December 2008


I was poking around the internet and came across a cookbook that I want.

I’m surprised I want a cookbook. I have a pile of them that I want to get rid of that I haven’t usefully cracked in ten years or more.

But this sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

  • More than 370 tempting recipes that can be made in a 9×13 pan, with favorites for every meal of the day.
  • Breakfast and brunch dishes include Ham & Cheese Strata and Oven-Easy French Toast.
  • Crowd-pleasing main dish recipes include Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken and Apple-Glazed Pork Loin and warming casseroles such as Italian Sausage and Spinach Casserole and Florentine Lasagna.
  • Potluck-perfect sides, salads, and breads make it easy to find the perfect contribution for any get-together any time of day.
  • Decadent desserts and sweets include Three-Layer Brownies, Pear-Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, and Raspberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

The comments pan the paper and the spiral binding but the recipes get rave reviews.

My 9×13 is my favorite pan of all.

(Cover photo courtesy of the purveyors of said cookbook — Amazon.com)

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Author Rating: A

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish
Mostly Harmless
The Salmon of Doubt
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy did not start out as a book. Douglas Adams (1952-2001) originally created this science fiction comedy for BBC Radio 4 in 1978. My introduction was through listening to a rebroadcast on American public radio some time in the early 1980s, I believe.

That first listen filled me with amazement. I still think the original radio and television programs are absolutely fantastic, even after multiple listenings and watchings, but I have ambivalence with respect to the novels following The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

It went on to became an international multi-media phenomenon, including stage shows, a series of five books first published between 1979 and 1992,  a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and comic book adaptations of Hitchiker’s Guide, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, The Universe & Everything published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996. Radio adaptations of the last three books were broadcast from 2004 to 2005.

A Hollywood movie version of HHGTTG, released in 2005, was a complete stinker that should be avoided.

The original quotation towels are not available but, Don’t Panic!, you can buy a towel from these folks.

Plum Pie, published in 1966, is a collection of stories:

Jeeves and the Greasy Bird (To help out a chum, Bertie hires an actress to play his finance)

Sleep Time (a golf themed story)

Sticky Wicket at Blandings (Lord Emsworth must steal a dog from a neighbour)

Ukridge Starts a Bank Account (Ukridge tries his hand at selling antiques)

Bingo Bans the Bomb (Bingo Little concocts a plan to prove he was arrested)

Stylish Stouts (Bingo’s financial future rests on his rather rotund relatives)

George and Alfred (Mr Mulliner relates the sad tale of his twin nephews)

A Good Cigar is a Smoke (To wed the girl of dreams, Lancelot Bingley must give up smoking)

Life with Freddie (novella length tale of Freddie Threepwood’s efforts to sell dog biscuits and help out his friends)

Interspersed between the stories are Wodehouse’s (“Our Man in America”) comments on American news. The book ends with two poems, “Time Like an Ever-rolling Stream” and “Printer’s Error,” and a brief essay on humor.

Author Rating: A

World of Wonders (1975) is the third in the Deptford Trilogy by Canadian writer Robertson Davies (1913-1995), the first being Fifth Business and The Manticore the second.

Of Davies’ three trilogies, this is my favorite — “a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven.”

Ramsay reprises the role of narrator that he played in the first novel, Fifth Business, but in this case it is only to add context and continuity as conjuror/magician Magnus Eisengrim (also known by at least four other names throughout the trilogy) tells the story of his life to a group of film makers making a biographical film about the great magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

As Eisengrim tells his story, Ramsay’s role in his own life, and that of his friends and family, is more clearly understood, the riddle is at least partially solved.


The Manticore (1972) is the second in the Deptford Trilogy by Canadian writer Robertson Davies (1913-1995), the first being Fifth Business and World of Wonders the third.

Of Davies’ three trilogies, this is my favorite.

I’ll let these folks explain:

Robertson Davies’s acclaimed Deptford Trilogy is a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven. The Manticore — the second book in the series after Fifth Business — follows David Staunton, a man pleased with his success but haunted by his relationship with his larger-than-life father. As he seeks help through therapy, he encounters a wonderful cast of characters who help connect him to his past and the death of his father.

In an odd way, this book runs at a tangent to the two massive novels that frame it, Fifth Business and World of Wonders. It is tightly focused on a minor character from the other two novels and does not drive the story forward. At the end of the book the reader is left a bit nonplussed — where is the scope and epic nature from Fifth Business? But the “trilogy” is not intended to be a serial. This becomes clear upon completion of the three. This book serves to deepen the reader’s appreciation for the themes expressed in Fifth Business and which culminate, if a theme can culminate, in World of Wonders. The reader who pays attention (a pleasant requirement for Davies’s greatest novels) finds himself engrossed in a sad, exhuberant, and contradictory life, and also gains some clues about the other two novels. This book could really stand alone, outside of the “trilogy”. Mr. Davies was not a slave to convention (although he certainly understood convention both theatrical and novelistic) and would have found the task of a serial across three books both frustrating and pointless. None of his three (not four, thanks to Father Time) “trilogies” are serials: they simply explore similar themes and share a few characters and — important to Davies as playwright and keen fan of poetry — setting and atmosphere.

The title refers to elements of the subconscious which unfold through the story and are eventually manifested as a fantastic mythical creature: a manticore, a beast with the body of a lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth and the tail of a dragon.

Fifth Business is the first in the Deptford Trilogy by Canadian writer Robertson Davies (1913-1995). The Manticore and World of Wonders are the second and third.

Of Davies’ three trilogies, this is my favorite — “a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven.”

Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man’s land where memory, history, and myth collide. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous.

This book is in the form of a letter written by Ramsay on the occasion of his retirement as master at Colborne College and addressed to the school Headmaster.

“Fifth business” is a reference to the odd man out, the one who inadvertently sets events in motion.

Vladimir Nabokov discusses his novel Lolita on “Close Up,” a circa 1950’s CBC program.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Thanks to JiffySpook)

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