Monday, April 28, 2014

Ender's Game

Can a total creep write a really good book?  Sure, you bet.  I had mixed feelings about reading this book, it is a Sci-Fi classic, but I knew that Orson Scott Card was how... shall we say...."controversial." A devout Mormon, Card is an outspoken and vehement opponent of gay marriage.  There are also claims that he has racist and misogynistic tendencies.  Gay marriage doesn't come up at all in Ender's Game (unless you consider the word "bugger" slang for gay men--because they are the enemy).  He does say something outrageously sexist and uses the "N-word" and in a casual and joking way. After I read that part I was like, "When was this book written?  I am thinking, Mad Men early 60's.  Nope. 1985. Wow, what a jerk.

A friend, who is a girl, who loves Sci-Fi and is brilliant (suck on that, Card) recommended the book.  She is not wrong; it is an excellent coming of age Sci-Fi novel.  It also has some Arthur C. Clarke prescient moments about the Internet.  Unfortunately, Card assumes that women will "devolve" and the feminist movement was one bad dream.  (I can see him rocking silently at his desk.) Anyway, Ender Wiggins, boy genius, is our only hope for salvation from the aliens.  If you were born gifted, I'm sure this book resonates with the loneliness and isolation that being that smart can bring. I have no idea what he's talking about. Me not smart. My loneliness is likely because of my weird taste in music and pale complexion.  Spending all my childhood days in the basement watching MTV for hours and hours had nothing to do with it.

So if you do read Ender's Game, you should not buy the book or DVD of the movie (library only please), because no one wants a certain someone to get the royalties.  But, it really is a classic and I found it compelling. It makes me want to re-read Ready Player One, because there have to be references in there.  Earnest Cline seems like an awesome guy, so if they ever make that movie I will buy a ticket for opening weekend. 

There isn't a whole lot of drinking in Ender's Game because he's like, eight.  How about an outer-space "trick" drink that would impress your friends?  The Aurora looks like the Aurora Borealis because apparently while pink in natural light, when you put a black light to it, it turns phosphorescent aquamarine. This recipe makes a lot so half or quarter accordingly:  The Aurora:  2 liters gin or vodka, 9 liters tonic water, 3-4 canisters of pink-lemonade concentrate.  Mix the ingredients before the party; add the ice just before drinking.      

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Happiness Project

Do we really hate those qualities in others that we hate about ourselves?  I think that's like a Zen thing, either that, or I saw that on an existential Popsicle stick.  I think it was Popsicle brand's, "Walden edition." Well, anyway, Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project  has some qualities I can relate to, yet qualities I hate.  Well, she is a former lawyer turned writer (cough), with a happy life but looking to enhance it by conducting self-improvement projects (cough, cough, STAGE COUGH).  Here is where it gets different; at least I'd like to think it's different than me.  It turns out she's kind of a douche.  There is just no other way to say it.  A person does not casually mention they clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor.  No.  A person might casually mention they ate a rat testicle in front of Joe Rogen on Fear Factor.  Also, it seems she lacks a sense of humor, at least about herself. She even wrote that she got a negative review on one of her earlier books and the email correspondence with the reviewer and how hard it was for her to write. Something to the effect that those things you pointed out were the same things I criticize about myself... and his reply, something about "aplomb" (Barf.).

Even her failures are successes.  Well, I didn't get my essay published in the New York Times, but I did get it published on Huffington Post.  FU, lady.  Well, I should have known, anyone that lives in Manhattan is already rich, then she said that she had a "bedroom" and an "office."  You have rooms!  You must be a millionaire.  Then she drops the O'Connor bomb.  When trying to "declutter" she can't bear to part with the T-shirt she wore to an aerobics class with Justice O'Connor, whom she was working for at the time.  Ugh. Now, a good editor is not going to tell you not to put that in, but a good friend or husband might.  She needs a Keepin' it Real project.  Of course, I know lots of overachievers who need that.  Maybe that's what keeps me from being an overachiever.  That and all those rat testicles I ate on Fear Factor.  

I feel like any drink should make you happy.  If your drinks are not making you happy, perhaps you have bigger problems than this book can solve.  One that I made up that makes me happy is my version of a Gimlet. A classic gimlet uses Rose's Lime juice or Lime Cordial. My version:  2 ounces gin, 3/4 ounce lime juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup (or to taste).  Add ice and shake, pour into a martini glass.      

Monday, April 7, 2014

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Ah, the blog to published book phenomena.  It has been done, and done well.  But my experience has been reading food blogs to cookbooks and we need to face the facts people...THE FOOD BLOGGERS ARE THE ROCK STARS OF THE BLOGGING WORLD.  If you've heard of a food blog or it wins some kind of award....that blog is amazing.  Like insane.  If you look at the photography, the recipes, the food knowledge and the content...whoa.  Oh, and read between the lines, such as: I was finishing my PhD dissertation and decided to have a dessert party for a professor and play chamber music (as in an instrument--not on an I-pod) and make 3 complicated desserts, one of which was homemade ice cream, that were amazing.  I am not kidding.  Food bloggers are the overachievers of the blogging world.  The people that blog little funny stories, they are just looking for a creative outlet so they don't have an affair, become a serial killer, get an eating disorder or kill their mothers.  Although an efficient serial killer would start with their mother and then go on from there.  What am I saying, that's overachiever food blogger thinking. 

Anyway, Jenny Lawson was not a food blogger but one of those "embarrassing-story-did-this-really-happen-or-this-would-be-funny-if-it-actually-did-happen" writers.  David Sedaris is the ultimate version of this type of humor.  Unfortunately, Jenny is not David Sedaris. This is not that polished.  It's, like, say, a blog post put together in a quasi-chronological order.  But, even a disorganized and not quite as funny David Sedaris is still good for a laugh.  If you believe in organization or editing (I kind of do!) then I would skip this.  If you don't mind funny ramblings from, a friend, (and using vagina as a punchline, um, like every joke) then pick it up.  It's only 318 pages.

Jenny goes on a girl's weekend with other bloggers to wine country.  So you should read this with ten glasses of wine.  As always, start with the good stuff. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Empty Mansions

Can you be so rich that you can be crazy and totally get by with it?  The answer is a resounding yes, but you knew that.  A super rich person is eccentric, a middle class person has a disorder and a poor person is homeless and throws cats at you. (Thank you Simpsons--for everything, really).  Empty Mansions is about a recluse named Huguette Clark.  You've never heard of Huguette Clark even though her inheritance is was one of the largest in U.S. history.  What? You ask, why I have I never heard of her?  First, the inheritance happened about 80 years ago and second, she was a recluse! Recluse, I say.

The first third of the book talks about her father, W.A. Clark, who made his fortune the hard way, starting as a gold prospector, entrepreneur, then he owned copper mines and a railway line.  He was friends with the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and all those guys. He was kind of a jerk, in some ways, ok in others. He didn't make his money finding homes for puppies or anything.  W.A., when he was an older dude and insanely rich, got a trophy wife after his first wife died.  Huguette is the youngest daughter.  She turned out crazy.  She was very socially shy (agoraphobic) and was obsessed with dolls and dollhouses (technical term--bat shit crazy).  She had several million dollar properties that she hadn't set foot in, in like, 40 years.  She lived the last 20 years of her life in the hospital. She gave her favorite nurse over 30 million dollars in gifts over those 20 years. Wow.  Anyway, the Clarks were certainly patrons of the arts.  Both visual and musical instruments.  My friend Richard should not read this book.  He is always pining for a patron.  Those days are gone, Richard. Gone.

I think this book was on Amazon's top 50 books of last year.  I say, meh, its nothing special.  I had to skim some of the legal contesting of her will, because that was too much like work, so I don't think this lives up to its hype.  I definitely don't think its any better than Wendy Burden's Dead End of the Gene Pool.  Wendy is a Vanderbilt, but the big money had run out by the time it got to her.  Well, kind of, think Anderson Cooper.  Anyway, her Grandparents, though, sound exactly like the Putterschmidts. Its a more fun read if you're interested in those super rich olden times guys and their progeny. 

Drinks: one way W.A.'s early and very successful entrepreneurial endeavors was to buy eggs in one location and then take them and sell them at a mark-up to a mining town. The author said it was for a popular drink at the time called a Tom and Jerry--I was like I know that drink--my friend Rob makes that every winter!  It's kind of egg-nog like.  And yes, technically its springtime, but there are still some chilly nights.  Tom and Jerry:  1 egg (get good quality eggs--yes, it will be "raw" although if you heat the milk hot enough which apparently kills the bacteria), 1/2 ounce simple syrup, one ounce dark rum, one ounce cognac or brandy, and hot milk with nutmeg for garnish.  Separate the egg yolk from the white and beat them separately. Fold the beaten eggs together and place in an Irish coffee glass (or large mug), add the simple syrup, rum and brandy.  Fill with hot milk and add some grated nutmeg.