Thursday, July 18, 2019

I Might Regret This

Abbi's book about heartbreak. I don't think I've ever gone through heartbreak like the kind she describes in this book.  I had guys break up with me and it felt like getting fired from a  really crappy job... you...are firing me? How dare you? I'm sad! Oh wait, this is awesome. The longest I've been sad is three days. I've been sadder longer about being out of maraschino cherries. Hey, when you are out of the actual cherries you can put the syrup over ice cream...it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Abbi is very much a Millennial which is fine, fine, Millennials have passed baby boomers recently as the biggest generation. I welcome our new overloads. I love all the headlines that say "Millennials are killing Hooters by never going to the completely outdated concept for overpriced crappy food and misogyny." I might be paraphrasing.

I Might Regret This will make a lot more sense if you've seen Broad City. Some say you don't need to but I really think you should. Otherwise this book makes almost no sense. It's decent but at the same time don't feel bad if you skip it. She has some of her drawings in here which are quaint but also kind of crappy? I don't mean to be a hater but it kind of inspires to draw again as I would never publish those. She definitely puts herself out there in Broad City and this book. Not me. Nothing is ever good enough. A Gen X book is more title is more like: This Book Probably Sucks.

Abbi gets an over-hyped and overpriced cactus pear margarita. I think I once had a cactus pear candy. It was underwhelming. They just don't have a ton of flavor. Cute as all get-out though. Lets try a better margarita and: Raspberry Margarita mix 1 &1/2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce triple sec or Cointreau, 1 ounce lime juice, and 1/2 fresh raspberries and one cup of ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled margarita glass.  Garish with a fresh raspberry. Normally I'm against frozen blended drinks but with summers like this I'm willing to forgo my prejudice.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?


So Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? No. There I saved you some effort. Apparently scientists in animal behavior are kind of like PG rap-battlers...."You didn't get peer reviewed research, Fool!"  I bet you didn't even do a fellowship in that field...sucker." "Don't come all up in here with without empirical evidence to support that hypothesis....dummy."

Honestly, when I pick up a non-fiction book on animals I just want to know what dolphins are thinking. I just want some wonderment in my life is that too much to ask? The thesis is solid in this book but it takes all the wind out my sails. I just want to know about whales' songs....like what are they saying? I like to think they cover all kinds of news like: Mabel is mating with Chester this year, be careful around Japan these days, there is an underwater volcano near the Azores right now and my barnacles are really bothering me.  I'm going to try to scrape them off on Newfoundland. Hey, if you see Ethel tell her I haven't forgotten....she'll know what that means.

If you want a book more like that then you should read Alex and Me. That book made me laugh and cry. This book casually mentions her research in a polite but patronizing way.  Fine, the lady's life work is wasted. You win. But do you? She gets to spend her time with talking parrots who are ornery and adorable and you have chimps give you the side eye. Who really wins? Who am I kidding he has a fulfilling life dealing with banana hiding chimps. Most people I know spend all day trying to save an insurance company extra money or trying to sell cigarettes to babies. Even worse, they want to talk to me about their job...ewww...why can't people make up fake whale conversations like normal people?

Animals love fruit. But I suspect they don't like lemons. Too bad for them and more for me. It's hot and this sounds delicious: Limoncello Collins (This makes a pitcher--serves 8): 16 ounces of Limoncello, 12 ounces of gin, 8 ounces of fresh lemon juice, and cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Make 24 paper-thin lemon slices and press 3 lemon slices inside of a Collins glass (it's just a tallish glass), stir the mixture and add to glass and stir in 2 ounces of club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig if you will. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Romanvos

Remember the club descriptions from "Stefon" from SNL?  This book is uncannily similar.  Go to Club Romanov...there are giantesses, dwarfs, magic drinking cups...a fat lady marrying a pig, sex cults...it has everything.  Add pretty much the whole plot to Game of Thrones minus the dragons and you have a clue as to the Romanovs. (Yes, it's big and occasionally boring with everyone fighting over Poland for some reason). 

Now, anyone who writes a biography or anything really can pick and choose and this author really picked some extra juicy bits I suspect. Lots of sex and war.  A lot...of sex. Yes, venereal diseases because well, penicillin was discovered  in 1928. People got sick a lot. Syphilis, typhus, poisoning and the occasional gunshot wound. It was rough back then. Well, I think Russia might be rough right now too.

If you don't mind some military strategy it's a big book but actually more compelling than Fire and Blood. I was reading that at the same time which was really kind of freaky. The ending is certainly something GRRM would write. The whole book you'll be shaking your head like....what? What a weirdo!  No! That's dumb! You are lucky that worked!  Also, be wary of anyone called "The Great" because those folks are like frat house President and every night is pledge night.

A good classic Black Russian seems right: 1 and 1/2 ounces vodka and add 3/4 ounce coffee liquor and an optional maraschino cherry.  I have some Polish vodka and someone could fight over it if they want.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Murder of Roger Ackroyd

If you already know about the Dunning-Kruger effect than you don't probably don't suffer that illusion. I think of it as a existential experiment, am I so dumb that I think I'm smart? Well, after reading two Agatha Christie books and not figuring either out either one of them--the verdict. A little dumb. That's fine. Jokes on you, I knew that already. Hey, that's what mystery books are supposed to do, especially by a grand dame like Ms. Christie. Like when Homer conned a carny..."We were beaten by the best, boy. We were beaten by the best."

This is a Hercule Poirot book and he purposely acts like a dingbat which reminds me of another underestimated dingbat/genius who is better known as Columbo. I also feel like I'm missing a Great Britain-Belgium joke in this book. Are we supposed to think Belgians are likable but naive? Like Canadians? Even if I'm not in on the joke I think I get it. Americans must seem like Australopithecus. Hey, if Americans are the vestiges of this primitive species then why are they named after Australia? *Taps head*

Anyway, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd took an unexpected turn which surprised me. Hurrah! I definitely recommend this if you need an escape. Take this into your tree, bring some foraged nuts, your hoard of lizard heads and enjoy.

Despite my primitive nature this book deserves something sophisticated. Try this Blush Sake cocktail: 1&1/2 ounces sake (Gekkikan preferred), 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1/2 ounce cranberry juice, splash of lime juice, 2 dashes orange bitters.  Put all this in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.  This is light enough for what Americans call sun-in-sky-before-mammoth-roam-time, aka brunch.
   

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Rising Man (Sam Wyndham series)

A punkah wallah is not the latest burger from Carl's Jr.. It translates to "guy with the fan" who hits a pedal that operates a ceiling fan via pulleys and ropes. He lives in your house and that's all he does! My siblings had me doing some odd tasks when I was a child.  I was not unlike a weird servant you didn't notice until you felt sweaty or inconvenienced.  *startled* "Crap, you're still here? Go run upstairs and clear the blockage in the laundry chute " Me: "OK!" *runs at top speed* Gets a series of increasingly heavy books to throw down the chute....now they are stuck..gets broom--angle is all wrong..Me: "It's broken!" 

Set when Kolkata was Calcutta and the Brits were holding by a thread to their colonial empire in India. A British detective from Scotland Yard with a wealthy, smart Indian cop make an unlikely crime solving duo. Can their bosses set aside the politics and conspiracies constantly making their job harder? Can't they break the rules....just to do their job? Coming to a bookstore near you. I've been watching a lot of 80's action movies lately.

Like a lot of detectives in modern mysteries, Sam, our Scotland Yard detective is hot mess. Literally and figuratively. (It's very hot there--the heat is a like a character.)  Post-war PTSD, a widower...and a crippling opium addiction. He's been in India for a whole year and has never been to the bathroom. Well technically that's not in the book....but it's also not not in the book. Admittedly. most authors don't have characters taking a poop. Except in that book Everybody Poops.

More than a mystery series it has Ghandi-stirrings, uprisings, military issues and race issues. It's a finely researched series and I've read the first three in this series and none are lame.

I'm positive I've included a Pimm's Cup on this blog somewhere but a variation is perfect for these books: Sparkling Pimm's Cup: add 2 ounces of Pimm's No.1, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/4 ounce simple syrup to Collin's glass and stir. Add ice and club soda or ginger ale and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Garnish with a cucumber peel.   

Monday, May 6, 2019

Hippie Food

I live in a town that thinks putting beans on spaghetti chili sweetened with chocolate topped by a pound of cheese is the "healthy"option. I'm not the only one who thinks well made "healthy" food is comfort food. I really like tacos and queso but also then hate myself and then then my body is like...why you do this?

Hippie Food is a non-fiction book about the history of the health food "movement." It was really interesting in parts but also could be drier that alfalfa sprout sandwich on Melba toast. There was some real characters. Did you know Jack LaLanne exercised every day? Well, he didn't the day before he died at 96. That's probably what killed him. While the author did cover The Source Family but he barely scratched the surface of the depravity of that group. (There is a documentary that is pretty good) The food at their restaurant still sounded good though. Do I support a sex-crazed megalomaniac? What about if they had a homemade avocado and roasted vegetable sandwich with homemade dressing? I think you know what my answer is. I don't even have that option in chili-town. Is it to much to ask for a debauched tax-evading cult to set up a restaurant with grain bowls?

There is a whole history of food co-ops and how Whole Foods started I mean...I guess I care. Some people almost fell into success and other people had a combination of bad luck and anti-commercialism based rebelliousness.  I guess an anarchy based business plan is not going to get you far with the bank's loan officer. Unless there is a punk-rock bank I don't know about. I don't know about you but Bad Brains Bank sounds awesome.

You have to read this with some healthy based cocktail.  It counts as health food right? Komucha Moscow Mule: combine 2 ounces of vodka, 3-4 ounces of ginger or gingerberry kombucha and the juice of a half a lime in a highball glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

And Then There Were None

 And Then There Where None is LIT.  I don't mean literature, well, it could be construed that way too, sure, but "lit" as in the half-time show at an NBA final. You know, like gorillas dunking on trampolines. Perhaps that's hyperbole but this book is surprisingly intriguing. I did not "solve" the mystery because it was weird. Think if at the end of halftime you realize that's not a guy in the gorilla outfit...that is a gorilla trained to dunk.

This is a stand alone novel so you don't have to make any commitments and you don't need much context. It's not even long. It might be helpful to know that spending the weekend on an island in England might involve a lot of rain. I think you already know it's not the foam parties of Ibiza on the islands off the coast of Great Britain anyway.

I managed to not be spoiled even though this was written 80 years ago--so I'm not going to say much but it's short read and totally worth the time.

This cocktail is a freaky twist on a classic which fits well with this book. Gin Old Fashioned: 2 ounces Aviation gin, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, 2 dashes orange bitters, 1 dash Peychaud's bitters.  Add to a old fashioned glass and fill with ice and stir. Garnish with an orange wheel and a lemon wheel.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Fire and Blood

I'm glad I still had Adhipa the sherpa in my contact list because I needed him. Oh, did I need him. I stole him from my friend Terry who needs him for Dance with Dragons. Dance with Dragons is a Dan Brown page turner compared with Fire and Blood. Told as a retroactive history this is for the GOT completeness aficionados only. It's GRRM's Simarillion. Let that sink in.

This book is a partial history of the Targaryen reign so there are a lot of names, and places, and battles and skirmishes in those places of which I am clueless as to their location. Lord Rampart Dunkendell fought valiantly against Sir Pippette Ivybanks at the battle for Bog's Head for Aegon Targaryen--not that Aegon, the other Aegon Targaryen, also known as King Whitehead. Yeah, a lot of that...like 900 pages of that.

You would think with the consanguinity of the Targaryen family you'd end up with a derpy prince like Charles II of Spain. "Herlo! I'm your Prince! Dameon Tamgaryen!" All of the dragons have beautiful names like Dreamfyre and Balerion and Dameon gets the derpy dragon named Jarrod. Jarrod's no good in battles and ends up landing on hills and gets mad when because every animal he tries to converse with ends up burnt to a crisp. "Why they all die Dameon?" "I don't know Jarrod, maybe try harder?" They fly around having mixed-up adventures involving getting honey out a bee-hive or making a lean-to big enough for a dragon.  Meanwhile men all over Westeros are dying over succession rights.

In honor of my derpy bee-hunting Targaryen you can celebrating reading this tome with a honey based cocktail called Wax Poetic: 2 and 1/4 ounce bison grass vodka, 1 ounce honey simple syrup. 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Add ingredients to a shaker and shake, strain into a glass.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I'm afraid to watch Black Mirror anymore. I'm not crazy about the story-line this world is currently working. I mean, that Nosedive episode is based on the Chinese social rating system. In China, you can lose points for and I'm not making this up: jaywalking, eating junk food, playing video games and get this---insincere apologies. I welcome our new robot overlords. *closes blinds and reads analog books*

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle seems like an Agatha Christie novel but is really a more like a Black Mirror episode. Also, it is really confusing. Some readers are so confused they are just plain angry. Keep in mind, it's pedal to the metal the whole time. It's not a relaxing cozy mystery. Maybe if you think cocaine laced meth is relaxing. By the way, I just looked up what the name of this concoction might be and there was surprisingly detailed information about combining these drugs on Quora. Over five thousand people had looked at the answer. I'm like what are you guys up to on these internets?  I'm looking up narwhals over here and you all are...I mean. I really don't think they were all doing joke research.

This is different. I'll give you that. The ending is wholly unsatisfying but if you want Downton Abbey set in a dystopian mystery nightmare than this book fits the bill.

This cocktail won a cocktail contest in 1934 but is named after the bartender's wife an not the monarch--c'mon man, that's lame. Queen Elizabeth: 1&1/2 ounces dry vermouth, 3/4 ounce benedictine, 3/4 ounce lime juice. Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled glass.



Monday, March 11, 2019

Ancillary Justice

What was the name of that book? Appurtenance Recompense? No, Concomitant Reparation?  No. These sound like erudite working titles for Die Hard. Well, Ancillary Justice is a weird book title. It's the name of a spaceship and that makes sense because this book is a space opera. (I always say "SPACE OPERA" in a dramatic Sideshow Mel-type voice). This spaceship is more just a ship. You find out right away that the AI is quasi-sentient so that's not a spoiler. I mean at what point does independent decision making make something sentient? When it makes moral decision? Could you program morality into an AI? Maybe someone could put a morality code into some natural born humans I know, because that would be great.

There are some very modern sci-fi concepts to this book. It blurs the lines between our perception between humans and robots, male and female, good and evil. You know, just easy stuff. Also there is an abundance of tea. It's like a British person in Japan tea drinking adventure. Got a problem--drink some tea, feeling homesick--tea, feeling upper middle class today--more tea, feeling superior to others--tea time, stressed--more tea. Beyond tea, there is ninja level fighting, political strategies and well, more tea.....so much tea. She should have called this Ancillary Bladder. I liked it but didn't love it, there are some slow parts and I confess I'm not a huge SPACE OPERA fan. I know some respectable humans that really liked this. Your programming may vary.

I think you are required to drink a tea based cocktail--Royal Tea: 1&1/2 ounces gin, 2 ounces chilled brewed Earl Grey tea, splash of lemon juice and some sugar to taste. Put all of the ingredients in a chilled glass with ice and stir.  Garnish with a lime wheel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Witchmark

Putting the twee in tweed this quasi-British fantasy novel features a chase scene with proper "Gentlemen" in suits with handlebar mustaches on bikes. I was surprised they didn't throw miniature poodles at each other. Take that, rapscallion! Get 'em Ruffles! Bite his leg...ok, ok, at least pull a single thread out of his bespoke suit! That'll show 'em. No play for Mr. Fray. 

This is a mystery urban fantasy novel set in an alternative Britain after a WWI- type thingy. Only the aristocrats are allowed to do magic and something awfully fishy is going on with these returning soldiers. Maybe our magical doctor can save the day...or can he? There are all kinds of things going in this book, a
LGBT love story, a magical system to set up, an oligarchy, family disputes, workplace issues, ghosts, dead guys and a world class typist. All in 318 pages. Whew. 
  
Witchmark made some people's best fantasy lists of 2018 but lets not go crazy. It's a perfectly fine fantasy and as a first novel it's good. Best....well...maybe if they put more references to men's capes, boater hats, various puddings, canaries, teas, antique snuff boxes and yes, even more bikes. I think this is just the first one in a series so there is hope yet. 

While it's freezing today I have hope that spring is around the corner. Read this with a bespoke Cucumber Basil Gimlet: Muddle a few basil leaves and two slices of cucumber in a shaker, add ice and 1&1/2 ounces of vodka (I think a nice neutral gin would work just fine too), add one ounce of lemonade and 1/4 ounce of lime juice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Drink while picking invisible lint off your lapels.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Death of Mrs. Westaway

In the first scene of this book the main character is walking home with fish and chips....so it's British. There is some tea drinking, whiskey drinking, someone wears a Macintosh so it checks some British mystery bingo squares for sure. It does not include a reference to Monty Don, the famous British gardener.  He is huge in England and says things like Crikey!

While not as cheery as Monty, Ruth Ware tries to break the fourth wall in a little bit in this book. Our protagonist thinks her situation is like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. I'm not that big of fan of that technique. First, you are comparing yourself to a Dame of the British Empire. Next, you're going to try to compare your boobs to Dame Helen Mirren. Just don't go there because you will lose that game. Even though it is a stand alone book it leaves a some loose ends which is mildly infuriating. Those criticisms aside I did like this book. It has a nice vibe and if you like mysteries then you'll like it. I really like the beginning scenes which are set on a windswept English coastal boardwalk where our pixie protagonist reads tarot cards. But the vast majority is set in a country manor house with at least one gnarled and creepy servant. BINGO both diagonally and up the center.

Most of the whiskey drinking in this book is imbibed in neat form. Totally acceptable. In case you want a cocktail, this one sounds just crazy enough to be work: Sage Brown Derby: 2 ounces of rye, one ounce red or regular grapefruit juice, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1/4 ounce agave nectar and few dashes of bitters. Put in a cocktail shaker with ice and really give it a good shake, strain into glasses.  Take a sage leaf and rub it between your hands and float it on the top of the drink. 

 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Borne


If my hoarding ever paid off and in a dytopian future you needed me to leave my compound David Koresh style, it turns out my weakness is blasting Billy Joel. I will run away faster than if you had thrown a Maltov cocktail.  I was in a craft store the other day and I thought it would be a good place to plan a revolution, like ya do, and then they blasted We Didn't Start The Fire and I high-tailed it out of there so fast. I thought NO DEAL, no deal!
 
Set in a dytopian future, Borne is set in very bleak scenario involving corporate biotech and monsters. Think "CRISPR" meets Dr. Moreau. Our lady, Rachel, finds a creature she named Borne but no one knows who the heck it, or what it is. Here's the deal, I love the creature Borne, he is a delight. But I'm not crazy about scavenger runs across the dystopian landscape. I said I was going to take a break from dystopia in 2018 and even though this is decent I should have kept that promise.

At least our protagonist has a normal name. I'm sick of reading the author's rejected baby names. "Finnegan" was worried that the shadow was following him.  Or "Blakely" wasn't sure she could trust the handsome stranger named "Sage." Ugh. So our girl, Rachel (whew), lives in this place has that has a stash of supplies and a maze like entrance which is an important plot point. My old house is apparently a food utopia with multiple security breaches. We've had some mice over the years. The cats do nothing. I'm convinced that there is a little hobo-mouse symbol at my house that says "Food + 2 dumb cats."

In this book you can get drunk by sucking on a biotech minnow full of alcohol. Sounds delicious. I think we can do better than that: Kentucky Mulled Cider--put 1&1/4 ounces of bourbon in a mug and add warm apple cider, put a dash of allspice and garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Summer Wives

Was the past sexier than we think? Well, there are 7.2 billion people right now so maybe so, maybe so. Goodreads considers Summer Wives historical fiction. Well, I guess technically if you think a Jackie Collins novel with hats is historical fiction then fine. The author feels that she should write novels about "what women were really feeling" back in the olden times. My take away was sex, sex, drinks and more sex. While I loved history as a student this was not what we covered. Ok, those Spartan soldiers were a little freaky. That was covered in college. I went to a Catholic high school so they conveniently skipped some details.

They say teenagers are having less sex because they are on their phones all the damn time. Summer Wives was set in the 50's and at one point the young people signal each other with flashlights so I mean, that's kind like texting. I wonder if you could make filthy messages with Morse Code. Baby, I didn't think you were going to send that last dot but wow, you did.

Summer Wives was not really my thing. I liked the setting (a small island --a rich summer place, like the Hamptons off the coast of Rhode Island) but that's not good enough. But hey, if you like your historical fiction with less guns and more buns then this might be up your alley. 

They drink a lot in this book. While mostly gin and tonics, someone busts out some whiskey.  This seems classy enough for the "tony" set: Port Old Fashioned: 2 ounces of whisky, 1/2 ounce tawny port, a drizzle of maple syrup, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and orange peel.  Take the orange peel and muddle it with the syrup and bitters to release the oils. Add the whiskey and port and one of those large ice cubes. Stir to dilute.