Cook Book Report

July 17, 2009

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Jane Asher’s Complete Book of Cake Decorating Ideas

Jane Asher was an icon of London in the swinging 60’s – appearing in movies like  Alfie (the original, with Michael Caine),  dating Paul McCartney (they were engaged apparently), and of course,  she’s the sister of musician Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon. I hadn’t really given her much thought since that time until I started finding her cake books in thrift stores. She’s been acting all along – mostly on stage and television – but she has another career selling rather expensive custom-made cakes and publishing books of her whimsical edible creations. You know I’m a big fan of novelty cakes, especially if they realistically mimic other foods, such as the egg and chips above (made entirely from icing, including the plate). Though out of print, used copies are abundant and cheap on the web, or try your favourite thrift store or the library.

Book Report

May 11, 2009

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Astronautical Multilingual Dictionary

A fascinating read if you’re an Italian rocket scientist presenting a paper to your colleagues in the Mexican space program (say) and you need to know the Spanish equivalents of the terms “megaparsec” or  “strap-on booster.” Others may find this book less useful. You have to already know what this stuff means because there are no definitions, just translations (English, Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Czech). Published by the House of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1970. A Goodwill find.

My Saturday

April 12, 2009

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Breakfast: pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage, two eggs sunny side up and endless cups of the most wonderful smelling and tasting coffee.

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What the heck? The Emergency Relief thrift store was open on Good Friday but not today?

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The new art gallery under construction. It seems you either hate it or hate it. I think I like it. Right now it looks like something collapsed – this is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished:

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webcam

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Bought my ticket to see this dude.

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To the library for cds and dvds

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but my membership had lapsed and I didn’t want to wait in line to renew and risk a parking ticket.

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Made the thrift rounds in the northeast part of town which I don’t get to very often.

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…because it sucks. No thrift finds. I also trolled a couple of Giant Tiger stores I hadn’t been to before for remaindered dvds.

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Score.

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Late lunch at Sunterra market on the south side. Delicious soup (more like a stew) chock full of chicken chunks in spicy coconut milk broth. Then grocery shopping at Spinelli’s for pizza fixin’s.

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Homemade pizza with bocconcini, feta and olives.

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Enjoy your Easter.

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Cookbook Report

March 12, 2009

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Betty Crocker’s Dinner For Two Cookbook

I love the clever, whimsical illustrations by Charles Harper in this small, coil-bound, hardcover cookbook first published in 1958.

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There’s plenty of info about Harper on the net – he had a long, prolific career that spanned about 60 years. He was active right up to the time of his death a couple of years ago. Here’s a nice obit on Ward-O-Matic, one of my favourite design oriented blogs.

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Though he specialized in wildlife illustration, especially birds, I think this little book shows that Harper could draw any subject with style and wit.

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Book Report

May 21, 2007

Yucatan Adventure

The Brad Forrest Adventure Series No. 6 – Yucatan Adventure

The dog ate my homework.

Really.

Okay, I haven’t read the book. I got to chapter 3 then I fell asleep. It’s keen and everything, I was just tired.

So anyway, here’s what happened so far: Brad’s in a frat with this mestizo (which is like half Spanish, half Mayan) named Jose Hernandez. Brad and Jose are also on the university hockey team together (who knew Mexicans played hockey, but whatever). After the big game Jose gets a telephone call saying his father (who is some bigshot plantation owner in the Mexican jungle) has broken his leg and and Jose has to come home right away. So Brad and Jose fly from Toronto to Mexico where they’re met by this plantation foreman or something called Blair Bishop. He tells them that Señor Hernandez fell off his horse and broke his leg because he was shot at by banditos (which is gangsters) and maybe it was the bandito called “El Peso” (isn’t that like a Mexican coin?). Brad meets Señor Hernandez and then they get a message that banditos raided the Hernandez chicle plantation and the workers all ran away. So Señor Hernandez sends Blair Bishop to investigate and Jose and Brad go with him and Brad gets to fly the airplane on the way there (he has a pilot’s license even though he’s like 18 or something). And that’s when I fell asleep.

Brad’s a pretty cool guy. He never swears, the worst he’ll ever say is “golly” (Jose says golly too and “Holy Moses” – you’d think he’d talk in Mexican when he was excited). Brad’s rich because his dad owns newspapers all over the world, but he’s not stuck up, he has to have summer jobs to get money just like a regular guy.

I plan to finish reading this book when I’m not so sleepy.

The Brad Forrest Adventure Series was written by Hugh Maitland – the pseudonym of two staff writers for the Hamilton Spectator newspaper. The first eight titles were published by Longmans Canada in 1964-65. Another eight titles were announced on the back cover of the books (“and eight per year thereafter”) but I’ve never seen any evidence that any beyond the first eight were ever published. I’m still looking for numbers 2 (Los Angeles Adventure), 3 (Madagascar Adventure) and 4 (Calgary Adventure) to round out my collection.

More juvenile book series here.

“How to Draw” Books

How to draw horses

I’m not a visual artist, but I’m really drawn (sorry) to the Walter Foster “How to Draw” books. They’re large and beautiful and the pages are crammed with luscious color illustrations, black and white sketches…

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…and a bare minimum of helpful instructional text to make me believe that with a few lines and circles and a little bit of shading, I too can draw a horse/leaping buck/tastefully disrobed woman.

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I’m not sure when they were published because they’re not dated, but my guess would be late 50s or early 60s. The earlier ones (I presume) have a cover price of $1.00 (“Not more than $1.25 in any foreign country”) and later ones are priced $2.00. I bought How to Draw Horses last week for 69¢.

animation

My sentimental favourite is Animation by Preston Blair. I loved it as a lad and was delighted to find it again recently. My career as a “cartoonist” never happened, but I wonder how many animators were spawned by this book.