...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be-


Professional pillow fighters.

In the Pillow Fight League.

That's "Sarah Bellum" over there...

Phoebe actually alerted me to this fast-growing new, uh, sport, the other day. All I can say is that I am constantly in awe of the new wonders the 21st century is bringing us, and I feel a warm glow at being able to share them with you all here at Mutterings, where I strive to bring cutting edge information to you on at least a semi-annual basis.

For anyone out there who is snickering right now, I can only say that there is something refreshing, in today's violent, chaotic world, about an organization whose motto is "Fight Like a Girl".

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

R.I.P. Robert Drinan

Father Robert Drinan, one of Massachusett's most beloved political and clerical figures, has died at the age of 86.

A Jesuit priest who served for a time as the Dean of Boston College Law School, Father Drinan was the only active priest ever to serve in Congress. He was elected in 1970 on an anti-war platform (beating John Kerry in the Democratic primary) and served for 10 years, until the Vatican told him to chose between Congress and the priesthood. During his tenure he was an active anti-war activist, was the first member of Congress to call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon (for bombing Cambodia), and voted for public funding for abortions. After leaving Congress he served for a time as president of Americans for Democratic Action, and had been teaching at Georgetown University until a few months ago.

He will be missed.



Monday, January 29, 2007

Why, what did you think it meant?

I was listening to a radio program this weekend and the word 'Bozone' came up. Apparently the place to look up such words is The Urban Dictionary, which tells us-

BOZONE- The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

This is an eye-opening site. For instance, call me completely naive, but 'Safety Dance' means a bit more than I thought it did...

Here are a few other examples-

CELEBUTARD- A famous stupid person. Typically refers to the current crop of vapid celebrities. Celebutard Paris Hilton got the name of her own videogame wrong.

MACCACACOCKY- being so full of hubris as to believe you can racially insult someone in public, at will. Man, did you hear what he said? He's a bit maccacacocky, isn't he?

URBAN AMISH- Someone who has none of the technological devices that have become a part of our daily lives, such as television, microwave, gaming platform or home computer. I'm going to Ohio for a visit with the Urban Amish relatives. Where's my Gameboy?

BLOGORRHEA- To write a blog entry just for the sake of posting an entry, not because you have done anything interesting today. I couldn't really think of anthing good to blog about, so my last post was real blogorrhea.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

How NOT to start your singing career-


The subject of illegal aliens came up over on The Joey Polanski Show yesterday. Here's an unexpected take on the issue from this week's news-

UPI: A New York "American Idol" contestant who won't be moving on asked British judge Simon Cowell for his work visa after the judge called his act "rubbish." Ian Benardo was allowed to complete nearly all of Laura Brannigan's "Gloria," before the judges began insulting his act, the one-time telephone psychic told the New York Post. When Cowell told Benardo his act was "just rubbish," Benardo demanded to see a work visa for Cowell, who then called for security to escort the contestant out.

"Simon has built an empire by sitting in a chair and being bored and British, and I just wanted to know if he is legally allowed to be making millions of dollars off us," Benardo, 26, told The Post. "Since he had no answer, that makes me believe he may not be legally working here in the United States." Benardo said he doesn't shy away from anything or anyone because, "I'm from the Bronx."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Make Mine a Double-

Yesterday's post apparently left the impression that I was casting asparagus on that all-American food -the hamburger.

Nothing is further from the truth. I love hamburgers. It's McBurgerBlisters psuedo-burgers I dislike.

There's no more perfect food than a well-cooked hamburger. Lately we've been buying Buffalo burgers at Trader Joes and grilling them (outdoors in summer, indoors on the grill attachment on our stove in winter). I was introduced to buffalo burgers on a trip to Zion canyon a few years ago- just before the tunnel through the mountain to the canyon there's a buffalo burger stand. When we first stopped there, probably 2000 or 2001, it was just a shack behind a run-down barn, but man, oh man, were the burgers good, especially washed down with a draft beer or two. And the buffalo they came from were grazing a field over. As we sat there a thunderstorm went through, and afterwards we saw a triple-rainbow.

I was hooked.

When we went back last year the stand had upscaled, the burgers were not quite as good, and the National Park folks had leaned on them to stop serving beer, given the cliff-side hairpin turns with 1000-foot drops drivers were going to have to negotiate on the other side of the tunnel.

Wieners.

But buffalo burgers are still my favorite. There's a bar & grill down the street here in Hatfield called The Smithsonian where they serve the world's best fries, and a really great hamburger. All you really need are good meat, good toppings and a good bun.

But you'll find none of those at McBurgerBlitzer. Last time I ate there I almost spit it out; I'd forgotten how tasteless they really were. Damn, now I'm hungry. What time does The Smithsonian close?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oh No, Mr. Bill!

Well, we've done it now.

According to a story on NPR this morning, after all those years of nagging at the French about smoking, and exporting McDonald's to Paris, it's finally happened: French women are getting fat.

And not only the women. The men are too. It turns out fewer French people are lighting up, leading (as it always seems to) to the munchies, and they're muching fatty foods. Result- the French are getting pudgy.

My only question is who the Hell could have persuaded the French, who are known for their advanced taste-buds, that a McBurger is fit to eat? Last time I had one it tasted like grilled cardboard, albeit grilled cardboard packing about 60 grams of saturated fat. So who's responsible? Has Bill Clinton been hanging out on the Champs-Elysees lately? Are they going to be renaming it the Chomps-Elysees?

Audrey Tautou says "Non!"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Catalog-


There’s no snow so far at Foggygates, which you would think would put a slight crimp in plans for Winter sledding parties, but then you’d have thunk half a step behind the Book Elves. With a pair of ‘Blizzard-3000 Super Toboggans’, a keg of beer and a dozen pizzas on hand, they weren’t about to let a little thing like bare ground stop them this past Saturday night. So with a little help from a few cans of ‘Krazy Al’s XX-Xrta Slik Silicone Spray’ and a pair of Honeywell TFE73131 Turbojet engines they “borrowed” from a Learjet that just happened to be “sitting around” at the local airport, they piled on and were set to go-

-and boy did they. For the official record, they were last spotted by radar at 2,500 feet, heading northwest over Montpelier, Vermont. But before they reached warp speed at cruising altitude and scared the dickens out of those Canada geese, they finished our new printed catalog-

"BOOKS ON FURNITURE, CABINETMAKERS & RELATED SUBJECTS" is now available on our website or in printed format. It features 264 books and catalogs on furniture, cabinetmakers and, well... related subjects.

Request a printed copy, or browse the catalog on our website.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Cats are NOT Amused...



Today's Independent reports that- "If you are looking for a healthier life, get a dog. Scientists have long believed that the companionship of a pet can be good for you, but new research suggests that dog owners are physically healthier than cat owners. According to Deborah Wells from Queen's University, Belfast, dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, possibly thanks to regular walks with their four-legged friends.

Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, Dr Wells said that dog owners appear to suffer from fewer minor ailments as well as fewer serious medical problems. In a review of dozens of previous studies, Dr Wells found that dogs also seem to aid recovery from serious illnesses, such as heart attacks. One study published in 1995 found that dog owners were more likely, by about 8.6 per cent, to be alive one year after a heart attack than those who do not own a dog."

Patriots Postscript


Well, let me say in my own defense that I called the Pats score exactly right- 34 points. It was those unexpected extra 15 points the Colts got that were the problem...

But it was an exciting game, wasn't it? I suppose that's what the rest of the country
is calling what Pat's fans are calling a gut-wrenching, excruciating 2nd half. Oh well, as George Bush says, if you're gonna lose, at least make it exciting.

On the other hand, if the Pats had to lose, I'm glad we lost to the Colts. It's good that Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy are headed to the SooperDooperBowl. They deserve a shot at it, and I have no doubt whatsoever that they're going to win.

Well, I guess that's it for sports for a while. Oh, wait- how many days 'till pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Ghastly Truth...

PASADENA, Calif.: Adults in America are about to find out if they're smarter than a fifth grader. Fox is launching a new game show called, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" Grown-ups will compete in a quiz based on questions from elementary school textbooks. A Fox executive says, "While most game shows measure how smart you are, this is a show that will measure how dumb you are."

Well, at least Fox is marketing to their normal demographic...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Patriots Talk-

This image worked well last week, so I'm not going to monkey with success.

Tomorrow's game should be very interesting- the Patriots and Colts have played each other a lot, know each other, and the quarterbacks are good friends. A ton of megabytes have been expended this week putting the game in context, so I won't repeat it. If you care at all, you already know that the teams have met twice in the playoffs in the last five years, with the Pats coming away with the win both times, and that this hangs like an albatross around the reputations of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and his Colts. You may also know that the last two times the teams met (both regular season games) the Colts won.

You have probably already figured out that the outcome of tomorrow's game will hang on which defense is going to do a better job of keeping the other team's offense in check. 'Nuff said.

So let's talk about trends.

There has been a recent dramatic uptick in the Colt's defense, which has gone from Awful to Awesome with the return of a few key players, but a little grinding by the Pats offense could easily offset that. The Colts offense seems to be trending downwards in the past five weeks, cratering with last weekend's pitiful game with Baltimore, which neither team seemed to want to win. On the other hand, the Patriots, as they often do, seem to have been getting stronger and stronger as the final weeks of the season and opening weeks of the playoffs have progressed. In particular, their receivers finally seem to be clicking with Brady.

Let's roll the videotape. The last five Colts' games results vs. opponents were-

34/16 (Cincinnati)
24/27 (Houston)
27/22 (Miami)
23/8 (Kansas City)
15/6 (Baltimore)

Meanwhile, the Patriots were doing this-

40/7 (Houston)
24/21 (Jacksonville)
40/23 (Tennessee)
37/16 (Jets)
24/21 (San Diego)

Here's an interesting stat- the last two times the teams met the Colts won, but since 2001 the Patriots are 7-1 when facing an opponent they lost to in a prior game that season. Another interesting stat to keep in the back of your mind is that the Patriots have become aggressive and adept at converting 4th downs. They rank #1 in the NFL in this stat, with an .800 success rate. The Colts rank last, not having attempted it once this year. Now, with Adam Vinatieri as your kicker one can see the point in trying for a field goal instead of going for it, but the Pats will basically try, and succeed, anywhere around the 50 yard line in certain circumstances, and I have to think that's a valuable skill to have.

I'm looking at the Patriots as able to score at least 3 touchdowns on offense, and for their defense to force a turnover which results in another touchdown. To that I'll add a pair of field goals. I think the Pats can hold the Colts to two touchdowns, and give Vinatieri three field goals, one for more than 45 yards.

Final Score: Patriots 34 - Colts 23

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Musings

Winter is trying, it really is. It was cold here for a few days this week, and late last night it actually snowed a bit- we had a coating on the ground this morning, but it was all melted by noon. We've now hit 2/3rds of the way through January and this is the lamest Winter I've seen yet. Not that I mind- our oil bill is gonna be waaaay down this year, which is fine with me. But still, it's sort of unsettling. In a nice way.

What's the latest you ever took your Christmas tree down? We never take it down very early, and since we moved and have a Christmas tree farm right down the street we've been getting very fresh trees that last a long time. I think our personal record is the first weekend in February, which we may be looking to tie this year, as I've just noticed that ever since we put the tree up the Patriots have been winning...

Speaking of Bill, Tom and Our Pats, I'm working on my predictions for Sunday's game, and working hard at figuring out the final score. Tune in tomorrow for details.

The Miami Dolphins have just hired San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron as their new head coach. Ouch. Good move. Those not watching the AFC East might not appreciate it, but that probably makes the Dolphins the third very, very competitive team in the Division, along with the resurgent New York Jets and Our Pats. Next year should be really, really interesting.

China is apparently toying with the idea of shooting down space satellites- they shot one of their own down yesterday (no, not a 3-Stooges' moment, they actually meant to hit their's, not ours). On the one hand, obviously the Bushies are gonna be upset, but on the other hand, you'd think they'd be supportive. I mean, you know- satellites are the tools of Science, and as such are bound to be suspect in Bushy circles, where they spend a lot of time trying to circumvent and stamp out Science. On the other hand, if China shoots down the wrong satellite they might take Bill O'Reilly off the air... God help them then. You can fuck with the Weather Channel, or CNN, but note to China: do not fuck with Bill O'Reilly and FauxNews. They'll have you for lunch...

As Phoebe pointed out yesterday, there is no need to have a reason to post a picture of Jean Arthur, so here is another one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bookish Natterings...


Y'all gotta excuse me, but every so often I talk bookish stuff here.

Over on the Biblio list there has been talk about whether it is better to be a specialist or a generalist bookseller. Well, as a specialist obviously I think I'm right and the rest of y'all are wrong.

But that's probably not right either. There is certainly an advantage to being a generalist if you have an open shop -unless you're very well-known and have limited space.

In the end I think it is not really a question of generalists vs. specialists so much as that very experienced booksellers who know many ways to buy and sell do better in the lean times than those who do not have as much knowledge, experience and bags o'tricks. That's not a slam at newer booksellers -we were all new once. But bookselling, like magic or riding or flying or writing or acting or cooking or being a trapeze performer, is a continual learning process that takes time and constant practice, and is a skill one acquires by degrees, and over time. If you are doing it right -observing and learning as you go along, you will always be more skilled at it today than you were yesterday, but you will never be as good at it today as you will be tomorrow.

If one takes that attitude I suspect you can be either a specialist, or a generalist, or a bit of both, and be just fine. In the end the very best books to specialize in are those that can be sold quickly for a lot more money than you bought them for.

OK, enough about books.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Natterings-

Has it really been two days since we heard anything about the feud between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump? If there's been anything lately don't tell me- I'm basking in the illusion that they've both nattered their way to irrelevance.

Speaking of which, anyone heard anything from Don Rumsfeld lately?

Speaking of Donny, ever wondered what would happen if you stuck a few grams of uranium in a blender and hit "vaporize?




Although we missed the ice storm that blanketed a lot of northern New England, we do appear to finally be getting down to winter here- it's going to be 5 degrees tonight. Amy says that means we should put the storm windows down, but I told her she was just being negative.

I've started a new series over on 'State of Denial' -sorry for the long delays on posts there. I should do better now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Patriots Talk-


OK, can we spare a moment to talk about tomorrow's Chargers-Patriots game?

First, about this picture- I sent the Book Elves out with the instruction "find me the best picture of the Patriots during a game you can find". They're a dedicated bunch, those Book Elves.

The experts all pick San Diego, for obvious reasons. On paper the Chargers have the most talent, but the Patriots could win if they are the better team- better at executing as a team, and smarter as a team on the field. That's the way they always win, every time the experts count them out.

The first key will be the Patriots defense- this is a group that bends but does not break; that gives up points, but doesn't give up games by doing stupid things at the wrong time. This is perhaps the best kind of defense to have against the Chargers stunningly potent offense. No, they will not stop LaDainian Tomlinson. Nobody stops LaDainian Tomlinson. But they may be able to minimize the damage he does. Another key will be the ability of the Pats defense to create turnovers and points, something else they have been very good at over the years. The Chargers can be held to 20-27 points a game by a good defense. The problem other teams have had is that they always seemed to score fewer points than that.

So- the Offense. The key here will be for Tom Brady to have enough time to work. If he can get that extra second or two he could be effective against the Chargers secondary, which is not as fearsome as the rest of their team. There is no better quarterback to have for that sort of task than Tom Brady.

This game is going to come down to talent vs. brains. The Chargers are by far the most talented team in the NFL this year. The Patriots have built their dynasty on being a thinking team that can change strategies on a dime, mid-game, with solid players who have the ability and attitude to follow their coaches instructions and execute. When they do that they have a better-than-even chance of winning.

Look for the Pats defense to force turnovers in the 2nd and 4th quarters, and for the Chargers, as they usually do, to come charging back in the 4th.

Final score- well, I have to be optomistic, otherwise what's the point? The game could go either way, but I'm going to predict that the Patriots can keep the Chargers to somewhere between that average of 20-27 points. For the Pats, Tom Brady & Co. should be able to score a couple of touchdowns, and add two field goals; to win they'll need the defense to force a turnover that results in another touchdown. Final score- Patriots 27 / Chargers 23.

Not that I over-analyze these things or anything...

One final prediction- whoever wins ths game will go on to win not only the AFC championship next week, but the SooperDooper Bowl.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Random Musings-


-My wife and I tuned in to the rerun of 'Top Chef' last night at 9 pm. If The Decider has anything new he wants to say to me, he can send Dick Cheney over to my house and shoot me in the face.

-Speaking of The Decider, I note that all the White House flacks and their captive Congressmen (whose numbers have been decreasing at a rapid rate recently) are saying this morning that it would be wrong for Congress to question the Decider's policies because he is the Commander in Chief and must be respected. I can get on board with that, because I remember exactly how supportive most of those same exact people were of "The Commander in Chief" when Bill Clinton had the job...

-Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd has just announced he is running for President. My immediate gut reaction was -why? Does anyone, besides Senator Dodd, actually want Senator Dodd to run for President? Has he talked with Joe Lieberman, who seems to always be running for President, and the two of them think it'd be great fun, as well as very efficient, to have both Connecticut Senators running at the same time? Is this something Senators are going to start doing, instead of having affairs, when they hit midlife crisis stage? "Blonde, Brunette or run for President?" They must all be cursing Gary Hary, who proved you can't really do both...

-It turns out that at the same time Massachusetts Governor (and Republican Presidential candidate) "Mitt" Romney was proudly announcing that he was leaving office having balanced the 2007 state budget, his aides were holding private meetings with aides of incoming Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and revealing that the state would have a deficit of around a billion dollars for fiscal year 2007. Now why would Mitt lie like that? Ponder, ponder, ponder...

-A few days ago I mentioned the financial problems Northampton's Academy of Music Theater is having. The 11-member Board, which includes Northampton's Mayor and the President of Smith College, voted to stop showing all movies there last week, and laid off the entire staff. This week the local newspaper dug up the fact that when the building was given to the city in the 1890s the Deed of Gift included the stipulation that the building could only be used for entertainment performances, and that the city had to make up any deficit in its budger each year. It then stated that if any portion of the Deed of Gift was broken ownership of the building would revert to the giver's heirs. Well, the building has been running a deficit for several years now, and the city shows no sign of ponying up the money. One does have to wonder what's going on...

-All in all, the world could use more movies with Caterina Murino in them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sure, Blame the Book...

Paris Hilton is going to be a movie actress, and it's all the fault of those damned books! According to something I just read on the web (so you know it must be true) she recently told "Hello!" magazine "I'm serious about acting and have been reading this book, 'The Power of the Actor'."

Paris Hilton is reading books. Not only reading them- getting inspired by them. The mind boggles. Should we expect it to start raining frogs or something soon?

Actually that's probably unfair, I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person. She's not a ditzy, mindless, publicity-seeking partied-out celebrity wanna-be...

she's just drawn that way.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Drop that Book, or I'll Shoot!


wow...

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) - Police say a security guard at the Anderson County Library fired his gun at a car after the driver triggered a security alarm.

Police say security guard James Turner asked the woman to stop after the alarm went off as she left around 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon.

A police report states Turner chased the woman as she ran to her car and he said the bumper brushed his knee as she pulled away.

Police say the guard then fired into the driver's door. Authorities say the woman kept going and they don't know if she was hurt.

Library director Carl Stone says he's asked Cherokee Security Systems not to send Turner back to the library. Stone says no one should be hurt over a missing library book.

New January Catalog-

Well, for one brief, shining moment Spring came early to Foggygates. Yes, according to the calendar it was only January, but it was 71 degrees on Saturday and the Book Elves went into full Springtime Overdrive Frenzy, hauling out the rakes and yard tools, as well as the lawn chairs and barbecue equipment. The end result was that three of them got completely stuck in the mud in the garden and had to be rescued by the neighbor’s lawn tractor, and the barbecue was brought to an unfortunate and abrupt end by that unforeseen temperature drop and brief snow squall at dusk (around 4:30).

But before they discovered that the temperature might lie, but the calendar never does, the Book Elves finished our new catalog of books on the decorative and fine arts and architecture-

“RECENT ACQUISITIONS, BOOKS ON ANTIQUES & THE ARTS for JANUARY, 2007”, featuring 224 books and catalogs, is now available in printed format, or viewable on our website.

If you would like a printed copy, please send us your mailing address.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Weirdness...

I understand that the weather isn't awfully nice in some other parts of the country, but it was 70 degrees here today! I spent half the afternoon sitting on the porch reading and watching the world go by (and around here when it hits 70, everybody is out and about).

It seems as if Winter lasted from December 14th to December 27th- and we packed a lot in in that brief span, lemme tell you- it snowed (a dusting), and it got cold for a few nights...

The Magnolia out front is about to burst into bloom. I know, I know, even talking about all this is asking for trouble from the WinterGods, and it will probably be 6 degrees with three feet of snow next week, but still, when it hits 70 in January something weird is going on.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Perfect. Simply Perfect.


Figuring better late than never, Amy and I finally went to see Casino Royale on the big screen last night. It was showing at the 116-year old Academy of Music theater in downtown Northampton, which is closing because they don't have enough money to keep it running (I'll tell that story someday soon) and last night's 8:15 show was the last movie to be shown there, at least for a while. Here's a picture of the inside of the theater as it still looks today-

What better place to see Casino Royale? So, of course we had to go.

I know everyone else has already seen it but allow me a few comments anyway- this is, by far, the best Bond film they've made in several decades, and Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery. Thank God they left behind the too-cute blow-dried Bonds. Craig's Bond is the first to be just as dangerous as Connery's. And according to Amy he has adorable blue eyes. They certainly are the bluest eyes I've seen on an actor lately, and when they bore in it's chilling.

Not only did they get the casting right, they got the movie right- no more substitutiing firepower and gadgets for, oh, you know -an actual plot. Sure, there were chases and explosions, but the movie was plot and character driven, and most of the weaponry was downright pedestrian- even the explosions looked realistic instead of overblown. And there was not a single appearance of the Space Shuttle.

Gotta love it.

The writers obviously had as much fun as the cast with this one, with a bunch of subtle jokes and references to the other Bond movies. At the start of the Big Poker Game Bond makes an order for a very specific martini and when he sips it looks surprised and mutters, "that's very good. I'll have to remember that". In a later scene, after an especially harrowing fight, he staggers back to the bar, drenched in sweat and blood, and orders a double vodka martini. When the bartender asks if he wants it shaken or stirred he snaps "Do I look like I care?"

And the ever-present 'Bond girls' were well-choosen also. Eva Green was a bit too stick-thin for my taste, but that was more than made up for the by (all-too brief) screen time of Caterina Murino, who was positively poured into her dress... That's Caterina taking aim up top there, and that's her again below, with Daniel Craig and Eva Green.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Random Musings for the New Year-


-We've had no measurable snow (usual snowfall at this point around here is 13"), and none is in the forecast. It's going to be 50 degrees tomorrow. This apparently does not have to do with Global Warming, but with El Nino, but still, you have to wonder... I am noticing a subtle change taking place in the Reactionary Stance regarding Global Warming- although they still deny it could be taking place, in more and more "negative" polemics you'll see a new emphasis on the dual argument that "nobody's proven it (Global Warming) is a bad thing". I saw this just last week in an article I've now lost. Very oddly, after starting out with the usual denial that it was happening at all, the rest of the diatribe was focused on the benefits of Global Warming, stated in a way that assumed it was happening. Hey, as far as I'm concerned, the less heating oil we burn the better, and Texas is not nearly as far above sea level as my house, so it's all fine with me.


-Amy and I spent New Year's Eve with two good friends at the Coolodige Park Cafe at the Hotel Northampton. This is the second year we've gotten the table that sits in a little glassed-in alcove overlooking the center. Northampton has a First Night celebration, with all sorts of things going on all around town, and then at midnight they drop a ball from the flagpole of the Hotel, right over our heads. So at midnight there were thousands of people in the center counting down and cheering as the ball dropped right above us, and there we were all cozy, warm and slightly toasted, raising our glasses to them as they all cheered back. And God Bless this town- fifteen minutes later the center was deserted and the street sweeper was cleaning up.

We drove into Boston yesterday for another party, and Boston is still cleaning up. We've been gone a year and a half now, and except for our local food-coop supermarket and the subway, there's not all that much that we miss. I guess Green Acres is the place for me...

-Is it my imagination, or did college bowl games become a lot less interesting when they all got named for car-rental & computer companies? I know college football is a huge commercial racket anyway, but please, I just cannot bring myself to watch something called the 3-M Packing Tape Bowl.

-Speaking of football, nobody is going to pick them to be there, but make a date to watch our New England Patriots play some hapless NFC team at this year's SooperDooper Bowl. After some early season problems, the Pats, who were always solid anyway, are peaking at just the right time.

-If you're looking for a good mystery read, Ian Pears has a series about an English art dealer in Italy and his girlfriend who's an Italian art-squad cop. I found out about the series when I picked up three of them from Daedalus, where a paperback edition is on remainder at the moment. They are fast, humorous and very well written, and you don't actually need to know anything about art to enjoy them. If you do know anything about the art scene, though, you will appreciate some of the charaterizations and humor all the more. Pears also wrote a novel/thriller called "The Portrait" which Daedalus also has copies of which is not from this series, but well worth reading, for the same reasons.

Speaking of books and art and such made me go find the photo at the start of this entry, which is of the French actress Emmanuelle Seigner in one of my favorite movies, "The Ninth Gate". If you want to know what bookselling is really like, watch this movie. It's just like that, really; or at least for me it always has been.

Honest!