Tuesday, September 22, 2020

May Day by Josie Jaffrey

 



OK, so a couple things about pumpkin beer. First off, what the fuck? Whose stupid idea was this in the first place? Now don't get me wrong - I am all for culinary experimentation under the right circumstances. When I first introduced my Grampa's Extra Spicy™pickles made with fatalii peppers and a secret ingredient that there is no way in hell I'm going to tell you, lots of people said, what the fuck? But was more of a what the fuck, what mad genius came up with this incredible addition to our pickle panoply, and how is it possible that Vlasic has declined his offer to serve as a consultant, not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions? It would be like a publisher passing on this novel three times - inconceivable! Truly, is that company run by monkeys with pocket protectors or something? But back to the issue at hand, some guy was thinking about what might make his beer taste better, and he thought, I know! Let's throw in this gourd that people literally only grow to scare people or to obliterate with baseball bats. Stupider than the goddamn monkeys.

Also, let's do a little math, folks. Start with the date that you first see pumpkin beer on the shelves. If you're living in blissful ignorance, that was a few weeks ago. Go back another week for bottling and shipping. Then recognize the fact that on that date, there was not one fucking ripe pumpkin in all of North America. So I don't know what is going in that beer to make it taste like pumpkin, but I know what it isn't, and that's pumpkin. Just think about that for a minute.

I should acknowledge that typically, I don't drink beer at all. Not that I don't like it, but I prefer to drink out of the coffee mug that my granddaughter gave me for Christmas a few years back with a picture of her family. It has a big crack about halfway up from where I tried to chip my son-in-law's face off of it (mostly successfully), so now I can only fill it about halfway. And four ounces of beer never did anyone any good, which is why I pretty much stick to gin. At least in the morning.

But with all that said, I am not a someone to look a gift horse in the mouth, so when my son brought some pumpkin beer to share "in the spirit of the season," I did allow him to come in. After a single sip, I thought for sure that he had come to poison me like I always knew he would, but before I could even exclaim "You're out of the will this time for real!,"  he tasted it and assured me that the flavor was - I shit you not - exactly what they were going for. I swear to god, you would be better off making pickle beer with all the Vlasic pickles that should be taken off the market in the first place. Probably more lucrative too. Are you taking notes, monkeys!?!?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews

 The First of Shadows (The Riven Realm #1) by Deck Matthews

It's the best time of the year again, folks. Pickling time! The time when culinary artists like myself get to shine, while the rest of you chumps suffer through jar after jar of Vlasic's monstrosities. Really, what kind of world are we living in where a company like Vlasic still exists? I know there is a lot of shit going on in the world right now, but after we deal with COVID, racism, and voter suppression, we need a pickle revolution in this country. The other day I poured myself a bowl of Rice Krispies, and then I accidentally fell asleep in my breakfast nook. When I woke up two hours later, they were still crunchier than a Vlasic pickle. You might as well just dip a banana in vinegar and leave the cucumbers for the rest of us. Jesus H Christmas.

Anyway, this year I told my granddaughter Tina she could do some canning with me, with two conditions. The first was that she read this book ahead of time so we could talk about something other than animal rights and her endless, nonsensical dreams. Tina, I don't give a shit what the centaur with your father's face represents! The second condition was also important, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was. Curse my gin-addled brain. Anyway, my rabbit issue reduced my yield a bit this year, but I still had enough cucumbers for a couple dozen quart jars, and I had some new breeds of spicy peppers to try out, so I was hopeful of a good time.

But no sooner had we begun than my neighbor Margaret showed up at my door, uninvited (obviously). She said she had extra cucumbers that she would gladly give me in return for a taste of the final product [insert sinister grin]. I told her in no uncertain terms exactly what she could do with her extra cucumbers and reminded her what they used to do to spies in the Old Country. But then it dawned on me, how did she know I was low on cucumbers? Could she and Tina be in cahoots?

I didn't want to believe it, but I couldn't afford to take any chances. I got out my old metal detector that I used to use on the beach to avoid spending time with my family on vacations (noteworthy finds included a nearly complete set of dentures, a krugerrand, and a leg shackle with a bone still in it), and I gave her the full TSA treatment. She wasn't wearing a wire, as far as I could tell, but I'm not sure that proves anything. She did briefly stop talking during the search, so that was a win. When all was said and done, we ended up with 13 varieties of pickles, which was acceptable. The frisk and search may have put a damper on the bonding a little bit, but at least we both liked the book!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

 The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

A timely book, this, as the kids are after me about my will again. Now don't get me wrong - I am no billionaire, but I've got enough saved away to support my extended retirement. Granted, I didn't expect to live this long, so the coffers aren't as full as they used to be, but every time my son-in-law is over here (not that I let him through the door if I can avoid it), I can see him sneaking peeks at everything he'd like to get his hands on. Filthy rat. The most valuable things in my possession, of course, are my secret pickle recipes, but I'll be damned if anyone is getting their hands on those. No sir, I will take those to my grave, and you all can just eat Vlasic's abominations until you puke.

But anyway, Eleanor and I were always very responsible, and we've had a will in place for decades, and we've never changed it. The closest we ever came was when I talked to a lawyer to find out if there was a way to leave money to our daughter Rachel without allowing her asinine husband to use any of it. It turns out that such a thing is possible, but it is a hassle, and Eleanor thought it was "mean-spirited," if you can believe that. So everything just gets split evenly with no fuss. Of course, the kids don't know that, and therein lies the fun.

If you've ever read my reviews, you know that my kids frequently do things that piss me off. In fact, pretty much everything they do pisses me off, and I am a very, very patient person. I can give it back though too. One year, at Christmas Dinner, I was so sick of listening to my son-in-law Gerry mansplain Art Deco that I announced out of nowhere, "So, I have changed my will." Oh, what a moment. At first, they didn't believe it (they were right, of course), but soon disbelief gave way to anxiety, anger, accusations, and despair. It was beautiful! It was like I had regained the parental power I hadn't had since my kids moved out of the house. I refused to give them any details, and I took my leave. Best Christmas ever.

Since then, I have made it a point to announce ambiguous changes to my will every six months or so, and for a while, it was working like a charm. But sadly, like all drugs, it lost it effect over time. So a few weeks ago, I told them that I had dissolved my will altogether. And they went batshit crazy! Two points for me! The anxiety of not knowing what to do when I die (and that being such a realistic possibility at my age) seems to really be getting to them. 

But this book brought up an idea I had not thought of. I could actually leave my entire estate (do normal people like me still get to call it that?) to a complete stranger. My last revenge! I don't imagine the fallout would be quite as extreme as in this novel, but it will be worth it just to see their faces (not sure how I manage that, but there must be a way). So, if you would like to be considered as a potential heir to my vast personal fortune, simply comment below as to why you are a deserving candidate, and also leave your name, address, bank account info, credit card number, PIN, mother's maiden name, internet passwords, answers to your typical security questions, birth certificate, SSN, a PDF of your thumbprint, retinal scan, and a signed affidavit with a notary stamp stating that all the above are given willingly, and who knows, you may soon be very rich!