BOOK | It’s been a long, long while since I’ve read a book by Stephen King. Perhaps that’s why his latest, the pulp-fiction throwback novel Joyland, proved so satisfying. Although filled with clichés, King’s story of a heartbroken New England college student who ends up working at a haunted amusement park in the Carolinas in the 1970s is endlessly entertaining. The scary stuff is fun, but King’s chops really come out when he details the often-hilarious inner workings of this second-rate park and the young employees who are forced to — among other humiliating tasks — wear a sweat-drenched dog costume.
SITE | Remember travel agents? Probably not. They were long ago replaced by Internet travel services, which were then replaced by sites that search those sites for you. This whole enterprise became full of pop-up ads and fees and offers for crappy hotels you don’t need. Thankfully, we now have Google Flights, an easy-to-use airfare search engine that doesn’t offer you anything you don’t want and sends you to the airline’s site to book — with no finder’s fees. If you’re looking to get away to nowhere in particular, there’s a map with bargain prices. If you’re flexible with your timing, enter your destination and look at a graph that shows you when you can find the cheapest ticket.
BASEBALL | Coming out of the All-Star break, the Seattle Mariners are still below the .500 mark, but playing some damn good baseball, thanks to a midsummer boost in offense. Sparking this offense is Raul Ibañez, an outfielder on his third tour with the club. At 41, he’s almost twice as old as three rookies on the M’s roster. Raul isn’t playing like he’s 41, though — he slugged 24 homers with 56 RBIs in his first 76 games. He’s closing in on Ted Williams’ record of 29 home runs by a player 41 or older. He’s done well as the elder statesman on a red-hot M’s club that’s getting some serious production from guys almost half his age.