By bats | July 18, 2019 - 11:41 am
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

So you think a Mary Work story-line would end within two weeks? Particularly when it involves sad-sack Dawn Weston? Ha-ha! It is to laugh!

By bats | June 27, 2019 - 10:47 am
Posted in Category: Most maryWorthy, Uncategorized

…just go for the gusto! You’re not getting any younger, and Mary hasn’t run out of breath yet.

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By admin | May 31, 2016 - 5:52 pm
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

…I’ve been absent for two entire years. The reasons do include the fact that
our pathetic excuse for a local newspaper includes no serial strips (my favorite);
I have no idea of what’s going on in any of the serial strips (aside from the realities that Mary Worth continues to meddle, Rex Morgan continues to be a medical boob, and on);
the updated version of Photoshop is a bear to use (old dog…new tricks…poop on a learning curve, sez I);
a number of artists have changed (RMMD, Juggs Parker, etc.), and their new interpretations are kinda bland;
Luann, 9CW, Pibgorn, etc. still live (on par with Donald Trump running for president;
and fill in your own explanation/excuse.

I doubt I’ll ever be as prolific as I once was, but I’ll try to post from time to time, and I hope that it give yous a chuckle when I do.

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By bats | March 20, 2014 - 11:44 am
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And yet I can’t imagine anything this promising in something as insipid as Love is…

Not Love is

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By bats | March 18, 2014 - 12:08 pm
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TFofB

Or, “I Have No Horse in This Race.”

I volunteered to help set up for Friday night’s Authors’ Table dinner (900 or so authors and their closest personal, paying friends), but for the first time in five years, there wasn’t an author or topic I absolutely had to see.  Yeah, like that’s gonna keep us from going. TFOB continues to be a Fantastic local event, and this year was no exception. We mapped out our schedules, packed our lunches, and spent two days wandering around like happy lunatics, seeing things, listening to things, putting swag in our bags. Cool.

I attended fewer lectures this year, but it’s not like there were lectures, interviews and panels out the wazoo.  And, of course, there were at least two sessions that I had two (or more) lectures marked and so had to be a Responsible Adult and make a Decision.

So here’s who and what I saw:

Conform or Resist: The Giver Quartet.  Lois Lowry has written 40+, and The Giver is astonishingly popular, often as a class-read for Grades 4-6.  I missed out (it was written in 1994), so I’ve had no idea what it’s about, other than some people calling it the first juvenile dystopian novel.  Lowry is an excellent speaker with a lifetime of experiences (her dad’s home movies of her playing with her grandma on Waikiki Beach in 1939–she’s a very little girl at the time–are jolting, when the U.S.S. Arizona is pointed out, peacefully docked in the distance).  I’m reading The Giver right now, and while it is a “chapter book” (suitable for Grades 4-6), I’m finding it unsettling and a little freakish, not like kids in Grades 4-6.  If you don’t want to read it, the movie is being released in August this year, 18 years after Jeff Bridges bought the movie rights — he thought it would be a good vehicle for his dad Lloyd (“Guess it was a bad day to star in a dystopian movie.”). Well, Jeff plays the title character now, and if you don’t think that this isn’t an appealing film for a lot of people, like all the kids who’ve grown up with the book, it also stars Meryl Streep, Alexander  Skarsgard and Katie Holmes.  Way to go, Lois!
ll

The Mexican Kitchen: Many Cultures, One Cuisine.  The presenting author Ricardo Zurita was sick and cancelled, but that didn’t keep two local chefs (the owner of Boca and the director of Culinary Arts at PCC) from doing a fabulous job of substituting for him.  Two kinds of chiles relleno were made, and neither were the bell-pepper-stuffed-with-American-cheese variety (aka, FEH!).  I scored a relleno all for myself (yeah, I had to share it with a few people around me, but still), and it was filled with ground beef and pork and apples and onions and plaintain…  Honest to God, if it had just  been handed to me, I sure wouldn’t have called it a chile relleno.  It was wonderful, and the owner of Boca Chef Maria is a Fanatic (in a good way) for authentic ethnic cooking, wherever it may be, and equally of supporting Tucson businesses.  Boca is about three miles from our house.  No more excuses — gotta go there.

Oh, Mayor Rothschild and a Mexican consulate were on the official Tasting Team, and for local Tucsonans, questions from the audience were fielded by Lupita Murrrrrrrrrrrrillo.  There were also some tense moments focusing on Sonoran vs. Tex-Mex cuisine, and the all important white or red menudo controversy.

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Roll-out of Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars.  A new book with several contributions by friends of Bradbury, along with fans, artists who do Mars, and scientists (like Peter Smith, who has been involved with the most of the NASA Mars expeditions and rovers) all spoke about Bradbury’s childhood, literary influence, and incredible talents as a horror, genre, and regional writer.  There were a couple of Martians in attendance as moderators and entertainment, and even refreshments which the Martians didn’t understand but ate anyway (do you need to understand a green-filled Oreo in order to enjoy it?).

Bats of Kartchner Cave.  No bats, but a personable and knowledgeable park ranger talked about the cave bats who spend the summer in the cave, answered questions, and made several small children huddle together and scream “Mom! Mom! Mom!” to demonstrate a nursery cave environment in which several hundred Mom-bats have to find their babies several times a night to feed them (for several weeks).  Mom-bats are pretty dang smart.

Oh, it was pretty windy on Saturday. Like it stopped anyone from attending.

And yes, that was just SATURDAY.  There’s more to come (maybe even photos!) for Sunday.

SUNDAY! SUNDAY!  Absolutely perfect weather, not hot, no wind (i.e., God approves of reading.).  EVEN MORE!:

The Global Quest for Survival: Why Animals Matter.  Sy Montgomery is a self-described naturalist who’s gone all over and under the world to write about animals of all sorts.  Her most recent young reader book is about one of the most wonderful, if not underrated beasts (and unlikely ever to be a mascot of the Festival of Books), the Tapir (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)).  She spoke extensively of the tapir (never enough, really), but also of field biologists, gorillas, snow leopards, octopus (pretty freakin’ EEEEEEE!, too), and how welcoming most field researchers are to writers who share (or who want to write and then share) their mutual love and respect for animals.  Her co-panelist Eliot Schrefer, a one-time adult and young adult author, is suddenly smitten with and currently writing four novels about the great apes (this, after buying a pair of trousers with the “Bonobos” label and thinking that this was just a silly made-up word).  He’s worked at a bonobos orphanage in the Congo and more recently, at an orangutan sanctuary, where he discovered that a solitary species like the orang has a much different mind-set than the social chimps and bonobos.  A little orang that missed getting a piece of mango (he really intended to give her a piece later) waited patiently for and hour-and-a-half until he walked by her and then hawked a loogie right on his neck.  (Dr. Zaius really was a jerk, after all.)
Sy wrote a dedication to Bruce in the newest edition to our tapir library, and even keener, signed a little toy tapir (albeit a Malayan tapir) with her whole name! Keen!
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Steak with Friends and Scars of a Chef.  When in doubt, I just mosey into the Culinary Pavilion located on the Mall and listen as folks talk about food.  Cook food. And sometimes hand out food. Rick Tramonto of Chicago’s “Tru” restaurant, along with Revolution in New Orleans, talked about his Italian home life in a Chicago suburb with a wonderful cook for a wife, three teenage boys that need to learn to cook, and a 120-lb. dog, all while prepared a skirt steak and a flank steak.  There’s a difference between these, along with the very-closely-attached-to-the-cow hanger steak and flatiron steak, but I think you have to buy his cookbook to know the centimeter-difference between them all.  Still, I did get a slice of a very thin, very nicely grilled skirt or flank steak, so I don’t care what you call it — just don’t call me late for dinner.

The Best in Picture Books for All Ages.  I like kids’ picture books; I have quite a collection. But attending this session was double-barreled, since I’ve known the presenter’s kid brother for nearly 40 years, in a very different venue.  Bob Wortman has been a teacher and principal in TUSD for over 30 year, teaching the little-bitty kids (K and first grade), and can he read a picture book! There’s nothing quite like being read to, with all the sounds and voices and pointing out of Important Things, and Bob read at least eight books to us (I’m pretty sure these were only the best in picture books from the beginning of the year 2014, too).  I really spent more time enjoying being read to than squinting my eyes, trying to see the similarities between the two brothers…well, most of the time.

Beer Down, Arizona.  This was a surprisingly low-key talk, most likely because it was in the middle of the afternoon of the second day of the Festival, and I think most folks were getting a little tired.  Still, there was talk and reminiscences of the history of brewing in Arizona, from the 1800’s and pretty crappy local beer served warm, to the rise and fall of A-1, to the introduction of import beers by Peace Corps and European-travelin’ college stuedents in the 1970s,  to the modern rise of many excellent micro- and nano-breweries throughout Arizona.  Oh, and the glorious short time when the drinking age in Arizona was lowered to 19, before the Feds threatened to pull state highway funds if it weren’t raised to 21. One panelist (Terrry Owen, who might be better known as Fish Karma) read passages from the diary of  a pre-1900 saloon-keeper in Tucson, George Hand, much of which centered on “getting tight/full/drunk” on a daily basis — good times, good times.
Better times was Bruce and I both winning gift certificates to The Shanty!  (To any folks who remember The Shanty from eons ago, yes, it’s still here.)
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That’s it…we couldn’t quite find a final session to attend (the Culinary Pavilion was featuring Andrew Weil, so getting there at 4 was a Lost Cause).  So we just toddled around and were astounded that all the kids’ activities in Science City were still going gangbusters, and discovered some current work by the UA Mycology Club that strongly suggests mesquite beans are a great growing matrix for oyster mushrooms.  Huh!  So much to see and do! So tired!

And thus this year’s Festival ends, but not before next year’s is already scheduled, 14-15 March 2015. And if you ever doubted the diversity of wildlife in the Sonoran Desert, next year’s Festival (the seventh) will finally feature a Mammal (WOOT!) as its mascot — and what else but a bobcat Wildcat?

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By bats | November 19, 2013 - 11:14 am
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

little-tiger

Three babies/sibs…all of a like mind, I suspect.

tiger babies are fierce!

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By bats | April 2, 2013 - 1:38 pm
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

Like I might’ve mentioned, early March was crazy-making.  Between five days at a a major SCA event (got home on a Sunday night)  and the 5th Annual Tucson Festival of Books, it was nuts (I volunteered for it on the Friday–can you get carpal tunnel syndrome from opening 800 tote bags?–after that Sunday), we were pooped.  But it was fun!

butterfliesn

I’m not going to say much about the Festival, only it was COLD on Saturday with sporadic rainshowers…not that it kept anyone away (they just dressed appropriately), there was an actual time slot during the two days I attended (heresy! well, I wanted to make sure I got in to see the Stephan Pastis talk in the next time slot), and it was great.

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(Not the ‘usual’ March weather for the Festival — but thrown on a hoodie and long pants, maybe carry an umbrella, and yer good ta go!)

UA sponsored “Science City,” so there was even more to see (and a lot of “off-mall” exhibits and demos in Physics, Computer Science, Mirror Lab).   I got buttons from and got to talk to a great lady from Heifers International (and picked up a very granola cookie-like cow patty, used for cooking fires in Armenia), etc., etc.  If you live anywhere NEAR Tucson and don’t go to the Festival of Books, well, it’s your own damned fault.

And these are the talks I attended:

Savonarola and Segesser: They Changed History, for Heaven’s Sake.  Two religious men, one a nut and the other a Jesuit missionary here in Sonora.  I still don’t feel any sympathy for Savonarola (he’s the guy who preached against the material world and instigated “Bonfires of the Vanities” in northern Italy…he was eventually hoisted on his own petard, or hanged and burned, or something similar), but Dr. Weinstein, his biographer, has an interest in 15th-16th C. Italian street fighting — how cool is that?!?

Segesserfrontcover

(Oh, hey, he lives in our neighborhood, too…Dr. Classen, not Padre Segesser!)

Savonarola

Tombstone Twosome: Josephine & Wyatt Earp. The presenters are the definitive biographers of the Earps, particularly Josephine.  She was Jewish…I didn’t know that.  Bruce did.  How did that happen? (He said he’d watched a program on the Earps on PBS.)

How Italian Food Conquered the World.  This was very cool.  There’s a pretty good (and RECENT!) timeline for this, starting in WWII, when GIs brought home pizza, when movies about Italy and movies directed by Italians spread the romance of and food interest in the country (yes, even that scene in Lady and the Tramp helped), and when produced-in-Italy foods (like their wines) began to experience world-wide exportation.  It is not especially Italian to have a candle sticking out of the neck of a raffia-wrapped wine bottle.  In less than a half-century, Italian food may be the most popular “foreign food” world-wide.

Paranormal Romance: Why People Love Vampires. This is probably the meh-iest panel I’ve ever attended at the Festival.  The audience was very familiar with the writers, and to an outsider (like me), it seemed very cliquish and in all honesty, not very interesting.  Discussion ran out well before the time allotted (this never happens, and usually the Q&A period is tiny), so Q&A (and, “why I like…”) took up most of the time.  I went because this was the only “vampire” panel this year.  Unfortunately, the “romance” part really trumped it.

Vodka Distilled. No, I wasn’t on the tasting panel, but I now know the rudiments of hosting a vodka tasting, and how vodkas made from different bases (rye, wheat, corn, grapes) have their own distinct characters.  Very neat to see four or five vodkas being sampled (and how to properly sample them, even if you have to open your mouth like a grouper) and to see some vodka cocktails being mixed.  Neatest thing:  in barwear, there is a new, cute-as-hell stemmed glass called the “Nick and Nora.” (I’d start drinking for that alone!)
Vodka:  it’s not just for a cheap drunk anymore.

That was Saturday…five panels.  And you wonder why I only attended four on Sunday?

Sunday “Cheese” School. Better than Sunday School! Cooking with cheese…lots of it. The author gave all sorts of tips to make swell grilled cheese sandwiches (those even the hoi polloi in the audience (me) got to sample (woohoo! cheese on the inside AND outside), and all kinds of variations on mac’n’cheese (that Bruce, as a designated Taster, got to sample…but he left some for me).  He even got to sit with Channel 4’s Kristi Tedesco…yep, another ooh! aah! moment.

The Art in the Art of Storytelling in Picturebooks. Three childen’s illustrators, Jerry Pinkney, Floyd Cooper and Matt Phelan told about their work in the field.  Interesting and involving, only we were camped out there to see…

Fear, Intrigue, & Humor: Engaging Kids as Readers.  R.L. Stine, local dude Adam Rex and new novelist Stephan Pastis played to a packed auditorium.  Stine is the old man of the bunch and just as fun and funny as the new kids. Adam Rex has just worked illustrating a book by Neil Gaiman, and Pastis is goofy: who else writes a book about a kid detective and his polar bear sidekick?  This panel was a stitch (it helps when the moderator of the panel says something to the effect of “We’d like to thank Scholastic for bringing us R.L., Simon and Shuster for Stepan, and Schwinn for Adam.”  Adam lives in the West University Neighborhood, maybe a half-mile from campus.)

Pearls Freaks Out. Okay, it’s the last set of panels (4 PM Sunday) of a very long weekend, and we damn near didn’t get seats for this!  The Arizona Daily Star Pavilion (read, tent) opened up its back and sides to let more people stand and see Pastis himself regale the crowd with a slide show, anecdotes (“Screw you, Pastis!”–Jeff Keane), and lots of laughs.  Very, very cool that he was introduced by the Star’s editorial cartoonist Dave Fitsimmons, and that he acknowledged Bob Weber, Jr. (Slylock Fox‘s dad) and one of the dudes who writes Baby Blues, both lurking in the audience.
And then — during the book-signing afterward, he autographed the newsprint copy of my Fourth Place (“loser”) entry in the Washington Post‘s Style Invitational “Mashup Contest” from a few years ago.  AND HE DREW A LEEDLE CROC ON EET, TOO! So. Very. Cool.  Thank you, Mr. Pastis.

PearlsOnTheTrail

(Imagine a leedle Larry above the strip. Yeah, that’s it.)

YOU ARE INVITED TO THE 6th ANNUAL TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS,  MARCH 15-16, 2014!  Be there!

 

 

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By bats | September 8, 2012 - 8:42 pm
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

Yes…messing around with .gifs again.  Maybe if June actually trots out that thong.  I’ll probably have to settle for Rex making a bunch of weird faces. Which could be pretty cool.

 

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By bats | May 10, 2012 - 11:08 am
Posted in Category: Uncategorized

No, really! We attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in early May.  Over 2300 vendors. Like a Home Depot on steroids.  Maybe I’ll post more photos (even though photography wasn’t permitted on the trade show floor, you’d think I could’ve found better pictures of this dazzling lass online — geez, hardware guys aren’t as geeky and drooly as computer guys as I’d thought) — you had to see this, though.

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By bats | March 13, 2012 - 11:17 am
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Hmmm. I thought I’d written about the 3rd Annual Tucson Festival of Books last year, but I guess not.  Well, that one, and this year’s (aka, the 4th Annual Tucson Festival of Books, amazingly enough) was a lot like the first one I went to in 2010. Only bigger (maybe 100,000+ this year? and with more exhibits for sure) and just as much fun and just as exhausting.  Only no Stormtroopers (at least I didn’t see any).

The weather was GREAT, considering the winds were gusting to 40+ MPH the Friday of set-up. Yay for the respite.  And I can’t really express how much there is to see and do there, with all the authors and panels and entertainment and stuff like that, only it’s better than the street fair. No kidding.

So things that I saw:  bark scorpions and making anti-venom from them; the booth on organ/tissue donation (and signing up for that, since evidently the cheap-ass little sticker for doing this had fallen off my driver’s license); too swell goth and steampunk artwork from a company called Steamcrow (the kind of place that has so much you want you end up buying very, very little — like two pins); and smelling Brushfire Barbeque’s stand way too much.

And this is what I heard/learned/laughed at:

Boneheads: My search for T. rex with an Oddball Group of Dinosaur Hunters. Richard Polsky is a fine arts dealer who has a secret five-year-old’s love for dinosaurs and fossils.  He went dinosaur hunting with the various parties who found/owned/sued over the most complete T. rex skeleton ever found (“Sue,” who now lives at the Field Museum in Chicago, is a 90% complete skeleton), and chronicles his adventures in the Badlands of South Dakota via a rental Honda Civic.  The Sioux whose property Sue (har!) was found on eventually got $8M for the sale of the skeleton: he bought a fancy-schmancy truck for himself and bought farmland for his kids with the rest of the money.

Animal Behavior–Mild to Wild! Sy Montgomery (a writer with an interest in pigs, man-eating tigers, and everything in between), Patricia McConnell (UW-Madison professor of ethology) and Kristen Nelson,  DVM, talked about their experiences with pets, wild critters, therapy animals, cool stuff like that.  Sometimes they’d get weepy or sad, but it was all good in the end. (Chemistry 111 is still old and creaky after all these years, but I think the the Periodic Table of Elements have been updated at least.)

Three Very Funny Guys — Humor in Books.  Jon Scieszka (the first writer I ever listened to at the Festival), Adam Rex and Mac Barnett write and/or illustrate kids’ books.  The three of them are friends and often do book tours and festivals together, and it’s apparent.  This was hysterical, starting with their name plates being changed (by the moderator, who’s supposed to be the Responsible Adult) from
MAC – ADAM – JON

to
FUNNY – CUTE – OLD.
Jon changed his to BOLD.
Mac or Adam changed it to BALD.
And then Adam showed off his artistic skills by drawing a monster based on suggestions from the audience, a creature made up of a snake, a sloth and Jon.  You kind of get the idea of how out-of-control this panel got — this was one of those face-hurts-at-the-end-of-it-talks.
(Mac is really cute, though…look at his photos on his website. And Jon is really bald.  Enclosed are photos for proof.)

The Return of High Fantasy. This was the first panel I’ve attended in three years where I had to stand in line to get a seat (this is becoming common at the Festival).  Just so you know, high fantasy never left, you just have to know where to look for it. It was particularly interesting to see Judith Tarr (who has a PhD in History, which helps explain her fine detail in her novels) and Naomi Novik (who has an ongoing series regarding the Napoleanic War era, if the military nations of the time had air forces composed of dragons.  If you don’t think that makes sense, bear in mind Peter Jackson has optioned the rights for the first film.  If it’s good enough for Jackson and the magic-makers at WETA…).  My huge “Aha!” moment was discovering Robin Hobb writes under the name Megan Lindholm.  Lindholm wrote a swell book some years ago and then “disappeared” some time after — not such a one-trick pony, after all.

Same Place,  Same Time, Different Reality: Alternate Histories in Fiction. Novik and Hobb again, this time with Cherie Priest and Maria Dahvana Headley.  More interesting authors and books I have to read, especially when Priest grew up in a household with a fundamentalist mother who didn’t condone reading.  She did put up with the “classic” (i.e., dead) author compendiums that Priest’s father would give his kids for the holidays (like Poe and Lovecraft). Huh.

Okay. That was Saturday.  On Sunday it was:

Zany and Crazy. This was a panel with Jon Scieszka (again) and Tom Angleberger, talking about their respective series Spaceheadz (three moronic aliens attempt to take over the Earth, based on watching television broadcasts and believing what commercials tell them) and the adventures involving Orgami Yoda and Darth Paper (the weirdest boy in school makes origami Star Wars characters).  The most refreshing discovery here (aside from these are two very funny guys — go figure) is that That Powers That Be don’t mind characters with the names of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper, and when Tom broke his leg last year, Lucasfilm sent him get-well cookies!
Of course, we don’t know how he broke his leg…
[It was also neat to see the Arizona Daily Star‘s op/ed cartoonist Dave Fitzsimmons talking to the guys before the panel and sitting in.  If Fitz says it’s funny, it’s a 99% guarantee that it’s funny.]

Quick sprint to one book-signing area to have Robin Hobb (cleverly disguised as Megan Lindholm) to sign my copies of her novel (which she said was the hardest she’s ever written and writing in first-person is very difficult and something she’ll never do again*) and another quick sprint to another book-signing area to have Jon S. sign my copy of The Stinky Cheese Man… and a picture of his face on a fan, before

Lessons from the Octopus. Tidal pool biologist Rafe Sagarin spent a year in D.C. with his Califoria Congresswoman to work on an ecology-based agenda. When this coincided with the year after 9/11, he ended up observing how things like Homeland Security and a general ecology of fear work at odds with the workings of the natural world, and how following a pattern of adaptation and observation would make global terrorism, natural disaster response and epidemic outbreaks more successfully contended with.

Chasing Chiles. Local ethnologist Gary Nabhan talked about his most recent work with the evolution and sociology of chiles (which, while New World, really didn’t take off as a cultivated plant until about the same time of the Spanish colonization — how about that?! It was all just gathering those itty-bitty chilitepins, “bird chiles,” before that). He answered questions from the audience, sadly ignoring Bruce’s one on how to make chiles come out less hot than when they go in.  Guess he doesn’t know everything…

Taco Table.  Yay! Culinary tent!  Louis Ellen Frank is a cultural anthropologist (newly-papered PhD) and chef in Santa Fe NM concentrating on the history and use of native Southwestern foodstuffs.  She prepared “Indian tacos” for a lucky few taste-testers with mesquite flour tortilla, tepary beans, bison meat and chiles.  While we starved through that, Bruce was fortunate to be chosen as a Lucky Lush for…

The PDT Cocktail Book. PDT is a swank NYC cocktail bar, and head bartender Jim Meehan talked about bartending history and philosophy as he prepared three cocktails (yes, boys and girls, booze on the UA Mall! High-end stuff, too!) for the taste-testers.  Other than grapefruit juice is way too popular in modern cocktail culture, and Bruce prefers his Scotch unadulterated with other ingredients, this was a very interesting learning experience in learning how to prepare cocktails, and to order a beer if you go to a bar and see the bartender exhibiting a very limp shake.  (One of Meehan’s assistants here is a bartender at 47 Scott in downtown Tucson: his name is Ciaran (how Gaelic!), he has the build and red hair of Conan O’Brien, and he wails the tar out of two shakers at once.)

There. All done.  One panel per rotation, and there were at least seven panels for each time slot.  I’m telling you, you have to come to the Tucson Festival of Books, www.tucsonfestivalofbooks.org. No kidding.  You will be dead at the end of it, and happy.

It still would’ve been fun with a couple of Stormtroopers.

*Oh, that someone would’ve gotten hold of Stephanie Meyer a few years ago…