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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 8, 2006

Hi everyone,

So sorry that I missed a week. I'll try and catch up. Last Saturday morning was so gorgeous and our walk around Waneka Lake in Lafayette was just idyllic. Barb, Mary, Terri and I did the walk and then met Chris at the Dragonfly Cafe on South Boulder Road in Louisville. Yesterday morning was equally spectacular for us as Barb blazed a trail around the wilds of Table Mesa. I couldn't even begin to describe where we were but the terrain was a little challenging and the views of Boulder Valley, ablaze in color, was amazing. Also, on both of these walks, we were serenaded by sounds of distant marching bands. Both of these walks were invigorating and great ways to start a Saturday in autumn.

Here are some books that came up during the last two Saturdays:

Terri's recommending a few books. One is the novel Up Country by Nelson de Mille:

From Publishers Weekly
That DeMille has written a sequel to The General's Daughter comes as no surprise; after all, that's arguably his best-known novel because of the hit film version starring John Travolta. Nor is it surprising that he's set this sequel in Vietnam; returning hero Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, Ret., served two stints there during the war, and DeMille himself not only saw action in Nam but returned in 1997 for an extended visit. What is curious, and relatively unfortunate, is that the long narrative focuses so much on travelogue instead of intrigue and action; it's as if DeMille, a wickedly fine thriller writer, has been possessed by the soul of James Michener. Still, the overarching story line captivates, as Brenner agrees to return to Vietnam to track down a Vietnamese witness to a 30-year-old unprosecuted crime, in which a U.S. Army captain murdered an army lieutenant and plundered some treasure. Joined by beautiful Susan Weber, who says she's an American expat businesswoman doing a favor for the U.S. government, Brenner travels to the little village where the witness may still live; along the way, the pair flirt, sightsee, visit a nude beach, sightsee, have sex, sightsee, and talk a lot. The sightseeing carries serious emotional impact as Brenner processes his wartime past and Vietnam's present, and it carries serious risk, as Colonel Mang of the secret police tracks Brenner's and Susan's movements. There's some violence as the two Americans elude Mang and his minions, and a melodramatic finale as Brenner realizes just who the murderous captain now is, and some dramatic suspense as Brenner peels away layers of Susan's identity covers. And then there's blasted, resilient Vietnam, which DeMille captures expertly, in all its anguished pride. With a film version in development at Paramount and the Warner publicity machine working at top gear, expect this engrossing but not exceptional novel to shoot to the top. 15-city author tour.

Terri also recommends a non-fiction book that she found just fascinating. It is called Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson.

From Publishers WeeklyThis superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. As Kurson, a writer for Esquire, narrates in this debut, the two divers next undertook a seven-year search for the U-boat's identity inside the wreck, in a multitude of archives and in a host of human memories. Along the way, Chatterton's diving cost him a marriage, and Kohler's love for his German heritage helped turn him into a serious U-boat scholar. The two lost three of their diving companions on the wreck and their mentor, Bill Nagle, to alcoholism. (Chowdhury's The Last Dive, from HarperPerennial in 2002, covers two of the divers' deaths.) The successful completion of their quest fills in a gap in WWII history-the fate of the Type IX U-boat U-869. Chatterton and Kohler's success satisfied them and a diminishing handful of U-boat survivors. While Kurson doesn't stint on technical detail, lovers of any sort of adventure tale will certainly absorb the author's excellent characterizations, and particularly his balance in describing the combat arm of the Third Reich. Felicitous cooperation between author and subject rings through every page of this rare insightful action narrative. If the publishers are dreaming of another Perfect Storm, they may get their wish.

One more recommendation from Terri is a book called Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff. This is a particularly timely choice during this disturbing political climate.

Book DescriptionThis DVD/Book package is the essential toolkit for all progressives.
The DVD features a lively interview with George Lakoff, television news clips, and illustrative graphics. This is a must-see media tool for everyone who wants to better understand and communicate progressive values. Includes "How to Debate a Conservative,""Know Your Values," and much more. Each DVD includes a summary card of key points.

The book, Don’t Think of An Elephant!, is the antidote to the last forty years of conservative strategizing and the right wing’s stranglehold on political dialogue in the United States. This best-seller explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. Lakoff outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate.

About the Author
George Lakoff is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute. He is one of the world's best-known linguists.

Chris recommends The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She has two audio cassette copies of it in case anyone would like to borrow that. Like the books on writing that I've been reading, its another way to get those creative juices going.

With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe, and has, in the four years since its publication, spawned a remarkable number of support groups for artists dedicated to practicing the exercises it contains.

Mary has two recommendations this week. One is The Enemy by Lee Childs. This one is for any of you "thriller" lovers.

From Publishers Weekly

The latest entry in what is arguably today's finest thriller series (Persuader, etc.) flashes back to series hero Jack Reacher's days in the military police. It's New Year's Eve 1990, the Soviet Union is about to collapse and the military is on tenterhooks, wondering how a changed globe will affect budgets and unit strengths, when the body of a two-star general is found in a motel near Fort Bird, N.C. Investigating is Reacher, 29, an MP major who's just been transferred from Panamaâ€"one of dozens of top MPs swapped into new posts on the same day, he later learns. Missing from the general's effects is a briefcase that, it's also revealed later, contained an agenda for a secret meeting of army honchos connected to an armored division. Then the general's wife is found bludgeoned to death at home and, soon after, a third body surfaces, of a slain gay Delta Force soldier whose murder contains clues pointing to Reacher as culprit. With Summer, a young black female lieutenant MP at his side (and, eventually, in his bed), Reacher digs deep, in his usual brilliant and violent way, butting against villainous superior officers, part of a grand conspiracy, as well as against members of Delta Force who think that Reacher killed their colleague. Unlike recent Reacher tales, the novel is as much mystery as thriller, as Reacher and Summer sift for and put together clues, but the tension is nonstop. There's a strong personal element as well, involving Reacher's relationship with his brother and dying mother, which will make the novel of particular interest to longstanding fans of the series. Textured, swift and told in Reacher's inimitably tough voice, this title will hit lists and will convince those who still need convincing that Child has few peers in thrillerdom.

Last week Mary was telling us that Janet Evanovich is one of her favorite writers and she was eagerly looking forward to her latest release, Motor Mouth. Unfortunately, Mary was disappointed in this one but would still recommend other books by this writer. Check out Amazon for a complete list.

From Booklist
Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby has a degree in engineering and a passion for the way cars work. Her passion for NASCAR driver Sam Hooker, for whom she works as a spotter and R & D person, has been put on hold since his one-night stand with a salesclerk made it onto the Internet. When Hooker loses a race and Barney thinks cheating is involved--the fancy, electronic kind--a wild ride commences, one that begins in Miami, then moves to the Carolinas and back again A corpse shows up along the way, and there's lots of NASCAR detail (fascinating even if you're not a devotee) and lots of doggy subplot (Hooker's St Bernard Beans eats a box of prunes that ends up having a great deal to do with the plot). Barney and Hooker find themselves in one outrageously hilarious situation after another: saved by tough granny Felicia and her myriad Cuban American family members; clocking a bad guy with a six-pack; disposing of corpses in some remarkably icky but entertaining ways. Evanovich, of Stephanie Plum fame, appears to have another winner on her hands: this one is every bit as lively as Metro Girl (2004), the first in the Barney series

Cooking and Food: I haven't cooked much since last weekend. I do have a couple of restaurant reviews and a food note or two. however.

A week ago Friday night, Jack and I went out to dinner at the Trattoria on Pearl. It really is a lovely restaurant and we've eaten there a few times since the new owners took over. Jack ordered Veal Saltimbocca and enjoyed it very much. I order one of the specials on the menu, Squash Ravioli in a Brown Butter Sauce with Sage. Sounded yummy but I knew as soon as the waiter brought the dish to the table that this was a mistake. Nowhere in the description did the menu indicate that there was cream involved. Now, I don't mind a light, delicate cream sauce but this was more like a vat of cream with a few pillows of ravioli drowning underneath. To add insult to injury, there were these two "globs" of white something (maybe crème fraiche?) floating on top. Not wanting to be difficult, I tried a couple of bites but it really was not edible. Now, here's the good news. When I said something to the waiter, he was very appreciative of my feedback - I tried not to be rude and avoided giving him the gagging sign - and sent the owner over immediately. He was very gracious and insisted he would take it off the menu immediately as well as taking it off the bill. I felt compelled to share with him that I had a recipe for a similar dish from Giada De Laurentiis - Pumpkin Ravioli in Brown Butter with Sage - and asked if he would like me to share it with him. He thought that was a wonderful idea. Here's what I sent him with the suggestion that his chef could certainly modify this to make it his own. Don't worry - you use store-bought ravioli - it is so easy and lovely!,,FOOD_9936_22455,00.html

So, even though I had a "yucky" meal there, I would recommend the Trattoria on Pearl (south side of the mall, just west of 15th) and certainly will go back.

Last night we went to an outstanding restaurant in Denver - Barolo Grill at 3030 East 6th Avenue - the atmosphere was delightful - certainly upscale but warm and inviting. This is definitely a bit of Italy transported to downtown Denver. Our waiter was so knowledgeable and hospitable - you really felt like your were a guest in his home. One great feature of the menu was a "pairing menu" where they had a several course meal and paired each course with a different wine. Jack and I made our selections from the main menu and we were not disappointed.

We started out sharing a wonderful hearts of romaine salad with fresh white anchovies, an elegant version of a Caesar Salad and then shared a pasta special made with agnolotti (similar to ravioli) and mushrooms. It was delicate and light and really just a "tasting" size. Jack ordered their signature dish, duckling braised in red wine and olives. It was crisp, not fatty and so moist. I had roast leg of lamb with artichokes, onions and potatoes, topped with sun-dried tomatoes - so many of my favorite things all on one plate - I loved it. No dessert this time but I did indulge in a double espresso with Sambuca - my new favorite drink - thank you, David!

Here's an easy appetizer suggestion that Barb introduced us to - a packaged wild mushroom pate from Les Trois Petits Cochons (that would be 3 Little Pigs!) - she found it at King Soopers but I'm sure it is available at other supermarkets. There's also a website where you can order it online - It was light and delicious and pretty darn impressive! The website is worth visiting - there are some other links to food sites that I want to check out.

Whew - that's a lot of catching up. Next weekend our book group is off to the Literary Sojourn in Steamboat Springs. I'll have a full report about that - lots of books and great home-cooked food!

Have a great week! OOOOOH! Don't forget the lineup of book discussions and films related to One Book, One Boulder has begun. Check out for details.



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