Monday, August 2, 2010

Colorado - August 1, 1876

I didn't much like my job as a cataloger at Hispanic Books Distributors in Tucson, Arizona, but one thing it did allow for me to do was travel a bit to conferences. I believe it was the mid-winter meeting of the American Librarian Association (ALA) in Denver that brought me to Colorado for the first time in 1993. It was also my first time attending an ALA conference. My name tag was blue which identified me as a "vendor". I even went to a special workshop on ethics for vendors who were members of the ALA. I remember another vendor, who also lived in Denver, asking me if I had noticed that the beer I drank hit me a little faster "here in the mile-high city". Indeed I had.

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

When I was a Public librarian I knew about bestselling authors, so I probably knew about Diane Mott Davidson once upon a time, but I really don't remember now. I read her latest book Fatally Flaky for my Colorado book because I wanted to try something in the Maxwell Library's new "leisure reading" collection. Davidson's book fit the bill. I don't read many mysteries, and this book reminded me why. The formulaic storyline, and the two-dimensional characters don't actually put me on the edge of my seat. I could tell which characters I was supposed to be sympathetic with by the way they were described physically. With few exceptions, ugly people were bad, beautiful people were good.

Fatally Flaky revolves around the wedding of one Billie Attenborough to Dr. Craig Miller. Billie is a difficult client for caterer Goldy Schulz, having changed her wedding date three times and the venue once. The word Bridezilla is used with wild abandon throughout the book. Billie is probably the least likable character in the story, we never see any redeeming features in her. Since the book is told from Goldy's point of view, I guess I can understand this device, but the constant negative portrayal began to wear on me. And I really should just stop reading things that involve weddings. I just don't see the appeal of a big white wedding. People should spend more energy on their marriages, and less on their weddings, imho.

Clues are provided throughout the book, but not in such a way that a reader could actually solve the murder , or maybe people who read a lot of mysteries would have been able to, but even our protagonist Goldy does not put all the clues together until the actual murderer "tells all", just as he is about to off her as well. Do criminals really do that sort of thing? Is it a pathological narcisiscm that leads them to tell how smart they were? Or is it just a fictional device after all?

Perhaps the saddest part of this book is that Goldy had to cater Billie's wedding at the Gold Gulch Spa, where "there is no coffee in the whole place".

About Schmidt
It took two tries for me to succeed in watching a Colorado movie. I had first selected Continental Divide, a 1980s romance with John Belushi and Blair Brown. When I searched the Internet Movie Database for the keyword "Colorado" Continental Divide was among the results, specifically under "Colorado Rockies". While the movie was filmed in the Colorado Rockies, it turns out that the setting was really Wyoming, so I did not count it as a true Colorado movie. I turned next to Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt. Only part of this movie takes place in Colorado, but a significant enough portion that my concience allowed it. Nicholson plays Warren Schmidt, a recently widowed, and recently retired, actuary from Omaha, Nebraska whose only daughter is about to get married. He travels to Denver for the wedding where he stays with the grooms eccentric family, and tries to convince his daughter to cancel the nuptuals - "these people are not up to snuff" he tells her. Kathy Bates is perfectly matched as the aging hippie, mother of the groom, opposite Nicholson's character. Again with the weddings - the wedding and reception scenes were well done as stereotypes of what the wedding industry has convinced Americans that weddings should be, up to and including the belief that the father of the bride should pay for all, even if bride and groom are in their 30s and have real jobs. The whole scene was done just this side of tacky.

I made a most delicious Spinach and Sundried Tomato Quiche with a recipe I found on the Colorado Department of Agriculture website. There was one instruction that didn't makes sense which I changed. The directions indicate to use raw spinach, and never mentions cooking it before putting it into the quiche. There is no way 10 oz. of uncooked spinach will fit into a 10 inch pie shell, even if nothing else were going in. The spinach needs to be cooked before being mixed with the other ingredients. Anyway, I shared this at a Sunday brunch and it was the only thing that was completely cleaned out. A definite hit - a least among the adults.

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