Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘pop culture

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.


This is the list of books I reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of September, 2016. If you missed any of the reviews, or you just want to learn more about a book, check out the links. As always, comments are welcome, so if you read any of these, feel free to tell me what you think about the book.

  • I read Silence. This is Thich Nhat Hanh’s treatise on the power of silence and mindfulness.
  • I reread Denis Leary’s Why We Suck. I did it as an audiobook this time. If  you like his stand up comedy, you will probably enjoy this. He reads the audiobook.
  • I read Nicholas Pileggi’s Casino. This book is the basis of the movie with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone.
  • I read the two volumes of the “Having Coffee with Jesus” comics series.

Once again, I come across once of those frugality posts at Wise Bread that makes me question if the writers either really know how the world works, or I am just so out of the loop and mellow that I did not realize women in particular were so high maintenance when it comes to dating. But even in the day when I was dating the woman who became The Better Half, I did not go about spending a fortune on her, and lucky for me, she was a modest woman who was not expecting a man to spend a fortune on her. I know I am a lucky guy. If I had to go back on the dating scene, I might as well give it up, shave my head, and become a Tibetan Buddhist monk because the odds that I will be spending freely as their post suggests is just not an option for me. So, what does the author at Wise Bread have to say on how much you ought to be spending?

“Your paycheck should govern how much you can afford. Cosmopolitan found that men spend about $80 on a first date, on average. Other sources suggest that the typical person spends between $50–$100 on date night, occurring on average once a month. However, according to, 58% of women don’t even want an expensive date.”

Well, kind of duh. You cannot eat steak on a hamburger budget as the saying goes. However, funny how you never hear of that 58% of women who do not want an expensive date. If you believe Cosmo (not that you should, but humor me) or those “other sources” then you are looking at $50 to $100 bucks easily. I guess if you do the bar scene where each cocktail costs you $8 to $10 bucks a pop plus dinner could start getting you up there. Add a movie at a movie theater, and I guess you may be up to $100 by the time you do the tickets, the popcorn and pop you will have to buy while there.

You see, when I started dating The Better Half we were college students. In other words, we were mostly broke as college students are prone to be. A decent date night was a simple dinner at a local pizza joint she liked (in large part because they used to make the best saucy pizza with pepperoni and pineapple she’s ever had), and then a movie at the second run movie theater, where if you stayed up a bit late, movies could be had for .99 cents plus a little tax. Yes, you read that right, ninety-nine cents. If I spent $20 to $25 bucks, that was good, and she was happy. In the end I am lucky because we are both pretty modest and frugal in our tastes. Bar scene was not really for us. Sure, we had been to a college bar once or twice, but it really was not our thing. $100 date night? We’d both flinch at the idea of spending that much on a single date unless we were  going out of town, and it better include a hotel stay.

“Spending freely on your first date is a great way to show your date that you are serious, but it doesn’t mean that you need to continue spending the same amount on future dates. After all, you don’t want to be too frugal on the first date, which can make you seem cheap.”

Ah yes, the eternal dating challenge. Spend too little, and she thinks you are a cheapskate. But spend too much and then you end up building that expectation. Dudes, simple solution. Find women that have reasonable expectations.

“If you decide to go on a date during one of these expensive holidays, you can expect to spend more.”

Again, duh. By now, The Better Half and I learned to have those special dates around those holidays, before, usually after. In part because our work schedules are not always compatible. She often works on days like the Hallmark Holiday (Valentine’s Day). So we have adapted and usually go out the day after or a few days later. However, the secret is this: I take care of my honey, and I do so year round. I express love and romance  year round. That way, when the Hallmark Holiday rolls around I do not have to panic like those other guys to get overpriced flowers and pray to the deities that fancy restaurant will have a last minute reservation that should have been booked months ago, not the day of the holiday.  I took care of her, and she knows it.

The article does give some tips on cheap dates, although given how they seemed to poo poo the idea of being cheap on a first date specially I honestly wonder why bother with the suggestions. Still, some of the ideas are things we have done at home:

  • “Go to a food, film, music, or art festival.” When we can, we get in the car and drive out a bit to some local festival. A nice way to be outdoors usually, see a few things, and not spend a lot.
  • “Show off your cooking skills instead of dining out.” We have done this as well. We both can cook, so it means we get to show off to each other. And hey, cooking together can be a very nice bonding experience.

However, the article did have one good line: “You should find a partner that is worth your time, not just your money. ”


Overall, the article had moments that seemed a bit contradictory. Yes, be frugal, but do not be cheap. Spend more on that first date because you need to impress her. But try not to break the bank neither. So, in the end, take it with a big grain of salt, preferably cheap salt from the grocery store and not fancy organic rock salt.

On a side note, the article also reminded me of this old Tom and Jerry cartoon. I will warn you, if you have not seen it before, it is a seriously dark one.




You  know the drill folks. These lists keep growing, but I still hold on to hope. I just keep finding interesting books I would like to read some day. These are also books I think some of my readers may find of interest. If any of you out there do read any of these, please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

Items about books I want to read:

  • I remember reading a while back the book Freakonomics (link to my review of the book) where it discusses how local drug dealers often lived with their moms and were not doing as well as many people think. However, like in many other major businesses, the guys on top usually do pretty well. NPR now highlights a new book that suggests that drug cartels are run a lot like Walmart and McDonald’s. The book is Narconomics.
  • Also via NPR, a cookbook on Korean food. The book is Koreatown.
  • I often remember seeing the ads for various tricks and pranks on the backs of comic books. Wink Books reviews a book looking at one of the companies that made such products: the S.S. Adams Company. The book is Life of the Party.
  • Another art book reviewed by the guys at Wink Books. This time it’s one of my favorite artists: Frank Frazetta. The book is Testament: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Frank Frazetta .
  • OK, one more from Wink Books because I really like the subject of this one: vintage postcards. The book is Postcard America: Curt Teich and the Imaging of a Nation, 1931-1950.
  • Joshua Kim wonders why people are not reading Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead. It is an important topic in the United States, and you likely will not hear about it from any single mainstream politician in the 2016 election (Democrat or Republican).
  • Let’s put in a little something related to work. Via The Decolonized Librarian, a review of The Dialectic of Academic Librarianship.
  • Via Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog, a note that the book Forked is out. The book is about low wage restaurant workers. As the book summary states, this book deals with “what we don’t talk about when we talk about restaurants: Is the line cook working through a case of stomach flu because he doesn’t get paid sick days? Is the busser not being promoted because he speaks with an accent? Is the server tolerating sexual harassment because tips are her only income?” and other questions that not only we should be asking but addressing.
  • Via Arabic Literature (in English) blog, a novel about Lybian dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. The novel is The Dictator’s Last Night. I have not read it, but it reminds me of Vargas Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat), which is about Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo.
  • This could be interesting. It alleges to be a history of the reference shelf; this is something that appeals to the librarian in me. The book is You Could Look It Up, and it was reviewed on NPR.
  • Why are people fleeing Central America? The violence is a big reason according to a new book discussed at In These Times.  The book is A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America.
  • Via Manga Report, a review of the first volume of Bloody Mary.
  • A Case of Suitable Treatment looks at Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler. This made me think of the five-volume series Adolf by Osamu Tezuka, which I read a while back. (Link to to my review of the first volume).
  • Apparently Tim Burton draws even in napkins, and someone put some of that art in a book. The book is Things You Think About in a Bar (link to Amazon, since as of this post, WorldCat does not have it) and it was reviewed at Blogcritics.
  • Via Based on a True Story, a review of a new book on the rise of coffee behemoth Starbucks. The book is Starbucked.
  • On the one hand, this sounds like one of those hipster mixology books where the cocktails are made with all sorts of ingredients the average person will never find in a lifetime. On the other hand, the story of the bar that inspired the book sounds interesting, so there is just enough to catch my attention. The book is The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.


Lists and bibligraphies:



Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

I fell a little behind on this, so here they are. Feel free to check out the reviews. As I have said before, just because I reviewed them this month, it does not mean I read them in the same month. In terms of review writing, this was a pretty productive month for me. If you read any of these, or you have other comments, feel free to comment below.


Look, we made it to 60 of these lists of books I would like to read someday. So, let’s get on with it.

Items about books I want to read:

  • The Graphic Canon volumes of graphic novels on classical works is a set I have been wanting to read for a while now. And now, to add to the list, there is a volume for children’s classic literature. The book is The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, and it was mentioned at Wink Books.
  • A new manga to me. The book is Assassination Classroom, Volume 2. I will have to seek out the first volume as well to catch up. The premise, as described for the first volume: “The students in Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High have a new teacher: an alien octopus with bizarre powers and unlimited strength, who’s just destroyed the moon and is threatening to destroy the earth–unless they can kill him first!” From looking at WorldCat, it is up to six volumes as of this post. The second volume that caught my eye was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
  • This is not so much to read as to color. Adult coloring books seem to be a fad these days, and here is one for kinksters. The book is The BDSM Coloring Book: An Activity Book For Kinksters With Crayons (Amazon link on this one). It was reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews.
  • Apparently, Mickey Spillane, author of the Mike Hammer novels, left a novel or two unfinished. Max Allan Collins is working as literary executor and helping finish those works. One of them is out, and that is Kill Me, Darling. The book was reviewed in Bookgasm. I have enjoyed some older Mike Hammer novels, so I am curious enough to check this new one out.
  • I am a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so of course this book has to make my list. The book is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History. It was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Also, I find tattoo art fascinating when it is well crafted. I may have mentioned this before. Anyhow, also via Wink Books, here is Bodies of Subversion: a Secret History of Women and Tattoo. Because yes, before these days when inked women seem to be all over, there was a time that for a woman to get any ink on her body was a very subversive thing.
  • Here is a different look at the world of porn, a book that “aimed to explore the dynamic of how porn performers and sex workers reveal their occupation to family, friends and outsiders.” The book is Coming Out Like a Porn Star, and it was reviewed in Ms. Naughty’s Porn for Women.
  • And speaking of things that do not come out (on the media, in news, etc. Yea, I know, it was a bad segue but you try going from porn to geopolitics of American bases abroad), we rarely if ever hear of the extended U.S. Empire and how it is kept by a very hefty network of U.S. bases around the world. You can learn more about that in this article from Common Dreams. The article also mentions the book Base Nation on U.S. military bases abroad, which sounded interesting enough to add to my list of books to read down the road.
  • Osamu Tezuka is in the pantheon of top manga artists, and here is a book devoted to his art. The book is The Art of Osamu Tezuka, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Another interesting art book is Aurora Monster Scenes. If you are old enough, you may remember those toys. The book was also reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Here is a book with some humor on drinking, which, if nothing else, “It’s perfect bathroom reading.” Hey, I am always looking for bathroom reading material. Anyhow, the book is You Suck at Drinking, and it was reviewed at Drinkhacker.
  • Like movies? Want to learn about those “overlooked masterpieces” you may have somehow missed? Well, then Trash Cinema may be the book for you. (Amazon link this time as it seems WorldCat does not have it). The book was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • Robert Reich recently finished a book tour and talks about what he learned traveling in “red state” America. The book he was touring for is Saving Capitalism.
  • Marion Nestle mentions in her blog that she was recently reading Falafel Nation about Israeli cuisine recently.
  • I recently read Theda Skocpol’s book on the Tea Party, which I will be reviewing soon. One of the things I became very aware of is how conservatives in the U.S. use a lot of code language to hide their bigotry and racism in polite company. That book goes into that. Now, I recently came across this other book which would make a nice follow up. The book is Dog Whistle Politics, and it was discussed at Addicting Info.
  • A little something in librarianship. Rory Litwin interviews Stephen Bale, author of the book The Dialectic of Academic Librarianship.



Lists and bibliographies:

  • I did not know that July 25 is the National Day of the American Cowboy. So whether July 25 or any other time, if you would like to read a western or two, here is a small list from The Booklist Reader.
  • Here are a couple of manga reviews on “Prison School and Twin Star Exorcists” from The Manga Critic. Post has a few other titles to look over.
  • By now, mass shootings and overall gun fetishism are business as usual in the United States. There is a lot going on these days, and a lot of it is not good. Perhaps to help out a bit, I am sharing this list of books to read on the topic of “Guns, Politics, and Fear” that I found at Book Riot.
  • Tame the Web blog features a list for “Teaching Students About Information.” This is for library school students mostly.
  • Whether you read this list from The Booklist Reader on summer or not, here are some books on the theme of “I am what I eat.

July 2020


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