Thursday, January 10, 2019

Summer Wives

Was the past sexier than we think? Well, there are 7.2 billion people right now so maybe so, maybe so. Goodreads considers Summer Wives historical fiction. Well, I guess technically if you think a Jackie Collins novel with hats is historical fiction then fine. The author feels that she should write novels about "what women were really feeling" back in the olden times. My take away was sex, sex, drinks and more sex. While I loved history as a student this was not what we covered. Ok, those Spartan soldiers were a little freaky. That was covered in college. I went to a Catholic high school so they conveniently skipped some details.

They say teenagers are having less sex because they are on their phones all the damn time. Summer Wives was set in the 50's and at one point the young people signal each other with flashlights so I mean, that's kind like texting. I wonder if you could make filthy messages with Morse Code. Baby, I didn't think you were going to send that last dot but wow, you did.

Summer Wives was not really my thing. I liked the setting (a small island --a rich summer place, like the Hamptons off the coast of Rhode Island) but that's not good enough. But hey, if you like your historical fiction with less guns and more buns then this might be up your alley. 

They drink a lot in this book. While mostly gin and tonics, someone busts out some whiskey.  This seems classy enough for the "tony" set: Port Old Fashioned: 2 ounces of whisky, 1/2 ounce tawny port, a drizzle of maple syrup, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and orange peel.  Take the orange peel and muddle it with the syrup and bitters to release the oils. Add the whiskey and port and one of those large ice cubes. Stir to dilute.


Monday, December 17, 2018


I don't want to say this book is a slog but the working draft was Middleblast. *Ba-dum-tis* Actually the middle is exactly where it really starts to pick up but with such a mega book it's hard to get there. The debate about which chaplain to get for the new hospital about killed me. Admittedly, it was a realistic depiction of the boring + passive-aggressive comments of being on a non-profit board.

Even though I enjoy classics I cannot recommend this for a casual reader. I mean, it's no Moonstone. While the second half gets a little crazy, George Elliot's life was way weirder. She was like an original bohemian, an atheist, and lived with a man for years without getting married.  After her first "husband" died, she got married to a younger man, who was likely gay, and he jumped out of his window on his wedding night.  I like to think he did a Wilhelm scream. The husband lived, but that breakfast must have been awkward. 

Looks, education and class are an important part of this book as they would be for women in provincial England. George Eliot and her "husband" George Lewes were notoriously unattractive. Photographs exist and...well... they weren't wrong.  She still became rich and famous. Hey, Elon Musk's face is bizarre and he's doing fine. In fact, if you're not rich and famous it could be because you are just too good-looking. Yeah.

This book as British as it gets and Christmas is coming. Wassail Recipe: This makes enough for a crowd: 6 apples, cored, 2&1/2 tbsp. light brown sugar, 15 allspice berries, 15 cloves, 6 sticks cinnamon, 1 cup Madeira, 1 cup unsweetened cider, 2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tbsp. ground ginger, 1 cans of ale, 1 750ml bottle dry hard cider, and the peel of two oranges.  Bake the apples with brown sugar in a water bath in a 350 degree oven for an hour.  I the meantime, toast the spices in a large saucepan for a minute or two, add the rest of the ingredients, boil and let simmer for one hour.  Add the apples and cook for ten more minutes. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Almost Missed You

What's the worst reason you've ever read a book? What you found in a bathroom? Stuck in an airport? I picked this up because it was set in Cincinnati. Well, that's not a good enough reason. I regret everything. By the way, I've found some interesting things in people's bathrooms. Very interesting. *wags eyebrows*

Have you ever heard of Chick Lit? I hate that term as well as the genre. Someone I know at work who reads even more than I do was giving me book recommendations. She said: "Do you like romance?" My coworker who doesn't even know what I read almost interjected. "No!" So this isn't really Chick Lit but more like Mom Lit? Which is really not my thing. So not my thing. Almost Missed You is about a kidnapping by a parent and it's about motherhood and all the children and romances and weird husbands doing irrational things. Pregnancy, childbirth, and profoundly stupid names. Yes, it's as dumb as it sounds. But they mentioned Fountain Square! Yea!....(whimpers softly).

I've read worst books, believe me, and I finished it so that's something. It's just that this was written by a normal person. Like, pathologically normal. You know, someone who thinks Death Cab for Cutie is "edgy." Despite having 'Nati references you should probably skip this one.

Technically there is a cocktail called a Cincinnati but it's a joke cocktail. Boo!  Booooo!  We can do better. This is really tame--just like the book...: Apple Cider Mule:  2 ounces of vodka, 3 ounces of sparkling apple cider, 2 ounces of ginger beer.  Pour into a glass or mug with ice and garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow

Punch the ceiling dance! Our gentleman is one of the most likable characters written in the last 50 years. I'll admit that Samwise Gamgee was pretty darn likable. A BFF who can cook potatoes all those different ways and be willing to put themselves in harm's way?  I can barely get a friend to text me back about going to happy hour. You'd think I just proposed a drink at Mt. Doom. Actually Mt. Doom sounds like a cool bar.

A Gentleman in Moscow has a historical context, set in Stalinist Russia, but wait, its not as depressing as it sounds. I assuming some Broadway guys have some sort of Stalin! The Musical doing pre-production workshops in La Jolla. They did a successful Jimmy Buffet musical so torture is not taboo anymore. The actual propaganda slogans already sound like Broadway songs: "Friendship of the Peoples" and Motherland is Calling" sung by Kristin Chenoweth and Patti Lupone. Hey, this thing writes itself.  Anyway, think the opposite of this cheesy scenario and read this book, it is fantastic. It would make a great book club book for those of you well adjusted enough to be in a book club.  Even on your own it could be a nice balm for the winter blues.

This is the perfect cocktail for this book in more ways that one: Very Merry Bourbon Alexander: 1 ounce bourbon, 1 ounce creme de cacao, 1 ounce half and half, one egg white, dash of simple syrup and dash of salt.  Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake hard (I'm a maniac anyway but you'll want to with that egg white) garnish with a little nutmeg, a cranberry or two and spring of rosemary.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Summer that Melted Everything

Have you ever seen a movie and you can see the strings, the green screen is super lame or, my favorite, the sea rescue scene where the actors look like they are fighting a bathtub? It kind of takes you out of the movie. This book is like that and I'm not having it.

If you like a book with overblown, overwrought analogies and children making more profound statements than the Dalai Lama, you might enjoy this. It felt like if The Onion wanted to make fun of a book it would look like this. These are not direct quotes but they could be: "His eyebrows were like rows of freshly turned earth in a fallow field." "Her hair was like a corn field in windstorm."

The Summer That Melted Everything is about a man who invites the Devil to come to town. I refer to the Devil as the Debil. Someone started this on a podcast and I'm just keeping it going. Well, the Debil shows up and it turns out he is a 10 year old African American kid (or is he a runaway?) Yikes. Well, there is a whole big theme about racism but because that wasn't enough it also covers: homophobia, AIDS, dwarfism, agoraphobia, xenophobia, spousal beaters, child abusers, suicide, birth defects and the list goes on and on. Set it rural Ohio in the early 80's, everyone except a few enlightened individuals, are hillbilly racist crazies. If that isn't bad enough there is a DeLorean in the book. Considering only 9,000 DeLoreans were ever made...NO DELOREANS WERE IN RURAL OHIO IN THE 80'S. I know it's fiction, but now it's getting ridiculous.

I think if you were maybe 19 years old and hadn't read many books maybe it would seem poetic. It's also super-duper sad so....even if you like this kind of thing read at your own risk.  Don't say the Debil didn't warn you. 

Even if I don't like a book, I'm not going to recommend a crappy cocktail. I have my standards. The Sidecar is one of my favorites and this variation sounds interesting.  Rum Sidecar:  Go ahead and sugar the rims of your glasses with lemon juice and sugar, add another 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to a cocktail shaker with 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, add ice and 1 &1/2 ounces of dark or aged rum and 3/4 ounce of triple sec. Shake, strain and garnish with a lemon twist.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lovecraft Country

"In a place where tentacles run free...and an unspeakable monster that lurks in that a place called...Lovecraft Country." (*smokes a paperback*) You don't have to be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy this book. You should know that H.P. Lovecraft was racist. Like worse than "back in the day" racist. I know, it's not cool but he's dead so that helps. And it's not just a "not-so-fun" fact but a plot point in the book. Thanks for subscribing to Sad Facts!

While yes, this is a fantasy book, it is so much more. There is action, horror, a history lesson and even a tiny bit of sci-fi? If you liked that movie Get Out then this book is right up your alley. I actually thought Get Out should have won the Academy Award for best picture last year. I mean, the fish sex movie was ok...but it's more for a Troy McClure kind of person than me.

Set in the 50's this book feels super relevant. They are making an HBO series airing next year.  Both Jordan Peele and Courtney Vance are involved. Fingers crossed. I think you should both read the book and watch the series though. It's one of the standouts I've read this year.

I feel very shortchanged about this fall. It went from hot to cold so fast by blood cracked like a dish that went from the oven straight to the freezer.  Who knows what next week will bring so this Stone Wall cocktail sounds like a crisp fall drink that will work for hot or chilly: 1 ounce slice of peeled fresh ginger, 1 &1/2 tsp simple syrup, 1&1/2 ounces of aged rum, 1&1/2 ounces of apple cider.  Muddle the ginger and the simple syrup.  Add the rum and cider with ice and shake and strain.  Pour into a glass and top with a small amount of ginger beer, like 1-3 ounces, and garnish with a lime and apple wedge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson is known for her psychological tension. While not your typical devil possessed haunting, Hill House kind of well....gaslights the guests. Poor Eleanor.

Eleanor: Does anyone smell that?

HH: you farted and are a stinky ugly witch...

Eleanor: What? Is that the house? Have you been writing in blood on the walls?, you did that... everyone thinks you are on your period.....

Eleanor: It says "I Like Beer."

HH:....who doesn't?...woooo-wooooo.

Eleanor: Well then, how do you explain the dick pics?

HH: (spooky chuckle)...woooooo--whoooo did you like what you saw? wooo

Eleanor: No, I did not. In fact I'm going to give you a terrible review on Air B&B.

HH: Booo!!Booo!! No one will believe you...

Eleanor: Well. You have a reputation as being haunted.

HH: Faaake Neeeews.

Maybe we'll not drink beer with this one. Let's make punch for a crowd that is called, and I kid you not: A Touch of Evil Punch: 4 lemons, 3/4 sugar, 1/2 cup raspberries, 3/4 lemon juice, 2 1/2 cups gin, 1/2 cup mezcal.  Make an ice block the day before and while you are at it, infuse that sugar with lemon peel oil in a jar.  Muddle the raspberries and peel-sugar and add the lemon juice.  Strain and add the alcohol and put in the fridge.  Put this mix, a liter of sparkling water and the ice block. If the house starts talking to you then stop.