Word of the Day.

sequacious (si-KWAY-shuhs) adjective

Unthinkingly following others.

[From Latin sequax (inclined to follow), from sequi (to follow).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)


Sprit of the Century!

We played Spirit of the Century last night with Randy gm'ing -- the setting was Venezuela. This morning, I stumbled across an article on Venezuela. Nothing of an eerily-coincedental nature. But I saw it and said, "Huh. Venezuela. We've been there. Oh! But that was in 1922..."


Weird Al.

Okay, my brothers have already seen this. I know this. But it takes me a while.

It's just so appropriate...the end of an era! (And it goes on and on and on...)

...And this.

My Daughter...

is Skuld.

She woke me up this morning to tell me she wanted to let Katherine know she should bring the first Scooby Doo live-action movie with her today. "Time to get up!"

"We have that," I said.

"I know, but I broke it," she said.

"Well, go find it."

"But I broke it!"

"Go find it anyway!"

So she spent fifteen minutes looking for it, in tears almost the whole time. After that, we had a discussion about how frustrating it was to be made to do something that wasn't really very important...

Being the inventor that she is, Skuld loves anything technical, but hates inefficiencies, flawed creations, and useless mechanics (such as toys). This is Urd's favorite way of punishing Skuld whenever she touches or breaks any of Urd's potions and such, by making her create gadgets that do absolutely nothing useful. She has a tendency to get carried away fixing or improving anything she sees inefficient. Even when her original intention is to destroy it, she always ends up with something much better, (and usually more destructive). Most of her inventions, more often than not, have extra functions that make situations more complicated, including a self-destruct device in almost everything (including her Robot Wars robot...).

Ray quote of the day: "But Moooooommmmm, I was just..."

Imogen Heap Live.

Version of "Just for Now." You know that video where the balls shoot out of the tubes, making various rhythmic noises as they strike on strings, drums, etc.? Apparently Imogen Heap + a computer = even better.

Word of the Day.

pawky (PAW-kee) adjective

Sly, shrewd; dryly humorous.

[From Scots pawk (trick).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)


Mr. Pretty: Not a Restaurant Review.

Now, I'm not going to name the restaurant where this happened -- it's a Japanese place in Colorado Springs, which is more than you need to know but easily surmised from the context -- but it's just this guy. This happened a couple of weeks ago, but it still makes me laugh...

The waiter is Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. He's fresh-faced. He's the kind of charmed-life idiot who always ends up with what he wants. He could easily claim to be an actor working as a waiter, except he's not in L.A. A narcissist who uses more products than me, my mother, and my two sisters combined.

He has no sense of timing.

I know this. I've eaten here several times, and I've had him work my table before.

He delivers the menu. It's 11:30 a.m. and there could hardly be stated to be anything resembling a "rush." I tell him I need a minute. Why do I do this? Why? I already know what I want. It's a gray, cool day, and I want udon. But I send him off anyway.

Less than thirty seconds later, he comes back with the tea. Doesn't ask whether I'm ready to order, just puts the tea and the cup down and disappears around the corner.

Five minutes later, he's back to take my order. (I don't wear a watch, but we progress through about ten commercials.) "Udon." He tries to leave. "And a California roll."

He escapes. I wonder if the California roll will appear...

I read comic books. I forget what I was reading...oh, Batman-something-or-other and an Ah! My Goddess. Miso appears a few minutes later. Four spoonfuls later, the California roll. I've barely finished the miso (and haven't touched the California roll) when the udon comes up. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Not the best, most perfect udon I've ever had -- I don't think I've found the perfect udon yet -- but good. A solid performer.

I finish the California roll. The waiter appears and magically vanishes the dishes associated with the California roll, including the chopsticks. Uh, dude? Chopsticks? To slurp udon with? Hellooooo? Anyway, I work my way steadily through the udon until there are only a few dribbles left, and I'm almost positive that picking up the bowl and drinking the rest of it will cause dribbles in a bad way. (If you know the usual size of a dish of udon: Yes, I can do this. It's soup. Good soup makes my stomach develop a Bag of Holding. Sorry. Probably TMI.)

I've finished Batman. I've finished Ah, My Goddess. Now comes the moment that restauranteurs should dread: bored, I whip out the notebook, immortalizing Mr. Pretty and his amazing sense of timing. That doesn't even hold me over. I watch golf for a while. I decide sushi chef #1 is a wild man, because he isn't wearing a t-shirt under his hapi coat, and he has one ear pierced. The tips of his eyebrows look like they've been fanned out with a comb. But he's wearing glasses, so I know he's not a superhero...

Eventually, sushi chef #1 spots that I'm just sitting there, staring out into space, and stares at sushi chef #2. Sushi chef looks questioningly at sushi chef #1. SC#1 looks at me. I look at him. SC#2 looks at me. SC looks at SC#3, who has a mesh-topped hat. SC#3 is looking at something he's chopping. Tap tap tap, the kind of quiet, steady sound that puts babies to sleep. SC#2 looks at SC#1, who looks back at him. SC#2 sighs and puts down his knife, but by then, SC#3 has finished chopping, and SC#2 can just look at him without having to walk anywhere. SC#3, without really participating in the whole chain-of-looking-thing, walks around the corner, and a few seconds later, Mr. Pretty comes out.

But not with my check.

"Do you need more tea?"

"No, I'm ready to go."

This is an invitation for him to disappear for another five minutes. While he is gone, I write the following:
The Sushi Place-Pillow Book
There were two professions for which nature had suited him: women's beds and the stage. Fate, however, had arranged for him a different situation.
It went on in that vein for a while...ended up with:
But still, I wonder, how will he ever understand the nuances of the stage? And what woman would entrust to him her bed, when he cannot understand even the gross obviousness of leaving a pair of chopsticks for a hungry diner, let alone the nuances of the bill?
At any rate, I'm not still at the restaurant, so he must have figured out how to ring up the bill at some point.

About 400 words later.


Lone Ranger!

Jay Thomas tells the story.

(via Neatorama)


Y.T. will have a short-short story called "Evolution" published at Clever Magazine in September.*

Actually, I changed my modus operandi. I went looking around for a place that might publish the story...but ignored the ones I didn't want to read. This one, I've read almost everything for this last quarter, and liked it.

The setup is cool...some fiction, some essays, weird lists, jokes, book reviews, recipes...the uniting factor is, well, here's me with the non-tact thing, but "will a nerd like it?" seems to be the operating question. Y.T. is a nerd; Y.T. likes.

*Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. Also, Lei'd to Rest has to wait another week. C'est la vie.


Don't give Girl Geniuses regular coffee.


More giggles.

"The Elephant Song," by Eric Herman.

Do you have the mentality of a five-year-old? Click here.


Clip from Babe. "If I had words to make a day for you..."

Sewer Goddess

After Venus (who started out as Goddess of the Sewers, a vital function in a town where cholera should be taken as a matter of course) got promoted, her intern, Caelia, got the job. Jove signed the contract himself (in blood), and suddenly, she was part of The Family.

Things went smoothly for a long time. The whole Christian thing came and went pretty quickly, with a hostile takeover by the cosmic lawyers, SaulCo, who turned a nice little indy religion into a vanilla franchise. Some of the other gods and goddesses got pushed around. Some survived by remarketing themselves; others just faded away into their own "Greatest Hits" bins at the discount record stores in the sky.

Caelia (who had changed her name to Sally) and Psyche used to hang out and have drinks together until that whole Freud thing blew Psyche's ego out of proportion. It had been fun, coming up with joint horrors to come crawling out of the pipes, but without Psyche, it felt like Sally wasn't coming up with anything better than mutated pets and lab rats, although that was fun in its own kind of way...


His bones are set up like a set of wooden blocks stacked up to beyond eye level at complicated angles in a laughable attempt to balance them. A model built "larger than life and twice as natural." His bright eyes switch between sharpness and humor. His cheeks are pliable from a lifetime of overblown laughter that interchanges with the defeated sag of frustration: limp, wrinkled, old.

Carrie Newcomer: May 4

It's hard to write about Carrie Newcomer; there's so much backstory.

Lee first heard Carrie sing in West Lafayette, Indiana -- Purdue country. He was living above a variety store called Von's (I think it was about that time) around what had to be one of the world's most intense nest of gamers. Aside from some great people he knew, in a lot of ways, his life was a mess (sorry, sweetie -- but there you go)...a lot of gaming, a lot of parties, a lot of girlfriends...but nothing really solid to hold onto. And, as I've discovered, he likes solid things.

She was singing with a group called "Stone Soup."

I think it would be safe to say she changed Lee's life. Not right away. But by the time I met him, he had a solid core of melty goodness, like iron fondue. He played Carrie's solo albums (Visions and Dreamers and Angel at My Shoulder) for me. I passed. I guess you could say she changed my life, too, second-hand. I stopped being so cynical and logical. More innocent. More puns.

Years went by...my first Carrie Newcomer concert, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Carrie had split from her husband (one of the Stone Soup guys) and was with Robert Shannon Meitus, then leader of the Dorkestra. Robert was on tour with her, and they played all kinds of completely nutty, fast, funny songs. Heartwarming songs. Songs that were the equivalent of a smoothie, refreshing, tasty, and good for you.

After that, she turned away just a bit from what she'd been doing before and tried heading up the path to Country-Western Stardom. She had a single, "What Kind of Love is This?" (on My True Name) that did okay. But mostly she was beating her head against the wall: c-w radio isn't interested in anything that doesn't fit a very strict mold. And, fer goshsakes, Carrie's kind of bent towards liberalism (she's a Quaker), and c-w has been worshipping at the conservative altar for quite a few years now, nonwithstanding the Dixie Chicks.

But that didn't last too long, and Carrie decided she would be something like a modern-day troubadour, traveling around, singing songs, and making people happy. Her music all of a sudden became much more mature -- less naive -- but none the less optimistic, hopeful, and spiritually pure. The very next album after that, Age of Possibility, has my current favorite Carrie song, "Bare to the Bone." (I usually end up at least tearing up whenever I hear this song.)

So. The concert on May 4th.

It was at the Colorado Springs United Methodist Church, which has a concert series every year for "spiritual" singers. (Not gospel.) The place has been built in an old Spanish-type style, nothing as grand or chiarcoscuro as the cathedral in Santa Fe, but always someplace I've wanted to duck into on a hot day. There's a courtyard in the front with wrought-iron gates. Inside, there are all the normal things you find in a church, as well as a library and a gift shop. (I had to laugh.)

The church itself has a beautiful pipe organ and a lot of room for the choir. Right up in front, where they should be. I note this; they apparently really like music. The seating is not that of your average church, either: it's theater-type seating, so everyone can hear and see. Maybe it's just that Catholics don't go for that sort of thing, but I've never seen anything like it. And it's such a "well, duh."

The audience was small. The MC encouraged everyone to move to the front, even though we had assigned seating.

Carrie walked on. Instead of a gaggle of musicians, it was just her and a pianist who normally played jazz. She had a new dress on. (She has this thing about new dresses.) It's some kind of prairie-style thing, two colors of brown, with an odd split up the back (which works out well when she sits on a stool to play guitar).

She makes bad jokes ("We sell folk bowling balls," she says. "They all lean a little bit to the left.") and laughs like a five-year-old: unselfconsciously and dorkily, haw, haw, haw! We make our way through the set, old favorites, new stuff from Regulars and Refugees, "Bowling Baby," some songs from a new album, Wilderness Plots, which is different artists's renditions of the short stories of Scott Sanders. She calls Robert her "sweetheart" and Lee and I smile at each other: we like Robert. Not that we've met him. But we approve.

Ray makes it through the concert, as busy as always. She dances. Then bugs. Then messes with her shoes. Finally, she falls asleep on my lap. The encores are this song about collective nouns (cleverly rhymed)...and "Bare to the Bone."

I teared up on some of the songs, but I cried all the way through "Bare to the Bone."

On the way home, Lee said something about how listening to Carrie sing live is like filling up a resevoir, and I realized it was something different for me: listening to Carrie is like taking off all the blinders you put on yourself. Living is hard; everyone dies; everything ends. You cry. But, in all innocence, the things you love and the things that love you make it work.


bare to the bone

here i am without a message
here i stand with empty hands
just a spirit tired of wandering like a stranger in this land
walking wide eyed through this world is the only way i’ve known
wrapped in hope and good intentions and
bare to the bone


when i rise i rise in glory
if i do i do by grace
time will wash away our footprints
and we’ll leave without a trace
between here and now and forever
is such precious little time?
what we do in love and kindness
is all we ever leave behind


More silliness.

Hm...my brain has gone on hiatus. But I'm too lazy to figure out who to send this stuff to...

A major research institution (MRI) has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest chemical element yet known to science. The new element has been tentatively named Governmentium.

Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of three years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.


Bad puns.

Another chain-type e-mail I got today.

It's the last line, really, that makes the whole thing.

1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

2. A will is a dead giveaway.

3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

4. A backward poet writes inverse.

5. In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

7. If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.

10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

13. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

14. Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.

15. He broke into song because he couldn't find the key.

16. A calendar's days are numbered.

17. A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.

18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.

19. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.

21. The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.

22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

23. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

24. If you jump off a bridge in Paris, you are in Seine.

25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.

26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

27. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.

29. Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony of de feet.

Note: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

Dumb joke.

I went into the gas station today and
asked for five dollars worth of gas.....

The clerk farted and gave me a receipt.

Murder Mystery Game...

Delayed one week.


Book Review: Fine Prey

by Scott Westerfield.

Okay, I have a secret. I wasn't all that thrilled by Uglies. It was okay...but it wasn't my thing. Oh, no! Not a secret anymore!!!

But read Fine Prey today, and was happily engrossed. Now, most people are going to feel exactly the other way -- that Uglies is better than Fine Prey.

It's a disorienting book, and ultimately, it doesn't make sense. At the end, your brain is struggling. "Why?" "How did we get to this place?" "Why are there so many interesting scenes skipped during the interstices between the sections?" "I get that X was supposed to be significant, but I'm not smart enough to figure out whyyyyyyy!!!! Waaaaah!"

But that's okay with me. I left the book with my brain dancing. "And this idea hooks to that idea...right here...and then..." Stuff doesn't have to make sense in order for you to understand it, after all. The subconscious gets it and starts jamming along.

I can even pull some of the ideas back out to Uglies. A lot of Uglies fits that...not everything, but a lot. It's like someone said, "Great, Scott, now slow down for the rest of us, and I prooooomise you'll make enough to live off of this time. Really." But Uglies is a much better story, which makes it too solid, and I don't walk away from it with a big "aha!"

I categorize Fine Prey with Little, Big and Physiognomy. Not everybody's thing, I realize, but a book doesn't have to be, in order to be good.


Win some, lose some.

The bad news is I twisted my ankle. Not too badly.

The good news is the little garden plot has had its soil broken up, amended, mixed, and planted with corn and melons. And the worst of the weeds have been pulled up...at least I know that if nothing else, elm trees will grow well here. Sheesh.


Medieval Tech Support.

I may just be the last person to see this, I don't know.


Joke of the Day.

A boss wondered why one of his most valued employees hadn't called in or phoned in sick one day. Having an urgent problem with one of the main computers, he dialed the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's whisper.


"Is your Daddy home?" he asked.

"Yes," whispered the small voice.

"May I talk with him?"

The child whispered, "No."

Surprised and wanting to talk to an adult, the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?"


"May I talk with her?"

Again the small voice whispered, "No."

Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, "Is there anybody else there?"

"Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."

Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, "May I speak with the policeman?"

"No, he's busy," whispered the child.

"Busy doing what?"

"Talking to Mommy and Daddy and the Fireman," came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, "What is that noise?"

"A hello-copper," answered the whispering voice.

"What is going on there?" demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.

Again, whispering, the child answered, "The search team just landed the hello-copper."

Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated the boss asked, "What are they searching for?"

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle: "ME."


Remember: Just a joke, just a joke...

Joke of the Day.

A boss wondered why one of his most valued employees hadn't called in or phoned in sick one day. Having an urgent problem with one of the main computers, he dialed the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's whisper.


"Is your Daddy home?" he asked.

"Yes," whispered the small voice.

"May I talk with him?"

The child whispered, "No."

Surprised and wanting to talk to an adult, the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?"


"May I talk with her?"

Again the small voice whispered, "No."

Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, "Is there anybody else there?"

"Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."

Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, "May I speak with the policeman?"

"No, he's busy," whispered the child.

"Busy doing what?"

"Talking to Mommy and Daddy and the Fireman," came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, "What is that noise?"

"A hello-copper," answered the whispering voice.

"What is going on there?" demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.

Again, whispering, the child answered, "The search team just landed the hello-copper."

Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated the boss asked, "What are they searching for?"

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle: "ME."


Remember: Just a joke, just a joke...

Spam of the Day.

Wha-huh? All of a sudden, I feel like I'm in an alternate universe.
Dear Friend,

Compliments of the day and God's blessings. I am glad to inform you
that I have successfully concluded the transaction,the money has been
transferred to London.It was done through the assistant of Mr. Howard
Ferraro who is a London base business man.Currently I am in London with
him and my wife and children.

However, I did not forget you because you are the source of my success,
you made me what I am now though you are not there to complete this
project with me but I gave all the credit and thanks to you.I know it
is not your fault or rather your wish to back off on me and the
transaction,I understand it was simply because of some circumstances
you could not control.

In appreciate of your assistance I have mapped out as a compensation
and wrote on your favor a certified bank draft worth of US$800,000.00.
I left the draft with my Secretary Mr.Terry Lord on my departure to
I would like you therefore,to contact him on the below info and
instruct him where to send the draft to because i have instructed him
on that already.

Attn: Mr.Terry Lord
Email: xxxxxxx.xxx

Feel free to contact my secretary so that he can release your bank
draft to you. Then get in touch with me once you receive your draft so
that we will rejoice over that together.

I will stop here. Once again,thank you very much and remain blessed.

Barr.Fred Goodluck

Word of the Day.

flagitious \fluh-JISH-uhs\, adjective:

1. Disgracefully or shamefully criminal; grossly wicked; scandalous; -- said of acts, crimes, etc.
2. Guilty of enormous crimes; corrupt; profligate; -- said of persons.
3. Characterized by enormous crimes or scandalous vices; as, "flagitious times."

Flagitious comes from Latin flagitiosus, from flagitium, "a shameful or disgraceful act," originally, "a burning desire, heat of passion," from flagitare, "to demand earnestly or hotly," connected with flagrare, "to blaze, to burn."

From Dictionary.com.


In Retrospect...

It was kind of obvious that the name would come up at some point:

Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra.

I will have to keep an eye out for it.


12 U.S. Laws Bloggers Should Know

via AvivaDirectory.

Proud Day.

I realized today I have reached the point where receiving rejection is now less psychologically affecting than my period. Yes, that unhappy event (um, the arrival of the rejection letter) that has more than once driven me to tears has become less stressful than many things in my life, but this is the one that hit me today.

Now, if only I could hit the point where success wouldn't go to my head as I'm sure it would at this point.


Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart.

I am not the right person to ask for any kind of objective review here. But I'm glad it's part of the permanent collection: Voted one of De's Most Likely Books to Drag Up to a Treehouse, If She Had One. This is also a Lay on Your Stomach and Kick Your Legs While You Read book. But then I loved Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and Princess Bride...I don't know, maybe not the next big children's classic or anything, but it ought to be, both for what it achieves and how it manages not to screw itself by getting altogether too big for its uncomplicated (which is not the opposite of complex) britches. Why haven't I seen this all over the place? Maybe there's just too much good kids' stuff coming out lately? Conspiracy? Too much TV? Too much TV! Auuuuggggh!

P.S. Oh, yeah--the artist, Carson Ellis, draws like a version of Edward Gorey abducted from an alternate universe where unmentionable Victorian-era tentacled creatures did not attempt to infect his brain.

P.P.S. Also, I didn't see the thing about Constance. But then, I often don't see these things coming. I like making puzzles far more than solving them.

P.P.P.S. Why didn't I write this book? Why? Why? Why?

Colorado Springs Review: The Coffee Exchange

Dude, misnomer. I was hoping for a sign that said, "Come with Folgers...leave with Yergacheffe." But no deal.

The Coffee Exchange is not a proper coffee shop. For one thing, the big-screen TVs run Fox News Network; for another, the radio station plays hard-rock oldies via The Eagle. Had I asked for soy milk, the halter-top wearing, sunglass-wearing, highlighted redhead would have laughed in my face. (Not that I ask for soy, mind you, but she is obviously very suspicious of the Crocs.) The liquor is set up like the place is a bar, and martini glasses dangle from the corrogated tin rack.

The place is next to Southside Johnny's and across the street from a porn shop. The interior is corrogated tin on one side and brick and old barnwood on the other, with these giant doors that look like they open up onto the bar of a Saturday night.

I sit in a beat-up old recliner and check out the magazines: Men's Health, Interview (Brad Pitt), In the American West. The sign below the individually pre-wrapped pastries reads, "CHOCOLATE COVERED ESPRESSO BEANS!" All the art on the wall is labeled with handwritten cards stating the price, tax, and total. One end of the place, back by the bathrooms, is dominated by a ginormous black table with executive office chairs: poker. The radio starts playing "Pour some sugar on mehhh...!" and I realize this would be a great place to come running in to if it suddenly starts to rain, but it doesn't.

A bald guy with a goatee walks in, pours himself a cup of coffee, and starts taking customers while halter-top woman is outside on a smoke break with two friends. The day I went, the FAC Modern is closed for a new installation. (I try the door, and a guy in a suit tells me to come back at five for opening night.) This place, the outgoing artist just walks in and starts pulling stuff off the wall with the help of her daughter, while the incoming artist paces around outside. After a while, some woman comes in, sizes up the new art, and starts writing out tags, calculating the sales tax in her head as she goes.

New Mexico: May 1

(This one's much shorter than the others. Two reasons: not much happened, and I didn't write anything down. Carry the portable notebook. Carry the portable notebook.)

Got up, went swi--

Packed, loaded, paid, and went back to the Jackalope. (Which, now that I check, I realize I hadn't mentioned before. Here's the link.) Which is a tourist trap of the best sort, a half-dozen adobish buildings surrounded more pots than you would dare shake a stick at, if they were alien pot-shaped invaders. Rugs, live glass blowers (better than dead ones), weird imports...it was the entirety of Manitou Springs rolled up into one store.

We wandered around for a while: a lot of women were sitting around and sketching things in a very practical way. I mean, paper taped down to a sketch board and everything. For some reason, they all had hats on. I didn't know why that struck me, but it did. We finally stopped to talk to one of them: they were all actually part of an arts-tourism group that had been staying out at Ghost Ranch (Georgia O'Keefe's home) and had come into town. Why, I'm not sure. I mean, if you're out at Ghost Ranch, why the hell would you want to come back to civilization? This seems like a no-brainer. Unless they didn't have big bathtubs or they'd run out of chocolate, of course. Of coffee. Wouldn't want someone going through caffeine withdrawal creeping around outside with paintbrushes; it'd end up like an Agatha Christie novel.

Found a cool cast-iron dragon candlestick for Lee, gave up on the whole pottery thing, and started for home.

It was an on-again off-again rain drive, all the way back to the Springs. In between one exit and the next, it became abruptly clear that someone had busted the showerhead off the sky and it was time for a floooooood. I barely got Ray to the doctor's office (passing a drowned cop car and a minivan), where we picked up her shot record, headed back to the house, and tried to unpack. Lee got home, and we headed to Ray's new kindergarten for a parents' meeting-thingy and met Mrs. Fluffy*, etc. Lee said he was going to make me a bookshelf, which was good, and that he still loved me, which was even better.

Not bad for a birthday. I am now Jesus-old.

*Still not her real name.

Ponder of the Day.

What's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? It is just frosting vs. mix-ins?

Murder Mystery Game...

Lei'd to Rest may be launching on Monday. Fingers crossed!


Online Comeeks.

Adding Devil's Panties and Beaver & Steve to the sidebar.

I have read the entire run of Devil's Panties now; on the other hand, I was almost instantly won over by the following line:

"Steve! How many times do I have to tell you not to create paradoxes?"

There you go.


Why do I think this is so funny? The song already cracks me up, and the video is even funnier.

Nine Inch Nails: Only

...But then, I think Kafka is funny, and I usually giggle all the way through "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

New Mexico: April 30

Itinerary: downtown Santa Fe.

Revisit St. Francis Cathedral Basilica. Check.
Locate and visit Georgia O'Keefe museum. Check.
Don't get lost. Check.

The St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, now, there's a church. Huge, of course, with brightly-painted columns in the interior and an enormous baptismal font (ironic, since Catholics usually get baptized at birth and don't do the full dunk) with a black marble font and a waterfall down to a submerged brass grate with the insignia of the four gospels (I think). Very peaceful place...until you take a left turn into the chapel of La Conquistadora. A kneeling rail, maybe five hundred votive candles, and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). An informational pamphlet assures you the name comes from her ability to peacefully conquer the hearts of men...

I've never seen a really Latin crucifix before. I'd heard of them. "Very gory." Well, now I've seen one. It wasn't gory. It was a corpse. I've seen dead bodies before...and this was Christ the Corpse. No peace, no forgiveness, no redemption...nope. The soul has left, and there's only the flesh behind. Very striking; in its own way, very moving.

If it sounds like I was seeing this through sardonic eyes, my apologies. It was just so...different. Most of it was almost familiar, but I still felt disoriented. The difference between Norwegian-based churches and Hispanic-based churches? I don't know. Things were both more colorful and more matter-of-fact than I was expecting. I don't go around thinking the churches back in South Dakota as being mystical, but in comparison, they are.

The windows are almost, but not quite as good as the ones in Sts. Simon and Jude of Flandreau, SD. I'm having trouble finding pictures of the windows there, which is a shame.

We wandered around for a while and made a half-hearted effort to locate the church with the floating staircase thingy, but eventually just skipped it in the quest for the Georgia O'Keefe museum.

I must say the place, when we eventually found it, was a disappointment. It was small, had walls supposedly painted the color of adobe but really just looking like a bad paint job consistently smeared with fingerprints (what about that perfect shade of gray she had to paint Stieglitz's place for her first show?!?). The guards were very hostile-looking. Now, Ray is five, and I can understand their concerns. However, most of the time when I bring her with me to museums, the staff (unless otherwise overwhelmed) almost always make a point of being extra-nice to us: it's better if you start your art-lovers young, you know. (I mean, come on. We were welcomed to the Chihuly (read: glass) exhibit at the FAC in Colorado Springs. Glass. Five-year-old. And yet it worked, and they were happy to see us.) It was a profoundly boring experience for Ray...until we watched the introductory movie that we'd skipped earlier.

You see, the museum was packed with mostly mediocre works of a more historical than artistic value. "Huh. I didn't know she did that much watercolor"-type of reaction. A few famous pieces, but nothing that made your eyeballs happy. The other artist, whose name I have mercifully forgotten, was dull and pretentious. For example, she'd painted large, well-textured boards with uniform pink spots where the knots should be. Knots of entirely the wrong shade of pink, I might add...a paler pink would have been better. Looking at pieces of wood a few days later, I was struck by the resemblance of wood grain to cosmic shapes and decided replacing all the knots with tiny, delicately detailed paintings of planets would have been much better and altogether more joyful. Rows of shiny deer skulls. Derivative (of Stieglitz) pictures of the moon shining through the clouds, replaced by 4X4 pixels. Yawn.

I like modern art. I think Georgia O'Keefe would have felt her hackles rise at the place...

Anyway, we were only there about twenty minutes, so we sat down to watch the movie, just to feel like we'd accomplished something, I guess. Gene Hackman narrated. It was so good...Ray was just fascinated all the way through it. So maybe I haven't scarred her for life after all.

After that, we went to the Blue Corn Cafe downtown. Warning! When you see a place that advertises itself as Mexican, check for people who look Hispanic! If you do not see anyone who does, there may be a reason! It wasn't bad, just eh. It was supposed to be a brewery, too, but I didn't try the beer, which looked like standard brews rather than anything really fun.

Oh oh oh! We went to the Santa Fe School of Cooking and Market. They had molcajetes! But I did not get one; they were heavy, and I was walking. But I did get a couple of different kinds of chili pepper, chipotle and chimayo. The chimayo is very good hot-chocolate pepper (add a pinch of cinnamon and a baby pinch of pepper. Yum).

The Palace of the Governers is closed on Mondays. The front was lined with Native folks with jewely and whatnot spread out on flannel blankets (lots of Disney characters), which may not be as authentic-looking as might be, but looked pretty useful in keeping the constantly-looming rainshowers off the goods. Ray and I walked by, more curious in the tourists than anything else, and one lady in a blue sweatshirt said, coyly, "You know, you can haggle" as I walked by.

I looked in the windows of dozens and dozens of galleries, but nothing appealed. Therefore, the day quickly turned into a gluttony of book shopping.

Alla is a bookstore (upstairs, past the dinosaur cutouts) that specializes in Latin American books. Talking to the owner (who looks like an alternate version of Kurt Vonnegut, skinnier, fresher-faced), he said he had over 45 thousand titles in his little place, compared to 41K at the local Borders. Personally, I believe him. He'd been very creative in arranging his shelving. It was almost like a movie where you tilt the secret book and a secret passage opens, except there wasn't a secret passage...just more books. I picked up The Anatomist and The Merciful Women by Federico Andahazi, after explaining to him I was looking more for the South American crowd than anything else. "Ahh...." He seemed like the kind of guy who would have given away all his books for free, because you had to read them, but had (after years and years of soul-searching) had finally come to the conclusions that 1) nobody would read them if they didn't pay for them first, and 2) he had to eat.

We also went to Collected Works, which is this tiny, hole-in-the-wall place with a great selection of books. Definitely not in the 45K range, but on the other hand, I wanted to buy all of them. I stuck with two Bernstein Bears books (which Ray could not put down) and The Mysterious Benedict Society, a YA by Trenton Lee Stewart with coolio puzzles and, of course, a group of mismatched kids who Save the World. Totally geeked out on that one. I was only stopped on my book march of doom by the fact that I'd have to carry a lot of dead weight around if I didn't quit soon, and regretfully put back a book on Hispanic black magic, among other things...

Eventually, we ditched downtown. When I lived in and near Iowa City (famed for its graduate writing program), I was annoyed by all the pretentious writing crap. (I miss it now, although I wouldn't want to go back--we are still talking Iowa here, and I'm just not built for those rolling green hills.) My attitude toward Santa Fe's attitude toward art may be described as similar. I like art. But I'm better off living in Colorado Springs, really I am.

On the other hand, driving back to the motel (and we stopped at Borders on the way home because I wanted to pick up a movie for Ray but she wanted this wooden set of magnetic dress-up dolls instead, which was much cooler), I realized I actually liked the whole adobe thing. I also liked the fact that you were always about two minutes from getting lost on a gravel road in sight of where you actually wanted to be. There were too many tourists...but once you got off Cerillios, it was okay. It'll take a while before I figure out what kind of story I'd set here, but there's one there, I just know it...

Anyway, we ate up the leftovers in the fridge (molcajete!), played dress-up dolls, read books (I finished Uglies, this Ana-something (Anacrusis? Anatopsis?)* book that was very strange and not entirely effective but nevertheless good, and Benedict Society while I was in town). And went swimming. (Was this in any doubt?)

I totally want to e-mail the author and find out what the title means. I am not finding it anywhere.

Review: Batman: City of Crime

by Dave Lapham.

Dude. Great graphic novel.

Spoilers, in the form of questions, follow:

However, I feel like there's more going on than is ever revealed...

1) What's the deal with the baby scam? Why is Penguin trading in babies illegally in the first place? Since the storyline shows the illegal trade was concealed through legal adoptions, it's not like you're skipping paperwork. And the women who were locked up -- it was hinted they were troubled girls, girls who had done drugs. Are these the kind of women you want to carry your baby to term? If you're the kind of wealthy people who can afford to do this?

2) Whatever happened to Jonathan Crane? I was waiting for him to show up. In one scene, it was stated that the park that everyone's scared of (and that gives everyone hallucinations of things they fear) was built on the site of the old Crane Mansion. Also, there are numerous scenes in which cranes show up...my theory is that Crane dumped a bunch of crap around the grounds, stuff that worked its way into the soil, which is subsequently taken advantage of by...

3) Where did the dirt guys come from? Did Clayface fall into a Lazarus pool or what?

4) Was there a mastermind? Why was the room full of pictures, some of them (including Penguin) crossed out?



Ray is now a graduate of the 3s, 4s, & 5s Preschool. Class of '07! Woot!

It was funny. After trying on four different pairs of shoes this morning, she decided she had to wear her boots (purple) to school. Find out at school that this was something Mrs. Mary, her teacher, had instructed her exactly not to do. One of the assistant teachers, Mrs. Karen, went out during the hour between drop-off time and parent-arrival time and bought her not only "acceptable" shoes but also a dress from Target.

View the parental throwing up of hands. Anyway, Ray remembered all the things she was supposed to sing (one little boy didn't) and recite. They were all cute, cute, cute...and then they did the Macarena. I laughed all the way through it, I was so delighted. We got through the program, settled everyone down for lunch, and I asked Mrs. Karen about it. She said it was a graduation present...well, now I just have to think about a "farewell" present for her :) When we got home, I told Ray that I was okay with her original outfit and hoped that she liked the new one, too. (She did.)


Naughty Embroidery.

Locher's of Paris sells shirt embroidered with hearts, flowers, and naughty sayings. Too pricey for me, but...

(Via boingboing.)


Spider Robinson's Melancholy Elephants...

Now online.

New Mexico: 29 April

Woke up, swam, ate...somehow, this feeling of deja vu...

We loaded up and got on Cerillios headed south -- a.k.a. Highway 14. This is a very cool little road with lots of great scenery and some small mountain towns with some art shops (don't know as I'd call them galleries) along the road. We turned right onto Highway 536, drove about a mile and a half, and ended up at Tinkertown.

Now, maybe it's just my childhood. Vacation meant driving from our farm in the Middle of Nowhere, South Dakota, to Rapid City. We were allowed to stop in one of three places:
  1. Al's Oasis.
  2. Wall Drug.
  3. That one place with all the prairie dogs.
We might stop at the Badlands every once in a while, but that was a destination in and of itself. And in Rapid City, we would hit up every damn tourist stop we could get hold of, from the dinosaur park to Storybook Island.

I've always loved tourist stops. My all-time favorite has been The House on the Rock. But Tinkertown is quite nice, too. A guy named Ross Ward built a house almost entirely from bottles, taking care to select all shades, from dusky browns to shimmering sea-greens. Then he filled it with a lot of stuff, including his brother's (I think) boat, after it had sailed around the world for ten years. This theme of some guy just up and building some weird house and filling it up with stuff seems to resonate with me. Maybe that's why I like our house so much.

Anyway, after Tinkertown, we drove down Highway 14 to Albuquerque and followed the signs to the Bio Park. For the same price that it takes to get into the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, we bought combo passes to the zoo, aquarium, botanic garden...


Now, the whole train setup is bad. You get on the zoo train, which takes you to the place where you need to get on the Bio Park train, but you can't get off on that stop. Can't. No, really, can't. Why, I have no idea. But you can't.

The guide recommended we go over to the aquarium and work our way back to the zoo, because the Bio Park train stops 45 minutes before the zoo closes. Whoever organizes these trains must be related to those creeps from The Castle. Nevertheless.

So we rode the zoo train. Pretty cool, pretty cool. Then we walked the exact same route over to the Bio Park train, passing by the gigantor McDonald's-style jungle gym and promising to return later. The train to the rest of the park goes under highways (tunnels!) and past a fishin' hole. Again with the trains: you drive past your stop, go on for another five minutes, circle around, and come back to your stop, where, finally, you may disembark.

I didn't mind so much; the extended route meant we got to go past the place they're building the Japanese garden. They're pretty far along, but I can't wait to see it in a more-or-less finished form.

The aquarium was fun, but I don't remember much of it...because after that we went into the Botanic Garden. The first thing you come across is the Children's Fantasy Garden. The outside, complete with a giant, ivy-covered dragon, reminded me almost painfully of Storybook Island. The inside had the same feel, with a slightly different theme: instead of gigantic storybook characters, it was gigantic plants and animals. Very Alice-in-Wonderlandy. Highlights include a maze made out of anthills, a giant garden with a hole-through-the-redwood-style carrot, a sandpit filled with enormous worms...

We decided we had to take a break for food at an almost ridiculous time and ate at the Shark Reef Cafe, which lived up to its name: an entire wall was filled with an aquarium, complete with a shark with hillbilly teeth and a giant sea turtle, as well as numerous fish and a sunken riverboat. Why a riverboat? I don't know; it looked cool. Also, there was real food to eat: something of a rarity when it comes to food at a zoo.

We went back to the botanic garden, where we played hide and seek (they didn't forget to add a huge grassy area with no "keep off the grass" signs), wandered around while I played Georgia O'Keefe with some cool calla lilies inside a split glass pyramid, discovered frogs in the bog, and commiserated that the butterfly pavilion wouldn't be open until the end of May.

We almost didn't want to go back to the zoo, but go back to the zoo we did. Ray played and played on the gym, only stopping when I kicked her out due to rain (which stopped five minutes later, but I wouldn't let her go back in). We watched the sea lions chase after their fish lunch, scoped out the polar bear and decided the waterfall was smooth enough to use for a water slide, and...were exhausted.

We left when they kicked us out and would go back in a heartbeat.

The drive out of Albuquerque was...difficult. Traffic had backed up on the one road I located that looked like it connected to the Interstate--the one that led straight through Old Town. Several people had recommended we stop there, but driving through, it looked like...well, boring. Shops, bars (one notable one where the street was completely lined with bikers), more shops...meh.

Ray slept from the time we got out of the zoo until Santa Fe.

We ended up eating at this teppan Japanese place on Cerillios called Osaka. The chefs at the table across from ours was a lot of fun--and Hispanic-looking. The one at our table wasn't nearly as exciting, but executed the flaming onion volcano with much more skill. [Insert clapping here.] I kept expecting them to face off, Iron Chef style, but you know, that just never happens in real restaurants. Oh, sigh.

Swam some more...

I dreamed about gardens all night long.

Santa Fe Labyrinths.

As it turns out, there are a bunch of contemplative labyrinths in Santa Fe. I may have to check them out next time...there's even one at the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, which I missed somehow...


De's Wish List.

I hate alarm clocks. But I promise I would love this one. The voice is Stephen Fry, who did indeed provide the voice for the Guide in the 2005 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Sioux Falls Pics.

Dale put up some pictures of Sioux Falls. He forgot Zandbroz, though.


Interesting book.

Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease. Perused this the other day, but it looks like a library-checkout over a purchase. Basic premise: things that keep you alive (or, rather, kept your ancestors alive) in the short run can cause your system to overbalance itself in the long run. Ain't evolution a funny thing?

The Best Sci-Fi

of the Last 25 Years, by Entertainment Weekly.

May have to see Children of Men. Any word on how it was?

Story Notes.

Just finished mapping out, via spreadsheet (as below) the info for Alien Blue.

I hate editing, having to go through and say, "God I suck God I suck God I suck" for hours on end, and having to have the patience to not try to fix things as I come across them. The suckishness just builds and builds...God I suck.


Save a Horse...

Ride a Space Cowboy.

(You don't usually see country western anime music videos. But this Cowboy Bebop mix is very nice.)

And another one, this time not C/W, but with a fun song called "Stress," by Jim Infantino/Jim's Big Ego. (Other stuff by JBE I've found is also good. Hey, they even link to their ripoffs remixes. How awesome is that?)

The Duh of the Day.

Justine Larbelestrer uses spreadsheets to coordinate her stories. Not index cards. And used Project to plot out her timelines. Boy, is my face all WELL DUH.

New Mexico: April 28

We awoke, swam, breakfasted (sort of), packed, argued...and shook the dust of the Best Western off our feet. From thence to the Santa Fe Children's Museum.

Not open yet. We drove around until we reached St. John's College, which sported a trailhead in one of their parking lots. I forget what the name of the trail was, but this was a lovely, easy walk. We spent about an hour smelling sagebrush and walking on the stone retaining walls of the washout that runs across the trail. I was amazed with how clean it was and thought maybe nobody used the trail...until we passed a garbage can, which was stuffed to overflowing. People actually take cleanup seriously out here. Maybe litter control is as carefully controlled as housing design, I don't know.

We stopped at Ohori's Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate. I got an orange soda (Anarancito?) and Ray got hot chocolate. I questioned her, but she was sure: hot chocolate.

It was the best damned hot chocolate I've ever had. Ray and I ended up swapping drinks back and forth, because it was just too intense to drink the whole thing on its own. Neat pottery/mugs, too. We got a cute little monkey mug, over even the neat Japanese pottery.

After sitting in the parking lot of the Children's Museum to finish our beverages, we went in. And then almost didn't leave. We would still be there if they'd had a concession stand or something. This was probably the coolest place in Santa Fe.

Most children's museums that I've been to (which, all told, hasn't been that many) are either lame or pedantic. This was neither: the kids just played. The first thing we did was to roll pool balls down plastic roller-coaster tracks to smack into each other or to bounce across the floor. Yes, pool balls (cue balls). As a kid, I totally spend a zillion hours studying momentum throwing pool balls at my brother each other. And then the full-body plastic pin thing where you push on one side and shapes pop out the other. And the tractor-tire bubble ring. And the pulley chairs. And the Gross Animal collection. And the subterranean birdhouse where you could dig for worms. And the jungle gym, where Mom sat under the plexiglass section and growled at kids when they went by...

(Oh yeah: I should note I spent about an hour and a half (not all at one time) trying to figure out how to make monster-sized bubbles, and finally pulled it off mere minutes before we left.)

We ate at McDonald's, eventually, because it cracked me up: even the McDonald's on Cerillios was adobe. Shootout at the McDonaldland Corrall...milk and cookies to follow. But it was actually the classiest McDonald's I've ever been to. The people behind the counter were polite, fast, and wore button-up shirts with...ties. The food was all fresh and hadn't been sitting there for a week. I ordered a Southwestern Salad, and there was...cilantro. Pinch me, quick!

We checked in to the Comfort Suites and swam a lot. Ray managed to do a little solo dog-paddling, the baby steps of swimming! Call me a proud mamma. Took a break, did some reading.

We ate supper at Los Potrillos (tr: the foals), a local Mexican place with hand-carved chairs with rearing, snarling horses, and painted tables (ours was chickens). Most of the people were hispanic: women with large hoop earrings and lots of cleavage. Men with noses of great prowess. Little girls with fluffy dresses that made Ray drool. We sat next to a booth full of very macho guys who had all ordered very macho bowls of soup. Bowls of soup the size of the communal salad bowl at Olive Garden.

Intimidated by the size of their bowls, I opted instead for the a molcajete (tr: mortar) dish with pork and pineapple. Ray wanted a cheeseburger, had to have a cheeseburger...we snacked on multicolored chips and salsa (and some kind of odd white sauce that was very good) and watched "El Vengador" (The Punisher?) on the TV.

The molcajete is a large mortar, of mortar-and-pestle fame. It looked to be carved out of volcanic rock, but what do I know? You put the filling in the white corn tortillas (no salt added, and the consistency of lefse (with corn rather than potato)), along with some pico de gallo: the molcajete keeps the filling hot all the way through the meal. God, was I stuffed. And I still took about half of it back to the motel (which had a fridge and micro). Ray ate the seasoned fries (how she fit that all in her body, I'll never know) and called it a night.

Heh. On the way back, we stopped at pd bean coffee house, because...well, because. The coffee was okay, the atmosphere was poor, but the chocolate cookie I got Ray was entirely, osmotically absorbed. (She was so full it lasted until we got back to the motel--check that out.) The owner is apparently a former local journalist, who strikes me as being the kind of guy who's slightly out of whack with the rest of the world, as in "I missed it by that much." I think about the great coffee shops I have known, and...it's just a little bit off. Not a bad place. But not Shelly's in Vermin, or The Purple Onion in Dinkytown, Java House (where the staff all wore "There is No 'X' in Espresso" shirts) or even Ohiro's (above).

Took a break, called Pappa, went swimming again (my arms hurt from those damn pulley chairs at the Children's Museum), goooooood night.

Review: The Original SoupMan

Ray and I stopped downtown for lunch before braving the doc's for her last chicken-pox shot yesterday and discovered a place called "The Original Soup Man"* was there...when it hadn't been there before.

Now, I like soup. I mean, a few days ago, I had to crow over the fact that I had completely surpassed Panera soups. (I hadn't eaten there for a while.) My current obsession is vegetable soups, with just vegetables. Maybe some rice. Some Parmesan on top. Croutons. Bread with butter...not as "life-restoring" as a homemade chicken soup, but soothing of all weariness and ennui, without being peppy.

Anyway. Huge line of people, men in suits and ties and women with clunky jewelry and guaze jackets: the (semi) professional moo crowd, willing to work so much unpaid overtime their hourly wages work out to McDonald's-level, willing to line up placidly for anything as long it had "gourmet" in front of it and they could get back to their desks in fifteen minutes so they could log in to a conferene call. Stood in line behind a guy with a shiny flag tie, suit, and buckskin shoes (not moccasins) who tried to tell Ray he didn't learn how to read until he was fifteen. The soup looked expensive and small. At the head of the line, talking to a fifty-year-old woman:

"We'd like the lobster bisque and the ham and cheese sandwich, with cheddar instead of--"



"The sandwiches are already made."

"Can we at least get it without mustard?"


We negotiated a different sandwich.

"What to drink?"

"Pineapple green tea for me, and milk--"

"We don't have any milk."

I pointed to the menu: Juices and Milk.

"We don't have any milk." She asked a coworker. "We don't have any milk."

"What do you have?"

"It's on the menu," she said.

Stupid customer.

"Milk's on the menu," I said.

Well, we negotiated our way through that, too. Paid up ($11 for a shared combo between the two of us), sat next to the overflowing garbage, and ate.

Gah! Delicious. I'd go there again...until I figured out how to make their lobster bisque, that is.

*Check out the Rules tab. Really.

Cool at the Zoo.

Orangs at the zoo in Atlanta, Georgia, get to play video games.


Golden Compass.

Via BD. Warning: The one Phillip Pullman book I read (not one of this series) left me feeling cheated. So far: Fox, Gibbon, Chimpanzee, and Ladybug.

New Mexico: April 27

(By the way, it's not that going to New Mexico is all that remarkable, like going to Scotland or Japan or something...it's just that I don't get out of town much.)

I had to stop three different places in the Springs in order to get gas...everyone was out! The third place only had 85 left, at $2.89/gallon. (New Mex was about $3.09, Dad, before you ask.) I had to stop at a different gas station to vaccuum the car and get a map. But I had hit upon a gas station with no maps. Huh? So I stopped at Borders. They had a map. The cashier warned me that there were no rest stops along the way. (One of my coworkers told me there were no road signs the day before, too.)

Sheesh...more karma?

The trip was pretty uneventful for two women with moderately-sized bladders and the ability not to leave the Interstate, although the jokes got a little much from the back seat at times. The landscape reminded me of Colorado at first, but became more and more like South Dakota (out by the Badlands), with sage. Lots and lots of sage. And round, tumbleweed-looking trees that looked about to roll over the landscape, this sinisterly cheerful invasion or infection of trees.

So. Santa Fe. My first impression was to laugh: it's so artificial. Adobe as far as the eye can see, even the bad parts of town...it wasn't until I went looking for a trailer park that I found one, albeit cleverly hidden behind a tall adobe wall. We found our way to a likely-looking motel and checked in. I may have to start looking closer at motels...the lobby was okay, but the room was creepy, water stains on the ceiling, no towels, an absolutely frigid swimming pool... (We left in the morning and went to a different motel, the Comfort Suites, and did fine there. The room at the first place was as expensive as the room at the second place. Both were overpriced, and I'm sure will be even more expensive after Memorial Day.)

But that first day, we lived with it. After pulling most of the stuff out of the car, we decided to find something to eat.

Here is my first major lesson learned regarding Santa Fe: do not, under any circumstances, leave without your camera or your map. Sure, the town is small. Sure, it's very much for show. Nevertheless, you will see stuff that tempts you to drive just a little further...and then the streets get very narrow, very tangled, and very much one-way in a very short amount of time. And, once you've miraculously found someplace to park, you won't be able to take a picture of the Cathedral Basillica of St. Francis at sunset, because your camera is still in the bag.

We spent, after leaving the downtown area, an hour and a half trying to find our way back to the motel, or to a restaurant, or to a gas station...after passing signs announcing that it would be a poor judgement call to stop for hitchhikers just outside a prison facility, we turned around yet again, found a gas station, asked for directions, and found ourselves only a quarter-mile from the hotel. We stopped at a Sonic and ate tater tots, because by then, even I needed a little familiar reassurance. (Please note: there were a sufficiency of signs; we just didn't know which ones we were supposed to be looking for. "Oh...you mean Highway 14 is Cerillios Road? Well, isn't my face just red.")

Nine o'clock. Back to the hotel. Called Lee. Yawned a lot. But of course there had to be swimming before bed; otherwise, the parental code of ethics (as in, "I promise you, no matter how lost we are, you can still go swimming before bed") would have been utterly violated. I talked to a nice couple from western New Mexico on their way to Las Vegas, New Mexico, who had decided they were giving themselves a night off. Ray is such the charmer that it's hard to stay shy.

To bed, feeling very much regretful of having coming all this way to get faked out, ripped off, and lost. But things were destined to improve...

New Mexico Fact of the Day.

Here's something I learned in New Mexico: the Spanish word for "tax" is "imposition." That's right. Like death, no one can escape the Spanish imposition.

Maureen Johnson, Banned Author.

Or, Yes and No.

One of the YA authors I follow, Maureen Johnson, has had a book, Bermudez Triangle, banned from school library in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. One parent filled out a sheet asking the book to be pulled...even though there were two other options available, one to prevent the child from checking out the book, and another to have a committee review it.

Click here to read the parent's comments, as well as the author's.

As Miss Johnson says, "I happen to find homophobia shocking and appalling. I think it is morally corrupt. I would like to see it removed. Where is my form?"

Banning, boycotting, anti-ism, and writing nastygrams are all forms of saying no. No can be a good word...but it's not all that and a bag of chips. You don't want your kids exposed to the idea homosexuality isn't evil, so you stand up for what you believe in and say, "No!" Fine. But when you stand up and say "No!" for more than just your own kid--you're wrong.

Lee and Ray and I went to a parent-orientation meeting at her school last night, where a Mrs. Fluffy* read a bunch of handouts out loud. One of the themes was the importance of letting your child have independence**. How does banning books lead to the development of your child? Okay, bigger question: how does acting like a tyrant lead to the development of your child? Ray's not a teenager yet, but my experience so far has been that a constant influx of "No!" doesn't lead to anything good. There has to be some "Yes!" Not just "...well, okay." Not just "Here's something fun, which will totally replace your tendencies to do something inappropriate." But laughing at the occaisional pee joke (her current fad), sticking our tongues out at each other, showing your real feelings rather that just what a parent "should" show...these things seem to make the transitions easier.

There does have to be some "no." (And, in our case, a lot of "Okay, that's enough now. I said, enough. Now. Now. Okay, you're in trouble now...") But "No!" should be rare. And the "No!" that covers my kid should be even more limited. Because she isn't your kid, and you don't get to make decisions for any of us.

If you're crazy enough to keep your kid locked up, be it physically or mentally, have fun dealing with the consequences--one of which will be a lack of respect when they finally do step out on their own. But don't try to force me to raise a kid as screwed up as yours will be. I'm going for "the ability to make her own decisions" over "fear of fags," thanks.

*Not her real name. Not Ray's future teacher.

**And the importance of being able to wipe properly after using the toilet (which seems to be approximately three times as important as independence).