Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reading Log 2017 (Plus Robots)

Reading Nook: photo by Cliff Hutson
Reading Nook: photo by Cliff Hutson

I made it through fifty-nine books this past year.

Reading Log 2017

  1. “Night School,” Lee Child
  2. “Secrets of the Oak Woodland,” Kate Marianchild
  3. “Potshot,” Robert B. Parker
  4. “Sage Living,” Anne Sage
  5. “Island of Blue Dolphins,” Scott O’Dell
  6. “How to See,” George Nelson
  7. “Breaking Cat News,” Georgia Dunn
  8. “An Old Captivity,” Nevil Shute
  9. “The Kill Clause,” Gregg Hurwitz
  10. “Deep Blue,” Randy Wayne White
  11. “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” Robert Galbraith
  12. “The Silkworm,” Robert Galbraith
  13. “The Negro Cowboy,” Philip Durham & Everett L. Jones
  14. “Career of Evil,” Robert Galbraith
  15. “The Short Drop,” Matthew Fitzsimmons
  16. “On Trails,” Robert Moor
  17. “The Big Blow,” Joe R. Lansdale
  18. “The Pencil Perfect,” Caroline Weaver
  19. “The Revenge of Analog,” David Sax
  20. “The Gun Seller,” Hugh Laurie
  21. “The Highwayman,” Craig Johnson
  22. “The Redbreast,” Jo Nesbo
  23. “Nemesis,” Jo Nesbo
  24. “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need,” Andrew Tobias
  25. “Cars & Culture,” Rudi Volti
  26. “Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop,” Sandor Nagyszalanczy
  27. “Murder at the Opera,” Margaret Truman
  28. “How to be Black,” Baratunde Thurston
  29. “The Bat,” Jo Nesbo
  30. “Stuff White People Like,” Christian Lander
  31. “The Late Show,” Michael Connelly 
  32. “Blind Spot,” Teju Cole
  33. “A Choice of Weapons,” Gordon Parks
  34. “Sorted Books,” Nina Katchadourian 
  35. “A Rage in Harlem,” Chester Himes
  36. “The Real Cool Killers,” Chester Himes
  37. “The Crazy Kill,” Chester Himes
  38. “The Heat’s On,” Chester Himes
  39. “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” Chester Himes
  40. “Blind Man With a Pistol,” Chester Himes
  41. “The Cooking Gene,” Michael W. Twitty
  42. “The Urban Bestiary,” Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  43. “Deep Freeze,” John Sandford
  44. “Invisible Beasts,” Sharona Muir
  45. “Double Play,” Robert B. Parker
  46. “Two Kinds of Truth,” Michael Connelly
  47. “Little Green,” Walter Mosley
  48. “The Yard,” Alex Grecian
  49. “The Black Country,” Alex Grecian
  50. “The Devil’s Workshop,” Alex Grecian
  51. “The Harvest Man,” Alex Grecian
  52. “Lost and Gone Forever,” Alex Grecian
  53. “NYPD Red 2,” James Patterson
  54. “Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party,” Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano 
  55. “White Butterfly,” Walter Mosley
  56. “Gone Fishin’,” Walter Mosley
  57. “Charcoal Joe,” Walter Mosley
  58. “And Sometimes I Worry About You,” Walter Mosley
  59. “Rose Gold,” Walter Mosley

Most of them were good, but the highlight of the year was what I call the shootout between Chester Himes and Walter Mosley.  As I mentioned before Himes was introduced to me by Luke Cage. He made it clear, to me anyway, that he preferred that author over Mosley, partially because the former's stories are based in New York - opposed to Los Angeles. (Note: Mosley also writes books set in New York.) So, as LA is where I was born and grew up I decided that I had to make the comparison for myself by reading the Easy Rawlins series.

Hometown bias aside, I enjoyed reading Mosley's work the most. This is partly due to the fact that his  latter stories are pretty much contemporaneous with my life and I like to see his perspectives on those times. Another reason is that he takes the time to contemplate (or comment) on being black in America. Himes ably illustrates what life was like in an earlier era, but offers little reflection on the rampant racism.

One of the final scenes of the first season of Luke Cage has a US Marshal reading The Heat’s On by Chester Himes. Luke comments on it and the marshal asks if he’s ever read Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. I have read all of the Bosch books over the years and look forward to the next season of Luke Cage for more book suggestions.


Even though I spent quite a bit of time reading, I carved out enough time to start building three robots. Two were seen through to completion.

Some Assembly Required: photo by Cliff Hutson
Some Assembly Required: photo by Cliff Hutson

Insectoid: photo by Cliff Hutson
Insectoid: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Catching Up on My Reading

The Books I Finished Reading in December 2017

December 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
December 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

The Books I Finished Reading in January 2018

January 2018 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
January 2018 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Strange Days

National Days

One of the things that I enjoy doing is regularly checking the National Day Calendar. A lot of strange stuff can pop up, as there a lot of days for a multitude of subjects that many of us probably never thought were worthy of a national observance.

It seems too much work to finish writing the post that I intended to use for today. So, instead, I have decided to highlight a few of the things being celebrated on this date, with photos from my archive.

Library Shelfie Day

Detail of Bookshelf: photo by Cliff Hutson
Detail of Bookshelf: photo by Cliff Hutson

It seems that a few years ago the New York Public Library launched Library Shelfie Day as a way to promote libraries and demonstrate a love of reading. It is now observed on the fourth Wednesday in January. Apparently a "shelfie" is a "selfie" of one's library. This photo of mine is a few years old; I have tidied things up a bit since then.

National Peanut Butter Day

Bagel ala Arnold: photo by Cliff Hutson
Bagel ala Arnold: photo by Cliff Hutson

Peanut butter is honored annually on January 24.

Peanut butter is a common food, in America anyway, that is cholesterol free and a great source of protein. It can be enjoyed on bread or straight from the jar. I like it crunchy on a toasted bagel, as suggested by my friend Arnold.

And, while he didn't come up with peanut butter, it is difficult for me to think of peanuts without recalling George Washington Carver. He created over created over 300 uses for them.

Beer Can Appreciation Day

Pilsner Urquell Cans: photo by Cliff Hutson
Pilsner Urquell Cans: photo by Cliff Hutson

Some say that beer was first sold in cans around this date in 1935.

I enjoy beer on tap, in bottles, or in cans. These nifty cans were a promotional item on sale at a Claremont market. They came in a cool "lunchbox".

Pilsner Urquell Lunchbox: photo by Cliff Hutson
Pilsner Urquell Lunchbox: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Southern Greens

Southern Greens: photo by Cliff Hutson
Southern Greens: photo by Cliff Hutson

I, along with many other Black Americans, have a fondness for greens. And, by "greens" we usually mean collards. But, almost no one will turn their nose at mustard greens nor turnip greens if they are in the pot.
However, it had been a long time since I had eaten any, as the restaurants out here just do not do that style of cooking; and for some some reason I had it fixed in my mind that traditional greens were too difficult for me to try at home. 
Then, perchance, while doing my weekly marketing I came upon a bag of mixed greens that were already washed and chopped. So, using a time saving recipe, I made them for the first time this past weekend. It came out pretty well as far as I am concerned - albeit next time I am going add some red pepper flakes. 

Southern Greens


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup onion, diced
4 links Andouille chicken sausage, sliced
1 lb. mixed mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, and collard greens
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste


Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat; add onion and cook until translucent; add sausage cook until lightly browned.

Add greens, and sauté until wilted.

Add broth, cover with a lid, lower heat and simmer 20 - 35 minutes, depending on desired tenderness

Salt and pepper to taste; then serve (Tabasco sauce should be available). -  serves 4


If you have any interest in African American culinary history, I recommend reading "The Cooking Gene," by Michael W. Twitty

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Second Breakfast

Second Breakfast: photo by Cliff Hutson
Second Breakfast: photo by Cliff Hutson

Second Breakfast

"Second breakfast" has more than one meaning. I first heard of from a hobbit, which led me to believe that it was just a fantasy. But, it did seem like a great idea on some days - which led to the photo above. However, research has shown that it is a thing that actually has a basis in fact. Assuming that one can trust Wikipedia; "It consists of coffee and pastries or some sausages," eaten around 10:30 AM.

But, the title for this post stems from the fact that, unable to finish writing what I intended to use today, I was going to slip this post from July 2015 past my one faithful reader. Which is to say that I was using a breakfast a second time.

Netherlands Breakfast

Netherlands Breakfast - Gouda cheese, unsalted butter, and apricot jam; on white bread
Netherlands Breakfast: photo by Cliff Hutson
Netherlands Breakfast - Gouda cheese, unsalted butter, and apricot jam; on white bread. Goes best with coffee.

I learned of this form of breakfast from a cyclist I knew in high school who represented the USA in the 1964 Olympic Games, and then went on to race in Europe. It is a good thing.