food

Working On Our Night Cheese

Thank you, Denny’s:

Denny’s dastardly minds have done it again. The restaurant chain that fries mozzarella sticks between pieces of bread has rolled out more gluttonously cheesy menu items.

The most notable is the Mac n’ Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt: A burger patty layered with slices of cheese, macaroni and cheese, another layer of cheese, some kind of tomato-based “frisco” sauce and two pieces of buttered-up potato bread. Still hungry? It comes with a side of fries.

You can also get this sandwich with the “super-size cheese option.” You think we’re joking?

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This sandwich — which contains 1,690 calories — is part of Denny’s new Cheese Menu. From a Denny’s press release:

“With America consuming around 8.8 billion pounds of cheese annually, Denny’s is answering to the appetites of the nation by introducing a dedicated menu that celebrates all things cheesy.” Other items on their new cheese menu include a strawberry cheesecake milkshake and a cheese-filled omelette drizzled in cheese sauce.

More things Denny’s could add to its new Cheese Menu:

  • Sixty-Four Slices Of American Cheese. (We could not find this Simpsons clip on YouTube, but you know which one we’re talking about.)
  • Grilled Cheese Smoothies
  • Pimento Cheese Big Daddy Alfredo
  • Goat Cheese Quesadillas With Crumbled Cheez-It Topping, Served Over A Bed Of String Cheese And Drizzled With Cheese Whiz
  • Curdled Cheese (Comes With Free Toy!)
  • Intravenous Injections Of Nacho Cheese Straight Into Your Bloodstream
  • A Solid Ton Of Cheddar Cheese We Will Release From A Crane Above You Which Will Crush You But It Will Be A Wonderful Death
  • Cheese Fondue Swimming Pool Out Back

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(The title of this post is, of course, from “30 Rock.”)

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food

A Truly Superlative Ice Cream

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We don’t typically do food reviews on this blog, but we’re going to make an exception for today’s post. The ice cream pictured above, Private Selection’s Denali Extreme Maximum Fudge Moose Tracks, currently resides in our freezer. If your first impression of the name of this ice cream is that it is a bit, shall we say, excessive, we are here to report that upon tasting said ice cream, you are likely to agree that the marketing team at Private Selection in fact displayed the utmost restraint in naming it. Truly, a name like Private Selection’s Denali Extreme Maximum Supreme Utmost Hardcore Amazing Fudge Moose Tracks would not be unjustified in communicating just how good this ice cream really is.

Run, not walk, to the freezer section of your local grocery store. Your life is about to begin.

food

“How Dare You Call Our ‘Beef Mixture’ Not Meat!”

From the AP:

Taco Bell officials on Tuesday rejected claims made in a lawsuit that the meat in their tacos, burritos and other products is not all beef.

Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in a statement that the lawyers who filed the lawsuit got their facts wrong and that Taco Bell plans to take legal action against those making the allegations. He did not explain specifically what type of legal action Taco Bell might take.

Does he need to? Do the words “Taco Party Pack Force-Feeding” not render legal action completely irrelevant?

“At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket,” Creed said. “We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture.”

“Then we build a marketing campaign around the made-up word ‘fourthmeal’ just to see the veins in every nutritionist’s head bulge out,” Creed added. “Sometimes you get the eye twitch too.”

The lawsuit alleges Taco Bell falls short of the USDA’s requirement that its filling be at least 40 percent fresh meat.

Is anyone else concerned that the USDA sets the bar at 40 percent? That’s an F minus minus. You have to try to score that low.

And should we really be shocked by this suit when one of the items on Taco Bell’s menu is called a “Beefy Crunch Burrito”?

No word yet on whether Christine, Taco Bell’s poster child for the Drive-Thru Diet ®, is shocked to discover she’s been “dieting” on binders and extenders.

We suspect that college students’ rabid consumption of Quad Steak Burritos at three in the morning will continue unabated no matter what the outcome of this lawsuit.

books, food, friends, Lost, television

What We Did On Our Spring Break (or, “Why MTV Will Never Film Spring Break in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee”)

1. When the police officer outside London, Kentucky, pulled Erin over for going 81 in a 55, he sounded a bit disappointed to hear we were coming back from vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “Thought you’d want to go someplace warm,” he said. Apparently it was warmer in Cincinnati than it was in Tennessee. And less rainy. This is one reason why MTV will never film spring break in Pigeon Forge.

Another is that Pigeon Forge is — in the words of Mike Allen — “the longest strip mall city in America.” He might be exaggerating, but only slightly. By our unofficial count, Pigeon Forge has three laser tag joints, four miniature golf courses, six go-karts tracks and not more than two vegetarian options on any menu in a ten-mile radius. We ordered a vegetarian calzone at one dining establishment and were given meat sauce on the side. When we requested a non-meat dipping sauce, the waiter furrowed his brow and said, “Let me check on that.” He returned with a small cup of spaghetti sauce. “We’re out of the marinara,” he told us.

2. So why did we go to Pigeon Forge? For one, to get this picture:

Fact: Erin became a member of the Official Dolly Parton Fan Club at age 5. All of her elementary school drawings feature women with enormous lips and bosoms til Tuesday. This is Dollywood’s 25th anniversary. We didn’t go, but we did take the picture.

3. In addition to a paucity of vegetarian dining options, Pigeon Forge also does not stock organic milk. We visited Food City on our first night there to stock up on groceries. (The cabin we stayed in had a kitchen.)

ASIDE: Yes, go ahead and say it — we are snobs for only drinking organic milk. Fair enough. But ever since we saw a documentary called The Corporation, we could not drink a glass of regular milk without picturing a cow injected so full of a milk-producing hormone that its distended udder hung at over twice its normal size. That image still haunts us. Once we started drinking organic milk, we couldn’t go back. It’s worth it.

Back to Food City. They had exactly one brand of organic milk — a Horizon half gallon carton of skim. Erin, as is her habit, took the carton behind the one facing out. Never trust the top copy of anything.

Our first morning we prepared a delicious bowl of Basic 4 cereal with fresh cut strawberries and banana slices. Simple, elegant, beautiful in presentation. Ben took the first bite. Something was not right. But he didn’t say anything for fear of ruining this, the first morning of their vacation together. He continued eating despite his growing displeasure.

Erin took a bite and also thought something a bit off. But she hadn’t brushed her teeth yet and she’d already had a sip of coffee, so maybe her taste buds weren’t acclimated. And Ben had not said anything, so they smiled at one another and continued their breakfast until finally Erin spoke up.

“Does something taste wrong to you?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you,” Ben said. “I wasn’t going to say anything but something’s disgusting.”

“Why weren’t you going to say anything? Something is disgusting.”

What was disgusting was the milk. It tasted like — and we have discussed this at length in our attempt to specify exactly what kind of disgusting it did indeed taste like — cow dung. Liquid cow dung.

We promptly threw our bowls in the trash and had toast.

So yes, Pigeon Forge does stock organic milk. If you like your organic milk to taste like manure, that is.

Later we discovered there’s a Kroger in Pigeon Forge off the beaten bath. (We apparently missed it behind the neon lights of the Comedy Barn sign.) We’ll never get that breakfast back.

4. So wait, why did we go to Pigeon Forge?

ASIDE #2: An anonymous friend of ours once spent his vacation in Pigeon Forge but his girlfriend-now-fiance doesn’t like him telling people that. “I don’t want people knowing we spent our vacation in Pigeon Forge!” she said. They also went to Dixie Stampede while they were there.

Dixie Stampede is, according to its website, “More than a Show … It’s an Adventure!” To wit:

It’s the only place that brings together stunning performers, amazing horse feats, fantastic stunt riders, magic and audience participation with a delicious four-course dinner extravaganza for one amazing price!

That amazing price, incidentally, is $70. For that sum you get a show of “32 horses, dozens of cast members, live buffalo, amazing ostrich races, magic and seating for 1,000 around a 35,000 square-foot arena.” According to our anonymous friends, it also includes a reenactment of the Civil War — or, as it’s called around those parts, “The War of Northern Aggression.” When our friend’s fiance called to reserve seats, the customer service rep asked which side they wanted to sit on. “Which side?” she asked. “North or South,” she replied. “Oh. Which side wins?” “It’s historically accurate, m’am.”

(Hint: Our anonymous friend’s name rhymes with “Spike Talon.”)

5. You still didn’t answer the question: Of all places, why Pigeon Forge for your spring break?

Well, we got a good deal on a great cabin, where we could sleep in and lounge around and read books and, when the mood struck us, play pool on the table upstairs. (In five-plus years of marriage we had never once played a game of billiards. Erin, Ben learned, is a shark.) We also trekked into Smoky Mountain National Park and got some good hikes in, rain or shine. (Despite her pregnant state, Erin outhiked numerous overweight vacationers, the majority of whom were wearing Purdue sweatshirts.) And in what we both agreed during the “highs and lows” portion of our drive home was our favorite day of vacation, we also day-tripped to Asheville and hung out with Stephen and Sarah Edge, who took us to Malaprop’s, a fine independent bookstore, and a number of other hip local establishments.

6. Ben’s vacation reading included You Are Not A Stranger Here, a collection of short stories by Adam Haslett. It is a great collection, and terrible vacation reading. The stories all centered on sad young men crippled by mental illness and social alienation, bruised by dysfunctional relationships with their families, especially their fathers. It is a heartbreaking collection. Do not read it when you should be relaxing.

7. Erin read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, which was slightly more suitable vacation reading. It’s encouraging to know that a single mom just three years sober (and with a whole host of other shortcomings) can still raise a kid without killing him. We also started, but did not finish, four crosswords. This made us feel inferior.

8. We watched “Lost,” and it was a so-so episode. We knew it would be Desmond in the locked room. We already knew a war was coming. And as Dave Powell observed, Are we really supposed to believe that Sun just sort of ran into a tree? D’oh. We’ll resume our regular analysis next week (a Desmond episode!).

Speaking of MTV, we did discover “16 And Pregnant” one night flipping channels. This show may be the greatest public service MTV has ever done for teenagers.

We also saw “The Soup” for the first time. Joel McHale is a funny dude.

And we saw the Nick Swardson special “Seriously, Who Farted?” on Comedy Central.

Cable. It’s amazing.

9. This was, we realized, our last vacation without a kid. Of course, it’s not like we’ll never have time away together once we’re parents. But we also understood, as we have each week Erin’s belly gets a little bigger, that things will be changing pretty soon. “It’s crazy to think that next year there’ll be a baby sitting right there,” Erin said over dinner one night, gesturing to the empty space next to Ben. Will we one day bring the brood down to Pigeon Forge for mini-golf and family hikes? Are we going to be that kind of a family?

We’ve been having an ongoing discussion lately about what family traditions we do — or do not — want to carry on with our kids. We were raised in good families and there are many things we want to continue. But one we do not involves the “pee jar.”

Ben’s dad hated to stop for anything on long car rides. Being that he had only sons, he was able to institute the law of the pee jar. When Ben or his brother needed to pee, we were handed back an empty jar (usually a Jif Peanut Butter container). We did our business in the pee jar and then handed it back to Mom, who dutifully stowed it until the next rest stop.

This was just one of those little family oddities that Ben grew up thinking was, as far as these things go, normal. Whenever it was that Erin learned of the pee jar, she found it repulsive. Erin did not grow up with brothers. Regardless, she has firmly vetoed any pee jar traditions being carried on by future Vore males. Not that Ben was keen on continuing it.

10. Erin did not get a speeding ticket. He was the nicest officer we’ve ever met. It was a good vacation.

food, Uncategorized

Heroic Forgetting

Eating industrial meat takes an almost heroic act of not knowing, or, now, forgetting. – Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma

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SCENE: McDonald’s Drive-Thru

[A man pulls up to the pick-up window. It is very late.]

DRIVE-THRU ATTENDANT: Here’s your triple quarter pounder.

MAN: Huh? I didn’t order that. I ordered a southwest salad without chicken and apple dippers.

DRIVE-THRU ATTENDANT: No, you ordered a triple quarter pounder. It’s 12:30 in the morning and you’re the only customer I’ve had in the past ten minutes.

MAN: You say potayto, I say potahto. Whatever. I’ll just eat the beef.

[MAN grabs the bag and scarfs the burger down with barely disguised bloodlust.]

——————–

SCENE: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Cincinnati, OH

[A couple is seated at a table. WOMAN wears a Donna Karan Jersey Dress, black, with a bateau neckline, cap sleeves and banded tie detail at a gathered natural waist. MAN wears a Savile Row suit. His shoes are New & Lingwood British Stamford Loafers.]

[When they talk, the couple leans in to exchange intimate whispers.]

[WAITER approaches with their meals.]

WAITER: For the madam, we have the chili rubbed dry aged bone-in rib, 24 oz, with cipollini onions & sisho peppers. And for the gentleman, we have the rack of lamb, in-house dry aged, natural jus. Bon Appetit!

[The couple stares at their plates, speechless.]

WAITER: Is there something wrong?

WOMAN: I thought I ordered the baked polenta triangoli with wild mushroom bolognaise and braised escarole.

MAN: And I specifically ordered the porcini crusted tofu in the red wine sauce with the root vegetable gratin.

WAITER: Regrettably we do not serve either of those dishes. Are you aware that you are at a steakhouse?

WOMAN: A steakhouse?

MAN: You jest!

WAITER: No, I’m quite certain this is Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse. I’ve worked here for four years.

WOMAN: Arthur, for heaven’s sake, you must have taken a wrong turn!

MAN [does a facepalm]: What a dithering idiot I can be.

WOMAN [to the waiter]: He can be so absent-minded sometimes.

MAN: Well, Patricia, since we have this bounteous feast in front of us…

WOMAN: It would be a shame for it to go to waste…

[MAN and WOMAN exchange glances, then tuck away with gusto.]

———————

SCENE: Prehistoric times

[CAVEMAN is hiding in the bush with SON. Both hold spears.]

[WOOLY MAMMOTH saunters by.]

CAVEMAN: Aha! Dinner!

[CAVEMAN spears WOOLY MAMMOTH with expert skill. MAMMOTH falls with a single shot. CAVEMAN and SON run over to fallen prey.]

SON: Wait, dad — this is wooly mammoth! You say you no eat meat! You say it compromise your good conscience!

CAVEMAN: This wooly mammoth? You is sure?

SON: Pretty sure.

[CAVEMAN grunts. SON scratches his armpit.]

CAVEMAN: Oh well. Tofu taste like pterodactyl crap anyway.

SON: Yeah!

[SCENE.]

books, family, food, friends, Wandering Rocks

2009: The Year In Books

We read fewer books this year than in years past, so we’ve enlisted the woman who kicked off our Friday Recommends guest blogger posts, otherwise known as “sister Ellen,” to help us with this year’s list. Ellen, take it away!

[we hand computer to Ellen]

Despite predictions that my first attempt at blogging would lead to no return-invitations, I have been asked by Voreblog (the Male) to fill in as guest-blogger for their annual review of the best books read in the previous year. So here ‘tis —

Sister Ellen’s Books 2009: a year in review.

Frankly, I don’t remember all the books I’ve read this year. I read a lot of books. (Mr. Grit chimes in here — bad books).  What evs. I liked ‘em, I read ‘em. Even I, however, am just a bit embarrassed when I compare the mountain of literature you see below with last year’s list, compiled by Voreblog. It appears that this year’s list has been composed by a child. But let us judge this year’s feast of literature on quantity, not quality. I read two entire series of novels. Thank you, Jim Butcher. Thank you, Charlaine Harris. I read one-half of an embarrassing novel filled with were-animal sex scenes. Anita Blake, why must you be such a whore? To be fair, I now warn all who venture to my Facebook profile to steer clear of the genre known as paranormal romance.

Books I have devoured in 2009:

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files:

Storm Front
Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
Death Masks
Blood Rites
Dead Beat
Proven Guilty
White Knight
Small Favor
Turn Coat

Summary: Harry Dresden is the sexiest, most complex wizard-hero I have yet to encounter.  I would have a cup of coffee with him.

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Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Novels:

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead To Worse
Dead and Gone

Summary: S-T-E-A-M-Y. Eric the Vampire/Northman? Yes, please. Bill? Maybe; but it’s a weird name for a vampire. Stories are quick, energetic, entertaining.

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Stieg Larsson’s

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played With Fire

Summary: Great books combining two of my favorite things: journalism and Swedes. There is nothing more awesome than clipping through a book at a furious pace, when suddenly you are made to pause by a passage involving having a cheese sandwich for breakfast. Who does that? Answer: Swedes.

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Suzanne Collins’ “adolescent series”

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

Summary: Books haven’t made me feel this good since I imagined I was eating blueberries and milk and bread along with the Boxcar Children. Seriously, stories of children surviving in the wilderness get a “thumbs up” from me.

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Vampire Haiku by Ryan Mecum

Summary:

Ryan writes of vamps
Never have I laughed at blood
And sucking so much

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The Reason for God:  Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller

Summary: I didn’t know I could like a Presbyterian this much.

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The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Summary: This book led me to proclaim: “Holy Shit! I’ve been doing it all wrong.” As well as: “Well, of course it makes sense that everyone needs a full love-tank.”

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Re-Read:

5, 6 and 7 of the Harry Potter series
Book 4 of the Twilight series

I don’t know what to say for myself. Again, I make a plea for judgment based on quantity (27 new books! 31 if you count the re-reads!). In sum, I got lost in books this year and enjoyed the fantastic escape that books can provide.

Thank you, Voreblog, for allowing me to share.

[Ellen hands computer back to us]

Thank you, Ellen!

If there was a throughline to our reading this year, it was food. We began the year on a Michael Pollan kick and ended it with Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. In between was Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. You may recall that one of our new year’s resolutions was to eat locally and cook more ourselves. (If we had to grade ourselves, Erin would give herself a “B” while Ben would give himself a “D+.”)

So how do those three books compare?

Kingsolver’s book is the most romantic of the three. For a year she and her family ate only what they could grow on their own farm (or buy locally). No bananas. No oranges. No Pringles. No Hostess Ding Dongs. No Dewey’s Pizza. It sounds dreary, but Kingsolver actually makes it seem desirable. She also acknowledges that she’s #73 on Bernard Goldberg’s “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” list.

Eating Animals, Foer’s first stab at non-fiction, is a mixed bag. The prospect of fatherhood — and his pet dog, George — leads Foer to reconsider his own eating habits and how he wants to raise his son. This leads Foer to break into a factory farm and relay some truly disgusting revelations about chickens. More philosophical than Kingsolver, Foer is also angrier — he has the zeal of the newly converted. You could argue that his disdain for farms (even the more humane family farms) is simply impractical, and it is. That’s Foer’s point. He wants to provoke. We’d pay money to see him and Barbara Kingsolver in a room together. Extra if Wendell Berry came too. (And really big bucks if Robert Pattinson just happened to wander in.)

Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma is still the food book we measure all others against. While he didn’t quite inspire us to hunt our own boar, Pollan offers a coherent view of everything from the Western diet to the food industry, agribusiness, organic food and the basics of better grocery shopping. In Defense of Food, his bite-size follow-up, sacrifices narrative by focusing on the practical. His new book, Food Rules, releases next week.

Now, without further ado: Our top seven books of the year, conveniently arranged into fiction, non-fiction, and young reader.

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KIDS BOOKS

THE BRIXTON BROTHERS: THE CASE OF THE CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY, Mac Barnett. No book was funnier to read this year than the first entry in the new young reader detective series, The Brixton Brothers. The real mystery here is not why the “Brothers” is plural (there is only one Brixton, the inimitable Steve) but rather why a super-secret stealth group called The Librarians is out to kill our hero for checking out a book on quilting. Barnett is fearless about confronting other impenetrable mysteries too, notably: How do you read a book and dunk a basketball at the same time? Both a spoof and an homage to the likes of Encyclopedia Brown and The Hardy Boys, The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity will amuse a 32-year-old no less than one who’s twelve.

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WHEN YOU REACH ME, Rebecca Stead. If the Newbery Award is worth anything, this book will win it. A brilliant little puzzle of a book, When You Reach Me is also a sly homage to A Wrinkle In Time. A sixth grader named Miranda begins noticing strange little occurrences all around her: first her apartment key is stolen, then a shoe disappears, and suddenly cryptic notes arrive saying things like, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.” Whoever is writing the notes knows things about Miranda and the future that nobody should know. Who’s sending them? And why? Around this riddle Stead weaves a story rich with detail and feeling — about growing up, self-discovery, mothers and daughters, and making and losing friends. Plus Dick Clark makes a cameo as a key plot point. Hard to beat that.

(Thank you, Steph Porter and Molly Gillespie, for steering us toward these books.)

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FICTION

MORE OF THIS WORLD OR MAYBE ANOTHER, Barb Johnson. It was not the banner year for short story collections that 2008 was, but 2009 did produce a gem in Barb Johnson’s More of This World or Maybe Another. Johnson’s large-hearted stories trace the lives of New Orleanians trapped in circumstances of abandonment, adultery, heartbreak and desperation; what makes them not just bearable but remarkable (the title story is a wonder to read, and reread) is Johnson’s lean, musical prose, as well as her wit and empathy for all her broken people. They may be unable to escape themselves, but her characters win a sad wisdom just by getting by. What’s not sad is watching Johnson read in person; she’s dry, sharp and witty.

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LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, Colum McCann. “Things happen. Things collide,” Colum McCann writes in Let The Great World Spin, a sprawling narrative where a dozen disparate lives — a priest, a prostitute, a judge, his grieving wife — converge in tragedy and wonder. Using Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers in August 1974 as his inspiration, McCann tries for something almost as virtuosic. It’s no failure on his part if it doesn’t completely cohere — his aim is high and his heart is true. After you’re done reading it, rent Man on Wire for more high-wire hijinks. Then string your own tightrope between your roof and the house next door and amaze the neighbors!

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NON-FICTION

COLUMBINE, Dave Cullen. What could have been a morbid, voyeuristic exercise is, in Dave Cullen’s capable hands, a cathartic release. Recreating the almost minute-by-minute events of April 20, 1999 and weaving in a wide angle perspective both of who Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were and what led them to kill, Columbine is a humane, unflinching book. Cullen gives shape to both the horror of the shooting and a community’s attempt to understand and forgive in the decade since.

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THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL, Bill Simmons. We’ve read no less than three profiles of Bill Simmons and his New York Times-bestseller that all follow the same story line: “Who knew so many people would want to read a 736-page hardcover book about basketball?” Um, how about anyone who has ever read his blog? Simmons combines hoops knowledge with savvy pop culture references to give us, if not exactly the NBA Bible, something we’ll still be quoting chapter and verse for years to come. Yes, some of his references are labored and/or won’t age well (Spencer & Heidi, Tiffany Amber Thiessen, etc.), and he throws John Stockton under the bus (despite ranking him a respectable #25 in the Pyramid of NBA All-Stars), but we’ll forgive him. Perfect bathroom reading. We think Bill would take that as a compliment.

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ZEITOUN, Dave Eggers. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a driven, successful painting contractor, stays behind in New Orleans while his family evacuates prior to Hurricane Katrina. After the levees break, Zeitoun paddles around in a canoe, rescuing trapped residents, checking in on his properties and feeding abandoned dogs. Then, suddenly, he is arrested. What unfolds from there is shocking. No less shocking is that the same Eggers who wrote the showy, exuberant A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius tells Zeitoun’s story with such restraint and understatement, letting the injustices speak for themselves. The result is a riveting, hopeful book of one family’s survival in a time of chaos.

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There’s a lot on our reading list that we didn’t get to this year, notably Mary Karr’s Lit, Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win GloryThe Good Soldiers by David Finkel, and The Flat Belly Diet For Men. More on these when we catch up in the new year.

But wait, you’re saying. Isn’t there an elephant in the room? Wearing James Joyce glasses? Weren’t you part of a certain online literary group that tackled Ulysses? And how did that turn out? Did you put that feather in your cap?

Welllllll … yes and no.

Yes, we tackled Ulysses. We even tackled The Odyssey first. The difference? We finished The Odyssey.

Ulysses? Our bookmark remains on page 167, where it has stayed since mid-September.

So no, we didn’t quite put that feather in our cap.

Will we ever return to the events of June 16, 1904? Maybe. Probably not. If our Virgil pulls us out of the mire, there’s a chance, we suppose. (But that very Virgil has, apparently, quit us for good, instructing us in his last comment (dated October 4) to “enjoy [our] tepid hot dogs.”)

Until then, consider it: Joyce 1, Voreblog 0.

(Sigh.)

Again, thank you to guest blogger Ellen.

Coming soon, maybe even tomorrow: The year in TV! Unless we convince sister Bevin to help us with the music list first!