In the new books section at the library, a little book called Päntsdrunk (Kalsariänni) by Miska Rantanen beckoned. The illustrated book reminded me of The Little Book of Hyggeso I took it home. Päntsdrunk is a Finnish word to describe the sloth and aimlessness of activities like hanging around the house after work drinking alcohol in your underwear. As that’s not exactly my thing even when I’m stressed, I didn’t love the book. However, it’s written with dry wit and is a quick read so I didn’t hate it either. It’s a gentle poke at Denmark’s hygge culture. It won’t make you laugh out loud and didn’t make me want to book a trip to Helsinki, but it’s cute.
I don’t usually read adventure or fantasy novels, but I enjoyed Andrew Klavan’s The Good Great Thing, so I thought since he made his name writing adventurous thrillers, I’d give his latest book a chance. In Another Kingdom, twenty-something Austin Lively’s screenwriting career is tanking. His parents are highly successful as is his older brother and Austin dreads spending time with them. He’s close with his sister Riley, a fragile, imaginative girl who’s big into conspiracy theories and needs a Catcher in the Rye.
Austin doesn’t have the time to moan about dinner with his successful family members because out of the blue Austin mysteriously finds himself in some fantastic medieval-type world. It’s all the more puzzling because in this land, called Galiana, Austin is on trial for murder. Totally disoriented, Austin has no idea what to do to escape prison so he can avoid torture followed most assuredly by a slow, excruciating death. Boom, he’s back in Tinseltown at the local hipster coffeeshop or the studio. All’s not safe in L.A. though because soon some goons employed by a maniacal billionaire who’s after the novel Another Kingdom, that Austin’s studio wanted him to cover before his boss mysteriously recalled the assignment. Nothing makes sense. Everything’s over the top. Danger’s everywhere and Austin’s life is a series of volley’s from Galiana to L.A.
Klavan’s style is sly and witty, full of wisecracks. The plot is brisk, full of twists and turns to keep you guessing. All in all, it’s a fun summer read. I haven’t been sold on thrillers or fantasy, but Another Kingdom entertains.
Hospitalité is a one of a kind movie — or perhaps an odd movie is more like it. The main characters are Mikio, a middle aged man who’s taken over his family’s small printing shop, Natuski, his new, young wife, Eriko, his daughter from his first marriage and his sister who’s divorced. The daughter and the sister are sort of like prompts in that they appear when the plot needs a nudge. Otherwise, I didn’t think they seemed all that real.
The family’s pet parakeet goes missing and the young wife and daughter put up a notice in the neighborhood for it. A strange neighbor presents himself to help find the bird. Before they know it this odd ball Kagawa has been hired and then moves into their small home. A couple days later Kagawa brings his blonde wife to live there. The wife is a liar telling some she’s from Brazil and others that she’s from Bosnia. Chaos ensues. It reminded me of the Cat in the Hat but with the parents remaining home and allowing a nutcase teak over and never clean up.
Kagawa quickly discovers secrets both the husband and wife have and blackmailing them to get his way. By the end of the film the couple have completely lost control of their home as Kagawa practically turns the place like a youth hostel.
I found the film very different and unpredictable, but shortly after it ended I saw loads of holes in the story. Continue reading →
Friday I went to a party at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum called Bourbon, Bowties & Bonnets, which celebrated the Kentucky Derby. My friend and I went with colorful, spring outfits, but we didn’t don bonnets because we just didn’t have any. Next year, we will. Still a lot of guests got into the spirit of the festivities and dressed up from head to toe. Many women had spectacular hats, but my favorite was a straw hat with a wide brim decorated with flowers, a small plastic horse and an old ticket from the Kentucky Derby.
When we arrived we were given mint juleps, the cocktail most associated with the Kentucky Derby. A bona fide mint julep comes in a pewter glass and has crushed ice (not cubes), sugar (not syrup), bourbon and mint leaves (recipe here). Bourbon is the first alcohol invented in the U.S. and must be made up of at least 51% corn and be made in fresh oak barrels. After their first use, the barrels are sold to Scotland, Mexico and elsewhere. Those countries use the barrels to make other alcohol. Though distilled in Kentucky for the most part, Bourbon got its name from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where bourbon became popular.
With our mint juleps we listened to music and nibbled hot appetizers. We learned about the derby’s history.
Then we went upstairs and could taste three different cocktails: The Brown Derby, Old Fashioned and Boulevardier. My favorite was The Brown Derby with the strong Old Fashioned and Boulevardier coming in a distant second and third.
A bit pricey, but handmade
We could wander around the museum checking out this stunning Gilded Age home and the current exhibit on the history of chairs in America. In addition, they had a real life milliner selling gorgeous hats and fascinators, which would be perfect for anyone going to the derby or a royal wedding. Some of our fellow guests were planning on going to the Drake Hotel’s viewing of Prince Harry and Meaghan Markel’s wedding and got their hats here.