October 29, 2006
Okay, the event has yet to happen, but Renee spent part of today working on her costume, and Friday evening I called her friend's parents and got the address, so it looks like Halloween is on for Tuesday! Cross your fingers. I'll give a report after the fact.
In the meantime, enjoy last year's banner pumpkin!
Icons of Fantasy
I've watched most of the movies of David Cronenberg, and there was a time in my life when I read everything I could get my hands on by J. G. Ballard. I also spent many years very impressed and somewhat disturbed by Ridley Scott's Alien. I knew that it had originally been shopped around to different directors, so finding this pastiche, the result of a contest in Interzone magazine, was a little gift from Heaven:
David Cronenberg's Alien (novelization by J. G. Ballard) (the true author of the pastiche is Lyle Hopwood)
This really isn't current news. Renee and I finished Noein last weekend. It's just that, now, a week later, I am continuing to miss it. This is a science fiction drama which fully embraces the idea of a multiverse, and even more so, a multiverse with versions fading in and out of existence as observers confirm or deny their state.
I was first drawn in by the artwork, then the quirky story, and finally the evolving characters. In some sense, this was just another time paradox scifi story, just with an added 'dimension'. But it really entertained, both myself and Renee. It took us forever to finish it due to non-overlapping schedules, but now that it's done...
October 15, 2006
Has Halloween Been Saved?
It's probably no secret that my favorite holiday is Halloween. I'm not even sure I can articulate my reasons, though of course a big one has been the nearly decade-long tradition of escorting Renee on her appointed rounds, bilking friendly neighborhood victims out of candy. From the early years when she alternated between fear of all the odd costumes to running up to doors and shouting "I want candy!" to the year when I was little more than an ambulatory freight container, every pocket bulging with her overflow loot, I've enjoyed each and every Halloween night. Dark, cold or warm, raining or not, it's been a joy.
I could see the writing on the wall when she finished fairly early last year, and hardly ever dug into her candy in the ensuing weeks. Earlier this year, we were talking about holidays, and I asked her what she thought. I told her I wouldn't be disappointed if she felt she was too grown up to do trick-or-treating this year (I lied). And she said, yeah, she didn't think she'd be doing it anymore. Oh cruel world!
Remember how I 'failed to mention' Kumoricon to Renee, and she found out about it anyway through her network of friends? That time, it worked to my disadvantage, leading to standing in long lines for hours, though I tried to console myself that this would be a substitute for those lost Halloween nights.
But now, it turns out that one of her buddies has proposed to Renee that they go trick-or-treating together, dressed as anime characters! The details have to be ironed out, and they may fold when her friend finds out that I require they have an adult escort (yeah, I'm gonna let a pair of eleven-year olds wander around a neighborhood after dark unprotected). But maybe it'll happen.
Honestly, as a parent I must require that there be a bodyguard along for the trip. But just as honestly, I hope it's gonna be me.
Last weekend it was a cooking party, this weekend it was time for the once-a-month-or-so gathering at Tom's. Used to be twice a month at NOVA, but the only people whom I care to see no longer go there, so it's down to Tom or Alan to throw a wing-ding.
This time, in addition to the much appreciated conversation and geeking out over videogames and anime, was a trip to a pretty nice strip-mall restaurant in Beaverton that Tom had discovered. I don't recall their name (Tom?) but they have a menu themed on Hawaiian cuisine. Lotsa pork and chicken dishes, some curried dishes. All in all, pretty tasty. I had the coconut milk curried tiger prawns, with sides of steamed Asian veggies, yakisoba and kim chee. Tom ordered another fave of mine, Taro Fries, and shared 'em with us. Reminds me, I owe Tom a couple of bucks there!
Later in the evening, Tom floated the idea of a Christmas party, with a gift exchange wherein the participants just get something nice-but-inexpensive, and there is random gifting amongst the individuals. That would work out great for me, as over the last few years, my gift list kept getting larger, and I got more and more angst driven trying to find something cool for everybody, until I finally just bailed on the whole gift giving thing. That would have relieved the stress, except that most everybody else just kept giving me gifts. This way is gonna be much less grievous, or so I hope.
October 14, 2006
Q-Unit: Greatest Hits is another mash-up album. Moreover, it's another mashup of a rap artist with a 'melody' artist. In this case it's 50 Cent and Queen. The mashers this time are called The Silence Xperiment, an electronica group.
Did I like it? A little. Would I buy it? Nah. Whereas Wu Orleans felt like a genuine fusion of period Dixieland jazz and rap, this feels like somebody playing Queen kinda low, and then dumping a rap track on top. In other words, not a lot of creative modification here. Rather like noticing that some of the lengthier space rock tracks from early Yes seem to synch up perfectly with your favorite anime, or overlaying Dark Side of the Moon onto The Wizard of Oz.
So give it a listen, then move on...
To paraphrase Churchy LaFemme, "Friday the 13th come on a Friday this month!" My left shoulder started hurting, dunno what I lifted wrong, pushed wrong or slept on wrong, but it was bothering me whenever I reached for something the wrong way.
Woke up this morning, and my range of motion is much more restricted, at least without pain. I've been through this once before a year or so ago with my right shoulder. The joint just decides to get all tetchy. Course of treatment, as per Dr. Selby, is to slam it with NSAIDs (basically a lot of Alleve) and after a couple of days begin the gingerly stretching.
As my old high school chum Mike Wendell would say, "defective body, trade it in!"
October 09, 2006
Have Santoku, Will Travel
I need to find more excuses to cook with other people. Yesterday was my friend Burr's 50th birthday celebration. It was held at his mother-in-law's house in Woodburn (which he lovingly calls Deadburn -- ooh, like Deadwood!!!). I managed to get lost briefly on the way down, but not for long. Ten people got together to cook, dine and giggle.
Burr orchestrated the central theme, which was sampling ribeye from various breeds of cattle raised in different ways. We had five different samples, two of which were grocery-standard beef (Angus?) and tasted totally blah to me. One was a grass-fed local, which scored high marks with me, another the same type of animal, but aged beef, again high marks, and finally Wagyu beef, which is the American equivalent of Kobe beef. That came in a close second after the tied two just before it.
In all, two of my favorite three ribeyes were grass-fed. So much for Jean's mother, who claimed the last time they visited us that "grass-fed is tough, it's just awful. And the taste is not nearly as pleasant as grain fed!" When I tried to tell her I'd been reading articles about the various breeds and feeds, she pulled the "I'm an old farm girl" card on me. Can't argue with that. But now I can state from first-hand experience that some grass-fed beef is definitely superior to grain fed.
Burr had been taking cooking lessons for the last year from a friend of his who is a chef, so he was cooking the steaks, and directing the preparation of the vegetables. I got to prepare the tomato salad, composed of Roma and some other (Beefsteak?) tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese balls and balsamic vinegar (to taste), tossed with a pinch of salt. It was great. I'm afraid I had three helpings of this dish alone.
The other dish I got to prepare was a root vegetable casserole. Various potatoes, carrots, garlic, asparagus, herbs, etc. Baked until tender. Yum! Another dish that I ate too much of!
Both of these dishes were prepared with the help of my new favorite knife, my santoku! I carried it down with me to the party (in the trunk of my car, so I wouldn't get some paranoid cop cuffing me for a concealed weapon. Fun fact: America's Test Kitchen did an evaluation of santokus, and all through the segment, Adam and Christopher referred to them as santukos. Only an effete snob like myself would take such pleasure in belittling their fumbled terminology!
Alan Batie served up some truffly coconut cookies and two pumpkin pies, and Toby and his mate served up custards prepared in cooked squash! I had to try that one, given my history with creme brulee and my love of squash. It was excellent!
During the festivities, Burr's wife Lori unveiled her big present for Burr, a chef's hat and a set of chef's whites. Needless to say, Burr looked ever so cute in his new chef's get-up!
So anyway, doing all my cuttting, dicing, hand folding of ingredients, oven watching and every five or ten minutes shouting out "hot oven opening behind you Chef!" was just more fun than I can truly convey. Burr has to be my most conventional, white-bread friend, but this idea was pure genius, and really reached into my core. I hope he gets another fifty.