bunrab: (me)

So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuff )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Let's see. First, Gaslight Grimoire, an anthology of Sherlock Holmes fantasy stories (sort of) - which I've done an Amazon review of, but it's not posted yet; I'll provide a link as soon as that's posted.

Speaking of which, could some of you go read my reviews for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and Grease Monkey and Life Sucks, click on the little Yes buttons for my reviews, and maybe even add comments to the reviews? Thanks!!

Speaking of graphic novels, which the last two mentioned above are, I continue my efforts to decide whether graphic novels count as real books for grown-ups, not just comic books with too much self-esteem. One of the funniest is Rex Libris: I, Librarian by James Turner, which is an intergalactic space opera featuring a librarian who will go to any lengths to recover an overdue book. First published as 32-page comic books, this book is a collection of 5 of those, which comprise a complete story arc. Great dialogue, good characters, fun light-science-fictiony plot. Don't miss out on meeting Rex's boss, Thoth! (Especially funny to me since I have recently been to see a bunch of Egyptian mummies at a museum.)

The source of the amigurumi lemur is a book called Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow. Of no interest to anyone who doesn't crochet, but if you do crochet, you gotta try a couple of these critters! The lemur is the cutest, of course, but the beaver is also tooo cute, and if you're a fan of Kitsune in Japanese stories, then you'd like the little red fox.

OK. Off to band rehearsal in Essex. Tomorrow: saxophone lesson. Note to self: must buy more La Voz reeds; Bill's here in Catonsville doesn't carry La Voz bari reeds, despite that it's a large store; the much smaller L&L in Gaithersburg has a much better selection of reeds, as well as a fantastic repair department. So tomorrow is Gaithersburg on the way to Montgomery Village rehearsal!
bunrab: (Default)
Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick - second in his series about PI John Justin Mallory; I liked it better than the first (Stalking the Unicorn) - it made more sense as a mystery, if one can say that about farcical fantasy. Anyway, John Justin, aided by ex-military Winifred Carruthers and 90-pound cat-girl Felina, have to determine why Winifred's nephew seems to be turning into a vampire. This winds up involving several funeral homes with odd names not to mention the Vampire State Building. This is definitely the other Manhattan.

The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb. Who could resist a title like that? Not I, certainly. I hadn't enjoyed what little I'd read of Webb's "Desert" series, but this is a new series, taking place in a small zoo in California. It's still not a great book, or a great murder mystery, but it's OK, and the details about the animals and their care are interesting enough and funny enough to make up for the stereotypical nasty rich people who populate the surrounding town. Among other things, we get a giraffe giving birth, as well as the banana-obsessed anteater giving birth. Spoiler: neither the anteater nor the butler did it.

The Handicap Principle by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi. Probably the most boring pop-science book I've read in a while, partly because very little has been done to turn it from academese to pop. Excessively long to convey a fairly simple idea, the authors insist on dragging EVERY possible feature of an animal into play as a handicap for mating competitions, including, for pete's sake, why men have beards and women don't. The authors claim, you see, that it's because men fight a lot, and having a beard makes it easier for other men to grab them, so by displaying one, a man is claiming that he can win any fistfight, even with the handicap, thereby making him a more attractive mate. Women don't have beards because they don't get into fistfights. Honest, the authors say this!! Also, besides dragging their premise to absurd lengths, the book has crappy illustrations that do nothing for it. Would be much improved by editing out the more outrageous half of their claims, and filling the space with photos of the animals and some side-by-side comparison illustrations. Also including more rodents, perhaps overlooked here because so many of them aren't flashy and aren't terribly dimorphic in size and therefore would be difficult to stretch into the authors' thesis.

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Known for her work with livestock animals, Grandin here adds pet animals to the mix, discussing how improving our pets' lives by considering their evolutionary environment can also improve our own lives. Some of it is redundant stuff from her other books. The chapter on cats is interesting - a good explanation of why, although cats and dogs are both "domesticated" animals, a cat is a lot less domesticated than a dog.

The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson, edited by Hank Davis - a collection of some of the Van Rijn and Falkayn stories, nothing one hasn't read before, but with introductions to each explaining a little more of the big picture of Anderson's future history. Also, at the end, a very good timeline showing how the Polesotechnic League develops and dissolves and the eventual development of the Empire period of Ensign Flandry.

The Fourth Time is Murder by Steven Havill - grabbed at random off library shelves, looking for more to read, this turns out to be a recent volume in a long-established series. It takes place in the Southwest - New Mexico, near the Mexican border - but is NOT, thank goodness, another attempt to be a Hillerman clone. (I get tired of those - all the Hillerman wannabes who toss in a Navajo and a mention of Navajo religion, and then expect that we'll all enjoy their books just because of that, regardless of how superficial or unrealistic it otherwise is.) Main protagonist is a woman under-sheriff. Plot is based around a financial scam we only slowly find out about; side plots include illegal immigrants, perhaps unavoidable given the location.

The Golden Age of Novelty Songs by Steve Otfinoski. Although it hits most of the high points, I can't entirely agree with a book that devotes almost an entire chapter to Alvin and the Chipmunks and only a couple of sentences to "Camp Grenada." And in the chapter about Christmas novelty songs, he doesn't even MENTION "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" - hmph! Includes photos, and does include things you might not instantly think of in the novelty song genre - Cheech and Chong, and William Fries (better known as C.W. McColl), along with the ones you would instantly think of - Napoleon XIV, Homer & Jethro, The Chad Mitchell Trio (my favorites! for their song "Lizzie Borden.")

There, now I'm only a couple weeks behind on the news.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Bunch more library books to return, so here you go:
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House by Charles Osgood - a collection of campaign humor, or, as the subtitle puts it, "Humor, blunders, and other oddities from the presidential campaign trail," from the 1948 elections (Truman v Dewey) through the 2004 elections. Some of it is indeed more odd than funny. And some of it sadly reminds me that Richard Nixon, crook and bigot though he was, was at least more intelligent than Shrub. Easy to read bits of at a time - this was my bathroom reading for a couple weeks.
Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black - sorta disappointing, as Black turns out to be one of those "oh, organized religion is nonsense but I still believe in God" types, afraid to cross the line to atheism. Parts of it are funny, some are sorta blah; his accounts of his "spiritual" experiences with hallucinogenic drugs are both religious copouts and sad. But there are funny bits as well as stuff that would never have been printed if it wasn't Lewis Black saying it.
A Song For You by Betsy Thornton - a murder mystery grabbed randomly off the shelves in an effort to try more authors I haven't read before; verdict: it's OK. Features the daughter of a past-her-prime hippie mother who was a singer in a band, and the remaining members of the band, all old and worn out. And a murder from the old days, as well as a current one. A decent resolution, adequate writing, not super-exciting but I would try more books by her if I happened to run across them.
The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh - fantasy graphic novel, mainly YA, as that is what Black writes when she writes regular books. Coming-of-age and our protagonist suddenly discovers that she can see people others can't, who turn out to be faeries, or "good neighbors." I like the artwork, and there's a good mix of panels where something is happening with the apparently mandatory panels where nothing happens except that some feature of someone's face or clothes gets enlarged. I like our heroine's group of goofy friends. Ends in mid-plot, sort of cliff-hanger, as the title might indicate. Things Are Not What They Seem!

More later - gotta get to band rehearsal early to hand out some more music.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
1. [livejournal.com profile] angevin2, have you seen this cartoon in the Jan. 26 New Yorker? Roz Chast cartoon entitled "Grad-School Parent-Teacher Conference" shows somewhat older couple sitting in front of desk of frizzy-haired, tweed-jacket type, who is saying "Barbara is very mature for a 28-year-old." and (next balloon) "And she certainly isn't drinking as much as she used to!"

2. Ad in the January 2009 The Progressive for this t-shirt and other items with slogans such as "Future Librarian" and "Knitting is Knotty."

3. I seem to have saved a page from the Nov 08 issue of Metropolitan Home, showing the new Long Center in Austin, built on the skeleton of the old Mueller Auditorium. Says the old roof tiles, hail dents and all, now line the elevators and lobby walls. I haven't been there since it was finished; what kind of effect is that, really, someone?

4. I got the subscription for free, that's why I get Metropolitan Home. I am not normally in the market for $5000 furniture and $1000 bedside lamps, though some of them are cute. It is interesting to look at the ads for the latest in sleek, modern Murphy beds.

5. An interesting article from the July 2008 issue of Discover (that shows you how long this pile of magazines has been sitting next to my computer) about Laughing. Refers back to the essay "The Laughter of Copernicus" by Jim Holt in the book Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge edited by Damien Broderick. I believe I meant to make a note to myself to look for this book and Holt's Stop Me If You've Heard This. Is that what I meant?

Yes, I have a huge stack of recent reading, and a report from the Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and numerous other things to tell. Perhaps I shall manage a post after rehearsal tonight.
bunrab: (squirrel_sweater)
Please note: the following does not reflect my actual views on rats. I love ratties. They are terrific pets. They are sweet and intelligent. But this is what sprang, full-blown, into my head after reading just the wrong page of a fantasy novel set in a medieval-ish setting, at just the wrong moment.
To Serve Rat

Rats for RenFairs
Rat Drumsticks
Because the rat drumstick is not as meaty as the turkey drumstick, it is only economical to prepare in large batches at once. However, one must take precautions when frying the drumsticks, so that they do not stick together in one large mass. Therefore, after dipping them in the usual batter, roll each drumstick in a coating of finely crushed cornflakes or riceflakes, before stacking in frying basket. Stir frequently while frying.

Rat On A Stick
Although the traditional method of serving rat-on-a-stick is to use the entire body, roasted on its own little spit, the average RenFair attendee is not prepared to deal with removing feet, wings, tail, or head. Therefore, to minimize trouble (and to minimize garbage and leftovers littering the grounds), it is best to prepare rat kabobs of rib, loin, and breast chunks; this satisfies the requirement of being on a stick, while being much easier to eat.

Fried Wings ("Rattalo Wings")
Because the rat wings are quite bony, as with most wings, it is not advisable to serve these to audiences which will be standing, walking around, and talking. Reserve bowls of Rattalo Wings for the dining pavilion, where dishes for the bones can be provided at each table.

Authentic Rat Dishes
Rats-Ear Soup
Perhaps the best known rat dish is the delicacy Rats-Ear Soup. This would be served around harvest time by wealthy land-owners, to prove that they had removed all the rats from their silos before completely filling them (and to show off that they had the servants and chef to prepare such a labor-intensive delicacy). For the less-wealthy, or for those who had enough cats, ferrets, or cobras that they never had a sufficient supply of rats, a Mock Rats-Ear Soup would be prepared using shavings of mushroom. Often the host would purchase a small bag of genuine rats' ears from a market, to sprinkle just a couple into each bowl of Mock Rats-Ear.

Stuffed Rat
Because of the relatively small amount of meat on each rat, to stretch out each serving, a cook would stuff the rat. The fanciest preparation would be to stuff a mouse inside the rat, and an almond inside the mouse; this also served to supplement the amount of protein in the dish. A sauce would be prepared of cream, ground almonds, and, during harvest season, pomegranate seeds.


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