Sunday, March 22, 2015


What if every fantasy novel is just a drug-filled delusion?  Frodo's quest for the ring is just a Tolkien version of getting another opium hit. (Frodo never really gets to Mt. Doom, but in a stupor, he wanders too close to the fireplace). Or GRRM's story of Jaime Lannister is just a meth-head who accidentally sat on his hand for 6 hours. I think you could do that with any fantasy novel. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere is an idiot tripping on LSD who thinks the sewers and the Tube are a magical world where time and space are "not what they seem." Well,'s called trippin'. Also while you are tripping, you will think your jokes are much funnier than they really are.  Actually, that explains a lot.

Set in the sewers and catacombs of London, there is a whole other world where time and personal hygiene are not bound by logic. Neverwhere is where an idiot protagonist can explore, he can experience life afresh, and where he can make some really corny jokes.

This is a fine example of urban fantasy (I'm going to gloss over the joke problem) and if you like this genre why haven't you read The Rook already? C'mon! I'm sure I would get more out of this book if I had lived in London at some point. Alas, I may never get there so I just have to guess.  I imagine people walk around with pez nez peeking from their waistcoats.  If you been there and say that's not true, I still think you are a big fat liar.

Drinks:  It's getting warmer and this is set in England so that, to me, that means one thing--Gin.  How about a Ruben's Cooler 2? Note this makes 8 servings and you need to make it ahead for your party. Cut 2 cups of thinly sliced cucumber and freeze them.  Put 2&1/2 cups of Hendrick's Gin, 1&1/4 cups St.-Germain, 1 cup of fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp of kosher salt in a pitcher.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Add the cucumber slices and 1 1/2 cups of club soda.  Pour into 12 ounce highball glasses with ice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

David Copperfield

Well met, Sir! It sure is fun to speak in the olden-times talk. But you should use it very judiciously because I assume it would get tiresome after a while. Not unlike that Scottish accent you like to whip out...or God forbid, you have a Sean Connery impression. Anyway, it can be used if you wait for just the right moment.  One summer we were outside, having a drink of course, and a neighbor cat came sauntering up to us.  My friend, out of the blue, said: "Give that cat no quarter!"  That happened about 3 years ago and it's still funny.

I had never read any Dickens, and this is pretty funny (it's not a comedy, it just has funny moments) and you wouldn't think 170 year old jokes hold up but they do, they do. It is long, this book is not for amateurs, meaning if you read 3 or 4 books a year, please for your sake, skip it.  

If a certain Mister Copperfield was transported to today's time and I think it would freak him out. He would make so many mistakes. Quit pooping in the mixing bowls! Seriously, Dude, you do not need someone to help you dress.  I guess you can get a new cravat but it makes you look like an aging theater director.  Hey, just because you can see her ankles does NOT make her a prostitute.

If one thing Dickens was good for it was including TONS of snacks and drinks.  And punch is totally back, just like old lady names like Stella.  This one is apparently a fairly accurate Gin Punch: Take 3 lemons, and peel strips without the pith, and put in a bowl with 3/4 cup sugar. Muddle and let steep for 2-3 hours.  Juice the lemons (about 3/4 cup) and pour over your sugar peel stuff.  Transfer to a 3 quart pitcher with ice and add a 750 ml bottle of gin. Then add 1/2 cup orange liqueur and 1 liter of seltzer.  Stir and our into punch glasses or small cups.  Makes 20 servings.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I have the hardest time remembering the titles in this series.  To me, Acceptance is just a concept.  It doesn't have a nice little phrase like The Wind in the Willows or To Kill a Mockingbird. It's like naming your book Constancy or Fudgel.  Fudgel, is a real word.  It's quite relevant today and deserves a comeback. Although naming a book Fudgel would get Judy Blume fans overly excited and very confused.

The third in the Southern Reach series, Acceptance wraps up our mystery surrounding Area X (well, sort of). While certainly better than the unpalatable narrative in the second book, it's not as good as the first.  I liked it but didn't love it. First, it's told from many characters' viewpoints and set in both the past and the present. Second, I found the writing a bit "fancy."  Don't get me wrong, I really do like nice writing but it gets distracting using evocative language to describe phenomena over and over again.  I thought, JUST TELL ME IF THERE IS A MONSTER!  Is this monster going to eat someone? These are the questions I want answered. Not the luminosity of the numinous night with cranes fleeting against the sky. No, get those stupid cranes out of here.  Where is the monster? There is a threshold where I get distracted by the writing.  I'm one of those people that never saw those Magic Eye things either. Pony? Not for me. Dots. All I ever got was dots.

I want to give JVDM another shot.  I don't think he goes by JVDM, but I'm starting something here, like JCVD.  I would like to know if Mr. Vandermeer can do the splits between two chairs like JCVD because, if so, he should really make that a more prominent part of his bio. If you no idea what I'm talking about--shame on you! Here you go.  

A creepy secret government agency type drink seems just right (and an awesome 80's band of course): Joy Division: 2 ounces dry gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth, 1/2 ounce Cointreau and 3 dashes Absinthe. Stir in a shaker with ice, strain and garnish with a lemon twist. (I've learned my lesson with the Absinthe) so dashes--yes, dashes seem just so.