Friday, May 23, 2014


I can't help but think about AC/DC's Angus Young screaming THUNDERSTRUCK! THUNDER! (da da da daaa da da da da) every time I picked up this book.  In all fairness, that's not really a bad way to start any reading session. I was reading this book at the same time as The Luminaries, and it kind of freaked me out when both books were talking about seances.  I guess it was a hot thing at the time, like in the future when authors will write about this time as the era of being famous for having a big butt.  Future cyborgs will be like, people got rich for having big butts?  Yes, yes, they did.

Eric Larson writes this non-fiction book as two parallel stories that converge at some point.  I suppose they did, (vaguely) but one story was soooo much more compelling than the other.  One story is one of the most famous murders in English history and the other was Marconi's invention of the wireless and his challenges while developing the technology.  This book starts strong and ends strong but the middle (the longest part) is so tedious I don't think I can recommend it.  Unless you are really into failed wireless telegraph stations.  You are? Well….then you already know Marconi was kind of an ass.  Spoiler alert.  Marconi was an ass.  He was young, rich and famous.  He invented something scientific but didn't understand the math and he got all the credit but it was built on the foundation of mathematicians and scientists. It feels Zuckerbergian.  We'll see if Mark Zuckerberg keeps trading for younger and younger wives and also befriends the ghost of Mussolini.  Actually, that would make for an interesting story. Maybe Social Network 2: Mussolini's Ghost, staring Nicolas Cage.

Did you know Marconi was actually a Jameson? You should read this with a cocktail that uses Irish whisky. Actually this one has a toddy flavor but for summertime. Perfect.  The Copywriter (I did not make that up): 2 ounces Irish whiskey, such as Jameson, 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 ounce honey simple syrup (half honey, half hot water), 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, seltzer, lemon twist.  Shake all of the ingredients (except the seltzer and lemon peel) in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain and pour into a Collins glass.  Top with the seltzer and garnish with the lemon twist. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

The Luminaries

Man Booker prize.  That sounds like a male modeling agency award.  It turns out it is the literary award for the best book written in the English language from the Commonwealth of Nations.  Eleanor Catton is pretty young to win such a prestigious award. I think of Eleanor as an older person's name but no, she's so young it's like hot again.  I heard some kids playing last week yelling at Edith.  I'm like Edith is a kid's name now? What the hell?  I'm waiting for Ethel to make a comeback.  Or Betty. 

Anyway, The Luminaries is a muscular sized book, set in New Zealand, during the 1860's gold rush; it's like a classier Deadwood.  The book uses the old convention, like in Cloud Atlas, of writing curse words like this "D--n."  If Deadwood had been written like that, the dialog would look like Morse code.  "G-d d--n, c--------r."

This book has more characters than a Newport Kentucky Arby's.  It's mostly men, so I think it's easier to just categorize them into two categories.  Younger characters, in my mind, are Jude Law from the Sherlock Holmes movie.  Older characters are Wilford Brimley with a waxed mustache.  French guy--French Jude Law, Jewish guy--Jewish Wilford Brimley.  Of the two Chinese guys, I just made one tall.  Two girls? One's a blonde and one's a redhead.  Piece of cake.  Hey, I've read five Game of Thrones books.  I've got this.

I liked this book.  It's a complicated mystery and money scheming type plot.  I feel like not all the questions were resolved to my satisfaction but it did hold my interest.  But then, with that many Jude Laws running around in the rain no wonder it won the male model prize.  And I wonder why I'm disappointed with the movie adaptations of books.

Drinks:  They didn't have cocktails back in the 1860's they had c---------rs.  No, they drink stout or dry sherry, which is fine I suppose but I'm really feeling a cocktail these days.  This book has a men's club feel so why not drink with a Pegu Club?  2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounce Cointreau, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1 dash aromatic bitters and 1 dash orange bitters. Shake in a cocktail shaker, serve straight up with a lime wedge.