What do Wiffle balls, bad alibis, donuts and bagels have in common? If you said they are things with holes in them, then you'll enjoy playing this game, in which house musician Jonathan Coulton asks contestants to name the common denominator in a list of four words.
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I am used to conversations about women in historical fiction — or, even more bafflingly, in historical fantasy — consisting of apologia for there being so few of them. "Women were oppressed," the old chestnut goes, and consequently unimportant in the grand scheme of things except inasmuch as they birthed heirs or sealed national alliances in marriage, so it's no surprise that today's writers find little of interest in their day to day doings, right?
Woody Grant has white hair, a cranky disposition and a stubbornness that just won't quit. When we meet him, he's being stopped by a highway patrolman as he's walking down the shoulder of a Montana interstate. His son David picks him up at the police station, and it turns out Woody was on an 850-mile stroll to Nebraska, to collect the million dollars promised to him in a letter.
David points out gently that the letter is an ad for magazine subscriptions, but he's no sooner got the older man back to his house then he gets a call from his mom: Woody has hit the road again.
It's easy, when writing about network TV, to be cynical.
For example, when I heard the Fox network had been holding annual conferences on diversity, telling top show producers their casts and crew had to feature more people of color, I remained skeptical. What's the catch, I wondered?
Pity the poor essay collection. Unlike its close, more creative neighbor — the short story collection — or its snooty relation, The Novel, the humble essay collection is the wallflower of the literary world. And, when an essay collection is composed — as Ann Patchett's new volume partly is — of pieces previously printed in fashion and pet lovers' magazines, it really might seem like a grab bag of minor material — as, admittedly, a few of the pieces here are.
When you think of recycling, you probably think of cans, plastic bottles and newspapers. Well, think a little bigger.
There are businesses devoted to recycling metal, paper, plastic, oil, textiles, cell phones, computers, motors, batteries, Christmas lights, cars and more. The hidden world of globalized recycling and reclamation, and its impact on the environment and the global economy, is the subject of the new book Junkyard Planet by journalist Adam Minter.