Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Old Kingdom-Abhorsen series

🎶Oh, those golden hands oh, those golden hands.🎶 Back in the day "golden" was code for sugar. It was nice when they were honest. SUPER SUGAR CRISP.  I know what I'm getting. Now those would be called All Natural Sun-kissed Wheat Nibs. Author Garth Nix lives in Sydney which I believe is Australia's Gold Coast. Which we all know is the Sugar Coast. I can't decide if that sounds delicious or terribly dangerous. I guess it could be both if you have the diabetes.

This series, Goldenhand is book 5, has necromancy, lots of magic, a dangerous library and most importantly a talking cat. The talking cat is kind of a snarky ass.  I mean that's not exactly a stretch for some cats. I say that as a crazy cat lady and cat lover. Aren't you worried the cat is going to eat your face off when you die? No, I'm worried she's going to eat my face off while I'm alive. If it's past 6:00 a.m. this is a justifiable fear. Runs across my body.  Knock glasses off nightstand.  For a while she was doing a tether-ball tournament with the metal lamp pull. Ding ding ding ding ding......then a "I win" if I acknowledge I am awake. (cat squints eyes).

This series is marketed toward teens or older children but don't let that stop you from reading these books. There is also a talking dog, semi-sentient airplanes, dead creatures. I mean, it's a nice fantasy series, like maybe you need something to take your mind off serious matters. Not sickly sweet like those old Golden Grahams.  I did like those back in the day though. I will admit it. Diabetes.

You could drink this with a Gold Rush (one of my favorite cocktails of all time) or this golden colored cocktail (which we won't tell anyone--is low cal) Rosemary Grapefruit Cocktail (makes two) One large ruby red grapefruit, a sprig of rosemary, 1/2 cup grapefruit La Croix,3 ounces vodka, four dashes of grapefruit bitters (optional).  Juice the grapefruit and muddle the sprig of rosemary pour the juice in two glasses with the bitters. Add 1/4 cup of the sparkling water and an ounce and half of vodka to each glass. You can garnish with a rosemary sprig and/or a grapefruit slice. As is, this is only 129 calories.  This sounds very tart to me so you could add a little simple syrup but obviously this will add to the calories.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Who Fears Death?

This is a messed up book. Set in the post-apocalyptic Africa things are not cool. Actually things are not all that cool now. This book is pretty dark with "adult themes" and not in a good way. In fact there are so many creepy things in here they are like a who's who of comedy killers. Unless you're Louis C.K. it's pretty hard to joke about child soldiers, genocide and female genital circumcision. I mean, that is above my pay grade, for real.  At least in this book's future there are bad wizards and good wizards. Ok, ok....that we can work with....

I really wanted to like this book because it's from a different perspective and new author. The first part is a typical hero myth even if it's super creepy but I was ok. Our girl wizard is named Onyesanwu, who is destined to be a hero....except in the second half of the book she grows up to be kind of a jerk. I have no idea if the author wants us to like her or not. Her boyfriend is a jerk, her friends at times are jerks, her teacher is a Super jerk, the villagers...you guessed it...jerks. She meets some nice sand people who put up with her diva behavior. For example, Onye doesn't want eat some food offered to her because it got "mixed together" so her boyfriend gets her some more...I'm like you are in travelling for months in a desert and these nice people are giving you food--witch, please.

The plot goes all over the place at the end with a bizarre ending so I'm not sure I can recommend this book. I noticed that she let Patrick Rothfuss read an early draft and I found that amusing because his hero In the Name of the Wind is also kind of a jerk (I liked his story and his hero better but he refuses to finish the trilogy--sigh). Apparently I like my heroes to be simple hobbit-like folk, you know we're going to save the world but there is no need to: A) not to be civilized and B) stop and have nice snacks.

This is the perfect name of a cocktail to go with this book--Blood and Sand Cocktail: Fill a cocktail shaker with 3/4 ounce of the following 4 ingredients: Scotch, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and orange juice. Shake and strain and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

In case you are wondering, Harrison Ford is in Blade Runner 2049. Maybe he will be mostly made of android parts. In 2049 I'll be made of android parts too. Don't let them sell you on a bionic appendix. That's a waste of money. I will take that undercarriage clear coating, because, I mean, it's the oxidation that will get ya.

Yes, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is the book behind Blade Runner.....and it is awesome. It's definitely different than the movie, it's funnier and the plot moves really fast. In 2021 apparently phone-booths will make a comeback and we'll have laser-guns! Post-nuclear times make animal life precious and so it's a big deal (and a status symbol) to have an animal and take good care of it. As I LOVE animals, I'm like yes, finally! I have two animals so suck on that neighbors! I'm not so crazy about that radioactive fallout though. BUT I STILL WANT THAT DAMN HOVERCAR.

I don't know what the big deal is about killing androids, I mean, can't you just get them wet? Maybe they have a giant rice filled swimming pool they get into and plot their revenge in the two days it takes to dry them out. I'll bet the new movie doesn't have jokes. Would it be so hard to call a nightclub the Control-Alt-Delete? A tiny antique looking portrait of Bender? Man, that'd be sweet. No, it's probably be all slick with gravitas out the ying-yang.

There is an important scene in here with bourbon which is very rare in the future....note to self...stockpile more. Read this with a Bourbon Hovercar...ok, it's called a Bourbon Lift, which seems perfect for the holidays: 1 and 1/2 ounces decent bourbon, 1/2 ounce coffee liquor, 1/2 ounce half and half, 1/2 ounce orgeat (you can buy or make). Put these ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass fill the glass slowly with club soda. It should have a an egg cream or root beer float style foam head.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Lathe of Heaven

What if your dreams became reality?  I don't mean one of those stupid inspirational posters you see. Or those messages you get from your distant relatives that are in one of those multi level marketing schemes...(shakes fist).  No, I mean what you actually dream when you are sleeping becomes the new reality. Freaky.

Written in 1971, Lathe of Heaven is a dystopian novel set in the future...and that future is 2002. What? Our protagonist George Orr (I'm sure that name is not a coincidence) has the ability to change reality with "active dreaming." If my dreams became a reality there would be a lot of college students showing up for an exam without going to class....actually I do think that is happening. Huh...now I'm freaking myself out.

I kid you not I actually dreamed this last week: A group of unruly high school students came to tour my work (we do get groups of 4 or 5 in real life) but this was more like 25 students. I could not get them to be quiet and settle down in one spot. To make things worst there was one boy who just kept saying "Balls, Balls,Balls, Balls, Balls." My dreams are very realistic.

While this is a very good book, I'm not sure if I can recommend a dystopian book right about now.  I guess I can take heart in that global warming is not quite as bad as in this book and there haven't been any nuclear bombs go off and devastating population dropping pandemics. Not that we don't have these problems but not to this extent.  Even so, you might need a palate cleansing book after this.  Or my homemade Prozac.

Why not drink this with something from the past? This one was hot in the 70's: Harvey Wallbanger: 1 and 1/2 ounces vodka, 4 ounces orange juice, 1/2 ounce Galliano.  Pour the orange juice and vodka in a large glass with ice, gently top the drink with the Galliano. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry for garnish.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Norwegian Wood

"This book knocked my socks off!"-- Bill Cosby

"This book is right up my alley. What a realistic portrayal of college life." -- Roman Polanski

"I've heard worse." -- Billy Bush

This book should be subtitled: Holden Caulfield goes to College in Japan and the Adventures With His Wiener! Ah, remember the good old days the days when women were nymphomaniacs but ultimately submissive and also amazing cooks? Neither do I.

Actually, I like Holden Caulfield more than Toru Watanabe. Holden is a tortured disaffected youth that can't deal with tragedy without a psychotic break. I get that. Toru is a music loving "nice guy" that has women all over him for no discernible reason. Oh, you're so good with words Toru...oh, how about we do it Toru....oh BARF. Compliments, free snacks and various forms of wiener release from nearly every woman in the book I might add. (plus jazz music, coffee and The Great Gatsby for some reason). I mean really Toru are you an NBA player? Oh, baby your use of irregular verbs makes me want to look at your dangling participle. Why this book isn't labelled Fantasy is beyond me.

There is a brief mention of a well at the beginning of this novel which got me overly excited. Man, some supernatural powers in this book would have been sweet.  No, narcissism is not a supernatural power. Sadly, it's all too natural these days.

Like all Murakami novels there is a little whiskey drinking. Try this variation on an Old Fashioned-- Heck's Old Fashioned: Drop 2 sugar cubes in a rocks glass, add 4 dashes of Angostura bitters, a lemon wheel, and orange wheel, a lime wheel, a maraschino cherry and 1/2 teaspoon of grenadine. Muddle these enough to release the juices.  Add 1/4 cup bourbon or rye whiskey, add ice and stir to combine top with equal parts and club soda.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Les Miserables

Merde this is a big book!  I think it may be the longest novel I've ever read. I'm not entirely sure I understood some of this book. There was some serious history name-dropping. I didn't even know Chateaubriand was a dude and not steak with fancy sauce (actually it's both!) Next I'll find out there was a Giovanni Lasagna that was an Italian artist and intellectual in the 1600's. A contemporary of Caravaggio, the lesser known Lasagna developed the Alfredo technique. Luckily the legacy of the Australian Prime Minister Jacko Bloominonion is intact. There are huge sections of this book that talk about things of which I am clueless. And these sections go on and on and on. Whew, other than that this book is excellent.

I never saw the musical or the movie. Yes, I am well aware that the movie has Hugh Jackman in it. You know I'm not fond of musicals. We all know that the story tells of the ex-convict of Jean Valjean and the various adventures of those people surrounding him.  And boy do they surround him. I mean are there like 500 people in France in the olden times?  Everyone knows everyone and they all keep bumping into one another. Especially the enemies. Just delete your Facebook account already. Jean just checked in at the Tuilries....how did they find me here!  Pings and GPS Jean, just leave your phone at home next time.

Anyway this is cool book if you have an extra 4 months to spare and also want to know about The Battle of Waterloo, all the different machinations of French politics from the late 1700's to the mid 1800's, weird convents and last but not least the Paris sewers.  Probably the most exciting moment of the book and Hugo goes off for about 50 pages on the history of the Paris sewers. You're killing me, dude! Oh wait, you're dead.  Never mind.  It's cool. So, if you can get past all of that some say it's the greatest novel ever written.  Could be. Yes, people die in it.  Life was hard in the olden times.

Brandy has a little cameo in this book and I'm feeling like it deserves a comeback anyway. While this cocktail was developed in 1876 a  a tiny bit later than when Les Miserables is set....it's still a very olden times recipe. Brandy Daisy: 3/4 ounce yellow chartreuse, 1 and 1/2 ounces brandy or cognac, 3/4 ounce lemon juice.  Pour ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and stir well. Strain into a Collins glass with ice and top with a little seltzer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Sense of an Ending

These mid-life or later life existentialist crisis books tend to win awards but I don't think Gen-Xer's vote on these things. For a Gen-Xer, examining the meaning of your life and finding it wanting is what we call Tuesday. The Sense of an Ending is by the super-British author Julian Barnes. (His name is Julian for Pete's sake) This won the Man Booker Prize in 2011. Sure it's well written but this genre doesn't do much for me, by that I mean, the examined boring life. People's lives are boring enough. Kids and work and kids and work and sports and sports and sports and work. (Read that last sentence to a dance beat and it gets more exciting).

In this book, our narrator Anthony lived a fairly ordinary life except for a few weird blips when she was a young adult.  Those "blips" come back, in one form or another after his retirement...and...we have a plot. The "twists" are not all that twisty.  And they happen to other people.  If you like a beautifully written very Britishy character study you might like it.  There is a mention of tyres. I almost wished someone got stabbed. (No one got stabbed). The most amazing part of this book is that our narrator gets to retire before he turns eighty, unlike most Americans I know. You can retire AND eat at a Pub? La-di-da, look at you fancy man.

They mostly drink beer in this book. I've been known to have an occasional beer myself.  I found a nice citrus-y crisp IPA that is my new favorite.  Green Flash Brewing Company makes it: Soul Style. They do sell around town and Green Flash has a map of exactly where they sell it in your city on their website. Pretty cool, huh.