I should save this for March, Women's History Month. Bah!

List of Known Women Pirates

Freydis Eriksdottir

Widow Ch'ing

Grace O'Malley


Aw...this poor little quickie newsletter article is being totally rewritten to focus on O'Malley. Incidentally, the musical "The Pirate Queen" is about Grace (or Granuaile) O'Malley.

So here goes:

Women's History Month: Lady Pirates

March is National Women's History Month. While there have been many wonderful, inspiring women throughout history--from Cleopatara to Alice Walker--several women have made names for themselves as some of the most infamous, merciless pirates ever.

Grace O'Malley, Pirate Queen, was born in 1530 in County May, Ireland. She had her own prosperous fleet of sailing ships, but turned to piracy against Turkish and Spanish ships later in her life. She was almost sixty when she captured the ship of Don Pedro de Mendoza and slaughtered hundreds of Spaniards on the ship. She also met with Queen Elizabeth to demand the release of her son and brother. There's even a legend that she abducted Baron Howth's grandson when he refused her hospitality, only returning him when his family promised always to set an extra place at their table for an unexpected arrival, which they do to this day. She died in the year 1603.

Cheng I Sao and her husband established an organization of over 50,000 pirates in the South China Sea. When Cheng's husband died in 1807, she took control of the pirates. The Chinese Imperial Fleet lost over 60 boats to Widow Cheng's fleet. Whole villages were held for ransom. She retired after a few years later when British and Portugese ships joined the hunt for her and negotiated such a favorable settlement that most of the pirates got to keep all their stolen loot--anything to break up Widow Cheng's pirate confederation! Widow Cheng retired rich and took over a gambling house, dying peacefully at the age of 69 in 1844.

Freydis Eiricksdottir was born in Greenland around 970 A.D., the illegitimate daughter of Erik the Red--Leif Eriksson, the discoverer of Vinland (modern-day Newfandland, Canada) was her half-brother. Freydis was a tough woman who was once abandoned on Vinland while pregnant, gave birth, and worked as a farmer for a year before she could be rescued. On one expedition, she and her husband killed the captains of the other ships on their expedition and stole their ships! On another (or possibly the same one), she ordered the execution of an entire shipful of prisoners, chopping off the heads of the five women on board herself when the other pirates couldn't do it.


Word of the Day.

chatoyant (shuh-TOI-uhnt) adjective

Having a changeable luster like that of a cat's eye at night.


A chatoyant gemstone, such as a cat's eye.

[From French, present participle of chatoyer (to shine like a cat's eye),
from chat (cat).]

- Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)


Joke of the Day.

A blonde's car gets a flat tire on the Interstate one day, so she eases it over onto the shoulder of the road. She carefully steps out of the car and opens the trunk. Takes out two cardboard men, unfolds them and stands them at the rear of the vehicle facing oncoming traffic. The lifelike cardboard men are in trench coats exposing their nude bodies to approaching drivers.

Not surprisingly, the traffic became snarled and backed up. It wasn't very long before a police car arrives. The Officer, clearly enraged, approaches the blonde of the disabled vehicle yelling, "What is going on here?"

"My car broke down, Officer" says the woman, calmly.

"Well, what the hell are these obscene cardboard pictures doing here by the road?!" asks the Officer.

"Oh, those are my emergency flashers!"

Thing Review: Fresh Roast 8 Coffee Roaster

Mmmm. You should have one.


Lima Bean

Here's a picture of the new bebe. HE LOOKS LIKE MATT!!!


My headcold makes me feel better: my sinuses are finally draining. (Everybody at our house has a cold.)


Liam Jackson Knippling was born at 4:18, January 23. 7 pounds 10.5 ounces. Grandma promises pictures!


Thing Review: Get a Grip Tea

The good news is that the Republic of Tea has created the "Get a Grip" tea, designed to balance out the hormones women subject to PMS and Menopausal fluctuations.

The bad new is that some dumbass put coconut in it. It doesn't say so, but I smelled it. And that's what you really want to do, is hand a woman going through the change of life a cup of coconut tea. "Who the !@#$ put !@#$&*( coconut in my !@#$&*( tea?!?" is the last sensible thing you'll get out of her before the Holocaust.

Update: Lee says it wasn't him.

Cookbook Review: Outlaw Cook

By John Thorne, with Matt Lewis Thorne.
Because a pecan pie is so simple to make and because its major ingredients--sugar and nuts--can be combined in so many various ways, a pecan pie can be uniquely honed to a razor's edge of perfection against a particular palate: unlike almost any dessert, it is amenable to infinite variation. But all that freedom demands that you know yourself; otherwise you will constantly be seduced by other people's notion of perfect and never realize your own.
I happened to go on a quest for my perfect pecan pie this year (and found it, huzzah!), but that was just luck. I don't usually go on a quest for my perfect anything in a dish--I split my time between making something that sounds good, winging it without a recipe (and feeling guilty about it) and following a recipe imperfectly, adapting it helter-skelter to what I have at hand (because I didn't check whether I had enough of what the recipe called for). And the foods that I love to throw together the way I like them? Well, they're almost embarrassing, because they're so private. "Hey, world! I like ramen noodles with peanut butter and pre-mixed curry powder and carrots and baby corn when I remember to get it, and maybe some cilantro and garlic and ginger, but mostly just the curry-peanut butter mixture! And here's my underwear, too, while I'm at it, not the sexy ones, just the regular ones! Freshly washed but at least as old as my daaaaaaauuuuuughterrrrrr!"

But where else does food come from? Until recently, people made food based on what they had on hand (or what they could get), to the particular taste of the family or self, without recipes. And--it was good.

John Thorne kindly points this out. He also charges quixotically at the egos of Paula Wolfert, Martha Stewart*, even James Beard, managing to puncture them a few times without doing them too much damage. He obsesses about things. He glorifies the "plowman's lunch," cheese, good bread, a whole onion, and something good to drink (beer!), and how it can be adapted from cheese spread on crackers to onion soup. He asserts the point of having a party is conversation, not centerpieces or impressive dishes. He even denies being a good cook--just an interested one.

Also, I strongly suspect he likes to eat.

*Who is actually the same person as Hillary Clinton.


Ponder of the Day.

Ever notice how the holidays requiring mass amounts of candy, chocolate, cookies, etc., are during the fall, winter, and early spring?

Quote of the Day.

From Neil Gaiman:

If writing fiction is dessert, then copy-editing is eating all your vegetables. Blogging is snacking between meals.


Word of the Day.

\PET-ee-fog-ur\, noun:

1. A petty, unscrupulous lawyer; a shyster.
2. A person who quibbles over trivia.

(via Dictionary.com)


Waiting for Bebes.

Erica will be induced on the 22nd if the bebe refuses to show itself prior to that date. She and my brother have high hopes they will finally be able to determine the modest little critter's gender at that point.



I need to run a playtest for a murder mystery game in a month or so. I need at least six players plus myself, with spots for up to twelve players. It's meant to be played over four hours and can include food and beverages. The setting is a luau; the name is "Lei'd to Rest" (I didn't come up with the name).

Please oh please may I have some local volunteers?


Riddle of the Day

A Greek guy named Gene has a bar. What's the name of the bar?

Note: hint in comments. Solution tomorrow if nobody guesses.


Word of the Day.

This week's theme: words that have many unrelated meanings.

fizgig (FIZ-gig) noun

1. A squib: a type of firework made with damp powder that makes a
hissing sound when exploding.
[From fizz, a clipping of fizzle, from fysel (to break wind).]

2. A kind of top spun by pulling a string wound around it.
3. A flirty, frivolous girl.
[From Middle English gig (a flighty girl, a whipping-top).]

4. A kind of harpoon with barbs for spearing fish.
[From Spanish fisga (fish spear).]

5. A police informer.
[Australian slang.]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus: http://visualthesaurus.com/?w1=fizgig

(via wordsmith.org)


Books of Love.

I love books. The books I love most themselves contain love--they're either about love, or they celebrate the love of something in particular. I threw in a lot of series, so I didn't bother counting them exactly, but I think I'm around fifty entries. I tried to keep away from the things everyone listed, but it was hard and, in some cases, not worth it. There are other books I love, but these are the ones I ran into or thought about today. Beware: Love is sometimes cheesy :)

The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
Princess Bride, William Goldman
The Phoenix Guards, Stephen Brust
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen ("For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?")
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
Fruits Basket, Natsuki Takaya
The Discworld Series, Terry Pratchett
Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
Grijipstra & De Grier Books, Janwillem van der Wetering
Lord Peter Whimsey Books, Dorothy L. Sayers
The Art of Eating, MFK Fisher
Little, Big, John Crowley
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynn Jones
The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Robert Anton Wilson (RIP)
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad Williams
The Dark Tower Series, Stephen King
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille, Steven Brust
Mordant's Need, Stephen R Donaldson
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esqueviel
Orlando, A Biography, Virginia Woolfe
Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
Travis McGee Books, John D. MacDonald
Neverending Story, Michael Ende
The Short Stories of Theodore Sturgeon
Ghormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny
One Piece, Eiichiro Oda
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
Oz, L Frank Baum
Scaramouche, Rafael Sabatini
Sandman, Neil Gaiman
Strangers in Paradise, Terry Moore
Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg
Calahan's Chronicals, Spider Robinson
Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Tuesday, David Weisner
The Olivia Books, Ian Falconer (Where's my TOOOOOOOOOOOY?????)
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snickett
The Essays of Dave Barry
Sin City, Frank Miller
Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler
The Persistence of Vision, John Varley
The Works of Douglas Adams
The Ficciones of Jorge Borges
Sir Richard Francis Burton's Translation of 1001 Arabian Nights (and no other)
A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare

Despite my opinion that book recommendations should be very specific to both person and mood, I do want to say that the Barry Hughart books are a treasure.

Kate's List

Same rules, different list, from Kate:

  1. Adventures in the Screen Trade, William Goldman
  2. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie *
  3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
  4. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery *
  5. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  6. Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
  7. The Club Dumas, Arturo Perez-Reverte
  8. Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister, Gregory Maguire *
  9. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas *
  10. Dracula, Bram Stoker *
  11. The Eight, Katherine Neville
  12. Emma, Jane Austen *
  13. The Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King *
  14. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde *
  15. Fatherland, Robert Harris
  16. The Fionavar Tapestry, Guy Gavriel Kay
  17. The Forever King, Molly Cochran & Warren Murphy
  18. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley *
  19. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
  20. Girl With A Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
  21. The Good Master, Kate Seredy
  22. Good Omens, Nel Gaiman & Terry Pratchett *
  23. The Gypsy, Megan Lindholm & Steven Brust *
  24. The Hero and The Crown, Robin McKinley
  25. In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson
  26. Intimations of Immortality, Piers Anthony *
  27. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
  28. James and The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl *
  29. King of the Wind, Marguerite Henry
  30. Kissing in Manhattan, David Schickler
  31. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott *
  32. The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton *
  33. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
  34. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck *
  35. The Once and Future King, T.H. White *
  36. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux *
  37. The Princess Bride, William Goldman *
  38. The Quality of Mercy, Faye Kellerman
  39. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  40. The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff *
  41. The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke *
  42. Time And Again, Jack Finney
  43. Tomorrow, When the War Began, James Marsden
  44. Sabriel, Garth Nix
  45. Sandman, Neil Gaiman *
  46. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy *
  47. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett *
  48. Whose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers *
  49. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
  50. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  51. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle *


Genre Book Meme

The instructions were: Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien *
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert *
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein *
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley *
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury *
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe * (...and maybe someday I'll be wise enough to understand it, too.)
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett *
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison *
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey *
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson *
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman *
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling *
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams *
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice *
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley *
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny *
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon *
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien *
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut *
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson *
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester *
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein *
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock *
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks *
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

(via Doyce.)


Flavor Forecast

McCormick spices puts together a flavor forecast every year. In 2007:
  • Clove and Green Apple
  • Thyme and Tangerine
  • Tellicherry Black Pepper and Berry
  • Sea Salt and Smoked Tea
  • Lavender and Honey
  • Crystallized Ginger and Salted Pistachio
  • Cumin and Apricot
  • Toasted Mustard and Fennel Seeds
  • Wasabi and Maple
  • Caramelized Garlic and Riesling Vinegar
I could do without Wasabi and Maple. I really don't care for wasabi with anything else. And what the heck is Tellicerry Black Pepper and Berry? But...yummy.

(via Slashfood.)


Carrie Newcoming.

Carrie Newcomer will be in Colorado Springs on May 4, and in Highlands Ranch on May 6.



Using the 5,000 ft. elevation recipe in Pie in the Sky, I successfully made cracker-crisp French bread. Victory! Today: test Grandma Bouzek's bread maker...



Watched this over Christmas...

Dang. One of the few movies with a transcendental ending that's able to pull it off. What the Matrix could have been, had it been about 50 times cooler. Saying Akira is a seminal anime is like saying Shakespeare was a seminal playwright....oh, it's not Midsummer Night's Dream, but it's better than a few of the Bard's plays.


Thinking about getting a coffee roaster. Does 3 oz. at a time, costs $85, and beans are about $4/pound.

Also, it's supposed to taste heavenly.

Rumination du jour.

There is a horror of too much information. (Not TMI, as it were.) Instead of trying to find out what things man ought not to know of, we should stick with the tried and true...a sentiment shared by Jorge of Burgos (The Name of the Rose) and the Cthulu stories.

I wonder whether I should write a story about a guy who's trying to keep everyone from finding out too much, and so finds out too much, and is himself destroyed by what he knows. I'd have to write it from someone else's perspective, though, because first person would be too much of a one-trick pony.

Curiousity is a beast. Sometimes a many-legged beast. And it stoppeth not at the kittens...muahahahahaha!


Word of the Day.

tohubohu (TOH-hoo-BO-hoo) noun

Chaos; confusion.

[From Hebrew tohu wa-bhohu, from tohu (formlessness) and bhohu (emptiness).]

( via Anu Garg [garg wordsmith.org])