Word of the Day

misology (mi-SOL-uh-jee) noun

Hatred of logic or reason.

[From Greek miso- (hate) + -logy (science, study).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)


Book Reviews

Behind again. Here are more book reviews:

Magic or Madness, by Julie Larbalestier. If you use magic, you use up life. If you don't use magic, you go crazy. First part of a trilogy -- I plan to read the rest of it. The writing is straightforward and good. YA.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. What a sexy romance should be -- an escape from everyday living (but not too far). A former WWII nurse is transported through time to 1743 in Scotland, where she's harassed by her husband's ancestor and falls in love with someone else entirely. Well, but not exceptionally written. Goes on as a series. May or may not continue with it.

The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Great book, deserves a page or two instead of a few sentences. Beware: if you hate post-modernism, several elements will piss you off. Remember the movie The Ninth Gate? Well, there you go. But the book makes more sense, even if Johnny Depp is so nice to look at. Definitely will read more of this guy's stuff; like Umberto Ego with a normal-sized ego.

Otherland, by Tad Williams. Verbose, and, in the end, doesn't pay off. A dissatisfying end to a series that wasn't all that and a bag of chips in the first place. Why do I do this to myself? Because he writes interesting characters that I care about. Damn me! Damn me!

Magic & Cooking

I went through a brief pagan phase a number of years ago; it didn't last long. I thought about it too much and let it go -- but I kept a sense of the passing of the seasons, and a sense that events can be influenced, by changing yourself more than anything else.

This was about the same time that I started getting interested in cooking, though, and I ended up using magic in my cooking from time to time. Not to say that I can make love potions or anything, but what I cook (and what I eat) depends on the seasons a lot. (You may have noticed.)

Most of the magic you see is about creating big changes. "Make X fall in love with me." Or whatever. But part of what turned me off about paganism is that you shouldn't make X fall in love with you: if that person wouldn't have chosen you at that time, there's probably a reason for it, and you'd be reckless to try to get around it without paying the price, because you will, sooner or later. (Nevermind for the moment whether or not a magic spell could do such a thing.) What really needs to happen is "Make me understand why X hasn't fallen in love with me."

So me, I stick with cooking. "Celebrate the way you feel in Spring." "Boost the immune system." "Cheer me up." "Revel!" "Comfort." Small things. Food can do these things. The magic part is the intent. When I cook, I keep my intent in mind. Doing this helps me adjust flavors, make last-minute adjustments, to know when something is going wrong, wrong, wrong. Regardless of whether they accomplish what I want them to or not, I end up with something a little bit beyond what I can normally cook, which is good enough for me.

Anyway, here are some of the books that have a little magic cooking in them:

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, Isabel Allende
Goddess in the Kitchen, Margie Lapanja

Overheard at Work

What do you want to be when you grow up?



Shrimp Dip

Another early-spring recipe.

1 pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. chopped cooked shrimp
3/4 c. chopped portabella mushrooms
1 green onion, white and green parts chopped
soy sauce

Using the "reheat" setting on the microwave, bring the cream cheese to about body heat temperature. Stir in the shrimp, mushrooms, and green onion. Add 1-2 Tbs. soy sauce or to taste.

Which reminds me:

Crab Rangoon Filling

1 pkg cream cheese
1 can crab, drained
soy sauce

Follow the same procedure as above. Fill wonton wrappers with about 1 Tbs. filling, wrap (I can never get that flower shape to stay put, so I just make an envelope--at any rate, use a sprinkle of water to stick the edges of the wrappers together), and deep fry until golden-brown.


Love Poem.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I've always liked that line. "I love thee with a love I seemed to lose/With my lost saints."

I'm not a sonnet writer...

I'm the dog who follows you across the country
Half-blind, lame in one leg, deaf as a post, old, and smelly--
barking suspiciously at strangers when I wake up in a strange place
and mistake it for home.

I'm the cat who head-butts you in your sleep,
yowling with affection as you toss me out the door.

I'm the small child bringing you scraps of paper upon which
I have written the message "flrglop" with devotion.

I'm the sound of pans banging around the kitchen on a Saturday morning.
I'm the fingers that disarrange your beard when you let it grow too long.
I'm the the smell of bacon when you're on a diet.

Like it or not, well, I love you.


The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

"...And that was how I defeated an evil clown and earned back the full legal right to my name."


"A mime, you say? Well, I have no problem fighting fire with fire."

"Oh, no! You're not going to cut me with your invisible sword, are you? That would be so scaaaaary."

"Oh, this isn't a sword. It's a rocket launcher."

(via Lee)


Trailer: TMNT

Hey....Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer here. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays April. Dollars to donuts they let April kick some butt...and the Johnny Storm from the FF movie is Casey Jones. Whee!

And here is the trailer for The Number 23. Not a kids' movie, apparently.


Spring Rice.

Before I forget :)

This would make about 2-3 cups of rice. I doubled everything.

By spring I don't mean a warm, sunny day with cherry blossoms; I mean a raw, yucky day where you can just smell the promise of something good coming along later.

sesame oil, about 1 - 2 Tbs.
1/2 yellow onion, med. diced
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1c. rice (I used sushi rice, but it was a bit gummy)
1/4 - 1/2 c. chopped portabella mushrooms
1/4c. frozen peas
sliced green onions

Serve with soy sauce to taste.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1 -2 Tbs sesame oil over medium-high heat until fragrant. Add the chopped onions, almonds, and rice. Saute until the rice is nutty-smelling and the onions are translucent. Add more oil if the rice isn't slightly translucent.

Add the recommended amount of water for the type of rice you're using (more if at a high altitude). Cover the rice and allow to come to a boil, then turn the heat off and allow the rice to soak up the water. About 5-10 minutes before serving, stir in the peas and allow them to thaw.

Serve with soy sauce and green onions. I put teriyaki chicken on top.

Jackie's Teriyaki (non-teriyaki teriyaki)

1/2 c. honey
2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed

Stir together. Stir about 2/3 of mixture into bite-sized pieces of chicken breast and let site for 10-20 minutes to marinate a bit. Put on foil-lined pan under broiler for about 5 minutes, pull out, and stir in the last 1/3 of the mixture. Broil for another 1-3 minutes and serve over rice.


Book Reviews

Quick reviews, because I'm behind:

The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin. Very readable. Good insights, not only into the Austrailian songlings the book is ostensibly about, but about the human nature to wander and how people have to turn their enemies into beasts -- animals -- in order to fight them.

The Soup Peddler's Slow and Difficult Soups, Recipes and Reveries, by David Ansel. This made me miss college towns I have known. Lots of anecdotes about living in a strange little suburby place off Austin. The guy delivers soup to your door...Wah! Why not in Colorado, too?!? The soups look delicious, but I didn't make any before I took the book back. Has a website.

Perfume, The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Suskind. This has been made into a movie; I haven't seen it. The story of a madman with a golden nose, and I'll say no more of the plot. Wonderfully written. "In eighteenth-century France, there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages."

Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Don't read this book in large doses unless you have an incredible talent for digesting rich food (or like that guy who eats planes). One of the great comic novels of all time -- A Tom Jones of New Orleans. I read it at work and must say it was a great comfort, especially the parts about Levy Pants, to read while enduring the various nonsenses that go on there. The main character has a statue in New Orleans.

The Eight, b y Katherine Neville. Better than The Da Vinci Code by an order or magnatude or two, but I'm an Illuminatus! Trilogy girl. I loved Lily and her dog. I was hoping for a different ending, but the one written made a lot more sense.

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, by Patricia C. Wrede and Carolyn Stevermeyer. Romance, magic, intrigue. Jane Austin meets Stephen Brust. Two pinkies gracefully extended!

Chocolate Review

Valor Dark Chocolate (Ghana, Panama, Ecuador) 70%

Again, this is just a little too dark at 70%.

Valor is a good, solid chocolate, but I can't say it has much to single itself out. This probably explains why, when I saw it at the store, it was more or less buried under the "flavored" varieties. Not too much smell to it -- while on the one hand, I wonder if that has to do with the fact that at 70% cocoa, there aren't as many oils to hold the sent, on the other hand, I remember the bar of 87% Schaffen Barger I got that smelled heavenly. The break of the chocolate was more of a click than a wooden shap -- less tough? Anyway, three stars for this one, too; there's nothing about it that would lift it above "not bad." I'm going to have to stop getting 70% for a while, I think.

Tom Waits for No One

"The One That Got Away" -- an old animated Tom Waits video.

(from Growabrain)

Logical Extreme

The Defense of Marriage Initiative would limit the legal benefits of a civil marriage to those couples able to produce children within three years.

If passed by Washington voters, the Defense of Marriage Initiative would:

* add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
* require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
* require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
* establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
* make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

Just so. If it's ridiculous to allow people to marry because they're gay -- even though they could adopt -- it's ridiculous to allow people to marry because they're straight but don't plan to have or care for children. Which is to say, not ridiculous at all. Here's hoping this one never passes, because it's become a moot point!




Today, I smelled dirt. Winter is on its way out...


The Enterprise is a very silly place.

I laughed, I cried. Monte Python/Star Trek mashup.


Sins and Sub-sins.

Here is a list of all the combinations of any two of the seven deadly sins, and their labels.

BG (Gluttony and Pride): Fat men in Speedos.
BD (Gluttony and Sloth): Saturday.

Devil Inside

Use your media player set to random to answer the questions with random song titles. The musical fortune cookie!

- What does next year have in store for me?
Mercy Street - Peter Gabriel (Whew.)
- What does my love life look like?
A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash ("My name is Sue! How do you do? Now yer gonna die!")
- What do I say when life get hard?
The Clincher - Chevelle ("Could we have known/never would I/helped to nail down")
- What do I think of when I get up in the morning?
Bare to the Bone - Carrie Newcomer ("Wrapped in hope and good intentions")
- What song will I dance to at my wedding?
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads ("This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!") Hee!
- What do I want for my career?
Big Time - Peter Gabriel (Oh, now that is perfect.)
- Favorite saying?
Jolene - Dolly Parton (Nope.)
- Favorite place?
Wish You Were Here - Incubus
- What do I think of my parents?
Little Red Corvette - Prince (Okay, this is just funnily inappropriate.)
- Where would I go on a first date?
Be My Somebody - Norah Jones (Hmmm...)
- Drug of Choice?
In the Cold, Cold Night - The White Stripes ("Come to me again...in the cold cold night...")
- How do I describe myself?
Take Me for Longing - Alison Krauss ("I am the fool dancin' over the edge...")
- What is the thing I like doing the most?
Have You Got It in You - Imogen Heap ("Take cover/Big Girl in a mood.") Well, it's what I've been doing lately, that's for sure.
- What is my state of mind like at the moment?
Roads - Portishead (Well, aside from the being-alone part.)
- How will I die?
Long Way Home - Tom Waits (This is perfect.)
- Song they’ll play at my funeral?
Just Stop - Disturbed (Hee! "All that I want is forgiveness just one more time...")
- What song will I put as the subject?
Devil Inside - INXS


C. L. Moore

One of my favorite "robot" stories is "No Woman Born," by C. L. Moore:

A famous performer is horribly burnt in a fire; her brain is put into a robotic body.

Her arms were pale shining gold, tapered smoothly, without modeling, and flexible their whole length in diminishing metal bracelets fitting one inside the other clear down to the slim, round wrists. The hands were nore nearly human than any other feature about her, though they, too, were fitted together in delicate, small sections that slid upon one another with the flexibility almost of flesh. The fingers' bases were solider than human, and the fingers themselves tapered to longer tips.

But without her human body, she drifts away from humanity...

"There's so much still untried. My brain's human, and no human brain could leave such possibilities untested. I wonder, though...I do wonder--"

Her voice was soft and familiar in Harris' ears, the voice Deirdre had spoken and sung wiht, sweetly enough to enchant a world. But as preoccupation came over her a certain flatness crept into the sound. When she was not listening to her own voice, it did not keep quite to the pitch of trueness. It sounded as if she spoke in a room of brass, and echoes from the walls resounded in the tones that spoke there.

"I wonder," she repeated, the distant taint of metal already in her voice.

Chocolate Review.

I've been on a "good chocolate" kick lately. I don't really know how to describe chocolate yet...but I'm trying to learn. There, you've been warned.

Santander Columbian Single Origin Dark Chocolate (70%)

The chocolate smells delicious, and would probably make a good Mexican-style drinking chocolate (that is, the kind you make with extremely hot water and chocolate...and maybe some sugar or hot pepper), although there is a bright kind of smell to it, too, that can get a little overwhelming after a bite or two. Some chocolate, when you smell it, settles into your stomach and spreads a feeling of contentment; this moves more up into your nose -- a little peppery, without smelling like pepper at all.

This is just on the edge of dark/too dark for me. With the first few nibbles, you're happy, but after that, the bitterness starts to get overwhelming. The chocolate gives a wooden snap! when broken, and doesn't really melt on your fingers or luxuriate on your tongue. It almost needs some kind of milk or cream to help balance the brightness and bitterness, although any more sugar and it'd just be bleah.

Not bad chocolate, but not my favorite. Say, three stars out of five.


Groundhog Day!

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day (or Candlemas, or Imbolc, or Brigid's Day, or Cross-Quarter Day), which marks the return of Spring, and usually the return of my Spring food cravings. None yet, though. I say we're in for more winter.

Harry Potter

and the Deathly Hallows comes out on July 21st. Hee!