Dark Cookbook – Cake of Neugbauer

A few days ago I read about a Harry Potter book that a bunch of hilarious writers generated with a predictive keyboard called “Botnik“. It appears that you can load any text into it you wish and it will generate a predictive keyboard based on that text. There’s all kinds of stuff there. The tutorial apparently features “The American Woman’s Cookbook” and selected works of H.P. Lovecraft. I decided it would be hilarious to generate recipes based on vintage cookbooks, old grimoires and short stories from old horror writers.

So I present to you The Cake of Neugebauer generated with the help of botnik, based on “Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft, “Aunt Caroline’s Dixieland Recipes”, and a non-vodka singed version of “The Necronomicon”.

Please do not attempt to make any of this at home.

I have no idea what a tablespoonful of waters that have raised demons is but it can’t be good for you. Also ‘boiling syrup’ is probably pretty dangerous. Sumerian deity oats are probably just regular oats. Probably.

Cake Of Neugebauer

One cup brown custard
Two pints beaten eggs
One tablespoonful waters that which have raised demons
Two pounds boiling syrup
One cup powdered cinnamon toast
Oats of a Sumerian deity

Preheat oven to three hundred seventy five degrees.

Put all the ancient ones which have been creamed together until smooth into a baking dish. Chill until very little protection against the elder gods remains.

Mix egg slightly into the melted barrier that keeps vigil into the underworld. Add enough water to dissolve the first brown custard. Mix well.

Put together with the assistance of a sumerian deity and pour boiling syrup over toast.

Cream the mixture into oats.

Bake fifteen years or until tender. Serve with crushed olives and the hidden power which might precipitate.

Casual Vacancy – By JK Rowling

This one has been out almost a month. Not sure how I missed it. Was glad to hear J.K. Rowling was going to write an adult novel as practically all of her Harry Potter readers are grown men and women now. If you think about it took 17 years or so to write all seven of those novels which were published in a ten-year span. A ten year old who read The Sorcerer’s Stone when it came out in 1997 would be in his twenties now. He probably got into reading because of those books and would probably love something by the same author.

I haven’t read this one yet so no review but I will definitely be purchasing it soon.

The jacket copy from Amazon is as follows:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

I scrolled down a few of the reviews on Amazon and it doesn’t seem to be a supernatural fantasy book. If it isn’t, it’s a bit out of the ordinary for what I usually read but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

What is Contemporary Fantasy?

Contemporary fantasy is a fantasy work that is set in the time period of when the story was written. It’s safe to say that all contemporary fantasy is set in ‘modern times’, mostly in the real world. But a book might have been written three hundred years ago, been set in the time period of three hundred years ago and be contemporary fantasy. Unless you consider some of Shakespeare’s plays to be technically fantasy, you might be hard pressed to find any contemporary fantasy over about two hundred years old.

My favorite example would have to be Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. It was written in 1897 and was set basically in 1897 or thereabouts. It’s a vampire novel, obviously, so it’s fantasy. One might not see it as contemporary now, but in 1897 it would have been. So it’s just ‘old contemporary fantasy’.

This particular genre could span so many types of fantasy, it’s sometimes pointless to use this as a sub-genre. It really is the genre. The normal usage for the term these days is fantasy set in the last decade or two. Harry Potter could be a good example of this as the books were mostly set in the time period they were written, though a few anachronisms exist. The anachronisms are somewhat explainable as it took Rowling something like seventeen years to write a set of books that took place in a seven year period (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was started in 1990 or so, finished in 1995 and published in 1997). Still, they are very good examples of contemporary fantasy.

There are a ton of these books out there. Almost any other sort of fantasy could be considered contemporary fantasy. Lots of vampire, witch, demon and paranormal romance easily falls under the umbrella of contemporary. A large part of urban fantasy is also contemporary, so much so that many times the two genres are confused. If you go take a look at Amazon under the science fiction and fantasy section you’ll see they don’t even have an urban fantasy category, just contemporary. So you might be hard pressed to find specific reading material in your niche say if you wanted demon themed urban fantasy set in the modern day.

These books are usually “Low Fantasy”, which basically means that most of the story does not take place in a fantastic place. It’s usually set in the real world, with locations that either exist or a fictional location within a real one. The most common template you see is when the author uses their hometown, or some place they are very familiar with as the setting. You can look at just about any urban fantasy novel for examples of this. I like the Anita Blake series as a model, mostly because it’s  set in Saint Louis not Los Angeles, Chicago, New York or Dublin (Ireland) which seem to be really common.

Contemporary High Fantasy is certainly possible, though there doesn’t seem to be a lot of it. You could consider Alice in Wonderland to fit the description though as it takes place in the time of the author and is set in a fantastical place. There’s a huge selection of books that deal with people from the real, modern world being tossed into a fantastic setting. I don’t know that you could technically call them ‘contemporary high fantasy’ but they fit the description and are fun to read. Some of my favorites are The Soprano Sorceress by L. E. Modesitt Jr., A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, and A Magic Kingdom for Sale SOLD! by Terry Brooks.

I categorized vampire novels as being contemporary fantasy. I’d say most of them are contemporary fantasy. You can’t throw a rock in a bookstore and not hit a vampire novel it seems. There’s a ton of self published stuff out there too, and some of it isn’t completely horrible. The old soap opera “Dark Shadows” was a really good example of contemporary vampire fiction of its day. Some of Anne Rice’s stuff is contemporary too, and much if it is worth checking out. I really enjoyed Dracula by Bram Stoker, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, and the Anita Blake series by Laurel K Hamilton (come on, they’re mostly about vampires existing and what people do to them). I heard an interview with Charlaine Harris one time and though I’ve never read The Southern Vampire Mysteries, I want to mention them because she just sounded like an awesome southern lady. I can’t say I’m much of a vampire novel fan, but I do thoroughly enjoy the mythology in most of its forms.

Your basic “hot chick with a tramp stamp and crossbow” novels are typical contemporary fantasy. A lot of this is urban, but not always. Calling them chick with tattoo and crossbow fiction really isn’t fair. A lot of that is just cover art, the few I’ve read made no mention in the book about any character’s ink. Also they don’t always have crossbows. This particular type of fantasy is more ‘hunter fantasy’. You’ve got a pretty heroine who hunts a particular type of monster and gets caught up with either the bad boy, or one of the monsters she’s supposed to kill. This is standard fare these days and I think is heavily inspired by Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. If vampire books are prevalent I’d say these are absolutely prolific. Go to a bookstore, hit up the sci-fi and fantasy section, pick three random non-sci-fi books and I’d bet one of them is this sort of story.

One other type of contemporary fantasy that I think is worth mentioning is the ‘fantastic detective novel’. There are a lot of these out there and many are worth picking up. The idea here is that a person involved somehow in the supernatural is a detective asked to help solve magical or supernatural cases that can’t be solved by modern forensics. Sometimes the detective has supernatural abilities, other times they are just thrown into it. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is my favorite, the Merry Gentry Series by Laurel K. Hamilton is cool too (Yes Laurel K. Hamilton will get a lot of mentions on this blog)

So in summary, contemporary fantasy stories are those that are set in the time the book was written and contain elements of fantasy. It is a genre determined by the times, not the place, or the theme, or the characters, that the book is set in and can contain practically other type of fantasy you can think of.

Xcel Energy, and UPS Men

Well I’ve been on a project with Xcel Energy for the past few months. You know, the giant corporation that handles power in Texas, Colorado, Minnesota and parts of Montana? It’s been fairly cool to work there. Too bad I don’t work for them directly though. I get the feeling they treat their employees better then my employers treat me.

I can’t complain too terribly much, the pays good, except my cell phone bill is eating into my paychecks pretty badly. Five hundred minutes a month just doesn’t last long when you have a manager calling you every thirty five seconds wanting to know some detail about something I honestly don’t have time to explain to them.

Plus my coworkers calling me for help, that’s pretty annoying too.

Was going to save up for school, but I don’t think that’s going to work out so well now. Most of my paychecks are going towards my cell phone bill, gasoline, and that sort of thing. I don’t think anyone can really make money on this contract stuff at all. Just the people issuing the contracts.

So I guess A+ Certification, here I come! It’ll help anyway. I manage a bunch of guys with bachelors degrees, and I don’t even have any certification, just a ton of experience.

Anyway, Harry Potter book 7 came out this weekend if you live under a rock and haven’t heard. I’m reading it slowly but surely, hopefully will have it done soon. Seems good so far.

Funny story though, the UPS guy who delivered it cussed at my dad when he delivered it. Apparently he’d been delivering nothing but those books all day. Like six stops down my street, and three or four one block over. Also the poor Hastings employees were forced to dress as wizards and witches. I went there to get a couple of reference books, and felt kind of sorry for them.

I didn’t dare make fun as all of them were armed with sharp sticks hidden beneath their robes. I didn’t want to get stabbed by a fourteen inch oak and unicorn hair wand. They’ve even got easy grip handles.

I went into Office Depot for a wireless network adapter for my laptop, and a new bag to carry it in and there were some girls quietly talking about the book looking over their shoulders to make sure no one heard. Apparently one of them had read the whole thing already. It was ten o’clock in the morning, she’d had it since 12:30 that night. They were giggling like a bunch of junior high school children. What is it with ridiculously hot girls and Harry Potter? A guy starts talking about it with them though and these same girls just look at him like he’s some sort of mutant geek. That’s quite strange in my opinion, all things considered.

I have a message to those women.

From: The Amarillo Geek Lord (Drachemeister).
To: Ridiculously Hot Women Who Read Harry Potter
Message: You’re a geek too. Come to terms with it! Give the males your kind a chance.

The argument could be made that just because you read Harry Potter doesn’t mean you are a geek. I would like to argue that bringing that point up and arguing it is what makes you a geek, albeit a very low level geek. Even as a low level geek you need to remember to occasionally pay token tribute to your local geek lord. A small bag of Cheetos, origami dragon, old used video game, action figure, novelty guitar pick, or a foreign coin two or three times a year are traditional. It’s best to keep your geek lord happy.

Clients and their machines…

I’ve got a large somewhat unattractive machine sitting next to me happily installing a clean version of Windows on it. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post it was doing that thing where it starts up, blue screens and then restarts only to repeat the process ad nauseum. Usually I can fix the problem without wiping the hard drive. Microsoft’s fixes are retarded in these cases actually because I haven’t seen a manufacturer yet who installs Recovery Console as a boot option, and so many just send ‘wipe ‘n go’ Setup CDs with their machines.

I hate that because most people don’t back up and the vicious part of it is, you can’t install Recovery Console using Microsoft’s method with those disks because you CAN’T log into Windows.

Also Microsoft’s “redundancies” and “self repair” systems are a huge joke, if they even exist.

What irritated me in this case though was the owner of the machine claims that his version of XP Pro was from a “Microsoft Employee” and was an “early version”. That means I couldn’t actually fix the problem because no kernel32 file in existance was compatible. So I backed everything up I could on it, wiped the drive and started over. I only used backup CD’s to install Windows because I don’t want my originals getting screwed up. Yes I use the client’s CD keys (or occasionally ones from machines that no longer have that version on them) so I’m not doing anything illegal.

Anyway thankfully they didn’t have much on the machine, not that they could have with that ‘old’ version of XP Pro but at least it wasn’t a big deal to work with. I think their network card must be screwed up though because it isn’t functioning. It’s just great!

Oh well I’ll have to do the same thing to this computer soon I think because when I installed a new Windows system on it I forgot to have it wipe the hard drive, which is what I really wanted it to do. I was just too lazy to go back and do it over.

My ‘oldest younger sister’ came in for a visit today. We didn’t talk much. Was good to see her though really. ZB and her were wandering the city looking for people to freak out. I didn’t recognize her voice when she came up so I wasn’t totally sure who it was, I haven’t seen her in well over a year though. I found out that she’s a huge Harry Potter fan now so at least we finally have something in common.

I’m out for the day,

-Aaron