Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dies the Fire

Do you want nightmares in which you are always looking for snacks? No, not your normal dreams looking for snacks, nightmares.  As in, THERE ARE NO SNACKS.  Or very very limited snacks. Like all the radishes you can eat.  Seriously, this book gave me bad dreams.  Not that it's a bad book, because it is not, but you've been warned.

Dies the Fire, which is a dumb title, is a dystopian novel in which something, or someone, killed all things that run on electricity and also guns and some explosives (which don't really run on electricity so that is weird). Dynamite doesn't work, but propane still works.  I'm not sure I get the logic, but I understand the parameter, because as I explained in my review of the dystopian novel Wool, with guns you can "obtain" a lot of missing resources.  In this one, archers and swordsman are supreme.  Hurrah!  I know how to use a sword, or at least a wooden one (well, kind of).  I'm saved (I think).

My friend Charlie recommended this book and it makes perfect sense. He likes dystopian novels and he is expert in weapons and use thereof.  He also loves REI, your one stop survival gear store, seriously you can't make any more stops because you have now run out of money.  This book makes you want to learn basic survival skills and realize that your 2 dozen powerbars you made this weekend are woefully inadequate for the Apocalypse. (Also, you have eaten them all by Tuesday for some reason).  The book is pretty good and it does move along (meaning you want to keep reading) but the many fight scenes are pretty confusing.  As much as I make fun of George R. R. Martin, that man can write a good fight scene.  In this book I felt confused, who got stabbed? Where did he get stabbed? Was he a bad guy or a bad good guy. I don't know.  I just wait for the next scene to see which character is missing a nose.

One of the main characters is Scotch-Irish and there are men and women wearing kilts.  Why not drink with a Rob Roy?  (Shhh...a Rob Roy is just a Manhattan with Scotch instead of Rye).  Rob Roy:  2 ounces decent blended Scotch whiskey, 1 ounce sweet vermouth (use a good one) 2 dashes either Angostura bitters or orange bitters.  Put all of these ingredients in highball glass with ice and stir well.  Garnish with a orange peel (twist the peel over the glass before garnishing). 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Power of Habit

Want a book that dovetails Willpower? A book that is more empowering but puts so...much...pressure on perfectionists like me? Well then, read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Do you have a bad habit?  Well you can overwrite the bad one for a good habit like a old school computer program. At least that is how I think computer programs used to be written.  I'm not sure.  Anyway, your brain knows what to do. If you change a keystone habit then all kinds of awesome stuff will come with it.  I think it's like getting free lotion with your shampoo purchase.

According to the book, once you make something a habit then your brain is free to think about all kinds of cool stuff like dragons, snacks and fun tops.  I mean, once you really learn how to drive do you really have to think about it? Heck no, just merge away with impunity. Meanwhile you are thinking about 1) that kick-ass bassline and how sweet it would be to see them in concert or 2) solar collectors in India (you are listening to NPR). 

Somewhere between science and self-help, go ahead and read this because it's not long and it's not written for scholars or the sophisticated.  You could read it on the toilet if that is your habit.  I just happen to think your habit is gross, but hey, it's your habit….lil' nasty. Also, there is stuff about  organizational habits but who cares about that--ITS ALL ABOUT ME (or you).

The irony is not lost on me that I have been working out a lot and cooking and eating healthy which is totally getting in the way of my reading and drinking.  Also, I made a challenge to myself to drink only a few drinks (less than 8) over the next 2 months.  So, I was pretty psyched when I found out that "soft cocktails" are super hot. Whew, I'm still cool. Here is a drink from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday cookbook called Sparkling Spanakam (It's Indian--solar collectors not included):  1/4 natural sugar, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 ground cardamon, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1/4 tsp sea salt and 1 liter of sparkling water.  Make a paste with the non-water ingredients then slowly add the water to your pitcher.  Serve with lots of ice.  I made this for book club and it was nice.  I drank 90% of it.  Of course, it is all about me.          

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Graveyard Book

If you would like to raise your child with a very healthy sense of the macabre in the tradition of Poe for Babies, ("R is for Raven") and The Berenstain Bears Show Cthulhu's Love well The Graveyard Book is for you.  I am going to go out of a limb and say that this book has been read by far more adults than by children. Why? You ask? Well it was written by Neil Gaimen (*women throwing panties*).

The Graveyard Book is about a boy being raised by ghosts and spirits in his home, the graveyard (say graveyard in a spooky voice). Beyond the dark theme, it is in some ways that classic tale of a boy who is destined to be special.  Like cosmically special.  Like people would literally die to protect you.  WE HAVE BEEN WAITING THOUSANDS OF YEARS FOR THIS BOY.  Is this the best message for children?  I mean, is it really realistic?  I guess no one would buy my "Realistic Life Series" of children's books.  Dream Weaver: The Story of Timmy, Whose Band was Pretty Good but Never Really Hit it Big.  Or, Snack Attack: The Story of Brian, Who Ate Too Many Doritos and Got Some Back Fat Which Was Really Stubborn to Lose. I guess those aren't as glamorous.  They have happy endings. Timmy sells insurance and Brian met a nice girl at the gym.  I guess kids want to read about kids with "magical powers" and "fulfilling destinies."  They are bound for a let down, I'm telling you.  We all have to clean the metaphorical litter box sometime. In my case that is also a literal litter box.     

Anyway, the book is pretty cute.  It is for kids but it's a nice light read for adults, very Gaimeny if that is a word. Spellcheck doesn't think so but it doesn't recognize Cthulhu either. Jerks. 

Drinks: I know cocktails are not appropriate for children (I guess). But they are appropriate for women about to, or in the act of, throwing panties. Why not a spooky themed one? Now, last August I gave you the recipe for Corpse Reviver #2, which is the most popular Corpse Reviver (there are a lot of them).  Here is another variation:  1&1/2 ounces of brandy, 3/4 ounce Calvados or other apple brandy, 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth.  Put in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and strain.  As a side note, I recently bought a brand of sweet vermouth called Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and it is amazing. Wow. Dear Cocchi people, send me some bottles please, I've got a powerful case of the Cocchis.