Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Book Thief

Is there a book version of "Oscar bait?" Well, if there is one, this one has that quality. Nazis. Adorable children. Jews in basements. Death and destruction. The Book Thief is about a little girl, adopted by loving parents in a poor neighborhood outside of Munich. The parents, even though they curse like sailors for some reason, are secretly awesome and hate the Nazis! They aren't totally anti-Semitic!  The Grim Reaper is our narrator so that's in there. Anyway, despite these issues, it's a pretty good book. I can see where someone would LOVE it. But I don't like a book that's too emotionally heavy handed and this one walks a knife-edge.

I recently watched the movie Grave of the Fireflies which has some marked similarities to this book. That animated movie is about orphaned Japanese kids during the war. This book isn't quite that sad.  On the Moh's scale of sadness this is more like an amethyst level of sadness.  Both that movie and this book make you hungry. I am now on a diet. Thanks a lot war-time starvation stories....nom, better eat these cookies, nom, never know when a bomb will hit, cream, nom, good, nom, better eat that pizza, nom, I mean children are starving, nom....well, you get the picture. If any enemy ever had to try to starve Americans into submission....well, good luck, because my back fat alone could keep me alive for months. It's very patriotic of me to be starvation resistant. I'm a true American hero. So many of us are.

With rationing and all there is not a whole lot of drinking going on except our girl gets a taste of champagne one day: Drink with this champagne cocktail called the Parasol: 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc, 1/2 ounce St. Germain, 1/2 ounce honey syrup (like simple syrup but honey), 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Add these to a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a champagne flute.  Top with three ounces of champagne. Be glad you don't have to scramble into a neighborhood shelter. The neighbors' terror-farts alone would kill me.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spouted Kitchen & Bowl+Spoon

Sara Forte’s Sprouted Kitchen features healthy food, which is beautifully photographed and the food actually tastes good.  Oh, by the way, there is a price to pay.  Not a money price, no, but something just as precious….your blood. Wait, no, it’s your time.  

Want to make some of the best veggie burgers you have ever eaten?  You can, but you should have started them yesterday.  You might be able to make them for dinner if you start making them as you chew your last bite of your lunch. This story really happened: I was going to make the burgers for Sunday dinner but I made some homemade powerbars first.  (That was a mistake). Then I started the burgers, but it was getting so late I had to make sandwiches for dinner.  Essentially, I had to make base camp and go for the summit the next day.  I wanted to cry.  Admittedly, I may have had low-blood sugar, PMS or was exhausted—possibly all three. Anyway, on Monday I almost cried again because I realized these were delicious.  And that was bittersweet because I realized that I needed to make them again. Argggh.

Bowl+Spoon is the Sprouted Kitchen's follow up book. Sara is a blogger so "the Sprouted Kitchen" is her brand, I haven't been on it lately because they had a baby and it's 60% baby...I'm like I CAME HERE FOR FOOD NOT BABY.  Bowl+Spoon is kind of dumb name for a cookbook.  Food+Mouth? Now this came out right during the whole everything's a bowl thing. You want to hate them don't you? So precious, California hipster, millennials, mostly vegetarian, pics of a pretty young family eating outside like they don't have occasional diarrhea like the rest of us. Is there anything else I tell you that can make you a hater? Well, jokes on you because this is delicious too. Damn you millennial hipster! If you like grains + greens and delicious sauces pick this one up.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

All Our Wrong Todays

This is book equivalent of Starship's We Built this City....just because some people liked that song doesn't mean it was meant for human ears. No. This is a spectacular example of the kind of stuff you would get in a creative writing class the first semester in your MFA program. He needed a trusted adviser to tell him, "Elan, this draft makes makes you seem like a arrogant buffoon. Or baboon, whatever, I'm an adjunct and I'm late for my shift at The Gap so I don't have time for this nonsense."

This is a time travel book that is about 20% time travel plot and 80% sexual politics. You know what I want in a time travel book? 100% time travel plot and 0% sexual politics. Our first narrator is an ultra-whiny young adult in the future we should be in....I'm going to call it the non-Kanye 2016. In his 2016 there really are hover cars, world peace and advanced technology. He travels in time, does the classic "made a mistake altering the future" and that is why we have a Kayne world. We aren't supposed to have Kayne at all. Apparently we can't avoid the rampant narcissism ether way.

I did learn a new writer's word just now.  It's called lamp-shading. This is when a writer admits that it may be difficult for the reader to willfully suspend their disbelief.  In All Our Wrong Todays our narrator not only mentions that time travel seems improbable but also he says things like "well, I'm not very good at writing." He also says, "I might be a little sexist." I guess we are supposed to give him a pass because he admits these things? Ah, hells, no. For our protagonist to say he's a little sexist is like Bill Gates whispering to Melinda in the middle of the night... "Hey, Melinda, Melinda....I think I might be rich."

The women aren't treated well in this book. Our narrator has four distinct personalities, one or two of which are rapists. One "less evil" personality got a girl pregnant (her fault) so she kills herself (of course). I eye-rolled so much during this book that my contacts almost flew out of my head. Our narrator tries to redeem himself in the end but I'm like...I don't like you, I don't like anything about you, you sir, are a jerk. There are people that enjoyed this book but I couldn't get past the misogyny and weird writing style. If you like it, ok, enjoy your Kanye universe because I'm opting out.

I don't think you are reading this book but you are going to have some kind of fabulous drink. Bloomsbury Fizz: 1&1/4 ounces Gin, 1/3 ounce lemon juice, 1/3 ounce simple syrup, 1/4 ounce raspberry puree, one egg white, mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a fresh raspberry or two. You can omit the egg white if you are afraid of it (my mom was a total freak about salmonella when I was a kid and I was deprived of raw cookie dough--note to self--bring this up in therapy next month) but it won't have the proper fizz froth.  If you make two drinks one egg white is plenty for both drinks.