Tuesday, October 28, 2014

At the Mountains of Madness

It's that time of year, and in years past, before the advent what I can only call the collective pumpkin derangement that is now October, people used to read scary stories.  While "horror" is not my favorite genre, pretty much every fantasy writer is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft.  I mean, they are pumpkin latte for him. 

Even though he was an early "horror" author keep in mind that this is from the olden times so you'll get statements like...the sight disturbed my countenance. (It wasn't exactly a page turner).  I don't want to talk too much about this short novella because suspense and horror are subject to spoilers.  Granted, you have had 78 years, but still....  I will say that even before I read this I knew that Lovecraft = monsters and you knew that too.  My problem is that I imagine all monsters like Zoidberg from Futurama. For instance, at one point in this book, I thought about the scene when Zoidberg is getting autopsied in Roswell and he says:  "The president is gagging on my gas bladder, what an honor!"  I think I'm doing horror wrong.

Don't go on wikipedia and look at H.P. Lovecraft's biography because it's kind of depressing.  (You should look at Zoidberg's wikipedia page because it is amazing).  Lovecraft died fairly young, broke and unknown.  Obviously people love him now but it is so tempting when people post those crappy platitudes on social media that say FOLLOW YOUR BLISS to just post YOU MAY NEED A DAY JOB FOR A FEW YEARS and then post a link to his biography. Maybe I should just post a picture of Zoidberg. He did go to medical school. 

To heck with pumpkin--this is whisky season-- so why not read this book with a Horsecar.  1 ounce rye, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 ounce dry vermouth, 2 dashes orange bitters. Put in an ice filled glass, stir and strain.  Garish with a maraschino cherry. Let's face it, this is going to taste a lot like a Manhattan but I say, follow your bliss. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Dragons! They're people too! Wait, no they aren't.  Well, in this book they kind of are. What?  In Seraphina, dragons can take human form. I would think a "tell" would be dragon breath.  Here, humans and dragons are under a "truce" where dragons have vowed not to bite humans heads off.  I'm not sure what's in it for the dragons.  Frankly, doesn't the ability to fly and bite your head off mid-flight trump any "power" humans might have? Not to mention breathing fire and destroying your village. Because really, what's left to negotiate?  

This book is more about dragon racism, dragon rights and court politics more than anything else.  I think this is missing the point about dragons!!  I mean they are magical and vicious beasts!  It's like dealing with Senator Palpatine scenes in Star Wars.  All I want is to see is Yoda saying something cool, using a light saber and kicking butt.  I mean, c'mon!

This second half of this book is much better than the first.  At least the dragons do some dragon things.  I'm so weird that I can totally believe in a world where dragons take human form but I cannot believe our protagonist, a court musician, can speak her mind to the royal family at every opportunity and not be killed....or at least fired. That's the most unrealistic part of this fantasy.  You never call the princess' finance a bastard, even if he is one, and live to tell the tale.

In this book the dragons don't drink alcohol--is that because it's flammable or because they are nerds?  It's not really explained but in my universe dragons are never nerds.  They should be fierce like Sid Vicious or Beyonce. The Blue Dragon cocktail seems a bit misleading because this is going to look blue but taste very orangey.  2 ounces Mandarin vodka and 1 ounce Blue Curacao liqueur, pour into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange slice and cherries. The cherries can be the dragon's eyes.       

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Devil in the White City

I think a good name for an Office spin off would be The Weevil in the Dwight City.  Those TV developers better get cracking.  If there is anything I've learned after reading this book is that society has a really short memory. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair was a huge deal but I barely knew anything about it.  Maybe they had a giant Ferris Wheel?  Serial killer of the same time?  Never heard of him.  I think this phenomenon is getting even shorter.  Ten years from now, no one will remember Edward Snowden at all, he'll just be quietly crying in his borscht.

This was Erik Larson's big break and if I was in publishing during the early 2000's I would not have predicted a non-fiction book about superstar architects would be a national best-seller.  Ok, admittedly it is also about the country's first serial killer.  On the internets you can look at pictures of the fair and it looks amazing.  I don't think he does it justice as far as the scale and majesty. Electricity was new, I can't imagine what a whole huge artificial city would have looked like lit up at night.  I think it would blow my mind now...back then...destroyed.  I wonder if they had an on-site sanitarium. 

Leonardo Di Caprio bought the film rights and the movie is currently in development.  I think he likes to play any roles from the olden times where he gets to slick his hair back and wear suspenders.  I see major suspender potential in this... and big walrus mustaches and hats...maybe canes too. Ohh, I can see Leo playing Edward Snowden in a movie because Snowden has grown a big walrus mustache (I'll bet he has--I know I would). 

Drinks: The main architect has an on-site "shanty" which had a big fireplace where he would have a little drinky-poo and smoke a cigar after working all day. It sounds kind of awesome. It is getting a bit "crisp" out, so why not drink a warm drink with this book.  Honey Pot Cider:  1 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 3/4 ounces apple jack brandy.  Heat the ingredients in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes.  Put in a mug with 2 apple slices speared with a cinnamon stick and then rest the stick on the mug.