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November 2009
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many things make a post

* Remember - "oy" is just "yo" backwards.

* A Regency Romance in 2 minutes.

* Julie Powell on what negative book reviews say about the reviewer.

* New tabletop machine lets you sous vide dans le chapeau. No, wait, that's "in hat." Um, hang on, let's see how much high school French y brain can dredge up... dans le chat? No, um. Merde. Try this: sous vide in your house.

* You know how sometimes you fall into an illustrator's work and simply can't get up? Just did that with Barry Moser. (hat tip to Jules at 7 Imp.)

* It's nice to know that Ann Powers is as smitten with Lady Gaga as I am. She states the reasons with greater lucidity than I ever could. There's a reason I rarely write about music.

* I am just not sure whether to be appalled or encouraged by the sheer number of recipes there are for Chex Mix.

* While this list of 17 Things About Cats is fun, what's better is discovering all of the other lists on The Oatmeal. Like, say, 8 Ways to Tell If Your Loved Ones Plan to Eat You.

* In case you've ever wondered: how the National Weather Service measures snowfall.

* I might have to make these Retro Cupcake ornaments with the kids over the break - but first I need to come up with a system to keep the Boy from inhaling the glitter.

* Two great stocking stuffers: The Martini badge and the Ritalin v. cross stitch magnet. 

* Oh, Onion. I just can't quit you: Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths.

but what does it *mean?*

I'm not a big sharer-of-dreams. My dreams are of interest only to me, I reckon, and aren't anything all that unusual. Everyone has that dream about wearing sun-god robes while women throw little pickles at you, right?*

 But there's this dream I keep having -- for, like six years now -- that I can't quite figure out. Please put on your amateur Freud hats** and help me out.

The backstory: when we moved here, we had about three weeks notice. In those three weeks, we had to get our Knoxville house on the market, pack it, find a house up here, figure out how to move all of our crap (and three cats) 750 miles all the while dealing with a 14-month old. Did I mention that my mental state was still less than optimal? It was. And this, well, it was a lot to deal with.

Long story short - this was the best move we ever made and have no intention of leaving, as long as we are both employed in some way. We were both more than ready to leave Knoxville. But the process of the move was traumatic. 

So in the dream, which I have ever few weeks, the Hub has forced us to move to some far away place and I am bewildered and pissed off about the whole thing. We're already in the new place and I'm trying to figure out why and what now. I have on occasion woken up ticked off and seconds away from yelling at said Spouse, who has the gall to still be asleep and oblivious. 

While the outline of the dream is always the same -- new place, no idea why, rage -- the location is always different. Last night it was Miami. Time before that it was Beijing. Not long ago it was some wee town in Pennsyltucky.  I'm pretty much over the move, frankly. Clearly, the whole thing has started to represent something else -- but I have zero concept what that might be. 

And, no, there I have no simmering rage at/for the Hub. Really.  

Anyone care to take a whack at it? Do I really just need a vacation?

In other news, I made a darn pretty loaf of bread last night.



Ruhlman's Ratio bread, baked in a Dutch oven. Yum.

* Name that movie.

** It tickles me to imagine what an "amateur Freud hat" would look like.

qotd, Chuckles the Clown

"Here was a piece of TV that told me a secret: Even the adults I was trying so hard to imitate were barely maintaining their own facades. It taught me that in some ways, all comedy is inappropriate — that's why it's funny — and that making jokes about things that are not laughing matters can keep darkness temporarily at bay. I sucked that black humor into my system and carried it through the next few bad years like an internal suit of armor — a way I could walk through the world and feel stronger and tougher than I was."

-- From Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris' eulogy for David Lloyd, the man behind some amazing episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cheers, and Taxi.

shameless self-promotion, 326 in a series

Snow day yesterday, which made getting to the blog difficult because the Diva was home. Given that her newest trick is to make like a ninja, sneak up behind me and startle the stuffing out of me*, I'm too busy glancing over my shoulder to focus on the blog when I know she's in the house.

The lack of blog worked out, tho, since I haven't really been up to anything all that noteworthy lately. While I could write about the end of the semester and all of its joys - like students who haven't been to class in weeks griping about "how they need an A" - I'll spare you. This isn't because I don't like a good rant but because I'd be violating about 9 different privacy laws, even if I name no names. So there's that. 

I did, however, contribute to the Baltimore City Paper's Top Ten Books list. I dunno if it was just a good year for SF/F or a bad year for "straight" fiction. Still, it's nice to see so many spec. fic. titles on the list. 

* I actually squeaked like a dog's squeezy toy yesterday afternoon. She found that insanely amusing. I did not.

many things make a post

* Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, Case Study #289. I wonder if Blankfein named his summer house "Versailles..."

* I'm all aswoon over these pattern books from the V&A but have no idea what the heck I'd do with them.

* Mostly for my Dad: Make your own bitters.

* Changing the way we think about drug-resistant bacteria. Hint: it doesn't involve shaming people about antibiotics.

*Modern design craft projects for kids?

* I want someone to come steampunk my house. Additionally, I would like someone to also come clean it.

* It would be best if I never brought these into my house.

* This vanity plate makes me kinda ill.

* The idea of a sing-a-long Jesus Christ Superstar is genius. My love for that musical is great and abiding. I wouldn't even need the subtitles.

* This New York Times' magazine piece about Elizabeth Weil's perfectly imperfect marriage is full of great quotes that made me want to like the piece as a whole. And, yet, I'm left with wanting her to just stop whining already. Perhaps that is why I live in the stolid northeast hinterlands.

* So these are cute. (Plus, there are gnomes.)

the cleanliness continuum

First - let me just publicly say how very thrilled I am at being on Dooce's holiday gift list. I did a little (OK - big) dance of joy when I saw it, which was shortly after Katie (who helped hook Heather up with a copy of Gothic) sent a passel of email asking if I'd seen it. Someone ought to hire Katie to do PR or somethin'. 

Anyway - thrilled.

Second - a story from the holiday past, which I'm putting here so that I can remember it and get any other family members who read the blog (both of them) to contribute if they want:

One of the many reasons why I wished my Dad lived closer is that he tells all of these great stories about the Italian side of the family. One of which, naturally, follows. 

Strike that. It's not a story, more like a character sketch. A minor difference, yes, but I'm striving for greater accuracy. First time for everything.

My great-grandmother was called Mama Lane for the back half of her life because my Dad couldn't say her real name when he was a kid. My daughter, the Diva, is sort of named after Mama Lane. I say "sort of" because I've now seen her ostensible first name spelled about nine different ways, from "Maddlena" to "Magdalena" to "Madeleina." Let's just stick with Mama Lane. 

Mama Lane was born in Italy in 1900. No, we're not sure where. Yes, I know it's a big country. That's what makes it a challenge. Well, that and the fact that that side throws everything away.  She moved here as a fairly young woman, because my grandmother, her first child, was born in Pittsburgh in 1920. Still, Mama Lane never did fully embrace her new home.

Actually, that's an oversimplification. Mama Lane viewed the world as a cartesian plane. The two ends of the x-axis were "Italian" or "American," which meant every flavor of person (black, white, Asian, etc) who wasn't Italian. The two ends of the y-axis were "keeps a clean house," which for that end of the family means a house so sanitary that you could perform surgery on the garage floor and run no risk of infection,* and "does not keep a clean house." 

It was best, of course, to be in the "Italian and Clean House" quadrant. It was acceptable, in her eyes, to be in the "American and Clean House" quadrant. As for the other two, well, it was better to be an American with a messy house than an Italian with a messy house. Italians should know better.

I know that my house would give her fits. It's not like Hoarders-level bad, just full of the chaos of two kids and parents with jobs. And, unlike in Mama Lane's house, my children are allowed to sit on the furniture. Most of it, anyway. I joked that if she came over, her head would probably just explode. No, my Dad replied, she'd just start cleaning.

While he was here, Dad brought a copy of a picture of Mama Lane holding me**, which had to have been taken 37ish years ago. Now that I'm a little older, you can see the resemblance between us. I don't have her my-way-or-the-highway attitude -- but I also didn't emigrate when I was a teenager to a city where I didn't even speak the primary language. the circumstances under which I've lived can't compare, really. 

Mama Lane died when I was 4. I do remember, however, the day my Dad got the call that she had passed, because I can clearly recall asking my mom why my Dad looked so sad when he hung up the phone. 

It's a shame, really. I think we would have had a lot to talk about, once she finished scrubbing everything done. If nothing else, she could teach me how to make sauce, which I still can't get anywhere close to right. 


* These are folks who washed their walls and ironed underpants. Granted, it was Pittsburgh at its grimiest but, still, washed walls. 

** If I can remember to do so and anyone cares, I'll ask my Dad if it's OK to put it up. 

whatever works

A quick cute kid story:

When he is conscious, the Boy is more or less potty trained. It's the unconscious hours that are still giving him issues. Scott or I usually wake him up to pee just as we're turing in for the night but wee hours (heh) accidents still happen. Such is the nature of small boys, I'm told.

So last night, I decided to spend the bulk of the night lying in bed and reading because Scott wasn't home. I know, it's very exotic. I live on the edge.

At 10ish, as I was lying there, I heard the Boy's door open, then saw him stand in the hall and spin in circles. He'd clearly been asleep and had sheet creases on his face.  One hand was holding his blanket; the other was firmly clenched on his penis, in order to physically hold the pee in. Which, like to many other kid behaviors, was cute and mildly disturbing simultaneously. 

Still, the trick worked. He made it to the bathroom sans incident. Baby steps, yes?

a couple of things

I will never get the hang of Wednesday.

Two random but related tidbits that I include here because I don't know how long the links will last --

* I normally avoid Kathleen Parker's column, which is syndicated in the local almost daily. Part of it is an ideology thing; part of it is because I don't think she's an engaging writer. But today's drew me in -- and starts to explain why I can get behind some Republicans but am frightened of them en masse. It's nice to know that some of those who lean to the right feel the same.

* Speaking of Reactionary nuts: the River Valley guy doesn't understand how science works. I am unsurprised but still disappointed. 

Unrelated - my most recent blog post at Locus is live. Please comment if you see fit. Also, which books should I reread next?