4.29.2009

Religious Relics

Greatly taken with the concept of religious relics particularly the more absurd ones like, for example the foot of the great mystic St. Theresa of Avila. There's a new book out called Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World's Holy Dead by Peter Manseau (talked about over on NPR). The author is, of course, quite serious about the gravitas of these holy objects but it occurred to me, being an irreverent comedic author, how much funny is inherent in such items. Give what we learn about preternaturals in Book the Second (I know it's a ways away from most of you but stay with me), there might be a very good reason for people in my alternative world to keep bits of "saints" around. And, an equally good reason for the Victorians to perfect their specimen preservation techniques. A note has been made. You are here by warned, Gentle Reader, holy relics very likely to make sneak appearance in Book the Third. The question is, what's the most ridiculous holy relic I can think up. Ah, the wheels are turning: St. Rufuspickle's holy belly button lint, perhaps?

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Augusta Auction has some wonderful vintage 1950 & 1960's pieces I would just love to get my little mitts on – if my closet wasn't so swollen already, and if I weren't such a try-on snob. That said I already own some rather similar items, funny that. Photos show mine next the to auction house's.




If you like this last look, J.C. Penny has some similar dresses on sale right now.

Your Tisane of Smart:
A new approach to cancer therapy uses nanoparticles to deliver a working copy of a tumor suppressor gene to tumor cells, making the tumors more vulnerable to conventional cancer treatments.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
The World’s Foremost Consultant on the Future of Publishing presents A Dire Prediction for the Industry = very droll.

CAKE in Space: Done with the red pen, working Draft 2.
Soulless: Awaiting ARC distribution.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections.
Steampunk short: Out with Gamma.

Quote of the Day:
The Knight Agency: Will the demand for paranormals continue to hold steady?
Sue Grimshaw (romance book buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks): Most definitely. With Charlene Harris’ “True Blood” HBO series and the “Twilight” saga by Stephenie Meyer, I think we’re influencing a new reader to step out into the romantic dark side. Young Adult readers are already starting to dabble in the world of paranormal romance.
Read full interview.

4.28.2009

Little Dorrit

Gentle Reader, much todo with a stack of 12 reviews due the end of this week and I'm trying to finished Draft 2 of CAKE before May and Book the Third commence. So not been much blogging recently. I am ashamed to neglect you all so.

For research purposes, I highly recommend the BBC's latest production of Dickens's Little Dorrit. Not my favorite of his works, but in grand UK TV fashion they treat the story with loving care and great (12 hour) detail. It's set a little earlier than strictly necessary, mid 1830s, but impeccably well done and brilliantly acted.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
The humans are dead.
Your Tisane of Smart:

from Hallmarks of Felinity
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Somehow I missed this. John Mortimer has died. Rumpole was a real favorite of mine throughout childhood, and I suspect Mortimer has had some undue influence on my writing as a result. RIP

CAKE in Space: Done with the red pen, working Draft 2.
Soulless: Awaiting ARC distribution.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections.
Steampunk short: Out with Gamma.

Quote of the Day:
"The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense."
~ Tom Clancy

4.24.2009

Alexia's London: Supper April 24, 1876

Supper for Today, 1876, in a London Townhouse
  • Salt fish, soaked in water to rehydrate and remove salt, boiled and served with boiled parsnips and egg-sauce (AKA hollandaise)
  • Roasted fore-quarter lamb and currant jelly - sliced and served with orange juices, cayenne paper, salt, and butter drizzled over the top, jelly on the side.
  • Asparagus
  • Lemon bread pudding

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
French designer Aurelie Bidermann uses vintage lace to create some amazing jewelry. Paired with a structured little black dress and some fantastic heals there is no chicer look.

Your Tisane of Smart:
Unearthed Tomb Mural Depicts Ancient Chinese Medication
Your Writerly Tinctures:
What librarians wish publishers knew, a comic.

CAKE in Space: Done with the red pen, working Draft 2.
Soulless: Awaiting ARC distribution.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections.
Steampunk short: Rewrite stage for Draft 2.

Quote of the Day:
"If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."
~ Japanese Proverb

4.22.2009

The Great Tea Taste Test of 2009

Conducted an elaborate blind taste test, Gentle Reader, on teas. This was an attempt to find a replacement for my beloved Trader Joes Organic Fair Trade Black Tea, which they have, of course, discontinued. This was my everyday tea, as I cannot afford to drink the imported Twinings gold label all the time. So finding an adequate American replacement is vital. The results were really quite startling.

Laboratory Analysis of Breakfast Blended Teas conducted at 10:53 AM April 21, 2009. Gail Carriger, supervising technician.

Scientific Instrumentation Needed
1 good electric kettle with filtered water, 2 measuring cups, 1 pint fresh whole milk, 7 teacups


The Sample
7 black teas, all breakfast blends. Included my personal favorite and 3 decaffeinated blends. Regretted not getting the American Twinings red box caffeinated English Breakfast. Prices ranged from $0.99 to $8.99 a box. Placed identification labels on bottoms of teacups and removed all other tags.

The Test
½ cup boiling water over each bag. 2 minutes of seeping and 3 swishes of the bag each. At this stage all teas had good color, the expected Lapsang dark red brown, although some had better dispersal than others.

Immediate removal of bag. Addition of ¼ cup good whole organic milk. Color differences began to emerge. Two were noticeably darker than the others (these turned out to be the imported Twinings).

Began tasting. Organized by preference from Left to Right.


Lab Notes
2 teas immediately eliminated: 1 is too fishy, the other far too spicy and exotic. 2 are quite mild, although one has the hint of perfume to it neither are offensive, both are simply unexciting. 1 is a nice medium blend, a good basic, but also unexciting. 2 are hands down my favorite, one - the darkest of the bunch - has a great full body and strong flavor with little tannin, the other is quite delicious with almost chocolate overtones.

The Results
Winners

Unsurprisingly, my favorite strong tea was the Twinings gold label English Breakfast. Surprisingly, my other favorite, with the chocolate overtones, was the imported Twinings Decaf English Breakfast - although it lost a lot of its appeal as it cooled. I knew that decaf was good, but to beat out all the others? Impressive.

Losers

The fishy one was Trader Joes Fair Trade Organic Decaf Black Tea. No surprise there, often decaf black teas have fishy overtones. It was binned immediately. I wouldn't even return such an item to the store for resale, no one should have to drink swill like that. The overly spicy tea was Stash's English Breakfast, also no surprise. They do like to tamper overmuch with their teas, those Stash people. I kept it, in case someone else wanted it. Just because it's not to my taste doesn't mean some more chai-orientated individual might not enjoy it.

Mid-Range

The two mild ones were the American Twinings Decaf English Breakfast and Allegro Organic Breakfast Blend. I think the Twinings in its caffeinated form and seeped a little extra might just do for a daily tea, but the Allegro (c. $4) isn't worth the price, not with such weak flavor. I'll keep it but not bother to buy again. The good medium with the full body turned out to be the Tetley (and I'd guess PG Tips would also fall into this category). Since its cheep from Safeway at $5 for 80 bags, I've adopted it as my replacement daily. Still, with the regular Twinings unsampled more research may be needed.
Conclusion
Tetley for now, but the hunt is on for a good cheep source for the American Twinings English Breakfast - tomorrow I hit up Cost Plus.


Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Susan Boyle - On Britains Got Talent 2009
Your Tisane of Smart:
Finally someone's done it! Power from stationary bikes. Now if only they would do whole gyms.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
New favorite podcast: Writing Excuses

CAKE in Space: Done with the red pen, working Draft 2.
Soulless: Awaiting ARC distribution.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections.
Steampunk short: Rewrite stage for Draft 2.

Quote of the Day:
Mum: Found the turtle in the middle of the lawn and named him Aragorn.
Self: Strider would be funnier.

4.09.2009

The LA Report: Brother's K Book Launch Event

Having returned from foreign climes, all the way down south, I can give you this report, Gentle Reader. The Brothers K's book launch was a massive success. In the immortal words of Eytan himself (or something like), they shook the Jewish tree and much fruit landed.
The Barnes & Nobel events staff said it was the biggest reading they had yet hosted. There was food, there was drink, there was Brothers K bickering, what more could one want?
This is what I wore...

Press was in residence and milling about, so I am sure there will be photos of the event to follow. If you haven't yet, check out the Brothers K's high concept sci-fi thriller The Unincorporated Man.

I also got to meet my lovely model, Donna, who graces the cover of soulless.

She was absolutely delightful, but (and I'm sure she gets the this a lot, given her amazing photographic presence) smaller than I was expecting. She gifted me with the coolest bee steampunk pendent. We met up at a gay boy karaoke bar, because, well, why not?

In addition, the website has undergone some small overhaul, check it out. Now more replete with useful little links and steampunky Easter eggs.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Checked out It's a Wrap while I was down in LA. Thus I discovered major flaw in my plans for world domination = most actresses are apparently my size. Luckily, I don't live anywhere near LA, so I can't spend my entire advance at this particular shop - because I sure was tempted. As it was, I consider it quite the noble sacrifice on my part that I escaped with only a beautiful blood red velvet 1940's inspired wrap blazer.

Your Tisane of Smart:
I get this question a lot at conventions. So here Threadbanger tackles how to make your own custom body form for about $10.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
My podcast debut over on J. Daniel Sawyer's Antithesis, Book I, Dealing In, Episode 7 Feedback show, Part 1 and Part 2. We have a lot of fun and get very very silly.

CAKE in Space: Red penning draft 1.
Soulless: ARCs have arrived, awaiting distribution.
Changeless: Gone poof. Starting to gather corrections.
Steampunk short: Done

Quote of the Day:
"Isn't it nice that people who prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco live there?"
~ Herb Caen