On Book Reviews and the Simpsons

As many of you know, my first novel came out last year. And that meant getting reviews, something I didn't think of when I was in the heights of ecstasy--before the book actually existed.

Mostly the reviews were fine. Some wonderful ones saying I was a genius! Some lukewarm ones, and some that were downright mean, almost personal attacks, which I found bizarre. Luckily I have a thick skin, thanks to my family, who could get vicious and loud. I recall my mother throwing a phone at my sister once--and this was way before cell phones. Bless our Jersey hearts.

Anyway, after the initial shock of the "bad" reviews wore off (and maybe a few whiskey cokes), I moved on. Mostly.

But there's one thing that has stuck in my craw these past few months, one point that some reviewers made that I feel compelled to clarify.

I love the Simpsons.

To explain: At one point in Brains, Jack, my main zombie, is discussing "rednecks." He says, "The only Homer they knew was Simpson. Their idea of an art film was The Shawshank Redemption and their wives collected Precious Moments figurines."

Many reviewers took this to mean that I, Robin Becker, was taking a swipe at the Simpsons.

I'm setting the record straight: Jack feels superior to that lovable yellow American family. In fact, Jack dislikes many things I hold near and dear. Jack even has opinions that I disagree with.

Why is this? Easy. I am not Jack.

Long live the Simpsons! Over twenty years and counting.
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Super-Cooled Quantam-Blog Poems

I came across this poem while perusing the inaugural issue of the Toad Suck Review (website in progress, otherwise I'd link). It's by Perrin Carrell. I love it and I'm hoping that whoever this poem is addressing will find it here on my blog. And that he'll love it too


Someone I hate has a blog.
I used to love him so I follow
it. Sometimes I read it
and I hate him more. Sometimes
I read it and wish he were in
that chair again, skinny boy
drinking and smoking like a man
wallowing in one thing
or another. Sometimes I read it
and see how we are not so
different. We still love
the same things. We still love
the same people. The great tragedy
is that one of us will die
before the other, and the one
left alive will regret it. The greater
tragedy is that he would have loved
to have read this and never will because I
don't have a blog.
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Snow Cream

There's been a revolution in Egypt, but I don't have anything new and insightful to say about it. Except it's awesome. Power to the people!

I do have something to say about Snow Cream, however.

First off, Southerners freak out when it snows. A "blizzard" came in Wednesday morning and we got about six inches. Everything closed. In fact, it's Friday and the university where I teach is still closed. Seriously. It's gonna hit 45 degrees today and the roads are, by and large, clear, but I'm not complaining. Five-day weekend!

But there's this delicacy called Snow Cream.

Mark and I went for a walk yesterday and when we came home, our neighbor, Monroe, was gathering snow in a pitcher. We made small talk for a while and then I asked Monroe why he was gathering snow in a pitcher.

"Snow Cream," he said, as if it were self-evident. "You never heard of it?"

I'm from New Jersey and Mark's from Minnesota. Both places have a fair amount of snow, but neither one of us had ever heard of or made Snow Cream. I assumed it was a Southern treat like fried pickles until I looked it up on Wikipedia. They date it to 15th century England.

Here's how you make it: Gather clean snow. Make sure it's been on the ground a few hours. Somehow that makes it purer. Put it in a big bowl and mix it up with a can of sweetened condensed milk and a teaspoon vanilla. Or you can use whole milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir it up real good and serve immediately.

It's supposed to have the consistency of ice cream. Mine didn't. It was like cold sweet milk. It melted as soon as I stirred it. I followed Paula Deen's recipe to the letter. Maybe I didn't add enough snow. I think you need a wheelbarrow of snow.

And now most of the white stuff has melted and what's left is old and dirty. The Snow Cream's moment has passed.

I wonder if they've ever heard of Snow Cream in Egypt?
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