Monday, August 28, 2017

Anna Karenina

The themes of Anna Karenina are addressed in most of Beyonce's songs. The women aren't quite as empowered, true, but its all about "relationship drama" including but not limited too: baby daddies, someone not putting a ring on it, affairs, people talking crap behind your back and money problems (both too much and not enough). Admittedly, Beyonce doesn't go into a discussion of peasant farming, duck hunting, the Serbian conflict or complicated provincial elections. That's the bonus part for you. The rest is like an classy Jerry Springer episode.

I don't think Tolstoy was known for his feminist views because the poor women in this book...I mean, sad horns. Apparently it was very easy to "lose" your looks. How, you ask? Oh, like getting pregnant, turning thirty or having a cold.  If they only had plastic surgeons they would have started The Real Housewives of Moscow. This is fascinating to read, as these people who are as rich and educated as they are still act like idiots. For example: He's going to leave me I just know it. Why is he acting like that? He must have another woman.  He is repulsed by me. This kind of good can come of it.  As Beyonce says "What's worse, lookin' jealous or crazy? In this book, why not both?

I was intimidated about reading Tolstoy but it really reads like a typical Victorian novel except for the fact that its Russian. I didn't hate it, but instead of the good guys and bad guys of Dickens everyone is just kind of a turd in their own way. I think we are supposed to like one of the main characters as he is our proxy for the author, but I wasn't so crazy about him either. I probably would have thought Tolstoy was a turd in real life too.    

Drink this with a summer Russian Beyonce drink: Rooftop Lemonade: 2 ounces of vodka, 3 ounces of fresh squeezed lemonade, shake in a shaker, strain and add into a Collins glass with cucumber slices and ice.      

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Drawing of the Dark

The Drawing of the Dark sounds like an epic metal band album. Surprise!, it's not about soul sucking harbingers of death but it's about beer!  Well, there are some soul sucker types and I think the grim reaper makes a cameo, but! This, I believe, was Tim Power's first novel and it's really weird for a first novel.  And while it's subtly funny, there are no dad jokes. I think the main issue with dad jokes is that they have this lazy dumb guy element. But what if you had an erudite professor-type dad? Would his dad jokes look like this? Son: "What do you call those 'why did the chicken cross the road type jokes'? Dad: (sigh) Pedestrian. Here's another one: What do you call an expensive Irish car and drives all over the place?  A Rolls Joyce.

Speaking of obscure references, The Drawing of the Dark is a fantasy set in the medieval times during the Ottoman Empire v. Western Empire times. There are references to all kinds of references. Many of which I am only vaguely aware. I think there are serious gaps in my education. I had to look a few things up and even then I missed so many I'm sure. Dave's grandpa was a college professor. The answer to every trivia question is Bucephalus. I did not have a professor dad.  He was more the type to know all the names of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

For his earliest novel, it is ambitious, not in length but in content. It has many many fight scenes. I enjoyed it but I loved Anubis Gates. That is a tough act to follow, except this is written first, but you know what I mean. And yes, magical dark beer is a plot point. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you that the wizard smokes a dried out snake. That sounds so cool--the smoke coming out of his mouth. Apparently it these snakes had a mild euphoric effect as if you didn't look cool enough smoking a snake.

Of course you have to drink this with a dark beer.  I was lucky enough to visit Ballast Point on my birthday and had a brunch sampler with this Coconut Victory at Sea Imperial Porter.  It has a very strong coconut and fairly strong coffee flavor so you are warned.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Three Body Problem

First, let me warn you that this is the first novel in a trilogy and second, this is a translation from Mandarin and they keep the names--yeah last name first too. (This makes it not impossible to read but adds a degree of difficulty like doing the pike position in Olympic diving). Third, this is a hard science book so unless you took astrophysics in college you are going to need every Nova, both versions of Cosmos and at least a cursory knowledge of Alf. I could barely keep up. It is also very possible that I am quite stupid. The other night I tried to swallow four pills and once and managed to get water up my nose via the sinuses by flicking my head back in a spastic way. Genius at work.

I was surprised about some of the themes in the book and why this book wasn't banned in China. The afterward actually says this novel is not meant to be a criticism of contemporary society....I mean please. This became a best-seller and soon to be movie, so good job dude. I guess that is all it takes--everything is cool guys, the world is a crap-fest including the past cruelty of the Chinese Government--I mean, fiction right? You shelve this in the fiction section. SCIENCE FICTION. This gets shelved next to those idiots like Ursula LeGuin and Arthur C. Clarke.

So a weird little book--creative but science-y but maybe a translation issue there are some super cool concepts but Cixin Liu kind of takes the fun out of most of them. You get dessert! Hurrah! It's Mint Flavored Frozen Yogurt. Man, ok...I mean, I guess so....hand it over.

Why not read this with an Asian inspired cocktail?  Red Lotus: 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1 1/2 ounces lychee liqueur, 1 ounce cranberry juice. Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice shake well, strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass with ice.