Monday, February 18, 2013

The Count of Monte Cristo

At the end of 1,200 pages Alexander Dumas manages to tie up every loose end in this complicated revenge story.  Are you paying attention George R. R. Martin?  Yeah, and he wrote it in 1844.  ALL THE LOOSE ENDS.  Here is the plot in one sentence: Edmond, a sailor, gets wrongfully imprisoned, escapes, becomes filthy rich and enacts revenge on all those who put him in prison. Stick that in your SparkNotes.

After his daring prison escape, Edmond learns about 20 languages and somehow acquires every fact in the world except how to get a decent tan.  When you read the book it appears that his ten years after the escape are all done in furtherance of his revenge plot.  But when you think of it, he would have bought secret lady-slaves, hire a giant mute servant who had his tongue cut out, become a master of disguise and learn to be an expert fencer and marksman anyway.  We all would.  He is filthy rich, doesn't sleep much, is always busy, knows everything and was in prison.  In other words, the Martha Stewart of 19th century Europe.  

The book is old and still awesome.  I think writers have been inadvertently and purposefully ripping off the characters and themes of this book for 150 years.  For example, the grandfather Nortier cannot move or communicate except by a series of blinks.  If that is not Breaking Bad's Hector "Tio" Salmanaca and his damn bell I'll eat my hat.

Drink with Henry IV Cognac.  It costs $2,000,000 a bottle.  The Count would drink nothing less.      

Friday, February 15, 2013

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Oh Patton Oswalt, why did this have to happen.  I am going to blame your publisher.  But you need to take some responsibility for your name being sullied. Why did you not insist on someone editing your notebooks? You clearly had at least three slim notebooks, one memoir, one of comedic bits and one stream of consciousness.  A publisher approached you and said, "Hey you're so hot (culturally) right now why don't we publish a book?" Sure, you said, "I already have some material I've been collecting for the last 15 years." "Great! Here's your check."  The end.

I still love Patton Oswalt, I love his stand-up work and I'll always love that he made a wonderfully obscure Werner Herzog reference on NPR.  I even think he's a decent actor.  This...was not so hot.  It lacked execution.  It is the literary equivalent of that Nordic Track that you dry your track jackets on in the basement.  The memoir part is about growing up geeky outside D.C. The main take-away is that he missed all these great Black Flag shows because he grew up in the burgs and watched Star Wars.  The Star Wars-burgs bits are your entire career!  We can't relate to the Black Flag kids, they made fun of us remember?  With no transition, this book also consists of odd comedic bits.  Please refer to John Hodgman if you ever think about doing that crap again.  1000 hobo names takes a lot of work.  That's why its so funny.  I am positive you work much harder on your stand-up.  Go back to kissing Cherlize Theron in movies.

While I don't recommend this book, for drinks, pick something equally lame and without substance like a Zima.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Watership Down

"I'm pretty sure all the bunnies die." This is what my husband said to me when he saw me reading this book. But I knew he never read this book and he was guessing.  I must admit thinking that you are going into a Lars Von Trier dismal abyss will make this book much more exciting to read.  And yes, some bunnies die, but not all of them.

Watership Down is an anthropomorphized adventure story about a small group of rabbits looking for a new warren.  They are not completely humanoid because they do not wear top hats.  For some reason, top hats are my benchmark for a sophisticated animal.  Even top hat-less the rabbits' conversations are awfully sophisticated.  I'm pretty sure if you could understand what rabbits talked about, it would be: "Now, is that poop or food?" Or, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT NOISE?" (*Stands perfectly still for 90 minutes*)

This was the first selection of my very tiny book club and my friend brought over chocolate covered peanuts.  She said, "This is hraka." That it lapine language for poop.  A fun game is to tell everyone what rabbit you are most like.  Then they tell you what rabbit they think you are are.  Trust me, you will pick the smarter more clever version of yourself and your friends will pick the less flattering kind-of-jerk bunny.  We all have to eat hraka sometime.

This book is very British and evokes the first signs of spring.  I recommend a Pimm's Cup. The bunny in you will enjoy the slice of cucumber.  The alcoholic in you will enjoy the gin.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Rook

People foolishly ask, what can you do with a Master's Degree in Medieval History from The Ohio State University?  You write a kick-ass debut fantasy book, that's what. Take one part Memento, one part X-Men and add lots of Britishness for good measure.  The main character, Myfawny, which must be a Welsh name, because that's just nuts, either has amnesia or has recently replaced her entire body.  In this book, either of those two things could happen.  She works as a "rook" for "her majesty's supernatural secret service." Rook refers to her rank, think chess pieces, not giant bird.  In this book, turning into a giant bird would be relatively normal. 

Myfawny's special powers have to do with her ability to mess people up when she touches them.  But her real power comes from her ability to do paperwork and statistics efficiently.  Seriously, this is her special power.  O'Malley probably thinks this is magic because all of us involved in the humanties suck at math and if you are good at it, well clearly that's because of magic.

Daniel O'Malley's day job is writing press releases regarding plane crash investigations for the Australian government.  After reading this book, I am thinking those must be fun to read.  It says here the plane went down because a self-aware blob caused it to crash.  Then his boss shakes his fist and says "O'Malley you've done it again!" (He smirks....then freeze frame). 

Drinks: Because this book involves possible memory loss, I highly recommend an Absinthe cocktail.  One of my favorites is a Sazerac. At least I think I remember liking it... Here's a recipe: