Ok folks, here’s the thing. I do not go in for this New Age, wheatless nonsense. Give me carbs and give me a lot of them. I could eat nothing but bread for the rest of my life and die a happy man. This man could live by bread alone. And the best kind of bread, the very best kind, is homemade bread. Bread is one of the oldest cooked foods known to man (it’s approximately 30,000 years old!) and there’s a good reason why. Bread is freaking delicious. Also it’s a way better way to eat wheat than just as cream of wheat or whatever (ugh.)
So November 17th is Homemade Bread Day, i.e. the best day ever. So in honor of the best day ever, let me give you the recipe for my favorite homemade bread, English Muffin Bread! (From allrecipes.com which is the best website.)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornmeal
6 cups bread flour
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
|1.||Warm the milk and water in a small saucepan until very warm (125 degrees F/50 degrees C). Lightly grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans; sprinkle cornmeal inside pans.|
|2.||In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Stir milk into the flour mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until a stiff batter is formed. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place for until nearly doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).|
|3.||Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool.|
Yes, my dear Watson, November 7th through the 9th is a weekend of Sherlockian shenanigans in Victorian Cape May, New Jersey. But even though the actual events are happening out there (I was TOTALLY there this summer, but it wasn’t Sherlock weekend then sadface) anywhere is perfect for celebrating how awesome Sherlock Holmes is.
First of all, if you’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes story, read one right now. This blog post will still be here when you’re done. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some pretty baller crime stories. And while they’re not exactly what you will have come to expect from other mystery writers, they have this fantastic tension and the characters of Holmes and Watson are just so great.
So now that you’re familiar with the source material, let’s talk about two of the recent adaptations of these works to the screen. The BBC’s Sherlock is probably the best show that is currently available. People are constantly complaining about how the series (which is what the BBC calls seasons, i.e. the first season of Sherlock is called the first series) are so short, but they kind of have to be considering each episode is about as long as a normal feature-length film! Featuring the acting talents of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson as well as an absolutely flawless supporting cast, I’m realizing that this post is starting to sound like a review/commercial for Sherlock so suffice it to say that everything about the show is perfect and you need to watch it.
The other important adaptation (IMO) is the duo (soon to be trio!) of films featuring RDJ as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. Period pieces as opposed to the modern update presented in the TV show, RDJ and Jude Law are almost as perfect as Holmes and Watson as are Cumberbatch and Freeman. Plus the movies are a lot more star-studded and have people like Rachel McAdams and Stephen Fry in them, so that’s pretty BA.
So enjoy this weekend, my fellow Holmes lovers! And take heart! Series 4 begins filming some time in 2015… That’s not actually good news, is it. It’s ok, though. It’ll be worth the wait, I’m sure. In the mean time, enjoy these posts about Sherlock from BuzzFeed! Here’s one! Here’s another! Here’s a third!
November might be the best month of the entire year. The weather is finally juuuuuust the right mix of pleasantly brisk but still bright and happy, apple-derived and -flavored things abound, and, of course, November has the year’s best holiday, Thanksgiving! (Sorry, Christmas.) There’s plenty of other great times in November, though! Click READ MORE to find out what’s going on!
November 1st is National Authors’ Day! An author is to book lovers what a great chef is to gourmands, what an oasis is to dehydrated desert travelers, and what a favorite teddy bear is to children. American writers, from Hawthorne to McCarthy, from Poe to Hemingway, have isolated, distilled, described, and defined America, what it is to live here, and what it is that makes Americans who we are.
It’s pretty much impossible for me to pick a favorite American writer, so I’m going to give you my top 5!
5. George R. R. Martin! — Not necessarily part of what you’d call classic American literature, but my fantasy obsession runs too deep for me to mention favorite American writers and not include him. If you love the TV series (i.e., if you have a pulse), give the series that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, a try! They’re pretty great!
4. Edna St. Vincent Millay! — Since she’s not a novelist, she’s again someone you might not think of as a classic American author, but Millay is my mother’s favorite poet and she is therefore a big part of my literary history. Her work is deeply affecting; a true emotional roller coaster. If you’re not familiar with Millay’s poetry, read The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver. It will make you cry, though, so just be advised.
3. Mary Robison! — Her postmodern novel Why Did I Ever is probably my favorite book that I ever read for a class. Reportedly written over the course of several years with each separate snippet/section/vignette on a separate index card, the book is hilarious and touching and the easiest read of any great book ever. Get on it.
2. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr! — To any person who reads English, this man needs no introduction. Cat’s Cradle is one of the best books ever. That is all.
1. Donna Tartt! — Full disclosure, I have not found time to read The Goldfinch yet. I am, however, completely in love with The Secret History. For a person whose other favorite books are LotR and Pride and Prejudice and The Count of Monte Cristo, I never really knew that I could find a (relatively) contemporary, non-historical, non-fantastic piece of literature that I would love as much as I love those other books. But I found it in The Secret History. That book rules.
Everyone knows that the perfect hat is integral to any good costume. Hats make winners or losers. The hat is the king of Halloween. With that in mind, a few customers helped us employees show you some of the best ones. Enjoy!
I think I’ve delineated my feelings about children’s television pretty clearly on this blog. The short version is that I am in love with PBS and all it delightfully educational and adorable programming. And one of the powerhouses in both adorability and educationality is Sesame Street. Seriously, is there a better way to teach children to count than with a purple vampire-type guy with a sweet Eastern European accent? I submit that there is not.
That’s why today, October 9th, is so important! It’s the birthday of Count von Count! Aka The Count! Ah ah ah! The Count was always one of my favorite characters on Sesame Street as a kid. For one thing, he had a cape, which obviously enhanced his awesomeness. Plus, he had a sweet accent! What’s not to love?
I still love all those things about the Count, plus I also love that all his songs have this great Roma vibe that is totally rockin’. Basically the Count is a guy to celebrate. So make sure you keep careful count of your celebratory drinks in his honor tonight! (Thirteen! Thirteen shots! Ah ah ah!)
We had a really great discussion about Aimee Bender’s “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.” Even though the book left many of us feeling confused and slightly let down, there was a lot to love in Bender’s writing style and the book definitely made us ask a ton of questions about gender roles, the ways different people deal with difficult emotions, and what the heck was going on with the guy who lost his lips.
It was really cool to add such a staunchly post-modern short story collection to our Club’s repertoire, and I for one will certainly be pursuing a few more Bender books in the future, if for no other reason than to find out if she’s always so frickin’ weird. Some of the stories almost everyone liked were Marzipan, about a family dealing with the deaths of loved ones in very strange ways, The Healer, a tale of two mutant girls who grow up in a small town, and The Ring, about a woman, her lover/fiance/thief, and their quest for really great presents.
We decided uncharacteristically quickly that our next book will be Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is one that at least a few of us have been meaning to read for a long time. Its dystopian world will hopefully sate October’s appetite for the macabre and weird, and it’s definitely a classic, so we’ll be expecting a big turnout and a spirited discussion!
One last point of order: the lovely KU couch will be taking its winter vacation starting today, so our next meeting will be held on October 19th at 6 p.m. at the Shadyside Coffee Tree Roasters (right next door to KU!) and we’ll be sending out our usual email reminder with particulars closer to that date! Hope to see all our favorite book clubbers (that’s all of you!) then and there! <3!
That’s right, friends, September 21–27 is Tolkien Week! (It’s also the best because it’s Banned Books Week, but Jessi will get to that later.) There are plenty of amazing writers in the world. And some day in the future I would love to start Neil Gaiman Week or Robin McKinley Week or something. But one of the only ones (if not the only one) who has his own week of celebration is J.R.R. Tolkien. And it is well deserved.
I’ve talked plenty on this blog about what makes Tolkien such an important author and I don’t want to bore you, so here’s the SparkNotes version:
- Though the fantasy genre has existed pretty much since the dawn of fiction (especially if you consider ancient epics like The Epic of Gilgamesh and Beowulf to be fantasy), Tolkien’s works of the early to mid 20th century gave meteoric rise to the genre’s popularity and inarguably made possible the publication of literally all popular fantasy works since. Seriously, there is not a single writer in fantasy today who doesn’t owe a huge debt to Tolkien.
- Tolkien’s works not only defined a genre, but they also exemplify one of the most difficult and important aspects of fiction: world creation. The completeness of Middle-earth and its inhabitants, down to such details as histories that have no direct bearing on the plots of the major novels, so specific that Tolkien’s languages are equipped with all the trappings of linguistic maturation including etymologies and even dead languages.
- Tolkien’s works and he himself were largely concerned with mythology. Because of this, his work is not not merely telling a story for its own sake, but recognizing and celebrating a story’s significance to the people who told it.
- This list could literally be infinite, so I’m going to leave it at that for now.
This Tolkien Week, we’ll be having our usual Tolkien Quiz contest! Come in and take the quiz! The highest scorer will win a fabulous Tolkien-related prize and everyone who takes the quiz will be entered in a raffle for a $20.00 KU Gift Certificate! So even if you know nothing about Tolkien, you could still win big!