Jayne’s Reading List: Cats, Art, Hospitality and the English Civil War
Catakism by Jeff Lazarus
Do you bow to the meow? Are you one of the 70 million people who devote time and income to grooming, feeding, coddling, photographing, praising, and “entertaining” Cats? Does your Facebook page have more photos of your Cat than of your siblings? Do you buy furniture for your Cat in hopes that one day, he’ll actually sit on it? If an anthropologist from outer space were to study our civilization objectively, would she not conclude that our devotion to Cat amounted to nothing less than a full-blown religion? Would she be wrong?
Catakism is mankind’s unending and near-fanatical devotion to Cat. In fact, a Catakist does not consider Cat a pet but rather a minor deity, no a MAJOR deity. In this furr-ociously funny gift book, author Jeff Lazarus tells how Catakism is a belief that recognizes felines as elevated beings worthy of mankind’s near-religious reverence and devotion. Catakists aren’t just fond of Cats – they extol them and plan their days/nights around the needs and wants of Cat.
Dog owners, there’s nothing here for you. Just move along, nothing to see. Cat servants – this book is all about you and your devotion to all things feline. Think I’m overdoing it? I have two words. Cat videos. Whether you are “kitten smitten” or have moved past “Crazy Cat Lady” (really, how many cats does it take to reach that designation – 3, 5?) and have reached the pinnacle of a catakist – the “Cat Show Lady”, this book will have you nodding and – probably – cringing a little. I mean, what other species gets food like Fancy Feast® Medleys White Meat Chicken Primavera Paté with Garden Veggies and Greens. My food isn’t that fancy.
Dog food comes in the form of “chow” and “kibble,” but cat food comes in the form of paté, mini-fillets, flakes, shreds, premium cuts, and entrées. Catakists, in fact, won’t feed their cat any food that doesn’t have an accent mark over one of the words.
Yes I too speak in the “Feline Falsetto Frequency” as I coo to my darlings. Why do we love them so? Cattitude and cool.
When a cat walks into a room, a red carpet spontaneously unrolls at its feet, a spotlight follows it across the floor, and paparazzi appear to snap photos while a saxophone solo plays in the background. Okay, maybe not in reality, but in the mind of the Catakist, it’s purr-fectly paws-ible.
Cats are so confident in their worship-worthiness, they literally put themselves on a pedestal.
“That was intentional.” Cats pioneered the concept of “I meant to do that,” which humans immediately seized upon and have tried to emulate ever since. A cat never makes a mistake.
Cats are also smart enough to sense exactly when it’s time for a trip to the vet, or groomer, or to get medicine, or when the annoying relatives are due. How do I worship at the altar of Cat? This book helps me count the ways. B+
Oh and for anyone who likes the comic strip Breaking Cat News – the 2018 calendar is out! Breaking Cat News 2018 Wall Calendar
Rogues’ Gallery by Philip Hook
Philip Hook takes the lid off the world of art dealing to reveal the brilliance, cunning, greed, and daring of its practitioners. In a richly anecdotal chronological narrative he describes the rise and occasional fall of the extraordinary men and women who over the centuries have made it their business to sell art to kings, merchants, nobles, entrepreneurs, and museums. From its beginnings in Antwerp, where paintings were sometimes sold by weight, to the rich hauteur of the contemporary gallery in New York, Paris, and London, art dealing has, he shows, been about identifying what is intangible but infinitely desirable, and then finding clients for whom it is irresistible. Those who have purveyed art for a living range from tailors, spies, and the occasional anarchist to scholars, aristocrats, merchants, and connoisseurs, each variously motivated by greed, belief in their own vision of art and its history, or simply the will to win.
Philip Hook’s history is one of human folly, and greed—yet ingenuity and heroism.
Initially I was attracted to this book because I love art but as I delved into it, it struck me how great the subject is as a backdrop for a romance book much like the description of the hero in Miranda Neville’s “The Duke of Dark Desires” – there were some Regency aristocrats who shored up the family coffers this way. Early artists didn’t have or use dealers since in the Renaissance most works were directly commissioned by princes and prelates but as time progressed, dealers stepped up and began to wheel and deal. First by weight – in Amsterdam, and then by demand – for Italian Old Masters, and then by believe in the artists or a shrewd estimation of what might eventually become The Next Big Thing – Impressionists, and finally by belief in the artists and what they were producing – Cubism and on.
Some relationships between the artists and those who peddled their work have been friendly some have been acrimonious and some flat out dishonest but without dealers drumming up interest or prices, the art world might be a vastly different place today. Of course if you’re selling a da Vinci, it practically sells itself – if you have a buyer willing to pony up $400 million for it. B
Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky
In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.
Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.
To paraphrase something our reviewer Jennie says a lot – I read this because obviously I can’t get enough of the behind the scenes exposes of professions and jobs. Tomsky has a lively, readable style of telling his story of working in luxury hotels in New Orleans, where he begins his career as the hotel is opened, and New York City where he works the front desk again and really explains the ins and outs of this job – the good, the bad and the shake downs. It goes to show that crappy management is everywhere but your co-workers can make all the difference. B
Traitor’s Knot by Cryssa Bazos
England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.
Recently someone here commented that they missed the (Old Skool) long romances. We’ve all read them – they are the ones that go on across years and which follow our hero and heroine through all kinds of separations, trials and tribulations. Bonus points for wartime, imprisonment/torture and a villain who just needs to “die already!” This book has all that and when I read the blurb I got drooly and excited because there just aren’t enough 17th Century romances being written these days. At the half way point, I realized that I’m just not that into these types of saga books anymore. Yes, it’s me and not the book but I still DNF it. Your catnip may vary and it could be the cat’s meow for you.