Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Good Old Fashion Fun

Summers growing up were filled with going to summer camp, Girl Scout Camp, and then a vacation with the family. Now that I’m older my summer tends to be made up of work and weekend get-away’s. Rarely do I take a week long vacation where I go away and play tourist for a week. Sometimes my vacations may involve traveling to visit a far away friend for a few days. There are some tourist spots usually involved but it’s mostly hanging with friends. There is one Summer activity that my family and I always make a point to plan. Our almost Annual trek to Knoebels Grove up in Elysburg, PA.

Knoebels is located very close to where my father grew up. He spent many Summer days there as a kid. As far back as I can remember we try to make at least one trip to Knoebels a year. When I was younger we would go camping in their campsites or stay with relatives and make it a long visit. When she was alive we’d go visit my great Aunt and she’d sneak me and my sister some money to use at the park. My dad would insist it wasn’t necessary. Being the matriarch she was she told him to shush and that she’d give us money if she wanted.

Apple with Warm Caramel, Whipped Cream, and Peanuts. So tasty!

The best thing about this park is it grows and changes where needed but certain classic aspects never change. Parking is always free. There is no fee to enter you just pay for what you ride. You can bring a picnic or buy their fantastic food.

(Seriously they win awards every year for their food).

There’s the old covered bridge that goes over the creek that will regularly flood the park. There are signs everywhere showing high water marks going back almost 50 years. There’s The Alamo restaurant where we always get Chicken and waffles. The Grand Carousel where you can actually reach for a brass ring. Growing up that’s was one of the main goals. To finally be big enough to reach the arm that dispensed the rings. I always get teary when I see a kid who has FINALLY reached out and plucked a ring from the arm. The look of joy and accomplishment. You never forget it (I’m a sap, I know).

The first hill of the Pheonix. you are required to wave to your friends waiting in the benches below.

This park is the home of my absolute favorite roller coaster…The Phoenix (This is the smoothest video I could find). A classic wooden coaster that’s gotten a bit rougher over the years but I still love it. It was resurrected from a closed park in Texas (Click here for the full story). I’m sure there’s a bit of nostalgic love that makes it my favorite but I know I’m not the only one. Once I think my back is up for it, this will be the first coaster I ride.

It used to be the home of my 2 favorite roller coasters. They had a fun compact steel coaster called the Jet Star. My sister and I loved that ride. We could ride it endlessly. One day we did. Like I said before, you pay for each ride. Except on hand stamp days. Weekdays you can pay a flat rate for a hand stamp for unlimited rides all day. One year we were camping at the park so we could stay until close. My parents were both completely tuckered out but my sister and I had energy to spare. Since it was later in the day there was no line to the Jet Star! We ran up with our hand stamps and hopped right on. Our parents settled into a bench ride adjacent and do the traditional wave as we scaled the first hill. Once the ride was done we ran off and immediately asked our parents if we could go again (“Please there’s NO line!”). They were tired and agreed. 27 rides later (I kid you not. We counted. Ask my sister) our parents declared it was time to go. I think we both nearly cried the year we came to the park and it was gone but at least we have that memory.

Over the years I have taken various friends along for the annual trek to Pennsylvania coal country. It is one of my favorite places to be and I love when I can share it. Thinking of it always makes me smile. I get a whiff of mechanics grease anywhere and I think of the smell of the older rides. I get a good whiff of that sugary smell that is always in the air at fairs and carnivals and mentally I’m suddenly at Knoebels.

For me Summer feels incomplete if I don’t make it to Knoebels. That reminds me. I need to find out when we’re going this year.

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Bossypants

Next week, of course, we’ll be doing our first book club post about Water for Elephants, and you should certainly tune in for that, because, if nothing else, it will be interesting to see what everyone thinks of the book, in such close proximity to the move release.  But I recently finished Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, and I want to talk about that. 

First, if you like Tina Fey, or think she’s funny at all, you’ll probably love Bossypants. If you don’t find her funny, then this book is probably not for you.  Some people don’t like her humor or her politics and that’s ok, she realizes it and talks about it in the book.  This book is more a personal memoir than a political manifesto anyway, so even people who disagree with her may find some humor in her trials and travails. 

Full disclosure: I actually downloaded Bossypants as an audiobook and it was so worth it to hear Fey read her own material.  Her timing and charm add a lot to the experience.  I did, however, order a real book book copy online so that if she ever does a book tour I can get her to sign it. 

What I find amusing about Fey in the first place is her ability to inject humor into seemingly unfunny situations.  Looking back on my own life, many of the absurd situations I found myself in are now humorous stories that I share with friends and family.  However, Fey is much braver than I am, because she’s sharing these with the whole world (including photos of hideous haircuts she had when she was young…I have these too, and they are NEVER seeing the light of day again).  Embarrassment really does ferment into comedy over time. Unfortunately, we rarely recall this at the embarrassing moment. 

What I found truly interesting about Bossypants were Fey’s recollections from her time at Saturday Night Live and stories from working on 30 Rock.  I watch those shows, so the stories she tells feel like peeking behind the curtain.  It’s clear from her writing that she loves what she does, she has managed to surround herself with great people and that being funny for a living isn’t bad at all.

Bossypants occasionally strikes a feminist note.  So many people consider feminist to be the other “f-word,” something that requires apology. Personally, I do not and I’m confused by this position.  Fey’s commentary on the matter is brilliant:  Yes, women are funny.  Yes, women do work.  Yes, it is different for women than men.  But that’s something that has to be dealt with.  Be funny, be brilliant, do your thing and don’t apologize. 

All in all, this book confirmed a long-held suspicion:  Tina Fey should be my best friend.

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A Musical Journey

Music has always been a big part of my life. At one point, I seriously considered being a music major with the idea of teaching instrumental music in a secondary school. A number of things happened that caused me to consider another path, but it’s easy to see the mark music has made on my life. If it hadn’t been for music, I wouldn’t have gone into theatre and been so successful, especially when it came to musicals.

However, music also defines different periods in my life.  Certain artists or songs bring me back to particular moments in time. So come with me on my musical journey…

John Denver's Greatest Hits

First stop, at some point before 5 years old:

My mom gave me a little old yellow-green record player and a collection of 45s that I would play non-stop. I could often be found in front of my mirrored closet doors, hairbrush in hand, singing my heart out to Credence Clearwater Revival, Willie Nelson, and my personal favorite, John Denver

Around 5 years old:

My first memory of anything related to pop culture was a big one – Michale Jackson‘s Thriller album was released the year I started Kindergarten. I didn’t really understand what the big deal was, and the dancing zombies both fascinated me a freaked me out…

Around 10:

Fast forward a few years – I don’t seem to have any memory of anything music related until I was in 5th grade. My best friend Jill and I would spend hours listening to the Bangles Everything album, even using it to practice our square dancing to (we were going to camp that spring)…

Junior High:

I was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest during an incredible time for music. The birth of grunge led to everyone having their own garage band. I had more flannels than I care to admit, and I was truly a grunge chick.  While I was really more of a Pearl Jam girl than Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit was the original anthem for this whole genre:

High School:

From grunge to angry chick rock, Alanis Morrisette hit big my senior year. I missed her concert, but I remember buying the album and listening to it over and over…

College:

Besides the fight song and alma mater that I still know almost all of the words to, college was defined by music.  I’ll spare you the Musical Theatre, but one of the artists that unfortunately defined my early college experience was none other than the British Pop Import Spice Girls. I blame my first roommate for this one (yes you, Mike!)

Okay, college gets two videos.  Late college was more defined by modern rock. I especially remember a particular 4th of July, walking home from the fireworks in the pouring rain, drenched to the bone, singing this one with my friends. I have no idea why…

Grad School/Early Professional:

I moved to NYC for grad school, and while there is a plethora of New York songs, that’s not what I think of when I think of my time there. During this time, my friends and I gathered annually to catch up. This song featured prominently in at least one of those reunions…

Thus ends our musical journey through my life.  Now I’m back in the PNW and I don’t know what song I could use to define the last couple years. I think I need some distance to figure that out. Also, this list skips some major players – notably Barenaked Ladies and Pearl Jam – but I think it gives a good overall view of my musical evolution.

The week of April 25, Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!
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Oooh-way-Oh!

When I first pitched a music-themed week for the blog, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get exposed to some different music from my fellow blog-mates. I don’t know if that’s the direction they’ll be going in, but I’d at least like to share some of my current favorites you may not have heard of before.

I love music. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a band geek and spent over 10 years of my life in the theatre, with musicals being my favorite productions. Whether I’m doing chores, driving around in my car or surfing the net, chances are I have music playing in the background, or the foreground. That being said, I don’t really consider myself to be a “music person.” I’m not up to date on the latest hits or album releases and I couldn’t even guess when the Grammies are. I just enjoy listening to a variety of music, which fluctuates with my mood.

Being a child of the Pacific Northwest in the early 90s, my go-to band is Pearl Jam. I was devastated when they decided to come to Penn State the same semester I studied abroad. Sister was nice enough to purchase a recording of the concert and send it with a friend who was visiting me so I could at least hear it. My other favorites are Goo Goo Dolls and Five for Fighting. I’m not sure why – I think at a particular point in my life, those artists came out with an album that spoke to me for whatever reason. My dad was a big fan of Southern and 70s rock, so I have a soft spot for both of those genres. I also was one of the strangest little kids – I listened to Oldies music almost exclusively throughout elementary school.

Two artists I think need more props are Pink Martini and The Puppini Sisters. I learned of both of these groups on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Every now and then, they profile new album releases or artists that might be a bit off the beaten path. The segment is usually several minutes long and includes at least a few song clips.

I don’t even know how to describe Pink Martini so I went to their website for some help. This quote caught my eye:

“Pink Martini is a rollicking around-the-world musical adventure … if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we’d be that band.” – Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader/pianist.

I think that about sums it up. On the one album I have, the lead vocal sings in English, Russian, Portuguese and French….and maybe Italian too. It’s pretty crazy, but it’s different and nothing like you hear anywhere else.

When you think of The Puppini Sisters, think of the Andrews Sisters, with a modern twist – beautiful harmonies and tight musicality, except they sing songs like the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It’s just pure fun.

(sorry for the boring video. It had much better sound quality than the live shows)

And I close with some more thoughts from Pink Martini:

“Americans don’t really sing together anymore … except for church … or maybe the shower. At the turn of the 20th century, every middle-class American household had a piano. And it was the focal point of the house … people would gather around it and sing together. Music was something everyone participated in. Everyone played an instrument or sang … whether it was an American folk song like “Oh My Darling Clementine”or “Home On The Range”or an Irving Berlin song like “What’ll I Do”or Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”, everybody knew the songs, knew the words, and could participate. But then the radio came, and then the television … and soon it was all over. For me, Pink Martini is partially an attempt to rebuild a culture which sings and dances.”

ANNOUNCEMENT:

The week of April 25, Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!

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The Original Princess Power

Similar to our book week, it’s conceivable I had to think for 30 seconds before picking out my favorite television show from childhood, but again, I doubt it. While I loved Thundercats, Rainbow Brite, Dumbo’s Circus and countless other shows, without a doubt, She-Ra was my truest love.

When I was 5 years old, if I could have been anyone else, I would have been She-Ra, Princess of Power. No, that may not be entirely accurate. I really liked She-Ra, but for some reason, I took an affinity to Frosta, one of She-Ra’s many super-powered friends. Maybe it was the blue hair. Frosta wasn’t usually a major character; rather, she popped in from time to time to help out her friend, She-Ra (though apparently she has her own backstory, as I learned here). In truth, I really like all the characters, with the possible exception of Bo. He was kind of weird. Maybe because he was the only male good-guy. In any case, all the characters had great superpowers and could hold their own in a fight. And they all had cool hair colors. For a child who tried to color with every crayon in the box and wore multiple bright colors regardless of whether or not they matched, cool hair color was supremely important.

I was a children’s show franchise’s dream. I had all the action figures (and still did until I finally got rid of them sometime in college) and I vividly remember receiving the She-Ra Crystal Castle for my 5th birthday. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the castle came with a pair of She-Ra sunglasses. Any pictures taken after I opened that present feature me wearing my She-Ra glasses. I could…err…can…sing every line of the theme song and knew most of the episodes by heart. I even still have the She-Ra and He-Man Christmas special that my parents recorded off TV for me in 1985.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Disney has taken their Princesses and marketed the crap out of them. Seems like everything for girls needs to be pink and sparkly now, and that the sole ambition for girls should be to be a pretty princess. I’m certainly not blaming Disney for all of this, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it I suppose, but to me, She-Ra will always be the original princess. She could hold her own, kicking Hordak’s ass by herself or with her super-cool gal pals. No prince needed, thank you very much. She-Ra was my early idol. Perhaps it was from her that I learned never to let a boy tell me I couldn’t do something. If so, thanks, She-Ra.

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Is it just me, or is 2011 off to a rough start for anyone else? It seems like since the new year, aside from a few glimmers here and there, I’ve received nothing but bad news – friends and family members in the hospital, illnesses, and sadly even death. Add that to the post-holiday doldrums and the cold temps that can make so many people lethargic and sluggish, I figure we could all use a bit of a boost. Today’s post is dedicated to things that make me, and I hope you, crack a smile:

Two related blogs I follow are Daily Squee and Cute Overload. I can’t help but smile when cute animals are involved.

Sleep Talkin’ Man: Sleep Talkin Man (STM) is a man in the UK that has a very active and colorful diatribe while sleeping. His wife sets up a recorder and shares everything STM has to say. Hysterical.

Cake Wrecks: The tagline is, “When Professional Cakes go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong.” This blog showcases pictures of “professionally” decorated cakes. The woman who writes it is witty and has a sarcastic sense of humor and I never ceased to be stunned by the cakes bakers expect people to pay for.

Damn You Auto Correct: This is what happens when technology tries to get too smart. Often not appropriate for work. Besides, you’d have to explain to your co-workers why you’re laughing so hard you’re crying.

The GE Elephant: An Elephant dancing to Singin’ in the Rain – can it get any better?? So cute, so happy. I would be lying if I said I never got up and danced with him. GE has a new commercial out right now starring my favorite dancing elephant, which is also pretty darn cute, but I like the original best (just don’t read the comments on this video. That’s decidedly unhappy).

Another tried and true method to shake me out of the blues is to go to youtube and watch clips of old cartoons I used to watch as a kid.

Yes, these are all pretty superficial ways of cheering up, and unfortunately, I know the above won’t do anything for my loved ones who are really hurting right now, but for the rest of us, if any of these brought a smile to your face, then my work here is done.

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An “Odd” Favorite

I might have had to think about this week’s topic for 30 seconds before picking my favorite book, but I doubt it. I read a lot, but out of all the books I’ve read, the one that outshines all the others is Oddkins: A Fable for all Ages by Dean Koontz. Yes. THAT Dean Koontz – the author of suspense/thriller/horror books. What, might you ask, was a small child doing reading Dean Koontz? Well, my literary friend, Dean Koontz wrote a children’s book.

The story, briefly, is about a toymaker who has made some unusual toys. They come to life. Unfortunately, the toymaker knows his life is coming to an end and he wants to make sure his toys get to another toymaker who will accept them and take care of them. The toymaker dies and the toys embark on a journey across town to get to the new toymaker. Evil toys living in the basement soon come to life after the toymaker’s passing and chase the good toys, trying to destroy them so they can spread their own brand of evil to children.

Part of what makes this book so special is the illustrations by Phil Parks. I remember how sometimes I used to flip through the book just to look at the illustrations.

I think the reason this book stood out from all the others as my favorite has to do with the experience I had reading it. When I was in second grade, my elementary school had the “Be Excited About Reading” or “BEAR” campaign to promote literacy. I don’t remember the exact details, but I think one of the aims was to make reading a family event. My mother purchased Oddkins and brought it home to read with my sister and me. I remember every night after dinner we would sit on the couch together and read our book. The book is pretty large and my sister and I were fairly small so I think we were able to spread it across all three of our laps. We took turns reading, chapter by chapter, every night. Maybe it’s that more than the book itself that I remember so fondly.

I learned that the book is sadly out of print now. It’s terribly unfortunate because I was planning on buying it for my friends’ kids so they could read it to their child. I guess my copy is going to have to get used to doing some traveling.

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“The How of Pooh?”

Many of my close friends know I love Winnie the Pooh. It was my nickname in college and I had tons of Pooh themed paraphernalia. There were so many Pooh bears in my room in college someone who didn’t know any better would think it was occupied by a small child not a young adult. What most of my friends don’t know is that my adoration of the character didn’t come from the beloved child stories by A.A. Milne but from a book my sister recommended to me: “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff.

To quote the introduction: The Tao of Pooh is “a book that explained the principles of Taoism through Winnie-the-Pooh , and explained Winnie-the-Pooh through the principles of Taoism.” I am not a Taoist by any means but there are principles pointed out in the book that are helpful in everyday life. There is a mix of classic tales from the Taoist philosophy and excerpts from A.A. Milne’s stories. Hoff shows how the stories tell us things like why we should except who we are and that some things really are out of our control and not to let those things get to you. that explanation doesn’t do the book justice, it just scratches the surface really. I always feel a special level of relaxation after I finish this book like I’ve just been to a spa or something.

Whenever I fly, which is rare. I read this book immediately after getting to the airport. It isn’t long, only 158 pages, and I’ve read it so much I usually finish it shortly after take off. After going through the stress of check in and the security line, I’ll find my gate, take a seat, listen to relaxing music on my iPod, and crack open this book. I don’t have a fear of flying exactly. It’s more like a really high anxiety about it. I’m used to driving myself everywhere so it’s a little stressful to put my life in a stranger’s hands at 30,000  feet. My little paperback spa treatment puts me at ease and reminds me “things are as they are” and I just roll with the trip until we land and things are once again back in my control.

In writing this post, I realize I need to crack open my favorite relaxation device again. In the past couple weeks I’ve raced to Connecticut to interview before a blizzard hit and got snowed in while I pondered my future. The good news is I got a job offer I accepted at the end of the week before I even made it home (More on that next week). Now I’m immersed in the stress of going through my belongings, packing, finding an apartment, and all the other stress of relocating. The weather is not helping. Winter storms just keep rolling through making apartment visits virtually impossible. My book will be relocated to my bedside table so I can keep my stress level at a minimum through everything.

If you are finding yourself stressed out from the day to day or are in a situation, like me, where everyday now brings some new headache for you to deal with, I highly recommend trying this book. It’s an easy read that has a great mix of humor and perspective on life, overall a good way to spend an evening. If you really like it there’s a follow up book “The Te of Piglet.” It’s a really good book too but, like many sequels, doesn’t quite have the same essence as the first one.

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Fact or Fiction

Choosing a favorite book, for me, is like choosing a favorite relative–no, that would probably be easier.  It all comes down to genre.  Are we talking fiction? Non-fiction? If we’re talking non-fiction, history? sports? art? sociology? medicine?

So, rather than make the gut-wrenching choice of one book over another, I’ll share a few  favorites.  This way, I don’t actually have to make a real decision, and nobody feels left out.

Fiction
Taking the fiction category in a walk is Middlesex by Geoffrey Eugenides.  This book is a true epic (in the actual sense of the word, not the diluted internet sense) spanning two continents and three generations.  The story follows the unlikely protagonist (a gene) on its journey through time, space and blood until it is realized in the form of a young hermaphrodite named Cal(liope).

The story is driven by characters and the events that shape them take hold of the plot and steer it toward its inevitable conclusion.  It’s dark at times, light at times, and always reminding you that time moves forward, actions have consequences and family secrets will out.

Sports
Admittedly, this is a classification of non-fiction into which I don’t often dip my toes.  But, I read an article in the New York Times about this book and couldn’t help but pick it up.  Once I grabbed it, I was hooked.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall weaves the story of an amazing ultra-long distance race with the biology, physiology and psychology of running.  Human beings are designed to run, far.  We’re designed to chase things and outlast them.  And we weren’t designed to do it in shoes.  Our ancestors, roaming the savannah, hunting deer, were not doing it in Nikes.

This book made me want to run.  Barefoot.

History
Ok, this one’s a tie, but only because I can realistically sub-divide the category of History into two subcategories (completely for my own selfish purposes): Human History and Physical History.  (Again, these subcategories are a construct, created for the sole purpose of allowing me to choose two history books as my favorites.  They will not help you locate either of these books at your local bookstore.)

Human History
My current favorite book about Human History is At Home, by Bill Bryson.  Again, this is a current favorite, which could be due to the fact that I finished it only a few weeks ago.  Bryson is a great storyteller.  He’s witty and thorough and manages to weave several disparate threads into a coherent narrative, which we all know, makes for a neat story, but is rarely the way that history actually unfolds.

Physical History
Ok, it’s another Bryson book, but it’s just freakin’ rad.  I’m talking about A Short History of Nearly Everything. In A Short History Bryson takes us through the history of Earth from before there was an Earth: the  beginning of time.  Again, he goes about making things I learned in high school interesting and fun.  Part of the charm is Bryson’s status as a non-scientist.  He does his research and talks to scientists, but in the end, he’s just a person trying to understand the how’s and why’s of physics and earth sciences.

Medicine
Ok, this one might be cheating a little on the category, but The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande (who is a surgeon and has written other books about medicine) deals with the medical field, so I’m leaving it categorized as is.  This book details Gawande’s task, with the WHO of designing a checklist to reduce the incidence of post-surgery infection. Along the way, he goes outside of his field, into the airline, construction and engineering industries to find out what experts know about checklists.  I’m not making it sound super-exciting, but trust me, it’s worth reading.

Essays
One of my most recent favorite genres is the essay.  Since I commute on the bus, an essay is the perfect little bite-sized helping of literature. One of my favorite essayists is Sarah Vowell, and my favorite of her books is The Partly Cloudy Patriot (taken from the famous Thomas Paine line: “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot, will in this time of crisis shrink from the service of their country.”)   Vowell is a patriotic American, but not someone who allows her patriotism to sugar-coat her understanding of reality in America today.  Indeed, she shines a light on the absurd in our country as well as the admirable. Oh, and she’s really funny.

Runners-up
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

I’m sure there are a ton of others, but I can’t think of them all now.

*Images courtesy of Amazon.com* obviously.

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Fantastic “Fool”

Cover of "Fool on the Hill: A Novel"

Cover of Fool on the Hill: A Novel

Asking a former English teacher about her favorite book is a form of torture. How do I choose just one? So, I had to go back through my shelves. What is the book that I always come back to, year after year? There was always the old standby, Pride and Prejudice. A couple of Stephen King books almost made the cut, namely The Stand and The Dark Tower series. But when it came down to it, there was one book that stood out above the rest.

When I was in college, a good friend recommended that I read Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff. I’d never heard of the book or the author, but Jason had never steered me wrong before (at least in terms of books!) I borrowed his copy – one of many to do so as he recommended it over the years – and started reading it right away.

I will attempt to summarize the plot here, but please realize that there are at least four separate plots going on at the same time that all culminate in an epic battle in the end. It’s a fantasy story which takes place at Cornell University. A recent grad and newly published author is the artist in residence for a year. With the behind the scenes machinations of a Greek diety, he becomes the main character of his own improbable story. Layered onto this is the story of a dog who believes he can smell Heaven and the cat that accompanies him there to protect him. There’s a group of colorful students who have their own, sometimes tragic story lines. There’s a fraternity based on the stories of Tolkien. And, if all that wasn’t enough, there is a storyline involving 6″ tall fairies named after Shakespearean characters. Did I mention the cameo by the Swedish chef?

A few years after first reading this fantastic book, I found myself chaperoning a college exploration trip for a summer program. One of the colleges that we visited was Cornell. I took the opportunity to take pictures of some of the places mentioned in the book like the Quad, the statues, the McGraw bell tower, and the suspension bridges. I keep the photographs tucked into the front cover of the book so I have my own visual aids whenever I read it. And I read it about once a year.

There is no way to describe this book to do it justice. I’ve gone and read all of Matt Ruff’s other books, and they were good, but no where near as enjoyable as Fool on the Hill. After returning Jason’s copy, I found my own copy in my favorite used bookstore. It was out of print at the time, but it’s possible to find a copy again. I highly recommend you do – there’s no book like it.

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