First Rider’s Call

A Turd: The Opposite of ExcellenceIs a turd still a turd if you know it will be a turd?

I guess so.

I read Green Rider by Kristen Britain about a year ago and its sequel has been standing in my bookshelf for a while. So far I was afraid to touch it; after all bad writing might prove to be contagious, and I didn’t want to risk it while Express Delivery was still in the works. But now, in the lull between books, I have found myself once again in the mood for something… well… turdy.

First Riders Call picks up about a year after the story of the first book ends. For all intents and purposes it might be ten years or twenty, or even a prequel, seeing as almost all the character relationships are reset to zero. To be easy on the readers that are new to the series, I suspect. Personally, I don’t pick up a book unless I’m certain it is either a standalone or the start of a series. Readers Golden Rule #2.

But not to worry, everything will return to normal after a few hundred pages of headless chicken behaviour by our heroine, Karigan G’ladheon. Pardon, Galadriel. Erm… Galadheon, I mean.

The book’s originality is mind-numbing.

And don’t get me started on the Elves. Elf. Gargh! Elt, I mean. There. Tall, pale, forest dwellers. Shy and elusive. Users of earth magic. Wear pearly white armour and unable to bear the touch of iron. Ring a bell? Yes? Thought so. You’re a clever one, aren’t you?

Unlike our heroine. Karigan Galadriel herself never fails to stun with her razor-sharp powers of reasoning. The silly girl will gladly mistake a sailboat for a chicken if it helps to draw out the plot for another twenty pages. And I pray to God that the never comes up with the idea of setting up a relationship counselling service. That would surely mean the end of the world as we know it. Humanity would cease to reproduce, that is for sure. Miss Britain seems determined to make the inevitable, painful love story last until the final page of the series.  If we find the courage to read it, that is.

Also, and I really need to say this, sorry: if I have to read one more scene, in any book other than the Bible (which I’m highly unlikely to ever read, period) in which a Solomonic judgement is passed off as the next best idea since the invention of the cheesegrater, I’ll go mad. And then I’ll find the author and strangle him, slowly.

Now, any last words? Yes. If you’re in the mood for an easy read, something that will slip by your eyes in a heartbeat – reading light, so to speak, no intellect calories attached – then go ahead. First Rider’s Call is the book for you. If not you might find hitting yourself over the head with a cricket bat to be more pleasant and a better use of your time.

Bacon Muffins and note on cooking

I am not a housewife.

Let’s get this out there as quickly as possible. (Hi mom, hope you’re not too shocked by this stunning revelation.)

I don’t dust the shelves. I only clean the floor when it’s absolutely necessary (a good indicator is when the cat starts sticking to the floorboards). Recently I cleaned the windows for the first time since moving into this flat. I never iron my clothes, except in emergencies, and I only wash when the laundry-mountain threatens to spawn an avalanche. In short: I am not a housewife.

But I do quite like to cook. I love new recipes and I love modifying stuff that I find in cookbooks. After all there is no such thing as too much thyme. Having a husband who likes to eat helps too.  I do not like cleaning up the kitchen, favouring more of a Jackson Pollock approach to cooking. As a result of which, same-said room often looks like a post-nuclear farmer’s market once I’m done with it. The husband helps there, too.

I’m just saying this to avoid confusion. How do I make a perfect Wiener Schnitzel? Good question to ask me, even though the name does sound lewd in English. How do I get dirt stains out of a white blouse? Very bad question, although you are welcome to let me know, I’ve been trying to do so for quite some time.

Anyway. That having been said I now proudly present you with

The ultimate Bacon Muffin Recipe

developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes

(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea).

Shopping list (makes 12 muffins):BaconMuffins

250 g all-purpose flour
150 g butter or margarine
200 g crème fraiche or smetana (which I am beginning to suspect to be rare outside of Germany)
125 g lean bacon, finely diced
15 – 20 green olives, pitted + 12 olives to garnish
2 eggs, medium
1 – 1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
12 strips of bacon

Preheat the oven to 160° C. You may butter the muffin-tray, but I would not bother, since these muffins come with their own lubrication by nature. Place the strips of bacon in the muffin moulds. One strip per mould. I usually begin by placing the thin end of the strip on the bottom and then spiralling up to line the rim. It may take some practice.

Chop the olives into thin rings.

Melt the butter or margarine and set aside to cool a little. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a large mixing bowl. Be careful with the baking powder since in these muffins that thing with the squeaky teeth happens very quickly. You know what I mean…

Add the crème fraiche and eggs to the cooled butter and mix well. Then add the mixture to the flour. Mix for about sixty seconds with a hand mixer on the highest setting. Add the bacon cubes and olives and carefully stir them into the dough.

Now for the messy part. Very, very carefully put one or two heaped tbsp of dough mixture into the bacon-lined moulds. Be careful not to make the bacon fold in on itself, if necessary pull it back into its original position with your fingers. Put one intact olive on top of the dough, pressing it in slightly.

Put in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy.

developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes
(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea)

Give me a break…

So, I was researching plants that do not require photosynthesis to survive and what do I find?

The Orobanche uniflora, more commonly known as the Naked Broomrape.

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Naked Broomrape.

Naked Broomrape?

Really?

How? I mean: Why? Argh…

At first I thought it was only Wikipedia vandalism, but if this is a hoax then it has been orchestrated by a very thorough prankster.

Other plants of the same family include Greater Broomrape, Hairy Broomrape or Thistle Broomrape. Hard to imagine which would be more painful. And I don’t even want to think about Orobranche loricata, the Oxtongue Broomrape. I also think that a Medick Broomrape is very unlikely.

Naked Broomrape. I’ll have nightmares about that one.


Beer-Flavoured Soft Serve

gf

Appearances may be deceiving, and so this is not a post about some extremely disgusting Bavarian recipe that I want to share with you. Also Wasting Away is not a bad movie.

(Mhm… maybe there’s money in this one. I bet beer-flavoured ice cream would be the thing in Bavaria. Need to think on that.)

Anyway. I had the opportunity to see Wasting Away last Monday at the Fantasy Film Fest. The festival, which I have been attending for ten odd years now, has in the past never ceased to amaze me, both with the quality of the movies that it shows, as well as with the incredible badness of other movies that it shows. It has become something of an artform for festival attendees to sort through the newspeak yuck in the program and find the few movies that are worth watching. In recent years it has always been a bit of a hit and miss scenario for me, but this year I seem to have finally managed to get the knack. Black Dynamite, Push, District 9, Wasting Away and Moon all have been excellent movies. (And then there was Trick ‘r Treat, which just goes to show that they can’t all be winners.)

So… about Wasting Away: I didn’t have very high hopes for this one. The movie seems to have left almost no traces on the web, and as previously mentioned the festival program cannot be trusted under any circumstances to provide accurate descriptions of the movies on offer. Tapping in the dark and willing to risk seeing a bad movie for the good of mankind I bought a ticket.

And I was not disappointed. Wasting Away is a clever zombie comedy with superb writing. The actors, most of them totally unknown to me hitherto, are brilliantly cast and manage to imbue their characters with dignity despite the funny nature of the movie. Especially Colby French as janitor-turned-super-soldier Nick Steele is a delight to watch. But I could praise every single one of the protagonists in the same manner. The cinematography is wonderful in an unassuming kind of way and I love the use of black and white versus colour images.

Wasting Away starts out a little slow, but after five or six minutes of introduction, all shot in black and white, we meet our four principal protagonists and the beer-flavoured soft serve from the headline. The soft serve is squeaky green and infested with the zombie drug, but the protagonists are sure it’s just a trick of the light. And after that the fun starts in earnest. From here on the movie is divided into black and white scenes that show us the world from the bland point of view of those not infected with the zombie mutagen, and in bright crisp colour to enlighten us as to how a zombie sees the world. I’m sure there is some very deep philosophical interpretation to this, but I am too tired to think of it right now. And when self-declared super-soldier Nick Steele hits the scene, all bets are off and the movie transcends the boundaries of the good far into the divine.

All I can say to sum this up is that the movie is a little jewel that deserves more attention. Worldwide release in major cinemas. Sequels. Tie-in novels. Beer-flavoured Happy Meal promotions. Anything. Anything to give the world the wonderful gift of zombie vision.

Cell

rgg

My relationship with King started out badly, back when I was fifteen. Already a voracious reader, I was invited to the birthday of a classmate of mine by the name of Christine. Her last name shall remain shrouded in obscurity. Not the brightest cookie in the jar, one might say. And Christine showed me her bookshelf. Twelve books. Every single one by Stephen King. “And I read all of them!” Christine proudly proclaims, as if she has just come up with the square root of pi…

Well, anyway. That was then. I apologize for any bad thoughts that I have had about Mr. King in the years to follow. First impressions can be deceiving. The Dark Tower and It have taught me otherwise in the meantime.

And now Cell. After the long intro I have to admit that Cell doesn’t need a very long review. The novel is above all solid. It has solid characters. King seems to have a knack for those. The plot is solid too, except for the slightly abrupt ending, but I shall refrain from going into detail here. Cell concentrates on the characters, their fears, hopes and needs and still doesn’t fail to be, well, epic. That’s what I call a good book.

And that’s all I need to say.