Review of “The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck” by Rodolphe Töpffer

 

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Töpffer, R., & Crayon, T. (2014). The adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck: Done with drawings by Timothy Crayon, gypsographer, 188 comic etchings on antimony. Place of publication not identified: Leopold Editions.

Awards

#1 in 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die

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Mr. Oldbuck is in love.

He seeks to conquer his passion in study

Book Summary

The plot is the continuing exploits of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck including falling in love, courting his love, being ignored, becoming a monk and attempting suicide multiple times.

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Mr. Oldbuck, in despair, commits suicide. Fortunately, the sword passes below his arm.

For eight-and-forty hours he believes himself dead.

He returns to life dying of hunger.

 

My Thoughts

Although the book summary of this work sounds like a downer, it isn’t at all. This book is pure satire much in the same vein as Candide by Voltaire. Candide is described as, “Never has rape, mutilation, murder, amputations, public burnings and cannibalism been as funny as this!”

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Thinking great thoughts.

Although it is never said directly, stylistically Töpffer works seem to draw much from Candide. It has a very similar flow, hopping from one utterly absurd situation to another one.

Töpffer is considered to be the father of modern comics, he utilized the use of paneled pictures and words independent of images, which hadn’t been seen before his first publication. Additionally, he influenced many up and coming artists and illustrators who then wrote great works expanding the fledgling genre.

Plus, it is funny as hell. The absurdity of Mr. Oldbucks plights are self-caused, and the reader basks in schadenfreude while reading it.

Conclusion

download.jpegThis book might not be for everyone, but it should definitely be read by comic enthusiasts and anyone reading the genre hoping to get some history of how it founded. It is funny and short and well done graphically. If you are interested in reading it, the Dartmouth Library has digitized one of the few remaining copies of it. You can read it for free. However, if you are the purchasing type, you can buy a copy of it if you can find one for sale, anywhere from 10,000 for an FR copy to 20,000 for a VF copy.

 

Review of Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

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Thats-normal.com

Valente, Catherynne M. Space Opera. Corsair, 2018.

“If he lost everything else, pride, priapism, and producer credit, Decibel Jones would never, never give up his swagger.”
― Catherynne M. ValenteSpace Opera

Book Summary

From the publisher, “IN SPACE EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU SING

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented-something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix – part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Instead of competing in orbital combat, the powerful species that survived face off in a competition of song, dance, or whatever can be physically performed in an intergalactic talent show. The stakes are high for this new game, and everyone is forced to compete.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny – they must sing.

A one-hit-wonder band of human musicians, dancers, and roadies from London – Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes – have been chosen to represent Earth on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of their species lies in their ability to rock.”

My Thoughts

“I’ll put this in words you can understand: humans are hideous, pain-guzzling, pollution-spouting space monsters who might threaten our way of life. Now, how does that usually pan out in the movies, kitten? At least we let you try to convince us we’re wrong. I doubt you asked the dodo birds what they thought about it before you blasted the last one in the face with a blunderbuss.”

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I had really high hopes for this story. Valente is a much-beloved author with a whole slew of awards under her belt and rightly so. But, this story was akin to a firehose to the face with details. There were complete chapters I scanned instead of reading because the details were unimportant to the main thrust of the story. Even then, it took me a month to finish this. It reminded me quite a bit of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but with more details thrown in and less about the main characters.

The main story protagonists are Decibel Jones and his former bandmate Oort St. Ultraviolet, who have the best musician names ever. Former bandmates of Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros are human “has been” musical stars. Who was taken from Earth and thrust into this contest that decides the fate of all humans and human history?  The characters are fun to read. Valete has a great way of describing the absurdity of her protagonists. Decibal Jones reminds me of a cross between David Bowie and David Hasselhoff. Other main players in this novel include a time-traveling red panda who speaks like this, “iamtalkingaboutstuff,” and a giant blue roadrunner alien that is their go-between at the Grand-Prix. The Grand-Prix is an opportunity for many sentient species to send their best singers and compete for fame and fortune. Also, with a little bit of Hunger Games like play to take out the competition. This applies for all competitors except for a newly discovered species, in this case, Earthlings who are competing to save themselves from annihilation.

There was a lot of great humor thrown into the story. Villette has a knack for writing about the absurd and whimsical. One of the main highlights of the story was Oort’s cat, Capo. Capo is given the power of speech by roadrunner alien as a welcome present to the band members. A cat with the power of speech is a horrifying thought. We learn how if cats were not so lazy they would roll throughout the universe causing mayhem and destruction. Totally true!

“Compared to you,” said the Klavar soprano, “humans are joyful rosebushes bouncing through the stars. If you ever stopped napping long enough to escape Earth, you would sweep across this galaxy like nothing before, an endless wave of carnage. You would hunt our worlds one by one and ruin everything we’ve built. Only your laziness protects us.” Capo hopped down off the railing. She lifted her tail in the air haughtily and glanced back over her furry shoulder. “Most likely,” she purred. “Best keep mum, don’t you think? Wouldn’t want to wake us up”
― Catherynne M. ValenteSpace Opera

The hard part about this particular story is that you get a funny run of dialog, then six pages of an absurd backstory about different aliens or past wars fought over a teacup or something. It gets exhausting and befuddling. The entire pacing is off because the reader is sent on wild and tangential streams of thought. If Valente took the bare bones of this story and turned it into a novella, then added in the extra historical history stuff as icing on a cake, it would be an utterly fantastic read.

Conclusion

Too much of a good thing. Too many adjectives, descriptors, and backstory. Too many details that don’t mean anything to the reader unless you have solid characters. Which we really didn’t. It was like reading a stream of conscious story. Which is fine, if that is what you’re aiming for. But Catherynne M. Valente was aiming for a whimsical space opera story with a nod to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a very polarizing book. Many, many people love it! Give it a try, especially if you love some of Valente’s other work. You will know within the first twenty pages if this story is for you.

A Load of Bullshit – Literal Cow Feces

Max Temkin@MaxTemkinFollow

If you buy the poop expecting it to be something else that’s not poop, you’re actually buying a valuable life lesson for $6.

12:06 PM – 28 Nov 14 Reply Retweet Favorite

Hey, do you like cow shit? Do you want to be wholly trolled? When Cards Against Humanity Did it in 2014, they raised the bar to an art form. They are utterly not screwing around. haha, get it utter-ly.

Let me paint a picture for you. I consider myself an avid CAH enthusiast as I have most of the sets and unique packs. CAH appeals to my very low brow and very dark sense of humor. This led me to the CAH website 10 mins after opening on Black Friday. At the time I was utterly unaware of CAH black Friday track record. I swooped on this deal like an eagle going after a lizard. Six bucks! I’ll give them six bucks for a card called, “Bullshit.” Here is the FAQ that I ignored:

Are you selling any of your normal products today? No.

Is this actually poop? Yes.

Is it also something that’s not poop? No.

Can I return it when I realize that it’s actually just poop? No.

Is the poop dangerous? No. The poop is sterilized.

Is it legal to mail poop? Only one way to be sure.

Why is the poop only $6? Through the magic of incredible Black Friday super-savings.

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All the best shit is made in America. Imgur

I bought cow shit for six dollars. I found out later that day in conversation with my husband when he was marveling at CAH’s trolling. His response to me buying it was, “wut?” I bought Freeze dried, beautifully boxed cow shit and a life lesson. Read the FAQ or fine print. Even so, I still think I would have bought it which probably says a lot about me. Getting sent bull feces from CAH for Black Friday has been a running joke in my family for the last four years. Every time I order something stupid off of Amazon in an Ambien fueled spending spree my husband says, “at least you didn’t order cow shit.” I did however buy 10 pounds of gummy bears twice because apparently, I have no idea how much that is in gummy bears, twice.

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Here is an absolutely fantastic email exchange from a customer sad about getting poop.

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Here we are 4 years later, and the beautifully designed box of freeze-dried cow poop is on display in our curio cabinet. It has pride-of-place next to all sorts of family heirlooms and trophies. Why? Because it is hilarious.. and still brings my family great joy.

 

 

 

 

What am I Eating? Sour Cherry Jam

It’s my jam…

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Excellent cherry porn courtesy of Sugarlovespices.com

In my personal quest to try all 1001 Foods before you die list, I have come across both the exotic and the more mundane. However, what is ordinary to one person is downright unapproachable or extraordinary to another. That is why this little quest is so much fun. There is so much to learn about and experience in this world, and while I get to taste all sorts of different things, I also try to learn a little about what I am trying so I have some context.

Sour cherry jam is one of the more mundane foods on the list, but no less delicious. It has an absolutely extraordinary flavor. Basically, a cherry pie shoved into a jam jar minus the crust. Who likes the crust anyway? This type of jam is about as “cherry” a flavor as it can come. I want to put it on ice cream, and bread, and my face.. oh um. Not really the bread. I am gluten intolerant. But you get the idea…

I came across this recipe for a fancyfied version of Sour Cherry Jam, and it looks incredible. The method can be found on SugarLovesSpices It takes something delicious, the basic jam recipe, and adds booze to it which makes it more delicious. Boozy = more delicious, usually. Maybe that’s just me, but pairing Grand Marnier, lemon and cherries seem like a heavenly combination.

Sour Cherry Jam with Lemon and Grand Marnier

  • 6 cups sour cherries, washed, dried and pitted
  • 2.5 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 lemon, the juice
  • 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
  1. Wash jars and lids and place them on a baking sheet in the oven at 250° F. Let dry for about 1/2 hour.
  2. Stir together cherries and sugar in a large saucepan. Add lemon juice and Grand Marnier.
  3. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove the foam on top
  5. Cook for about 40 minutes.
  6. Loosely blend with a hand blender.
  7. Ladle jam into warm jars, wiping the rims and close tightly.

Oh, holy crap… FEED ME SEYMORE

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Review – Diary of An Oger by Valeria Dávila, Mónica López, Laura Aguerrebehere (Illustrator)

Change your underwear you stinky ogre.

 

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

Thank you, NetGalley, Chouette Publishing, and CrackBoom! Books for an advanced English translated readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Synopsis from the publisher, “My dear diary: this is the end. There are no ogres left. The world is wrong. What does this ogre hide? Is it true that he teaches wrestling with sticks and belching and snot courses? Is it true that the pant is never changed?
The intimacies never before revealed of an ogre with style. Surprising, crazy, secret: a newspaper that you have to spy on yes or yes.”

I am always thrilled when I get an opportunity to review a children’s book. In general children’s books bring a genuine smile to my face, and this book is no exception. Oger’s are funny creatures. Who demonstrate poor hygiene, and poorer life choices. Generally, from Shreck to Harry Potter their depiction is of a smelly, but a lovable brute who is steadily falling all over themselves, and eating fly ice cream. Pratfalls and fly ice cream are funny concepts and relatable for kids. The author took something that could be scary and made it funny which is excellent for kids! This is why this is such a great book. I mean, who doesn’t think that an award given to an ogre who never changes their underwear isn’t funny.

My only real complaint is that it doesn’t have much of a plot and because of this, it relies heavily on the great graphics. I think plot-wise, the author could have hammered home how important it was that ogers need to become ogers of old. She touches on it, but it seems a bit disjointed.

Graphically, Laura Aguerrebehere did a great job conveying the silliness of the ogers. The graphics are bright and again fun to look at.

This is hilarious! Graphics, pacing, everything. I think boys or girls would get a total kick out it!

 

 

The Tiki Putt – Gresham, Oregon

Where Tiki Gods go to die.

The Tiki Putt – Portland Bucket List

I am not sure what to say about this place. Maybe I went to the wrong glow-in-the-dark

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Let me get some Scandia Love.

putt-putt, but this was less than stellar. Here is the thing… I was raised in Las Vegas as a child of the 1980s, we had Scandia. Scandia was freaking awesome. No, it did not have neon and blacklights and tiki torches, but it did have a killer putt-putt range including a castle and water hazards. It also had a batting cage, water bumper boats, two different race car tracks for bumper cars, and a great arcade. As it got older, it did get a bit dated, but C’mon! It was a Vegas landmark.

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Confused shark seems confused. Where did my ball go?

Enter the Tiki-putt. It had cinderblocks painted neon colors, murals on the walls, and a course where you have absolutely no clue where to go or what to do next. It was lame sauce. Which may or may not be because I am utterly spoiled on the putt-putt front from Scandia.

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Look I have a cleverly placed tongue that makes it near impossible to get a shot through.

When we went to the Tiki Putt it was really crowded, and the crows looked like people having a great time. Kids jubilantly swung their putters and winging balls god knows where. Little ones where constantly marveling at the white lint that was now visible on their black t-shirts under the black lights. My husband and I got into the spirit of things. We winged, and we wanged balls all over a glow in the dark luau. We practically broke a hole with one of mark’s shots. His shot popped out the side of a rock formation and nearly tripped me. They have this cool spinning tunnel that affects some people with vertigo, I, of course, am one of these lucky individuals. That gave me a chance to run back in forth through the tunnel like a six-year-old. That was fun!  At this point, we could give a literal rat’s testes about keeping score or even staying track, but neither did anyone else there. So when in Gresham do as the Greshamites do, have some unhinged fun!

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This would be awesome for children if I only understand it. It looks like an Avant Gard Declasse for those artists that want to become one with their art. 
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The saddest after party in the VIP lounge of your favorite dance club. Wait, that’s a swimming pool room or something, 

The Tiki Putt Can be found at:

Contact:

By Phone: 503-201-9007

In Person: 1694 NW Fairview Dr. Gresham Or 97030

Email: thetikiputt@gmail.com

Gianduja – Nutella’s Sexier and More Sophistcated Older Brother

#968 of the 1001 Things to Eat Before You Die – Gianduja

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Image courtesy of Betterwithlemon

I selected this little recipe of excellent as my first list item to formally attempt, Gianduja,  because it is near and dear to my heart. I lived in the Piedmont region of Italy for three months on an educational trip. I love the cuisine of that area, the fresh fish, and the food festivals. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. Enter idea to finish the 1001 things to eat before you die list. I have been privately and gleefully marking these off for years, but I have decided to make a more constructive leap towards finishing.

Gianduja

Type Chocolate
Place of origin Italy
Region or state TurinPiedmont
Main ingredients Chocolate, hazelnut paste
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A most unholy pair: chocolate with hazelnuts.

What It Is

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I know, DAMN. Piedmont, Italy

According to Wikipedia, “Gianduja or gianduia (Italian: [dʒanˈduːja];[1] Piemontesegianduja [dʒanˈdʊja]) is a sweet chocolate spread containing about 30 % hazelnut paste, invented in Turin during Napoléon’s regency (1796–1814). The Continental System – imposed by Napoleon in 1806 – prevented British goods from entering European harbors under French control and put a strain on cocoa supplies.[2] A chocolatier in Turin named Michele Prochet extended the little chocolate he had by mixing it with hazelnuts from the Langhe hills south of Turin.[3] Based on Gianduia, Turin-based chocolate manufacturer Caffarel invented Gianduiotto in 1852.[4] It takes its name from Gianduja, a Carnival and marionette character who represents the archetypal Piedmontese, a native of the Italian region where hazelnut confectionery is common.”

Thoughts

It is crazy to me that I didn’t taste this while I was there. I even went to a slow food event at our castle, they had may local delicacies, but this wasn’t one of them. From my reading, Gianduja is the older, sexier, more sophisticated big brother of what we know as mass marketed Nutella. Having been a Nutella aficionado for many years, I am excited to make the comparison. Also, the recipe seems pretty straightforward. The words “Straightforward” and “great” seem to be synonymous with food during wartime dishes. Which is interesting to me for entirely different recipes. Looks very minimalistic.

Recipe

2 cups skinned hazelnuts
cup sugar
1 cup water
1 pound semisweet chocolate (55 to 65 percent cacao), roughly chopped into chunks
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt

1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are fragrant; cool.

2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts and sugar for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they form a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times with a spatula as the mixture thickens.

3. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and set a large heatproof bowl on the saucepan to cover it; it should not touch the water. Place the chocolate in the bowl and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat. Wipe the bottom dry.

4. Stir in the butter until it melts completely. Add the cream and salt and mix until incorporated. Stir in the hazelnuts. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until cool. It will firm and turn into a spreadable consistency similar to cream cheese. Keep covered and chilled until serving. Gianduia can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Remove a spoonful from the container and let it soften at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Recipe courtesy of : The Boston Globe

Conclusion

Holy crap on a cracker Batman, this is good! I want to unhinge my jaw and swallow the entire bowl. But I won’t because I am a lady.
It literally shames Nutella and tells it to take its ball and go home. My only caveat is that you absolutely need a blender capable of making nut butter. I have no such mixer, so mine was a little grainy from the hazelnuts. Who cares! Grainy is the new black, or whatever.  It is amazingly good. Make it, bring it to your friends’ houses, so they like you more. Give it to your boss, so she gives you a raise. Wow.