THE BABY TRAIN

AND OTHER LUSTY URBAN LEGENDS

Brunvand's fifth collection/analysis of ``urban legends'' (Curses! Broiled Again, 1989, etc.)—and the formula's wearing thin. As before, the industrious professor of English (University of Utah) has tracked down myriad stories that, through mass circulation, have gained the ring of truth—for instance, the title legend, in which an early morning train wakes local college students who, unable to get back to sleep, allow ``young love [to run] its natural course,'' resulting in an unusually high birth rate on campus. Brunvand discusses origins and possible variants of each legend (for example, pointing out the similarity of ``The Baby Train'' legend to the legend that birth rates soared in N.Y.C. nine months after the 1965 power blackout). It's a charming presentation, often witty, and loosely organized into categories such as ``Sex and Scandal Legends,'' ``Animal Legends,'' and so on. But few of these legends have the classicality, punch, or resonance of those covered in earlier volumes (e.g., stories like ``The Hook'' or ``The Microwaved Pet''). The well seems to be running low: One of Brunvand's ``Horrors'' legends here, about a West Virginia ``flying monster'' named ``Mothman,'' was covered extensively in John Keel's classic work of cryptozoology, The Mothman Prophecies (1975); and the author's lead-off kicker, his ``experience unique in my three decades as a folklorist: I witnessed the genesis of a legend firsthand,'' turns out to be a trifle about a waitress mistaking the words ``plan one'' for an order of ``plum wine.'' The text concludes with ``A Type-Index of Urban Legends,'' a classification grid organizing the several hundred legends that Brunvand has reported on to date. And then there's the legend about the author who, as his inspiration faltered, began to write the same book over and over again.... (Photographs and drawings—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 8, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03438-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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