Monday, October 31, 2016

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I have a confession to make. I don't really like Halloween as much as everyone else. I know, I know, its the "hot" holiday these days but I've never loved it. Even as a kid. I'm going out in the cold with an old pillowcase going up to strangers asking for candy? And wait a minute...we have candy here at home. Then as an adult I have to spend $70 on a sexy Postmaster General outfit and go out in the cold and wait a minute...we have alcohol here at home? I guess I have to be "social." But I can do that without an outfit.  I always want to be some obscure real life person from the 70's.  One year I was Phyllis Diller and people thought I was Cruella de Vil...which I get but I'm like, "Do you even know me?"  It turns out they didn't know me at all because we were in costume. (That year I also considered Gene Shalit and Charles Nelson Reilly). Anyway, I actually do like fall things, the cats get super snugly, hot drinks and I like to read one scary story near Halloween.

They are making a movie of this book which is coming out next year.  I don't want to put any spoilers in this but there are two young women that live with their disabled uncle in a big rambling mansion.  They don't get many visitors.  One reason is that you might be taking your life in your hands even in the simple act of eating a snack. You know, I'd take that risk.  How do you know those rum cakes aren't poisoned?  Me with mouth full: Mgoota die smoometimme!  This is a fun/scary small Gothic novel with subtle social commentary subtexts--read it.  I might actually go to the movie as it has Crispin Glover in it. What a weirdo! Love it.

It's not really cold this Halloween so this is fall-like drink sounds refreshing: Hard Cider Sangria: combine in pitcher one cup thinly sliced apples, one navel orange, quartered and thinly sliced, one cup chilled apple juice, two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup apple brandy. Just before serving add a 22 ounce bottle of hard apple cider. Serve in tall glasses over ice.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Riftwar Saga: Siverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon

Dungeons and Dragons is making a comeback or so I've been told. I was never into D&D and while I kind of approve of the massive snacking involved I think a game that lasts like, years, would not appeal to me. I also feel like it would really bring out the pedants. Call the exterminator!  The pedants...they're everywhere! I don't think diatomaceous earth would work either, because instead of puncturing their thoraxes they would just explain that the diatoms were fossilized hard shelled protozoa. Sigh. Anyway, Siverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon are books three and four in this D&D based fantasy series and written well before it was cool. Well before.

First, you should not read these without reading books one and two because you will be horribly lost. Second, you could stop with these four books as it comes to a kind of resolution at the end.  Good enough resolution. I had a slight preference for Silverthorn over Darkness because I'm more interested in a small band of weirdos on a secret mission than multiple castle battle scenes. Now I do know the difference between crenelations and a murder hole, but when I see the word barbican I think about shaving cream and modelling schools for some reason.  So, you'll need to know your castle defenses anatomy to follow Darkness for sure. C'mon, it's good for you. Plus you can casually slip donjon in a conversation. Don't be a jerk about it though...otherwise it will be the diatomaceous earth for you.

It's getting brisk out so it's fall cocktail time: Jack Rose: 1 oz lemon juice, 1/2 ounce of grenadine, 2 ounces applejack.  Shake all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Yes, this will be rosy--grenadine will do that.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Year of Magical Thinking

Everyone Poops...and dies.  Everyone Poops was a great name for a kid's book. Everyone Dies is a good name for a punk band's album. Nevertheless, Joan Didion, who is not dead, although she is old and looks more fragile than a sugar-spun cake topper wrote this book about dealing with her husband's sudden death (while her daughter was in the hospital). Joan is richer, fancier more famous than you and she really is the antithesis of punk rock. Yet, she too will die and someone will write about it. Circle of life, Joan, circle of life.....oh Mufasa. Damn you...who is cutting onions?

I thought this book was really interesting.  How would an intellectual deal with death...well, by doing more research on death, of course! That is what you are getting.  She doesn't dumb it down for you. It also treads this weird line between narcissistic, cathartic and voyeuristic. I suspect this is indicative of her work and why people really like her.  It's compelling. You would not think some old lady talking about death would be compelling but it is.  Well, it's not just me because it did win the National Book Award.

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator is originally from Great Britain but she has a mostly American accent.  That mix between the two is what some people call the "continental" accent. You'll hear blue-bloods from old movies like Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn talk like this and it seemed to fit Joan's "voice" perfectly. For whatever reason, at the end of every third chapter they put in some weird piano music to transition for the next chapter...with no warning...the first time this happened it scared me horribly.  I was in the car and it sounded like there was an erudite ambulance siren behind me.

Joan and her late husband were drinkers, in fact, the last thing John drank right before he died was Scotch.  I'd bet it was decent stuff too. I actually love Scotch but I like it neat. I'm warming up to brandy these days and in this cocktail you can use brandy, bourbon or rye. Horse's neck: put 2 ounces of liquor in a tall Collins type glass, put a few cubes and fill the rest with ginger ale. Garnish with a long lemon peel that you artfully drape in the length of the glass. Enjoy your life.