Women's Libation! Is A Tall Drink Of A Book

When I was in university, our women’s resource center would have a charity event every year called Women Who Rock. It was, essentially, a band show at a bar that featured female music groups of all sorts, and the bar also sold drinks with amazing names like Menstruation Sensation. When I finished reading Women’s Libation! Cocktails to Celebrate a Woman’s Right to Booze by Merrily Grashin, my immediate reaction was to mail a copy to each of my former volunteer mates. Finally, more inclusive drink names we could use!

Women’s Libation is in essence, a cocktail recipe book with illustrations and a page explaining the punny drink name. Feminists of yore are honored for their work, and moments in feminist history are marked. Nothing revolutionary, but it wasn’t meant to be. If you’ve never mixed drinks before, Grashin has you covered with a basic overview of the tools you need, methods to know and some common ingredients.

There are a few missteps here; not all the women in the book are exactly deserving of a cheers or a drink. Aung San Suu Kyi is honored with a twist on the Singapore sling, and Coco Chanel with the sangrita Mez Coco Chanel No 5.

Granted, that could just be poor timing as the book was likely completed months before Aung San Suu Kyi refused to speak out against the genocide in Myanmar. Still, this isn’t the first time she’s been quiet about violence against Muslims; the calls for the repeal of her Nobel Peace Prize are only the most recent and forceful criticisms against her. Coco Chanel I’m a bit more puzzled by. Now, there has yet to be any clear hard evidence that Chanel was an active Nazi agent, but there is some reason to believe that she was and at best being a Nazi wasn’t a deal breaker for her. I think if there’s any dispute about whether you are a Nazi, there’s only one drink for you.

Seriously, Chanel should have been bumped and Dorothy Parker honored with a Manhattan. That’s a huge missed opportunity!

Nevertheless, Women’s Libation! is a quirky recipe book sure to tickle your funny bone. While many of the blurbs may just be fact regurgitation, the drawings are adorable and the puns wonderfully groan worthy. As for the recipes themselves? They are twists on classics, nothing too crazy to make the drink unrecognizable and some like the Our Toddies, Ourselves are in my opinion an improvement on the standard. I didn’t get to test very many of them, but as a former bartender, so many of them looked good.  If nothing else, dear reader, I do believe this is an excellent resource for those bar fundraisers.  Why not replace all the cocktail names for the night?  I guarantee more money will be raised through drinks that way.


Women’s Libation! Cocktails to Celebrate a Woman’s Right to Booze By Merrily Grashin was published on November 7th, 2017, and is available wherever fine books are sold.

Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.

Artemis by Andy Weir Is A Bumpy Ride

Some authors become notorious for repeating themselves. When you read a Stephen King novel, chances are you’ll encounter things that you’ve seen in other Stephen King novels; black people with magical powers, an average looking middle aged schlubb with a smoking hot wife, a writer protagonist, etc. With Dan Brown, well, you’re going to get Dan Browned. There will be assassinations, conspiracies, and the most dubious presentation of fact that a simple google search will refute. Artemis is only Andy Weir’s second book, but after the success of The Martian he seems to be on track to repeat a formula that makes bank.

Jazz is a smuggler living in the moon city of Artemis. After failing to qualify as moon tour guide in an attempt to set up caches outside the multi-domed city, she is offered a very dubious job of committing corporate sabotage — cutting off the city’s supply of oxygen to allow a competing supplier to swoop in and save the day.

For the first half of the book Jazz is our tour guide and explains how a city on the moon could function. This is undoubtedly the strongest part of the book. It’s fun to think about, and fun to have it explained. Jazz in this part is witty, but unfortunately her humour turns juvenile and grating halfway through.

The social science of the book just doesn’t work very well. Nothing is technically illegal, Jazz says. No age of consent, just go too far and you’ll get beaten up for sleeping with a 14 year old or beating your wife. But said abused wife is presumably left with her abusive husband, who will certainly be more careful in making sure no one finds out rather than actually stopping. The pedophile is still free to do as he pleases. And yet the one cop in town is gunning to deport Jazz for smuggling in things like cigars, and she mentions being homeless is illegal. Is it intentional, then, that cigars and homelessness are more unforgivable on Artemis than domestic violence and sexual abuse? Probably not. Weir is here to tell you how a city on the moon could physically function. How it functions socially is far less thought out.

The plot depends on all the characters being super geniuses. Jazz can learn in an afternoon what most people dedicate years of academic study to learn. Artemis’s one and only cop Rudy puts Poirot, Sherlock, and Columbo collectively to shame, solving crimes instantaneously and without effort. Side characters have graphic calculators for brains and whip up solutions within seconds of thinking. This wasn’t terribly irritating in the first half of the book, but in the second half it becomes more and more unrealistic, and then conveniently when the plot needs to thicken they overlook obvious things.

Jazz is also a bit of a emotionally stunted psychopath, almost utterly incapable of empathy. Other character’s motivations are an utter mystery to her unless it’s spelled out for her. Other character’s feelings simply aren’t acknowledged or quickly dismissed. She does not stop to question as to whether the insanely dangerous sabotages she commits might be perilous to the city (spoiler: they are). Mostly, she just snarks at the reader about how attractive she is, how the domes of the city like boobs, and how the reader can stop pretending to know what a niqab is, you ignorant uncultured swine. The whole narration is a conversation between Jazz and the reader, and while at first I was rapt with attention, by the end of her story I was tired and knew she was full of shit. Andy Weir thanks a slew of women for helping him write a female narrator, but I’m not sure why when he just slapped the personality of a male teenager on Jazz and called it good.

Artemis is an entertaining read that suffers from poor characterization and overindulgent exposition. It has an excellent start but in the end when the fate of the city is at stake, I couldn’t help but wish that the entire book was about the first caper. When you know by the third caper that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, it gets a little difficult sitting through meticulous details of welding and the 100th slut shaming joke to get there

Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.

Elessar's Top 10 Movies of 2017

The end of the year is a time to take stock, look back at the triumphs and failures, and, for 2017 at least, scream like the damned for something like an hour straight. Yeah, my airing of grievances for this year's Festivus began 2 weeks ago and is still going to this day. It may go into 2018. But one place I didn't have too many grievances to air is film, since the movies were pretty good. And while there are still a few I desperately want to see (coughThe Phantom Thread cough), it's already 2018 and I gotta finish this list. So, without further stalling or waiting, here are my favorite movies of 2017.

#10: Thor: Ragnarok

I will not sing Immigrant Song, I will not sing Immigrant Song, I will not I COME FROM THE LAND

The 10th spot is always tight. Even as I sit here, I feel like I should give this to Lady Bird or Beatriz at Dinner. But, outside of Deadpool, superhero films have been suspiciously absent from my top 10s, even as their presence at the theaters become bigger. So giving this slot to what is easily the best MCU movie in years, a movie with a fantastic cast and a great script, feels like a good idea. Maybe Marvel will be inspired to make more movies like this...by being at the bottom of a top 10 list from a Z list internet critic. Shut up, it could happen.

#9: The Disaster Artist

"Don't worry man, they cut most of your backstory."

The Room is, far and away, my favorite bad movie, and The Disaster Artist is one of my favorite books. So while the movie may not be perfectly adept at putting all of the contents in the book into the movie, it is excellent at including the emotions and themes at the core of its story, both in how The Room's creator can be toxic and cruel, but also in how he remains, at heart, a desperately intense dreamer. He may not be a great person and he's a terrible filmmaker, but its hard not to be inspired by what he's done with his failure.

#8: Wonder Woman

No, I did not get to see Professor Marston, hope to when it hits DVD.

The second of 3 superhero films appearing on this top 10 list and this one is long overdue. I mean, Daredevil has 2 seasons and a movie. The Punisher has 2 movies and a TV show. Ghost Rider, of all things, has 2 movies, but we just now got a Wonder Woman movie? But hey, if we had to wait this long to get a Wonder Woman, it's good that it's absolutely perfect. A great actress, a great director and a solid script combine to make the second best superhero movie of 2017.

#7: Logan Lucky

"No, no, Logan is the really depressive superhero film, we're the comedy heist movie."

Look, I like heist movies, I like good scripts and I like engaging characters. And while a lot of people are talking up the much more flawed Baby Driver, this really is the platonic ideal for a heist movie. Some great acting from all involved and easily one of the best scripts of the year. It even managed to make me not roll my eyes during a climactic scene at a child beauty pageant, which is honestly really impressive.

#6: Dunkirk

"Man, why couldn't I be in that Winston Churchill movie? That looked a lot easier."
For some reason a movie about resisting fascism while trying to hold on to both survival and some semblance of humanity really resonated with me this year. But even outside of the political climate, Dunkirk is a brutally intense, tightly made thriller, with a unique structure and fantastic direction. Of course, it's pretty impressive that an almost silent, almost character-less movie was not only a summer blockbuster but a massive hit, so that's something.

#5: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Bring. Me. All. The. Porgs.
To say The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars film of my lifetime is to understate massively. The only way to keep The Last Jedi from being the best Star Wars movie of my lifetime is to be alive for Empire. And as not only the best Star Wars film in nearly 40 years but also one of a handful of movies to get me to cry recently (I like Binary Sunset, leave me alone) The Last Jedi deserves a slot here.

#4: Logan

"No, no, Logan Lucky is the comedy heist movie, we're the depressing superhero movie."
Very few franchises know when to quit, and while the X-Men as a whole may not be ending any time soon, it's fantastic that it managed to give Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart such an intense send off. Add in one of the best scripts of the year, a bleak and unforgiving tone and brutal, unrelenting action and we have a formula for the best superhero (sort of) film in years.

#3: Get Out

All of 2017 was the Sunken Place.
It's become something of a tradition in the last few years for a low-ish budget, indie horror film to wind up on my top 10 and this is by far the best one. I have no idea what Jordan Peele is going to do with his career next, but managing to go from making a great sketch comedy show to one of the best horror films in years, filled with not only genuine scares but also fantastic metaphors and story beats is enough to make me follow him anywhere.

#2: Colossal

This movie is better than this poster makes it look.
I know this hasn't been showing up on many top 10 lists, but it managed to grab my attention and never release it. I've seen it four times at this point, a 2017 record and I'm still totally fascinated by it. It's sitting there on Hulu right now, so if you haven't seen it yet, get off your butt and go hit it up. After all, it's the second best movie of 2017. And what's the first? Well...

#1: The Shape of Water

God this movie has the best poster.
I've been looking forward to this movie from the moment it was announced and I was hoping it would be good. And when the buzz around it turned out great, I actually got kind of worried my expectations were too high. So what a treat it is that they weren't just met, but exceeded. The Shape of Water is the best romance, the best story, has the best acting, the best overall movie of 2017 and I want to see it again like 20 more times.

Elessar is a 27 year old Alaskan-born, Connecticut-based, cinephile with an obsession with The Room and a god complex. 

Elessar's Worst Movies of 2017

I genuinely look forward to doing my Best and Worst lists all year. It's not only a sign that a year has passed (in this case a hellish, unending year) but a chance to look back at the year and take stock. And while my Best of the Year list may surprise some of you, it's currently incomplete (there's a couple more movies I want to see) so we're kicking it off with the worst:

NOTE 1: I traditionally only do 5 Worst movies as opposed to 10, partially to reduce the amount of garbage I have to suffer through and partially because if the creators of these movies didn't put in the effort to make good movies, I'm not putting in the effort to make a full bottom 10.

NOTE 2: I have not, as of this writing, seen The Emoji Movie, because I just don't care, nor have I seen Bright, which according to the internet is a startling late entry. I might try to review that second one in January.

#5: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I had actually 100 percent forgotten this movie until a Lindsay Ellis video reminded me.
What even is the point of continuing with the Pirates franchise after this many years? The plot wandered off midway through part 2 and I never figured out where it was going. The interesting characters either left or are substantially less interesting. It still can't find any way of making good action beats. Depp is clearly just tired of being there, so why make a 5th? And more importantly, why did I bother to watch it?

#4: Victoria & Abdul

If they wrote the names in font sizes based on interest in character, Victoria would be the size of the poster and Abdul would be absent.
Even the worst Oscar bait has trouble making it onto worst lists, because it's usually got a little something going for it. But here, the small amount of goodwill Dame Judi Dench's performance buys us is overwhelmed by the bad racial politics, the whitewashing of historical evils, the boring paint-by-numbers direction and the film's complete lack of interest in the character who is the first half of the f**king title.

#3: The Snowman

Drink it in people, it's the worst poster ever.
Beating up on The Snowman feels a little unfair, since it's so clearly, desperately unfinished. But even if they had shot more than 75% of the film, they still wouldn't have been able to excuse the dumb storytelling, the boring villain or the fact that the lead character's name is HARRY HOLE. Add in one of the dumbest (albeit most memetic) posters in human history and it's no wonder this film flopped.


#2: Transformers: The Last Knight

Optimus Prime turns evil...for about 2 minutes.
A few years ago I made the fateful decision to just stop watching Adam Sandler movies, because as fascinatingly bad as they are, the added annoyance and stress they give me just isn't worth it. It looks very much like I'm going to have to adopt a similar policy for Transformers movies. The Last Knight is probably the best one in a while, but that just makes horrifically bad as opposed to inexcusably bad. So I'm checking out. Call me when they get a new direction.

#1: The Book of Henry

"Okay, I want you to make a poster like the ones for Stranger Things, but with way too many visual elements."
The Book of Henry is an insidious movie. It eats into your brain, digs in and refuses to let go. You find yourself wondering how this movie came about, how none of the many people who had to sign off on this movie had the sense to realize what a massive disaster they had on their hands, how none of them noticed the gaping plot holes, the trivializing of sexual assault and abuse or the fact that their lead character is a massive tool. And so, for being the most enduring of all the bad movies of 2017, The Book of Henry is my choice for the worst of the bunch.

Elessar is a 27 year old Alaskan-born, Connecticut-based, cinephile with an obsession with The Room and a god complex.