A few weeks ago I read Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, a murder-mystery from the same Pinkerton agent turned author who produced The Maltese Falcon. I was sold by the opening line:
I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. She was small and blonde, and whether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue sports clothes, the result was satisfactory.
The narrator will, in the opening act of the novel, consume a small truckload of spirits, and some fun lines follow. (Paraphrase: “‘Practically’. Everybody’s telling me ‘practically’ the truth. What I want is some impractical joker who will shoot straight!”) Alas, I didn’t care whodunit. The solution surprised me, though!
This Saturday, I wrapped up William Davis’ Wheat Belly, which I read more for inspiration than information. As someone who lost 120+ lbs in a half a year after dropping most processed food, I’m solidly in the camp the author was writing to. (I’ve also read Why We Get Fat, and that work by Taubes is in line with the Weston Price/Atkins/Paleo/Davis family of nutritional thinking.) According to Davis, modern processed wheat is a frankenfood with no resemblance to natural wheat, and responsible for obesity, diabetes, celiac disease, and even some mental problems. As I said, I don’t really need convincing that bread, cereal, etc. are bad for the waistline, but I’ve been unable to break 206 (March 2012) and it is utterly annoying. I have weaknesses, you see — like sweet tea and sweet potatoes. In the last couple of weeks I’ve actually cut out my ‘sweet’ tea altogether (which was lightly sweetened — 1/4 cup in a full gallon of tea, but if you drink a pitcher a day it’s a lot of sugar), mixing in lemon juice instead. (I mostly drink water, of course, but one does like to taste something every once and again.) Essentially I read this to psych myself up for valiantly saying “No” to the various little temptations — tortilla chips, blueberry waffles, that sort of thing. The psychic game is the reason I’ve been reading the Stoics and WW2 history lately…it’s all about trying to adopt that indomitable spirit. I’ve also resumed daily walks, which less about burning calories and more about mental focus — I find it’s a lot easier to exercise my will against cornbread if I’ve already exercised said will four miles in the rain.
What’s coming up? I’m chasing a few rabbits at the moment and need to focus on one them, really, Gobs of history — WW2, Spanish empire, Arab conquests — a little historical fiction, and a few miscellaneous bits.