I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell – I loved this book. I read an excerpt, Mithridates of Fond du Lac, on a recommendation by my friend Felix, and was so hooked by Kent’s style that I immediately bought the book. Whether the subject is the gathering of the juggalos, Tom Savini’s school of makeup, or a man who is attempting to become immune to all snake venom, Kent captures them with interest, respect, and care, not mockery, in a fashion similar to another book I loved, Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream by Jason Fagone.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with the Romantics by Gideon Defoe – The Pirates! series holds a special place in my heart, and this new adventure with Charles Babbage, Mary Shelley, and Lord Byron is a perfect addition. I cried with suppressed laughter more than once, choking it back so as not to irritate everyone on the plane. Have an excerpt from an argument the Pirate Captain is having with a Swiss banker: The Pirate Captain tossed his beard about and waved his arms. ‘Oh, it’s all becoming clear to me! Shall I tell you what the problem is? It’s that you don’t know what it is to live and laugh and love and run a man through! You’ve never tasted the salty air on your tongue or waved heartily at a mermaid! It would be impolite to call you a shrivelled little bean counter who wouldn’t know drama if it kissed you on the mouth, but nonetheless – I’m afraid that’s exactly what you are. You people have no flair, no romance, no sense of adventure! Everything’s just numbers for you! Well, you can’t reduce passion and flair and eating ham to numbers, sir! Good day to you!’
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson – Jason is a huge Brandon Sanderson fan, and he convinced me to try The Way of Kings. It starts off a little iffy, but it didn’t take long for me to get sucked in, and the book later revisits those earlier chapters from a different perspective and by then, you understand what’s going on and it’s much more gripping. By the last quarter of the book, I was saying “What? WHAT?! OH SHIT” about every five minutes and seconds after finishing it, I bought the second book, Words of Radiance, which I’m now plowing through at record speed.
On my TV/movie screen:
Grace & Frankie – I enjoyed the first season of this show but didn’t love it. The acting is phenomenal, but the writing is sitcomm-y and sort of obvious.
Mad Max: Fury Road – I actually was not excited about going to see this from the trailer. But I fucking loved it. LOVED. IT. I would like a war rig for traffic jams, please.
Mad Max – How did something as great as Fury Road come from something so bad? I fell asleep. Twice.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron – I really wanted to love this movie, but it was just OK. I’d listen to James Spader read the phone book, enthralled, so Ultron is not the problem here. The whole thing just came off formulaic, low-stakes, and sadly, a bit boring. I read this post about the movie’s problems later and couldn’t agree more.
Poltergeist – It was a nice homage to the original, but like so many horror movies, suffers from the ubiquitous jump scares. There’s no horror, no existential dread in that style of movie, and that’s a huge shortcoming.
Maleficent – Hated it. I feel it could have had a variety of different subtitles. Maleficent: Portrait of a Stalker. Maleficent: Cottage Creeper. Maleficent: 90 Minutes of Filler.
Man with the Iron Fists 2 – I couldn’t make it twenty minutes into this movie, it was so godawful. I’ll admit to enjoying the first movie, but it didn’t exactly call for a sequel, especially not a straight-to-video sequel.
Game of Thrones Season 5 – I’m loving and I’m hating the show this season. It probably doesn’t help that they’re drawing from my least favorite book in the series, but the substantial deviations they’ve made from the book are occasionally frustrating and upsetting. I’m not going to really get into it here so as to avoid spoilers for those who are not yet caught up with the show.
House of Cards – I’ve watched a few episodes and so far I hate it. Unless the showrunners are winking at the audience and making a show about about a guy who thinks he’s a puppetmaster but isn’t nearly as smart as he thinks he is, I just don’t get it.
Jurassic World – I’m going to see this on Friday and I am so damn excited. Jurassic Park came out at an age when I was primed for dinosaur based adventure, and this one looks like an actually good sequel. I may have shed a tear the first time I saw the trailer.
In my kitchen:
I’m keeping up with my “try at least one new recipe a week” goal (smashing it, actually). It’s been a great way to try new ingredients, use parts of a plant that I might not otherwise (like carrot tops), make the most of what’s been growing in my garden, and increase my low-carb repertoire. Here’s some stuff I’ve been cooking recently: Bora Bora fireballs, velvety carrot soup with carrot top pesto, easy thai shrimp soup, and low carb meatballs. Tonight I’m making asparagus, leek, and green garlic soup!
On the project docket:
I bought a beautiful desk on Craiglist that I’m refinishing; once I’m done with that, I’ll move it upstairs and do some furniture rearranging, which I’m sure thrills Jason to no end. “Help me carry this desk to upstairs to this room and then we can move the desk that was already in there to another room and take the furniture that was in there downstairs.” It’s the endless shuffle of the never-quite-satisfied. I’m also working to finish up a couple of house project loose ends so I can start the new stuff that interests me more. I’ve also been making progress on Jason’s Halloween costume because if I’m going to make two detailed outfits to wear absolutely nowhere, damn it, I need as much time as I can get. Plus I’m out in the garden more often than not lately. Sometimes weeding, sometimes grazing, sometimes battling wasps. You know, the usual.
Before our trip to Oahu, I spent some time researching different things we could see and do, which ultimately led to this conversation. “Honey! There’s a ranch that you can tour and see the famous log from Jurassic Park!” “So you’re telling me that we’re going to fly six hours to go see a stick?” “…yes.” There’s more to Kualoa Ranch than their stick. I opted to take their movie site bus tour, which runs about 90 minutes and was the least strenuous of their tour options, which was unfortunately a consideration because I somehow managed to get sick on vacation again. The worst was behind me so I wasn’t creating a plague bus ground zero situation, but I definitely wasn’t up to anything more difficult than sitting on my ass and listening to someone talk. Luckily, the tour bus driver was serving up exactly what I was looking for, telling us about the history of the ranch, local flora and fauna, movie and TV info, and the occasional joke. The movie stuff was actually the least interesting part of the tour, which I never would have anticipated. While we drove to the first stop of the tour, the bus driver told us about Hawaiian land divisions, or ahupua’a. Land divisions would be determined by a chief, and they would generally go in a wedge shape from the mountain all the way to the water, encompassing all the land in between. In this way, not only did each land division contain all of the things that were needed to survive (and thrive), but it was also ensured that the land was being worked to its greatest potential. Hawaiians didn’t believe in owning land, rather, they were its caretakers. Land divisions were not private ownership, but they did share similarities–each land division would stay in care of the same family, passed down from one generation to the next. Those who cared for the land paid taxes back to the overseer, whose job was to collect goods to support the chief. It’s my understanding that Kualoa Ranch comprises the land that was once a land division. In 1850, an American doctor bought the land from King Kamehameha III. Since then, the land has been home to a sugar plantation, been occupied by the US military during World War II, and is now a cattle ranch, farm, movie site location, and tourist destination. Our first stop on the tour was at one of those World War II bunkers, built and abandoned by the military and reappropriated by Kualoa Ranch to display movie posters and other memorabilia. The bus driver warned us about the wind before we exited the bus, and I still almost lost my hat–I think the only thing that saved it was it getting momentarily caught in the rat’s nest I call my hair which gave me enough time to reach up and grab it. Much like the Pali Lookout and the Vista House at Crown Point, you could conceivably be blown away if you caught the wind just right.
It wasn’t the wind that took my breath away, though. Look at that gorgeous water! After we finished walking through the bunker and gawking at the view, we re-boarded the bus and drove into the valley. On the way, we saw some of Kualoa’s pipi (cows, but pipi is a much cuter name), a wild boar, and a native duck that is now endangered which the bus driver says is a tragedy because it’s supposedly delicious, which may or may not help to explain its endangered status.
There it is, in all its glory! Granted, it’s deteriorated somewhat in the intervening years since 1993, and you could basically throw down any log and tell me it’s the one from the movie and I’d believe you, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to pose with it anyway. Because have you really lived if you went to see a famous stick but didn’t then pose with the stick and maybe photoshop a few dinosaurs into it later? I would venture to say you haven’t.
After reboarding the bus, we saw some of the tracks from Godzilla (don’t get excited, it was from the Matthew Broderick one)–they had to fill them in substantially because the pipi were falling in at night and getting trapped. We also saw Hurley’s golf course from Lost, and a bunch of stuff from movies that didn’t crack 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
On our way back to the visitor center, we stopped at a spot with a beautiful view of Kamehameha’s Turtle and Mokoli’i, and then we were released and given the run of the ranch–to check out their petting zoo, pat horses, view their educational video, and (of course), press a penny or two. I made sure to do everything, and while their petting zoo was far from the world’s most exciting, I did greatly enjoy their tree goats. And I’ll always make time for horse snuffles.
The stick may have been what brought me to Kualoa, but if I’m on Oahu again, I’d totally go back. The zipline tour looks fun, and I have it on good authority that the ATV tour is so fun it might make you pee a little. So maybe I’ll pack an extra pair of underwear, too.