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November 19, 2007

'The 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time'


Above, the headline of an article that appeared in the September, 2007 issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

"Here, our all-star literary jury: André Aciman, Monica Ali, Julia Alvarez, Tom Bissell, Geraldine Brooks, Vikram Chandra, Jim Crace, Jared Diamond, Linh Dinh, Anthony Doerr, Jennifer Egan, Stephen Elliott, Nuruddin Farah, Nell Freudenberger, Peter Godwin, Peter Hessler, Uzodinma Iweala, Sebastian Junger, Robert D. Kaplan, Mary Karr, Erik Larson, Rosemary Mahoney, Peter Mayle, Tom McCarthy, John McPhee, Adrienne Miller, Jan Morris, Stewart O'Nan, Francine Prose, Jonathan Raban, Graham Robb, Akhil Sharma, Matthew Sharpe, Jim Shepard, Darin Strauss, Robert Sullivan, Manil Suri, Paul Theroux, Colin Thubron, Lynne Tillman, Luis Alberto Urrea, Gore Vidal, Sean Wilsey, John Wray, and Lawrence Wright."

Smokin' fast company.

The book list appears in alphabetical order.

Below, the first five.

Along the Ganges —Ilija Trojanow (2006)

An emigrant from Cold War Bulgaria now living in Cape Town, Trojanow brings a pan-religious enthusiasm to his writings on Asia, and in his journey from the Ganges's source to the chaotic cities along its course, he treats the river and its Hindu devotees with fascination, respect, and an eye for detail. Nominated by Nuruddin Farah (Haus Publishers, $20).

Arabian Sands — Wilfred Thesiger (1959)

Born in Ethiopia to a British diplomat, the writer-explorer was disenchanted with the West and spent five years traveling among the bedouins of southern Arabia, detailing their disappearing way of life. For his dedication and his eloquence, Paul Theroux puts him "on my classics list" (Penguin, $15).

An Area of Darkness — V. S. Naipaul (1965)

This is old-school Naipaul—the Subcontinental chronicle that made his name and expertly defined the India of the early sixties (even the writer's former protégé turned nemesis Paul Theroux confesses admiration). Linh Dinh calls it "penetrating, taut, and funny," with the caveat that "the only flaw with Naipaul is the fact that he does not drink alcohol, which curtails his access to many social situations" (Vintage, $14).

As They Were — M.F.K. Fisher (1982)

Peter Mayle, who has credited the brilliant food writer's Provence books with inspiring him to first visit the region, nonetheless recommends the book that comes closest to being Fisher's complete memoir. "She has the rare gift of letting the reader know exactly what it was like to see what she saw, hear what she heard, taste what she tasted, and feel what she felt," says Mayle. "A book not to be missed" (Vintage, $14).

A Barbarian in Asia — Henri Michaux (1933)

For those who would have liked to imagine Rimbaud as a reporter, the louche French poet Michaux might make the perfect guide to the East in the thirties. John Wray calls the book "hilarious, bizarre, and wildly self-indulgent"—not always a bad thing. "He was apparently hell-bent on alienating half the planet, or at least those parts he traveled through. Not to be read by anyone looking to get a feel for what life is like in India, China, or Japan" (New Directions, $15).

November 19, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Litter Robot


Bag that Roomba.

From websites:

    Litter Robot™ — The 24/7 self-cleaning, scoop-free litter box

    Frequently away from your favorite feline?

    Let the Litter Robot help.

    Self-cleaning litter box features a patented sifting process that's automatically activated just minutes after the cat leaves the box, transferring waste into a hidden drawer, then refilling with the remaining clean litter.

    Drawer is lined with a regular kitchen trash bag for easy removal — no scooping!

    A great way to save time and money while eliminating litter box hassles.

    Safe and comfortable for your cat.

    Perfect for multi-cat households!

    22"W x 24"L x 29"H.



Beige or Black.


November 19, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The origin of Ingo Maurer's 'Porca Miseria'


Yesterday's Washington Post feature explored how this iconic 1994 lamp (above) came to be.

FunFacts: Production is limited to 10 per year. It takes four people nearly five days to make one.

Here's the Post piece.

    Hard-Wired to Shatter Perception

    "Porca Miseria" is a 1994 lamp made from broken dishes by Ingo Maurer, one of the most innovative and influential lighting designers working today. It is one of the objects in "Provoking Magic: Lighting of Ingo Maurer," the German artist's career retrospective in New York at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Maurer, who is 75, says he grew up on an island in Lake Constance, with a father who was a fisherman and inventor: "I was with him on the lake fishing. And the light on the lake is something very, very special." That prefigured Maurer's later move from graphic design to lighting design. He says he made the change after a chance encounter with an ugly bare light bulb — and he's let accident into his process ever since.

    Where does "Porca Miseria" come from?

    It was when we went to Milan once, for the famous Salone del Mobile [furniture fair]. And I found too many designs there slick and design-conscious. "Porca Miseria" is partly a kind of revolt against that tendency. I'm also an admirer of slow-motion explosions, like in the film by Antonioni called "Zabriskie Point," where he blew up a castle in slow motion.

    When I first showed it in Milan, I called the lamp "Zabriskie Point." But then the first few Italians came, and — since no one had seen this ever before — said, "Porca miseria!" which is a kind of a cuss: "What bad luck!" So I immediately changed the name to "Porca Miseria."

    We produce it in a limited number — we do only 10 a year. Believe it or not, it takes four people almost five days. We buy porcelain plates at a regular shop. First, we smash them: I have one, I drop it; or I take a hammer to it. It looks very much at random — and it is, maybe 50 or 60 percent. The rest is in a way constructed: There's a bit of calculation of how big I want to have the piece I want to use.

    Chance rules our life, much more than intention.

November 19, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Got Bling? Flashing LED Sunglasses


From the website:

    LED Sunglasses

    Wild attention-getting glasses have tinted lenses and red, blue and green LED lights throughout the frame.

    Slip them on for parties, parades, concerts and dazzle the crowds with your... personality!

    With on/off button and three modes: rapid flash, slow pulse, or steady.

    Includes 3 button batteries.


November 19, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Petit Amande Dog Fragrance — by Mungo and Maud



Edwina Ings-Chambers, beauty editor of The Financial Times, widened her purview a bit this past weekend to encompass the new new thing in scent.

Read all about it.

    Paws for thought

    This is not a shaggy dog story. In fact it’s more of a coiffed dog story. For this is about not only the rise of dog grooming but the arrival of dog fragrance. Yes, it’s time to spritz those canine pulse points and have that pooch of yours smell of vanilla rather than parkland squirrel droppings.

    Well, sort of. Certainly Mungo and Maud’s new canine scent, Petite Amande Dog Fragrance, has been approached with the same consideration that goes towards those made for their owners. The founders of the brand, husband-and-wife team Michael and Nicola Sacher, even approached renowned nose Lyn Harris to make the fragrance.

    Harris admits that when she was first informed about the project a year ago, she said no – a reaction most of us would understand. But she checked out the brand’s website and “I thought it was beautiful” – which could translate as being free from frilly doggy nonsense and diamante collars. Then she pondered the fact that many of her friends treated dogs like children and decided that “it was kind of a challenge”.

    She approached the project as she would any other. “Dogs are treated like family,” she says “so I didn’t treat it any differently.” The result is “a cologne, not too overpowering, with some soft notes that I felt would work well with a dog’s own natural sort of smell.”

    Much of the direction came from Nicola Sacher herself whose favourite scents are blackcurrant and almonds “and we added wonderful flowers like mimosa and were inspired by nature and woodlands”.

    She also investigated any concerns she had about the possibility of a fragrance ruining a dog’s own natural smell – quite an important point in the dog world, which anyone who has ever taken one for a walk cannot have failed to notice. “A dog’s main sweat gland is under its tail,” explains Sacher, so any spritzing of the main coat won’t, she says, interfere with the natural order – or odour – of things. Besides which, this is in many ways about making a dog smell good so your home doesn’t stink.

    But if this all sounds loony, consider that Paul Mitchell’s dog-care range of shampoos and wipes, launched at Crufts this March, has experienced double-digit growth month-on-month. And according to a Mintel Pet and Accessories Healthcare UK report from May 2006, the pet accessories market has risen by 40 per cent since 2001.

    As for Mungo and Maud’s fragrance (also used for a shampoo), it turns out it already has another use. “We use it all the time at the office, and a lot of my friends are using it on themselves,” says Nicola. “We smell as good as our dogs!” As beauty trends go, this certainly requires pause (no, not paws) for thought.


A 50 ml bottle of Petit Amande Dog Fragrance — "For humans too" — is £38.

November 19, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dough-Nu-Matic Speed Doughnut Maker


From the website:


    Serve up piping-hot doughnuts in less than a minute

    The Dough-Nu-Matic automatically forms, fries and drains delectable mini-doughnuts in just 50 seconds!

    Great for large parties and fundraisers, this machine makes easy-to-sell treats for pennies apiece.

    Just add dough and the Dough-Nu-Matic does the rest.

    Enclosed oil fryer keeps cleanup to a minimum.

    Makes a dozen doughnuts in under six minutes.

    Dials adjust cooking temperature.

    14"H x 22.8"W x 6.9"D.



[via decomodo.com]

November 19, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

'The true mark of talent is the ability to recognize when to give things up'


Above, the first sentence of the eleventh paragraph of Peter Høeg's new novel, "The Quiet Girl."

When, a couple nights ago, I read it on the second page of the book, I stopped for a while.

I knew I was once again ("Smilla's Sense of Snow" being the first instance) in the hands of a master.

A quiet, meditative book, absolutely perfect at bedtime.

I note it here now because if I wait until I'm finished, at the rate I'm going, trying to make it last as long as possible, it might not be till Christmas or thereabouts that I get around to mentioning it.

Simply superb.

    A few more excerpts from the first 40 pages:

    Kasper loved how rich people sniffed their way to each other. It was like Romeo and Juliet. Even in the heat of passion and love at first sight, in the upper right-hand corner there was always a space set aside for balancing the account.

    The dark amber liquid had everything. It calmed you and filled you up, brought clarity and ecstasy. It anesthetized bad nerves and stimulated healthy ones. He raised the glass and let it refract the last light coming through the window. April light was unlike any other. It had a charming, optimistic unreliability, like an overbid hand in poker. It gave a promise of spring that it wasn't sure it could keep.

    Before the drawer she had never left anything at his place. In the morning she would methodically gather up everything, often while he was still asleep. When he woke up everything was gone, no physical trace of her; only her sound remained.

November 19, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

World's Largest Underpants


    World's Largest Underpants

    These 100% cotton, size 98-100 underpants stretch the definition of briefs.

    Each high-quality undergarment has a convenient double flap in the front and a sturdy elastic band to fit around the waist for maximum comfort.

    They come in the traditional white only and will shrink a bit after washing.


November 19, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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