Ready Player One

Ernie Cline’s Ready Player One deserves to be on everyone’s actual bookshelf. It’s that good.

Here’s a summary of what you learn in chapter one: Imagine Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg becomes an actual trillionare, loses his mind and becomes a recluse, and pledges his entire fortune to whoever can find his video game’s “easter egg”. All this in a world whose physical reality has tanked due to global warming and massive oil shortages.

This book moves at a nice clip and is loaded with jokes about Xyzzy and early Apple computers, and Warcraft. It’ll make a great movie if someone like Alfonso Cuaron on Ron Moore would direct it.

The Jalapeña

(Preserved from Salon.)

1 ripe pineapple, cleaned and roughly chopped
½ jalapeño chili, roughly chopped (seeds and veins intact)
1 bottle silver tequila
½ cup sugar
3 cups fresh lime juice

Combine pineapple, jalapeño and tequila in blender and purée. Cover and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to develop. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and add lime juice and sugar. Adjust the flavor to taste (sweetness will depend on ripeness of pineapple). Serve chilled straight up or over ice. Garnish with pineapple slice and a jalapeño wheel. Makes approximately one pitcher.

For Christmas, support your local economy

John Kiru, President of Toronto Association of BIA’s, contributed the following to the C’est What email newsletter. I found it fascinating for its directness.

As the holidays approach the national chains have had their displays up since before Halloween and the giant Asian factories have kicked into high gear providing Canadians with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods – merchandise that has been made at the expense of Canadian labor.

This year can be different. It’s time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone gets their hair cut. Gym membership, home cleaning, or computer tune-ups? And who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed or the oil changed? Small, Canadian owned shops would love to sell you a gift certificate for these types of services.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Brown Plastic Notes on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

Remember, this isn’t about big National chains this is about supporting your neighbour. Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants, go out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater or find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy, waiter, or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

Christmas shouldn’t be about draining Canadian pockets so that China can buy another Canadian company. It can be about caring about your neighbours, encouraging Canadian small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. When we care about other Canadians, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS can be the new Canadian Christmas tradition.

Or consider a local charity. The annual St. James Cathedral Food Drive is underway, you can donate online.