Showing posts from November, 2020

Netflix & Chill #87: The Booksellers/Sour Grapes

The Booksellers is a beautiful documentary that plunges into the world of antiquarian books and the people who collect them. As someone who loves books, it's kind of like catnip. You're not going to get me to say no to watching a documentary about books. It focuses mainly on booksellers in New Your City- including the three sisters (Adina cohen, Naomi Hample and Judith Lowry) of the Argosy Bookstore, Stephen Massey who founded Christie's NY Book Department and Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand Bookstore. (There's a smattering of other folks in the movie as well: Fran Lebowitz, Gay Telese, Justin Croft, Zack Hample, Susan Orleans, William S. Reese, A.S.W Rosenbach, Jay S. Walker and Kevin Young.) It's fascinating to explore the history of the rare book world- how some of these book stores got started and how they touch on the founding of the Book Department in Christie's is all fascinating stuff. You take the basic history and combine it with a lot of female

Serial Saturday #10: Remember What Happened In Guo

Please enjoy Part 10 of Murder In Kinmen , 'Remember What Happened In Guo': "So, this is Mount Taifu, huh?" Wei-Ting walked up the steps toward the main cenotaph, grimacing as he did so. he had always liked history at school, but living in Kinmen had made him realize that it was possible to have too much of it crammed into one space. This place looked like hardcore nationalists and the historians had vomited patriotism all over the montaintop after a night of heavy drinking. He turned at the main cenotaph and saw his destination. The rock itself was enormous, with a flat, gentle angle at it's top and striations running across it's weathered surface. The calligraphy was equally garish, drawing the eye and by extension, people to gaze up at it and even reach out and touch it. Not really knowing what else to do, Wei-Ting walked up to the rock and leaned on the railing, looking up at it. He glanced over and watched as a lone tourist pointed his camera lens up at t

Knowledge Boost #2: The Coddling of The American Mind

This was not the book I expected it to be. I think the previous entry in this series may have spoiled me a bit- as it didn't really offer a lot of concrete solutions or remedies to the problem that book explored. In these days of over politicization and ideologies, you're not really expecting a book to offer, you know, thoughtful discussion and actual solutions to a clearly defined problem, but I guess there's a pleasant exception to every rule and Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt's The Coddling of the American Mind is it. The expansion of a popular essay the duo wrote back in 2015 for The Atlantic , the book seeks to explore the shifting landscape of American culture that saw an explosion of unrest on college campuses over the past half a dozen years or so. (As someone who's been working in Higher Ed- albeit in a somewhat unusual perch, the change has been noticeable over the course of my ten years here. I can't count the number of times I wondered where all

Tiki Tuesday #4: Grog

The name 'Grog' doesn't exactly bring a lot of appeal to the table. It lacks that exotic tinge. It puts one in mind of a pirate ship and not necessarily one crewed by Johnny Depp and all his merry rogues from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. How did grog come to be ? Well, sailors back in the day required a great deal of fresh water on voyages because desalinating sea water wasn't practical- so they had to keep it in casks. The casks would develop algae and get slimy so they started flavoring with beer or wine to make it palatable and that required more storage and soon fresh water along with the beer and wine to flavor it up a bit meant that they were having storage problems, especially on longer voyages. Happily, when the English conquered Jamaica in 1655, they soon found rum and rum began replacing beer and brandy as the drink of choice. Naturally, giving your sailors straight rum caused other problems to crop up and soon, British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon , who

Serial Saturday #9: Flash Drives & Microfiches

Again, not much to say to this one, so just please enjoy part nine of my ongoing serial, Flash Drives & Microfiches: Wei-Ting pulled into a parking space in front of the Police Bureau and quickly turned the car off and flung open the door. He was running late. The message on the dark web insisting on a meeting had gotten even more mysterious when he had replied with a single word: Where? The reply he had received: Remember what happened in Guo. Noon. That was cryptic enough to send him down an internet rabbit hole to find out that the message referred to a boulder on the top of Mount Taifu where the Generalissimo himself had written out a message in calligraphy to rally the troops and hint at one day reclaiming the mainland. I've got to be fast, Wei-Ting thought as he bounded up the stairs to the front entrance of the Police Bureau. The geek squad owes me a favor, so I should be able to get a wire. He opened the entrance and stepped into the lobby, flashing his ID to the office

Serial Saturday #8: Late Night Spring Rolls

Not much to say about this one, just please enjoy part eight of my ongoing serial, Late Night Spring Rolls: Wei-Ting woke with a start, hands reaching for his stomach before he forced himself to take a deep breath to calm down. "It was just a dream," he said aloud. He stared up at the ceiling of his apartment for a moment, hoping that he would fall back asleep, but it was no use. He was full awake at, he rolled over and grabbed his phone off the nightstand. "Three o'clock in the morning?" he groaned. "You've got to be kidding me." Wei-Ting flung his covers aside and got out of bed. He padded across the cold, conrete floor to the modest kitchen area and turned on the light. He walked around the edge of the breakfast bar and stopped at the coffee machine for a long moment before shaking his head. No. It was too early for coffee. He stepped over to the fridge and opened the door. The interior of Wei-Ting's fridge was sparse. He was a bachelor and

An Increasingly Complicated Flag

I'm not a cop, I just get paid to tell them where to go, but I have spent a decade now working alongside cops and fall into the category of 'law enforcement adjacent.' Looking at the current climate, it's easy to wonder if this job is really worth it sometimes, but just when I start to wonder about that, usually, I'll get a phone call and get to help someone. Help for my job can mean the smallest thing like giving someone directions or processing a vehicle unlock or it can mean handling a medical call for anything ranging from a broken ankle to chest pains and difficulty breathing.  Helping people is the core of what I do and it's honestly why I like this job.  I'll be honest, this was going to be a much different post before the election. Every Trump rally leading up to Election Day inevitably featured a gigantic Thin Blue Line Flag hanging from a pole somewhere and it was starting to bother me. I don't own a Thin Blue Line flag- and even if I did, I do

Mixology Monday: Negronis

So, I scored some Campari to make Jungle Birds for the Tiki Tuesdays , but the obvious thing to do with campari is- aside from campari spritzers is to make Negronis. Early on in the pandemic, Stanley Tucci's tutorial on making a negroni circulated pretty widely - so I was eager to give it a go. I whipped out some gin and some sweet vermouth and making it was the easy part: 1 oz gin 1 oz sweet vermouth 1 oz campari Okay, so the original is actually pretty decent. It seems to be kind of like a distant cousin to the regular classic gin martini-- but the campari brings the bitterness of citrus peel and grapefruit to the party. If you like grapefruit, you'll love these- it brings the bitterness up- but the gin and the sweet vermouth tamp it down to tolerable levels. I could drink these. One of these. Probably wouldn't pound these bad-boys like James Bond at an upscale casino in Monte Carlo. But they're very drinkable.  But then... I found a variant worth exploring: the mezca

Serial Saturday #7: Beginnings

This marks the switchover from Theme Thursdays to the more serialized focus of Serial Saturdays- in keeping with the theme, I take the reader back to the night of the murder-- please enjoy: Beginnings . The woman who called herself Jiezhi opened her eyes. The ground beneath her was cold, wet and soft. What was that? Sand. Beach. She was on a beach. But, her stomach: "Ow," she groaned. She tried to move, but the pain intensified and so did the warmth. Wet warmth. What was it? She patted her torso a few times and then felt the handle of the knife that was- she recoiled in horror- sticking out of her belly. She patted some more and then held her hand up. The light on the beach was dim to non-existant, but: "Yeah, that's blood." The bastards had stabbed her. How long had she been here? It's too complicated. Shan's voice. Yesterday afternoon. She drew the memory around her. Before she had left. They had met at the foot of the Koxinga Statue at the south end

The Hangover

IOWA: So, as it turns out, not a lot changed between 2016 and 2020 becausse the maps look eeriely similar. After that last Iowa Poll before the election I had a bad feeling that it was going to be more or less correct and it more or less was. Trump won the state and drilling down further into the statewide races, it's really not hard to see why it played out the way it did.  Dallas County Pottawattamie County Woodbury County These three counties are the counties if the Democrats want to breakthrough. Dallas County (Des Moines 'burbs) is especially important, imo- because if the wider national consensus on CNN was right last night that 'the suburbs revolted against President Trump' Des Moines Burbs did not follow that trend. Granted, the margin in Dallas County for President last night was about 1,000 votes- but for it to matter to Dems, they need to push it closer to 60-40 territory instead of 50-50 territory.   I've no idea what to think about Woodbury and Pottawat

Bookshot #136: My Man Jeeves

In these times of quarantine, we often search for the literary equivalent of comfort food- hence I've been re-reading and re-visiting many old favorites of late, but also, we look for things to bring us some amount of joy or even a chuckle or two. When I came across an article extolling the comedic writing of P.G. Wodehouse- of whom I had heard, but never actually read- I decided to give one of his books a go and where better to begin than with the very first volume published over a century ago now, My Man Jeeves. I know there are novels later on in the Jeeves and Wooster series, but this collection of short stories feels about perfect. Wooster gets into some kind of predicament. Jeeves inevitably solves it. Witticisms, similies and metaphors dryer than sherry abound. All in all, it's charming-- (I really need to revisit John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces-- which is widely hailed as the Great American Comic Novel, but lamentable didn't draw too many chuckles f

Netflix & Chill #86: The Great Hack/The Social Dilemma

Election season means that we're treated to a lot of talk about 'election interference' and that means that the streaming services of your choice have dropped a relevant documentary or two and sure enough, Netflix has two ready to go that deal with more or less similar topics, so I decided to watch them both.  One of the weird things about 2020 is that so many things have happened the year that other things that were a big deal at the time either fade from your memory entirely or just get lost in the distant memories of that time before this decades long year. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was kicking around a little bit since 2015-- when The Guardian noted that they were harvesting data from millions- yes millions of Facebook accounts without their consent to build big data analytics for Ted Cruz's campaign for President in 2016. It should therefore be no surprise to anyone that they switched teams in short order, helped the Trump Campaign and then went on to work on