Friday Roundup

I have more or less recovered from our vacation, I think, so let’s do a roundup.

I touched on this in my vacation travelogue, but I’ll elaborate a bit more here: During the Seattle leg of our trip, my sister Ingrid and I visited Durandy’s acclaimed Duran Duran archive. Durandy was a gracious host, and the trip was a heck of a lot of fun. As of this month, he’s got a brand-new book out, The Music Between Us: Concert Ads of Duran Duran, which is available from Amazon; if you’re looking to purchase it, you may want to go ahead and contact Durandy directly through his website, because I’m sure he’d be more than happy to personally inscribe it for you. Pictured above is an earlier edition of this book, which Durandy sent to me back in January—he’d had a few copies printed up early to present directly to the band members during their tour late last year, and in a very cool move, he passed an extra one along to me after he first contacted me about Duranalyzing his first book. I don’t know how much the copy I have differs from the finalized version, but it is, of course, totally awesome; I love and treasure it. It’s filled with glossy full-color photos of Duran Duran concert posters, from their early days in Birmingham all the way through the Paper Gods tour.

Anyway, Durandy’s archive has all kinds of cool stuff, as you'd expect. Only Durandy has vintage Power Station-branded hot sauce:

So, hey: I have all kinds of ideas buzzing around in my head for more tales from my Wrong City/Demon City universe, which is a faintly supernatural demon-run version of Los Angeles. Problem is, interest in those two books has stalled—I sold zero copies of either last week—so I’m not feeling too sanguine about the chances of more stories along these lines taking off. They’re good books, and I feel very strongly there’s an untapped audience for them out there. Therefore, I have a proposition for all of you: Between now and the end of September, read Wrong City and leave a review on Amazon (the Kindle ebook is $2.99; trade paperback is $11.00, but if cash is tight, you can download it for free in various electronic formats here), then leave a comment on this post directing me to your review. I’ll enter you in a giveaway for a trade paperback copy of Demon City plus some tangentially-related swag (to be determined, but it’ll probably be a bunch of cool Korean snacks, because that’s how I roll). Even if you don’t win the swag, you’ll have my eternal gratitude for helping me out in this.

Looking forward to the end of summer so I can start using the oven again. I’m getting a little weary of salads. No fantastic new recipes to report this week—I had a tube of prepared polenta on hand, so I sliced it into coins, basted them in olive oil, and popped them on the Panini grill until they were a toasty brown. Then I arranged them on a microwave-safe plate, topped them with refried black beans and shredded cheese, and nuked them a bit. Served it with salsa—hey, polenta nachos! They were all right. Nothing I would rush to make again. As it turns out, nachos made with polenta are several steps inferior to nachos made with tortilla chips. Probably should’ve been obvious.

We kind of drank our way across Washington state (see the aforementioned travelogue), so we’ve cut out alcohol until the start of fall to give our livers/bank accounts a shot at recovery. Therefore, I have no cocktail recipes this week. I mentioned in my travelogue about a delicious, refreshing lemon-basil cider we’d had in Spokane. I did some hunting, and it’s this: One Tree Hard Cider. It was really good! Neither of us are huge on ciders—they tend to be either too sticky-sweet or too off-puttingly sour for us—but this one hit that perfect flavor balance. It’s not available on the East Coast, but if they ship to New York, we’re picking up a case in the fall as soon as our booze ban is lifted. They also have a huckleberry cider, which sounds phenomenal.

You remember how last year I wrote an analysis of Mr. T’s bizarrely awesome direct-to-video special Be Somebody… Or Be Somebody’s Fool? Check it out if you missed it, because Mr. T is all kinds of wonderful, and his special is pretty much the best thing ever. Anyway, my sister tipped me off to a Key & Peele sketch from 2013 in which they do a loving, pitch-perfect homage to the special.  This is amazing:

A friend emailed me earlier this week, very concerned I might not have climbed aboard the Stranger Things train. He’d noticed I hadn’t mentioned anything about it here, and he thought (correctly) it was exactly the sort of thing I’d gravitate toward. I was quick to reassure him: Oh, yeah, we’re all about Stranger Things in our apartment. We binged on it and loved every minute.

I’m going to end this with two videos of the week, featuring a pair of fabulous eighties women singing about their crappy boyfriends. First up is Frida’s “Something Going On”:

And then we’ve got Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”:

Be well, everyone.


Morgan Dodge said…
I feel it's important that everyone see Stranger Things. :P

Hey you, over there. Yeah, the one in the green shirt? Yeah, have you watched Stranger Things yet? Well once you're done reading this blog, go give it a try please. It goes great with Power Station hot sauce, too.
Morgan Richter said…
Stranger Things! So good! I love all those D&D-playing kids so much, I love the nitwit teenagers and their terrible ideas, I love the Tangerine Dream-y soundtrack. So much goodness packed into it.
mousie mouse said…
i went on vacation, too! that's why i never wrote a comment for "ordinary world" or all those friday roundups that took place while i was preparing for, gone on, or recovering from vacation. ^^; (i've never taken such a long trip before, and of course stuff happened while i was gone. o_o it was harder than i thought to get back into the swing of things.) though i did, upon recalling your comment about it in the "violence of summer" one, attempt to design greaser!nick. my friend was not impressed, though that was probably because the pose was a little awkward. that's why lines of action are so important to draw first! maybe i'll try again in another week.

i was so jealous when i read that you went to durandy's awesome archive. and now i'm even more jealous. power station hot sauce! that's wild. and just the tip of the obscurity iceberg, i'd imagine.

though i'm super-busy trying to get duranger finished before october 31st (which realistically means it'll be done for christmas. it had better not take until 2017, i will cry if january first rolls around and it's not finished, i kid you not), i will do my best to take you up on your proposition! should this be a detailed book report-style essay, or just like "hey man this is an awesome book!!! morgan richter owns!!!!!"? anyway, speaking of paperbacks, i finally amassed enough gift cards to make that last non-prime amazon order! first cover bias cut is on its way. :D

i vaguely remember the salads! most of them sounded pretty good, but i too would find it hard to just salad. even i get tired of salads.

i'm always the last person to watch things, mostly because i'm a horrible tv watcher. i have so many shows i've started and intend to finish, but i get busy and never get back to most of them. stranger things is either far away or the next first episode on the pile.

i'd forgotten about "something going on"! thanks for reminding me. ^^
Morgan Richter said…
Mousie! Good to hear from you. I hope your vacation was wonderful and you're making good progress on Duranger. Thank you so much for ordering Bias Cut! As for the review, do whatever seems most natural. Long, short, detailed, hasty, positive, negative, whatever. And if you don't get around to it, no worries. Lives do not hinge on this.

Stranger Things. Worth it.

Durandy's archive was fun. We were there about three hours and barely scratched the surface.
it's written under my real name!!! oh snap! said…
but amanda is still the most generic name in the universe lmao. (i guess i should see if i can change from mousie mouse to amanda panda! lol) anyway, i hope this makes sense, i started writing this at eleven-thirty at night and as i write this it's two. make sure you read the labels on the korean snacks if no one else participates; i'm a vegetarian, and bonito and gelatin are my arch-nemeses. the review hasn't shown up on amazon yet, but maybe after my shower it will. (and it showed up while i was brushing my teeth! here we are)

(oh shit this is a review written for snack compensation! it's against the amazon tips and guidelines, why did i open that little tab thingy i never would've known)

and here is the bit that i don't want to stick on amazon but would like to tell you, so maybe you can factor it into future books (or maybe you already have, since this is an older book!). This book seems structurally similar to Bias Cut, where in the first half things are kind of happening naturally, we're getting to know the characters; and then midway through the book there's a Slide Into Mystery (close cousin of the Journey Into Mystery? eyyy! [finger guns]) where now our protagonists are going places, they're seeking people out, the focus of the book is clearly the mystery of what happened to this person/who these people are, the locations are getting more exotic.

And it works in Bias Cut because Laurie's that kind of protagonist and hangs in those kinds of circles - in fact, it feels completely natural! But you do such a good job of establishing Vish as this introvert who has the initiative of a cute puddle - he doesn't even investigate the ominous shadow thing living in his own apartment building! his teenage neighbor has to do that! - that around chapter sixteen or so I found myself taken out of it a little, thinking, "Huh, we've started actively moving the mystery plot along." I understand why it happens, because you like to keep your pace snappy and Vish could've been bumbling around doing nothing for weeks before Sparky got fed up and moved him into place to set up the confrontation in the cave... but I think once you know you need to execute the Slide to keep things moving at the pace you'd like, you also need to install a more proactive protagonist so it won't stick out that things are suddenly being done. (but no one else on amazon seems to be bothered by this? is the pumpkin spice latte i used to power through this long night making me extra-sensitive to this?)

Or you could not execute the Slide; like I say in my review, it only took me two hours to read this. (Less than two hours, really, I got sidetracked by the girl I was babysitting waking up because of the thunder, so I pulled up Minecraft for what had to have been over half an hour, considering the progress I made on building my castle!) There are YA books that I can't finish in four. Things can afford to go a little slower, I promise! XD
me again said…
and if i had been thinking i would have emailed all of that to you instead of just leaving it out here in the open. i'm sorry. >< feel free to delete that comment, and email if you want to reply to it.

instead, let's talk about vish's relationship with veganism! (after all, for all their faults, troy(/philip?) didn't strike me as a terrible judgey vegan!) wtf, vish, that stir-fry sounded delicious but you were over there like "ugh, not fun!"
Morgan Richter said…
Thanks for the review, Mousie! Point taken with the pacing issues. (Kelsey is not Summer Glau, exactly, thought that's not an out-of-left-field guess). I'm totally with Vish on Troy's stir-fry, though; I have eaten buckets of tofu over the years, and it's fine, but a stir-fry made either: a) with meat, or b) entirely without meat, but also entirely without tofu is going to be superior to a tofu-based stir-fry every time. If you're going to use tofu in a stir-fry, at least deep-fry it first.

At least Troy used firm tofu instead of the silken stuff. She may be evil, but she's not a complete monster.
mousie mouse said…
oh phew, you're still talking to me! it's been a day and a half of "i messed up! nooooo!" over here. i'm always super-honest when i review things, and then i'm like "man i was savage, i wish i could take it back" ;_;

gosh, i thought for sure kelsey was based off her! her character on interstellar boys sounds a lot like river tam, and the blasé attitude toward the danger of the balcony-climbing reminds me a lot of the kind of attitude one runs into from teenage dancers and gymnasts (when one gets into the upper levels of either there's a bit of overlap in terms of what you're expected to be able to do). (but the idiots at the helm in the writers' room that sunk the show, that's totally heroes, right?)

so troy/phillip is considered a she! after she possessed philip i was calling her a they/them, because i wasn't sure. ^^; i should read demon city tonight, i bet i would have found that out if i had read it last night instead of discovering that some fanfic from the 90s is still on the internet.

man, i get stir-fried sorts of things with tofu all the time. XD but i hear that a lot from my omnivorous friends, that it's a texture thing and a blandness thing. i guess i'm just weird, because i like all tofus and i became a vegetarian because i hate most forms of meat. ^^;
Morgan Richter said…
No worries! Though I'm very worried you're going to have the same issue with Demon City. I like skittish heroes who sort of get beaten around the head and body with adventure. I was mostly offline yesterday (conscious effort to unplug for a while, plus it was Smithsonian's free museum day, so I was at a museum of Himalayan art in Chelsea), so I didn't get around to responding to things until today.

Oh, yeah, Interstellar Boys is totally a riff on Heroes. I figure female pronouns for Troy are easiest, since there *is* a real Troy (even if she's a bit of a Trojan horse), and the creature possessing her seems to be nongendered.

I find the taste of tofu, faint as it is, unpleasant. It's not a big deal, and I'll eat it if I'm given it, but I'd rather not. If it's pressed and marinated enough to obliterate the bean-curdy taste, cool. But blocks of unseasoned silken tofu in a stir-fry or floating in a broth just make me crabby.
mousie mouse said…
i actually didn't! much like in bias cut where things felt natural, in demon city the progression of events also feels natural. i think it's because felix's supporting cast is more integral to the plot and he has a little more guidance, he feels like he's a bit less likely to get in his own head (he can actually sort of talk to girls!), and it's his brother in trouble. whereas there's a part of wrong city where vish feels like he's pretty much riding solo and showing surprising amounts of get-up-and-go based on how much he seemed to be floundering in the first half, all for the pursuit of the mystery of troy and sparky, who he hasn't known for that long. (but based on his appearance in demon city, maybe i completely misread him! he doesn't seem nearly as... i keep using "in his own head"... awkward? as he did in his book. he has his own tv show and everything.) but i did like vish in his book, i don't have a thing against skittish heroes. ^^; (if, say, mariposa had decided she was going to get to the bottom of this and dragged vish along because he's connected/adventures with cute neighbor, i probably would've been fine with wrong city! XD)

also, i really liked how donya (and to an extent laurie) showed up. it's like the tezuka star system, but they're more explicitly the same characters!

that sounds cool! i think my favorite part of visiting d.c. was the days when we were able to go to the museums. (and we only managed to visit three, plus a tiny bit of the zoo one day before our citi open time. sad trombone.)

that's a new disliking-tofu reason, i must admit! i will add it to my list. no miso soup for you, i guess. (but which wonder chefs do you know that can make silken tofu not disintegrate in a stir-fry context? i just think of it in soups and dishes where either it's not going to get stirred around so much or it's being used to give things a creamy texture sans dairy o_o)
Morgan Richter said…
Mousie -- you won the giveaway! Send me your mailing address when you get a chance (me_richter at yahoo dot com) , and I will get your swag package off to you this week.

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