Showing posts from February, 2021

Serial Saturday #22: Six Months Later

Mei-Shan walked down to the path toward the bookstore on the north end of Matsu with a spring in her step. It had taken six months, but the debriefings were over. The Secretary was free to begin a new life wherever he felt like it. Her bosses back in Taipei were pleased with her- they had a mountain of new intelligence to pour-over. She had the satisfaction of having pulled off their highest level defection in decades and Beijing so far- appeared to be none the wiser. She pulled the teal green front door open and heard the familiar tinkle of the bell as she stepped inside. Waiting for her in this usual spot behind the counter was Mr. Xu. "It's about time," he said with a smile. "Hello to you too, Xu," Mei-Shan replied. "What is that supposed to mean?" "I mean the debriefers left last week and if I have to sit through another day of intensive discussions about tea, I might lose my mind," Mr. Xu replied. "Tea?" "He wants to open

The Arrows of Defiance: New Cover Announcement

 Big news, sports fans: Book One got a shiny new cover and a new paperback edition and now it means it's time for Book Two to get its moment in the sun. The Arrows of Defiance is longer and taught me almost immediately several things about writing sequels. First of all, it's damn hard to do. Making sure names, dates, everything stays consistent- it would be a nightmare for an author who had a few books and a contract under their belt, but for little old me just trying to finish the story I started in The Prisoner and The Assassin ? It put me off writing sequels for the foreseeable future, at at the time- but who knows at this point. I may get ambitious. This was the book where my characters really began to come alive for me- I know that sounds strange, but I think a lot of writing can get lost in world-building and info-dumps and story and plot holes- but you can have the best story in the world and it won't matter at all if your characters aren't real.  So, The Arrows

Mixology Monday: Prickly Pear Mule

So, we're going a little outside the box this month with Mixology Monday, because I randomly got gifted some prickly pear vodka and some prickly pear syrup, which begs the question: what the hell can you do with prickly pear vodka and prickly pear syrup? Well, for a start, prickly pear mules. I had one lonely can of Ginger Beer kicking around in the fridge and so, it seemed like a match made in heaven and this is what it ended up looking like this: Ain't that pretty? I got to admit they look extremely striking. The first recipe I followed pretty strictly- and used 6 oz of ginger beer and I don't think it was quite enough-- the syrup was still kind of pronounced and well, syrupy- but the second one I cashed the ginger beer and not only was it well-balanced, but the syrup was constrained and the ginger wasn't going crazy either so it ended up being really nice.  Here's the recipe I adapted : 2 oz prickly pear vodka 1.2 oz prickly pear syrup 4-6 oz of ginger beer lime

Serial Saturday #21: On A Beach In Kinmen

Shan was tense. She was nestled on top of the shiny new International Bank Building on the edge of the channel between Xiamen and Gulangyu. She watched as the ferry moved out into the main channel, heading north to its destination and Tongyi Wharf. "Target's moving," Mei-Shan's voice came over the radio. "Heading for the bow." "Acknowledged." Shan caught sight of him then, moving toward the bow, looking pensive as if he wanted the breeze to relieve his mind of its troubles. His minders made to follow him, but he waved them away and found a spot on the railing where he leaned out over the water. "Do you have a shot?" "Affirmative." "Then take it." Shan settled herself and then pulled the trigger. She watched as the bullet slammed into him and sent him over the edge of the rail. She saw him claw for a moment at the railing and then he fell into the water with a splash. ~~ Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting were driving out toward Nan

Knowledge Boost #3: Democracy In America, Part One

Tocqueville is one of those great titans of political science that I've never actually sat down and read. I gravitated more towards comparative politics than the domestic side of things, so I never really had a reason to- but if you're going to have two degrees in political science, there are some books like Democracy In America or the Federalist Papers that you should probably sit down and read- so I grabbed a copy of the former and dove right into Part One. All four hundred and eighty-nine pages of it. Here are my thoughts: What strikes me about Tocqueville is how prescient he seems. There's a lot of: "the more things change, the more things stay the same" in volume one of this book. Largely based on his experiences visiting America in 1831, the most striking declaration comes right out of the gate in the introduction, where he proclaims that "A new political science is needed for a totally new world." I think we forget that our emergence as a nation

Tiki Tuesday #7: Mai-Tai

Well, I'm having issues with Blogger on the old Apple at home because I thought that I had published this post yesterday and, save for a block quote issue that irritated me to no end, everything appeared to be hunky-dory and fine. But when I went to check the post this morning, it turns out that I had flung a big voidspace of nothing into the ether. So you're getting a shiny, new, updated, and technically on Wednesday and not Tuesday edition of Tiki Tuesday. What are we drinking to ward off the bitter arctic chill of the Midwestern Tundra this week? I was tempted, oh so tempted to whip up a Hot Buttered Rum- which yes, there is a recipe in Smuggler's Cove - which is surprising because as a Tiki book, you wouldn't think you'd need hot buttered anything in the tropics, but there you go. However, looking at the Tiki-Explorations we'd done so far, I decided to circle back and correct a shocking oversight on my part and take a sip of a Tiki Icon- and what should be j

Netflix & Chill #92: I'm Your Woman

I saw a few previews for this one and it seemed to tick a lot of boxes. Set in the 70s, check. Crime drama/heist drama, check. Rachel Brosnahan running around with a gun. Check. So on an impulse, I decided to give this one a whirl and this movie was not at all what I was expecting. The movie is set in the late 70s. Brosnahan stars as Jean who is married to Eddie (Bill Heck) who is a professional thief-- it's not really clear whether Jean knows that for certain or just knows that Eddie does something and she just decides not to ask questions about it. The couple can't have or adopt children and Jean has made her peace with that. One day though, Eddie just brings home a baby for Jean to raise.  (By the way: this baby appears apropos of absolutely nothing. And far, far fewer questions are asked about the appearance of this baby than you would imagine.) Now Jean has a baby to raise and she settles into it just fine but then one night, one of Eddie's business partners Jimmy sh

Serial Saturday #20: Solving The Murder

The Chief lived in an elegant house with a red door on the outskirts of Jinning. "Nice house," Wei-Ting said as he and Pei-Shan walked up to it. "It pays to be Chief," Pei-Shan replied. They reached the front door and Pei-Shan rang the bell. After a moment, they heard the sound of footsteps, the door opened and- "Oh, it's you." The woman looked at Pei-Shan with distaste. "Good to see you, too, Shuchen," Pei-Shan replied. "Is he in?" Shuchen sighed. "Is it important?" "Well, we're pretty sure we solved a murder," Pei-Shan replied. "Does that count as important enough for you?" Shuchen hissed in irritation. "Fine," she snapped. "Come in, but stay in the entryway. I'll go get him." Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting stepped into the entryway and Shuchen closed the door behind them. "A pleasure as always, Shuchen," Pei-Shan said.  Shuchen replied with a string of pungent curse words

Calm Down About The Time Article Already

I suppose it's inevitable in an age of social media that I'm just going to have to live with flip-flopping and escalating insanity depending on who wins any given election. Trump won in 2016 and it was the END OF DAYS and we needed to RESIST and MARCH and blah blah blah...  Biden won in 2020 and had been barely in office for a week before BIDEN IS DESTROYING AMERICA, LOOK WHAT YOU VOTED FOR! memes began flooding the zone. Like, no, you sweet, sweet summer children: it takes a President at least six months to really destroy America. The dude is probably still finding office supplies and figuring out how to work the copier.* Then, Time published this frankly astonishing article about The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved The 2020 Election , and now, the fingers are being leveled, the cries of 'J'accuse' are echoing across the dystopian hellscape of our political discourse but- Calm down. First of all, as longtime advocates against campaign finance refor

Bookshot #139: Breath

Yes, it was the James Nestor interview on Joe Rogan that lead me to the book. I'll just get that out of the way right up front- but the interview was fascinating enough that I had to get the book and read it for myself. I have a certain amount of personal interest in the topic: horrible allergies over the course of my life have lead to me picking up a delightful case of asthma that pops up now and again as well. So this year has been a bundle of personal paranoia with COVID as it is as my lungs probably aren't that great. to begin with-- but even before then, spirometry tests at the allergy doctor weren't making me feel all that great about my lungs either. (And yes, I know spirometry isn't exactly an exact science, but still: it's kind of alarming when you're not even 40 to see things like, 60% lung capacity flash up on a screen.) So I was very interested in the interview and couldn't wait to get my hands on the book. The first fascinating thing comes rig

Mixology Monday: Sidecar

I don't know what it is about brandy. It's just not my go-to booze for either drinking straight or cocktails. I don't really have anything against it- it's just that for whatever reason, I just don't drink it all that much. But I do have some kicking around the liquor cabinet and the sidecar is considered one of the six classic cocktails described by David A. Embury in his 1948 work , The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks . And since it's one of the 'classics' and since I had both brandy and Cointreau in my liquor cabinet, I decided to make a sidecar and this is what resulted: I actually made two of these. I didn't have fresh lemons for this one, so I used some lemon juice we had kicking around the place. But, in the name of purity, I grabbed a couple of lemons and squeezed some fresh lemon juice to see what it was like with the real deal. Both were pretty good at the end of the day, but weirdly enough, I'd give the nod to the bottled lemon juice- whet