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2018 Reading List

I’m moving over the few books I didn’t get to or finish from 2017. And it looks like I need to go to the used bookstore!! I read almost everything I bought last year! 27 books!

As it was last year, the books I have started are in bold. I’ll give my opinion and a short description of the books I read. Anything not bold is in queue. So far, I’ve got about 30 36 books lined up!

Close Range, Annie Proulx – Started this book Dec 2017. It’s a collection of short stories all having to do with cowboys on the range. Many are set in the early 1900s. Not what I usually read, but so far, they are so well written that I’m really enjoying the book! ** OMG! I just finished this book [Jan 24 18] and guess what the last story is?? BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN! Yep, this is the short story that the movie was based on. I love finding gems like this from a random book! I highly recommend this book. Really great characters and stories.

Ready Player One Didn’t read before the movie, but the movie was great, will re-read Ready Player One this year.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by ND Tyson


I picked up Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson at Costco and LOVED IT! It’s a slim book (cuz you’re in a HURRY, get it?) and you will read it in his voice. It’s great, you should read it for SCIENCE.

I’m currently reading Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake. It’s the out of print version, the new version is called Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. It’s just OK so far. Very English and very dry. This is my treadmill book. Abandoned. Too dry. Who cares where these people went to primary school? Not me. HARD PASS.

We hit Goodwill yesterday! I got 21 books for the queue!! I’ve included the books I’ve already read for this year in the stacks. As always, I count cookbooks and restaurant books, since they are relevant reading for me.

My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor – Just started this one. It’s the book that the TED talk is about. The TED talk is here. MEH. Just do the TED talk. The book devolves into some sort of lecture on how everyone should try to control their brain parts and feel the love. I stopped reading it.

The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain – Started this one! I love Tony’s sarcastic wit! Finished 4/23/18. Pretty good, but not as good as Kitchen Confidential, IMO. [RIP Chef Bourdain 6/8/2018]

Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley – started 6/16/18. Interesting premise.

The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett – Oops! I didn’t read the jacket well enough. This collection is from the late 19th century. It’s a collection of stories that have been decided is actually a novel by the various critics who have reviewed it since it was published. The foreword is an analysis of the work (done in the 1990s) and then there is the original foreword with the analysis of the mid 60s. It’s an important collection by an important author of the time period (early 20th century), but I just can’t slog through this. I do not care for writing of that period, so this is a hard pass. Win some, lose some! (4/25/18)

The Healthy Southwest Table, Janet E Taylor

New Orleans Chefs Cookbook, Johnson – Perused once. Will peruse again. It’s just a recipe collection.

Woman of the Dead, Bernhard Aichner (from last year) – just started. It’s his first work translated into English from German. And it feels VERY German. This one was just OK. It was weird and German and had twisted characters. Very Dexter-esque. (Fin 5/25/18)

The Dark Tower graphic novels, Marvel, two books

Bucky Katt’s Big Book of Fun, Darby Conley

Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business

ServSafe study book for ServSafe certifications



Gorgeous Lies, Martha McPhee

Leap of Faith, Queen Noor – This is a memoir, but it’s really a history lesson on Jordan and how the Middle East got so fucked up. Loving it so far! I’m a little over halfway into this and getting kind of tired of the constant list of Middle East problems, blah blah. It’s relegated to my treadmill book. HOWEVER, towards the end, when Hussein was ill, this became a true memoir, full of personal insights and a truly heart wrenching account of Hussein’s death. I cried. A lot. All in all, this is a good memoir that also serves as a lesson on the Middle East in the 70s, 80s and 90s. You’ll learn how things got so fucked up over there and you’ll also get a glimpse into the life of a very brave and smart woman. Despite the middle getting dry, I highly recommend this memoir. (Fin 4/24/18)

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn – About halfway through this one. I really like it! I like the two point of view style and I like the way the story unfolds. May have to try the movie after I read this. I really liked this book a lot. The end is NOT what you think it will be. Very twisted characters and engaging writing style. (fin 6/5/18)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt – Started this one 6/3/18. It is reminding me of an Anne Rice book with the tone. It’s VERY Southern and told in a conversational story style.

A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby

Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King and Owen King – Huge book and great story! I couldn’t tell which one wrote which section, but I’ll bet that Owen did the part about a revolver having a safety! LOL It’s a typical King fantasy tale with lots of characters and lots of action. All the women in the world suddenly go to sleep and drama ensues. Good read.

The Fellowship of Ghosts, Paul Watkins

Heavy Water, Martin Amis

Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff

Soup, A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, Jon Gordon – This is a small book and a quick read. Despite the cutesy parable type of story telling, this book contains some really strong, really good ideas about team building. Much of it I’d already figured out, but it’s nice to see it in print from a professional coach. I really want to give this book to every single manager and the district mgr at Kroger. They really could use a clue when it comes to dealing with employees. It’s not customers first, it’s EMPLOYEES first, customers second. Happy, engaged, empowered employees will give great service to your customers. Kroger needs to figure this out. Great quick read, I recommend it for anyone who manages people in any industry. (5/1/18)

Summerland, Michael Chabon

Still Me, Christopher Reeve

Shanghai Girls, Lisa See

Ollie’s Hurl! 3.15.18

Ollies Books

Laws of Migration, J. Suzanne Frank

Above the Line, Shirley MacLaine

Dear Mr. You, Mary-Louise Parker (Yes THAT actress! She has apparently been writing for magazines for years! This is her first novel.) Started this one 6/4/18. It’s interesting in style so far. OMG! SO GOOD! Get this book! I can’t wait to read more from MLP! This is a collection of letters (essays) to various people from MLP’s life. It’s a memoir, but not written like one. Very witty and very real. LOVED IT. [fin 6/25/18]

Picked up a Trek book the other day: Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, Mark Okrand. Perused it a little, it’s a guide, so I’ll probably just pick through it on the treadmill. It is written in a verbose fashion, explaining all the nuances of various phrases. Not the style I’d pick, but these types of books are often strange. Started 6/7/18.

Picked up the companion book to Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali, Wines of Gala. It was on sale at Amazon for $8 (reg $60), so I snagged it. It’s, uh, different. Not much art in it and very odd. Shrug. But OK for $8. [6/23/18]

Oh, Goodwill! You really GET ME! Picked up five more today for $7! [6.30.18]

Nightly Specials, Michael Lomonaco – Started this one in Goodwill! LOL Great recipe ideas!

Open House, Rachel Ray – Started in Goodwill. Got it for some tapas recipes.

I, Elizabeth, Rosalind Mills – Historical Fiction.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, The Oatmeal – Comics collection.

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlossen – I have wanted to read this one for a while.

Looking for VSG/Bariatric info?

Hi there! If you’d like to see ONLY my extensive research on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, bariatric diet and managing GERD (reflux), you can filter out all my other posts and see just those by clicking HERE. You can see my vlogs about my VSG journey here.

To see any category (recipes, for instance), use the drop down menu to the left labeled “View Posts by Category” and select the category you’d like. Thanks for stopping by!

Life in the ‘Burbs 4 Year Update!

Can’t believe it’s been four years already! Wow! So many changes!

We’ve acclimated to life surrounded by old white T***p supporters and hillbillies. They keep to themselves for the most part. After much bitching and passive aggressive note leaving, the assholes behind us have ceased having their goddam lawn service come at 7am on Sundays and the next door neighbors don’t let their yappy dogs out at the crack of dawn. Victory!

The drive to Decatur and other civilised parts of Dekalb has become normal. We actually do a lot of our main shopping and entertainment in Duluth. Costco, Jusgo Chinese market, Big Lots, Studio Movie Grill and Ollie’s are all clustered on Venture Drive, so we go there for gas, movies and shopping. Even though it’s more of a drive, everything is together so it’s convenient to make one trip rather than several to Decatur.

I had the VSG surgery in 2016. Life changer, that. SO GLAD I did it!

We lost Rhonda Honda last year at Heroes (2017) and got Romeo one year ago almost to the day. I still miss Rhonda occasionally, but Romeo is very fun to drive and I love him.

Nick’s job ended December 2017. While traumatic, we’ve done OK. My brief stint at Krobar helped with expenses and paired with the $4300 unemployment, got us through six months without touching savings. The fact that $4300 is the TOTAL of unemployment you get after paying in for 20+ years is disgusting. Truly disgusting.

Player One Arcade Services is over three years old and we are pursuing Player One Arcade Pub. It’s a frustrating battle to find a location, but all our money is in place, we just gotta FIND A LOCATION. Between flakey landlords and flakier real estate people, it’s slow going. But now, in July, we are running up the credit cards and starting to get into our savings. We really need to get started! We can’t pull any money from the account until the business is going and we can’t even pay ourselves until it is OPEN. Clock is ticking. We are stressed out.

I guess that covers the highlights of the last four years here in Tucker. 2018 has been the year of the pub and it has been our consuming goal. There was a girl at the Krobar that said she felt the pub wouldn’t get started until fall…Looks like she was right after all. Sigh. 2018 is an 11 year, so I’m hoping my lucky number will pull through for us. If we don’t get started soon, we’ll have to find jobs again. Which will suck. Kroger sucked balls. UGH. Pray to your gods for us. We really need to get the pub going, y’all. And: thanks for all your support! WE SEE YOU. <3

Stand or Fall

This song has been in my head for days. While it’s written about WWII, it is still VERY relevant. My favourite verse is in bold. It gives me chills.

Stand or Fall
The Fixx
from Shuttered Room, 1983

Crying parents tell their children
If you survive don’t do as we did
A son exclaims there’ll be nothing to do to
Her daughter says she’ll be dead with you

While foreign affairs are screwing rotten,
Line morale has hit rock bottom
Dying embers stand forgotten
Talks of peace were being trodden

Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
Is this the value of our existence
Should we proclaim with such persistence

Our destiny relies on conscience
Red or blue, what’s the difference
Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
It’s the Euro theatre
It’s the Euro theatre
It’s the Euro theatre

An empty face reflects extinction
Ugly scars divide the nation
Desecrate the population
There will be no exaltation

Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
Stand or fall, state your peace tonight
It’s the Euro theatre
It’s the Euro theatre
It’s the Euro theatre

Stand or fall
Stand or fall
Stand or fall
Stand or fall

Songwriters: Adam Woods / Charles H Barrett / Cyril Curnin / James West-Oram / Peter Greenall
Stand or Fall lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Here is the original video from 1983, the record is Shuttered Room.

Angela’s Salsa Verde

I was looking for a recipe somewhere in between a salsa cruda and a cooked salsa verde that you usually see. Roasting the tomatillos and jalapeños hits that balance perfectly. Enjoy!

Angelas Salsa Verde



Angela’s Salsa Verde
about 1.25# tomatillos**, dehusked and rinsed, halved
2 jalapenos, halved and deseeded
1 small white onion, large dice
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 tsp cumin
zest of one lime
1 tsp of lime juice (about half a lime)
salt to taste

Roast the tomatillos and jalapeños under the broiler until skin is bubbly and there are some blackened spots. You are not going for totally blackened like you would for a roasted red pepper, just some charred spots. Toss all ingredients into a blender with just a couple of Tbl of water to get it going. Whizz until fairly smooth. Check for salt. Chill and serve.

**My tomatillos were so sweet and delicious they did not need sugar, but if yours are still too tart, feel free to add just a little sugar or agave to get the taste you want.

NB: Tomatillos have a LOT of pectin! When I pulled this out of the fridge, it looked like jello! If it doesn’t loosen up enough for you after you stir it, you can add a tish of water to thin it down. Just a heads up!

Anthony Bourdain RIP (6.25.56 – 6.8.18)

I am heartbroken at the loss of Bourdain. He was one of the most honest, no bullshit chefs out there. He was also a really good memoir writer.

I really hate that the depression (or whatever it was) got to him and he decided to end it. I uphold his right to do so, but I don’t like losing his unique voice in the food industry. He’s one chef I’d have LOVED to share a meal and a drink with.

Between this and losing sleep with stress and insomnia, it’s been a rough week.

I’m just going to keep cooking, keep planning for the pub and keep MOVING. As Tony once said:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.

Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

– Anthony Bourdain

VSG Anniversary coming up!

On May 16, it will be two years since my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy in Mexico. I’ve not posted here or at YouTube in quite some time, simply because I am very stable and not much has changed. I hit a hard plateau at 180 pounds which translates to size 12 jeans (actually like a half size below that) and 12-14 dress. I’m fine with that. Without surgery, I’ll never get rid of the belly flab, and I’ve decided against tummy tuck surgery. It is HORRIBLE to recover from and I just don’t have time for that shit. Or the money, honestly. And there are things like Spanx to deal with it!!

In addition to that, Nick’s 45th birfday is May 10. It’s a Thursday, so I’m not sure what we’ll do.

And, of course, we’ve got the pub thing ongoing. I’ve been working on the menu, trying not to FREAK OUT that there is no real estate available.

And on top of all this, my friend Kenny dropped dead of a heart attack on Friday April 13, so that has been rough. Friday 13 has always been a good day for me, but now, not so much. Sigh. He was my age, too. He had untreated heart issues and literally dropped dead. At least he didn’t suffer. The memorial was yesterday and of course: it sucked. His wife Carole has stage 4 ovarian cancer, so it’s all just really terrible. Sigh.

So, as you can see, the VSG anniversary is not very important to me with all this other stuff going on. I’m still grateful I did it and I still feel FABULOUS, and I still recommend it if you’ve been struggling with your weight your whole life like I did. It is absolutely worth it. Save yourself the agony of US healthcare and just go to Mexico. You, too, can have a new life in 4 days and $5000. Fuck your insurance company and their bullshit “plan” that forces you through hoops for a year then offers you no follow up care. Just DO IT.

I think I will lose that last 10# when I am crazy busy with the pub. I did lose 5# when I was working 7 days a week there for a month. But whatever, I’m not dieting and I’m not getting plastic surgery, so it is what it is. I’m happy with the way I look in clothes, so it’s all good. :)

I’d like to wish Nick a Happy Birfday in advance and myself a happy VSG anniversary!