meeks. You just publicly shot your campaign for mayor in the left ass-cheek. (Major style points there, though!)

Update: He clearly doesn't understand the basics of back-pedalling.

It's bad enough when it happens in the movies. When you've paid good money to see a top-notch play and it completely throws the rhythm of the acting off, it's outrageous:
Just before the end of Edward Albee's “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” a cold and brutal dawn rises over New Carthage. The dangerously destructive nocturnal games of George and Martha are subsumed by their mutual loneliness. In Pam MacKinnon's very arresting and intense Steppenwolf Theatre Company production, which takes its audience on an exhausting voyage through some of the horrors of marital codependency, Tracy Letts' George finally puts his hand gently on the shoulder of Amy Morton's Martha. She puts her head back. He is about to sing, softly. Their nonsense song — “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf” — has become a kind of lifesaving lullaby. On Saturday afternoon, the audience was rapt.

“Are you all right?” asked George of his Martha.

Suddenly, from the back of the house, a boppy, perky, electronic tune rang out in answer to that deeply existential question. Letts and Morton froze. Mouths of audience members dropped open. The phone rang on. And on. And on. Freed from its merciful, muffling confines, it got louder. Instead of staring into the depths of a New Carthage exorcism, we were suddenly transported to a pachinko parlor in Shinjuku.

Make no mistake — the moment was gone forever. Letts and Morton gamely paused and then finished the last minute or so of the play, but this was like a fumble with seconds to go. There was no time for the team to recover. And, at that instant, the ringing cell phone of Saturday, Dec. 11, became the most egregiously timed audience-caused interruption of my entire theatergoing career.
When are people going to learn act like grown-ups and turn their fucking phones off???

Giggle of the Day: