A varied collection of trivia and anecdotes compiled by an enthusiast with an evident passion for his work.
Poe (Samson’s Rock, 2009) gathers information on a wide range of topics in this book, touching on everything from geography to word origins to sports. Each factoid appears in its own brief chapter, written in a chatty style that reminds the reader that this book should not be taken too seriously while delivering on the author’s promise to give the reader not just a list of trivia, but “stories...on why I find the fact of the moment interesting.” The facts, beginning with an explanation of why the Battle of Hastings was not fought in the town from which it takes its name, are generally unaccompanied by cited evidence, although sources for some sections are given at the end of the book. While readers looking for substantive documentation of Japan’s World War II balloon bombs or the origins of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” should look elsewhere for their research, more casual readers are likely to find their interest piqued by Poe’s explanations of why the sun sets more quickly in the tropics and why a mountain in the Canadian Rockies takes its name from English nurse Edith Cavell. The book occasionally veers away from established facts with remarks like “Unfortunately, all of this is speculation” and “I might well be perpetuating a linguistic urban myth or two.” But the majority of the book’s chapters seem to have more solidity, and the topics Poe has chosen to explore are both unusual, going beyond the trivia book favorites, and intriguing. The author makes no claims to expertise, but he declares himself an enthusiast and suggests that such enthusiasm may appeal to trivia fans who want to add new tidbits to their collections.
An engaging—though at times thinly sourced—guide to facts, legends and trivia of all sorts.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)