DISCLAIMER: ALL OF THESE BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE LIBRARY. FOR FREE. F-R-E-E.
The holiday season approacheth, and what better way to get in the spirit than with good eating and psychopaths! And now that I live in the land of wind and snow, I don’t have to feel any guilt at all about curling up with a book instead of prancing around at some sun-drenched pool like an idiot.
What I’ve Read
I enjoy books about cooking. I think they are nice. My Life in France by Julia Child was endearing and amazing. I like when Hemingway discusses wine. Smitten Kitchen has taken up a bit too much of my work day at times. So coming across Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley was an especially pleasant surprise, not only because it is about the young author’s lifelong obsession with good eating, but also because it is a graphic novel adorably illustrated with oodles of details. Knisley is the product of a chef and a gourmet, chowing down on salmon mousse and Shiitake mushrooms before she can barely walk. The book follows her childhood and early adulthood in New York, Chicago, Mexico, France, and Japan, as she works her way through everything from 23-course gastronomical extravaganzas to the crappiest mac n’cheese a box can provide. Interspersed with these chronicles of her youth are recipes for chocolate chip cookies, sautéed mushrooms, sangria, sushi rolls and more. I would be jealous of her beautiful, interesting upbringing, but Knisley is just too damn likable. She’s like that friend you have who enjoys a well-made Big Mac as much as a five-course meal. The colorful, charming cartoon drawings cover every inch of the page, and pack a lot of information into a small space. Relish, like My Life in France, will really make you want to go out and find your own favorite restaurants, something I often have a hard time doing not because I don’t enjoy a good meal, but because I am lazy. Well, here’s another New Year’s resolution to add to the pile.
What I’m Reading
Well, it’s actually not “reading;” I should say, “ear reading” or “listening to.” In a never-ending effort to find an interesting audiobook (because even though I started a lovely new job, I still have quite a commute—thank you, stupid north Jersey), I am currently listening to The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson, and it is amazing. Ronson is a journalist that’s contributed to several This American Life episodes. He also wrote several books, including The Men Who Stare at Goats, an interesting story about a secret segment of the U.S. government of which they based a very meh movie on. Also, he’s Welsh.
The Psychopath Test is Ronson’s quest to understand what it means to be a psychopath. Through several first-person accounts, he explores the many facets of being diagnosed as a psychopath, the impact psychopaths have on the world, and the strange allure that comes with a psychopathic persona. He interviews a man in Broadmoor Hospital, a notorious mental institution in Great Britain, who faked his way there in order to elude a jail sentence, and now can’t seem to convince the doctors that he’s really sane. He researches Elliott Barker, a Canadian doctor in the 60’s who believed the only way to cure psychopathic disorders was to get a bunch of psychopaths together, give them LSD, and have them act as each other’s therapists in an isolated place, whilst unclothed. It did not work. Ronson also shares how the characteristics of psychopathic disorders (as defined by Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist) are actually quite similar to traits displayed by some of the world’s most successful tycoons and entrepreneurs.
As if the subject matter wasn’t interesting enough, Ronson’s voice (Welsh!) is clever and sarcastic and self-deprecating and at times completely off-the-wall. He presents these accounts in such a funny, memorable way that I have no problems at all retaining the information and then sharing it with my husband in order to prove once and for all that I am not in fact, a psychopath. I’m not!
I love fall. I LOVE IT. The leaves changing color, extra-crispy air, apples, pumpkins, Halloween-themed impulse buy candy at the registers. I even love the earlier dusk. I AM A SUCKER FOR FALL. I made my husband leave a cherished tropical paradise just so I could experience it once again. And experience it I will! Here are some fall-oriented events I will move four states for:
- Haunted house at the Eastern State Penitentiary. Have you heard about this thing? Because I certainly want to go.
- Pumpkin-picking. Years and years and years ago, I invited some friends from NYC to come pumpkin picking. We found a patch with an incredible corn maze that scared small children. For the life of me, I cannot remember where it is, but I WILL FIND IT. And even if I can’t, I’m definitely making a trip to another pumpkin patch to get some more of the sweet, sweet apple cider I am addicted to.
- And speaking of sweet, sweet apple cider, why not make it alcoholic? I attempted beer-brewing in Miami and was not pleased with the results, mostly due to the fact that it is just TOO DAMN hot (seriously, the highest temp for any kind of proper fermentation is 78 degrees, which, ugh, is just not happening). Maybe it’s time to try brewing some hard cider?
- Costume-making. Even if I don’t actually do anything for Halloween, I still make a costume. This I have done for the past 25 years. Some of them have been lame. Some of them have made me especially proud. I’m tempted to pull out Bride of Frankenstein again, since I don’t think she got her proper due a couple of years ago. But there’s still time to make something else: Rosemary Wodehouse of Rosemary’s Baby (complete with devil baby)? Pig butcher? That horrifying super shrimp they just pulled out of deep sea? Talk my husband into being Morticia Addams? I’d make a fine Gomez!! (Also, invite me to your Halloween party. I bring candy.)
- Did I mention watching leaves change color? I don’t know what it is, but they have a strangely soothing and hypnotic effect on me. All those colors, twirling in the breeze, crackling under foot……..gaaaaaah……
Do you love the fall? If you do, you’re my friend. If not……you probably have a great personality.
DISCLAIMER: ALL OF THESE BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE LIBRARY. FOR FREE. F-R-E-E.
Only 51 days until Halloween! I’ve already got my special Halloween issue of Martha Stewart magazine, so I am READY TO GO. In honor of this illustrious holiday, I’ve been reading some horror-based literature. Or that’s what I read normally. You figure it out.
What I’ve Read:
If you haven’t seen this graphic novel series yet, you are completely missing out and I recommend you finish this blog post, then go to a library and borrow a volume. Because it is good.
Written by Hill, Son of Stephen (King), who’s a better writer than I would like him to be (jealous!), and illustrated by Rodriguez, the story follows a family that moves into a giant, rambling, scary old house after the untimely murder of their father, and a bunch of weird stuff happens involving keys. I purposely undersold it so that you can try the series and be like, “Deidra is such a stupid idiot. This is the best.” and then feel better about yourself for your literature choices. You’re welcome.
Evil forces, gender-bending, epic battles, bizarro monsters, and the absolutely most wonderful teen heroine I’ve encountered in almost forever….it’s all here, fantastically drawn and intricately detailed. I usually have to go back and re-read a volume to get all the little nuances, and my brain is as fast as a CHEETAH. I’m not exaggerating.
There’s 5 books so far in the series, and the final one comes out February 2014 (Boo!). Yes, I realize someone who’s not into graphic novels will be hesitant to pick it up, but if you enjoy great characters, horrifying situations, and like looking at lush, incredible illustration, check it out now before Brad Pitt and Hollywood destroy it.
What I’m Reading:
I’m about 3/4 of the way through, and it’s….pretty good. Not fantastic. Not awe-inspiring. Not what all the reviewers are friggin’ salivating over. But pretty readable. Excellent premise: a disgraced investigative reporter follows up on the wonky suicide of the daughter of a mysterious film director, a sort of Kubrick-Polanski-Coppola hybrid who may or may not be dabbling in some f’in dark magic. There’s definitely some very tense, scary imagery in there, but the characters are kind of flat, and the whole gumshoe-esque dialogue gets a bit stilted and unrealistic after a while.
And then I realized this author also wrote Special Topics in Calamity Physics which I also enjoyed the hell out of in the beginning, hated for its unrealistic characters towards the middle, and ultimately ended up being really disappointed in at the end.
Then again, I did recommend that one to a past book club (aka, “Miami Reads, Bitches!”), so I’ll plod on and see what happens.
(I’m also jealous of this author, too.)
Happy Early Halloween!
As I was perusing classified ads a few weeks ago (I peruse, by the way, I don’t hunt desperately for a job. That’s uncivilized.), I came across a job listing for Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. Although I was a teensy bit underqualified, I applied anyway (reach for the stars!). And even though I didn’t even get an interview, I was sufficiently intrigued with the place to decide to make a visit there.
I was completely blown away! Grounds for Sculpture is 42 acres of gorgeous park land, situated on the old New Jersey Fairgrounds. Dispersed throughout the really amazing landscaping are some incredible works of sculpture from a huge collection of artists, including George Segal, Kiki Smith, Seward Johnson, and even Gloria Vanderbilt. They’ve also got a great little collection of galleries, and a supposedly incredible restaurant called Rat’s, which I am unfortunately too poor to eat at. You can get more info here: http://www.groundsforsculpture.org.
Totally recommended for anyone that likes to look at interesting things and be outside. Which should be everyone.