Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You're Invited to a Cocktail Party On the Pirate Ship Revenge: Advil Calendar Year IV EXCITING GUEST WEEK Day III: Caroline Carlson!

I love looking out the window this time of year. The pissing-down rain, the 100% cloud cover hovering just above the chimneys... it's 2:30 in the afternoon and already the streetlights are on. Some poor schlub just passed by on a bicycle. It's like Dickens out there.

#paradise #tattoo #shin. AKA OW.
No wonder the British were in such a sweat to run and go colonize Trinidad or collect beetles in Sri Lanka. I'm taking off for sunnier climes myself. Conned my whole family into swapping wrapping and baking for lounging and collecting shells this year.

The joy I feel at not having to rearrange the whole house to accommodate a dead tree cannot be expressed in mere words. You must imagine a physical explosion of elation that incorporates the entire A to Z of Dance punctuated by frozen moments of Broadway weeping. Clasped hands and all.

But until then, it's still streaming ashwater gray outside. We gotta get out of here. Let's make like Baronet Joseph Banks ("Father of Australia," breadfruit enthusiast) and get on a damn boat to anywhere else. Welcome to...


What's your strategy for injecting your eyeholes with a straight shot of Vitamin D when it's gloomy outside? Here at the reference desk, we browse vacation homes on VRBO, check the live webcams of that active lava flow from Kilauea, or flip through Instagram images tagged #paradise. It's a little weird what some people consider paradisaical.

At home, my family likes to re-watch the first or second Pirates of the Caribbean movie to get our little dose of blue lagoon. Sun + sand + Orlando Bloom in his prime = aye-aye, Captain! Just last week, when we interrupted our Mostly 'Splody movie habit with a viewing of The Book Thief, the lightest moment in it was when both boys realized that the sensitive, jolly foster father in the film, played by Geoffrey Rush, was also the treacherous pirate captain Hector Barbossa. "Aaaarrrgh!" we bellow, chasing Johnny Depp through a sea cave full of treasure.

And while Captain Jack Sparrow is probably to blame for introducing Johnny Depp to the joys - and multitudinous sins - of overaccessorizing, I just can't hold a grudge. In a world where pirate styling can sometimes go horribly awry, Witty Jack was a fine-looking pirate.

bad hat

Uggs with short sleeves - aka Texas coed chic.

EITHER meticulous shaving OR unkempt head hair - not both.

Pirates don't wear tights.

10 lbs of plastic hair is no.

Vinyl hat is no.

Mr Kline, you are the hottest thing in
this array, but you're dressed like
John Travolta.

And let's not even get into Christopher Walken. I'll produce my own pirate special one of these days. It'll be called Your Show of Sleeves. On it, we'll do dramatic readings from Caroline Carlson's charming adventures The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: The Terror of the Southlands. For example, here's Caroline on what a pirate is supposed to look like:

"There were one-eyed pirates and no-eyed pirates, fancy pirates with billowing sleeves and shabby pirates with patched-up knees. They had pointed beards and pointed hats, curly mustaches and curly hooks, peg legs and real legs. they had golden teeth and golden earrings and gold doubloons sparkling in their mouths and ears and pockets. On their shoulders perched monkeys and toucans and tortoises, all seemingly named Polly. Shouts of "Arr!" and "Blast!" filled the air whenever a pirate swung his sword too close to his neighbor or tried to cut in line."


Caroline Carlson

Don't let Miss Caroline's wholesome demeanor fool you, folks. If her books are any indication, that tidily-groomed head is full of edged weapons and grog recipes. She may well be holding an inhaler loaded with a cocktail of industrial-strength nonstick baking spray and Goo Gone just out of frame.

Caroline says, 

"If I had the chance to grab a drink with one of my own characters, I'd invite Miss Eloise Greyson, the exceedingly proper governess and owner of a floating bookshop. We'd drink a tea-based cocktail, naturally, and I'd try to get Eloise to dish about her pirate-captain husband and all the little scallywags they dream of raising. I'm sure she'd be an excellent gossiping companion after a hot toddy or two."

Here's the toddy I would pick for Miss Greyson. She's proper all right, admonishing Hilary to stop saying, "Blast!" and to tidy her cabin, but she's got plenty of grit, and she'll surprise you at every turn. So for Eloise, it's rye whiskey, honey, and tea.

The Whiskey Tea Toddy (from
1 teaspoon honey
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole anise star
1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 cup (or more, to taste) already-brewed hot tea (English Breakfast or Earl Grey)
Slice of lemon
Add honey and spices to the bottom of a heat-proof snifter or mug. Add the whiskey and pour in the tea. Squeeze the lemon, drop it in, and stir until the honey is melted.
Hey, I just got a text from my own pirate husband. He's ruptured his Achilles tendon, just five days before we are due to set sail for the Caribbean! Well, get on an airplane, but still. How the hell is that going to work? Not going to think about it. I'd rather brew myself up one of Miss Greyson's comforting, strong toddies and settle in with a little bit more of Caroline's picturesque prose.
"Hilary, Jasper and Charlie all raced for the spyglass, but Hilary claimed it first. Through its lens, she could make out a flat coastline trimmed with crenelated towers and sharp, proud steeples. She caught glimpses of gardens, apple orchards, and what appeared to be rows upon rows of cannons."
Ah... cannons! Orchards! If that doesn't bring a little green grass and blue skies into your day, I don't know what will. Even if you're due to go back out into the streaming rain and rescue your favorite brigand from the Emergency Room any moment now.

Never a dull moment! Tomorrow let's learn about salmiakki and other abstruse alcoholic items with the Terror of the Plains, Blythe Woolston! Achilles tendon. Jesus. FUCK!