Monday Morning Notes

2 07 2007

I didn’t get to do as much blogging as I would have liked this weekend; there was simply too much to do. Between movies, the visit to the zoo, grocery shopping, cooking (I made my famous[?] lime chicken & shrimp last night, if you want me to do a quick post with the recipe, I’ll put it up), and everything else, there just wasn’t very much time to do it. I didn’t even get to read as much as I would have liked, although I did make a pretty big dent in the stack of books I brought with me.

I finished A Primate’s Memoir late Saturday night, and I have to say it instantly became one of my most favorite books. While I had read adventure/science stories about Africa before (like Cry of the Kalahari and Eye of the Elephant), Sapolsky’s book was unbelievably funny, frank, and heart wrenching all at once. While I usually quote bits and pieces from books I enjoy, I’m afraid I’m not going to do it here; it is so good you’re going to have to read if for yourself. My only complaint about the book is that I wish Sapolsky included a bit more about what he found out as per aggression and health in baboons, but this is a minor point. Indeed, part of the reason the books works so well is because Sapolsky does not devote long chapters to detailing primate social behavior, but rather invites you along with him on his various travels, and the aggression he observes among people is just as interested as that he observes among the baboons. If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer and don’t know what to pick up, I enthusiastically recommend Sapolsky’s book.

The novel Fatalis by Jeff Rovin is another story altogether; I knew I should start worrying when I saw a positive review quote from the New York Post on the back cover. Don’t get me wrong, the book is fun and easy to get through, but it is complete and utter trash, just waiting to become a SciFi Original Movie (in fact, there are at least two that I already know of, Sabertooth and Attack of the Sabertooth). The basic story is that recent tectonic activity has opened up some cave systems in southern California, releasing a group of Smilodon fatalis. Bodies start turning up, journalist and paleoanthropologist team up, police officials act surly, you know the drill. Being your run-of-the-mill horror story, there is of course romantic tension between our hero and heroine, which essentially seems to stem from the fact that they feel safer together when the saber-toothed cats are around. I’m a little more than halfway through and I’m sure I’ll polish it off tonight, but it seems to me that the author merely took a few books out from the library, sent an e-mail or two to researchers, and just pieced together the rest of it. I know I knew it was going to be a cheese-fest going in, but when you have a sailboat sunk by swimming Smilodon, you know you’ve pretty much hit bottom. Anyway, if you’re a revenge-of-nature fan, or even if you like trashy horror novels like Extinct, Carnosaur, or MEG, you won’t mind paying the penny to purchase it from amazon. Anyone else, it’s best you don’t waste your time, and if you’re in the mood for a good horror story, I highly recommend The Relic if you haven’t already read it. That book still scares me when I read it all alone at night.

As for what’s next, I’m not really sure. It could be Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World or I could dive into E.O. Wilson and Robert MacArthur’s Theory of Island Biogeography before starting on David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo. Decisions, decisions…


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