Sunday, February 15, 2015

Assassin's Apprentice and Royal Assassin

What if you could read an animal's mind?  So many fantasy books have this as a theme, because let's face it, we are total suckers. Crispin, the fictional author in The Bone Clocks, even regretted his choice of genre, lamenting that he should have written books about lonely children that can talk to animals. (Ah, Crispin, your snarky observations were astute, indeed). It's true, I have read many sub-par fantasy novels with this common trope.  It would be too harsh of me to say these books (the first two in the Farseer Trilogy) are sub-par, but the second book was frustrating.  Indeed.  

I've thought about this, and honestly, I don't think I want to read my pet's mind.  I kind of already know what they are thinking anyway.  My girl cat:  Hey, I'm hungry, seriously, I'm hungry....for reals, getting hungry.  HUNGRY!  I would be like, I've GOT it. You want to be so fat you can't reach the window? I don't care...hungry. 

From my boy cat: Dude, (he talks like a surfer) I'm bored, where's that Bird thing?  You never play with it!  I do too, I'm going to watch you swing it around and just get super flat on this floor and watch you make it fly. How is that playing?  I'll go for it once. Maybe after about ten minutes, I gotta figure out his patterns, Dude.

Anyway, our boy hero in Assassin's Apprentice can speak to animals, and they are loyal, very intelligent and not nearly as manipulative as my animals.  I wish that this was the main theme of the book, but truly this is a "court intrigue" high fantasy.  Heavy on the intrigue.  Not as sophisticated, action-packed or byzantine as Game of Thrones, so it starts to kind of drag in the second book.  (Not that GOT always moves the plot forward with the speed of light either).  So, if you like characters that talk to animals, read the first book and consider yourself warned about the second. 

There is a lot of dog-talk in this book, so I think you should drink a Bloodhound: 2 parts gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 part dry vermouth, and 2 or 3 crushed strawberries.  Shake with ice, strain and serve with a fresh strawberry.  I know strawberries aren't in season yet, but they will be. HUNGRY!  



Monday, February 9, 2015

Alex & Me

What is this water coming out of my eyes?  I did rub my eyes the other night just after eating salt and pepper pistachios, which I regret.  I do not regret those pistachios, no way, it was the eye rubbing, yeah, that was an error. Alex & Me is a non-fiction book about a scientist and her work on the cognitive abilities of her African Grey parrot, Alex.  Alex was very famous and the whole book starts with memorials as to his untimely passing.  Do not read this book if you've just lost a pet or other loved one, you

The sad part is only the first part, once that's over, Pepperberg explains her thirty year study to understand this super cute bird's brain.  That sounds kind of boring, but I didn't think it was.  You should keep in mind that Pepperberg is not a typical non-fiction author, she is the scientist behind the whole project so she doesn't mess around. It's a small book.  I liked it, but I really love animals, and she writes this for us "norms." If you consider me normal, which is debatable.  By the way, we had a parakeet when I was a kid, as awesome as he, I'm good on bird ownership--they will chew on anything, including your lampshades and poop indiscriminately.  

If you read this, (and even if you don't) you should definitely check out Alex's news clips on YouTube.  He was on several news segments and he was also on Nova.  He speaks quite clearly for a bird and I'm driving poor Dave crazy with my impressions.  I can't help myself.  When Alex is bored or frustrated, he wants to back to his cage saying, Wanna go back. Who hasn't been at a crappy party and thought that?  Truth, Alex, truth.

Alex often says: Wanna drink of water.  He says that when he genuinely thirsty or when he just wants to interrupt his chores.  If you "wanna" drink with something stronger, I think a bird themed drink is appropriate.  Love Birds: 1&1/2 oz. vodka, 2 oz. sweet and sour mix (preferably homemade--easy to do and worth it), 1 dash dark rum and 1/2 oz grenadine. This should be a pink drink.  Apparently when you scratch Alex's head the whites around his eye turns pink, which is the parrot equivalent of blushing, how adorable is that?