Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advil Calendar 2014 EXCITING GUEST WEEK Telekinetic Teenager Edition with David Lubar

Stalking out of Target today at 9:23 a.m., my bag full of oxycodone, sunscreen, MAD Magazine, and "concert attire," I realized what had so far been missing from my holiday.

Rage. Barely contained, dry-eyed, crackling, hair-on-end rage.

I mean, I had this year pretty much wired. I hadn't overcommitted to writing assignments, everyone had already been sick and gotten over it, and best of all, I had booked - and paid for - a trip to TROPICAL PARADISE for my family and my parents, hoping to escape the traditional drama and anxiety that is part and festively-wrapped fucking parcel of this season of gifts.

I don't mean to show off, but look:

This is the house we rented in Curacao. That couch is crying out for me, a cocktail, and a book.

No wonder my customary December slow burn was barely at a simmer. I was cool - I have been lazing through December devoid of the usual stress. Not anymore, baby. It's happened:


Best xmas movie ever, BTW.
As I piloted my Prius between the usual suburban psychopaths inching their overbuilt, undermirrored giant vehicles (fuck you Ford Motor Company) in and out of their generous Target parking spaces (if you have to make a seven-point turn to get out of a perpendicular parking space, madam, you might try buying a smaller car), squinting against the suddenly-blazing sun (fuck you, Sun), trying to mentally solve today's suddenly-complicated puzzle of two cars, one driver, two kids, one guitar lesson, two sets of "concert attire" (fuck you Quakers), I suddenly began to recognize the pitch at which my mind was vibrating. I was driving a little too fast, making lists in my head and spitting profanity at every city bus that cut me off (fuck you MTA).

"So this is Christmas," I thought, and cracked myself up.

Why the sudden descent into seasonal rage and despair?

Here's why: last night, my husband's right Achilles tendon abruptly parted while he was playing basketball. He called me while a friend drove him to the Emergency Room, said he thought it was a bad sprain. I told him I would put the kids to bed and to text me when he needed me to pick him up.

I got his text around midnight. "Come and get me," he typed. "It's a disaster." After I found a place to park (fuck you Union Memorial) and checked in and got lost twice trying to find the curtained cubby where he was getting wrapped up in a worrying amount of plaster and gauze, I was happy to see him conscious and not in too much pain. But he looked so sad. "Oh sweetie," I said. "No parasailing for you!"

"Can he swim at least?" I asked the doctor, and that's when they told me that because this particular injury comes with a high risk of blood clots, he is not allowed to fly. NOT ALLOWED to get on a plane and fly to the Caribbean for an already-paid-for Christmas vacation.

I need to go in the other room and swear for a while, so why don't you enjoy this clip of "The Human Highlight Reel" Dominique Wilkins sustaining the same injury.

Barkley sure is sympathetic. His last words to Nique are, "Don't get depressed." That's good advice. I think I'll tell my husband, "Honey, don't get depressed. While you're laying on the couch for a week all alone in our house in stinkin' BALTIMORE on CHRISTMAS, keep your chin up." It's a good thing they prescribed him that oxy, because if I want to punch something, imagine how he feels.

I have four days to set him up in this house so that he can get everything he needs. On crutches. Without putting any weight on his right foot. Or driving. I better lay in some booze, don't you think?

And this is where today's Advil Calendar Special Guest comes in! David Lubar is not only a prolific and talented author of children's and young adult fiction, he is also a cocktail connoisseur AND he has suggested the perfect drink - and perfect drinking companion - for my lamed and lonely husband.

When I asked David (shown here with a beer and Lisa Yee's little stuffed mascot Peepy) which of his multitudes of excellent characters he'd like to drink with, he was on it like tonic.

"What great fun. I can answer that one right away. The character I'd want to drink with would be Eddie "Trash" Thalmayer, the telekinetic who was introduced in Hidden Talents, and took center stage in a "Bourne-Identity meets Carrie" adventure in True Talents.
He's probably working as an artist, now, so it would be up to me to pay for the drinks. He'd be the perfect drinking companion. Thanks to his ability to move objects with his mind, if we got seriously toasted (which is always a danger when artists and writers gather around a full bottle of hard liquor) he'd be able to fetch drinks and snacks from across the room without either of us having to get up from our seats.
Being young, Eddie would probably have a preference for sweeter and more complicated drinks, but I'd do my best, in my role of his mentor and creator, to guide him toward a simple concoction built upon a middle-shelf delectable rye, such as Bulleit, and fresh ingredients. By the end of our session, he'd definitely experience character growth, and possibly even an epiphany or two."

Somebody loves this man. Three somebodies, apparently! 
Just these few sentences from David have calmed me right the heck down. And bonus picture: here's David on his birthday. Among his gifts are a bottle of Jameson, one of Maker's Mark and a bottle of Bulleit. Aren't you jealous? I know I am. That Bulleit is singing to me: "Hey Librarian! Your day has super sucked so far! Shouldn't you test David's cocktail idea?"

No, bottle of Bulleit. Shut up with your warbling. It's only 1pm, and before I hang up my car keys for the day, I'm going to have to get the kids from school, take Milo to guitar, find a place for them both to change prior to their Winter Concert, pick up Milo from guitar, drop them both at the concert venue, meet up with my mom, find food for everybody, and then park and take the shuttle to the concert. And somehow retrieve our other car, which Bob left at basketball last night.

And I don't need to test David's cocktail. There are a whole ton of things you can do with a "middle-shelf delectable rye" as he puts it, and very few of them are anything but excellent. Rye is very forgiving.

It mixes really well with weird vermouths like Cynar or Punt e Mes, sweetens up nicely accompanied by my new best friend Gran Classico or cherry liqueur, and loves lemon like I love airplane ticket refunds (I've been on the phone with Expedia for over an hour - cross your fingers for me). Bulleit is a great cocktail rye. Michter's is for sipping straight, and Pikesville is for punch, but Bulleit is an MVP team player.

The "Ice Ball Oldie" at Swift's Attic
At Swift's Attic in Austin, Paula and I met Carl the Bartender, who is becoming bartender-famous for his Ice Balls: mixtures of liquor, water, bitters and garnish frozen in spherical ice molds. He makes spiced vermouth ice balls, a Ricard Pastis ice ball for an interesting version of a Sazerac, and a Cherry Heering ice ball that he then drowns in Knob Creek Rye.

OH MY GOD was that drink good. It was a different drink every time I sipped it - I think an agile mind like Eddie's would really appreciate it.

I tried to duplicate that ice ball at home, like this:

1/3 Cherry Heering (I used Luxardo Maraschino)
2/3 water
lemon zest
1 Luxardo maraschino cherry

I don't have any of those spherical ice molds (still waiting on the Death Star one in my stocking), so I used my Big Cube silicone tray. I also tried this mixture in a Bundt pan, for a Whiskey Tamarind Punch I made on Thanksgiving. Either I need a colder freezer, or this mixture needs more water.

Actually, I think the secret really is in the spheres. The water freezes first, across the top of the vessel, leaving the alcohol, which freezes later, and which doesn't expand as water does, in the bottom. The result is an ice cube that is very slushy and crystal-y at the bottom. I bet Carl the Bartender flips those spherical molds periodically to mix the water and the booze and even out the freezing.

But back to David and his books for a second. Hidden Talents was published back in 1999, but damned if that book doesn't have legs for days. Milo found a copy on our bookshelf earlier this year and snarfed it up like I eat candied macerated orange peel. LOVED it.

Tor is putting out a new paperback edition next year, so put it on your list. Eddie and his pals Torchie, Lucky, Cheater, Martin and Flinch are your classic underdogs with a twist - great characters who have been lucky enough to find themselves in a Lubar plot not once but twice.

Milo, like most humans, also enjoyed Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie. That book is a realistic humorous YA novel with a teen boy protagonist, and books like that are thin on the ground indeed. It is a real go-to, and has made me look like a genius more than once.

In fact, we've been David Lubar fans around here for a long time. Ezra wasn't any more than seven when he read an ARC of Attack of the Vampire Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales. He's 11 now, and still a Weenies fan. Look at that face! It's kind of the same expression he made when I explained how an Achilles tendon retracts up the back of the leg when it is severed.

I'd love to enlist Eddie to come hang with my poor husband while the rest of us are in the Caribbean. I think they'd get along. They could lounge in the living room telling lies, and as they systematically wiped out the liquor cabinet, Eddie could fetch sandwiches and bananas from the kitchen without even lifting a finger.

Next! We bumped Blythe for a day because I was raging and needed rye whiskey to calm me down, so that means we meet her sharp and singular characters - and drink with them - tomorrow.