Book Reviews: Weekend Quad

Dukkha Unloaded
Interspaced with plenty of martial arts, this novel by Loren W. Christensen isn’t as much a mystery as a police procedural, involving a Portland cop who’d recently shot a child and then saved people in Vietnam (stuff that happened in previous novels, which I have not read). Here he’s given a new job, involving bringing down some racist killers.
About halfway through his girlfriend from Vietnam–they’re not really related, we’re told–comes to town; their scenes together are the best in the book, showing off a still budding romance where they illustrate their love for each other while still able to playfully tease. Along with the PTSD, both his and one of his new martial arts students, this makes the book a lot more than just a simple police story. 4/5

Enzan The Far Mountain
A story from John Donohue about a martial artist in Noo Yawk who is hired to “retrieve” a rich Japanese girl from a bad guy who supposedly got her hooked on drugs and sex. But of course it’s never that simple, as North Koreans, a huge snowstorm, his angry brother, a victim who might be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or might not, and the past of his sensei complicate matters tremendously. As would be expected, there’s plenty of fight scenes; people get beaten up, killed, or almost killed with frequency; I found the descriptions of the various martial arts moves fascinating, but the results of the blows not so much. My only annoyance was the hero not thinking things through when he goes to rescue her and gets bopped on the head; shoulda seen that coming, bro. 3.5/5

The Experiment of Dreams
What starts as seemingly harmless experiments into dreams turns into something much more sinister. Since REM sleep is one of my many interests I found the first parts intriguing, as well as the art he’s paid to look at. But toward the end I was confused as to whether he was dreaming or not–as was the character, and as I was supposed to be, I guess–which made me feel like it didn’t work as well as the rest of the book. The end is revealed to be something a lot more pedestrian, even with some twists; couldn’t help but feeling a little let down after the more interesting first half, but it was still well worth the read. 3.5/5

The Devil Will Come
This is the second book by Glenn Cooper I’ve read, but this bears little similarity to the other. Right away it starts in the Vatican, with an archaeological mystery and a conspiracy that goes back millennia, as I’ve read far too often the last few years. There are frequent detours to Nero’s Rome and Christopher Marlowe’s England; now we know why Rome burned, though I’m sad and disappointed that one of my heroes–Marlowe, not Nero–is cast as a bad guy here. Also involved is the now-famous book by Saint Malachy, Prophesy of the Popes; this has also been overused recently, and I’m not kidding when I say the very next book I picked up–electronically–also features it.
The best part is the characters, particularly the lead and her family; I’m with her father, I can’t really see why she became a nun, but so it goes. But if Mr. Cooper made up this whole story out of the hieroglyphic monad. . . that’s as impressive a jump of imagination as Peter Shaffer coming up with Equus out of a news item of horses getting their eyes stabbed. 4/5

;o)

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Travel Thursday: London Apres One Night Stand

It was only as I was leaving her place that I realized arriving in a taxi last night left me with no idea where I was. But since she’d been kind enough to provide breakfast I was in no hurry to get anywhere, and as I liked to do in big cities, as long as the neighborhood looked okay, I simply wandered aimlessly for a while.
The first thing I noticed, and you know how observant I am, was all the streets had a Great before them: Great Portland Street, Great Titchfield Street, and so on. I didn’t see anything particularly great about them, but maybe I didn’t know the correct definition, at least according to the Oxford version of the language. After all, how could you communicate correctly with a people who insisted on putting a “u” in colour and flavour and such beautiful words like that?
Then I remembered that the Canadians also put in the extra vowel, though at least they pronounced it correctly. One supposedly refined lady had chided me for not pronouncing color according to the way she was taught. “Don’t you know the Queen’s English?” she berated, to which I had responded in a surprised tone, “Of course she is. How else could she be Queen?”
And then I was forced to duck.
The involuntary smile at that memory left in a hurry as I saw what the next street held, full of what the locals called furriers. I made the turn instinctively, not wanting to even acknowledge the existence of such stores. More importantly, this way I wouldn’t have to keep myself from smashing a window or torching the stores. With a bit of logic I told myself there was no way to release the furs back into the wild, but deep down I knew I’d feel a lot better, even if the dead animals felt no vindication. I could probably even talk my way out of an arrest, saying I was on a secret mission and letting some local friends fix things. Setting up a cover to infiltrate ecological terrorists! Yeah, that worked. . .
I shook my head to clear those thoughts, which were not like me at all. Apparently I didn’t shake my head hard enough, but then the next few streets didn’t make it any easier. I suddenly found myself in front of Middlesex Hospital; the names here could be quite ridiculous. A sign informed me that Rudyard Kipling had died there in 1936. . . not much of a memorial. This area seemed to be surrounded by death.
When I somehow reached Charlette Street, full of foreign restaurants, another sign told me the painter John Constable had died at #76 in 1837. Funny; the houses only went up to #74. If there had been a house there, it was dead now too.
Somehow I ended up on a street called Scala, though I very much doubted I’d been magically transported to Milan; a little opera at the right moment was always good, but this was not the right moment. Suddenly I realized some of these buildings looked familiar, but it wasn’t until I stopped in front of Pollock’s Toy Museum did I remember I’d been here before.
This museum was an exhibition of toys and dolls of many countries and periods, as well as having theaters and early experiments of what later became movies. More to the point, I remembered the beautiful and intelligent lady who’d been my guide that day. It took two or three associations in my brain to even come up with a first letter. Corinna. . . no. Camille. . . close. Camilia! Maybe. . .
Suddenly I wasn’t sure about going in, knowing there was nothing worse for a woman than the guy forgetting her name. On the other hand, maybe seeing her face in person would jog the name into my buffer. So I paid the admission and immediately looked for her. Even if I didn’t find her, I figured a good walk surrounded by toys might lift me from the low spirits inspired by what had really turned into a depressing and death-filled walk.

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: Song of a Marriageable girl

19th century poem from a member of the Pygmy tribe in Africa.

Will a man come for me?
The good spirit of the forest knows.
He could tell little Medje;
But he will not tell.
There are things it is not right to know:
If there will be dew on the grass tomorrow,
If the fish will come to the trap and be caught,
If a spell put on the gazelle
Will let my father kill it.

;o)

Travel Thursday: She puts the Ice in Iceland, part 3

The next morning we left our room to brace the chill air again, heading for the appropriately named Blue Café, The Brit lugging her laptop along and grumbling at me for not doing the same. . . until I informed her I’d already done my internet check for the morning.
“Oh do shut up,” she muttered, making me wonder if she had a hangover, though I would have imagined her workout would have taken care of that, or rather she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish much exercise with one.
The Blue Café claimed to be the centre of the action–the British spelling, I noticed with amusement–though at this time in the morning there wasn’t much of that yet. Once inside we found it brighter than it really needed to be, with floor-to-ceiling windows making it look even more spacious, the direct opposite of the romantic ambiance of both the restaurant and the bar last night. Since this place was open to anyone and everyone, it had to be that big, and even had an outside porch, for those really that crazy, but again we were too early to have to deal with much of a crowd.
With a grin as I looked over the menu, I told her, “Do everyone a favor and stick with tea this morning. The last thing you need is more wine. . . or beer, you typical Brit.”
She introduced me to her favorite finger, then got that mischievous smile of her own as she intoned, “I’ve never had sushi for breakfast. . .”
I didn’t care; I wasn’t planning on kissing her, though the smell might make me sick. It was no surprise to me when she added a salad to her order, but then neither was she taken aback when, taking a page from her dinner wine order, I ordered both a bacon and egg sandwich as well as a ham and cheese sandwich when I couldn’t decide between them. I was assured the bread was made from scratch just a few minutes ago–as was the sushi, which I didn’t need to know–but that hardly mattered to me as for a moment I wondered if the milk, as well as last night’s steak, was imported. . . and if the cows knew each other. Luckily I let it pass quickly and easily, being hungry enough to dig in right away.
And of course I had ice cream after, topping it off with nuts to make a drumstick without the stick, enjoying it for itself as well as the annoyance factor it gave her. Slurping on an orange/vanilla smoothie as we walked out, with her snarking about someone other than her needing a trip to the gym, we headed back to the hotel room, though only to change into swim attire for another round of burning stinky water.
A few minutes later she led the way back to the Blue Lagoon, as usual making a face at having to shower first, once she stored her overclothes in a locker. Don’t they realize how much colder it feels with your hair wet?
“Ever listen to Raining Jane?” she tossed off on the way to the water.
Snort. “Are you serious? I’m the one who told you about them!”
“Not true!”
“You wouldn’t know anything about music if it wasn’t for me.”
“What a slanderous lie!”
“That’s a slanderous lie!”
Snort. “You’re suffering from narcissistic affectation.”
Using what I remembered from her snootiest accent, I Oxbridge’d, “I’m sure I have not the slightest idea what that means.”
Sighing, she swam–or paddled–away, not about to admit she had no idea how to counter that, especially when I did the accent almost better than her. In the distance she saw what looked to be a cube floating in the water, and as she floated closer–pushing off with her feet, basically walking with her torso bent forward, as the water was shallow–she quickly found it to be the Lagoon Bar, which most likely had exactly what she needed right now.
For a moment she remembered she had no pockets in her swimsuit, but just as quickly she recalled the bracelets we’d been given were pretty much credit cards. So with a grin she got in line, quickly realizing this really had all the makings of a bar as she was quickly hit on, rejecting all offers that would let her cut ahead because she said she was having fun flirting with all her boys. . .
And even more fun watching all the boys puff up like peacocks. . .
Luckily she soon became hungry for lunch, though she did promise to see them again in the afternoon. Finding me quickly–alone–we headed back to the showers, once again grousing at the amazingly strict code of hygiene that required guests to shower before and after bathing. It didn’t help that the shower water flowing through the plumbing was just as stinky as the lagoon, though I felt better when I noticed all the beautiful women around me smelled just as bad-eggy as me.
Once past that, I remembered something about the lunch buffet having what they called “steak of the day,” which I figured I could live with as long as they didn’t put anything disgusting on it, and the thought of some different kind of fish brightened her as well.
“So,” she fake-perked after grabbing our goods from the long buffet table and sitting, “have you wondered what makes people want to vacation here?”
I swigged from my ever-present 7-up. “Look at that girl over there–why do you think she’s here?”
Dreading that it might be the redhead, relieved when it wasn’t, The Brit did her best to stare without being noticed. “Why does any single girl show up here? To party!”
“Wouldn’t she be in the bar? Or in the bar out in the water?” Like you, I didn’t need to add, since she blushed anyway. “Besides, she’s reading.”
“So she’s on a relaxing vacation.”
“Far cheaper places for that. Keep going.”
“Maybe she’s hoping to Mr. Right! Fall in love, live happily ever after.”
“Did you get that from the book she’s reading?”
“Hadn’t noticed,” she admitted, though now looking closer. Not knowing it, she gauged from the title that it was some kind of cross between fantasy and romance. Just your type, she grinned, but knew I wouldn’t let her off that easily. “So she believes in fairytales. Maybe she’s hoping for fate to sweep her away, a kiss of kismet. . .” I made a face at that last one, but she seemed to be on a roll. “Hoping for love at first sight, she imagines her knight in shining armor: abs of steel, hair longer and thicker than hers, emerging from the stinky water to pick her up and carry her away.”
“Betcha she orders ice cream for dessert.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I can’t see how you eat so much, as well as drink that drink you have in front of–”
“Watch me chug this 7-up like it’s tequila!”
She winced involuntarily, then gave me her patented glare, which I’d seen enough times to be vaccinated against. Knowing she was doomed to failure there, she sighed, “Fine, let’s go to the bar again.”
“Really? Do they have AA in England?”
“That attempt at alliteration did not work,” she informed me, as always missing the point on purpose. “You can take photos from the viewing platform.”
“Don’t teach your grandpa to suck eggs,” I returned easily, “even if he smells like them today.”
“Don’t we all. . .”
This time I didn’t bother to pretend to get a drink, letting her cover for me by flirting with the bartender–a different one from last night, I noticed. Making sure to use the wide-angle lens, in case someone accused me of bathing beauties being my sole interest, I let my mind wander a bit more over the subject she’d brought up earlier. Despite how well I’d eaten here, people didn’t travel to Iceland for the food; there was Italy and France and so on for that. No, tourists flocked here for the glorious nature, the unique and stunning views. So with that thought I changed lenses and shot like I was being paid to do so.
Concentrating on the photographic always made me feel better. From up here it was easy to observe why Iceland’s terrain was often compared to the surface of the moon: landscapes cut by giant glaciers, charred by molten lava. . . it wasn’t at all hard to get why NASA brought astronauts here to prepare them for missions on that other rock. Again I wondered just how those famous horses could ride through such rough and downright treacherous terrain, but then I figured a thousand years of genetics would make even the wildest animal surefooted. Couldn’t be as hard as those goats who liked to cling to fjords all over Norway and Alaska and probably New Zealand too, for all I knew.
And then I had to keep from giggling as I remembered those silly tree-climbing goats in Morocco. . .
But finally I was done, and the bartender must have said the wrong thing, for she flounced away from him and back toward the exit at the same moment I arrived there. For once I didn’t bother to ask, or even make a snark, even though I had one prepared, something about a girl being really repulsive if she couldn’t score with a bartender. . .
Instead we walked back out into the cold in silence, then stopped to look around. Finally she sighed, “Let’s go back to our room and. . . rest. And I really mean that. It’ll get me in the mood for another long soak in the afternoon.”
“You’re not bored of it?”
“Not at all!” She looked positively shocked by the very idea. “Are you?”
“Immensely. Let’s go look at the activities board in the lobby first.”
But as we made our way there we were passed by a long train of tourists, doing what tourists did best: taking tours. To me it seemed rather silly–if you were already here, you might as well take a dunk in the water–but obviously not everyone agreed with the sentiment, or the price. Instead we had to flash bored looks at photographers and voyeurs wearing parkas before heading back to shelter to continue their “Worldwide tour of Iceland,” as I termed it and she giggled.

;o)

Book Reviews: Revenge Of

Captured
In this story by Neil Cross, a man with terminal cancer sets out to apologize to people he feels he wronged. only to find his grade school sweetheart missing and supposedly killed by her husband.
I enjoyed it for the most part, though nothing particularly screamed at me. Toward the end I found it becoming a bit sadistic, and there’s some killings which probably didn’t need to be there. The last twist annoyed me as well. 3.5/5

The Iraq Lie
It’s gonna be hard for me to give an impartial review, because this disclosure by Joseph M. Hoeffel, former representative from Pennsylvania, basically confirmed what I’d suspected all along. On the other hand, the writing here is quite bad, and incredibly repetitive–this could have been then length of a pamphlet had not the exact same phrases been used over and over, and half of it was quotes and notes. Yet it was still hard getting through.
Loved what he said, hated how he said it. I’d give it a five for content–the first time it’s said–but a one in writing ability, and possibly a negative in editing, if indeed there was any. 2/5

The Perfect Corpse
A strange tale from Giles Milton about finding a man frozen in Greenland for 70 years and the desire to reanimate him. . . to make money, of course. From there things get even more strange, involving mistaken identity, plenty of World War 2 history, and a killing spree. Much of interest, though some of the characters are relatively stereotypical. As usual, women flock to British accents. . . 4/5

Fatal Destiny
There’s been female bounty hunters before, but never one that was rich and didn’t need the money, did it for other reasons. On the other hand, it seems like every woman who became a cop did it because their mother had been killed and no one was investigating. And of course she has to have friends still on the force, as well as enemies, among them an ex/again-lover. So while I didn’t find anything new in this mystery by David DeLee, the writing, particularly the descriptions of Columbus as well as her fortress of solitude–complete with monkey–makes this a worthwhile read. 3.5/5 pushed to 4 stars

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: Ode on the Hills of Georgia

This small lament by the famous Alexander Pushkin has been translated quite a few ways into English, so I chose my fave, the one that sounds most like a poet wrote it.

Night over Georgia; mist across the heights.
Before me, the Aragva ripples off.
Only my chained and prancing heart’s distress
Remains intense, a pain so filled with you–
Totally you–that all its darkness lights.
How can I help, combustible anew,
But live in love, even a bitter love?–
Being powerless to live in lovelessness.

;o)

Top 15 Favorite TV Shows, 2014 Edition

You know the rules: network TV only, no cable or Netflix, though I will mention a few of those at the end.

15. NCIS: New Orleans
Not a Bakula fan, but love Zoe McClellan since her time on JAG. There’s an easygoing Suthin’ charm to the show, which is to be expected in N’awlins, I guess.

14. Bad Judge
It’s awesome seeing the always cool and collected Kate Walsh be such an utter goofball.

13. Hart of Dixie
This show has only gotten better with the more frequent appearances of Kaitlyn Black, by the far the best character on the show.

12. CSI
Having been rejuvenated by Shue and Danson, it almost feels like the early years, though better. Perhaps that’s due to Jorja Fox coming back.

11. Rookie Blue
As long as Missy Peregrym keeps bringing it, I’ll keep watching it.

10. Criminal Minds
Not nearly the same since Paget left, but still fascinating in its delvings into the psychopathic mind.

9. NCIS
Another show rejuvenated by a new cast member. Nothing against Ziva, but the new girl has so much more personality, and since she’s married we don’t get Tony being his usual annoying self hitting on her all the time. (Don’t worry, he’s still annoying in other ways, especially with McGee.)

8. Wipeout
There’s nothing left to say, only enjoy: the wipeouts, the snark, Jill in such tight jeans they look to be borrowed from her 12-year-old sister. . .

7. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
Have to admit to a bit of disappointment here with the plotting and the pace, but watching Coleson and May will never not be fun. Skye isn’t as wonderful as she usta be, though. . .

6. Big Bang Theory
Another one that just keeps rolling along, doing what it does best, which is making me laugh at people even geekier than me. . .

5. NCIS:LA
Never thought I would have it this low, but ever since that horrible plot used to cover Daniela Ruah’s pregnancy–sending Kensi to Afghanistan to snipe her former fiancé–it’s been tough to get back into. Still one of the best shows around, though.

4. Forever
Even in the show they had to mention Alana DeLaGarza’s cheekbones. Beyond that, the leads have the kind of chemistry all TV pairings wish they had and only Castle has achieved lately. Though I do wonder if Henry’s killed in Brooklyn or the other side of Manhattan if he’ll be reborn in another body of water. . .

3. Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Aisha Tyler is more fun than Drew Carey. Miss some of the guys from the previous shows, but the new ones are just as good, and once in a while the celeb guests really hit it out of the park.

2. Castle
Far from going downhill with them getting married, this show just keeps chugging delightfully along. The western was my fave epi since the second season.

1. State of Affairs
You all know by now I love Katherine Heigl, but this show would be almost as spectacular without her. It’s quite obvious their consultants and writers know their stuff, and I am frequently impressed by the variety of plots they conjure up. That being said, I’ve got a few story ideas floating in the noggin, if they ever need them. . .

On Netflix
Warehouse 13
This is what happens when creative people make a show where anything goes; they frequently go anywhere and everywhere, in a good way.

Continuum
Always liked Rachel Nichols, but this shows just how well she can act. At times the story is fascinating, at others tough to follow–changing to a different timeline, for example–she grounds the story with her fish-out-of-water attempt to get back to her time and family.

Lost Girl
Possibly the first nice succubus in history. The snark flies at full speed between her, wolf boy, 2 female humans, a no-longer king, and various other powerful creatures, now including a gorgeous blonde Valkyrie. . . but aren’t they all blonde?

Hinterland
Mostly gritty, sometimes weird, detective show set in Wales. The main character could be a little more. . . human, and I’m so tired of seeing damaged cops on TV–and hope to never see them in person–but some of the stuff here is as fascinating as Criminal Minds.

Mythbusters
Where else can you go to get your myths busted? Even the narrator is hilarious as they take the experiments to their logical conclusions. . . and then well beyond. Hope Grant’s leg has healed from when the karma hammer smacked him. . .

The Wall
As hard as it is to watch Gillian Anderson as anyone but Scully–the blonde hair helps–she’s amazing as an incredibly cold-hearted detective on the hunt for a serial killer in Northern Ireland, played by the guy who’s gonna be the lead in 50 Shades, I’m told. . .

;o)

Travel Thursday: She puts the Ice in Iceland, part 2

Having been told our access to the exclusive part was good for the rest of the day, we decided to go back to our room for a nap before dinner–showing they were hip to the ways and idioms of the outside world, one of the blondes smirked, “A nap? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”–and then have dinner before coming back here. The Brit, still blushing a little at the intimation that sex would do in lieu of a rejuvenating snooze, led the way down to the locker rooms, where the bracelet interfaced with the lock, which deigned to open so we could get dressed in our street clothes and not have to walk through the chilly air in our albeit-dried swim attire.
As we were heading out I asked the previously-mentioned redhead at the reception desk if reservations were needed for the restaurant, to which she assured me that was a negatory, due to this being the off-season and us being hotel guests. “Takk fyrir,” I murmured, to which she dimpled that my pronunciation was getting better, followed by the more obligatory “You’re welcome.”
According to the nails that would have dug into my arm had I not been wearing a jacket, yet still making their presence known, The Brit was thinking about the redhead too on the five-minute stroll to the Clinic, as the Blue Lagoon’s accommodations building was called. I tried not to wonder at the Scandinavian fetish for sparse furniture design as I tossed myself on the bed and reached for my laptop, having been told every room had wi-fi. For her part The Brit took a trip to the small porch for a quick glance at the surroundings, but only seeing more frozen lava. . . then sequestered herself in the bathroom, as women were wont to do. Luckily I didn’t have to use it, at least for now, but that would no doubt change, as I lost track of internet activities and ended up stiff from being in that position for hours. . .
As a consequence there was no napping, nor anything else nap might have been a pseudonym for, until it was time for dinner. With night having fallen, it was much colder than the already cold of the day, so we were really bundled up on the short walk back to the main buildings. The walkways had a lot of lighting, though that might go down after people went to sleep; still, they made the lava fields incredibly dark in comparison, but considering the uneven ground, it didn’t seem like a good idea to pick steps through all that anyway.
A typical growl come from the Brit as she stopped just inside the door and tried to struggle out of her overcoat; of course that was just a feint so I could do it for her. Somehow I managed not to laugh, but it wasn’t easy. She seemed mercifully unaware of how fantastic her ass looked in that dress. . . no, change that to pretending she didn’t know. . .
As though we were honored guests, we were seated instantly, with her as usual tsking about my soft drink order while she went with what had to be the official beverage of her service, the martini; at least she didn’t specify how she wanted it mixed. With that finally done, she stood up to hit the ladies’ room, promising, “Wouldn’t dream of depriving you of my presence for more than a few minutes,” with an impish grin. I managed to look relieved, enough to make her giggle, and wiggle, for even though she used to be a dancer she usually didn’t shake her moneymaker like that. Still watching every movement, I tried to sound how she would say moneymaker in her upper crust Brit accent, but could only laugh.
As soon as The Brit was out of my view, the redhead from the front desk came into it, effortlessly being strikingly perky and stunningly beautiful in a strapless blue gown, the kind of woman who should be, if she wasn’t already, a model. Seeing me staring, she threw me a wink as she recognized me, which made me grin and offer her a toast of my 7-up.
I somehow managed to shut down any fantasies featuring either woman–or both, for that matter–until the lovely British brunette returned, at which point I told her, “If you sit to eat, it’s ‘slow food.’”
“Huh?”
“As opposed to ‘fast food’. . .
“Ah.” As always ready to change the subject when the present one didn’t suit her, she twinkled, “Did you ever do that research on the emperor who shared Kirk’s middle name, you nerd?”
“You’re the one who remembered Tiberius, and I’m the nerd?”
“I’ll take that as a no.”
Releasing a long-suffering sigh, just enough truth in it to make her glare, I closed my eyes as though to better remember the words on the page. “Emperor Tiberius, adopted son of Augustus, was–at first–a capable ruler, but had the unusual habit of declining honors and titles. It’s hinted that he knew, or suspected, that he’d eventually go crazy, and it made him loco for privacy. He left Rome in AD 26 for Capri, which he admired for its beauty and for the fact that it had only one landing port, and he never went back to the capital again. The entire island became his pleasure garden, where he could act like a frat boy–do you have those at Oxford?–while passing laws against loose women. According to one account, bevies of young girls and men, whom he had collected from all over the Empire as adepts in unnatural practices, would perform before him in groups of three, to excite his waning passions. The inmates of the establishment would know from these exactly what was expected of them.”
“I like it,” she smirked, tossing down the last of her martini. “Just the kind of inspiration I need. . .”
“Really? I would think the only inspiration you’d need is remembering what I did to you last time. . . you know, with my fingers and your–”
“Ah, the food! I am really starving!”
Letting her have a maniacal laugh, I dug in too, and for the next few minutes every new sensation–every sight, smell, sound, taste–was remarked upon; every forkful closed our eyes, allowing us to meditate in pleasure. By the time I was sopping up the meat juices with some bread she couldn’t blame me, because she was making me laugh as she licked her fingers clean with a childish smile. Seeing she had my full attention when she saw my grin, she withdrew the last finger from her mouth more slowly, making a quiet slurping sound as the tip came free.
But of course this early in the evening it was just teasing. . .
The Lava Bar, as you might expect from its name, being atop the Lava Restaurant, had a huge selection of wines, at least it felt like it to me, as The Brit seemed to be asking the bartender about every single one; I was thinking going to sleep was better than going through this, even with the possible payoff at the end. Then it occurred to me I could flip the script again, perhaps buying a drink to a solitary beautiful maiden, waiting for some foreigner to. . .
Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be any around, and I looked hard, taking in the elegant design and cozy atmosphere. Well, at least I could ignore her for a few minutes as I gazed at the walls, wondering what it was about Scandinavian artists that made them paint so weird, and if it had anything to do with their architectural designs too. Beside one of the paintings was a sign that told me there was a viewing platform on the roof of the building, which was just the thing to give me a great overview of the place, once daylight hit again, hopefully without much steam cloud. Right now there was very little to see in the dark, plus it being really really cold. . .
Any chill I might have felt at the thought fled as I smiled at the fireplace, realizing the Spartan nature of the local design aesthetic was starting to work on me: high brown leather couches against the walls, other brown no-back settees lying in the middle, surrounded by transparent tables, both low and for standing. . . and then there was the bar, of course. I was taking in the patter between The Brit and the Bartender–sounds like a sitcom title–as much as I wanted to ignore it, because if she was actually trying a jealousy play. . .
If this was the part where I was supposed to get jealous and punch the bartender, or pull my woman to my side and hustle her out, I figured I’d continue to do the opposite. Stepping out toward the exit, I told her I’d see her later, then stopped at her shriek while looking at a perfectly placed mirror, seeing her scurry back to me, then blush and go back to pay for her drinks, or at least show her bracelet. “You are seriously a dirty bastard,” she muttered into my ear on the pretense of biting it–well, no pretense, she did–smiling grandly in case anyone came across us and took us for an undercover couple.
Sighing languidly once outside, she looked around, as though having forgotten where we were. “All that talk about this island looking like another world is all the more fitting now. . . this billowing steam puts us in our little private world, somewhere other than earth. . .”
“Wow, you really are drunk. . .”
“I’ll show you how drunk I am. . .”
OW! Not what I was expecting. . .

;o)