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Archive for September, 2009

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As an avid reader of Carl Hiaasen books, I can say that none of his books have ever let me down. I’ve read five of his great eco-friendly novels now, but for some reason, the sixth one just isn’t catching me.

Not the greatest Hiaasen book, but still worth a read. Photo from filedby.com.

Not the greatest Hiaasen book, but still worth a read. Photo from filedby.com.

Double Whammy takes place, as always, in sunny Florida. Well, mostly. (This novel switches a bit to Louisiana, too.) The plot thickens when a famous local bass fisherman is suspected of cheating to win bass tournaments throughout the state. Private investigator Decker is hired to take on the case, but the events in this case go way beyond his usual assignments.

When the famous fisherman is discovered murdered days before a big tournament, someone tries to frame Decker for the crime. All the while, he is still in love with his ex-wife, is seduced by the real killer’s sister, and must try to pull off escaping from the cops long enough to prove his innocence.

The characters in this book are colorful, to say the least. Most of Hiaasen’s characters are. However, there is one in particular that keeps coming back in many of the novels — ex-Florida governor Clinton Tyree, who nows goes by either the name Skink or Captain. He is a crazed environmentalist who eats fresh roadkill, shoots a gun at airplanes, and badly punishes anyone who dares to get caught hurting nature.

In the case of this book, I think Skink may be one of the only reasons I’m still intrigued. I am always curious to see what he’ll do next. Perhaps it’s the fact that the story is about a bass tournament that has turned me off. I’m just having a hard time grasping this story.

But hey, it’s all about opinion. If you like Carl Hiaasen, by all means, read this book. You might love the fishy story!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As promised, today I will be giving you a review of the Bethel Woods Harvest Festival and Mountain Jam. Now, if only it had been nicer weather! The entire day, it misted rain, which made things a little harder to navigate, but still great. Luckily, everything was under tents.

Well let me start by saying that Bethel Woods is such a beautiful place to go. Even if you’re not going to the Woodstock museum, you can walk the site of the original Woodstock. It’s expansive and you’ll be hiking around the hills of Yasgur’s farm for hours. By the way, the museum costs $13! (But worth every penny, I’m sure.)

It must have taken quite some time to graffiti this Bug! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

It must have taken quite some time to graffiti this Bug! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

The Harvest Festival was very much like a large farmer’s and artisan market. There were displays of handcrafted quilts made by local seamstresses, an auction for some pretty neatly painted tables, and many interesting things to look at. My favorite was a painted VW Bug sitting in the middle of the field.

The tables of farmers was far more than I expected. Here’s a brief list of what was being sold that day: lettuce, cheeses, wine, peppers, apples, pumpkin, apple cider, soups, breads, squash, gourds, candies, sauces, and flowers. There were even some cool looking sugar cookies in the shapes of peace signs. How appropriate.

The farmer’s market portion of the Harvest Festival actually happens every Sunday. Here is a complete list of vendors.

Not only did the Festival have good food. It also had activities, too. There was a fun little corn maze to get lost in, which I definitely had to do. The corn was so tall I felt like I was in the jungle. There were also musician workshops and mini jam sessions for those interested.

Pumpkins, gourds, and veggies, oh my! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Pumpkins, gourds, and veggies, oh my! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

The shuttle bus ran from the Harvest Festival area up to the museum. The ride along the way was great! Our groovy bus driver pointed out famous Woodstock spots, like the skinny dipping pond and the area where the original stage once was.

Thank goodness for those tents — the bluegrass bands that played needed the cover to perform. They managed to grab the attention of many festival-goers, and some even sat out in the rain to watch them play. Unfortunately, the audience seating was not under a tent, so some people were deterred from the music.

To wrap this up, I highly recommed checkout out the Farmer’s Market next Sunday. You’ll be so glad you did because of all the wonderful fruits and vegetables you’ll come home with. Also, do the museum, too. Any Woodstock fan would be highly stoked, maaaan.

 

 

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned for homosexuality. Photo from amazon.com.

Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned for homosexuality. Photo from amazon.com.

There’s nothing better than getting completely, lose-yourself  immersed in a good book. Avid readers alike will agree. Add a little controversy to that and you’ve got yourself a Banned Book Week.

Yesterday, September 26, marked the first day of the voracious reader’s favorite week. It is a celebration of our freedom of speech and our freedom to read what we want.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), “the books featured during Banned Book Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.”

As far as Banned Book Week 2009 is concerned, here is a select list of controversial books that were chosen:

  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.   
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • The Koran

These are just a few titles. If you wanted to do a comprehensive search on the internet of all books that have ever been banned or attempted to ban, you’d find thousands.

Banned Book Week finishes up on October 3rd. Make sure you get out there and grab yourself one of those forbidden books before then!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

For those of you who know me, you know that I’m a general book buyer for a small, independently run University bookstore. To lead into my next post, I would like to prelude with the following information: Last week, I bought three copies of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max and the first day I put them out on the shelf, they all sold within five hours.

Of course, we’re selling to a college audience here, so naturally I was pretty sure they would sell…but that fast?

This is the man to hold responsible. Photo from ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com.

This is the man to hold responsible. Photo from ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com.

Last night, the movie version of the book was released in theaters. Judging from the trailer, it looks to be a real winner (note: sarcasm detected), and not to mention a dumbed down version of The Hangover. From those who have read the book and have seen the movie, the review seems to be, “the movie did not give the book justice.” But isn’t that how it usually goes with books-turned-movies?

Regardless, it’s interesting that one of the main selling points of this movie is that it is offensive. The film’s website even includes I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell facts. As of right now, it says: “Fact #3: Fat girls are not real people” then gives web surfers the option to tweet that message on Twitter. As much as it’s really f-ed up, offensive things usually sell. Just look at the success of Borat. Any publicity is good publicity.

Along the same vein, it seems that the movie creators are also really enthused that critics have called the film “a worthless piece of crap.” They are quite proud of the fact that their movie has sparked controversy after only having been released a day now.

If you want to check out that website, it could be fun. Go ahead and feed your curiosity. I think I’ll put this movie in the good ‘ol Netflix queue and wait for it to come to disc.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

 

The folks over at Abbey Road Studios in England sure have had their hands full lately. They have remastered all the Beatles albums and re-released them for purchase.

Okay, so big deal, right? What does it take to remaster an album? And why would anyone want to have an remastered album that they already bought a regular copy of? These are just some of the questions you might be thinking. Believe me, once you hear the newest remastered Abbey Road album, you won’t have any of those concerns.

Thanks guys, for making the Beatles even that much better! Photo from abbeyroad.co.uk.

Thanks guys, for making the Beatles even that much better! Photo from abbeyroad.co.uk.

According to the Abbey Road Studios website, the engineers first had to take a listen to all the Beatles albums to decipher which would be the best to restore. Then, a bit of de-noising technology was used. During the restoration process, “it was decided that any performance-based imperfections, such as breaths and coughs, should be retained. Other faults and noises from the original masters, such as microphone pops or tape dropouts, were addressed on both the mono and stereo versions of the albums.”

Then, they got to work on the final mastering of all 13 albums, during which comparisons were constantly made between the original and remastered versions of various songs. “It was auditioned in Abbey Road’s Studio Three, where all other recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place. Each album was subject to a rigorous approval process, with further EQ alterations performed until the satisfaction of the entire team had been gained.”

And let me tell you, that process certainly worked wonders for the albums. I have heard snippets of the new and improved Abbey Road album, and it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. Not only is the sound quality excellent, but it also includes small sounds that you might not have heard before on the original recordings. This is the aspect that makes it completely authentic — much like the day it was when it was first recorded.

It costs a bit more than normal to purchase one of these cds, but if you  have the extra cash, love the Beatles, and want to hear some absolutely amazing sound, then I recommend going out and buying one (or thirteen) of these albums. Oh yeah, and make sure you listen to this music with headphones at least once.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

For those of you lucky Phish phans going to Festival 8, you might be pleased to know that the band has officially announced its plans for setlists. The festival is three days long and there will certainly be no shortage of music. The band plans to play eight different sets during the three days.

Here is what seems to be shaping up as the official lineup:

Friday (10/30/09)

  • 4 pm: Concert field opens
  • 7:30 pm: Set 1
  • 10 pm: Set 2

Saturday (10/31/09)

  • 12 pm: Concert field opens
  • 3pm: Set 1
  • 7:30 pm: the Halloween Set (please don’t pick Thriller as your cover album)
  • 10 pm: Set 3

Sunday (11/1/09)

  • 10 am: Concert field opens
  • 12 pm: Acoustic Set
  • 5:30 pm: Set 2
  • 8:30 pm: Set 3

I know what you’re thinking. Did I read right? Are they really doing an all acoustic set? Yup, you got it. For the first time ever in the history of Phish performances, they have decided to go unplugged for the masses. They are starting the set at the crack of noon on Sunday, so make sure you still have energy left after your first two days of partying.

And yes, the Halloween Set usually includes some fun costumes and a good time. Phish picks one album from another artist and covers many songs from it during that time. There has been quite some speculation that this year, they will go with Thriller. I think that might be a bit much.

Phish performing at Saratoga Springs, NY. Photo by Dave Vann.

Phish performing at Saratoga Springs, NY. Photo by Dave Vann.

Check out the Phish Blog for more Phish news, ticket availability, and other important information.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yummy little veggies. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Yummy little veggies. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

As of late, I have been getting into making a lot of cold mediterranean salads. I must admit, I like the feta cheese! But every time I open a new container of feta cheese, there lurks another wonderful recipe on the back of the lid.

Last week, I decided to make a special kind of green bean salad from the back of one of my feta cheese lids, so I went down to the local farmer’s market and picked up a few pounds of the locally grown veggie.

After reading a little bit about how I was going to make this salad, I got to work. I recommed using the basil and tomato flavored feta cheese for this one. Here’s my recipe for green beans and feta cheese with dill:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cup italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Step 1: Cook beans in water seven minutes or until tender and crisp. Drain. Rinse with cold water

Step 2: Toss beans with dressing, cheese, onions, and dill in a large bowl.

Step 3: Refrigerate for several hours until chilled. (You can serve this immediately, but I don’t think it tastes as good as it does when you let it sit in the fridge for a while.)

After making this great concoction, I fed it to my room mate, family members, and I ate a whole bunch, too. This recipe is easy, and a must have for anyone who likes dolled up green beans.

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