Dark As My Heart nominated for the Petrona Award

•April 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

dark-as-my-heartDark As My Heart, a moody and heartfelt novel written by Antti Tuomainen and translated by your faithful correspondent, has been nominated for the Petrona Award, given each year to a Nordic crime novel in English translation.

Here is what the judges have to say about Dark As My Heart:

Tuomainen’s powerful and involving literary crime novel has a mesmerising central concept:  thirty-year-old Aleksi is sure he knows who was behind his mother’s disappearance two decades ago, but can he prove it? And to what extent does his quest for justice mask an increasingly unhealthy obsession with the past? Rarely has atmosphere in a Nordic Noir novel been conjured so evocatively.

Melanie: Some Say I Got Devil

•April 4, 2016 • 2 Comments

Perhaps my favorite Melanie song.

A lovely performance, in spite of the fuzzy audio. It’s the only live video I could find.

More Melanie

The Miracle Worker: A Lesson in Table Manners

•March 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Here is the amazing Patty Duke at the age of 16 in the greatest fight scene ever filmed.

It’s from the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, based on the autobiography of writer and activist Helen Keller, and costars Anne Bancroft as Keller’s teacher Anne Sullivan.

A fantastic film and a great young actor. May she rest in glory.

Decie Merwin’s Illustrations for Happy Little Family

•March 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I found this copy of Happy Little Family at an antique store in Spokane. It was published in 1947, the first book in the Fairchild Family series by Rebecca Caudill. I bought it because I loved the illustrations by Decie Merwin.

Happy Little Family cover

The story is charming, too. It’s about how Bonnie, the youngest child in the family, yearns to do the things her older siblings can do. Here are some of the pictures.

Bonnie's nail

Crack the whip




Jumping the box


Click and zoom for a closer look.

More children’s books

More illustration

The Last Patternmaker

•March 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Found on Nag on the Lake.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: a film by Spike Jonze

•March 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Reviews of The Core of the Sun

•February 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Paper Doll Chain

The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo’s latest book (translated into English by your faithful correspondent) has been in bookstores for a month, and the reviews are starting to come in.

I particularly like a piece by Jason Heller on the NPR website that discusses the abundance of interesting speculative fiction in Finland, and how hard it is to find English-language publishers for these riches:

The Core of the Sun comes out in the United States this month, three years after its release in Finland. Considering how startling and moving the book is, that lag is a shame — yet Sinisalo is lucky. Precious few Finnish authors of speculative fiction receive such a boon as widespread American exposure, despite the fact that Finland — like so many countries around the globe — has a thriving spec-fic scene whose best writers rival those of the English-speaking world.

The reasons behind this are as mundane as they are frustrating: A lack of recognition, the cost of translation, and the American book-buying public’s hesitation in general to dive too deeply into the vast pool of books written in a language other than English. Exceptions abound, of course —
The Core of the Sun obviously included, although it remains to be seen if Sinisalo’s brilliance catches on in America — but they often require a champion in the U.S. publishing industry to step up and put some muscle behind them.

I wrote a piece on translating Johanna Sinisalo’s work for the Seattle Review of Books this past winter, and it’s fun to notice signs that my article is one resource that reviewers consulted in writing about the book.

Rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

•February 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

DSC_0475I love peanut butter, so rich and delicious, but I have never liked peanut butter cookies. The traditional American peanut butter cookie is too sweet for me, and doesn’t taste rich like peanut butter. So I started altering the recipe until I came up with a delicious, shortbread-rich cookie that suits my taste.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



1/2 cup (120 ml) butter and/or shortening
1/3 cup (80 ml) white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup (180 ml) pure peanut butter (not the kind with added fat or shortening)

3/4 cup (180 ml) white flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking soda
salt to taste
5 to 7 ounces (140 to 200 grams) of chocolate chips or chunks.



Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

Cream shortening or butter and sugars together until smooth. Add egg and beat well. Stir in peanut butter.

Stir the two flours, soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chunks and distribute evenly through the dough.

Form dough into 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork.

Bake at 375 F (190 C) until done.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

It’s a variation on the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook’s Criss-Cross Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Basically I reduced the sugar, increased the peanut butter, left out the vanilla (which tastes weird with peanut butter IMO), replaced half the white flour with whole wheat, and added chocolate chips or a chopped up chocolate bar.

I prefer the hearty, salty taste of Hershey’s chocolate in this recipe. If you can’t find Hershey’s chocolate chips for sale,  I’ve found that chilling a Hershey bar and then chopping it into small chunks works very well. I’m sure any not-too-soft chocolate bar, or whatever chocolate morsels you like the taste of, would work fine.

I also cut the recipe in half, because I don’t need 10 dozen cookies, but it scales up perfectly if you want to double or triple it.



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