Archive for the ‘art wednesday’ Category

Agatha Christie

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Second on my list of favorite dime store authors is Agatha Christie.  She is a genius of the mystery, usually murder most foul.  While I got an early start on reading Louis L’Amour, I started reading Agatha Christie novels in high school.  This delay was probably due to a few factors, not the least of which was that they were my older sister’s favorite books so I thought they were girly.  In high school, after I had burned through all of my ‘Louis’ (twice, at least), I was so desperate that I picked up some ‘Agathas’ from my dad’s library.  They were instant favorites.

Most Agathas include a mysterious murder and a cluster of suspects for the reader to choose from.  Like all good formulas, every Agatha is different enough to tantalize the brain buds.  Another important factor of is that Christie was British as they come (appealing to the Anglophile* in all of us).  Christie also created two of the more memorable detectives in mystey fiction, Miss Jane Marple and Monsuir Hercule Poirot.  Both are eccentrics who are easy to love.  Still, the best part of every Agatha is the solution.

Of course, the attentive reader has an opportunity to solve the crimes.  All the characters are gathered.  All of the evidence has been presented.  Usually, I am so excited that I do not even stop to figure out the cases, but when I do, I have noticed some simple trends.  The guilty always seem to be easily dismissed and sufficiently minor to be the obvious choice, and yet, I have never solved a mystery.  Some of my favorites include The ABC Murders, Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, and At Bertram’s Hotel.  Expect features on these and others in the near future.

* Correction:  This post originally said ‘appeals to the anglophobe in all of us’


Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Round up: As promised, the Skor bar is the first entry for candy Saturday.  The Skor bar is ‘delicious milk chocolate/crisp butter toffee.’  It is smaller than most candy bars but just as delicious.  In fact, I enjoyed one today and it was every bit as tasty as I remembered.  On to the facts.

Skor Logo

Skor Logo

History: Hershey’s created Skor in 1983 to compete with the Heath bar.  In 1996, Hershey’s bought the company that made Heath bars.  Now they are made in the same factory (check out the bibliography for a comparision of the two).


  • The crown on the wrapper is from the Swedish national emblem, the Tre Kroner (Three Crowns), seen on the Swedish coat of arms.
  • Skor is actually the Swedish word for ‘shoes.’
  • A Skor bar can be used to sweeten many a holiday recipe.  One good example is chocolate trifle

Competition: The most similar bars would naturally be other toffee candy bars.  Both the Heath bar and the Daim bar are similar.

Nutritional Information:

  • Net weight: 1.4oz
  • Calories: 200
  • Total Fat: 12 g (no trans fat, an advantage over the Heath Bar)
  • Sugar: 24g

The Sackett Brand

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


This book is one in Louis L’Amour’s series about the Sackett family.  It was one of my favorites as a kid.  It chronicles the story of William Tell Sackett and his revenge on his wife’s murderers.  The Sackett Brand follows the pattern of many of L’Amour’s stories (which I will not ruin for you here).  Needless to say, it is sweet!

Recommendation Level:

Five Stars (out of five), one of my favorite ‘Louis’ ever.


It was still cold … bitter cold.  I tried not to think of that, but just kept inching along.  Sometimes I pulled myself along by grasping branches or clutching at cracks in the rock.  Cold as it was, I started to sweat, and that scared me.  If that sweat froze, the heat in my body would be used up fighting its cold and I’d die.

Once I broke a hole in the ice and drank, but most of the time I just kept moving because I’d never learned how to quit.  I was just a big raw-boned cowboy with big shoulders and big hands who was never much account except for hard work and fighting.  Back in the Tennessee hills they used to say my feet were too big for dancing and I hadn’t any ear for music; but along about fighting time I’d be there – fist, gun, or bowie knife.  All of us Sacketts were pretty much on the shoot.

p. 10, The Sackett Brand, Louis L’Amour


Cover, Bantam Books, 1965

Cover, Bantam Books, 1965

Louis L’Amour

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The first posts on Art Wednesday (any creative ideas for a different, more exciting name can be submitted through the comments) are going to deal with some of my favorite authors of ‘dime-store’ fiction.  My favorites dime-store genres are mystery, science fiction, spy and western (bonus points to people who can guess an upcoming author, use the comments).  Today, I will start with Louis L’Amour.

If someone totaled up all of the time I have spent reading, Louis L’Amour’s books would easily be at the top of the list (as long as you did not count the internets, then it would be  I have been reading Louis L’Amour since I was no taller than the wheels on a buckboard (hmmm, considering my late growth spurt, that is not a very definite time span. let us go with since first grade).  If you think it is an indictment  of L’Amour’s writing that I have been reading and understanding it since I was a wee first-grader, know first, that I was a precocious youngster and second, these are dime-store westerns here, not literature.

My dad put me on the track to reading Louis L’Amour, just like he was introduced to him by his father.  We used to comb the flea-markets in South Carolina for another battered copy of Sackett’s Land, for only a quarter.  Ever since, I have loved to read his simple stories about the West.  As my brother and I have often joked, his ‘frontier stories’ seem to use a formula, albeit a good one (perhaps on par with the Pythagorean Theorum?).  I can burn through one of Louis’s books in a night, and I often have.

Most of Louis’s books deal with life in the West.  One of his favorite lines was that it was a place where men went to find themselves.  I have always felt that his stories are like a perfect daydream for a little kid who wants to be a cowboy.  As many of you know, I fancy myself a cowboy, a pansy cowboys, but a cowboy nonetheless.

Another sweet feature of a ‘Louis,’ as I affectionately call them, is that many of his short stories have been dramatized.  These cassettes were constant companions on many Thomas family roadies. From our trip from California to North Carolina or our summer ventures to Colorado, nearly every trip featured classics like ‘Rain on the Mountain Fork,’ ‘McQueen of the Tumbling K,’ and ‘Bowdrie Follows a Cold Trail.’  Look for more detailed Art Wednesdays that focus on specific ‘Louis’ in the future.