Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009


The Edge

February 16, 2009


‘Nuclear Jellyfish’ (book)

Tim Dorsey’s publisher tries to promote his books by sending plot summaries to book reviewers. This does not do the writer any favors. The summaries make the plots sound stupid when, in actuality, they are merely insane.

“Nuclear Jellyfish,” Dorsey’s sequel to last year’s “Atomic Lobster,” manages to include diamond couriers, jewel thieves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the mutual disdain of rare coin and rare stamp dealers, psychiatry, skinheads, Toby Keith, the old Spanish fort at St. Augustine, Fla., Monday Night Football, job fairs, Aileen Wuornos, phony motel coupons, a villain known as the Eel, Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton, an RV repairs scam, Marineland, Home Depot, a 1971 AMC Javelin, former Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, a stripping instructor, Dodgertown, the Allman Brothers, big sugar and John Travolta.

Somehow it all manages to hold together, although it would be stretching things to say it makes sense.

This is Dorsey’s 11th book. All feature a lovable, obsessive-compulsive psychopath named Serge Storms and his drug-addled sidekick, Coleman.

Dorsey’s slapstick-noir novels are frowned on by people who feel that robbery, promiscuity, drug addition, torture and murder are not funny, but if you couldn’t stop laughing when Bugs Bunny shot Elmer Fudd in the face, this is the writer you’ve been looking for.

‘Miracle at St. Anna’ (DVD)

Spike Lee presents a World War II epic from the perspective of black soldiers with this saga that folds in a modern mystery about a missing artifact that resurfaces decades after the war. Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller play a foursome in an all-black regiment who become trapped behind enemy lines while serving in Italy. Along with deleted scenes, the DVD and Blu-ray release include a segment with Lee, cast members and historians discussing the all-black “Buffalo Soldier” division. Lee also joins members of the Harlem Veterans’ Club for an examination of Hollywood depiction of blacks in combat. DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $34.99.

‘Switch Craft’ (book)

With her carefully styled blond hair, expertly applied makeup and fashionable blue dress, nothing about Alison Lewis even hints at the word “nerd” at a Manhattan party for her first book.

But ask her about circuits or light-emitting diodes, and you’ll see that she is equally familiar with switches and soldering irons as with swatches and seams.

Her book, “Switch Craft: Battery-Powered Crafts to Make and Sew,” brims with instructions for projects that combine technology with clothing and accessories. For instance, there’s a music-blaring bag, a pillow with a cell phone headset, an illuminated skirt and wriggling squids for cats to play with.

Lewis, 34, wants to communicate that technology needn’t be complicated or unfriendly. In fact, it can be approachable and stylish.

Lewis’ work speaks to the popularity of crafting — the hand-fashioning of everything from afghans to zombie dolls — and do-it-yourself electronics. Both have swelled over the past few years, helped by publications like O’Reilly Media Inc.’s Make and Craft magazines and Web sites like handmade marketplace and online crafting community Craftster.

Several projects can be made with a modicum of craftiness and minimal tech know-how. Some, like a hat with a pouch for an iPod Shuffle, require no tech skills at all.


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