Four of the Amazon reviews on Vlad are 5-star!
But I felt compelled to comment on the other two:
>>1 out of 5 stars By Danusia Workiewycz on January 31, 2016: Amateurish effort, author should stick to something other than writing. A complete waste of my time!
>>MY COMMENT: Most Romanians hate this book. It tells the truth about Vlad.
>>1 out of 5 stars By Amazon Customer on May 3, 2016: Bloody, disgusting, humiliating, just nasty. I could only read about a third of the book and had to quit, too many other stories that I could read and enjoy, not this book. I would not recommend it.
>>MY COMMENT: You were warned. Twice. The words "graphic transgressive violence" appear both on this page, and at the beginning of the book itself.
The Most Terrifying Single-Track Road In The Entire F*cking World.
We visited some of the Scottish islands last week, and one (or two?) of them were in the Outer Hebrides. Lewis and Harris is just a 90-minute ferry ride across The Minch from Skye and we stayed in a wonderful B&B in Tarbert, on the south (Harris) part of Lewis and Harris. The next day, my lovely wife wanted to visit a 16th-century church in Rodel, which is only 17 miles away on the map provided by our GPS.
However, the reality of driving to Rodel turned out to be a lot more challenging than it looked on the GPS screen. For one thing, this was only my second day of driving on the "wrong" side of the road and I was still a bit shaky. Plus, the road chosen by the GPS was along the east coast of Harris, which is full of small but steep hills. But the kicker was the single-track road, which had sharp drop-offs on both sides. Even though there were many places to pull over and let oncoming cars pass (the Scots call them, logically enough, "Passing Places"), the steep and hilly nature of the road meant that we had to drive over the top of many single-lane hills with absolutely no idea if there was any oncoming traffic. No wonder Lewis and Harris has a reputation as a super-religious island. We are not churchgoing people, but we found ourselves doing a sh*tload of praying on the steep uphills of that hair-raising road.
Then there were the sheep, which roam freely over much of the island. Since they have the right of way, we had many stops for meandering sheep. At one of the Passing Places, we came upon a female sheep standing in the middle of the road with her hind legs stiffly outstretched. At first, I thought she had some sort of leg deformity, but then I noticed the steaming puddle forming underneath her crotch. From then on, we couldn't read a "Passing Place" sign correctly - the words automatically became "Pissing Place" in our minds.
The trip lasted only about an hour and a half, but it seemed *much* longer, and the stress probably chopped two or three years off our lifespans. The tension was also taking its toll on my driving speed, so Anikó The Navigator eventually noticed that the GPS was estimating an arrival time that kept getting later and later, the closer we got. It felt like Zeno was driving.
Is Erin Burnett really Scottish?
I just found this 2014 CNN video ("Erin Burnett traces her roots to remote Scottish island") on YouTube:
I was naturally interested, since I spent several days in Scotland last year. The CNN crew took a ferry (@4:02), so I wondered what exotic, remote island they were visiting. The island turned out to be Skye, which is a lovely and exotic place, but it's not really remote. In fact, it's only 500 meters off the Scottish mainland! I know, because I drove to Skye last year, over this bridge:
, which opened in 1995. The cost of Erin's ferry was £18.80 ($27.13) for each car, plus £5.60 ($8.08) for each person in the car. Crossing the bridge is free.
All of this unnecessary expense makes me question whether Erin Burnett is really Scottish.
Erudite. Three syllables. Not four.
While channel surfing yesterday, I happened to watch a few minutes of a tween movie in the Detergent series. Or was it Divergent? Who knows. Who cares?
Well, I do. A little bit. You see, the actors were giving their teeny-bop audience a horrible lesson in the pronunciation of the word "erudite," which means "having or showing knowledge that is learned by studying." Or maybe they were making fun of the correct pronunciation, to show how un-erudite they actually were.
It seems that Erudite was the name of a group, or gang, in the film. And the actors were all saying AIR-ee-yuh-dyte. This is a common error in everyday speaking, but you would think they'd take the trouble to get it right in a movie about Erudites, fergawdsake.
Moral: it doesn't matter if you favor the pronunciation that the Brits say we use (AIR-yuh-dyte) or our own "preferred" pronunciation (AIR-uh-dyte), but please don't put four syllables in the damn word.