Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two small delights from the New York Times

First off, a small example of gratuitous literary flair from an unexpected source: a spokesman for the food conglomerate Cargill.

“Salt is a pretty amazing compound,” Alton Brown, a Food Network star, gushes in a Cargill video called Salt 101. “So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times.”

The campaign by Cargill, which both produces and uses salt, promotes salt as “life enhancing” and suggests sprinkling it on foods as varied as chocolate cookies, fresh fruit, ice cream and even coffee. “You might be surprised,” Mr. Brown says, “by what foods are enhanced by its briny kiss.”

I had to double-check the masthead to make sure I wasn't reading The Onion. Who is this guy? Could it be that this quote represents a creative repurposing of an MFA in creative writing? In any event, this fellow managed to enhance the flavor of an otherwise completely pointless article.

The other little surprise is that Verlyn Klinkenborg has an iPad, and is using it to read books. Who knew? One assumed that he sent his editorials in on bits of birch bark. Kidding aside, though, I think he's exactly right. I, too, am reading the new Stieg Larsson (that doesn't need a hyperlink, right?) on the iPad, and am noticing the same damned things about the experience that Klinkenborg does. As I see it, the e-book needs two things, both easily achievable (at least, technologically speaking): one, a new standard for .mobi and EPUB that will allow more elaborate and creative book design. I don't want all my books to look the same way. And two, the ability to lend. Say, for a week. You "give" your ebook to somebody else. During that time, it is not available in your account. A week later (or when your friend clicks the "return" button) it snaps back into your account. Simple.

I believe B&N's reader already has a version of this latter tech--anybody here got a Nook? Does the lending thing actually work?

11 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

"anybody here got a Nook?" Am I the only one who has to stifle 12-year-old-boy giggle every time the announcement on the radio refers to "the Nook e-reader"? Surely B&N must have anticipated this.

Mr London Street said...

"Briny kiss" still sounds plain wrong, though.

jrlennon said...

It does sound as though one is sucking face with Aquaman, I admit. Something you might enjoy reading about on your Nookie Reader.

5 Red Pandas said...

Alton Brown has a show where he breaks down cooking on the science side. He's entertaining.

jrlennon said...

Oh, good. He SHOULD have a cooking show--that's perfect.

Zach Cole said...

Yeah, I consider his show pretty clever for Food Network-- the skits are wonderfully campy and low-budget.

jrlennon said...

By the way, I finished the Steig Larsson, and while it is almost mind-numbingly boring for the first "25%" (as the Kindle reader puts it), the last third is really quite thrilling. If you read the first two and know what Lisbeth Salander has been through, the extended courtroom scene is deeply satisfying. Great fun.

Terry Chouinard said...

"As I see it, the e-book needs two things"

Where do I vote? Cause I'm with you, 100% on both of these.

bigscarygiraffe said...

that Brown fool also hosts the American version of Iron Chef, not that I've obsessively seen it or anything..

Melissa said...

I've got a Nook and you can lend an ebook once for two weeks if the publisher has authorized the lending feature for that book. Hopefully, as more and more people have eReaders, the pubs will start to let their hair down and loosen up the lending policy.

Diana said...

In a salt shop in Croatia recently, I bought a chocolate bar sprinkled with a bit of salt. It just seemed odd to me, which is about all it takes to open my wallet, but I was surprised to find that it was actually quite a tasty combination!