Curious about that froth on your cappuccino? Here’s the place to take its measure. But it is the reader who will have to...

UNIVERSAL FOAM

FROM CAPPUCCINO TO THE COSMOS

An exploration of the science of foam that is also an engaging appreciation of its cultural uses—think of your beer’s head or cappuccino’s cap—from physicist Perkowitz (Empire of Light, 1996).

Foam is one of those peculiar and intriguing semi-states, not really liquid or gas or solid, but an arrangement of adjoining bubbles and cells of gas within a liquid or solid. Perkowitz takes readers on a Cook’s Tour through the substance’s extensive and quirky world, from ocean whitecaps to champagne, pumice, and bread—the foamy turmoil of quantum events. He works his thrall mostly in the cultural aspects of foam: how it effects the flavor of beer, the taste of bread; how it brought about an environmental crisis with its near indestructibility as exemplified by packing peanuts and Macdonald’s clamshell burger containers; the ethereal pleasures of meringues and soufflés and mousses; the aesthetic chords struck by paintings of churning waves from Hokusai to Homer. But when Perkowitz delves into the physics of foam, he gets bogged down. It may be that the mechanical and dynamic properties of foam are simply not compelling, but it does seem as though something as wondrous as sonoluminescence (the act by which bubbles change sound into light) ought to have readers gasping in awe. It doesn’t, here. More problematical is that Perkowitz at times comes perilously close to a tone of cooing condescension: “No doubt you’ll soon notice the remarkable diversity of matter that surrounds us.” At the end of the book, he does manage to make his science sing when he describes the cosmos as having the distinct qualities of foam as witnessed through the distribution of galaxies across space.

Curious about that froth on your cappuccino? Here’s the place to take its measure. But it is the reader who will have to provide the initial spark of interest, for though Perkowitz can be entertaining, he is not alluring.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8027-1357-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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