Sunday, October 17, 2021

Mid-October, 2021: Books, Cheese and Sinuses

 Hello and Ow. I have a blog and I must write but my left cheekbone is beating with sinus pressure. It's a familiar feeling, though, synonymous with fall and abrupt temperature change. Kind of like Homecoming except there's no tiara and the marching band is doing its formations on my face. The first time this happened, I was a 10th grader, and I couldn't imagine what was going on. My reading at the time consisted heavily of novels and memoirs about teenagers who came down with fatal diseases and died (Sunshine, Eric, Death Be Not Proud, Echoes of a Summer, A Summer to Die) so naturally that's where my mind went. I, too, would be brave and stoic for my family and friends, but first I had to have some relief for my exploding cheekbone, eye socket, and upper gums. Did I go to the school nurse? No. I went into the girls' bathroom and knocked my head against the wall next to the paper towel dispenser. It actually helped for a couple of minutes. Years later, I saw an episode of House in which House breaks his hand (I think it was on a bathroom wall as well) to get his mind off the pain in his leg. These days, I just take some NyQuil.

What I read:

American Cheese - Joe Berkowitz. I finally finished this tasty tome. Speaking of tasty, have you ever noticed that tasty and nasty look like rhymes, but they aren't? Towards the end of American Cheese, the author takes a test to demonstrate exactly how proficient he's become in the language of cheese during the year he's been actively studying. The test involves tasting several cheeses that have gone off in some fashion or another, and he must explain precisely why they have turned from pleasing to punishing. A spit bucket is thoughtfully supplied, and foul descriptions festoon the next couple of paragraphs. Not suitable for lunchtime reading. I found this out the hard way. But still: Damn good book. More about my adventures in cheese below.

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s - Andy Greene. An enjoyable labor of love for fans from a true fan. Some of the chapters seemed a little repetitive, like how everyone (especially the producers, directors and writers) got burned out during the last season. And yes, Steve Carrell is a comic genius, but how many bouquets can be thrown at him before it gets tiresome? In my own personal Office journey, I am now finished with Season 2 and ready for Season 3.

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling. OH MY GOD, I loved this novel so much. I didn't want it to end. It's like the perfect meld of Middlemarch and Peyton Place with a hint of Dickens thrown in. Excellent audiobook. This book has inspired me to do a deep dive of novels about picture-perfect small towns with seamy undersides. 

What I DNFed:

Warhol - Blake Gopnik. Although I think of it as more of a "Not right now; see you later," rather than a flat DNF.

What I'm reading:

Inside Peyton Place - Emily Toth. It's a biography of Grace Metalious, written in the early 1980s. I'm already tired of all the references to The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. They feel stale. More about Grace! And: Toth describes all these photos of Grace, but there are no photos in my hardcover edition. Imagine my displeasure.

What I want to read:

Peyton Place - Grace Metalious. The Spawn told me that my library copy is on the way.

Kings Row - Henry Bellamann. An  ancestor of Peyton Place and The Casual Vacancy. Written in 1940.

Who Was A.A. Milne? - Sarah Fabiny. Please mention Eeyore, please, please, please.

What I cheesed:

I tried really hard to make friends with the goat cheese, and thought that I was getting close when I paired it with grape jelly on a cracker, but in the end, There's something about the taste and texture I just couldn't manage to like. It's like cream cheese has an ugly stepsister. Although I know I'm losing Gourmet Palate points for this, I DNFed goat cheese. So much for my late in life ambition to become a cheesemonger.

On the other end of the taste spectrum, I blew through the Steakhouse Onion Cheddar within 10 days. This called for another trip to The Cheese Store. The manager regretfully informed me that the supplier has discontinued it. Steakhouse Onion, I hardly knew ye, but you were part of one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever had in my life. I consoled myself with some of the Bourbon Maple Cheddar that I passed up last time. It's good, but it's no Steakhouse Onion.


Sam said...

Looks like you are having another great reading month...and I know exactly what you mean about a sinus headache. I've been enduring one for over two days now myself and wondering how much longer it is going to last. I think it was triggered by the minor cold front that came through Houston on Friday. I love the temps but not the pain.

I'm not a fan of the Harry Potter books at all, but I've been curious about the author's other books. Your enthusiasm is enough to get me to finally try one of those, I think.

Bybee said...

Sympathy about the sinus headache. Yeah, same here. When that cold front moves in,yikes!
The Casual Vacancy is nothing like the Harry Potter books, except that Rowling is very good at the teen point of view. It's gritty and intelligent. Never expected to love it so much.