The Reason For Cold Turkey

Hello, January! That magic time of year when weeks of unbridled decadence skid to a halt puddling into a big pile of regret and shame. It is time for a reckoning. (Doesn’t it feel like the holiday excuse period starts earlier and earlier? Using Labor Day as a free pass for excess is weaksauce. Nobody is buying “What the hell, it’s Labor Day!” as a valid reason to have cheese dip for breakfast. You do you. Just have the cheese dip. Why you gotta blame Labor Day?) January is the month when it’s time to rein in all those shenanigans and act like an adult, for Pete’s sake. Shed those extra pounds from all that gravy and chocolate. Return those superfluous gifts you overbought. In my case, January detox also commences the annual Big Cleanup, purging a year’s worth of crap that’s turned every surface of my living space into a junk drawer.

It was in the process of shoveling out one of those squirrel-nest piles that I found three fancy little books of cocktail recipes that I completely forgot that I owned. I probably had big intentions of featuring the books in some Pinterest-worthy, artfully arranged bar display with fancy empty antique bottles and brass corkscrews. I got really close to doing it, too, in that I bought these three books and shoved them in a drawer four years ago. Take THAT, Pinterest. Flipping through the books, I got to thinking about the tight relationship between writing and booze. Lots of authors like to bring the party to the page. Literature featuring booze is like a big liquor store: from cheap peach schnapps to pricey Scotch that smells like old socks, there is something for everyone. Here are some that made an impression on me.

The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) The Great Gatsby is the book that really showed America how to get lit. Main character Jay Gatsby, putting out bait to attract his former love and current neighbor rich girl Daisy Buchanan, turns his exclusive West Egg, Long Island estate into neighborhood central for a 24/7 throwdown. His party only has two rules: Look fabulous and make bad choices. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “everybody in the club getting tipsy.”* Fitzgerald knew a thing or two about parties, having codified uninhibited and licentious behavior in his collection of short stories, Tales Of The Jazz Age. For all of his literary success, Fitzgerald never felt a part of the elite American wealthy society that he made so famous. That bittersweet longing for inclusion is brilliantly expressed in the book’s narrator Nick Carraway’s attendance at Gatsby’s endless, gin-soaked party. Nick is there, he’s an invited guest, he is welcomed by his host, and yet he can’t shake the feeling that he’s still on the outside looking in. As if with his nose pressed against the glass, peering in the window, Nick walks us through the kind of inevitable debauchery that results when a party is underwritten by organized crime and sponsored by a lovesick pretender.

*Possibly J-Kwon**
**Definitely J-Kwon

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With A Literary Twist (Tim Federle) This book of cocktail concoctions proves there is a niche audience at the intersection of English Major Ave and Fully Stocked Bar St. I always thought I was the only person who lived at that address but LOOK. I HAVE ROOMMATES. Page after page of beverages, all inspired by and named for classic works of literature? SQUEEEEEE. Eventually, I’ll get around to making one of the many outstanding drinks in this book, but for now, it’s not necessary because I’m just drunk on all the literary references and stellar puns. As a bonus, this book’s list of classic titles fleshed out my TBR list. (How could I have forgotten I haven’t read The Unbearable Lightness of Being?) One day, I am going to meet author Tim Federle and make him several Pitchers of Dorian Grey Gooses. (Geese? Pitchers of Dorian Grey Geese? I need to work this out before Tim gets here….or just avoid the whole question and make him a batch of Woman In White Russians.)

Postcards From The Edge (Carrie Fisher) The main character in Carrie Fisher’s debut novel is an equal-opportunity substance abuser, so we’re not limited to alcohol here. This semi-autobiographical story of a working actress with a famous mother coping with her day-to-day life LA after rehab pulls no punches as it chronicles the reality of living the glamorous life in the world’s biggest fishbowl. It’s hilarious, heartbreaking, and above all brutally honest. Carrie Fisher is unique in her ability to take cringeworthy, painful situations and craft side-splitting comedy while never succumbing to self-pity. It gives her work an emotional integrity that resonates long after you’ve stopped laughing.

“The Swimmer” (John Cheever) For every cheerful depiction of the convivial camaraderie of drinking, there is someone living the toxic nightmare of addiction. John Cheever captures the dark, chaotic recklessness of chronic alcoholism in his startling short story, “The Swimmer”. Surreal and hypnotic, the story depicts the slow collapse of a life dragged under by habitual benders and the hazy confusion brought on by too many booze-induced blackouts. Cheever knew a thing or two about drinking to excess. His lifelong struggle with alcoholism was a family affair, with his father and his brother both sufferers, and Cheever almost died from an alcohol-induced embolism before he was able to quit drinking for good. In “The Swimmer”, Cheever depicts the pain and vulnerability at the core of self-destructive behavior while avoiding showing any sympathy for the damage that it does. It’s poignant, enlightening, and a little scary.

Honorable Mention: The Secret History (Donna Tartt) Get drunk with your friends! Pretend you’re a deer! Maybe kill some people! HAHAHHAHAHAHA parties are fun!





Action Item
For more silly words about The Secret History, click here. And, for the record, I will happily make Pitchers Of Dorian Grey Gooses/Geese for Donna Tartt any time she wants.

The Reason I Have Solutions

If you’re in a frantic race to the finish full of stress and endless errands-congratulations! You’re doing the holidays right! It’s important to take shortcuts whenever you can, so hear me out when I tell you that:

  1. If you have an entertaining dilemma, Julia Reed probably has a solution, and
  2. Don’t bother doing stuff like taking pictures or making any kind of written record of your memories. TIME SUCK.

Click here and out how you can do the above simultaneously!


Who knows? Maybe a Julia Reed book is that perfect gift for someone on your list, in which case I’ve just solved THREE problems for you. YOU ARE WELCOME.


Action Items
Take a nap, probably.

The Reason I Kissed The Mailman

It’s fun to preorder books. Well, it’s fun for me, because after I preorder a book I completely forget that I have preordered a book. Then when the book shows up, it’s like I’m getting a present from the universe and I get to high-five myself for being so clever. It’s a winning moment either way. One book I have perpetually on pre-order is Christmas With Southern Living. If you’d like a review as to why, I go into nauseating detail here.

IT CAME ON FRIDAY. LOOK AT THIS TURKEY. hahahaha I am never making this


“Nice poultry”, you’re thinking. “But I am here for mantel porn.” Me too. Here you go.





Remember, if you’d like to see any of these decorating scenarios in person, do not come to my house. They’re not here. 






The Reason To Kiss The Cook

Y’all, I’ve got dinner tonight. Put your feet up, surf your Tumblr dashboard, and relax with a cold beverage while I pop into the kitchen and whip something up. I have a small, quirky collection of church and service club cookbooks, the kind that have the soft covers and titles like Serve It With Love or Feeding The Faithful. They represent the culinary passion and fundraising prowess of senior activity groups, Junior Leagues, and auxiliary clubs, and I have a particular fondness for ones published in the 1970s. These cookbooks are very handy because it takes all the pressure off everyone to remember stuff like if it’s okay to make chicken topped with chipped beef (it IS), how many casserole recipes have the word ‘supreme’ in the title (eleventy-hundred), and what should be on the shopping list for Coca-Cola salad (hint: lemon jello). It’s Library-Of-Congress important as a source of reference material. You can think of this meal as an historical education, like when you eat a turkey leg at the Renaissance Festival.
I’ve already hard-boiled and sliced three dozen eggs and purchased several hundred packets of saccharine, so I am prepared with 74% of the base ingredients of anything you want to make from the 1970s (the other 26% is Green Goddess dressing). Let’s get cookbookin’!

Me: Need a salad
Cookbook: Here’s some whipped cream
Me: No, I need salad
Cookbook: Duh that is why I gave you whipped cream
If you suspect something has nutritional benefits in it, do NOT put it in your salad. Health will just ruin the taste. A good strategy is to substitute mayonnaise for anything in your recipe that is not already mayonnaise. My favorite salad in my collection is from a Methodist church cookbook that lists lettuce as an optional ingredient. Finally, someone brave enough to take on the powerful Leafy Greens lobby.

Me: Why is this shrimp in Jello?!?
Cookbook: It’s aspic
Me: Ugh that is not better
Cookbook: IT’S SO SHINY
Gelatin recipes are judged on three criteria: creative flavoring, sour cream to gelatin ratio, and interview. Do not be afraid to add Parmesan cheese, julienned ham, and miniature marshmallows. Also, freeze that shit up. Nobody wants to chew room-temperature fish-shaped layered gelatin towers. My Hall Of Fame entry in this category is in a cookbook from a Junior League in Florida. The recipe calls for raspberry gelatin, a can of stewed tomatoes, and hot sauce. On the side, I suggest serving anything edible.

Me: Why do I need all these hot dog buns?
Cookbook: You like garlic bread right?
Me: Aw hell no
Cookbook: Get the margarine
You are not going to win fans with your cooking if you’re not willing to take culinary chances with your side dishes. That’s right, bitches—time to souffle. Everybody loves souffle. Also, everyone loves vegetables covered with butter crackers. And chow mein noodles. And potato sticks. The point here is you should be making mushy stuff so you can top it with crunchy stuff. I am going with a delightful dish from a Baptist church cookbook for spinach with peanut butter.

Me: I have a question
Cookbook: put Velveeta on it
Me: It’s a cake though
Cookbook: Put Velveeta on all the things
Future generations might look at the 70s as the Golden Age Of Processed Cheese. I’m not a hater here—heat that block up with some jalapenos, put out some chips, and I am going to fight you for it. A case can be made for macaroni and cheese, too. But I am telling you, if I bring you a dessert made with Velveeta, I am mad at you. Or I am mad at fudge. Either way I was hate-baking.

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Not pictured: potato chip tongs

Soup’s on! And by that, I mean the delivery guy is here with the pizza I ordered. Let me sprinkle on the crushed cornflakes and it’s chow time.

Action Items
Buy some Tums