Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of those authors who can (and usually does) write about just about anything and make it remarkably interesting. He can make you chuckle at the most unlikely subjects or give a murmur of wonder at what always seemed so boring. Upon finishing a chapter in this book all about hallways, I felt terrible for how I’d been treating them all my life! He has written about language, travel, history, science, and a memoir. It seems there isn’t a subject that doesn’t interest him nor one he’s not afraid to tackle.
In a Sunburned Country is one of his travel books, which are my favorite of his multitude of genres. In this one, he travels to Australia to explore geography, culture, and history, always keeping an eye out for things that make him (and probably you) chuckle. Full of interesting and quirky facts (did you know Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967 after a spontaneous swim?) historical tidbits, and thought-provoking insights all rolled into one book make for an intriguing read. What I like about Bryson’s travel writings is that in any cultural confusions or misunderstandings, he is more than happy to turn the pen against himself and illustrate his own shortcomings in the situation. If he makes amusing observations about Australia, the ones about himself are twice as ruthless. So you never feel like he is being mean or culturally insensitive. In fact, he makes it clear just how much he loves this country.
He makes me love Australia too, and though I’ve never been, this book makes me want to book a flight right away. Nobody writes with the same wry insight, silly humor, and serious introspection so deftly as this.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I know we have all been waiting for so long, and the third installment in the Night at the Museum series has FINALLY been released for home viewing! One of those special evenings after too much activity in the day and everyone is worn out, what better way to wind the evening down than with a movie, all cuddled together on the couch? Or on the bed, which is even better because you can just drift right off.
Which you might do when you watch this movie unless you’re a kid. It’s a perfectly fine movie but has become something of a tired instrument by this point. I like the first one; I thought it was genuinely unique and funny and interesting. The premise, if you’ve missed the series, is Larry Daley is the new night watchman at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. What he doesn’t know is that everything in the museum comes to life at night. His posse includes Theodore Roosevelt, played by Robin Williams (rest in peace) along with Sacagawea, a tiny Wild West cowboy and his buddy a tiny Roman centurion. Plus a cheeky monkey and Genghis Khan. In this movie, the magic tablet that brings them to life is failing and they must bring it to the British Museum to speak with the Egyptian Pharaoh who made it to discover the secret of the tablet.
My son thought it was a great bit of fun. It wasn’t awful but as is the case with so many movies like this, the original remains the best. But if you’re looking for something harmless and funny, full of pratfalls and silly characters, you could do worse. Word of warning: there is a little bit of sad stuff that happens and there was a moment that my boy was in tears. But it all ends up okay in the end. Spoiler alert.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
If a guest room is new territory for you, a few basic pointers might be in order. Beyond the obvious –– such as a bed, nightstand, and bedside lamp –– a few other items is all it takes to make the space one in which your family and friends will envy each time they visit.
Fresh, crisp linens
Sleeping is number one in any bedroom, and a guest room is no different. High quality linens, or the highest quality you can afford will bring restful sleep to your overnighters. Be sure to choose 100 percent cotton, and have both down and foam pillows available since some people have an allergy to feathers.
Space for clothing
Whether your room has a closet or you choose a freestanding wardrobe, you’ll need storage for clothing and other belongings. If your space is closet-less, a few wall hooks and a dresser may do the trick.
A luggage rack can look fashionable as well as be functional. Your visitors also won’t need to place their potentially dirty suitcases on nice, clean bedding when they unpack. Even a sturdy bench at the foot of the bed can work well to hold your guests’ bags.
A few bottles of mineral water, a tea setup or even a mini coffee maker will keep your guests from traipsing to your kitchen late at night or first thing in the morning. An ice bucket would be extra thoughtful for iced tea drinkers.
A plush robe is the ultimate amenity, in my opinion. Warm when you’re getting out of the bath or shower, and cozy in the chilly evenings or on top of PJs, a washable terrycloth robe is a must for any guest quarters.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Just joking : 300 hilarious jokes, tricky tongue twisters, and ridiculous riddles
The National Geographic Society is not just about publishing the once-monthly gold-bordered glossy magazines full of beautiful photography and intriguing articles. Now it is the purveyor of knock-knock jokes and other groan-inducing riddles. I bought this one for my son with a pretty good sense that I would quickly regret this particular gift choice.
Turns out, I don’t really regret it at all. I have long been a fan of cheesy riddles, annoying knock-knock jokes and anything even remotely resembling a pun. The hardest part for me is deciding whether to pretend that I don’t know the answers to these jokes after being asked them 50 times or always give him the joy of the delivery. Right now, I’m at about 50/50. Here are a couple examples of what you will be in for:
Is there an owl in there?
Q:Who robs you when you are in a bathtub?
A: A robber ducky!
You get the idea. There will be no learning useful facts. There is no thought-provoking journalism. Just three hundred achingly terrible jokes. I highly recommend it. Any kid with a sense of humor will be well served by having this collection in their arsenal.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
1985! 1985! Such a cool and modern time! That was thirty years ago. THIRTY YEARS AGO. We had a sick day earlier this week and were looking for something awesome to share with the boy. I’d been thinking about Back to the Future, since, as we all know, this is the year that Marty and the Doc travel to in Back to the Future II. People have been scrambling to make that future vision a reality, from really unimpressive hoverboards to Nike’s Air Mag with self-tying laces. All that is well and good, but if you are going to start fresh, you have to start at the beginning.
November 5, 1955!
I can’t say how many times I have watched that movie. Apparently a lot because I can recite most lines from memory. I like this movie because it’s totally fun and it’s harmless. There are a couple words in it I had to gently remind my child that he is not allowed to say. But overall the whole time travel/awesome car/action movie was not lost on the kid at all. He even has a puffy vest like Marty McFly is wearing when he goes back to 1955! Whenever he wears it, I say, “Hey kid, why you wearing a life preserver?” It’s great fun.
If you haven’t watched it in a while, Back to the Future is still a pretty fun thing to watch. It’s classic Steven Spielberg good times, from the same era of E.T. and The Goonies and Raiders of the Lost Ark. What better way to wrap up a long day than with a trip back in time, in a meta-nostalgic movie, in a sweet DeLorean?