Friday 5: Vive la Différence

From here.

  1. What’s a food that tastes completely unlike anything else you can think of?
    I suspect that one reason truffles are so dang expensive is that nothing tastes anything like them.  There aren’t any cheaper taste-alikes, so if you want that flavor, you have to pay whatever they’re asking.  I don’t even know if I really like them: all I taste is expensive, you know?
  2. What’s a movie that’s completely unlike any movie you can think of?
    Bubba Ho-Tep, a movie I hate.  Bruce Campbell is Elvis Presley living in a nursing home.  I know people who are crazy about this movie, and they’re the kind of people who would normally make me want to reconsider my response, but that would mean watching this again and I simply can’t imagine myself doing so.
  3. Who’s a musician or band you consider completely unoriginal but whom you still like?
    Well, I’m a big fan of 80s hair metal, so that’s almost a whole genre of unoriginal bands.  For me, the most emblematic of the talented no-talent bands is Poison, whom I really dig.
  4. Who or what are two people or things you keep mixing up with one another?
    For the longest time, despite having seen a bunch of each of their films, I couldn’t keep Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, and Bradley Cooper straight.  Now I’ve sorta got Reynolds separated out, but I don’t think I can say with any confidence which of Gosling and Cooper I’m looking at if I haven’t looked at the credits first.
  5. What’s something you’ll do this weekend that’s different from your normal weekend activity?
    I might see a movie in a theater, something I think I’ve done once in the past three years or so.  I’m annoyed that I haven’t made time to see more films this year, but I’ve been so danged busy.  I’m even planning to put myself to bed before 10:30 this evening so I might be able to sleep in AND catch an early matinee.

April Drudgery

I’ve been working through April Camp NaNoWriMo.  It’s like NaNoWriMo but (supposedly) mellow.  You set your own goal, and the concept is much more flexible.

My project this month is four short stories in four long weeks.  It’s been horrible five days out of seven, but kind of awesome the other two.

Story one is about a freelance editor and a freelance writer who flirt with each other only through their prose and edits.  It has potential, but it’s suuuuper challenging to write.  He edits her prose and by his sheer understanding of her intentions and work, he brings out the best in her writing, and she’s attracted only to his competence.  They will break up similarly.  If I decide to finish this one.

Story two is about a teenaged girl who volunteers at a National Wildlife Refuge.  She meets a tourist boy who’s allergic to sunlight and they spend the day together while the boy’s family is outdoors.  It’s really a story about the girl’s first kiss, which isn’t as romantic as first kisses are supposed to be.

Story three, which I just started last night, is about a middle school boy who finds a library card.  He uses it to borrow books at the library (he’s lost his card and doesn’t want to spend $12 to replace it, since he never reads anyway).  When the owner of the card sees that whoever has her card is reading through a fantasy series, one book at a time, she leaves a note in one of the books telling him to give her back her card.  My concept is kind of a Nick Hornby for kids, although this description sounds more like a Nicholas Sparks for kids.

No idea what story four will be.  I meet on Skype IM chats with other Hawaii people working through Camp NaNo, and one of them suggests “Nick Hornby for kids” would be a great brand for me.  I haven’t read any Hornby books, so maybe that’ll be my next project.  I like the concept!

 

 

Breathe

Still alive.  Just been swamped with a bunch of stuff, some professional and some personal.  I’m thinking I should commit to making myself put something here every day or two, whether or not I have time to write something of the length and substance that satisfies me.

Just to remind myself that I do this.

There’s a bus coming in 15 minutes and I want to be on it, so here we go.

Friday 5 for March 23: The Shine of a Thousand Spotlights

From here.  Questions inspired by The Greatest Showman which I recommend highly.

  1. What physical trait are you (or have you been) self-conscious about?
    It’s changed over the years.  In recent years it’s this gap between my front teeth.  It’s not quite the size of Dave Letterman’s old gap or Michael Strahan’s, but it’s noticeable.  I try not to think about it, especially since Letterman and Strahan rocked theirs so well, but I can’t help feeling everyone is staring at it even when I know nobody is staring at it.  Although now that my wonderfully long hair is thinning at a heartbreaking rate, I have a feeling my answer’s going to change soon.
  2. When did you last do something risking injury?
    We’ve been having a bit of a gecko problem at the office, and while I don’t have a problem with geckos, I do not need their poop on my computer mouse.  The problem got pretty bad, so I came in one weekend with a plan for repelling (not killing) the little grey reptiles.  I can coexist with them.  I just don’t want them in certain areas above my desk.  So I did a little bit of research and brought in some garlic, which I hung from the ceiling.  I will not share how I got the garlic up there, since I’m sure it would be prohibited by my employer, but I could really have hurt myself had I not been so nimble.
  3. Why do critics and the general movie-going public never seem to agree?
    It’s because critics see thousands of movies.  If you eat a thousand chicken parmesans all over the country, you get pretty good at telling the better from the worse, as Brian Windhorst will tell you.  Critics see so many movies that they actually know more than the rest of us about what’s good and what’s not.   They don’t know more than we do about what we’ll like, and that’s where people get all huffy when critics hate the movies they love, or love movies they don’t get.  This is why the good critics tell you why they dislike or like a movie, and we decide for ourselves if those are the reasons we would also dislike or like a movie.
  4. How do you feel about Hugh Jackman as an actor?
    He’s good.  I have always liked him as Wolverine, and I thought he was a good Jean Valjean.  As P. T. Barnum, he plays a kind of Disneyfied version of the Greatest Showman, and while that disturbs me a bit, the product is too good not to be forgiving.  I’m not sure he’s a very good singer, though.
  5. Who is the best singer you’ve seen in live performance?
    This would have to be Renee Fleming, whom I saw in performance with the Honolulu Symphony in March 2006.  It was amazing.  And I do not mind admitting that I was totally, completely in love, and if she had somehow asked me after the show to leave everything behind and come be her servant, I would have done it in a second.

Friday 5: Mist It by That Much

Don’t worry.  I do plan to put up something interesting (at least interesting to me) besides these Friday memes.  Just finding my groove while still trying to address the malware on my other WordPress sites.  It’s not just cleaning up the mess, but doing what I can to prevent this kind of thing later.

From here.

  1. What did you most recently spray out of a can?
    Shaving cream, and that was last Sunday, although I’m seeing  a concert this evening so I’ll be cleaning myself up sometime before I go to town.  I like shaving gels, actually, something I originally picked up because it’s what my dad mostly used when I was growing up.  But I’ve tried various options over the years and keep coming back to the gels.  My favorite was a medicated (not aloe, but something else) Edge that really made my skin feel good.  It was discontinued by the time I got through the first can.  Nowadays, I shave in three different places (home, my folks’ place, and the office) and I have a different gel in each place.  So I’m kind of picky, but there’s a bit of range to my pickiness.
  2. What’s your favorite food (or food product) that’s sprayed from a can?
    I have to admit I really love (‘though almost never indulge in) that spray cheese you supposedly put on crackers.  Still, what’s better than whipped cream?
  3. When did you last spray-paint something?
    I think it was five years ago when I was the publications advisor at the community college.  We cleaned up and painted the old newspaper boxes around campus.  Took a lot of ridiculous energy but they looked nice.
  4. What’s something that’s not sprayed from a can but would be pretty cool if it were?
    I really think we haven’t explored far enough the possibilities of better ways to use butter.  Real butter.  Spreading it on stuff that’s not hot can be a real pain, and while the butter stick incarnation is great for most cooking uses, it fares poorly as a condiment.  What about softened or whipped butter out of a can like with spray cheese or whipped cream?  As long as you didn’t have to add too much to it, and if you could maintain all the wonderful qualities that make butter butter, I’d be down to give it a try.
  5. What’s conceptually the oddest thing sprayed from a can?
    I know everyone’s probably going to say fake hair from a can, and that’s certainly a worthy contender, but as an island boy for most of my life, I have to say spray can snow for Christmas trees.  I especially don’t get it for people who live here.  Other contenders: spray air (like for cleaning computer stuff) and spray noise.

Friday 5: Aroma

I’ll get into details later.  Still cleaning up the mess on other WordPress sites I take care of, but I now have this one cleaned up and ready to repopulate.  Gonna spend a couple of days next week refamiliarizing myself with MySQL to see if I can find a quick(ish) way to import my old content or to scan for wherever the nasty stuff is.  Yay.

  1. What’s something you enjoy that contains garlic?
    I used to make this thing called 29 clove garlic soup.  It was thickened with bread, which was kind of neat, and it tasted garlicky not but super garlicky.  It was an Emeril Lagasse recipe.  I should dig that up and make it again.
  2. What’s something you enjoy that contains ginger?
    I’m half Japanese, so I care very deeply and passionately about ginger.  Of the (too many) unitaskers I keep in my kitchen, one of my favorites is the ceramic ginger grater (which actually works nicely with garlic too, so maybe it’s a duotasker).  Still, the ginger-containing thing I like best is something I’ve never made in my kitchen: gingerbread.  Holy cow.  Is there a better smell in the world than fresh-baked gingerbread?
  3. What’s something you enjoy that contains cloves?
    When I used to teach Romeo and Juliet to ninth-graders, we would end the unit with Renaissance Day, a day with recitations, dancing, games, and food.  I would sometimes bring a mulled cider that I rather liked.  Lots of cloves and cardamom.
  4. What’s something you enjoy that contains cinnamon?
    Cinnamon is good in everything, right?  I found a pretty good recipe online for slow-cooker Cincinnati chili, and it’s delicious.  One of my favorite things to make, really.  I’ve tweaked it enough over the years that it might not pass for the real deal anymore, but I love it.  Lots of cocoa and cinnamon.
  5. What’s something you enjoy that contains celery?
    So, I’ve hated celery for most of my life and still don’t like it much, but there are a few things I’ve learned to actually kind of like it in, if it’s chopped in pieces small enough.  Something about the mayo in tuna salad makes chopped celery kind of okay now, so I’m going to say that, although I do use it in (and remove it from) most of the soups and stews I make, too.  Celery flavor without the celery grossness.

Cute Animals

In ascending order, the cutest animals (not counting baby animals, almost all of which are cute):

  • Bunnies. Quiet thoughtfulness. I wonder if this impression I have of them is influenced by Watership Down.
  • Platypi. I think I relate to their unique, difficult-to-categorize place in the animal kingdom.
  • Aardvarks. Did you know that aardvarks are anteaters, but not all anteaters are aardvarks?
  • Polar bears. I could spend hours just watching polar bears. They were my favorite thing at the San Diego Zoo when I went in 1984.
  • Cats. I’m a recent convert, but one thing I love about them is the way they are often the only animate thing in cityscapes. Meowing is pretty cute, too.
  • Sheep. I don’t know what it is, but I am drawn to them. Their mild-manneredness and gentle demeanors? Not sure, but I want to own sheep someday.
  • Penguins. In that summer of 1984, I also went to Sea World, and if I’d been there alone, I’d have spent hours in the Penguin Encounter.
  • Dogs. Oh, my goodness. Man’s best friend, indeed.
  • Sea otters. I really want to plan my next trip around seeing some otters in California sometime in the next year. They’re so cute!

I Thig I Hab a Code

I felt it the moment the cold hit me. It was about 12:30 Friday night. At 12:25, I was fine. At 12:30, I was sniffling and my nose was running. I did the podcast anyway and then Saturday I did Cathy’s good-bye picnic at Kailua Beach. Spent all day Sunday in bed and then more of the same Monday.

Actually, Sunday night I got a little crazy (too much sleep and bad dreams to boot), so I walked down the hill, picked up some groceries, and had dinner at McD’s. Monday night I did the same thing. It’s not a lot, but it’s fresh air, it’s getting my body moving, it’s getting out of the house. Made a big difference both nights, too, but then I got home sorta amped and I’m worried about getting my body clock back in sync with the rest of the world in time for the start of school.

The best thing this week is the phone call I got from the director of the M.Ed. program I’m trying to get enrolled in for the fall. She worked the phones as if it were her own son’s education at stake, and finally convinced the business office at UH-Hilo to release my transcripts, meaning I’m pretty much good to go, once I secure the tuition money. Whew.

I ordered a couple of books last week and one of them, the new Boondocks anthology, has kept me pretty busy between naps. The first collection, Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper, was the funniest thing I’d read in ages. Subversive, creative, unpredictable, and just hilarious. Aaron McGruder has moved almost completely away from the cultural stuff and totally into the political stuff, which he explains in the intro to A Right to Be Hostile, which I didn’t purchase because it was made up of the first two collections, plus some new strips. I appreciate his convictions and his willingness to walk where other artists don’t go, but he sacrifices humor in order to go there. A lot of humor. I’ve chuckled a few times, but mostly my response is just a quick nod. The first collection had me howling. It’s kinda sad, but as I’ve said, I totally understand why McGruder feels he has to go there.

R has come home from her trip and has been strangely friendly. It’s still not what it was — I mean, if I don’t call her first, we don’t talk at all — but she’s actually picked the phone up when I’ve called a couple of times, and when I called last night because of my bad dreams, she at least called me back the next afternoon. I don’t know if that’s progress or what. She and Mr. HBA have come back from their trip apparently still close. I was kinda hoping they’d come back hating each other. I’m terrible, I know.

My latest cooking project has been whole-wheat biscuits. I started with the most basic of recipes (whole-wheat flour, water, oil, baking powder, and salt) with the intention of working with one or two more ingredients at a time. The trouble is the whole-wheat flour. Most of the recipes I’ve seen call for half whole-wheat, half all-purpose. It’s not the easiest of ingredients to work with, this whole-wheat flour. You can see why flour became what it did — I mean, who doesn’t prefer light and fluffy to dense and hard? Then, it seems that all the things that make biscuits good are on the bad list: eggs, shortening, milk, and butter. What’s the point of making something with whole-wheat flour if you’re going to mix it with an equal amount of all-purpose flour and then add all that other stuff? There’d better be some point, or I’ve got four and a half pounds of whole-wheat flour that’ll just go to waist.

The best thing about the picnic at Kailua (a beach I have never liked) was Harry Potter talk with Anto. I’m playing with the idea of planning a talk-about-Harry get-together for grownups. Some decently priced restaurant with a party room, like the Wisteria (r.i.p.) used to have would be cool.

Sonya Thomas Needs a New Nickname

By now you already know who Sonya Thomas is — she’s that amazingly petite and slender Korean-American woman (I’m assuming the American part, actually) who finished second at this year’s Nathans Famous hot-dog eating championship at Coney Island on the fourth of July. I first saw her on Jimmy Kimmel and was really impressed. She’s pleasantly nice and silly, like a lot of my friends, and seemed like someone I could hang out with.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s kinda cute, too. Well, maybe it hurts a little, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Sonya’s really good at what she does, obviously, and routinely beats up on men twice or three times her size in the competitive eating arena. I really like her attitude — she seems to understand that in order to be seriously competitive, you’ve got to take the competition aspect seriously, but she also seems to understand that this is competitive eating we’re talking about, not Olympic swimming.

I root for Sonya whenever I get the chance to see her in action, despite my moral objection to competitive eating itself. I’m only mildly opposed to competitive eating anyway, and even less opposed to competitive eating when its participants are cute, slender, Korean-American women.

However, what I really hate is this nickname she’s got. “The Black Widow.” It’s in her URL, even. Every freakin’ time she’s spoken about or spoken to, it’s Black Widow this, and Black Widow that, and the name just doesn’t fit! Plus, it’s a name she chose for herself. A good nickname needs to be something someone else hangs on you, unless you’re a professional wrestler, and while competitive eating as a sport is only a step ahead of pro wrestling, the outcome at least is not predetermined, so it is more contest than show, and in this arena, you’ve got to let the nicknames come however they come.

So that’s my first problem. She chose the name for herself. Another thing that bugs me is she doesn’t look like someone you’d call “The Black Widow,” does she? Heck no. She’s too cute. Too girly. Her appearance doesn’t strike any kind of fear into anyone. She’s more like a little kitty than a black widow.

This is a smaller objection, but the Black Widow name is also undoubtedly racial. I don’t mean racist-racial; I just mean race-related racial. I don’t mind that by itself, but because she doesn’t look anything like what a Black Widow should look like, everyone’s ready acceptance of this nickname seems to be related to the fact that she’s an Asian woman. She’s got that exotic, mysterious look that Asian women have when surrounded by Caucasians and Africans. Of course, she’s only got it in its minimal amount, because as I say, there’s nothing spooky about this look. She doesn’t look like she could trap you in her web, or deceive you until it’s too late, or lure you into submitting to her will, or any of these mysterious, exotic ideas men get when they see lovely Asian women. Again, I don’t have a problem with wanting to call an Asian woman “The Black Widow,” but if the only reason you’re calling her that is that she’s Asian, when the name doesn’t match her for a second, well, that’s wrong. A little.

My biggest problem with Sonya Thomas taking this name for herself, though, is that the name was already in use by someone else for ten years before Sonya burst upon the scene in 2003. Yes. There’s already a Black Widow, and she didn’t name herself — in fact, she was reluctant to allow people to call her that, but someone pinned the name on her, someone asked her about it, someone published it, and that was that. She was the Black Widow.

Jeanette Lee, one of the best professional billiards players in the world and certainly the most celebrated, is the only Black Widow I will acknowledge. Look at her! She’s got that look. She looks like someone who, even if someone else had the name before her, would easily wrest that title away because here’s your prototypical Black Widow. When she first tried to make a living shooting stick, she’d appear in pool halls and when the guys tried to hustle her for her money, she’d kick their butts, outhustling them (“I only took money from guys who were out to take my money,” she has said). That’s why a guy who ran a pool hall began to call her that! So not only is it a name someone else gave her, there was a good reason for it. The name fit.

Plus, it’s billiards, which I’ll admit is only a few ladder rungs above competitive eating in the sports world (I love pool, but it’s no sport!), but it is much more suited to having a star named The Black Widow. Look at the nicknames in competitive eating: “Cookie” Jarvis, “Hungry” Hardy, “Yellowcake” Subich. Sonya needs a name like that. How about Blackberry? Sonya “Blackberry” Thomas. See? She looks more like a blackberry than a black widow, that’s for sure.

And it’s not like nobody knew about Jeanette Lee. She had a pinball machine named after her, which was in all the arcades in the country back in the mid-nineties, called Black Widow. And lots of people from all over play pool and would therefore have seen Jeanette’s posters on the walls of billiards halls. Jeanette has endorsed Cuetec cues (one of which I am the proud owner!) for a decade, and Cuetec has done its best to make sure everyone sees and knows Jeanette.

So. Sonya “Blackberry” Thomas, if you’re out there vanity-surfing someday and stumble upon this humble online journal, take it from an admirer. You’re no Black Widow. Do yourself a favor and get a different name. I’ll even pay for the domain name. And set up your website. Whoever’s doing your site now is doing you no favors!

And Jeanette, if you’re vanity-surfing someday and stumble upon this humble online journal, give me a call sometime if things don’t work out with you and your husband. I’ll let you play with my cue stick.