Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ex-Heroes Review

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

(from the back of the book)
Stealth.  Gorgon.  Regenerator.  Cerberus.  Zzzap.  The Mighty Dragon.  They were heroes.  Vigilantes.  Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe.  Despite the best efforts of the superheroes, the police, and the military, the hungry corpses rose up and overwhelmed the country.  The population was decimated, heroes fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland like so many others.

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions must overcome their differences and recover from their own scars to protect the thousands of survivors sheltered in their film studio-turned-fortress, the Mount.  The heroes lead teams out to scavenge supplies, keep the peace within the walls of their home, and try to be the symbols the survivors so desperately need.
For while the ex-humans walk the streets night and day, they are not the only threat left in the world, and the people of the Mount are not the only survivors left in Los Angeles.  Across the city, another group has grown and gained power.

And they are not heroes.

I like superheroes and I like zombies and there are plenty of both in this story.  There is a lot of rather gory action where people and zombies alike get torn apart.  But there is a lot more going on than the fight against the zombies.  There is the conflict with another group of humans and the characters have lots of personal issues.  There is the struggle for survival when food and supplies run short.  The need for heroes and symbols of hope in a time of despair is addressed along with the resentment of the people without super powers for those with them.  So although most of the plot is nothing new to people familiar with the genre there is enough here to make it worth a look even after all the other zombie books.  The heroes are flawed and not idealized which makes them more real.  And the story is told in alternating chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’ which gives the characters a past that I hoped would help develop the characters.  Unfortunately all the flaws, issues, and background failed to make any of the characters truly interesting.  So though there are good points here, with so much of it being about characters I couldn’t care about it was hard to pay attention some times. It is an interesting twist on both the zombie and the superhero genre but the concept is better than the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Doughboys by the Sea

So my family went on a road trip to Rhode Island to go to the zoo.  And the zoo was a lot of fun.  Although it was muddy and wet it was a very nice day.  And while we were in the area we stopped by Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House

When we got there, there was a line down the street.  But it was moving
pretty quickly.  It is right on the beach and another time we might have eaten outside but, although it was a nice day, it was February and there was snow on the ground so we wanted to eat inside.  With nine people plus a baby we could not all sit together but we managed to all find seats.

I could not decide if I wanted fish and chips or clam strips so one of my sisters agreed to split with me so I could have some of both.  And my mother got onion rings and the dinners came with chowder and of course we had to get doughboys.  Because, I mean, how could we not.  So I got to try a bunch of stuff.

When you order a dinner you get a choice of white, red or clear chowder.  I got white and it was thick and creamy and full of potatoes and clams.  And even though it was far too much food I was glad that it came with the meal.

The fries and onion rings were good and fried up nice and crisp.  The batter on the fish was a little thicker than I usually like but it tasted good and mine was fried up crispy as well.  But my sister said she had a piece where the batter was raw in the middle.  Don’t tell my sister, but I’m just glad it was her and not me because I really enjoyed mine.  The clam strips were good too and not super chewy like they can sometimes get.  My brother-in-law got scallops and he said they were sweet and he seemed to like them.  The only bad thing I have to say about the meal (except for the batter being slightly thicker than I like) was that you get a small little container of tartar sauce.  I would have liked more.  Because you have plenty of food to put it on.  But since I was way over my calorie budget already it was probably better that way.

And then there were the doughboys.  Beautiful little pieces of fried dough with powdered sugar (or cinnamon and granulated sugar if you would rather) sold by the half or whole dozen.  Although what you are going to do with twelve of them I have no idea.  After I had eaten my dinner I had trouble making room to eat just one.  It was delicious and completely covered in sugar.  Which did nothing good for my calorie budget but by then it was ridiculous to keep counting.  And when I finished the first one I was stuffed and had no room to fit anything else but they were so good I wanted to eat another one.  (I didn’t because it would not have ended well if I had tried.)  So unless you don't plan to eat any seafood first, or unless there are twelve of you, I wouldn't get more than six.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. See the other posts here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What is that? I need to buy it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the produce section of the grocery store since I have started counting calories.  I'm always looking for things to fill my belly that have a low calorie cost.  And that I don't mind eating.  Which isn't always easy.  All this time looking at fruit has made me aware of a strange impulse I have to buy things when I don't know what they are.  If there is a fruit that I have never seen before I tend to buy it.  You would have thought I would have learned not to do this since the first time I did I ended up with a Buddha's Hand.  I had no idea what it was or how to eat it but it was new and looked cool.  Turns out, you don't really eat a Buddha's Hand because there is nothing there but skin and pith.  All you can do with it is use it for decoration or zest it.  So it sat around until it started to rot and ended up in the compost.  But I keep going.  Recently I was picking up some mangoes and saw something new.  "Oh, what's that?  I need to buy it."  So in the cart it went.  This time it was kiwi berries.  Which turned out to taste like a mix between a kiwi and a grape.  This compulsion came as a surprise to me since it is the only place in my life that I am adventurous.  I usually don't like new and am not impulsive.  Unfortunately, this is a lose-lose type of thing.  On the one hand it could turn out to be something I don't like.  On the other hand I could like it but since I have never seen any of these odd fruits twice I can never get them again.  But at least I'm expanding my horizons so I can recognize more things when I'm watching Chopped.

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.
Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.

My book this week is The Spy in the Ointment by Donald E. Westlake. My brother introduced me to Donald E. Westlake, well, I won't say how many years ago. And I have loved his comic crime novels ever since. This one is about a pacifist who gets mixed up with terrorists the FBI. It's a little dated now but the sarcastic hero and bumbling terrorists still make a funny story.

Book Beginnings:

I was trying to fix the damn mimeograph machine when the doorbell rang.

Friday 56:

I was slumming in a boobery, nothing more. This bag of mixed nuts was unlikely to stick together long enough to finish introducing themselves, much less go out in unison to kill innocent bystanders like me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Roots Review

Roots by Alex Haley

Roots follows a family through several generations from Kunta Kinte, who was taken from his home in Gambia and sold into slavery, to his descendants who lived to see a time when they were no longer slaves.

This is a very powerful story.  No matter how much is true.  The controversy did take away from the book somewhat for me, especially at the end when the author is speaking to me as the reader and talking about his personal journey to write this book.  Which is unfortunate.  Because this is a good story and the feelings and sentiments here are true.  And I kind of got mad at Haley for putting the unfavorable impression into my head that I couldn’t quite get rid of as I read.  But I was easily able to become very involved with the characters.  I got a feeling for how life was for Kunta in his village.  I felt I knew him and his family.  I cared about them.  Which made the story of what happened to him a very emotional one for me.  It was interesting to see how Kunta was so different from the slaves who had been born slaves, how attitudes toward how the system worked could be so different among people who were all in the same position.  And I liked that it crossed several generations so you could see how time changed those attitudes in Kunta and the generations to come.  I do think Kunta Kinte was the best part and the book lost a little something when he left the story.  I understood why the story moved on but I wished we could go back and see what had happen to him.  The dialogue is written in dialect and that took me a while to get used to and there were some parts that I had to go back and read again out loud to figure out what was being said but I don’t think there was any other way this story could be told.  Despite the controversy surrounding Alex Haley and the writing of this book it is still very much a story worth telling and reading.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Crochet a Bat

I found this pattern browsing around on Ravelry but you can go straight to the pattern on Just Add Awesome here.

This little guy is pretty easy to make.  He is mostly just single crochet stitched in rounds.  Some increasing and decreasing are needed too.  To start the rounds it says to put six single crochet in the second chain from your hook but since I learned how to do a magic ring I like those better so I used those instead.

The wings are not stitched in rounds like the rest of him, but they are mostly single crochet as well.  The only difference being that some of them are foundation single crochet.  I didn’t know how to do those but it was easy enough to Google that and I was able to figure it out.  When you are stitching him together it says to attach the end of the wing you fastened off and it should be like a little nub.  But when I made the wings I ended on the other side so my trailing yarn I had left to sew them on was not on the nub side of the wing.  It was easy enough to sew them on anyway and you can tell which end is supposed to be sewed to his back but I don’t know if I did something wrong or what.  But I checked the instructions and don’t know how I would have been able to do it any differently.

To make him you need the yarn to make him, plus a little bit of a different color to stitch his nose, safety eyes (you could stitch eyes on if you want to but I can never get them to come out right), something to stuff him with, a darning needle and of course the crochet hook.

I used Sugar’n Cream warm brown yarn (worsted, 4-ply) and a number 4 hook and he came out to be about 3 ½ inches to the top of his head (not including the ears, the ears add about an inch) and 6 ½ inches from wing tip to wing tip.

He is super cute and comes together quickly.  I might make mine some friends.