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Sir Charles Panther "Life is hard. It's harder when you're stupid." RSS Feed (Alexandria, Virginny, USandA)
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Child of God
Child of God
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.66
135 used & new from $5.34

5.0 out of 5 stars You Or Me, September 28, 2014
This review is from: Child of God (Paperback)
This is another deeply powerful and beautiful McCarthy read. I recommend it absolutely.

Synopsis: in late 1950s/early 1960s rural eastern Tennessee, dispossessed and destitute Lester Ballard, his "eyes dark and huge and vacant," "a crazed mountain troll...," does his best to survive as an outcast, sliding deeper and deeper into degradation and a fantasy world of his own making.

This is an early McCarthy work, his third novel, published in 1973. The content is highly original and unique, a novel where the protagonist, for want of a better term, is repulsive. I was reminded quickly enough of John Gardner's Grendel, but this isn't a monster's tale and his observations of the changing world around him. Lester is not a monster. The book is a fast read at only 197 pages, and while packing some vocab challenges such as "virid," "haruspices," "slaverous," "wimpling" and others, it's not nearly as dense as Suttree, Blood Meridian and The Border Trilogy.

My main question is: why would the brilliant poet tell us the story of an illiterate, destitute, homeless, serial-murdering necrophile?

This is not a writing exercise in taking the monstrous and despicable and slowly turning the reader from revulsion to sympathy; McCarthy's prose is more about observation than judgment. He simply tells us what Lester Ballard does, and we are left to ponder the motivation, if there truly is any, conscious or sub-.

I see it as McCarthy telling it all in the title: if you believe in god, then Lester is here on purpose, placed in and among us for a reason, according to the divine master plan. It follows directly, then, that Lester and his actions are god's will. So what exactly is god's intent with Lester and his abhorrent actions? What purpose does it serve? The murdered innocents, what is the meaning of their loss? Sacrifice? Or, does Lester and the presence of the aberrant serve to skewer the notion that god is up there and that all things at all times happen to on deliberate and divine course? If you sign up for the basic religious notion that we are all children of god, then it's undeniable: Lester is here for a reason. Does Lester reflect god's own capricious violence? Or is it a much more stark truth: in the lottery of life where you pop into existence is pure happenstance, and some get the gold and some get the muck, and this is Lester's sorry lot, his tragic role to play.

Lester's purpose is legend, the lurid, abnormal thing of wonder, beyond the pale, grotesque and fascinating: "You could say that he's sustained by his fellow men, like you," says McCarthy, directly to the reader. His own people did this to Lester, we "...a race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it..." Just like Yossarian's squadronmates sneaking to the bushes at the beach to look at the moldering remains of Kid Sampson. The grotesque is lurid and enticing, and we are all fascinated by it, the exhilarating proximity to violence, violation and death.

Lester is not evil, McCarthy stating flatly "...no demon," and it's clear Lester knows what he is doing and has done is wrong. There is no torture, no reveling in the violence on Lester's part or in McCarthy's writing; it simply is a necessary step in Lester's journey. At times it seems Lester feels entitled, that all else has been taken from him, so he is free to take as well, as horrific and unequal as it is. McCarthy stresses it plainly; it's rage that drives him. Everything has been taken from him, no one giving back in the least, so he is simply returning the favor. He has been driven out, and is making his way the best he knows, with no help. His tenacity in all things is a reflection of his simple dedication to his intentions, not some evil, super-human effort; Lester just doesn't know any better. Lester cries, but it's up to the reader to determine its origin.

McCarthy's descriptions of all of Lester's actions, murder and then some, are direct and matter-of-fact, paired with lyrical, loving descriptions of the magnificent environments he inhabits and traverses. McCarthy lingers--as he did so magnificently in Suttree--on highly detailed and poetic descriptions of the natural surroundings, frost on the vegetation, the wonder and majesty of a swollen river (he was working on Suttree at the time), the simple beauty of snow and rain in the forest, rocks, the majesty of the rise of the mountains, the movement of smoke in a damp cave, and so much more.

I see pre-echoes of Suttree, a man alone, with the retreat into madness when Suttree fled into the mountains, with Lester's actual descent into a sub-human state.

The terminology is unflinching in conversation, with racist terms and vulgarity, but fully in keeping with the characters and their time.

And McCarthy's beautiful writing, his respect for and wonder of the world in such lovely detail:
* Describing a bounding log in a flooded creek: "...it came on bobbing and bearing in its perimeter a meniscus of pale brown froth in which floated walnuts, twigs, a slender bottle neck erect and tilting like a metronome."
* "...rags of snow in the yard lay gray and lacy..."

Bottom line: this is a beautiful book observing tragic and disturbing circumstances. It mixes violence and revolting acts with loving and artful descriptions of the wonder of nature around us. It is a fascinating study of what humans do to one another, and in doing so questions what many of us choose to believe in.


TeiKis Ice Ball Mold - Ice Ball Maker for 4 Packs x 2.0" Ice Balls- Guaranteed Superior Quality Silicone Ice Ball Maker Creates Jumbo Ice Cube Spheres. Slow Melting Round Ice Keeps Scotch, Whiskey, Bourbon, All Drinks Colder for Longer
TeiKis Ice Ball Mold - Ice Ball Maker for 4 Packs x 2.0" Ice Balls- Guaranteed Superior Quality Silicone Ice Ball Maker Creates Jumbo Ice Cube Spheres. Slow Melting Round Ice Keeps Scotch, Whiskey, Bourbon, All Drinks Colder for Longer
Offered by Mckinley Distribution
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Spherical Ice, September 28, 2014
Disclosure: I was contacted by Teikis and offered a product or two for review. I chose this product and they sent it to me: I promised a fair and honest review in return.

This product is made in China. It's unclear where Teikis is based.

The mold is two pieces of highly pliable black "BPA free food grade silicone;" the online copy also says "silicon." The pliability of the mold is key because you've got to work it a bit to get your frozen balls out of the mold.

In the box you get only the two pieces comprising the mold. There is no literature. The directions on the box are highly over-simplified, with the main part of the operation being Step 1: "Fill an ice ball mold with distilled water." And that's it for their guidance on how to use their product. Yeah, we're talking about freezing water here, but it's still not quite that simple.

I like big cubes, and have gone on record with my praise for the Tovolo big square cube tray (and less praise for the Freshware one). I've also tried the Final Touch round cube maker, and wasn't real thrilled with it, given the gyrations it took to get the finished ice ball out of its mold. More on ice-getting-out gyrations below.

Now, big square cubes are easy, as you have a tray, fill it with water and a few hours later you've got big square cubes. Balls are harder in that water doesn't find its natural level in ball form, so your mold has to account for this.

This is a two-piece mold, with the top nesting in the bottom half. You fill the mold through small holes at the top of the four ball molds, and the water basically seeps to all ball molds within the main mold. Necessarily you have to over-fill the mold to get the water up to the level that it will form a solid ball, and the top portion of the mold has a sort of reservoir that allows you to do this (see the product image). So, when you remove the mold from the freezer you'll have a layer of ice on the top portion of the mold. Now, it's ice just like any other ice, so you can use it, or you can discard it.

Getting the ice out of the mold takes a bit of work; it's a two-handed job. It's best to do it in or over the sink, as you'll get a lot of ice flakes coming out as you work to pop the ice balls out of the mold. Additionally, as water expands when it freezes, you'll likely get little ice nipples on your ice balls. This is no big deal, but it does complicate the extraction of the ball from the mold. You've got to work the mold to physically pull your ice ball out. Best way is two joined thumbs and the push-through method. True to the product copy online, the ice does not stick to the mold.

The finished 2" balls worked well, but seemed a little small. They didn't last very long in a plastic cup of soda. I'd like to see what the 2.5" balls are all about. If American popular culture has taught us anything, it's that bigger balls are better in all cases, for all applications.

Here's an interesting observation: having used the Tovolo big square cubes for a couple of years now, I am used to having four cubes in a big cup, and pouring in my soda, which foams nicely, with the head holding for a while and then gently receding. Using these Teikis ice balls I get a completely different experience: the soda foams up violently and much more quickly, with larger and more fragile bubbles that dissipate very quickly, leaving the soda noticeably less fizzy. I've got no idea what is going on here. I guess it could be the shape of the cube. It also may be some sort of surface transfer of chemical content from the mold itself (yes, I did wash the mold thoroughly before use). I'm inclined to think the latter, but have no way to test or prove it.

Bottom line: if you want ice balls, this mold works just fine. It's relatively easy to put into use and produces reliably round ice balls.


Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Lid Potato and Duck Formula Dry Dog Food, 4.5-Pound Bag
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Lid Potato and Duck Formula Dry Dog Food, 4.5-Pound Bag
Price: $15.99
6 used & new from $13.81

3.0 out of 5 stars Dog Didn't Take to It, September 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Again, with the duck and potato. I remained unconvinced that grains are bad for dogs and potatoes somehow are good for them.

The big "L.I.D." (Limited Ingredient Diets) logo has me wondering, given that there are 40 ingredients in this product. Yeah, most of them are specific listings of the various vitamins and minerals in the chow, but that still doesn't seem very "limited."

The whole "grain free" thing looks like a human-targeted gimmick to me. But then again, I don't know.

The dog didn't like this food, and that's the basic reason for the 3-star rating. I guarantee that she was good and hungry, fresh from her morning walk when she has her biggest meal of the day, when she's very accustomed to eating. I filled her bowl with this stuff, she took a good long sniff and rooted a bit in the bowl, then took a few tentative bites. She ate a small amount, maybe 2-3 tablespoons, and then turned to look at me as if to say, 'What is this, then?" She then walked away from the bowl. This repeated itself for the next four days. Eventually she would eat it, but never did empty the bowl, and it took some pretty good hunger to get her motivated to eat it.

I thought it tasted okay, with that standard dog chow scent and taste. It crunched nicely, broke down pretty quickly, and didn't taste that bad at all.

We didn't see any real change in her toilet schedule, nor did this chow deliver any major alimentary production changes.

Bottom line: it seems a fine product; I have no problems with it. The only major obstacle we encountered was that the dog didn't think it was that great.


Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LIT Mini Jumpin' Stix Duck Formula with Glucosamine and Chondroitin Semi-Moist Dog Treat
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LIT Mini Jumpin' Stix Duck Formula with Glucosamine and Chondroitin Semi-Moist Dog Treat
Price: $11.68
7 used & new from $6.57

4.0 out of 5 stars Little Treats That The Dog Loves, September 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Because when you think the absolute best in doggie treats, you think "Dick Van Patten." Hey, I loved him in Eight is Enough--loved the hot mom a lot more, actually--but I don't really get the nexus between him and dog food, other than his signed statement that this product donates to local animal charities. But I digress.

The dog loved these. She scarfed them down and asked for more. So, that's a major plus. She didn't jump, but then again, we don't allow her to jump for food.

The size is good, on the small side, which allows you to give the dog a few more without the overall portion being too big.

The texture is nice, a little squishy but not sticky. They come across as moist, but don't leave any kind of greasy residue on your hands. You can easily break one in two. The bag reseals, so it's implied that they will dry out if left open for too long.

The scent is good, fully in line with the "Natural Smoke Flavor" listed in the ingredients. It has a nice smoky scent to it, although I have to admit that I didn't really get the smoky flavor. Yeah, of course I tried it. It's not the worst dog treat I've ever eaten, but nto quite the best either. If Armageddon came down tomorrow, I'd be happy to live off this stuff.

The "L.I.T." (that's Limited Ingredient Treats) logo seems a bit ironic when the ingredient list comes in at 16, including glucosamine hydrochloride, three separate preservatives, and then some. They proudly state that there are no artificial flavors or colors, and even more proudly state there are no grains in this, just delicious duck and potato. Owning a Lab, I can see the duck angle, but I don't recall too many instances of dogs rooting in potato fields to get at the precious crop below. Who knows?

Bottom line: these are nice tasty little treats that my dog enjoys. That's enough for me. The price is acceptable, so if I see these on the shelf I must might purchase.


Brainwavz R3 Dual Dynamic Driver Earphones
Brainwavz R3 Dual Dynamic Driver Earphones
Offered by MP4NATION
Price: $129.50
2 used & new from $124.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Brainwavz Set, September 13, 2014
I was contacted by Brainwavz and offered this product in return for a review. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

I reviewed a pair of Brainwavz S1 in April, and I liked them, a lot. After running through a lot of very disappointing earbuds, I was very impressed with the sound reproduction, especially on the low end, the clarity and warmth of sound. These more expensive, therefore (allegedly) better earbuds are just about the same. I like this product, and they sound great.

This is a substantial-looking set, with metal speaker sections; the box says "rugged metal housing design." This is definitely not a lightweight set to take on a run or to use at the gym.

I like the heavy cord. It doesn't get too caught up in clothing, and it's immediately clear to see where it is and what's going on. There is no volume or any other type of device control on the cord. The plug end of the cord is slightly angled; it's not a 90-degree angle.

The two-tone black and red case is nice (with dual zippers, no less), and holds all of the extras nicely, with two inside pouches as well. You get a bunch of extra tips: 6 silicone regular tips of various sizes; two pair of flanged tips, and; one pair of memory foam tips (which I don't like, as they don't fit well and tear easily). You also get a 6.3mm (¼") plug adapter--they call it an "airplane adapter."

This set worked great with an MP3 player, a couple of different iPods, a couple of different make/model phones, and with both a home laptop and desktop PC.

I was impressed with the S1s with the richness of sound, and especially their bass reproduction, and this product delivered the same. The box promises "bass & clarity," and they deliver. There was great separation and clarity of subtle rhythm guitar and individual instruments (Bruno's Treasure, The Clash's The Magnificent Seven, Billy Flynn's I'm Hooked, Big Island Shindig's Ethan's Song, Stanley Clark's classic School Days, anything from Bob James' Obsession). Horns came through very nicely (Liquid Soul's Peanut Head, Joe Jackson's rocking You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)). Quiet, more subtle songs also came through very nicely (Mancini's Lujon, Black Sabbath's awesome sci-fi galactic think-piece Planet Caravan).

But, and this is a big but, you really have to get the fit correct and really get these buds situated deeply and correctly in your ear. It took me a number of tries and different tips, settling finally on the three-flange tips, and that wonderful sound came through. If you don't get the fit right, the sound will be weak, tinny and very, very flat. Best way is the ol' foam earplug technique of reaching over your head with the opposite hand to pull your ear up and work the bud deeply into year to get it to set correctly.

Bottom line: This is another well made Brainwavz product. It looks great and is well constructed, with superb sound delivery, well worth the price.


Ipow the Latest Premium 3 in 1 Mulitifunctional Ultra Sharp Vegetable Julienne Peeler Cutter Slicer with Soft Rubber Grips Handle for Potatoes,carrots, Zucchini,parsnip, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Noodle 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
Ipow the Latest Premium 3 in 1 Mulitifunctional Ultra Sharp Vegetable Julienne Peeler Cutter Slicer with Soft Rubber Grips Handle for Potatoes,carrots, Zucchini,parsnip, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Noodle 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
Offered by NORTHERN LIGHTS USA INC
Price: $12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, with Some Drawbacks, September 13, 2014
Disclosure: I was contacted by the good folks at Ipow and offered this item for review. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

A note on packaging: The full-color front of the package is dominated by Chinese script. Sorry, but this consumer doesn’t read or speak Chinese. Anything you’re saying about your product is completely lost on me. Same for all of the copy on the back. If you’re selling in the US or other English-speaking countries, go with English on your packaging.

Also, the photo of all the vegetables has me scratching my head. You don’t use a peeler on tomatoes, or on bell peppers. And certainly not on leaf lettuce. A more descriptive photo might be the peeler in use, say, displayed with the results of its awesome peeling capabilities. Invest a little money, Ipow, and get a better photo that showcases your product and its features than some stock photo you got somewhere for free.

And translations…please, if you’re going to sell your product in a primarily English-speaking environment, invest a few hundred dollars on accurate English translation of your product copy:

I do like the cautions on the back, under “PAY ATTEN I ON” [sic]:
• “Do not placed in direct sunlight or high temperature and humidity in it” [sic].
• “Please do not place the peeler on sliding platform” [sic]. Like an ice rink? Ski jump? Air hockey table?
• “Please do not open the can by the peeler in case of break down” [sic, again]. Is that a physical or mental breakdown? Both?

And by far my favorite:
• “Please stay away from the fire source.” Now that’s good, solid and highly philosophical advice for anyone, any time, regardless of how they get their veggies peeled! Thanks, Ipow!

And now, finally, to the peeler.

I’ve got a Zwilling (German) peeler that I’ve had for almost 30 years. It has worked like a charm, and still does. It’s very plain and utilitarian, with just a black plastic handle and single stainless blade. It can work peeling away from you, or drawing toward. And this gets to one of my fundamental problems with this Ipow peeler: its design allows basically for only a downward draw for an item held in your open palm. This has a few inherent safety considerations, in that you’re drawing the sharp instrument near your opposite hand with both palm and fingers exposed on both sides, and you’re drawing toward you, which is basically an awkward peeling approach. Yes, you can work this Ipow peeler so that you are drawing away from yourself, but you have to modify your grip and it’s so awkward as to be completely unworkable.

So, using this peeler in its downward, draw-toward-you configuration, I just can’t see my work. I can’t see where the blade assembly meets the potato/carrot/your peeled vegetable. That’s not a good approach when working with a sharp instrument.

There is no pointy sharp aspect to this peeler, so you can dig an eye out of a potato.

The three selectable blades is a nice innovation, but the execution is not quite there. A good point is that they ratchet in only one direction, and they lock into place. The basic peeler (they call it “slicing”) works in either direction, as does the shredder (“peeling”) blade. But the julienne blade works in only one direction. My chief complaint here is that the ratchet knurls on each side are “above” the cutting blades, by about 2mm. If you’re peeling something that’s 4cm wide or less—like a carrot—then you’re good to go. But if it’s any wider than 4cm, then you’re going to be dragging the edge—a non-cutting portion—of the product over/through your work. So, Ipow, what you need to do is make this thing a little wider, or re-engineer it so that the cutting blades are above the level of the ratchet knurls.

The grip is okay, but I’d prefer that the green, pseudo-sticky part of the handle were larger on both sides. The hard ceramic is sturdy, but it’s also somewhat slippery, and the peeling environment is usually a wet one, so the more area you can make non-skid, the better.

And how did it peel? It did okay. The basic peeling (“slicing”) blade worked well on carrots and potatoes. The julienne strips for potatoes are really small, basically for shoestring potatoes, but this is good for carrots or something else that you may be throwing into a stir-fry or other dish for color or a little bit of texture. I found that skin became caught in the julienne and shredder (“peeling”) blades, which necessitate stopping and clearing them as I worked. Not good.

Yes, this item is dishwasher safe.

Bottom line: All in all, you could do worse, much worse when it comes to something to peel your taters with. But, given that this is aiming for a higher level of capability, some redesign steps ought to be taken to make it as good as it could be.


Down Home Town
Down Home Town
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars UK Homage to the US South, September 13, 2014
This review is from: Down Home Town (MP3 Music)
This isn't a bad song, and the chorus is great, but...

I'm a big ELO fan, always have been, their highbrow approach to traditional rock n' roll fitting in with my own high-end nerd upbringing, but this one stretches it a bit.

The opening is great, that simple country shuffle, reminiscent of a railroad rhythm, and you can most definitely hear the Traveling Wilburys way in the future.

The lyrics are fine, an ode to an imagined amalgam of US southern hometown values and its music. But when they slide into, "I wish I was in the land of Dixie..." this song goes out the window. A bunch of English art school dilettantes singing about the US south...well, that's kind of like Van Halen tackling a traditional Irish ballad; they might have the notes and the rhythm and language right, but it's never going to be quite right, and will never be authentic. ELO's heart is in the right place, sure, but like Adam Ant and his early and strange--yet interesting and very danceable--songs about American Indians (The Human Beings), it just doesn't quite work as the artist and the subject are as far removed from each other as you can imagine.

So, this is a catchy and fun pop song, no mistaking that. And I like it, most definitely. But English public schoolboys telling us all about the awesome musical legacy of the US South posits a bit of a disconnect.


Shadow World
Shadow World
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Question Everything, September 7, 2014
This review is from: Shadow World (Kindle Edition)
Disclosure: I was contacted by author Impey and offered a copy of his novel. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

Synopsis: Ian McEvoy has "...some disconnected pieces of a big, brassy life under [his] belt, but...is not sure what they add up to." He's got déjà vu and then some, with "...a strong suspicion that the complex construction of [his] life is a shadowy chimera with no tether in reality." He lives and loves in Arizona, Argentina, New York City, western China, Ireland, California and finally Sweden, trying to sort it all out.

Well, as I started reading, I had some real problems with the opening chapter. I've been through the Grand Canyon, twice, and the way the story went was just wrong (for a guy living in Flagstaff I expected a lot more spot-on accuracy). The geography wasn't right, the way things were laid out weren't right, and things always seemed to go in McEvoy's favor, just when they needed to. I chalked this up to fictional license, but it grated, just a little. Then I got to the chapter about South America, and a railway station in Ushuaia (there is no railroad.) And the UK and Republic of Ireland coming to meaningful and lasting reconciliation through large-scale landscape art a la Cristo...

And then there's the issue of the novel's central character, McEvoy. The major chapters just start with him literally popping into a new situation, a completely new life, with no sense of past or context; he's just there. Like when he wakes up drunk and/or fresh from a beating in Nowhere, China. He does this in Arizona, Argentina, Ireland, the US and on, and then just up and splits, when things seem to be getting good, when things seem like they're resolving, coming to a climax, when they seem to be getting better in his hollow and aimless life. I couldn't quite figure it out, but pressed on.

And that's the payoff, pressing on and letting the story develop. Impey states in his preface that "if this is about anything, it's the boundary between creation and madness, art and science. Impey is a smart and accomplished guy and his passions, intellect and curiosity come through boldly throughout the book.

As the book sped toward its conclusion, the various discussions McEvoy was having with all of his various interlocutors, and many of them are awkward and contrived, all start to come together and make sense. And by the close of the book it all does make sense. I sussed it out and could see it coming, but only within about 25 pages, which is pretty good.

Author Impey is an accomplished academician, as described in his thumbnail bio, focusing on cosmology and astrobiology. Of course, this is a central theme of the book. It's clear Impey wants to communicate to a wider audience some fascinating facts and concepts he's uncovered in his scientific journeys, and the conversations McEvoy has with a succession of scientists, scholars and investigators are at times stilted and forced, but are necessary to move the story.

Suitability. The content is suitable for an accomplished high school reader. There are a few relatively graphic depictions of sex, but not that detailed or lengthy. There is some adult language throughout. There is a small amount of violence, but not a lot.

I like the references to art and literature throughout, Impey conveying his loves: Calder, Joyce, Golding and more.

This is not a self-published book, put out by Dark Skies Press. As such I was surprised by a number of minor typos (foreign-language text not italicized, the acronym ATF scrambled to AFT on repeat uses, "molding" instead of "moulding," for example); closer proof-reading and technical editing should have been done. This is an ongoing pet peeve of mine; none of these minor errors detract from the book.

Bottom line: What is real and what is imagined? Is your life really what you have gone through since birth, or are external actors and factors contributing more than you think? Who creates and records our realities and therefore determines who we are? Think about it, and you'll be well on your way to reading this interesting book.


Notes on Blood Meridian: Revised and Expanded Edition (Southwestern Writers Collection Series, Wittliff Collections at Texas State University)
Notes on Blood Meridian: Revised and Expanded Edition (Southwestern Writers Collection Series, Wittliff Collections at Texas State University)
by John Sepich
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.05
53 used & new from $6.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Best for the Dedicated McCarthy Scholar/Fan, September 6, 2014
This is a review of the updated 2008 edition.

I love Blood Meridian. It's one of the greatest books I've ever read, full stop. As I said in my own little review of it, it is the single greatest reason that I learned to read. I cannot get enough of McCarthy and his magnificent writing. I love this book so much that I jumped at purchasing this book when I learned of it.

But...

My experience is that when I've done extra reading/research on those public persons in whom I hold very high esteem, I come away with a deflated sense of that person. It happened with reading Frank Zappa bios, and with Joseph Heller and the Just One Catch bio and most recently with the Begley Updike bio. That's what happens when you put someone on a pedestal; eventually you find out they are/were human, just like you/me. They are not perfect, and despite their artistic brilliance are sometimes quite flawed.

I expected this in diving into this book, as this is my first book about McCarthy, rather than by him.

I have to admit, this book kind of took the wind out of Blood Meridian. This work took the book from a lusciously written stand-alone epic of American history and brought it right back down to earth, with its patient elucidation of sources, citation of languages used, map citations, concordances and four separate analytical essays.

This book, and its incredibly thorough research (complete with its 12-page bibliography) shows McCarthy did his own massive, meticulous research, both on the ground and through available records and literature.

The main question that arose for me as I read was: "Did McCarthy lift this story or come up with it?" Well, Sepich's incredibly detailed works shows this question is open to interpretation. The Glanton expedition did take place, and with almost all of the characters mentioned. And the battle/massacre at the river and a number of other events related in Blood Meridian. This is historical fact. But at the same time McCarthy expanded upon the original, turning it all into something so much more powerful and everlasting than dry and dusty history.

You have to admire the depth of dedication that went into crafting this story, as Sepich makes it clear over and over that McCarthy must have read this historical account, that book, this contemporary article. But at the same time, Sepich keeps noting that McCarthy's language in many instances is extremely close to that of the original. No, not once is the term "plagiarism" used, but instead you get Sepich using terms such as a "...McCarthy's debt to [historical writer] is deep," "...passages suggest that McCarthy was aware of [named source author]," and that "...[a well described source] may inform McCarthy's detail..." The page 84 selection specifically compares two passages from the original Wislizenus source and McCarthy, and they are, as Sepich says, "strinkingly similar."

Sepich wraps it all up by saying: "McCarthy remains true to the historical sources of his novel while reorganizing the material, unwinding threads in its maze, into the world of historical romance."

The scholarship throughout this book is flawless and incredibly detailed, from beginning to end. For researchers of McCarthy and this historical period, it is a trove, and will lead in any direction you choose to explore. For readers expecting easy interpretation and a Cliffs Notes-like laydown on Blood Meridian and McCarthy, you will be disappointed. There is plenty of dissection of the story, but it is dense and detailed, and required deliberate and studious reading.

The beauty of the night sky and McCarthy's rendering of it--one of my favorite aspects of all of his writing--gets its own mention on pp 163-7. Really good stuff.

Bottom line: This is a fascinating and meticulous reference work regarding McCarthy's masterpiece of "...the West...the land beyond. Spiritland, the land of mystery, of death and of life eternal..." If you have read enough McCarthy that you want to get at the background and the sources, and begin to learn something of its reclusive narrator, this is a superlative way to begin that education. Sepich finally states flatly: "It's a book so true I can't stand it. It's a book everyone should read..."


Professional Chef's Lime Squeezer & Manual Lemon Juicer - Extract More Juice Than Conventional Juice Extractors With This Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Citrus Squeezer. Quick & Easy - From Fruit to Juice in Less Than 10 Seconds! Lifetime Guaranteed.
Professional Chef's Lime Squeezer & Manual Lemon Juicer - Extract More Juice Than Conventional Juice Extractors With This Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Citrus Squeezer. Quick & Easy - From Fruit to Juice in Less Than 10 Seconds! Lifetime Guaranteed.
Offered by Bora Design
Price: $29.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Duty Squeezin', Best for Show Not for Volume, September 1, 2014
Disclosure: I was contacted by the good folks at Bora Design, who offered this product to me. I accepted, promising a fair and honest review in return.

First, right out of the package, I have to say this thing is impressive. First, it's heavy, all metal. Call me shallow, but that seems to indicate a level of quality in construction. Its design is very simple, two stout metal elements connected by a simple hinge. The hinge is tight but moves very freely; there is no wobble or play in the hinge. The strength of the hinge is good, and it's key, as this is the one point of most stress when you're squeezing all you can out of your lemon/lime half.

The main claim of this product that I noted is that you can "extract more juice than conventional juice extractors..." [sic]. Okay, that's a challenge, and I accepted. I took my old plastic twist-and-press squeezer and compared the two. With matching halves from two lemons, then three limes, I checked out the claim. And the winner: the old plastic-topped twist-and-press squeezer, by well over a third, both times.

The shape of this item restricts you to lemons and limes, and halves at that. That's what it's built for. If you're using quarters or smaller sections, they do not fit well inside the device and therefore do not squeeze equally or efficiently (but it still works). It is too small for oranges; you will not be squeezing orange halves for delightful fresh OJ with this item.

Also, although this thing looks cool, it's design actually frustrates some of the action, specifically allowing the flow of the juice out of the fruit and the device. I'm a bit confused in that the device seems to intuitively ask that the lemon/lime half go in round side-down, with the convex pressing action element coming in from the top. But when you press it down, how does the juice get out? It can't flow out through the holes in the bottom, as the skin of your lemon/lime is pressing down into them, effectively blocking them completely. So, the juice comes up and over the top of the bowl, with it then dripping down the sides. To more fully squeeze the fruit, you have to get into it with your fingers and fold it over at least once to squeeze it again. This is not like hot tar or pine sap in terms of making a mess, but you're going to end up with juice and pulp on your fingers.

I did try it the way shown in the product images, but it took a lot of work to make sure the round-size-up lemon/lime half was perfectly positioned in the bowl so that it did not slide out or to the side, affecting the squeezing action.

Pulp. Ah, the issue of pulp. Some folks like pulp, like, in their OJ. Others don't, especially if you're using lemon juice in a recipe. Because the juice comes up and over the top, yo're going to get pulp. I experienced no pulp clogging the bottom holes, for the reason noted above. You still have to use a strainer to get out all of the pulp.

I have confirmed that this item is in fact dishwasher safe.

I also have confirmed that despite its appearance, this device does not work well as a garlic press. It looks like it might work, but nope. You get nicely squashed-up garlic in the bowl of the press, but nothing comes out of the holes.

Bottom line. This item is best used in a bar or social situation where presentation and style are more important than juice volume. It looks great and will get the basic job done. It is suitable to use at the table for a big flourish/presentation for last-minute citrus squeezing, like lemon over the fish fresh from the grill. But if you're looking to get the most juice from your lemons or limes, best to go old school.


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