March Reviews

Standard

I’m starting a new column, mostly just for fun and to help me keep track the way I always want to and then forget. It’s just a general overview of thing that happened the last month and media that I enjoyed, or as a warning if I stumble on something particularly awful.  Hope you enjoy and find some new and inspiring things to look into!! 

Books

Non-Fiction

Love Sense
Dr. Sue Johnson
3 stars
Being such a romantic myself, I enjoyed the appeal to openness and connection as primal roles of romantic connection, though I disliked undercurrent I felt was self-serving for author’s own therapy as “best avalible”. It also lacked any mention of issues or relationships that therapy was unsuccessful for, or for mention of any relationships such as abusive ones where such therapy would be unlikely to EVER get to a point of success or even simple issues when such things as life style/ value differences, etc would mean the end of a relationship. However, I think would be good for dealing with generally happy stable quality relationships in order help deal with changes that occur in times of pressure.

Will Write for Food
Diane Jacob
4 stars
This book is very well written, packed with useful advice for any area of writing about food. Even if you don’t want to write about food, you’ll be sorely tempted by the time you finish the book, and in fact it made me a convert- I’d never even considered food writing before I read this, and was so inspired it’s become a major aspect of my writing(I did write a lot about food before, I’d just never considered how much and that I could write just about food, silly but true). It also gives good advice for writing in general, and an impressive bibliography if you simply like to read about food.

The Female Brain
Louann Brizendine MD
2 stars
I appreciate the attempt, but really felt the book was meh- the writing was condescending, the information dumbed down, and I disliked the lack of references and studies which led to these “findings”. It felt very gender wars, even though she claimed otherwise. I like the subject, and felt it COULD HAVE been really good, maybe she just makes a better doctor than writer, it happens. I think it would be ok if you just want a general overview of hormones, or a beginner’s intro if you are looking to build knowledge and want to research more deeply later.

Fiction-

The Ice Queen
The Foretelling
Alice Hoffman
5 stars
I am, in general, a huge fan of Alice Hoffman though I must admit it was after watching the movie of Practical Magic. As always happens, the book is better, but the movie was decent in it’s own right. After watching and reading, I hunted down all the rest of her work- The Red Garden, The Dove Cages, and so on- and have been devouring it wherever I can find it. She is one of the great modern literary authors, and frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t study her work in Women’s Lit in college and feel that was a sore lack in the syllabus. As for these two of her newest, they are better than her older work as she is truly becoming a master of subtlety and emotion within the storyline. I read it and felt like I was coming down from a trip it was so intense, but I could never say exactly where or what or why I felt that way. If you want to write, read Alice Hoffman and wish you could be such a master of words.

Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
This work is a masterpiece of literature, 10 stars, go fcuking read it already, seriously, why are you still on this page?

Like Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen
4 stars
Beautifully written, and really just made me happy to enjoy such a unique story and a perfect ending. Worth the read.

Game Of Thrones ( Books 1,2)
George R.R. Martin
3 stars
Can’t help it, jumped on the bandwagon, I know, I know. They are no masterworks (though the Arya character is impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing how he carries her story), but if you want some seriously thick books to lose yourself in and have some fun, these are perfect. Sex, violence, fantasy, dragons, the cocktail mix for a rainy weekend boredom cure.

Restaurants:

Los Angeles-

Manee House Thai
Surprisingly good Thai for about $6 for the lunch special, worth it if you’re on a budget and want to go out. Spicy and filling.

Dave’s Chillin’ N Grillin’
Amazingly good sandwich shop by the local farmer’s market. I don’t even like meatball subs, but was sharing and shocked when I ended up devouring it. Moderately priced, and get there early because once something is out, it’s out til the next day. I approve of that kind of conservation.

Cafe’ de Leche
Worthy of a mention because of Horchata con Espresso. Never seen it anywhere else, and it’s AMAZING!! I’m working on developing a recipe for it at home.

Sushi Stop
When I heard that the rolls ranged from $2.75 to $4 (seriously, not a typo I promise) I was understandably terrified. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, perfect and fresh; and also some of the best service. The waitress was friendly, took pictures of the group, and we got a fried ice cream, super elaborately done with caramel, chocolate and whipped cream, on the house for Michelle’s birthday as well so we tipped her with a $10 folded into an origami shirt.

Mao’s Kitchen
About a block off of Venice Beach Boardwalk, covered in vintage communist posters, fun staff and $1 egg rolls that were surprisingly good. I preferred the $2 shrimp and spinach roll so much I’d happily eat there anytime.

Santa Barbara-
Did not eat out, waaaay to expensive everywhere we went, we got McConnell’s ice cream at the grocery store and made gourmet at home.

Monterey-
Koko’s Mediterranean Cafe’
Good gelato, decent lentil soup, be afraid, very afraid of most everything else. The service was comical it was so bad, and the guy knew it- total sad puppy stoner, we tipped him out of amused pity. Obviously, he might well be the exception, but I was just unimpressed all around and they were out of cheese, all cheese, how can you eat a meal without cheese much less run a restaurant? Ok, I’m ranting, but generally, just go there for dessert.

The Bagel Bakery
Excellent bagels, made fresh, same with the cream cheese, though barely good enough to be worth their asking price, esp for extra toppings. The coffee is HORRIBLE, and more expensive than anything else. Very filling however, didn’t need food again til evening.

Plumes Cafe’
Favorite place in town, might just buy stock in the place- they have decaf chai, and a variety of decaf coffees( I have anxiety don’t judge me!)- though they are more expensive compared to the regular 😦  However, the food is good, the atmosphere is very laid back and friendly, they have a ton of dessert stuff, wifi, and is on a main street walking distance from the wharf. I think we were here enough to pay their electric bill for the month!

Old Fisherman’s Grotto Clam Chowder
Worthy mention- we didn’t eat there, but they were the winner of the free-samples-of-clam-chowder-on-the-wharf- walk hands down. $7 a cup, and $13 for a bread bowl- totally worth it if you want to share a really nice dinner with a friend.

Camping-

Surprisingly the most attractive and laid back camping was in LA and Santa Barbara. In LA we camped on a county road that runs through the National Forest. It was absolutely gorgeous, though heavily trafficked with cars and cyclists, though the cyclists were pretty friendly. We also had the most police interaction there, though nothing more than perfunctory checks that we weren’t meth heads or something. Santa Barbara we were parked at a Vista Point in the National Forest for a few days. We still don’t know the legality, and we left within a week, but no one even stopped to inquire. We got more attention from the tourists taking pictures of the Beetle than anything. Monterey, while the most laidback about street vending and park camping and so on downtown, was actually the hardest to find legal parking, and we spent a lot of time driving to find our spot, which turned out to be out in very distinctly smelly farmland sandwiched between highways, though the sound is muffled from the distance. There was no privacy and not really any beauty where we were, but it’s legal, and driving to go hiking along the coastline during the day is not a bad tradeoff.

Vending-
The first place we’ve been actively vending has been Monterey, and so far, the local officials could care less as long as we aren’t disturbing anyone. Really, I’ve been finding that in any kind of alternative lifestyle, massive courtesy to the people around me works miracles. We’ve done surprisingly well, and the local populace seems very interested and friendly. The fact we aren’t doing wire wrapped crystals or any of the typical stuff helps too. But then, we have an RV to store materials in, not just a backpack, but it’s been interesting to see how much that difference counts. We haven’t really done any shopping ourselves outside of basic supplies, we spent a lot of time prepping before we left, so there hasn’t yet been a need.

Music List-
Lily Allen
Regina Spektor
The Beatles (always)
Edith Piaf
Faun
Omnia
Massive Attack
Zen Tempest – Up and coming spoken word group, check them out 😀

 

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