Road trip tip: Best audio books for a drive

Saturday’s road trip tip–how to stay awake while driving, listed listening to audio books as one technique.

The last audio book I listened to on a road trip (from New York City to Columbus, Ohio along I-80) was David Sedaris’s Live at Carnegie Hall. It isn’t an audio book per se, but a taped performance of Sedaris reading some of his essays. I was awake and laughing–hard.

This weekend, as I was leafing through a magazine (Better Homes and Gardens?) at a friend’s house in Wooster, Ohio, I came across a sidebar-type article on the 7 best audio books for the road. One of them is a fabulous choice because of its lovely language alone.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best novels written, in my opinion. The language is lush. Harper Lee , the author is the narrator.

Another author narrated suggesion was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. This choice reminded me of another option that would appeal to children, but also resonates with adults. White is the narrator as well.

Here’s another one of my choices. The Velveteen Rabbit narrated by Meryl Streep is wonderful, particularly since George Winston’s piano accompaniment is woven in with Streep’s voice.

For another mix of music and narration for children, what about Peter and the Wolf? Here’s a version where David Bowie is the narrator. This one is a great way to brush up on your instrument knowledge.

Gun-friendly national parks possibly coming soon

I’ve been in national parks from Acadia in Maine to Glacier in Montana to Zion in Utah to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. (You can start humming “This Land is Your Land” if you like.) I’ve always felt safe–aggravated sometimes by over-sized RVs, but safe.

I even felt safe when I was hiking in Glacier with my husband, then boyfriend, when we saw a mother grizzly bear and her cub in the distance. We were far enough away from them that they looked like dogs. Even when my husband, then boyfriend, said, “All I have to do is out run you if they come for us,” I felt safe.

Evidently, I may not have been as safe as I thought. If I had had a gun, I’d feel safer. That’s the general idea of the proposal that is on the table to allow guns in the national park system. The people who think this is a good idea must have seen the “The River Wild’ several times over. That’s the flick when Meryl Streep‘s character takes on Kevin Bacon’s character–the bad guy, during a family raft trip down a river in some western state. It was filmed in Montana and Oregon.

There are people that think this idea is about as dumb as they come. According the this article in The New York Times, The national parks are supposed to be family-friendly. Family-friendly places don’t have guns. Look at this picture taken in Yosemite by James Gordon. Is there any place that looks more family-friendly than that? Plus, there is a chance someone feeling threatened might kill an animal when there isn’t a threat at all.

Personally, I’m on the side of folks who aren’t happy with the idea of guns in national parks. I’m a fairly calm person, but I know what it feels like to not find a parking space because some large vehicle pulling another large vehicle is taking up more than one space–or what it’s like to not be able to get around a large vehicle pulling another large vehicle on a windy road. Add summer heat, limited vacation time and you have to pee, but can’t stop because there’s no room to pull over, and you’ve got trouble. “Road Rage at the Grand Canyon” coming to a theater near you.

Movie Costume Designs: A History Tour

A few years ago I interviewed Kristine Kearney, the head of costume design in the Department of Theatre at The Ohio State University. Kearney’s costume design expertise brought her to the sets of Fried Green Tomatoes, Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy among others. She talked about quality fabrics, how costume designers make decisions and what colors look best for the stage.

Every year during the Academy Awards, I watch with interest the costume award nominees. These are truly the artsy folks. If you’re a person who loves costumes and can remember what actors had on in various roles, here is an exhibit you might want to check out this summer.

At the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, “Fashion in Film: Period Costumes for the Screen” is on exhibit through September. There are 36 costumes to remember if you’ve seen them worn by Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Gweneyth Paltrow, and Elizabeth Taylor. Let’s see, among these women we have Virginia Wolf, Karen Silkwood, a Shakespearean actor/actress, and Cleopatra. Those costumes may not be the ones on display, I just wanted to see what I could name off the top of my head. How many centuries does that cover?

The Paine Art Center and Gardens was once the estate of Nathan Paine and his wife Jessie who built the mansion beginning in the 1920s with the idea of turning it into an open-to-the-public museum. It took them until the 1940s to complete it due to financial slow downs. You can also tour it on-line.

Anguilla: Where The Stars Come Out

The Chicago
Tribune is featuring an article by Rosemary
, a Los Angeles Times staff writer who went on assignment to the Caribbean island of Anguilla, fast becoming
the hottest vacation spot for the Hollywood jetset.  She admits she was shocked to find that Anguilla isn’t a
tropical paradise — it was, in her words, rather "homely" — but what it lacks in verdent beauty it
apparently makes up for in elegant luxury.  Besides, the island has apparently become a favourite of the likes of
Sean "Diddy" Combs and Meryl Streep — surely they can’t be wrong.

Anyway, if you’re interested in
a Caribbean island vacation, be sure to check the article
— and don’t miss, at the very end of the piece, McClure’s travel tips and where to stay.