Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


AA GILL at Amazon


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Wow, Gill is fearless, sarcastic, really sarcastic, smart, street-wise, worldly, and loving. He was a restaurant/food critic that I discovered on one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows.He has a fantastic personality, and speaks eloquently on the connection between food and…well… everything. Food and politics. Food and nationalism.  Food and love.  Food and diplomacy. Food and philosophy. He’s handsome, fun, intelligent, and dyslexic.

It’s true. He writes about how much work it is for him to get anything written. His penmanship is awful, so he has people to translate his notes for him. He talks about it with refreshing honesty. That’s one of the reasons why he’s my hero.  If he can be a famous writer with dyslexia, what the hell!  Here’s the lesson for all of us who have limitations – you can still control how much you accomplish in spite of them. You can do anything you set your mind to. He’s the proof – if you need more proof.

If you can get hold of a copy ( ( of Paper View: The Best of the Sunday Times Television Columns, this is a great place to start getting a feel for his writing style.  It’s very conversational – like cocktail party banter. Like that part of the party where you’ve been there long enough to get into deeper conversations with some of the more interesting guests. It’s witty in the best sense, emotional, clever, and honest. After I read this book, I immediately bought 3 more and binged on Gill the way people binge on their Netflixfavorites.

Here is Anthony Bourdain and Gill having dinner in Scotland after a day of shooting.

Food critic A.A. Gill and Anthony Bourdain enjoy roast grouse (a funky game bird) at Letterewe Estate in the Scottish Highlands.

Twice on CNN, I’ve tried to record this specific episode. The first time I tried, it was the day of the Florida nightclub shootings. The second time was the evening of another mass shooting a week or so ago. I’m just going to bide my time and keep an eye on the channel for it to rerun.

Borders Books’ “We Blew It” Sale

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First of all, the reason this is in “Travel” is because I had to go out of town to get to a Borders Books. 

The entire chain is going out of business.  They messed up and that means – BARGAINS!  The store at Huebner Oaks was a mess.  A few days after they started the going-out-of-business sale, but not close enough to the last day.  There’s still a lot of inventory, but it’s all over the place.  I got dizzy looking at piles of books, stacks of books, shelves of books, tables spilling over with books.  I should have grabbed some blank books, except that I have too many already.  And look where I’m doing my writing!

The discounts were pretty much what you would expect: 50%, 70%.  Nice! When a huge music store in the same city was closing, I went in about three days before they shut down for good.  I grabbed armfuls of classical CDs!  Maybe about $600 worth of complete operas, complete symphony cycles, concerto collections. Oh My God! It was the BEST feeling!  How much did I pay for my swag? $80.  80 Dollars!  Eighty! Dollars!  It was glorious!

So I actually did not pick up that much stuff at Borders, but – if my receipt is to be believed, I saved $40 and change off the total price. It was a good day for bargains.

Here’s what I got:

Product DetailsI absolutely LOVE this series.  This is, like, my 5th or 6th one. I love them because they are designed to be portable, and you can write in them.  I carried my Marcus Aurelius book in my purse for about a year, reading whenever I was waiting in some line somewhere or when I was not in the mood to deal with people. (Well, that one kind of backfired because as soon as I got engrossed, suddenly everyone had something to say to me. Oy!)  I highly recommend the Penguin Books Great Ideas series. It’s a top series!

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I’ve been wanting to read more Bellow ever since I read HERZOG.  I was impressed with that story, with how connected Bellow is to people.  It’s like he creates these holograms of characters with words – real, but not real.  Tangible.




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How gorgeous is this cover! I love green, and this design hits my “g”-spot (“g” for green, of course!)  NO MERCYand BAD MOON RISING were beautiful, too.  Whoever the designer is, I love how they take one basic color and work it.



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This book is on so many favorites/awards lists, it’s unreal.  Also, I used to know a guy named Augie. As good a reason as any… lol.





The Atlantic - Fiction 2011The Atlantic magazine FICTION 2011 special issue, and The Official Guide to The GRE, ETS, publ.

Very small haul for me.  But I had other priorities that day. Still, the total came out to considerably less than $100.  I’d love for B&N to have an insane discount sale like that sometimes.



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Place-Names in Classical Mythology: Greece
by Robert E. Bell (Jan, 1989)

A Dictionary of London Place-Names (Oxford Paperback Reference)

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English River Names (Oxford Reprints) (Hardcover)

by Eilert Ekwall (Author)

Dictionary of London Place Names

Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (New York Review Books Classics)

English Place Names (English Heritage)


Scottish Place-Name Papers

English Place-Names Explained (England's Living History)

English Place Names/ English Heritage

Scottish Place-Name Papers

English Place-Names Explained (England’s Living History) (Paperback)

A Cotswald Village (Hardcover)


English Hours by Henry James(Hardcover)

Anglo-American Landscapes: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Travel Literature by Christopher Mulvey

Literary Britain: A Reader’s Guide to Its Writers and Landmarks (Paperback)

by Frank Morley (Author)

A Guide to Mediaeval Sites in Britain (Hardcover)

The ones in blue I already have; the rest are on my wish list.



Aw jeez, my appetite is overtaking my budget!  I’m such a sucker for these place names books. I don’t even really know why except maybe it’s because any place is more interesting than this place. A house is not a home.  Hmmm…that would make a great song title. 

Anyways, I’m a rabid anglophile since childhood, but especially since discovering Monty Python’s Flying Circus when I was about 12 or 13.  The world opened up to me in that year and I got hungry. But that’s another post for another day.  Since I am fascinated by my native language and fascinated by that isle set in argent, I snagged these.  And since my first trip to England, I’ve kept them close.  My favorites are LITERARY BRITAIN and ENGLISH PLACE NAMES.  A GUIDE TO MEDIAEVAL SITES is beautiful.  I got it for my birthday a few years ago.  ENGLISH HOURS is classic Henry James.  You can only digest 1 or 2 chapters at a time.  They are so thick with commentary and description.  A COTSWOLD VILLAGE is a nice bit of fluff.  When I first went to England, I spent the first four days of my trip in the Cotswolds.  I LOVED IT! It was green and hilly and vast and COLD — even in mid-summer.  My spirit was a living force inside me.  I was so excited to be in a place I thought I’ve never go to, so devastated by the natural beauty and "woodsiness" and English-ness.  There’s actually an expression for that feeling of being so overwhelmed with the wonderfulness of everything that you almost faint.  It’s called "Stendahl Syndrome". 

Stendahl was a French novelist who, upon beholding the Renaissance art treasures of Florence that he had read about and dreamed of seeing all his life, actually got physically sick from the sensory overload.  Romantic, huh!  I didn’t get physically sick, but I felt my spirit as a separate being inside me, felt it being drawn out of me to absorb the landscapes, the air, the experience.  I was on an adrenaline high for 3½ weeks.  Nowadays, that’s probably how one would explain away Stendahl Syndrome — as an adrenaline high, mixed with endorphins.  Your system is not meant to handle that for days at a time.  It’s meant to kick in for a fight-or-flight situation, then fade.  You run too long on adrenaline and it’s like racing on overdrive while down to a quarter tank of gas and a cup of oil.  Your system is going to crash and crash hard!

I’ve been back to England since then. But I want to go back again.  It just feels comfortable. I’ve been reading about it and watching their tv shows for so long now, it was very easy for me to fit in.  I speak their language. 

So what’s in a name?  Not glamour, that’s for sure.  A lot of English place names sound more like compass readings and map jargon.  They also depict the mindset of the local populace.  If you were to read a map in Latin or Anglo-Saxon, you would see names like:

  • big village at the base of the hills
  • small camp by sheep farm
  • farmer’s market
  • village of the natural cisterns
  • fort near mouth of the river

Riveting stuff, I think you’ll agree.  Lots of English place names have their linguistic roots in Roman occupation.  London was originally a Roman trading center on the Thames River called "Londinium".  Cities and towns with "-cester" were Roman camping grounds.  Names with "chep" or "chip/chipping" were trading posts, after the Old English "ceapen".  "-gate", which appears in many London street names literally meant "gate into town".  When the Vikings joined the block party, you started to see a lot of villages with "-by" in their names.  So a village by the church (kirk) would be called "Kirkby".

When the Romans quit the British Isles, the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings re-named the areas they occupied.  So the larger cities could ostensibly have 3 or 4 names depending on how many tribes settled in that area.  In Scotland, especially, you see a lot of Scandinavian word roots to the east, and in the east of England which used to be the Danelaw.  In southern and western England you see more Latin  and Anglo-Saxon roots in place names. 

Linguistics of place names might seem dry and abstract.  But it becomes more real when you understand how place names are not arbitrary.  Every place has a history, and you can tap into it by tapping into the place name itself.


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