Wodehouse on Crime: A Dozen Tales of Fiendish Cunning

Blue and white creamer in the shape of a cow and the book Wodehouse on CrimeWodehouse, P.G. Wodehouse on Crime: A Dozen Tales of Fiendish Cunning. D.R. Benson. New York: International Polygonics, LTD, 1981.  With a foreword by Isaac Asimov.

Sunday, would have been Wodehouse’s birthday!  Happy Birthday, good sir!  Happy, belated birthday for one of my favorite authors.

Isn’t it interesting how blog ideas get going, what ho? I was wandering through my kitchen and noticed my adorable, little cow creamer. It was a gift one Christmas from my daughter, who had just completed a read of a couple of Wodehouse books. The method by she acquired this piece of frippery for me was much less fraught with complications than the methods Bertie Wooster tried in retrieving a cow creamer for his Aunt Dahlia. These thoughts plus a wander through my calendar, brought me to this author.  This was not the book I was seeking as I was shuffling through my shelves, but then I was arrested to find it had a foreword by Isaac Asimov.  Two of my favorite authors, how could I resist?

I picked up the book and began reading Asimov’s forward.  Here’s one bit that brought me to attention.

P.G. Wodehouse, as we all know, created a world of his own; or rather, forced one to live past its time. He took Edwardian England, purified it of its grosser elements, and kept it alive by some alchemy, of which only he knew the secret, right into the Vietnam era.

And in doing so, he imbued every aspect with lovability.

Do some of his characters seem like wastrels? Semi-idiots? Excrescences on the face of society?

Undoubtedly, but one and all, each worthless idler would rather die by torture than sully a woman’s name, however indirectly and involuntarily.  All would engage, at a moment’s notice, in any act of chivalry and kindness, though it meant the loss of all their worldly good (all five pound of it) or, worse yet, though it meant a rip in their perfectly-creased trousers¹.

How could I resist!  I picked up this volume and proceeded to re-read it and report on it for you.  Note, before you begin a Wodehouse book, you may need to find a safe place to read.  In bed, with you partner at the end of the day, might not be a good place.  Are they sensitive to the polite chuckle, a brisk tsk-tsk, or a loud bark of laughter after lights out? How about the cafeteria at lunch time, will your neighbors look askance at these mild outbursts?  My advice, find a cozy spot to giggle, snicker, tsk, and guffaw and enjoy his books in a carefree manner.

Here we have a book that reports to be a dozen tales of fiendish cunning.  It is Wodehouse, who is fiendish and cunning, writing these stories about men and women.  The crimes don’t seem so dastardly and mysterious. Many of the characters seem like they don’t have two brain cells to rub together to make a spark, but they are loveable.  One of my favorite stories in this little gem is titled, “The Crime Wave at Blandings.”  Were jewels stolen, was someone murdered? No, in a day of gentle, general lawlessness at the idyllic Blandings Castle, an air gun confiscated from the grandson of Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth.  It is amazing the trouble one little air gun can cause. The situation gets so out of hand that the very proper butler, Beach hands in his resignation!  You will have to read this story to find out how the easy-going Lord Emsworth, his sister the rather stern, no-nonsense Constance, the very proper butler, Beach, and the odious, bossy, ex-secretary Rupert Baxter all are affected by this small element of criminality.

A collection of Wodehouse short stories would never be complete without a story about that dynamic duo Wooster and Jeeves!  This book includes three: “The Purity of the Turf,” “Without the Option,” and “Aunt Agatha Takes Count.” Each story is a jewel of convolution and silliness.  In any Wooster and Jeeves story, Bertie is in a jam and Jeeves comes to the rescue.  In the story “Without the Option,”

Bertie encourages his friend, Sippy (Oliver Randolph Sipperly) to pinch a policeman’s helmet on the night of the Oxford/Cambridge Boat-Race.  Bertie escapes the chokey, but his friend, Sippy is sentenced to 30 days. Chaos ensues, of course!  Sippy is to go down to Cambridge to please his Aunt Vera.  Bertie feels great remorse for landing Sippy in the soup!  Jeeves is consulted and suggests that Bertie go in Sippy place.  Again, you will have to read the story to learn how Bertie shoulders on and Jeeves wins the day.  Here’s a bit of conversation to whet your appetite for this story.

Bertie: “You think, I haven’t the machinery.”

Jeeves: “I will most certainly devote my very best attention to the matter, sir, and will endeavor to give satisfaction.”

In conclusion, I agree with Isaac Asimov.  I, too, would have liked to dine at the Drones Club and observe all the exuberance of those young men.  I have two strikes against me, one I am a woman and individuals of the opposite sex were barred from this establishment.  The second is that the Drones Club is a fictional establishment, alas no one can go there.  Pick up a volume and read a cunning, convoluted, silly story to brighten your day.

Advertisements

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: August and September 2017

Aug_Sep17I feel it has been an age since I have settled in to write. August and September were so very busy around here.  You may notice that the book stack here is much shorter than usual.  No contributions from Alexis and Sarah.  They moved out to an apartment of their own so I don’t have their input.  I hope to ask them to write something for me to post.  Helping them move, new job responsibilities, helping with a wedding, and general household clean up, my reading and writing have been on a hiatus.  I am glad to be sitting here writing.

With the girls comfortably established in a place of their own, Jim and I are empty nesters.  We are getting used to the new routine that includes only two people.  One of the advantages of  having an empty nest is that there are extra bedrooms. Jim and I converted one of them into an office for me.  Jim, the lovely man that he is, painted it for me.  I have a new desk.   It is wonderful to have a cozy, comfortable, dedicated space to do my bits of writing and blogging.

Without further ado, here is the reading report!

Robin’s List

  • Holt, Tom. The Management Style of the Supreme Beings. New York: Orbit, 2017.
  • Griffith, Clay and Susan Griffith. The Shadow Revolution. New York: Del Rey, 2015.
  • Griffith, Clay and Susan Griffith. The Undying Legion. New York: Del Rey, 2015.
  • Harris, Charlaine. Midnight Crossroad. New York: Ace, 2014.

I haven’t finished The Management Style of the Supreme Beings. I have been distracted by other reading.  I was hoping it would be just a funny as my favorite Tom Holt novel, Flying Dutch.  This one is amusing, but I am having trouble finishing it up.  I will give it another go later this month.

I did enjoy reading Midnight Crossroad. I read this book just before the new TV series, Midnight, Texas started.  It made me a step ahead on the first few episodes.  I need to find another book in the series and then catch up on all the episodes of the TV series I have missed.

The Shadow Revolution and The Undying Legion are the first two books in the “Crown & Key” series.  They take place in Victorian London where werewolves and other nasty shadows lurk.  I fished these two books out of the pile Alexis had designated for Half Price books.  They were fun, light reading during these busy months.

Jim’s List

  • Baxter, Stephen. New York: Penguin, 2015 (Nook Book)
  • Tyson, Neil deGrasse. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.

While on vacation this summer, we were wandering in a little independent bookstore in Healdsburg, California when we ran across this slim, little volume.  While Jim does take time to contemplate the cosmos and photograph it as well, I thought he might find this book amusing.  “It was good, very informative, and easy to understand.  You don’t have to be an astronomer or engineer to understand it.”  These were Jim’s comments on the book.  I need to move it from his reading stack to mine.

I am glad to be back at work on this project.  Have a good month and happy reading!

Just in case you are curious.  Here is my office.

Office

 

Never Spit on Your Shoes: A Book for the First Day of School

NeverSpitCazet, Denys. Never Spit on Your Shoes. New York: Orchard Books, 1990.

Good evening!  This was the first day of school for many children in central Texas.  Parents worked hard to get their children ready to go back to school. Teachers did their part, working hard preparing their classrooms for their new students. It was a significant day for parents and students.  For young children and their parents going to school for the first time can be a little scary.  They don’t know what to expect.  For older students and their parents, the first day of school marks the beginning of a new year of activity.  For me it signaled the passing of a year in a more significant way than New Years.

While I was considering which book to share, I stopped to have a conversation with my daughter.  She grew up to become a music educator and now works in an elementary school here in central Texas.  She had been busy setting up her classroom. She told me her plans for the first day of school.  This year, she will be asking her student to help craft the classroom rules.

That amusing conversation made me remember this book.  I am certain I purchased the book for its title, Never Spit on Your Shoes, when I was teaching preschool. How could I resist? It is a good piece of advice.  Take a look at the cover of this book. Like my daughter, this teacher is developing the class rules for the first day of school.

Denys Cazet has shared the first day adventures of a little puppy named, Arnie.  Arnie is making the transition from kindergarten to first grade.  As the book opens we see Arnie drag himself into the house, throw himself into a chair, and gasp out for milk.  The first day of school has been exhausting.  His mom brings milk and cookies and they proceed to have a conversation about his first day of school.

I like the way this book is designed!  On the double-spread pages of the book, you see an inset of Arnie and his Mom.  The rest of the page shows the details of what happened at school. Here’s an example.  At the top of the inset picture, Arnie tells his mom, “We had to sit together in a circle and help the teacher make the rules.”  The rest of the double page shows the classroom, with the students in the circle working on ideas for rules.  Mrs. Hippowitz got some of these helpful suggestions: “Waste not, want not. Always keep your tools dry! Just say no to catnip. Never spit on your shoes. Keep your feet dry.  Is it time to go home?” The inset picture shows Arnie whispering to his mom.  Under the inset picture Arnie tells his mom, “Never spit on your shoes.”  Mom replies, “I promise.” Good advice, but I doubt it made the list. It clearly impressed Arnie. I am looking forward to visiting with my daughter to hear what interesting suggestions Ms. Reimund received for her classroom rules.

This book is very funny! It is evident that Mr. Cazet has spent some time in a classroom.  There are many amusing things to discover and discuss.  I don’t know, if I would read this book to my child before or after the first day of school.  It might be fun to read after and discuss how the child’s day was the same or different from Arnie’s. When you read this book, you need to pay close attention to the words and pictures or you will miss the jokes.  Pick up a copy of this book and share it on the first day of school with a youngster you know.

Denys Cazet

Here are five fun facts about this author.

  1. He’s been a gardener, mail carrier, teacher, librarian and media specialist.¹
  2. His characters are based on some of his friends and family.
  3. The title Never Spit on Your Shoes was an actual contribution to a teacher’s class discussion on rules.
  4. He was inspired to write the Minnie and Moo stories, when he drove past a herd of cows. All the cows were facing the same direction except two.2
  5. He lives and works near Napa in California3.

¹http://biography.jrank.org/pages/1785/Cazet-Denys-1938.html
²https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-100163/denys-cazet
³http://www.patriciamnewman.com/kidlit-creators/denys-cazet/

The Moon Seems to Change

Branley, Franklyn.  Illustrated by Barbara and Ed Emberley.  The Moon Seems to Change.  New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1980, 1987.

Moon_VenusHere’s a picture to get us started.  It was taken yesterday morning (8/19) around 6 am.  It is a picture of the waning moon with Venus over our little house in the backyard. It was a beautiful morning and the moon and Venus were shining so brightly over our house.  We have always loved looking at the moon. At our house, we track moon phases.  Why?  First, it is fun. Second, we have an astrophotographer here who needs dark skies.  Clear, dark nights near the new moon are a treasured commodity. The full moon is lovely to observe with your eyes, but its light is much too bright for telescope work.

New moon, full moon, waxing moon, crescent moon, what to all these terms mean?  This very nice little book, The Moon Seems to Change, explains the moon and its phases.  It begins, “Tonight take a look at the sky. See if the moon is there.”  We learn that the moon, sun, and the earth all have a role to play in this apparent change.  The moon is always illuminated by the sun. Depending on the position of the moon in its orbit around our Earth, we see more or less of its illumination.

MoonChangeThe simple, but informative explanations are from Franklyn Branley, a champion of science education and a former chairman of The Hayden Planetarium. He offers a simple experiment that you can do at home to demonstrate the moon phases using a few simple tools: an orange, a flashlight, a pencil, and a marker. The illustrations provided by Barbara and Ed Emberley bring the explanations alive and make them accessible for young readers.

Speaking of the sun, the moon, and earth’s relative positioning, there is a special event occurring this week!  Some places in the United States will be seeing a total solar eclipse.  I am not traveling to see this event, but I am staying home to observe. Here in Central Texas, we will see about two-thirds of it. We have our eclipse glasses and Jim has a solar filter for his telescope.  We should have an interesting day.

If you have an interest in this event, are some websites that may help you plan your eclipse watch.  Remember never look directly at the sun without protective glasses (not sunglasses)!

  1. Safe viewing: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety
  2. Eclipse 101: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/
  3. Printable Pinhole Projectors: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/2d3d-printable-pinhole-projectors
  4. Where to Watch the Eclipse in Central Texas: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/make-your-plans-where-watch-the-solar-eclipse-central-texas/JhCMJASOkBW2BDM0UtTP2L/
  5. Smithsonian Solar Eclipse Apps: http://smithsonian-eclipse-app.simulationcurriculum.com/download.html
  6. Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org/get-involved/events/2017/2017-total-solar-eclipse.html

Enjoy the excitement of the solar eclipse, but never stop enjoying stepping outside on any clear evening to view our lovely Moon.

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: June & July 2017

ReadingJuly17Time is swift and it has flown!
June and July have passed.
We are at summer’s scorching height!
A good time to find a cool place
With a tall drink and an engrossing book!

I don’t know what has happened to June or July!  I never got around to the reading report for June so I have combined it with July.

Robin

We went on vacation at the first of July.  It was wonderful to get away.  I didn’t pick a novel of great importance to read this year.  I read a fun book I picked up at the grocery store.  It is based on the TV series the Librarians.  It was not a great classic, but it was amusing!

  1. Cox, Greg. The Librarians and the Lost Lamp.  New York: Tom Doherty Associate Book, 2016.
  2. Dahl, Roald. Matilda. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. New York: Puffin Books, 1988.
  3. Highfield, Roger. The Physics of Christmas.  New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999.
  4. Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Buried Giant. New York: Vintage, 2015.
  5. Roberts, Nora. Come Sundown. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  6. Willis, Connie. Crosstalk. New York: Del Rey, 2016.
  7. Abnett, Dan. Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero. Nottingham, UK: Angry Robot, 2009.
  8. Robb, JD. Brotherhood in Death. New York: Berkely, 2016.
  9. Robb, JD. Apprentice in Death. New York: Berkley, 2016.

Jim

Here is Jim’s list.  He received the book on Colonial Spirits for a gift.  I had a look at it.  It was amusing.  He picked up the copy of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book at a little independent book store while we were on vacation.

  1. Baxter, Stephen. Ultima. New York: Ace Books, 2016.
  2. Tyson, Neil deGrasse. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. New York. W. Norton & Company, 2017.
  3. Grasse, Steven. Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History.  New York: Abrams Image, 2016.

Alexis

Always our most prolific reader.  I didn’t get a chance to follow up on all the library books she read.  Here a small sample of the things she has read.

  1. Brooks, Mike. Dark Run. New York: Saga Press, 2015.
  2. Sullivan, Michael J. Age of Myth. New York: Del Rey, 2017.
  3. Harris, Charlaine. Midnight Crossroad.  New York: Ace, 2014.
  4. Lee, Yoon Ha. Ninefox Gambit. Oxford, UK: Solaris, 2016.
  5. Roberts, Nora. Come Sundown. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  6. Holt, Tom. The Management Style of the Supreme Beings. New York: Orbit, 2017.

Sarah

She was busy this month.  I did get a chance to ask her what she was reading today.

  1. Harkness, Deborah. The Book of Life. New York: Penguin, 2015.

My Trip to the Science Museum

Mayer, Mercer.  My Trip to the Science Museum.  New York: Harper Festival, 2017.

Happy Sumer!  Here in Texas we are in our triple digit weather.  At this time of year, we spend lots of time indoors in the air conditioning, because it is just too “gol dern” hot to do anything outside.  When we do venture out of the house or office, we look for other cool venues like movies or museums. When we send out children to summer camp, we check the schedule to make certain that they will be spending the hottest part of the day inside. It is just too darn hot!

This summer my daughter is working a science camp.  After looking at her camp’s schedule, I see they employ this strategy.  They work inside in the cool and spend small amounts of time outside conducting experiments (like water rockets) that can’t be done safely inside.

All this discussion brings me to my book for today. Written and illustrated by one of my favorites, it is a Little Critter story.  They always make me smile. If you have ever been to summer camp or have sent your children to one, you might remember that once or twice you went some place special.  Around here you might get to go to Natural Bridge Caverns, or the Bob Bullock Museum, or the Doctor Pepper Museum, or the Thinkery.  These are all terrific places that make a good day outing in our area.  While I think this book is about a school field trip, I think it would also make a great summer camp outing so I am working it in here.

I admit that I bought this book for myself.  I haven’t read it with a young friend or with my own daughters or with a class.  I have shared it with my husband and he chuckled along with me.  What drew me to the book? It was the curiously familiar illustration of Dr. DaBison.  Yes, it was Neil deGrasse Tyson in illustrated, animal form. That wonderful, science and knowledge advocate was in a Little Critter book!  The dedication sealed the deal for me: “Dedicated to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Thanks for making the universe so much fun!” As I admire both men (Mayer & Tyson), it was mandatory to add this book to my collection.

Little Critter’s class and his teacher, Miss Kitty, take a field trip to the science museum.  They get to check out all the cool experiments. It was cool to see Miss Kitty’s hair stand up all over when she touched the plasma globe.  Little Critter enjoyed exploring the tornado machine.  With Dr. DaBison’s help they explore even more cool science experiments.  They end their day in the planetarium where Dr. DaBison shows them the wonders of the universe.  As Miss Kitty is rounding up her class to board the bus, Dr. DaBison poses this question to the class, “What do you want to be when you grow up”.  Little Critter’s response is the perfect end to the book. “When I grow up I want to be you, Dr. DaBison.  You have the best toys in the universe!”

My sentiments exactly!  Pick up this book, read it, and take yourself and some children, if you are so inclined, to the nearest science museum.  Stay cool, think hard, wonder, and have a great time!

Museums for Science in Central Texas

Film, Feast, and Fiction: The Phantom Tollbooth

PhantomTollbooth2Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. Illustrator: Jules Feiffer. New York: Scholastic, 1961.

Does anyone remember the show that aired on Friday evenings on TBS called, “Dinner and a Movie”? My family loved it.  We would come home from work and school, eat our own dinner, and sit down to watch whatever movie they were showing, and drool over the delicious dinner that was being prepared. Those recipes always violated my weeknight cooking rules (no more than 2 pans dirty and less than 40 minutes to make), still it was fun to watch them prepare something sumptuous.

In the spirit of that show, I am inaugurating my own series: Film, Feast, and Fiction.  I think it is fun to compare books and the movies made from them.  They rarely match up completely, but it is enjoyable to debate the differences with other book and movie lovers.  What goes well with a lively discussion like this?  Food, of course! I hope you enjoy the book, film, and food parings.  I hope to keep the recipes easy enough that you might consider using them for you own food, book, and movie pairing.

The fiction and film

The Phantom Tollbooth is a book about a boy, Milo by name, who is bored, bored, bored.  He has nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to think.  He is weary from the boredom of being bored.  As he walks home from school, he doesn’t notice the lovely, sunny day or the birds singing.  At home in his apartment, he looks at his books, puzzles, and toys and sighs.  Nothing, nothing is worth the effort.  He walks into his room to flop on the bed and notices something new. It is a large package. His feeling of ennui almost over powers him, but a miniscule spark of curiosity prompts him to walk over to the package to take a look. It is a tollbooth, just the right size to fit his small electronic car.  “Curiouser and curiouser” as Alice said.  Why is it here?  Who sent it?  What do you do with it?  Affixed to the tollbooth are a map to the Lands Beyond, a token for the tollbooth, instructions to have his destination in mind when entering, and this note: “To Milo who has plenty of time.”

Without much thought, Milo shrugs, hops into his car and proceeds through the tollbooth portal to the lands beyond.  He picks a destination at random, Expectations.  Here he meets the “Whether Man”, who is no help in finding the correct direction.  He drives on and begins to daydream.  As his mind wanders, his car slows and he finds himself in the “Doldrums.” It is a dreary and gray land, which matches his mood.  Surrounded by little people he finds himself getting more and more lethargic.  He’s nearly asleep, when he is startled awake by a dog’s vigorous, loud, angry barking.  Milo is confronted by Tock the Watchdog, who will become his traveling companion.  Tock is a large dog, with a clock as a part of his body.  His arrival shakes Milo up.  Tock make Milo aware of the perils of “wasting time.”  They hop into Milo’s little car and for the first time, in a very long time, Milo is forced to use his brain and “think”.  This is a vital step in escaping the Doldrums, which is a much more dangerous place than you might believe.

In his travels, Milo goes to many strange places: Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, Conclusions (which he jumps to and has to think hard to return), the Valley of Sound, and the Mountains of Ignorance to name a few. What he discovers on his travels in the Lands Beyond, is that all is not well in the Kingdom of Wisdom.  The Princess of Rhyme and Reason have been banished to the Castle in the Air by their brothers, the kings of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis.  With the absence of Rhyme and Reason, the kingdom is beset with the strivings of King Azaz and the Mathemagician.  Words or Numbers, which is better?  With his companions, Tock, the wise and practical watchdog, and the very silly Humbug, Milo sets out to rescue the princesses.

I think this is Norton Juster’s unveiled attempt to show the value of education and the delight you can have in the world around you. Kevin Smokler in his book, Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School, selected this book as one of his 50 classics.  Here’s what he had to say about this book: “The Phantom Tollbooth remains, over fifty years after its publication, an argument for brains over brawn, for Seas of Knowledge engulfing the Mountains of Ignorance. (p. 184)¹”  I agree.  Milo had to apply his learning and education to solve the problems in this book.

I discovered this wonderful book at the same time as my daughters.  We loved Milo’s funny, farfetched, and sometimes terrifying, adventures.  We loved this book full of puns and silly word play.  We chuckled all the way through the book.

As happens, the book and movie don’t line up exactly.  Nevertheless, it is a fun movie. It begins with a live action portion, with Butch Patrick, who played Eddie in the old sitcom The Munsters, as Milo.  Once Milo, drives through the tollbooth, the movie changes to animation, which was done under the direction of Chuck Jones.  You might remember him from the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons and one of my other favorite animations, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

If you are nerdy, like we are, you could download a graphic organizer to compare the book with the movie.  Here is a link to one on the site Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-The-Book-vs-The-Movie-Graphic-Organizers-797677.  If you search the web, you can find plenty of them to use.

MyWordsDinnerThe feast

This is the portion of the blog that had me stumped for the longest time.  What did Milo eat while he was in the Lands Beyond?  He went to a dinner in Digitopolis with the Mathemagician and had several helpings of Subtraction Stew.  Unfortunately, he was hungrier when the feast ended than when it began.  I wouldn’t want to do that to you on a Friday night or any other one.

In Digitopolis, he went to a banquet given by King Azaz.  He tried ordering a light meal and a square meal, both not tasty as one was made of light and one was made of squares.  When asked to give a speech, he was interrupted by the King. A dinner of “Your majesty, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to say that in all…” is not a tasty dinner.  Milo was quite surprised that he would have to eat his words!

For this feast, I give you my words: “roasted green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, mini meatloaves, ice tea, and Sweep the Leg Peanut Butter Stout”.   If this meal doesn’t please you, you can eat your own words!

Mini Meat Loaves

Mini meat loaves are fun and they are terrific for portion control.  Cooking them in cupcake tins makes them cook quickly so dinner can be on the table before it gets too late! I like the recipe that appears on page 91 in Bobby Deen’s Everyday Eats. I like it, because it is easy to make and only takes about 35 minutes from beginning to end. I couldn’t reproduce it here for you, but I did find another similar recipe online “Deen Bros’ Speedy Mini Meat Loaves”: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Recipes/recipe?id=8516509.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sorry to disappoint you, but I only make garlic mashed potatoes from scratch on major holidays.  For weeknights, I go with semi-homemade and purchase “Simply Potatoes Garlic Mashed Potatoes” from the refrigerated section of my local HEB.  I put these in a small casserole pan and they cook right along with the meat loaves.

Roasted Green Beans

I do make this one.  It is simple and very easy.  I cook them at 400° F for about 15 minutes, until they are slightly caramelized.  I slide the in the oven about 10 minutes after I put the meat loaves in the oven.  My recipe for Bobby Deen’s meatloaves call for them to be cooked at the same temperature (400° F) as the green beans. If you are using another recipe that cooks the meatloaves at a lower temperature, you may have to adjust the cooking time.

1 lb. French green beans
Lemon pepper to taste
Olive oil or Lemon olive oil

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Either spray the foil with olive oil cooking spray or lightly grease the pan with olive oil.  Arrange the green beans in a single layer on the tray.  Sprinkle the green beans with the lemon pepper and then drizzle them with either plain olive oil or lemon olive oil.  Slide these into the oven and roast as described above.

Norton Juster

This blog is already long, but I couldn’t leave you without a providing a little information on this author.  Here are a few basic things you might want to know.

  1. He was influenced by his father, who loved puns and word play².
  2. He was primarily an architect².
  3. Jules Feiffer became his illustrator by chance. Juster paced while he worked.  Feiffer lived below him, heard the pacing, and came upstairs to see what was going on².
  4. Norton wrote this book, when he was supposed to be writing a children’s book on cities².
  5. At the time it was published, people thought that it was not a children’s book as the vocabulary is too difficult. Here is a passage from an interview he did with NPR in October of 2011³.

The prevailing wisdom of the time held that learning should be more accessible and less discouraging. The aim was that no child would ever have to confront anything that he or she didn’t already know.

But my feeling is that there is no such thing as a difficult word. There are only words you don’t know yet — the kind of liberating words that Milo encounters on his adventure.

Here are some websites where you can read more about this author.

¹Smokler, Kevin. Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School. New York: Prometheus Books, 2013.

²http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-curious-world-of-norton-juster-7768624.html

³http://www.npr.org/2011/11/10/141240217/my-accidental-masterpiece-the-phantom-tollbooth