Hot Tips

Terry McDonell, author of the new memoir, The Accidental Life, has edited some of the best writers of our generation -- and likely some of them are better because of him. Yet he opened his remarks at the independent bookstore Book Passage in Marin County, California with a confession - "I could not get a good job as a writer, so I began to tumble my way into editing jobs." Read more →


Parnassus Books, co-owned by writer Ann Patchett and one of the nation's premier independent bookstores, sits in the most unamazing location in a strip mall, tucked in among Chipotle, The Vitamin Shoppe, Ten Thousand Villages and other small businesses whose exteriors are dull caramel trimmed in dark chocolate. Like other independent bookstores, which represent the souls of local communities, you might pass it a couple of times before you actually find it. But persevere on as a reader and you will be home again. Read more →


"Bonnie Raitt at the Ryman Auditorium in May?" What a combo!! A legendary lady of a certain generation and a legendary venue for the best of country, rock and rockabilly. From iconic performers to modern-day interpreters, Bonnie - like the experiences of most Baby Boomers - bridges both sensibilities. Read more →


Always on the search for the best barbecue when in East Tennessee, I’m directed to Sweet P’s on the water in Maryville outside Knoxville. Owner Chris Ford has made a big reputation here (and beyond) in the last decade with his Southern-style smoke foods, a fresh take on soul food classics prepared daily. There's also a new location in downtown Knoxville. Read more →


Heard at the airport from yet another frustrated United business flyer: "Where's United? It's now only Continental and United Express!" I couldn't agree more. Skywest, which operates United Express, is a disaster. It's run by children with no customer service skills; it's never on time, badly behind consistently. The United planes that fly coast to coast on routes such as San Francisco to Boston are the oldest most uncomfortable in the sky. So for my New Year's resolution, it's anything but United, despite my years of loyal service and 750K lifetime miles. Trust me, you should do the same. Read more →


Apart from the Longchamp "Le Pliage" fashion bag collection, the search for the perfect computer tote, briefcase, and handbag selection for the professional womantraveler reminds me of the Three Bears story -- not to heavy, not too ugly, and, in fact, just right. But what is "just right" in this context? I could hold a profitable yard sale with my closet full of wrong choices. Thankfully women's travel bags have finally become a focal point of the accessories trade and certainly there is no dearth of choices in colors and fabrics this season. Keep in mind these perennial criteria... Read more →


A preview screening of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, which premiers April 15 on PBS, gave me an idea. This blog could rename itself SuperWomantraveler and strive for justice and truth in the often self-serving online travel industry. (Not to say there aren't plenty of excellent travel bloggers, but does any of them wear a disguise??) OK, just kidding about this blog, but the documentary's director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan has created a provocative story that sheds much new light on women, women and power, women and teamwork and many other traits. I heard her describe her motivation at a screening and then quizzed some women friends. None of us, we confessed, had appreciated the deeper themes of this Wonder Woman comics superheroine during our upbringing. In fact she was a turnoff to many of us, with all due respect to actress Lynda Carter, TV's Wonder Woman and a... Read more →