Archive for August, 2009

Huh? Headlines

Posted August 28, 2009 By Jandy

Psych Aide Admits Giving Patient Nails to Eat

Do we even want to know???

Reading Oddities

Posted August 25, 2009 By Jandy

Over the years I have read different books on Chinese culture – The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Dragonwings by Laurence Yep, Mandarin Plaid by S.J. Rozan, and others. They’re usually separated by many other books in between.

If you follow this blog, you know I spent a month recently reading Hawaii by James Michener. A major family featured is a Chinese immigrant family. It starts with their beginnings in China, then to Hawaii. The immigrant couple keep their traditions in Hawaii so the reader gets to see more.

On the recommendation of a woman at the bookstore, I picked up Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin. It is the autobiography of a ballet dancer born in China in 1961 who was raised in Chairman Mao’s regime. The Chairman died while he was still in dance school and his class became known as Mao’s last class. The government started loosening some after that, although communism was still extremely strict. From Li Cunxin’s story I am learning the cost Mao’s communism had on the peasants. His family of seven sons lived on their parents’ earning of less than $100 a year – that’s with both parents working in the field. He describes the regime up until the 1980’s when he then visited America as part of a student cultural exchange program. The differences between the two countries shocked him. I was told it was better to listen to the book. I’m glad I borrowed the audio version – I wouldn’t have gotten any of the pronunciation right. What a fascinating tale. Li Cunxin gives a good picture of both the rigors of learning ballet and the culture of China during the end of Mao’s regime. The book is excellent.

To finish it,  I picked up a book for my 999 challenge – China Dolls by Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan. Once again I am in Chinese culture – this time the immigrants’ adult children in New York City. These women in their 20’s are trying to make their own place in the city and still follow their family traditions and culture. They are trying to meld the two cultures and it isn’t easy. This is fun – and it’s Chinese chick lit. Yes, the family and culture put together the women’s and book’s background, but it’s still enjoyable chick lit.

It’s been a while since I read a book with much Chinese culture in it – now I’m immersed for a few weeks. I never know where my reading paths are going to take me next.

Book Review – Dark Hunger by Rita Herron

Posted August 25, 2009 By Jandy

This review is now at my website.

Silent Movie the Way It’s Supposed to Be

Posted August 24, 2009 By Jandy

Tonight I saw my first silent movie with a real organist playing along. He is so good I kept forgetting that the music was live, not a sound track.

San Diego has a gem in the Spreckels Organ and Pavilion in Balboa Park, donated almost 100 years with the condition of free concerts. Every Sunday at 2 PM there is a concert. During the summer the Spreckels Organ Society sponsors concerts on Monday evenings. One of those Mondays is devoted to a silent film and Dennis James plays the movie music on organ with over 4,500 pipes.

I can’t remember the last time I sat through a silent movie on television, and had never seen this one – The Cameraman starring Buster Keaton. It’s laugh out loud funny and Mr. James knows his movie music – the themes, the timing, the volume – and brings out the best of the movies.

Hopefully I remember this and do it again next year. This photo comes from the L.A. Times blog about this summer’s concerts.

Addicting Word Game

Posted August 22, 2009 By Jandy

It’s all LazyGal‘s fault:

Must Pop Words

I’ve found two problems – no pause or sound control buttons.

Huh? Headlines

Posted August 19, 2009 By Jandy

We know the swine flu is being called a pandemic. Check out the article about this one:

Zombies: the Only Pandemic That Can Really Get Us


Posted August 16, 2009 By Jandy

It took 4 weeks of steady reading. I’ve finished James Michener’s Hawaii. Now I wonder what the word count is for the novel. I did a little poking around online, but couldn’t find the resource that shows this. This book is over 900 pages long with tiny print (8 point font or smaller). It was written towards the end of the time when books could meander along verbosely and keep their readers pulled in – before television and movies shortened our attention spans so much.

Hawaii did pull me in. Despite the fact it was published 50 years ago (around the same time Hawaii achieved statehood), it stands that test of time. The most difficult part is that the book has all this interesting stuff going on yet there’s so much more to go. There are many places this book could have ended. Instead, Michener went on to the next step of the state’s growth and cultural clash/interaction/melding.

The novel stabs into many things – self righteous Christians, human sacrifice, Chinese cultural foot wrapping for women, the loss of the native Hawaiian culture, the imported Japanese who never gave up hope for their country even after given evidence to the contrary, feudalism, agriculture, music, leprosy, and segregation. The book narrator looks at the island’s history objectively yet with a slightly avuncular perception.

Hawaii is an excellent book. It tests a modern reader’s patience, though. Normally if I’m able to devote reading time to a book, I can read it in 3 or 4 days. Not this one. There were also times I had to break away to read something quicker and lighter. I read this around 35 or 40 years ago. I remember parts, but there was so much I had forgotten. Michener dug under the crust and gave the reader a good historical view of the state in a fiction format.

As If You Need an Excuse, Ladies…

Posted August 13, 2009 By Jandy


Beer May Strengthen Bones, Study Finds

“… recent study suggests that females who drink beer on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.”

(Does the beer in Mike’s Hard Lemonade count?)

Book Review – Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron

Posted August 6, 2009 By Jandy

Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron

This review is now at my website.


Book Review – So Into You by Sandra Hill

Posted August 5, 2009 By Jandy

So Into You by Sandra Hill


Duh! Headlines

Posted August 5, 2009 By Jandy

Self-neglect, abuse ups risk of death in the elderly

“NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Elderly adults, who have a report to a social service agency of abuse or “self-neglect,” such as failing to eat or drink, face a greater risk of premature death than other seniors, suggests a study released this week.”

Oh, Yeah, That’s Why I Like Reading

Posted August 5, 2009 By Jandy

If you read this blog (there are a small few of you), you know I’m working on James Michener’s Hawaii. Once I got past the section on the missionaries and am now in the section focusing on the Chinese immigrants, I am totally caught up. The word pictures Michener weaves!

At lunch I was reading about the leper colony in Hawaii in the late 1800’s. The lawlessness is unbelievable in my world, yet believable when realizing what those people were facing.

I’m half way through the book and have two weeks to go. Despite the fact that it’s over 900 pages and the font is really small I’m sure I’ll get it done before my book club meets.