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Archive for October, 2009

How many of you have Netflix? I’m betting a lot of you do. It’s a great service that, for me anyway, allows you to throw caution to the wind when it comes to selecting entertainment DVDs. With Netflix I’ve explored many movies or TV shows I would have flown by without giving a nod at my local Blockbusters store. It’s amazing how many wonderful shows don’t even register a blip on the radar screen in this day of mega-marketing and social networks.

I’d like to tell you about one. The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard is a British import with two DVDs that have three episodes each. These are the only six episodes, so you’ll get the entire series in two little DVDs and six hours of watching. The accents may bother you at first–but the main characters are all understandable, and that’s what counts. Jane Horrocks plays the amazing Mrs. Pritchard, an ordinary woman who becomes Prime Minister under some extraordinary circumstances. Her goal is to get people more interested in politics and to make the people part of the process. She is idealistic, but also practical. As a former store manager–efficient, innovative and beloved by her employees–she thinks she can just go in and clean things up. (You can all see where this is going, can’t you?) Needless to say, she manages to do a lot of good until she has to face her own personal crisis head-on and handle the intrigues within her own cabinet.

Along the way there are a lot of laughs, but it takes a more serious tone throughout the last episodes. All in all, a gem of a series. Good served with popcorn and a gin and tonic. If I were a critic, I’d give it five stars. In fact that’s what I did at Netflix!

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And a void in my gourmet-wannabee heart. Evidently I wasn’t the only one taken by surprise–Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl was “stunned.” After being an institution in the culinary world for 70 years, you would think the revered magazine would be immune to such drastic measures but Owner Conde Nast has a second acclaimed culinary magazine, Bon Appetit, in its fold and Bon Appetit has outshone its sister magazine in recent years. Talk about sibling rivalry.

I received what will now be my last issue in the mail a few weeks ago. I haven’t yet had time to go through it. I like to savor the time I have with it–to take note of the ads, go through the writers bylines (a habit peculiar to journalists), look at the beautiful photography and read why they chose to go with one picture over another. The magazine was a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. It brought calmness and clarity to my soul. It will be missed.

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Kindleized!

The Kindle isn’t new technology. It’s been around long enough to be second generation–three if you count the larger version that can read textbooks and newspapers easier. But, it’s technology I’ve whole-heartedly embraced.

My Kindle was a birthday present complete with a red leather case.  My dilemma–what book to download first. It had to be significant. Not just any book would do. In the end, I copped out–I downloaded a Kindle manual that promised to reveal secrets not contained in the manual that comes with the Kindle. In retrospect, I could have done better.

I had my doubts about the Kindle originally–despite the Kindle’s endorsement by Oprah. After all, Oprah uses it when she goes on plane trips. Other people load their Kindles up with multiple books when they go on vacation. I, on the other hand, would be using my Kindle in my daily life. Would it be worth it?

The answer–YES. YES. And, YES! Four months and 26 books later I’d rather give up a kidney–well, maybe not really. I mean, what are the odds? I never thought I would give up “real” books. I love books. I love to have them in my library and be able to look through them and leaf through them occasionally. They are both old friends and passageways to new adventures. The downside–too many books and nowhere to put them.

The Kindle was my greatest birthday present ever! Here are some of the best reasons I know to buy a Kindle now:

1. You can store up to 1500 books on your Kindle which eliminates a whole room of bookcases.

2. You won’t go to the bookstore and buy a book you already have. If you try to buy a duplicate book on Kindle, Amazon alerts you that you already have it.

3. At the doctor’s office and you just finished the last three pages of your current novel? You can select and download books easily right from your Kindle.

4. No more waiting in line or trips to the bookstore. I preordered Dan Brown’s latest, The Lost Symbol. I went to bed on September 14th and awoke September 15th and it was already there. Fantastic!

5. It’s a great conversation piece. People who don’t have a Kindle want to see the pages and hear about how you download books. My bright red leather jacket for my Kindle always draws oohs and ahhs.

6. People know you are reading something, but they don’t know what. The Kindle is the perfect little brown bag when it comes to books. You can switch from Bridget Jone’s Diary to Dostoevesky’s War and Peace to show them the device. They’ll think you’re pretty high brow.

7. It’s lighter weight than many books. And turning the page is accomplished by the touch of a button–one on either side for added convenience. I can prop it up on my leg keeping it stationary, and just click a button. Ah, but I wish I had had my Kindle when I read Philippa Gregory’s Cleopatra–a 10-pound bulky read that I loved.

8. You can never lose your page. It opens up to the last page you read. You can also never lose a book if you purchased it through Amazon.com. It archives them for you.

9. It just went down in price–after I had mine, of course!

10. For people who don’t have an iPod, a Blackberry or other technology, it’s a great way to feel hooked in to the technology age.

11. There are tons of free books online that you can download–some from Amazon.com and some from sites I found in that manual I bought!

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