Ahhh...the joys of Qwest.
They won't even hook up the phone until the 5th.
Lee called to have the phone number switched over to the new house and to switch from Adelphia cable to Qwest DSL (looked like a good deal). Turns out they didn't switch over the phone number, and hooked up DSL to our old address. DSL service is not available at the new place.
Adelphia will hook up the Cable Internet on the 1st. VOIP may be considered at our house soon...
Back online! We made it into the house on Thursday. Lee took Friday off (his birthday) to unpack and bask in CLB-ness. Today we went table shopping and picked up a used Southwestern-style table with six chairs...I gloated after I woke up from a two-hour nap. Pictures soon!
Most of Ray's toys have been packed. When we packed the first box (a couple of weeks ago), she wanted to pack all her toys, right then and there, to make sure they made it to the new house. All was well...until we packed her computer. Father's daughter :)
Sometimes that happens; I have to go, have to go wandering, and it takes a few hours to settle down enough to make sense of what it is that I'm trying to accomplish with the wandering, by which time, I can't have it.
i go through this
before you wake up
so i can feel happier
to be safe up here with you
By Gael Greene
As advertised, so delivered.
Gael Greene has been the food writer for New York magazine since its beginning in 1968, back when foodieism wasn't big, or at least not big in the way it is now. According to the memoirs, she truly is insatiable for both adventures in food and sex*, so much so that it eventually wore me out. It's a good autobiography, the kind that comes with the sense of time and place, warts (and vanity) and all, and I don't mean to imply that the author is repetitive or dull. It's just that I have human appetites for pretty much everything but books. The essence of being both unfulfillable and picky to a nicety seems the same, though, a kind of "I'll try anything as long as it's good" mentality.
The writing is fun, if somewhat melodramatic at times; I recognized a lot of foodie-type names, but by the end of the book, I could have cared less who opened which restaurant or who was seen there and how they were treated. I never tired of her gossiping abou the food:
Picasso had to learn how to draw before he did those Cubist tricks. And here I was, scolding a two-star Michelin chef because his vanilla creme was too strongly scented with rose petals and chiding Andre Solmer at Lutece for a vapid creme renversee au caramel. Yet in my brief years as an amateur cook, I had never tackled sweetbreads or cleaned a squid and had failed utterly in m one attempt at trying to duplicate Le Pavillion's quenelles de brochet. The stink of abused fish had lingered in our kitchen for two days.
A life being lived in the moment, often selfishly. I recommend MFK Fisher more highly (less sex and gossip but more stories), but this was a fun read, and a good way of getting the sense of the New York food scene over almost forty years.
*The first kiss-and-tell cracked me up. I won't spoil it for you.
By Sam Calagione
Too bad I don't like beer. Some people have told me it's an acquired taste, but other things I've eaten and drunk were supposed to be aquired tastes, and I liked them from the get-go. Like coffee. I started out on almost the worst coffee you can imagine, and I still enjoyed it right away. Beer smells weird to me, and I try not to ingest anything that doesn't smell actively yummy.
This book is the story of Sam Calagione, who went from a punkish childhood to an unconventional college, where he studied English and dreamed of writing the Great American Novel. Naturally enough (at least, the way he explains it), this led to beer. His first restaurant started out with what was essentially a home brewing kit on steroids (brewing something like 30 gallons a batch--not fermenting, just brewing--versus the 6,000-gallon tanks used by "real" microbreweries).
The Dogfish Head motto is "off-centered ale for 0ff-centered people." Blah, blah, blah, I thought. Then I moved on to research into other microbreweries and realized that he probably wasn't kidding. I was just taking for granted that all microbreweries were just like Bristol Brewing Company, and that Dogfish Head wasn't pushing the limit all that much. Errt. I got the buzzer on that one. Most microbreweries are about as inventive as chain restaurants, from what I was finding. It's the same beer as Coors and whatnot, just "fresher" and with "better ingredients." Fine, fine. Like I said, I don't like beer. Maybe it's like the difference between truckstop coffee and a fine pot of coffee where you've cleaned everything yourself, used filtered water and fresh-roasted and -ground beans, etc. But here is the offering listed on the website:
Midas Touch Golden Elixer
Golden Shower Imperial Pilsner
Verdi Verdi Good
And the descriptions, in the book, of the ingredients and techniques...well, it's too bad I don't like beer. I get the feeling this is the kind of beer Tim Taylor would come up with...lots of mistakes along the road, but done with a good heart and the kind of geekiness that you have to love.
The book is a good read if you like business-type stories or are interested in the brewing process at all. "What happens if you do X?" "At first we weren't sure about Y, but then we realized...Heee!" That kind of thing. It's contains a few little gems about learning how to be happy. Not especially deep or anything, but you can't have a truly good beer story going without a little philosophizing in there.
When I see a corner pizza store with some wrinkled banner hanging lopsided from its awning that reads "Ray's Pizza: The Best in the Universe," I think they have no respect for their customers. If they did, they would attribute the quote to somebody. Odds are the quote can be attributed to an egomaniac named Ray. Does anybody really read a sign like that and think, "Well damn, if it's the best pizza in the entire universe I better hurry up and order because there's bound to be a spaceship full of little green men flying in from Mars to clog up the take-out counter"?
The book wasn't engrossing or anything (although it doesn't deserve to be damned with such faint praise). It just wasn't the kind of book that demanded your attention so much as presented tidbits for interest, amusement, and edification. I wouldn't want you wandering into this book thinking it was going to Change Your Life; instead, wander into this book the way you would wander into a brewery itself, saying "Huh...so that's how they do that" and "Heh." That's it. This is a "heh" book.
And the bar stools are all on fire
And all the newspapers were just fooling
And the ash-trays have retired
And I've got a feeling that the piano has been drinking
It's just a hunch
The piano has been drinking and he's going to lose his lunch
And the piano has been drinking
Not me, not me, The piano has been drinking not me...
(No, I'm not smashed, just listening to a lot of Tom Waits tonight)
I've been in a foul mood the last few days, mostly caused by a few minor issues and a lot of worry. The more stuff is packed/cleaned/resolved, the better I feel, though, so it works out.
BY C. SHEPPARD
Billy McMacken, publisher of the Brookings Register, has announced the hiring of Matt Knippling to join the Moody County Enterprise staff. Knippling will begin his employment August 28th and will replace ML Headrick, who worked for the newspaper for over 20 years. Knippling lives in Eden Prairie, MN and works for Home Depot, along with doing free lance graphics work. He is a 1995 graduate of Flandreau High School and received a degree in graphic arts from SDSU. Knippling and his wife, Erica, will be moving to this area in the near future.
Finnish isn't supposed to be closely related to other languages...I wonder if the same barbarian tribes that ended up in Japan split down the middle and travelled to Finland, too.
Now, we just need the same thing for Kate Bush's Army Dreamers.
Stories tend to be too tightly written. After having read Castle Waiting, I realized that. The storyline goes all over the place and doesn't so much leave you hanging at the end but blow out the light and crawl into bed.
The story starts with the "Sleeping Beauty" folktale. New baby, twelve witches/fairies, one wicked witch who was left out, the spell, the briars, the falling asleep, etc. The prince comes, wakes the princess, and they ride off to the prince's homeland, silhouetted in the sunset.
The castle becomes a waypoint, a safe haven. The story shifts now to focus on a traveller, running away from her husband in order to give birth to her lover's child. She makes her way to Castle Waiting.
Well, the traveller likes stories, and ends up asking the story of Sister Peace of the order of Solicitines. Sister Peace tells her story, which involves the abbess of the order telling her story...
Well, hopefully a sequel. Castle Waiting ends (after 452 pages) with the main part of Sister Peace's story, but there are a lot of loose ends. What about Iron Henry, who has lost his son and is learning to love again? What about the traveller's husband? And who was her lover anyway (here's me, not spoiling a significant plot point, aren't I so good)? And so on.
A wandering story. Even most episodic stories aren't this wandery. Even Scheherezade manages to tie things up more snugly. But good.
The art is great, too. Most significant for yours truly, the people's faces look like people's faces. Not pretty, not monstrously ugly, but individual and expressive. Even the fairytale characters (for example, Sir Chess, a knight with a horse's head) manage to reveal their souls with an ease that makes Disney and Pixar look contrived. Oh! And I should mention that this edition is one of the more beautifully put-together books I've seen in a long time. It has the bookmark ribbon, the internal motifs, the color scheme, the rough-cut edges...everything.
--How come you never tell the rest of that story?
--What, about how I'm constantly plagued by a pesky demon?
---About how Clarice really didn't want you to leave. About how you were supposed to be the next Abbess?
--Cripes, were you born in a barn?!! Get your feet off my bed! Why would I tell them about that? I think an Abbess with a pack of mastiffs is just as good as one with a brace of lions...
--Maybe they'd take you more seriously if you did.
--If they took me more seriously, it would make my job of helping them even harder.
--Why do you bother? It's a thankless job. And anyone who ends up here is halfway to Hell anyway...
--That's not true, and you know it. Besides, we don't all have to get into Heaven through the front gate.
--Ha! The back gate of Heaven stands awful close to the front gate of Hell, Sister!
I checked this out from the library, but it will be a purchase after we get settled in after the move.
So...with all the free recipes online, why would I need to buy cookbooks? (Why? asks Lee. Whyyyyyyy?) The authors address this question in the introduction, and I agree with the answer they quote in their book:
"Like other good books, the best cookbooks have strong voices that lure readers into unfamiliar worlds, give colorful observations about those places, and, above all, reveal a passionate interest in sharing pleasure." (Barbara Haber, food historian.)
Online recipes (not the food described, but the writing style, if that makes any sense) are usually straightforward and colorless. "Do this. Do that. Don't let this happen." The recipes in the best cookbooks, on the other hand, imply the outlook of their writers. "Do this, because it will make your tongue melt. I did that the other day, and while it isn't for everyone, it made me want to dance around naked."*
The recipes in Cook What You Love are appealing. The first section, breakfast, begins with a short essay about the joys of making breakfast in bed, so while I was reading this section, I was imagining my husband bringing me breakfast in bed. "Yes," I said to myself, "I would eat Crunchy Coconut French Toast in bed. I would eat Orange-Currant Muffins and One-Eyed Jacks and Spanish Scrambled Eggs in bed..." It all sounded good. I then asked myself whether I would cook all those recipes if it meant getting up early to do it...well, that one was harder, but I ended up with a "yes" there, too. As I read my way through the book, I realized I would cook anything in the book, just so I could eat it, and that, I think, is the mark of a good cookbook.
The mark of a really good cookbook is when it can talk you into trying something you normally wouldn't try, either because you don't care for it or it's a pain in the butt to make. I found myself actually considering roasting cherry tomatoes, even though I don't like them, just because of the description in the book:
"We're always looking for ways to add color and texture to a recipe. Food seems to taste better if it looks beautiful. Roasted whole cherry tomatoes are a quick, easy way to brighten up a platter of these or any other scrambled eggs. Just toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400F for about 10 minutes or until hot and wrinkled. Serve them hot or at room temperature."Hm....I'll think about it. I keep promising myself a trip to the farmer's market. Maybe I'll pick up some cherry tomatoes and give it a go.
*Also, online recipes usually don't have pictures. Mmmm....it's food erotica.
I like Tim Egan's kids' books. They aren't spectacular. They aren't a delight to read (not the way books by Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak are). What they are is literate. They are, in fact, the most "literate" kids' books I've ever come across.
Most kids' books assume kids can't assimilate a mature storyline. The characters have to have one main trait, and that's it. Relationships are straightforward. Conflicts are fully resolved. There's a moral to the story...generalities, true, but true for most of the lackluster kids' books I've had to read over the years.
Anyway, Roasted Peanuts is the story of two friends, Sam and Jackson, who love baseball. Sam is a natural. Jackson can throw far and accurately, but not fast or hard enough to excel as a pitcher. Sam makes the town's minor league team. Jackson doesn't. "At least one of us will be a legend," Jackson says. At first, Jackson sulks and won't go to Sam's games, but Sam's playing sucks so bad Jackson takes a job as a peanut vendor, so he can heckle his friend during the games. (Great picture of a quietly grinning horse in a baseball uniform here.) Sam's playing improves magnificently, and Jackson establishes himself as a legend, throwing bags of peanuts a hundred rows away and continuing to work at the ball park even after Sam's seven-year run with the Grazers is over. The end.
See? No daring rescues, no bad guys turned into good guys by the application of virtue, no adults stepping in with overblown advice, etc. Just a nice little literate story. I've also read Friday Night at Hodges' Cafe, Serious Farm, Metropolitan Cow, and Burnt Toast on Davenport Street. I think Burnt Toast has been my favorite so far.
Houses are containers of meaning. Certain things can only occur in certain types of houses--luxury, for example, is an idea that will only rarely occur in a hovel, even metaphorically. A house is like a language. You can express certain ideas in some languages better than others. Some ideas, perfectly obvious and rational in one language, become nonsense in another language. Or in another house.
Before writing was such a widespread skill (and paper so affordable), people practiced the art of memory. The art involves changing ideas into symbolic images--for example, changing the idea of "prudence" into the image of a woman with eyes on the back of her head.* The images would be sequenced in a certain order, so one would be able to recall the entire sequence if only one of the images was remembered. And, usually, the images would be placed inside the image of a house, with wings of the house representing general areas of though, and the rooms representing particular subjects, etc.
Many people dream about houses. Often it's a house they have never seen in their lives--but for the rest of their lives, they will dream about this house and no other. Inside the house are strange doorways, infinite passageways, unknown objects and furniture, and people whose faces they do not know but find familiar. These dreams are often imbued with the sense that something important has been communicated, but, upon waking, their dreamers only say, "I dreamed about that house again last night."
Lee said the other day, "I hope this house will become a haven." I agree. It seems like a good place for it.
*This was one of the traditional mnemonic images used. The art is documented back to ancient Greece.
What can I say without spoiling the plot for my beloved spouse, who hasn't read the previous book in the series, Issola. Auuuuggghhh! Give me back my husband, you foul MMORPGs! He isn't reading enough books anymore! And Issola is in a box somewhere, waiting for the big move! Double aaaaaaauuuuuuggggghhhhh!
I'm hoping the next book in the series will be about Vlad's adventures in the East--he keeps dropping hints about them--but it probably won't come out until the same weekend as the last Harry Potter book or something.
TONKA (R) MIGHTY CRANE...It's big. It's tall. It's the TONKA crane!
2. Stretch out your left arm; what do you touch?
3. Last thing watched on television:
Probably something on MTV with my siblings when they were in town.
4. Without looking, what time is it?
5:07 p.m. MDT
5. What is the actual time?
5:05 p.m. MDT
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Rachael making weird clicking noises in the back of her throat.
7. When did you last step outside?
Bringing Ray home from preschool.
8. Before this survey what did you look at?
9. What are you wearing?
Black Sketchers with rainbow laces, black cotton socks, black pants, black and pink swoopy shit, underclothing, and my NEW GLASSES!!!*
10. Did you dream last night?
Yes. Whatever it was that Val Kilmer's character dreamed of in Weird Science, not that.
11. When did you last laugh?
The last time I remember, it was at work, some conversation about whether to answer to the name "dumbass," but I very likely have laughed since then.
12. What is on the walls in the room?
A string of skeletons, a picture of Tom Waits, an out-of-date calendar, and a picture of the Serenity crew from Dave and Lori.
13. Seen anything weird lately?
14. What do you think of this quiz?
Not very challenging.
15. What is the last film you saw?
I went to something with Lee and Ray but now I can't remember what it was.
16. Tell me something we don’t know.
Bah. Your spies are everywhere.
17. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?
Create an "enough" button for physical hurt that was not death itself.
18. Do you like to dance?
Yes, but I rarely do it anymore. I can't wait to move into the new house, because there will be half again as much space as in this apartment, and I should be able to find somewhere it feels good to turn off the lights and dance.
19. George Bush?
Impeach him for crimes against the Contsitution and the American people.
20. Imagine your first child is a girl-
Hm...I imagine she looks like Ray.
21. Imagine your first child is a boy-
If Ray had been a boy, he would have been Jake. And called that, too.
22. Would you consider living abroad?
Yes, but not for the rest of my life. I can't look it up now, because it's in the box, but the first Books of Magic comic summed it up for me...something about how big the US is, and how anything could happen here.
Isn't that supposed to be St. Peter? "Here, hold this."
*Wearing my old, blurry, bleary glasses while I had my other pair fixed has been an exercise in paranoia. What's that? Is that someone I know? Is that blur out of the corner of my eye haze on the lens or a dog trying to cross the street? Ahhhh!!!!
I have to say I was surprised. From various things I'd heard, I was ready for this movie to suck. It didn't. Not a stupid movie, not a one-sided movie, not a poorly-put-together movie. I can't say I've been overwhelmed with affection for this movie, not the way, say, I'm overwhelmed with affection for The Princess Bride or The City of Lost Children, but I liked it.
I should note: I loved Stephen Rea's performance as the inspector. Casting Hugo Weaving as V was a brilliant idea, but it's Stephen Rea who puts the soul into this movie.
"The word cobalt is derived from the German kobalt, from kobold meaning "goblin", a term used for the ore of cobalt by miners, who thought it worthless and who found that it was poisonous and that it polluted and degraded other mined elements, mainly due to the arsenic and sulfur also found in the ore."
"Some nuclear weapon designs could intentionally increase the amount of 60Co dispersed as nuclear fallout – this is sometimes called a dirty bomb or cobalt bomb, once predicted by a leading scientist as being capable of wiping out all life on earth."
Lee talked to the current owners, who were moving out the same day as the inspection. They didn't know what the space under the little pool thingy is either, but had been using it for a doghouse. Any naked men or women would have to be very small, less than a foot high. But bigger than Smurfs.
He told me that men were starting to take more interest in decorating their homes, that a lot of men had told him that they were decorating their home offices, since it was the one room in their house that was truly theirs. Except, he said, for one woman who had come in, looked around, sighed, and said that her husband was in charge of decorating and insisted on Queen Anne bedsteads (or something like that, I forget), so she'd never be able to own anything out of the store. She shot things with big guns; he went to bingo.
The manager had just divorced his wife. She'd taken all the furniture, and he was finally deciding how he wanted to decorate his house for the first time. He'd picked out a very "guy" bedstead; his friends had all told him to pick out a curvier piece, in case he ever brought a woman home with him. He said he'd refused, that he finally had a chance to pick out his own damned bed, and he was going to take it. Women, apparently, come along all the time, but picking out your own stuff is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I had to laugh, because the two beds he'd shown me, the "guy" one and the "girl" one, had caught my eye as I had come in, and I'd decided that I liked the "guy" one better, because the "girl" one looked too froofy. I'm lucky. I live with someone who at least somewhat agrees with my tastes.
I can't help thinking that the manager should have said something about what he wanted while he was married...you can't expect to have a decent marriage when you don't get what you want, because you can't keep giving of yourself if you don't get anything back somehow. You have to be a little selfish, or you run out of kindness and charity and all that kind of good stuff...
Yup. I'm very lucky.
Compare and contrast:
Not that I'm an expert or anything, but here's my theory of U.S. vs. Japanese comics.
U.S. comics tend to focus on the theme "What does it mean to be an individual?" At its highest level, being an individual means accepting ones differences and using them to benefit others as well as oneself--being a superhero--instead of trying to "just fit in" or using one's differences to hurt or control others for one's advantage (or even to "improve" others by forcing them to do what you want them to do, thus denying them individuality).
Manga tends to focus on the theme "What does it mean to be human?" People mingle with robots, and the robots act more compassionately than the humans do. People are possessed by demons (or are demons or vampires or what have you) and still manage to be characters, rather than just monsters or bad guys. The bad guys are motivated by the same things the good guys are, they just don't handle the situation as well. Being human means understanding that everyone (and sometimes everything) deserves empathy, even if empathy means you don't always give people (or monsters or demons or robots) what they want.
Fullmetal Alchemist--I haven't read it all yet, just a few volumes of the manga--is a good example. Alphonse is a soul in a suit of armor (who sometimes wonders whether he's something his brother Elric made up to comfort himself after the loss of his real brother). Elric wonders whether his brother will ever forgive him for turning him into a monster.
Anyway, here's an online sample of the first issue at Anime Indepth.
My friend Randy sent a link to "The Lamentations of the Father," a short piece of Old Testament humor.
(Reminds me of Uncle Howard.)
Here are the rules of this game:
- Grab the nearest book.
- Open the book to page 123
- Find the fifth sentence
- Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions
Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest, then tag three people.
I play this game at bookstores all the time. If I can pick a random point in the book and get hooked within a few paragraphs, I'll usually buy the book.
I haven't read this yet, but I kept it out of the moving boxes so I could.
Sir Apropos of Nothing, Book Two: The Woad to Wuin, by Peter David.
"I longed for a warm bath, and to cease feeling dirty and grimy. As I chewed on a tasteless piece of hardtack, a rat came scuttling up, its nasty eyes glittering in the darkness. When the repulsive litte things had first encountered us in the caverns, I'd been nauseated and appalled by them."
From the looks of it, the character goes on to explain that so many terrible things have happened since then that rats don't bother him anymore, and proceeds to crush and eat the rat. Not nearly as amusing as the first chapter (which I have read), but sustaining that level of humor would be both excessively obscene and fatal for people with weak hearts.
Anyway, check out the online book swapping site at BookMooch. Basically, you earn a point for every book you mail out, and you can spend points on books other people have posted. You pay for shipping costs, yes, but the site has an interesting selection of books. You can also set up a "moochbar" on your Amazon account to put in a request for books at BookMooch instead of paying for them through Amazon.
We're going to try to orchestrate an initial offer tomorrow. Good Lord, might this house schtick actually work?
Note: Don't mess around with canned or frozen cherries in this recipe. This is the kind of thing you want to save for once or twice a year, when the cherries are perfect and ripe.
1/4 c. butter (unsalted and if you use margarine I will sue you for defamation of character)
1/4 c. "all-fruit" jam or preserves (cherry, apricot, or other fleshy-type fruit is best)
1 1/2 c. pitted, quartered sweet red cherries*
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the preserves and heat until bubbling, stirring occaisionally. Turn off heat. Add cherries and stir. About five minutes before you need to serve the sauce, warm it up over low heat just until it bubbles, stirring often.
Serve immediately over roast pork.
*I have a gadget that pits cherries and olives. I geeked out when I saw it.