Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Thursday: Claire Farrell's "Thirst", Moondoggies & Grits

Hello and Happy Random Thursday! I have three items for consideration this week because they're rather longish. Each of the three makes me very happy, which is why I didn't whittle them down and add in another two I don't have as much enthusiam for. They would have known, and turned against me, you see.  Note: The song is set to play automatically, so just shut if off if you don't want to hear. But it's a good song, possibly full of subliminal messages telling you how sexy and incredible you are, and you don't want to miss that, do you?

1.  Shrimp and grits: Just what the heck is it? Besides delicious, obviously. Many people have expressed an interest in this dish since I posted about my shrimp and grits induced coma. The basic ingredient is also the most mysterious: if you do not live in the South and have never had grits, the very word "grit" may conjure unpleasant imagery for you. Understandable, but unfounded. Grits are like rice, except they come from corn. They are fairly tasteless until you do something to them. Cheese grits are one of my favorites. The coma-inducing dish I had included: cheese grits, spiced shrimp, cajun sausage, some kind of roux gravy, green onions, diced tomatoes, and mystery spices. It is humble Southern cuisine, found in the most surprising places. Mine came from Ezell's Catfish Cabin.
Warning: Grits are something of a specialty item and should not be taken seriously if cooked by a novice. Nothing is worse than bad grits.

2.  I rarely listen to whole albums these days. Granted, I have this writerly quirk that drives me to anchor a particular song to a scene, emotion, or character I'm writing. Then nothing will do but to play that particular song over and over and over whenever that character/emotion/scene demands. Yes, the neighbors hate me for this. Yes, my husband deserves some kind of award for putting up with it. It's not just that, though. I've made this point before: medium influences media. I'm convinced it has something to do with the way albums are produced these days, which is mostly for a digital, buy-the-song-you-want market. Not that this is a bad thing. Far from it. It's just different. At any rate, whatever the reason, I rarely find the kind of cohesive album that flows, one song into another, as whole albums should. Moondoggies' newest release Tidelands is one of these rare finds. I was doubly happy to unearth not just one of my favorite songs from this album, but to discover it had been illustrated by an artist in their community and turned into a music video that actually tells a charming little story. Great art and great music and great storytelling and the neighbors get a reprieve from mono-song hell. Viva Tidelands!

The Moondoggies - Empress of the North from Hardly Art on Vimeo.

3. Link to Clarie Farrell's Thirst :

I loved this book. It's a refreshing take on what's proving to be one of the most enduring yet supple tropes of the late 20th/ early 21st centuries: the monster with a morality crisis. I really liked Claire Farrell's take on the vampire: Ava is alternately vulnerable, funny, and deadly, perhaps most of all to herself. The plot was totally unique, too. Another writer would take the "problem" of having a six-foot attractive blonde completely enthralled with the novel's protagonist in another more predictable direction. Instead, we get marvelously blurred lines between good and evil, hero and villain. Ava can't get far enough away from her completely willing worshipper. Instead, she's attracted to the worst possible choice: the man with the stake who seems intent on killing her. Since she wants to hold on to her humanity more than her vampire half, perhaps this isn't a surprising choice. I, like Ava, love bad boys too. (Although I prefer mine without stakes.) This was a major part of her appeal. Yet Farrell's heroine finds her own way, on her own terms, in the end. She manages a truce of sorts with both halves of her heritage, defines herself in relation to the important people in her life without being defined by them, and most importantly, puts her unique skills to work creating balance. My absolute favorite part of this book was a single line of dialogue that stuck with me and wormed its way into everyday conversation. Hunter to vampire, having a between-fight stroll: "You're sort of a rubbish vampire," Peter teases Ava. I love this. Americans don't have this phrase, but we should, and I've adopted it with enthusiasm. It works on people: Maybe you're a rubbish librarian, I thought to myself yesterday, after being forced to listen to a tirade in which a local high school librarian swore to a room full of teachers that no one was reading YA. "I try to get them to read Christian fiction," she announced mournfully. "Especially the older girls." I concentrated on staying calm. For now. The phrase works on inanimate objects, as well. You're a rubbish pot of coffee, I told my sickly, see-through glass carafe of watery weakness this morning. Not near enough getup and go. Should have stuck with the Keurig. So yes, I found this book thoroughly worth it: Irish vampires, an enjoyable read, and a bonus catchy phrase. Win win!

Have a great Random Thursday (and Friday and weekend, or until whenever I get to post next!)


  1. You seriously made me cry right there. Thanks so much for this, (you actually read it!) you made my year. Shutting up before I sound like an even bigger plonker. :D

    Grits: I'm fascinated with this - I'm always asking people online to explain them. They make me think of people chewing on gravel or something. One day, I will taste these. And those biscuit things. *Nods*

    I'm the same with songs. I have a number of songs in particular that I need to have playing when I'm working on certain scenes. They're a crutch but they're the quickest way for me to jump into the tone and emotion of the scene - especially if I'm working out of order.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read/review, Vicki. That was very generous of you.

  2. I'm going to cross-post to Amazon and goodreads. A saner sounding version, of course. :)

  3. Thanks a million! That sounded sane to me though. ;)