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BETWEEN YOU AND ME: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMA QUEEN and IT’S GREEK TO ME: ADVENTURES OF THE COMMA QUEEN By Mary Norris



Mary Norris has worked for The New Yorker since 1978, mostly as a copywriter. Norris edited the work of John McPhee, George Saunders, Ian Frazier, Mark Singer, Emily Nussbaum, Jon Lee, Calvin Trillin, Karen Russell, Ben McGrath, and dozens more. In Between You and Me, Norris writes about her love of grammar and how she managed to score her dream job. In later chapters, Norris explores burning questions like who put the hyphen in Moby-Dick and why are there so many commas in so much of our writing.

The comma was invented by Aldo Manuzio, a Venice printer, in 1490. Maruzio was working on printing Greek classics and found that using a comma (in Greek, komma means “something cut off”–a segment) made the passages less confusing. Over time, Norris is convinced that people insert too many commas in much of their writing.

My favorite chapter is Chapter 7: A Dash, a Semicolon, and a Colon Walk into a Bar. Norris analyzes how Emily Dickinson used dashes in her poetry and how Henry James used colons and semi-colons so effectively. GRADE: A

In It’s Greek to Me, Mary Norris writes about her love affair with Greece and the Greek language. I found It’s Greek to Me less interesting and less compelling than Between You and Me.. Are you a fan of grammar? GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS TO BETWEEN YOU AND ME:
Introduction: Confession of a Comma Queen 1
Chapter 1 Spelling Is for Weirdos 15
Chapter 2 That Witch! 35
Chapter 3 The Problem of Heesh 57
Chapter 4 Between You and Me 77
Chapter 5 Comma Comma Comma Comma, Chameleon 92
Chapter 6 Who Put the Hyphen in Moby-Dick? 111
Chapter 7 A Dash, a Semicolon, and a Colon Walk into a Bar 131
Chapter 8 What’s Up with the Apostrophe? 147
Chapter 9 F∗ck This Sh∗t 157
Chapter 10 Ballad of a Pencil Junkie 169
Epilogue: The Million-Dollar Copy Editor 193
Acknowledgments 201
Notes 205
Appendix: Some Books I Have Found Particularly Helpful 213
Index 217
TABLE OF CONTENTS TO IT’S GREEK TO ME:
Invocation 1
Chapter 1 Alpha to Omega 19
Chapter 2 A Is for Athena 42
Chapter 3 Dead or Alive 66
Chapter 4 Demeter Dearest 97
Chapter 5 A Taste for Tragedy 122
Chapter 6 Swimming with Aphrodite 149
Chapter 7 Acropolis Now 176
Chapter 8 The Sea! The Sea! 201
Acknowledgments 223
Appendix The Greek Alphabet 227

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #575: THE GREAT SF STORIES #18 (1956) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg


As a kid, I was a big fan of Alan E. Nourse. I loved Nourse’s Scavengers in Space (1958) and read it several times in my teens. “Brightside Crossing” shows Nourse’s approach to his craft: presenting convincing characters and scientific applications (for the time) blending in action and adventure. My favorite story in The Great SF Stories #18 is Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team” that also won a Hugo Award. Leinster had been writing for 40 years and being recognized near the end of his writing career moved me at the time. Damon Knight’s “The Country of the Kind” and “Stranger Station” displays Knight’s versatility. Mack Reynolds specialized in writing SF about economics and business. “Compounded Interest” gives readers a glimpse of the Universe Mack Reynolds would develop over the next 25 years in his unique work. Greenberg’s and Asimov’s introductions to the stories in this volume are particularly informative and entertaining. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRDUCTION 9
“Brightside Crossing” by Alan E. Nourse (GALAXY, January 1956) 13
“Clerical Error” by Mark Clifton (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1956) 35
“Silent Brother” by Algis Budrys (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1956) 75
“The Country of the Kind” by Damon Knight (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, February 1956) 96
“Exploration Team” by Murray Leinster (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, March 1956) 111
“Rite of Passage” by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, May, 1956) 161
“The Man Who Came Early” by Poul Anderson (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION), June 1956) 203
“A Work of Art” by James Blish (SCIENCE FICTION STORIES, July 1956) 230
“Horrer Howce” by Margaret St. Clair (GALAXY, July 1956) 248
“Compounded Interest” by Mack Reynolds (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, August 1956) 261
“The Doorstop” by Reginald Bretnor (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, November 1956) 276
“The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov (SCIENCE FICTION QUARTERLY, November 1956) 286
“Stranger Station” by Damon Knight (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, December 1956) 300
“2066: Election Day” by Michael Shaara (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, December 1956) 327
“And Now the News…” by Theodore Sturgeon (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION) 344

CHASING THE SUN: HOW THE SCIENCE OF SUNLIGHT SHAPES OUR BODIES AND MINDS By Linda Geddes



Science journalist Linda Geddes writes about the power of the Sun over our lives. Citing scientific studies and research, Geddes shows how sunlight affects circadian control, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, coronary artery disease, schizophrenia, obesity, and sleep.

My mother was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and a sunlamp helped her mood immensely during the dark Western New York winters. When I was a college student, I worked the Midnight Shift at a local Goodyear Chemical plant. Staying up all night and sleeping all day made me feel awful. I was so glad when that job came to an end! Geddes documents how low Vitamin-D affects health when people don’t get enough sunlight. Of course, too much sunshine can trigger melanoma so you have to be careful. I found Chasing the Sun an informative and useful book. Are you getting enough sun? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction 1
1 The Body Clocks 16
2 The Body Electric 40
3 Shift Work 67
4 Doctor Sunshine 89
5 Protection Factor 111
6 A Dark Place 127
7 Midnight Sun 145
8 Light Cure 156
9 Fine-tuning the Clock 177
10 Clocks for Society 189
Epilogue 206
Acknowledgements 211
Notes 215
Index 227

HOW THE CLASSICS MADE SHAKESPEARE By Jonathan Bate


Jonathan Bates explores the Classics that may have affected Shakespeare and his writings. Bates traces the influence of Horace, Juvenal, Cicero, Virgil, and Seneca on several of Shakespeare’s plays. But Bates stresses that the author that many have had the greatest influence on Shakespeare’s writings is Ovid. With dozens of examples, Bates builds a case that Ovid and his sensibility permeate Shakespeare’s plays.

Through careful quotes and citations, Bates shows the effects of Shakespeare’s reading on his writing. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you’ll learn a lot about the sources of the Bard’s plots, wit, and humor. Bates also deals with the women characters in Shakespeare and the Puritan influence: “And the relationship between church and the theatre became increasingly strained as ‘Puritan’ polemicists voiced their disapproval of players, especially when adult male actors stared kissing boys dressed as girls.” (p.3)

I particularly enjoyed the analysis of Plutarch and Montaigne as Bates traces their effect on various plays and sonnets. I found How the Classics Made Shakespeare informative and entertaining. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? GRADE: A
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments ix
Illustrations xiii
1 The Intelligence of Antiquity 1
2 O’er-Picturing Venus 21
3 Resemblance by Example 36
4 Republica Anglorum 48
5 Tragical-Comical-Historical-Pastoral 64
6 S.P.Q.L. 90
7 But What of Cicero? 106
8 Pyrrhus’s Pause 126
9 The Good Life 146
10 The Defence of Phantasms 160
11 An Infirmity Named Hereos 185
12 The Labours of Hercules 210
13 Walking Shadows 232
14 In the House of Fame 252
Appendix: The Elizabethan Virgil 277
Notes 285
Index 349

SPIES IN DISGUISE


Spies in Disguise, marketed as an animated comedy, satirizes spy movies. Will Smith is the voice of arrogant and narcissistic super spy, Lance Sterling, the Agency’s top operative. Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) invents cool spy stuff for the Agency (think Q from the Bond movies) but many times Walter’s gadgets and chemicals don’t exactly work right.

Lance Sterling gets framed by super villain Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) who sports a robotic arm and a plot to destroy the Agency with battle drones. Head of the Agency, Joyless (Reba McEntire), finds her top agent on the run. Internal Affairs agent, Wendy (Rashida Jones), and her amusing minions–Eyes (Karen Gillian) and Ears (DJ Khaled)–chase Lance Sterling to a resort in Mexico…with icky results!

Sure, Spies in Disguise is a silly movie, but if you’re in the mood for fun, weirdness, and action, this movie delivers! GRADE: B

LSU VS. CLEMSON


Deb’s LSU team is favored by 5 1/2 points. I’d take LSU and give the points. Clemson can be a dangerous team so they can’t be underestimated, but LSU looks like a Championship team. Who do you think will win this game?

HOUSTON TEXANS VS. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3:05 P. M. ET ON CBS and SEATTLE SEAHAWKS VS. GREEN BAY PACKERS (6:40 P. M. ET on FOX)


The No. 4 Houston Texans face the No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs with the Chiefs favored by 9 1/2 points. I’m going with the well rested Chiefs. In the second game, the No. 5 Seattle Seahawks take on the No. 2 Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks are 4-point underdogs. As I mentioned to Cap’n Bob, Aaron Rodgers is NOT the Aaron Rodgers of old. I’m taking the points and the Seahawks. Who do you think will win today?

MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (4:35 P.M. ET ON NBC) and TENNESSEE TITANS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS (8:15 P.M. ET on CBS)



Since the Buffalo Bills lost 22-19 to the Houston Texans last Saturday, I have no NFL team in the Playoffs now. But I would bet on the San Francisco 49ers (-7 points) to defeat the Minnesota Vikings,. In the late game, I would bet on the No. 1 Baltimore Ravens (-9 1/2 points) to defeat the Tennessee Titans. Who do you think will win these games?

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #574: THE BEST FROM ORBIT Edited by Damon Knight


I’ve read about a dozen of the 19 volumes of ORBIT that Damon Knight edited from 1966 to 1976. I prefer the early volumes that featured stories like “The Secret Place” by Richard McKenna (which won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for 1966). The Best From ORBIT (1975) collects stories Damon Knight considered “the Best” from Volumes 1-10. My favorite story in this anthology is Robert Silverberg’s “Passengers” (winner of a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for 1969). I’m a big Silverberg fan and “Passengers” is one of his best stories. I like Harlan Ellison’s “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” and Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

I found Damon Knight preferred stories for ORBIT that were “different.” That strategy leads to a couple R. A. Lafferty stories (some people love them, others hate them), a couple Joanna Russ stories, and a couple stories by Damon Knight’s second wife, Kate Wilheim.

Instead of writing traditional introductions to these stories, Damon Knight included correspondence from various writers–Barry Malzberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, and “James Tiptree, Jr.” In a letter to Virginia Kidd (February 16, 1970), Knight writes, “If by magic I could make writers forget all the Thrilling Wondersthey ever read, I would do it. Nine out of ten writers in this field are still writing for Sam Merwin, & it is sad.” (p. 347) There you have it: Damon Knight’s view of traditional Science Fiction. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
A Sort of Introduction / Damon Knight — 1
The secret place / Richard McKenna — 3
The loolies are here / Allison Rice — 18
The doctor / Ted Thomas — 24
Baby, you were great / Kate Wilhelm — 31
The hole on the corner / R.A. Lafferty — 45
I gave her sack and sherry / Joanna Russ — 56
Mother to the world / Richard Wilson — 71
Don’t wash the carats / Philip José Farmer — 104
The planners / Kate Wilhelm — 109
The changeling / Gene Wolfe — 124
Passengers / Robert Silverberg — 135
Shattered like a glass goblin / Harlan Ellison — 147
The time machine / Langdon Jones — 156
Look, you think you’ve got troubles / Carol Carr — 176
The big flash / Norman Spinrad — 187
Jim and Mary G. / James Sallis — 206
The end / Ursula K. Le Guin — 212
Continued on next rock / R.A. Lafferty — 221
The island of Doctor Death and other stories / Gene Wolfe — 242
Horse of air / Gardner R. Dozois — 259
One life, furnished in early poverty / Harlan Ellison — 273
Rite of spring / Avram Davidson — 288
The bystander / Thom Lee Wharton — 295
The encounter / Kate Wilhelm — 313
Gleepsite / Joanna Russ — 334
Binaries / James Sallis — 339
Al / Carol Emshwiller — 350
Live, from Berchtesgaden / George Alec Effinger — 363

THE ECONOMISTS’ HOUR: FALSE PROPHETS, FREE MARKETS, AND THE FRACTURE OF SOCIETY By Binyamin Appelbaum


“In the four decades between 1969 and 2008, a period I call the ‘Economists’ Hour,’ borrowing a phrase from the historian Thomas McCraw, economists played a leading role in curbing taxation and public spending, deregulating large sectors of the economy, and clearing the way for globalization.” (p. 5)

The four decades Binyamin Appelbaum refers to featured colorful economists like Milton Friedman, Arthur Lafffer, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Alice Rivlin, Janet Yellen, and Ben Bernanke. Appelbaum puts economic ideas in context. For example, economics was behind Nixon’s decision to discontinue the military draft. Economics persuaded courts to abandon much of the regulation of corporations. Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer persuaded Congress and President Reagan to cut taxes (kicking off the start of the horrible debt we’re burdened with today). Of course, many of these economic ideas led to our present income inequality and class struggles. But in order to critique our present economic position, you need to understand how we got here. Appelbaum’s The Economists’ Hour describes the players and ideas and economic arguments that transformed our Economy. Scary stuff. What do you think of our Economy today? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCTION 3
PART I
1. Markets in Everything 21
2. Friedman v. Keynes 46
3. One Nation, Under Employed 67
PART II
5. In Corporations We Trust 131
6. Freedom from Regulation 161
7. The Value of Life 185
PART III
8. Money, Problems 217
9. Made in Chile 254
10. Paper Fish 285
Conclusion 315
Acknowledgements 333
Notes 337
Index 427