As a personal challenge to myself, I decided to grow some of the world’s hottest peppers. Not the hottest pepper. Seeds are hard to come by, but I did grow bhut jolokia, scotch bonnets, and Thai Chili. Here is what I learned:
I am way too chicken to try them on my own. I like to think I am ballsy, and in a lot of ways, I am. But ghost peppers, not a chance.
I have a way patient husband who tries things for me instead.
Peppers are not the easiest thing to grow in the PNW. They require a lot of sunlight and good drainage. Both of which can be problematic.
This is a pure novelty. How am I supposed to cook with something I have to wear rubber gloves to handle?
Why do people eat these?
I grew them, they are gorgeous and currently languishing on the vine. It was a fun experiment, and I might tackle the top five next year if I can find seeds. But, as there is no one who will willingly eat them, it may just be another experiment in my gardening prowess. I did it though and crossed something off of my list. Cheers!
There is an absolute abundance of graphic novel and book lists out on the internet. 100 best this and 100 best that. All have some value, and all pretty much say the same things. Which is why the 1001 list I have been working on this year has been so important and valuable for me. It has introduced me to a variety of different authors and styles of graphic novels. Most have been amazing.
However, I came across this list on Thrillist that had some really cool additions to the normal list fodder you see and I hadn’t heard of some of them. I don’t normally reblog content, but this list is definitely worth checking out. I have added some of the notable standouts here but review the whole list.
28. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by Robert Crumb
Like Hagio, Crumb is one of sequential art’s all-time greatest craftspeople and artistic innovators, shepherding the underground comics movement of the ’60s into existence through the sheer force of his peerless hatching, unbound id, and (just as important and way too frequently overlooked) drive to self-criticize. While collections featuring his great creations Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, and Devil Girl, not to mention his collaborations with comics’ great everyman writer Harvey Pekar, abound, this lion-in-winter adaptation of no less a work than the first book of the goddamn Bible is the best place to witness Crumb’s genius. Largely stripped of the sociopolitical context that has made his comics so controversial over the years, Genesis’ portraits of ancient men and women struggling to survive shows that his primary interest lies in chronicling the physical and mental experience of being human.
I love these illustrated novels. While they do not replace reading a novel in its entirety, they do give an interesting take on notable source material.
21. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Yes, Fun Home earned the awards, the sales, the plaudits, the (excellent!) Broadway musical adaptation, and the slot on lists like these for years to come. It even deserved it. But Are You My Mother?, in which Dykes to Watch Out For cartoonist Alison Bechdel does for her relationship with her still-living, distant mother what she did with her late, closeted father in the book’s predecessor, is a Godfather Part II scenario. For stately clear-lined cartooning, for hyper-literary writing, for sheer ferocious interiority, Are You My Mother? is the rare sequel that’s superior to the original. To read it is to feel exposed to the blast furnace of Bechdel’s intelligence and talent, the full heat of which is applied to her attempt to understand how her family made her the woman and artist she is today.
Bechdel is mostly noted for Fun Home: A Tragicomic, but she has many other standout works. Including, “Dykes to watch out for” series. She combines humor with scathing commentary.
5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
It’s no exaggeration to say that without this book, you wouldn’t be reading this list. Yes, comics had shown signs of intelligent life as an art form prior to the 1986 publication of underground cartoonist-turned-Reagan-era anthologist Art Spiegelman’s memoir of life with his Holocaust-survivor parents cum biography of his father’s experience under the Nazis’ exterminationist regime. But it took Spiegelman’s drive to take on the defining event of the 20th century — and arguably all of human history — to coalesce those early markers into a bona fide movement.
This has led to the misguided perception that Maus won simply by showing up. Don’t buy it. Spiegelman’s scratchy, overloaded artwork all but fumes with fury at the dehumanizing injustice done to his family and their fellow Jews, ladening page after page with an overwhelming amount of black-and-white brutality. The central conceit — the Jews are drawn to look like mice, the Germans like cats — may have grabbed attention by tying the subject matter to cartooning’s long history of anthropomorphized animals, from Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat on down. But in the end that’s just a fig leaf that enables Spiegelman to go farther and hit harder than a more straightforward depiction of events could dare to pull off — like moving the camera away from the slaughter but still broadcasting the screams of both the living and the dying.
You could probably write a dissertation on Maus. It is deep and transcended the genre. Especially for 1986.
Check out this list on Thrillist, I don’t agree with all of them. I personally couldn’t stand “Black Hole”, but it is good fodder for reading in the future. If you like these selections let me know. I know of plenty of other novels that are along this same vein.
From Wikipedia, “Verbeek is most noted for The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo, a weekly 6-panel comic strip in which the first half of the story was illustrated and captioned right-side-up, then the reader would turn the page up-side-down, and the inverted illustrations with additional captions describing the scenes told the second half of the story, for a total of 12 panels. His signature usually appeared at the top of the first/last panel, upside down. The two main characters were designed such that each would be perceived as the other character when inverted.
Verbeek created a total of 64 of these strips for The New York Herald, from October 11, 1903, to January 15, 1905. I was only able to find a few of them on the internet, but what I found I voraciously devoured. They are brilliant; funny with an excellent use of wordplay, and they employ one of the first documented uses of an ambigram. An ambigram is a word or piece of art that can be read or understood from different directions. I can’t even begin to think of how to do that.
Verbeek was a talented, intelligent man. Space in a newspaper was a commodity, and thus by flipping the image upside down, he told more story for the same amount of space. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good bit of novelty? I can understand why he is #26 on the comics list.
If you have a few minutes and enjoy some good novelty check out his work. There are a few of his strips available to view for free on various sites. Many cultural institutions have taken to scanning early comics to preserve them. Most comics were printed in the newspaper that is quickly disintegrating.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S Lewis
Every year I set out to learn something new. I’ll be damned if I don’t have some personal growth every year of some sort. Besides, life is short or long depending on how you look at it; I am going to try to eeek out every experience I can before I die.
This process is really a hit or miss process.
One year I set out to learn everything I could about whiskey. I still don’t know my ass from my elbow when it comes to most whiskeys. However, I did learn quite a bit and sampled 27 different varieties till my impending motherhood put the kibosh on drinking. I would consider the whiskey drinking a bit of a miss only because of the kid but I did discover that I am indeed a 76-year-old British man deep down inside complete with tweed hat. You may call me Edmund Nigel Rickwillow III.
This is all a roundabout way to talk about my Tea challenge of 2013. Fifty teas in 365 days. No duplicates. Holy shit! How am I going to do that? With great joy and furious vigor that’s how. Annoying amounts of vigor
Typical household conversation while on the quest:
“Hey, honey I heard there is a tea shop that mixes their own teas a short fifty-mile drive from here.”
“It will be fun!”
“Yes, it will. Don’t
make that face.”
“Sweetie, please don’t hide in the bathroom. C’mon we are going on an adventure!”
Annoying amounts of vim and vigor! Hell, even I annoyed myself. But, I love to talk exhaustively about my current mission/goal that totally isn’t obsessive. Yes, it is still cool. Please be my friend. ahem.
Here is what I discovered. I think in the same way wine is very much up to the user’s palette so too is tea. Yes, there are flavors out there; blends, mixes, regional variations that impart greater richness to the flavor profile. Again much like wine. However, if you are someone who can not tell whether the tea was picked in rainy season or sunny, that the person who picked it wore gloves and there was dew present on the tea. Who gives a shit! The most wonderful part of tea I think, I only speak for me, is that it is a hug from the inside out. It feels good in your hands, it feels good in your mouth, it relaxes the soul and gives you a hug. That is what it is all about and frankly, I think we all need more hugs. Internal and externally. I’ve attached my exhaustive list of tea I tried below. Some were very good, some tasted like satan’s asshole.
Teavana English Breakfast served cold. Only had it hot. Yummmy
Peach Tea by Stash. Serious yum. Mixed it with regular
I had a delicious English breakfast at cafe brief across from the library. Researching the brand
sweetheart valentines day tea by Bigelow. Bleh. Cannot stand red-hot candies and this is reminiscent of them complete with red food coloring…
Teavana Lime tea
white chocolate tea from Bigelow. Kills my sweet tooth craving for chocolate. But it is not really sweet.
St. Dafour organic black cherry tea
adagio peach oolong
bengal spice celestial seasons tea is delicious. I adore cinnamon tea and this is perfect non-bitter tea
Teavana – Kona Pineapple pop. YUMMY!
Teavana – wild orange blossom. Way to bitter for my tastes
Teavana – Blueberry bliss
Teavana – Citrus Lavender sage
Teavana – Opus rouge
Teavana – Strawberry rose champagne
Teavana – Maharaja Chai Oolong
stash – decaf chocolate hazelnut
Red Leaf Tea Company – Maple matcha
Peach Apricot – The Tao of Tea at the Portland Chinese Garden
Mint lime Mojito – Zhena’s Gypsy Teas. I own this tea but never had it hot. Total meh
Lemon Zinger by celestial seasons. Yummy lemon. Going to try iced.
Teavana Wonderberry chocolate truffle. This I liked a lot. But mark deemed it from Satan’s Asshole.
I got this list from comicbookherald.com. I was out searching for the reading order of Batman and found this beauty of a list. I think I am finally ready to tackle the Batman books in all their nihilistic glory. I love finding things like this because it always introduces me to new things to read and reminds me of some old favorites. I know that it is lengthy at 325, but most of these are well worth it to check out. It is also fabulous because the original author went through all the trouble of adding the links. Total win-win.
These books have been at the forefront of my brain shouting, “Read me. Read me.” ok ok, shut up already. Considering that some of them will be made into movies this year for good or bad. (Mostly bad. Don’t get me even started on movie adaptions of books. I am looking at you Eragon and you Ender’s Game. Funnily enough that with the source material carefully laid out, throngs of adoring fans, and fan fiction to boot a movie adaption would be a no brainer. You would be wrong.)
Watchman by Alan Moore – You would think with all the Alan Moore books I have plowed and plodded through I would be a big fan of his work. I am really not. He feels very uneven and overly complicated in his writing. Complicated for the sake of being complicated and artsy fartsy. I realize and appreciate how important Moore’s work is for the graphic novel Genre though. He spearheaded adding literary characters to very flat comic books. I will be so bold to say that he is the reason we have such gorgeous works to read from Authors like Gaimen, Ennis, and Vaughan. Maybe Watchman will make a believer out of me. Maybe it won’t. But I will not belittle the importance of it as a novel and I can appreciate that after finishing it. Even if I hate it and want to set it on fire in a dumpster.
I should note though that I love V for Vendetta. Love is probably too weak a word. I thought about getting a V for Vendetta tattoo of this passage:
V. : But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace soubriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona. Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.
Evey: Are you like a crazy person?
V. : I’m quite sure they will say so.”
Habibi by Craig Thompson – Craig Thompson is a resplendent writer. I broke out the ole’ thesaurus today to find the perfect word for his writing. His writing is resplendent. It is colorful and rich both rich in words and rich in images. If you have ever had middle eastern food, it is a symphony of different flavors. That is how his writing is. It is a damn symphony, but in language and image instead of salt and turmeric. As you can tell I am a fan. I found “Blankets” to be absolutely wonderful. It may not be everyones cup of tea, but you can damn well appreciate the subtly and nuance that Craig employs in his writing. I cannot wait to read Habibi.
War of the Oaks by Emma Bull – I am a sucker for Urban fantasy. Give me Dresden Files and Mercy Thompson as my drug of choice any day. This looks really good. My only caveat is that there is only one book. One. NOOOOOO. You fall in love with the characters and then it is done. Way to abrupt. Unless it sucks, then one is plenty.
Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey – I read the first sandman slim book, aptly named “Sandman Slim.” Dude, holy anti-hero batman. Yaas. Bring on the “I don’t give a shit attitude.” I love that the language in Sandman Slim is punchy. Not overly wordy and detailed. I want some concisely written words.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandomeer – I have head so much about this series. Almost to the point where I am like, “Ok ok dude I get it.” Sometimes a whole lot of publicity is just hype for crappy writing. Cough cough “Twilight.” Sometimes it is well garnered. The premise of this book sounds interesting as hell.
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.
Seriously, this sounds so cool. Kinda space operaish. Operaish? Is that even a word?
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – I won’t go so far as to say that Rothfuss is a god in fantasy. But damn if I don’t have a crush on the hirsute writer.
His first book in the series, “The Name of the Wind” was epic fantasy at its finest. I mean that. It will go down as a classic with the likes of “Narnia,” “Eye of the World,” and Tolkien. That’s right. I said “The Name of the Wind” is in league with “Narnia” and Tolkien. Bring on the hate mail!
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson – Finally the third one is out. I am hyperventilating as I write this. Don’t start with this book. Go back and read the first of the series. Then go and read all of his other work, Mistborn, “Warbreaker,” and “Legion,” in glorious anticipation of reading this book. Then you will know and understand my exquisite pain of waiting for this bastard to come out.
The Algebraist by Iain Banks – This comes highly recommended. It looks very interesting and it is a gaping hole in my science fiction repertoire (pops collar).
Doubleblind by Ann Aguire – I completely forgot about this series. I read the first two books years ago, but at the time there was only two. So.. frustration. Now there is six. Say what! Shut yo mouth.
(I start to do the running man of happiness)
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King – Stephen King, ug how prosaic. How pedestrian.
Look here. Stephen King is freaking awesome. Not all of his books are winners, but he writes enough of them that odds are in his favor. Besides, I read his books trying to figure out a little bit about what goes on in his twisted brain. He wrote “The Long Walk,” which gave me nightmares and “It,” which is so scary that I literally could not finish it for fear of damaging my psyche. The man is a kick ass writer and “Sleeping Beauties” looks twisted as hell. Bring it the hell on.
I want to tell you a little story about an experience I had when I first moved to portland. I went on a haunted ghost tour of downtown portland found here.
I did this for a variety of reasons:
It was cheap entertainment for the evening.
Gave me an opportunity to walk around like a tourist.
Also, gave me a chance to hang out with my very cool friend Jessica.
I like dark stories when they involve architecture and secret compartments.
Even better if they feature some sort of dastardly secret society hell bent on kidnapping you and using you for nefarious purposes.
I can use these stories later to not-impress family and friends when they come to town to visit me.
I do believe in ghosts.
I do believe that alcohol can make the above mentioned points even better.
The evening started off mild and wet. I met up with my friend Jessica and ghost hunting partner at a local bar downtown called Oldtown Brewing. This bar is renown for its excellent beer, excellent pizza and haunted and terrifying past.
“Old Town Pizza sits in what used to be called the Old North End, a section of the city with a rather questionable reputation. Despite the upstanding clientele of the Merchant Hotel, even it was known for offering one of the oldest professions in the world: prostitution. As legend goes, one of the young “working women” was Nina, sold into this life by a thriving white slavery market. In an effort to clean up the neighborhood, traveling missionaries convinced Nina to share information in exchange for freeing her from a fate she did not choose. Nina cooperated but soon afterward was found dead in the hotel, now Old Town Pizza. Thrown down the elevator shaft, Nina is reported to have never left the building. Could it be Nina who carved her name in the brick of the old elevator shaft, now the backdrop of a cozy booth in the rear of the restaurant?” https://www.otbrewing.com/haunted-past
The beer was good though, plus they had karaoke. Bad karaoke can make you wish you were dead, so that was close enough for me. I did not meet Nina, there was no hovering over my pizza while karaoke played, but I did hear a neat story told by a great storyteller.
After our food, beer, and story where concluded. We headed down single file to the back of the restaurant and filtered through a series of hallways and stairs that lead down into the dusty and dimly lit basement. The room looked old by the wood lathe used on the walls. It smelled dusty, moldy, but with the never mistaken smell of rising pizza dough. You can tell that it had not been used as a busy space in years except by GHOSTS! haha no really, it was pretty well not used. In the corner of the basement was a dark and cordoned off hallway that lead.. well..it led away into darkness. I am not trying to be all mystical or scary movie-ish. It literally led out into the darkness around the corner. It was a weird hallway. We were not allowed to follow the hallway into the great beyond. My inner goonie was screaming. Apparently it is dangerous to walk around pitch black tunnels in the middle of the night that may or may not be used for slave trade and/or drug running. They could get sued. All I heard was blah blah you are ruining my fun.
The tour continued around downtown from there. It is a walking tour after all. The guide walked and pointed and the tour group nodded sagely and occasionally took pictures. I know we visited the Bensen Hotel, which is a marvel of wood and crystal and makes me feel both very fancy and underdressed at the same time. Apparently it is said to be haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, Mr. Bensen. No freaky apparitions of men from the 1930’s wearing expensive suits were seen. I did however have another drink.