Boozy Books: Actually… a Podcast!

Heyo, and welcome to the first edition of Boozy Books after the hiatus! I promised we’d have one for you on a monthly basis, but given that was two weeks ago, we’re not quite ready to move forward with the in-depth, well-thought-out pairings that we promised with the monthly version. A has a great book ready for you next month (she told me so, and I believe her), but since I didn’t want to be a liar literally two weeks after promising something…

I’m pairing a podcast.

It’s an old podcast. In fact, it’s been done and dusted for years now. And it’s one I’ve listened to a number of times, both because I find the subject endlessly fascinating and because the host’s voice is really damn soothing. I recently returned to listen to it again because I’m worldbuilding a second-world Roman Empire corollary (well, no… I have the world built; I’m listening to it again for clues in how to write the newly-created second half of the story since my stupid brain decided to give the Devil his due. And that is, in story, a very literal description. Like… literal literal. Not figurative literal. Which, frankly, is… *cough* Stay on point, C) and I just really really like the Battle of Cannae. Like enough that, when I watched the GoT episode “Battle of the Bastards”, I almost injured my boyfriend by being so excited. (For the record, I’d called that it was going to be a sort-of reverse Battle of Bosworth Field, with Jon fighting a la Richard III but being rescued in the end a la Henry VII. I’m still proud of myself for that, even if it was obvious. I take my joy where I can get it these days.)

Anyway. It’s the History of Rome podcast, which ran from 2007-2012. It’s ridiculously comprehensive, covers all the highs and lows of Rome, and runs hundreds of episodes. You can listen to it all on the site or through whatever mechanism you have for such things. I assume we all listen to podcasts because, well, free education. And they’re great for writing research because you can listen to them while you’re cooking, cleaning, driving, taking a shower… whatever, which is difficult to do while reading or searching the interwebz.

I’d recommend some Roman wine, but they had a habit of making it in lead-y pots, so don’t do that. But if you want to use modern wine to create a Roman-style drink, that’s what I’d do! The easiest to do is something called mulsum, which can be approximated by adding 1/2 light honey (warmed up) to a bottle of dry-ish white wine (like medium dry). Make sure the honey is all mixed in and then chill the wine before serving. Or you could just buy mead, I guess, but that’s honey wine not honeyed wine, so it’s not the same thing. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could make Roman cheesecakes or sausages, recipes for which are all over the net. If you’re into bayberry and pine nuts, Roman cuisine is FOR YOU. And don’t be scared off by garum; you don’t actually have to ferment old fish bits (you’d layer aromatic herbs with oily fish like anchovies and salt then let it sit for three weeks, or so). Just buy fish sauce from the Asian section of your local grocery store. It’s pretty much the same thing.

We’ll be back next week with a PROPER Boozy Books. You know, with an actual book. But I wanted to make sure y’all knew you could count on us in this brave new world of less-regular posting.



The Muse: Writing is Healing

Hello, and welcome to the newly rebranded Muse. Hopefully, you tuned in to C’s last update, because things, they are a-changin’. Essentially, responsibilities, adulthood, and the pursuit of free time have put an end to our rigid posting schedule and we’ll be focusing on delivering high-quality content on more of a monthly timeline.

So, yes, the Muse will no longer appear strictly on Mondays, but I think this will result in more inspired posts as opposed to the “oh-shit-it’s-Monday-what-can-I-write-about” pieces of the past.

With that in mind, I present to you, Cacti community, my first new Muse.

It’s Tuesday. Two days ago, my family made the difficult decision to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Fritz. He was almost 14 and debilitating arthritis was getting the better of him. The vet said he was suffering. He said it was time.

This weekend easily ranks as one of the worst in my life. Fritz was a sweet, loyal, neurotic wookie-like bear and it pains me that I couldn’t say goodbye in person. I spoke with him via a video chat with my dad the evening before, wishing I could reach out and scratch his ears. He was pretty alert, though he couldn’t do more than lie there. He knew it was me and listened to my words: the hollow “good boys” and choked up “the pain will all go aways.”

I made my parents promise to stay with him until the end. They kept their word, braving those final moments and making sure Fritz was surrounded by people he loved.

This was of significant importance to me, because one of my greatest regrets is that I wasn’t there when our cat was put to sleep. Granted, I was in high school at the time, but I was a snivelling coward and I left a scared animal that I cared deeply for to face the unknown without a loving friend nearby.

It doesn’t make things any easier and it certainly doesn’t make up for my past mistakes, but knowing that Fritz was accompanied by family and that he went peacefully provides a kind of closure I never got the last time I lost a pet. Fritz knew he was loved and cherished. That’s all anyone could want in their final moments.

Now, obviously, this hasn’t exactly been a Muse, but I feel that writing and sharing my grief is an important part of the healing process. Putting my thoughts down and taking a moment to reflect is my next step forward. Keeping my thoughts locked in while crying in the fetal position probably isn’t healthy after a certain point. So, let the healing begin.


The Muse: Actually on a Monday!

HELLO, Cactus-landia! And welcome back to Nerd Cactus HQ, where we had a bit of a hiatus. Adulthood got in the way of things, and we hadn’t seen each other at all in over six months (probably more) when we finally managed to catch up with one another last week. Aside from discussing Infinity War ad nauseum, becoming nauseated by the state of the nation, and then getting delicious ice-cream, we also discussed how we’re going to move forward with our venture.

I mean, we were hardly going to shut down, right? No way. But the fact of the matter is, we’re not really able to continue doing things the way we did before when we could basically get together once a month and figure everything out. It’s just not possible. And, unfortunately, it is also not going to be possible to continue doing things the way we did when we first started. Which means there’ll be some changes in the way the blog is run from now on.

Basically, the scheduling that was so good for us before is now no longer good. We’re not able to read a book every two weeks and we’ve basically gone through the backlog of books we want to pair, so we have to move forward. This means that Boozy Books will no longer be a weekly feature, but will only appear when we finish a book worth pairing. I’d venture to say once a month is probably a good guess, but I promise that, since it’s becoming a monthly feature instead of a weekly one, it’ll be an actual feature. Our weekend posts on Shakespeare and silliness will also be on a “I found something interesting” basis, but that’s basically what they’d become already, so that’s nothing new.

The Muse will continue to be a weekly thing. But it could appear any time during the week (the others will remain Friday and weekend posts), mostly because the muse might strike at any time. We’ll try to keep it on Monday by writing things ahead of time and scheduling them like grown-ups, but… let’s face it, we barely qualify as grown-ups as it is. The whole adulting thing is what’s caused this mess in the first place. Damn adulting.

The fact of the matter is… life sometimes forces you to put your creative endeavors on a schedule. You’d like to write whenever you want to or whenever the muse strikes, but you can’t always do that. There’s bills to pay and animals (or kids) to care for. Families to see. Nations to save (on that note: please be sure to vote in any upcoming elections. The only way to prevent the death of democracy is to exercise our most fundamental right). You know… life. And though it may betray that wannabe bohemian artist pouring their soul over the page as they die from consumption up in the frozen garret of your creative mind, sometimes you need to be left-brained about all those right-brained activities.

So, we’re scheduling writing time. We’re getting all disciplined and shit. And while it might suck (especially since we’re still in the querying phase for Merc, and it’s literally soul-sucking), it’ll be the way we get to move forward as a partnership when life seems so determined to get in the way. So… here’s to growing up!

Sorry, Peter.