Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Weeks in December

I would be very impressed if I saw an obituary that read: "James Gibson, 33, eaten by a lion, services to be held at Hodapp Funeral home on Saturday at 1:00 p.m."  That would be an amazing obituary.  It would almost be worth it.  The odds that I would be eaten by an African lion are pretty small.  I'll probably never go to Africa and I very rarely go to the zoo.  The few times I've been to the zoo, I've never crossed the "idiot moat" to be eaten by said lion.  What's much more likely to happen to me, is for my larger-than-average cat to trip me, I fall down my basement steps, crack my head open and die of a subdermal hematoma.  Not only is that more likely, it is probable, considering he slide tackles me twice a month. 

Three Weeks in December is loosely based on a true story about  lions who ate humans but those hungry hungry lions were never caught.  This part of the story is set at the turn of the 20th century and the lions ate some of the immigrant workers for the East African Railroad.  I would think that human meat is not like wildebeest--I mean that's good eating--human meat must be like one Buffalo Wild Wing, kind of stringy, not much meat, spicy but slightly addictive.  Also, only a quarter on Tuesday.

This book has another story, from another point of view, set in the early 21st century about an ethnobotonist searching for a medicinal vine among mountain gorillas in the Congo.  She has Asperger's and eats a lot of tofu.  I take umbrage here, I don't think tofu, perishable fermented bean blocks, travel well in luggage from America to the heart of the African Congo.  My clean clothes smell like mountain gorilla after a five hour plane ride from Canada.  The author read 90 books of research to write this novel, but I think she neglected to research the perishable qualities of tofu.  I think there is a book on it called Blocks of Death.

For as exciting as this book seems with gorillas, lions and tofu, its just ok.  It doesn't have that special "spark" that makes me want to keep reading. It took me months to finish it even though its only 353 pages.  So keep that in mind when you are perusing the mountain gorilla based novels section in the bookstore.

Drinks:  Malaria is a big plot point in this book so you should drink with a nice gin and tonic.  You should know that modern tonic water has only negligible amounts of quinine so you should drink a whole bunch of them just to be safe.       

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gone Girl

Summer's not over yet.  You may have read this last summer when it was hot off the press.  It was and still is very popular.  That made me very nervous.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I kind of liked it, yeah it turns out I'm as much of a snob as I thought.  I do have discerning taste.  I also love queso dip which is very plebeian, but you will admit, it is so so tasty.

Gone Girl is is a thriller with plot twists aplenty.  Yes, I don't care how smart you are at least one twist will sneak up on you out of nowhere like a weird mole.  I don't want to tell you much of the plot, but its a missing person mystery and the woman's husband is the primary suspect.  That really is about all I can say without spoiling it.  Its kind of "dark" and there is some sex stuff that is little weird, not Murakami weird, think explicit but not sexy.  Some readers criticize this book inarticulately and simply say its "yucky." They are probably not comfortable with a odd ending and some very odd characters.  I loved The Wire and Breaking Bad, so I'm ok with the dark side. Da da da dadada da da da da da da. (That's supposed to be The Imperial March aka Vader's Theme). I'm pretty sure those are from the handwritten notes of John Williams.

With bad behavior and drama in abundance, one thing that might make reading this more fun is just occasionally inserting 1990's Jerry springer audience reactions while you read.  Like, "Quit that zero and get yourself a hero!" or "Ohhh, no she didn't!" and "Snap!" I know you probably already recite these phrases while you read anyway, but they will be especially appropriate for this book. 

Drinks: Hey this is a mystery involving a missing person so why not try a Corpse Reviver? The Corpse Reviver #2 is the most popular of the type so here it is:  1 oz gin, 1 oz Cointreau, 1 oz. Lillet Blanc, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 dash absinthe.  Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and serve. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


What book are you reading? Wool. What? Wool. You know like fluffy sheep? Oh.  Nothing makes you sound more like a jackass then saying this title.  Wool is hard to say with proper annunciation.  This isn't even a good name for this book.  While wool is mentioned, I suspect the metaphor "pulling the wool over someones eyes," is the title's secret double meaning.  Clever.  This story is set in a giant silo. Hey, Silo might have been a good name.  

I've been reading more than my fair share of dystopian novels these days. (Yep, all Planet of the Apes style).  In Wool, there is a logical flaw in this community's silo living.  Frankly, its missing some guns, it has a few, but not enough.  C'mon everyone knows a gun and ammo are the first thing you pack. Because with a gun you can "get" the rest of your supplies.  True, there is the alternative hippy theory of a dystopian future.  Now, where did I put my butter churn again?

One of the best things about this story's society is that the characters were born in the silo and are the product of successive generations.  It has been so long since civilization has lived outside that the inhabitants wonder if an elephant is a real thing or a myth? That brings me to another flaw, I don't care if they have grow lights, after four or five generations, the people would all be smeagols. Admittedly, it would be hard to cast an all-smeagol movie rather than cast for an olive-skinned sexy lady-mechanic. (I'd still go to an all-smeagol movie).
Drinks: If you can have a complete self-sustaining world inside a silo, I could learn to make a moonshine still. Moonshine is making a comeback.  Unaged whiskey or "white dog" can be found in fancy liquor stores or possibly your cousin's basement.  This drink sounds good, but like illegal moonshine, I couldn't find a "proper" recipe so this is my best guess with my own additions. 
Raspberry Fizz: 1 oz moonshine or unaged whiskey aka "White Dog," 1/2 oz Grand Marnier, 6 ripe raspberries, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 3 oz (or to taste) seltzer water.  Muddle the raspberries with the Grand Marnier add ice, white dog and simple syrup, shake.  Strain and top with seltzer water.    

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss is the literary Reggie Watts.  Now hear me out, both have crazy hair, both are around the same age, and both took a long time for the public to take notice.  We've noticed.  The Name of the Wind is beloved by fantasy readers.  There is a good reason for that.  If you even remotely like High Fantasy (LOTR) you should read this book.  (You should also check out Reggie Watts who is a musical genius).

The story is set around a parent-less wizard who is brilliant, he goes to wizard school, has wealthy adversaries and becomes a legend.  I know, I know, the plot sounds awfully familiar.  But think more Wizard of Earthsea than Harry Potter.  As beloved as Harry is, he was far from being a genius.  Think of a protagonist that is smart like Tyrion Lannister.  Pedantic and arrogant but not evil. Enough fantasy references for ya? Wow, I'm a geek.    

Some of you know I usually read about three or four books at any given time.  When I picked this up, I was like, um...what other books?  I kind of liked it if you can't tell.

Our protagonist Kvothe, is a gypsy, musician, magician, smart but he has bright red hair.  Here's a problem with the plot.  The hot girls at wizard school, and at least one ultra hot "towny" think he's kind of cute--or something. Well, and don't get me wrong, I've seen some hot men with red hair, but never a malnourished fair-skinned fifteen year old redhead wearing tattered rags.  In fact, no full grown woman likes a fifteen year old boy, so frankly, the paleness and red hair is just insulting.  I guess that's why they call it fantasy.

There is a sequel which I enjoyed called The Wise Men's Fear. There is a third book to this series known as the Kingkiller Chronicle series.  It is due to be published in 2014 but Rothfuss is a notoriously slow writer, like George R.R. Martin slow.  I'm not holding my breath.  I really hope he doesn't give Kvothe gout or sciatica or some equally unsexy ailment.   

Drinks: Apparently there is no drinking age in the kingdom of this book.  Kvothe likes metheglin, which I found out is a real drink, it's just flavored mead, but that name really gives it some gravitas.  I've had bad luck with mead in the past (dirty old sweat sock) but I'm willing to give it another chance.  Also appropriate is ale or a substantial beer.  I LIKE BEER.  So, drink with a tasty local beer while listening to good music.  Any local lute acts I should know about?