Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

by Luke Dempsey


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596916340
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 08/04/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.36(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Luke Dempsey is the editor in chief of Hudson Street Press, a division of Penguin USA. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

1 The Northeast: Falling in Love at Home 1

Now What? 16

2 Arizona: Watching Wezil Walraven Work 19

Now What? 63

3 Florida: "This Is Indian Territory! This is Not the USA! Go Back to England!" 67

Now What? 100

4 Michigan: What Charles Pease Shot 103

Now What? 137

5 Pacific Northwest: People of the Grass Country 139

Now What? 166

6 Texas: No, No, It Was a Ringed Kingfisher 170

Now What? 216

7 Colorado: On the Trail of the White-tailed P-TAR-me-jen 219

Epilogue What Now? 247

Afterword Peru 254

Acknowledgments 262

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Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly i choose this book from the bargin bin. I am by no means a birder and neither was the author in the beginning. This book was hysterical! I loved it from the first page. The authors writing style is easy and natural ,Almost like your in a conversation rather than just reading. Give this book a try for entertainment and a few laugh out loud moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well written, but again, you must be into birds & nature. Otherwise, you might not understand the author's "obsession". I loved it!
Holly Grant More than 1 year ago
I pick this book up whenever I need a good laugh. As a bird I can relate to some of the crazy antics described and made fun of in this book. Love this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is certainly written well, and I learned a lot about birds. Unfortunately, Dempsey doesn't seem to like people very much. He whinges about strangers, other birders, and worst of all, his 'friends.' And that's when he isn't coming up with derogatory names for other people - like 'the Pregnants.' He seems to believe he is better than the rest of us. He occasionally throws in sweet comments about his daughters, but they seem contrived and almost like an afterthought. I don't know - while I am interested in the subject, the tone of the book left me with a bad taste. It could have been funny and informative without taking pot-shots at just about everyone he came in contact with.
TSlush More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot. Almost enough to pick up a pair of binoculars and see for myself if birds could actually become an obsession. Mr. Dempsey does have a particularly snarky sense of humor-so if you take offense easy you are going to miss some of the gems of the book--for instance, his gentle pokes at his friends, himself, and the "pregnants."
His righteous indignation over perceived slights is hilarious...I can almost see his man cape unfurling to right the wrongs...A great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like birding, you will enjoy this book. Keep your Sibley's or Peterson's close at hand, as these birders see some rare birds. Humorous and informative.
EBCNJ More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. The author's wit and humor really make this a great read. I was also fascinated by the birds and the idea of birding. I almost want to be a birder myself now. Almost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very funny book with alot of helpful information on birds. I, myself, am a birder and while reading this book, I was inspired to just get out and look in my own backyard instead of wishing for something big at the popular birding sites. Re: the author not liking people very much, I find that to be a very shallow take on his humor. When you spend so much time with people and in such close quarters, there are certain quirks that you notice, he notes these quirks with a very dry sense of humor which is part of the hilarity of the book. Also, "the pregnants", I couldn't have said it better myself! :)
aliciamay on LibraryThing 7 months ago
While I found that Luke Dempsey did not quite live up to the comparison of Bill Bryson (I had only one laugh out loud moment while reading "A Supremely Bad Idea") I thoroughly enjoyed this book about birding. I often found myself envious of the adventures that were being had by the author and his two birding companions and am wondering what I am missing by only having these bird-centric adventures vicariously instead of on my own. I would have like a little more background on birding, or a glossary of sorts, because I still do not know what a scope or a life bird is. Overall it is commendable that the author was able to take a seemingly dull subject and make it an entertaining and educational story.
FionaCat on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book was not quite what I thought it was going to be. It seemed as if the author was alternately trying to be funny and serious and never quite striking the right balance. There wasn't enough about birds to make it a "real" birding book and his traveling companions never really seemed like rounded characters. All in all, a good idea that just didn't quite work.
nobooksnolife on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All is a funny romp through the bizarre world of the bird-watching-obsessed. The twist here is that the author is British and lets loose his biting observations not only upon himself but also on his experiences in the U.S. There are plenty of jabs which thin-skinned or overly-sensitive people won't think are too funny, probably because the barbs hit uncomfortably close to the truth (especially on overweight, out of shape people, although I am one, and I didn't take it that seriously). I find it remarkable that the author could combine humor, birdwatching, and travel writing and actually create an entertaining book from this awkward mix!I never thought of myself as a birder, but I grew up in a family where it was normal to drop everything and bolt toward the window at the sound of any unusual bird call, and to take binoculars along on day trips, so I found this to be entertaining, but not a must read. A great book to keep at your cabin by the lake if you are lucky enough to have one.
dyarington on LibraryThing 7 months ago
First, let me admit, I am an avid Birder. I have visited many of the locations cited in the book. I found the author's attempts at humor to be stilted, awkward, and decidedly not humorous most of the time. The book is not a good introduction to birding and I doubt serious birders would wish to waste the time reading it. Dempsey does identify most of the hot birding spots in the United States and for that, some beginning birders would be grateful. I'm sorry, I just did not like the book . After the first two chapters, I felt the author's seemingly forced attempts at humor were pathetic, but I slogged on and I must admit the book got better as he described birding in several different locations. I would not recommend the book to birding friends.
kellyslist on LibraryThing 7 months ago
You don't have to be a "birder" to enjoy this light travel tale. Luke and his 2 friends travel the country trying to see new and interesting birds for their life bird lists. It does bring to mind Bill Bryson traveling the Appalachian Trail with his extremely strange friend. There were definitely moments of laughing out loud at the threesome's interactions with locals on their trip. And you'll likely learn a bit about birds and find yourself looking into the trees more.
dele2451 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
An enjoyable story that combines comedy, a conservation theme, and the easy comraderie that only comes with countless travel hours logged in close quarters. The only analogy I can think of to describe Dempsey's wonderful book is that it is a little like watching a cartoon on PBS -- it's adorable and it'll make you laugh, but you'll probably learn a thing or two about birds too.
KatharineClifton on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I wanted to love this book. I started out loving this book. Unfortunately, that love affair only lasted a few chapters. The author's tone and sense of humor seemed right up my alley, even if the subject matter was not. Maybe if I was a birder I would have enjoyed it more, stuck it out. But to be honest, I abandoned the book due to lack of interest. Which is strange, because that is something I almost never do. But the book seemed to take on a forced tone, the sentences were no longer grabbing me, and I started thinking, "I don't care." That's when I put down the book for good. I'll keep it around, might try again some other time when I'm not so busy or distracted, but for now, eh, can't say I'm going to miss it.
hokansonh on LibraryThing 7 months ago
In this remarkable story, Dempsey takes birdwatching (which, in his words, serves the social use of ¿keeping those nerdy kids who have no chance of ever making a real friend out of already overcrowded bars¿) and makes it cool. While I probably won¿t immediately invest in a pair of binoculars, Dempsey has effectively instilled an appreciation of a pastime to which I had never given a single, solitary thought.On the one hand, the sub-title of this book pretty much sums it up. But on the other, it says nothing. The picture on the cover, if you can see it, only begins to hint at the mirth within its pages. Who knew a book about birdwatching could be hilarious. One reviewer on Barnes and Noble¿s website found Dempsey¿s humor a little derogatory and believes he thinks he is better than everyone else. What this reviewer fails to recognize, however, is that Dempsey pokes as much fun at himself as anyone. He describes himself as having skin ¿not exactly white, more an off-gray color, like a once vivid photograph that¿s been left too long in the sunlight¿. He¿s a self-proclaimed ¿beertotaller¿, and occasionally dons the cape of ¿small injustice man¿ risking bodily injury over trivial matters. This is edutainment at its best, as I unwittingly learned about impact of habitat destruction, global climate change and ¿dunce families¿ in National Parks, on bird populations, all while being thoroughly entertained.
nevusmom on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book brought back so many of my own birding adventures. I haven't gone to as many birding hot-spots as the author, but admit to a few. This is somewhat bittersweet at times, as the author writes of being separated from his daughters. And I clearly need to check out some of the birding blogs he refers to. :)
clamairy on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I am a bit of a bird nut. I tend to confine myself to enjoying the birds in my own yard and neighborhood, though, so I found the idea of traveling thousands of miles to see birds a bit of an eye-opener. This book is about the kind of birders who live for their hobby. Okay, maybe it's more of a life-style choice and not a hobby. Here's a quote that I just loved: "I believe that birders are a quietly heroic folk. Given all the choices one faces in the modern world, it's admirable, to my eye at least, that some people give up the chance to stand on line to buy iPhones, or DVD CSI Scranton, and instead go out into a field to appreciate nature. It bespeaks something about their souls that animals and birds are worth their time." (p 82)Luke Dempsey is not as humorous a writer as Bill Bryson, but I understand why many folks make that comparison. Dempsey's style is somewhat similar. However, I always felt I would like to tag along with Bryson when reading his books, I don't think I'd fit in as well with Dempsey and his traveling companions, the Graffitis. I would recommend this book to anyone who cares about the natural world, anyone who enjoys birding, and just about anyone with a sense of humor. There's a lot to amuse and enthrall them here. Finally, I would like to raise a glass to Small Injustice Man! Long may your cape unfurl!!
pratchettfan on LibraryThing 7 months ago
If Bill Bryson suddenly started to get extremely interested in Birds he might have written this book ;). "A Supremely Bad Idea" is a very entertaining account of three bird fanatics and the adventures they had traveling all over the US trying to find rare birds. Even though I had never felt a fascination for the past this book could wake the interest in me. Nature helped a bit too, on the day I started reading the book we were staying in Ohiopyle, PA when bats started to crawl out of the woodwork and fly around our heads! To summarize, if you like tales in the style of Bill Bryson and could imagine learning more about birds, then this book is for you.
faceinbook on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Dempsey has written an extremely fun read. I am not a birder but none the less, I enjoyed the story of these three "odd ball" birders. Though the book is considered comic, it also contains serious commentary about nature and Americana. The book also puts a human face on all those who find themselves in the grip of an obsession. Being an obsessive "reader" and "book collector" it was fun to meet a group of people with an obsession so completely different than my own. The obsession was different but amazingly the people were much the same. I believe it is a testament to the artful story telling of Luke Dempsey that he was able to use humor to engage the reader in an activity that not everyone shares. It was a great read !
CarolynSchroeder on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I never know what I am going to get with doing the Early Reviewers program, but this book was such a pleasant surprise. I loved it. It has a little bit of a lot of things, which may annoy some people, but for me, it was like spending time with friends who introduced me to the wonder of birding; and the joy to see a bird just to ... see it. Dempsey is kind of a lost soul, Brit in America, who befriends (and vice versa) two of non fiction's best personalities, Don and Donna Grafitti, and the three traverse the United States in search of "seeing" birds of all stripes. This was a wonderful, layman's introduction to birding and I now find myself looking everywhere I go, to catch a glimpse, and to learn, about the birds around me. Although primarily about the birds, their waning habitats and their behaviors, it's also a great friendship story, about how three people keep their passion alive and accept each other for exactly who they are. That is a rare find in fiction or non fiction these days. There are a lot of reviews that bash how there are better birding books out there. Of course there are, this doesn't purport to be the be all, end all or definitive text on any one species. It is one human's joy. I loved the sarcastic view of the various Americans, all the while, Dempsey still makes it clear how much he loves his adopted country. Having been Small Injustices Woman a time or two (recently, in Tulum when an American Dunce Family was feeding iguanas Wonder Bread in front of the bright yellow sign saying how harmful that was to them), that was one of my favorite parts ~ saving wildlife everywhere from Dunce Families. Hopefully, this will spark a movement! Overall though, this is a warm, tender, funny/quirky book and I highly recommend it.
LaBibliophille on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The complete title of this charming memoir by Luke Dempsey is A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See it All. This book tells the story of Dempsey and two friends who travel the United States trying to see as many different species of birds as they can.Along the way they stay in scary motels, meet scarier people, and see many beautiful sights. Under the tutelage of his friends "Don and Donna Graffiti", Dempsey develops into an avid and knowledgeable birder (not a birdwatcher). A transplanted Englishman, Dempsey also develops a love and appreciation for the United States and its spectacular natural beauty.Dempsey generously shares his emotions with the reader: his loneliness; his glee at spotting a rare bird; his gratitude towards his friends; and his fear at confronting the various miscreants they meet on their journeys. Dempsey' s self-deprecating humor keeps this book from being overly sentimental and mawkish.I guess the biggest compliment I can give this book is that I went outside and looked for some birds. And there was a turkey in my yard! So-read and enjoy. I received a copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. Thanks!
brewergirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book is kind of a travel memoir around the author's birding trips with his friends. He gives some of his personal background, some local history of the areas he visits, and lots of information about the birds he sees. He and his traveling partners run into some colorful folk along the way that make for entertaining stories. The writing is light-hearted and humorous but I didn't find myself getting carried away by it. It was entertaining but not a "must read." I never got caught up in the birding aspect either although I do find myself paying a bit more attention now when a bird flies by.
readaholic12 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This could be a great title for so many books, but works surprisingly well for Luke Dempsey's memoir of extreme birding across the United States. I'm a nature nut, and enjoy feeding and watching the local birds, and admit to marking each new bird spotted with a shiny star sticker in my Peterson Field Guide. In winter's doldrums, I'll sit at a window with binoculars and watch the show, but the urge to hit the road for serious birding has never called me. The urge calls Luke Dempsey, whose friends Don and Donna help coordinate escapes from the city to bird watching hot spots across America. From the first pages, Luke's wry British humor shines through as he takes us along on his adventure, which works quite well as memoir, travel or nature writing. I could listen to a lovely British accent all day, and feel likewise about Luke's Bill Brysonesque observations and his witty, informative writing style. This book is funny, delightful, educational (there are even bird pictures!) and highly recommended.I think I'll be putting my binoculars in the car now, just in case.......
mldg on LibraryThing 7 months ago
In A Supremely Bad Idea, Luke Dempsey shares how he develops a passion for birding, while he copes with the separation from his daughters after his divorce.Along with friends, Don and Donna Graffiti, Dempsey travels to Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Colorado searching for sights and sounds of life birds.The book is extremely funny in some places; and poignant in others when Dempsey touches on his marriage, his childhood, his father, and his daughters.Dempsey notes that loss of habitat drives him to see as many species of birds as possible before they disappear. Let's hope those birds will be around for his daughters' generation.