Friday, December 31, 2004

I felt a resolution coming on in the shower this morning.

I told it to get back into it's hole.

I hate this holiday. It sort of galls me that it treads on the hem of one that I really do like.

It's not the excess, the drinking, the fireworks, and parties that I hate. I could use more of that, though I do see the wisdom of keeping off the roads.

It's this idea that you go into the new year, shiny and fresh and NOT dragging the scarred hulk of your aspirations and responsibilities like you do year after year. I suppose S.A.D. has something to do with this.

I think the fat guy in the red suit is a more real thing to celebrate than aspirations. He is hope and cheer and the idea that maybe you deserve something special out of life. Yes, yes, yes. Jesus, too, if that's your cup of tea.

On the other hand, I will wish my smiley little girl happy new years, every year, with a straight face. Because she has a chance of doing entirely new things all year for a long time to come.

Oh, and Katie Rose, and Meagan and Haley. They all get a happy new year, but especially Katie Rose, because this is will be the first year she's stuck her head outside of her mamma's belly.


So, last night we couldn't sleep, and were up watching a Spider Man cartoon with Venom in it. Now, I love comics, but I've never been that much of a Spidey fan. As I found myself explaining the history of the Venom character to Ruby, and how if differed from the comics, I found it truly eerie how much of his history I could parrot back to her. It's like a strange kind of osmosis, you just absorb it from being around it all the time. I couldn't use this skill for math, or even anthropology, but I have endless amounts of trivia about games and comic books characters that I've never even read at my mental fingertips.

Fans are so weird.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The meatloaf was dry. I believe this is because I used stuffing mix, which required extra liquid.

My family assured me that the meatloaf was excellent. Well, it was good, but not excellent.

I believe this may be a clue as to why I am not published.

Reading: Awake at Work, by Michael Carroll. This is a book of Buddhist meditations about why you should love whatever drudgery that comes with your job because it is part of your truest self. It seemed a little shrill, and more hectoring than other Buddhist influenced stuff that I've read. I would have liked to finish it... but I have so little time to read as it is. I don't do well with hectoring, and when I found that I'd rather read comics more, I gave in to my truest self and returned this to the library.

Elementals, by Bill Willingham. The first four issues in graphic novel format. I recently picked a used copy up on Amazon to round out my collection of the series, which I keep because I found it such a weird blend of capes and fairy tales.

I like Bill's stories unreservedly, although his Elementals letters pages used to make him sound like a bastard of the Harlan Ellison mold. I especially liked the Elementals when he was writing it. I think this is partially because his first story arc used plots and characters from a set of adventures he wrote for the Villains and Vigilantes game: Death Duel with the Destroyers, and I forget the latter one, with Saker. It was a thrilling combination of my life experience up to that point: role playing commingling directly with comics. In a way, because I had run those adventures, I thought of the characters as mine, and seeing somebody write a different story with them was like (but not equivalent to, now: I don't want anybody to misunderstand) watching characters from my own head come to life. It was a pleasure reading his peculiarly bloody minded take on superheroics again.

The Fixer, by Joe Sacco. Another graphic novel about a sort of sad sack character who was in the Chechnyo-watchamacallit war and ends up telling wild tales to influential young journalists like Joe Sacco. I really enjoyed this. It was sharp, and although the author seems to be of the neurotic young writer sub-type, he isn't whiny. The illustrations are just beautiful, especially the panorama on pages 12 and 13 of Sacco arriving in war torn Sarajevo.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Yule be amazed

"I did it." Said Poppy. I'd just offered to help her get her shoe on after the heel slipped off, but no, she managed it herself.

She's been using I statements lately, and I hadn't realized what seemed so strange about it until just now. Mainly, that until the last few days, pronouns were not in her verbal artillery. She mixed them up regularly.

"I did it." Why, yes you did, sweetie.

Also, she can sing good chunks of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, You are my Sunshine, and Jingle Bells. In July, she only had three words of the Telletubbies theme song.


Yesterday, a lady came into the library looking for Pachelbel's Cannon (in D) by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. We didn't have it. She seemed surprised... I guess it's popular, of late. Today my mom brought up an album by them. A schlock opera called The Lost Christmas Eve.

It sounded like Meatloaf was singing a Danny Elfman score performed by the Manheim Steamrollers, accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was, like, full of great, throbbing Christmas Spirit. Several degrees of cheese, although I found myself thinking that if it was William Shatner singing, it might have just the right note of self parody to be fun. As it was, I kept thinking that Siegfried and Roy must train tigers for these guys. If there weren't tigers doing the Siegfried and Roy Hoochie Koochie in the stage show, there should have been.

Yes, its crass to make fun of stuff you don't like.


So, for Christmas Eve, Mom asked me to make meatloaf. This is what I did, this time:

2 Pkgs ground Turkey, pound and a quarter each.
2 4 oz. cans of Deviled ham.

Tot: 3 Lbs meat.

Eighth of a cup of Ketchup. Can opener was in the dishwasher, so I couldn't use tomato paste.
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce. 1 Tbsp Lea and Perrins.

Tot: Quarter cup of liquid?

One and a third cup of diced onion, two thirds of a cup of diced green pepper, 1 cup of stove top stuffing mix. I tried to mash it, but had already added it to the egg, so it didn't work very well.

Total: 3 cups filler.

Package of onion soup mix, couple shakes of black pepper. Leaving salt to soup mix and Soy Sauce.

I never make meatloaf the same way twice. What happens is I find a recipe anywhere: I have a book of recipes  but the backs of soup cans and the internet work just as well. Then I just make sure the amounts of meat, filler, and liquid are the same. Oh, and you need egg.

A elemental meatloaf recipe might look something like this:

For each pound of ground whatever, add 1 egg, 1+ Tbsp of Liquid that is not water, vinegar  or soda, and a cup of filler, some of which should probably be bread crumbs. Mix with ingredients at room temperature, 'cause your hands will get cold, otherwise. Grease the pan before you mix. I'm not good with cook times. I always follow the directions on the back of the can, there.

Meatloaf recipes are wildly different: I've seen all kinds of meat recommended, seen milk, ketchup, and Worchester sauce used, and all kind of vegetables and grains. The only thing that's always similar is that it always looks like brains when you're kneading it together in the pan.

I don't cook much, but I've made enough meatloaf to be a kind of meatloaf-savant. I'm thinking of working on crepes next.

Monday, December 20, 2004

One of the funniest things about parenthood is getting used to your child's lack of ability in some area, and going along for months with your child not being able to have a conversation, or not being able to string together more than two words, and then having her completely overturn your expectations out of the middle of nowhere.

It is such a rush of joy. I'm not exactly sure what causes it: empathizing with somebody else's discovery, pride at reasonably shepherding someone to the point where they could learn that ever so valuable skill, awe at the freshly upturned memory of how difficult every little thing is to pick up when you start with nothing.

It is like having a little fountain of illumination go off in the dusty cavity of your chest.

Tomorrow is the solstice. Usually, at this time of the year, I find myself obsessing about light. A couple of years ago, I found myself crying when I accidentally came across Here come the Sun, by the Beatles. I pretty much decided at that point that the winter solstice should be celebrated as itself, however I could.

This year, a co-worker, a very nice lady who has extended me every kindness already, passed me a poem after I bellyached about my seasonal affective disorder, or whatever personality problem it is that I indulge during the winter.

Depression in Winter

Jane Kenyon

There comes a little space between the south
side of a boulder
and the snow that fills the woods around it.
Sun heats the stone, reveals
a crescent of bare ground: brown ferns,
and tufts of needles like red hair,
acorns, a patch of moss, bright green....

I sank with every step up to my knees,
throwing myself forward with a violence
of effort, greedy for unhappiness-
until by accident I found the stone,
with its secret porch of heat and light,
where something small could luxuriate, then
turned back down my path, chastened and calm.


It was very relaxing.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Clerical error is another matter entirely.

I've been on the phone off and on for two and a half months now, trying to find the mail that should have followed us from Brooklyn. I really try not to be snitty about service people. I am one, and I know how much bureaucracy and circumstance can prevent you from doing. Still and all, I've been directed to Michigan post office officials twice now, when the post office insists I should be dealing with Brooklyn officials.

We got through the move pretty well. I keep meaning to post about it, but it's a sort of trauma, moving. You don't eagerly look back on it. We only lost a few things, most cheap, which is very good considering how brutal the movers were with our stuff, and that it went on through five transfers: New York to truck, truck to storage, storage to truck, truck to storage, storage to home. We lost: A teapot and 4 glasses (several that belonged to my grandma), one lamp, a picture frame, and a set of shelves. And we chipped a gryphon. It ws amazing to me, however, that the cheap plywood filing cabinet I've been carrying around with me since I was a teenager survived. Go figure.

I am very unnerved to find that driving through snow feels homey. Not that I would miss it at all, if we relocated to Arizona.


40 Signs of Rain: Kim Stanly Robinson. I love Kim. He has a great way of making people seem like they are the most important thing in the context of an uncertain future. Which we would all like to think is true. 40 Signs is much more accessible than just about anything else he's written except for his collection of short stories about mountain climbing, although it is almost entirely character driven and leisurely paced. It resembles the Wizard of Oz in a very shallow fashion, if only in that he uses the character of Frank to give the tin woodsman of science a heart via Buddhism.

Orbit: Warren Ellison. A funny little science fiction short story in graphic novel format. It is a funny story, with Ellison's trademark flair for making super-science sound funnily plausible. The cost/benefit ratio of publishing a one-off short in hardcover format seemed a little skewed.

And then Morbid, a bunch of photoshopped graphic novel shorts that were sometimes funny, but very much a labor of love.

The two of them together are making me think that comic books are freighted by their own context, sometimes. One expects a series. On the other hand, maybe the graphic format is so expansive that it demands a series. Maybe telling a story in pictures just swells the narrative up until it can't fit in anything less than a couple hundred pages.

Going Postal and The Truth: Terry Pratchett. They are essentially the same book. Good reads, both but disappointing because of their similarity. And I couldn't tell you why. Um. Because they're good reads.

The last collected volume of Bone. Jeff Smith. As much as I loved the series, I found this a little anti-climactic. So few pages, and the Locust, Grandma's sister, and Mim are dealt with. Just. Like. That. It probably seems more fraught if you're waiting the month between installments.

The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan... which I would call incisive, except for the haunting feeling that it's about 90% filler.

Come to think of it, my expectations of anything I'm reading lately seem too bleak to allow me to fully enjoy it. So perhaps all these very entertaining works were just grand and I totally missed it.

Wouldn't that suck?