Month: January 2008

THX for Eyes

It doesn’t take much to make Ray and me almost pee our pants. A must-see for all Star Wars fans…

It had to happen once…

The “It’s All Greek to Scooby-Doo” episode is unique.

Velma announces the centaur is none other than Sir Portsmouth, then unmasks the villain–who turns out to be someone else.

Velma: What? Who is this?

Archaeologist: That’s my assistant!

Velma: But I’ve never even met her!

A completely different musical interlude.

Don’t have to rich to be my girl
Don’t have to cool to rule my World! (of Warcraft)

Musical Interlude: Arvo Paart

An Estonian minimalist composer. I first listened to Te Deum, in 1993, a year after I’d started college, while I was dating a boy I shouldn’t have. He wanted to buy me things, so I had him buy me that album; I bought him a copy, too. One of those cases where something
you picked up because you were dating someone sticks around.

Sadly, most things don’t. My fascinations with Star Trek: The Original Series, REM, the Clancy Brothers, and speed metal have faded and been tinted in sepia.

Other things, like Neil Gaiman and Te Deum‘sMagnificat,” remain.

Shaun of the Dead.

For everyone who said, “You know who should watch Shaun of the Dead? De,” well, I did.



Okay, maybe my problem with doing revisions is that I’ve been writing the wrong things. I’ve been working on Alien Blue, and it’s been…fun.

Hey there, missy. I mean, miss. I’m Bill Trout, proprietor of the Caveman Brewery. What can I get you? Here’s what you should say: “Bill, I got a hankerin’ for something unusual today.” Because I got a new beer I just finished up, and I been itchin’ to try it out on someone new. I call it “Alien Blue.” First pint’s on the house, come on, what do you say?

Second pint will cost you a night.

Writerly Ramble.

Maybe this is an old idea, but it’s a new idea for me.

The point of the philosopher’s stone was to purify baser metals and turn them to gold, that is, the “parts” of the metals that were impure would be removed:

Matter transmutation, the old goal of alchemy, enjoyed a moment in the sun in the 20th century when physicists were able to convert platinum atoms into gold atoms via a nuclear reaction. However, the new gold atoms, being unstable isotopes, lasted for under five seconds before they broke apart. More recently, reports of table-top element transmutation—by means of electrolysis or sonic cavitation—were the pivot of the cold fusion controversy of 1989. None of those claims have yet been reliably duplicated. (Wikipedia, Alchemy.)

However, gold is relatively useless. What is wanted is energy. And we have a philosopher’s stone for that–nuclear reactions, which transmute otherwise useless material into energy. There are prices to be paid for the transmutation when one is talking about nuclear energy…but rarely if you’re talking about the philosopher’s stone.

…I was trying to figure out a story for that when I realized there already was one: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Beaten to the punchline again.

Writerly Ramble.

Wow. I haven’t posted for a while…

I had to put Iron Road on hiatus. One, I’m stuck, or at least processing in the background, because an entirely new element came up. I was having trouble building the other world — as much as I love “other worlds” in my stories, they’re such a bitch for me to make up. It’s easier for me to write about the “real” world. I can do research, and in the course of my research, I can find connections, coincidences, and themes. Made-up worlds, it’s harder to find that kind of gold. So I was messing around with some of the history of the settlers of the world, from Germany in the mid-19th century, and hit $$$. Turns out the same time (more or less) the rest of Europe was going through revolutions, so was Germany. Some of the brains behind the revolution included Richard Wagner…and the Brothers Grimm. In Dresden, of all places. (The present time of the story would be 1946, with the Dresden bombing in February 1945.) So now I have both a framework for the world that isn’t purely based on fantasy (since the settlers would have taken their culture and conflicts with them), and I have an extra conflict between the settlers and the characters, who were part of the forces that bombed their hometown. Which is good, but something in the back of my head is going, “…and how does this all work out?”

I also happened upon a good (if long and tangential) book about Nazi scientists, Hitler’s Scientists: Science, War, and the Devil’s Pact, which also needs to trickle down to my subconscious. I think I’m going to want a book on Hitler’s relationship with the occult, and I may need to borrow some Hellboys I haven’t read from somebody (probably Dave), which aren’t exactly right, but would be good reading nonetheless. Oh, I picked up Blood and Iron, not the Hellboy graphic novel, from the library. It’s about this family, the von Moltkes, that ended up trying to assassinate Hitler. I might make two of the characters related, because that would be fun.

If you’re interested in WWII, a good movie is Zentropa (aka Europa):

As it stands, “Zentropa” (or “Europa” as it is referred to outside the US) is one of the most fascinating and artistic views of the bleakness and almost psychotic uncertainty that oozed out of post WWII Europe, namely the decimated German landscape, whose physical horrors were matched only by the damage to the psyche of its people. Von Trier brilliantly paints his vision on screen. You will feel like you are watching some lost espionage noir classic from the late 1940’s with the perfectly lighted black and white scenes…

I don’t want to blow the plot, but the movie can also be seen as a modern-update version of Little Red Riding Hood, if you like. Very myffic.*

Second reason Iron Road’s on hiatus: I have to get Alien Blue in gear for the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference in April. Here’s the conference brochure, with more details.

Anyway, digging through the rubble. I was asking myself whether this much work will be worth it and got to the point where one of the characters dies. Waaaaaaah! Every time I read the book, I cry at that spot. Okay, there must be something worth saving there…

*With extra “myff”

Light & Art

I went to the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center yesterday to see the “Impressionist and Modern Masters” exhibit. It’s the first time I’ve been back since they remodeled. Wow. It’s big. Wow. I forgot you have to be careful not to lock your knees when you’re in a museum. I was there for about three hours.

They bought several Chihuly pieces. Three of the chandeliers — one in the lobby, one in the bar, and one in the Hispanimerica exhibit — along with a bunch of the oversized coral polyp ones, which they placed on the hallway into the permanent collection rooms, mostly in shadow, so you felt like you were walking into an undersea grotto.

Another highlight (for me) in the permanent collection: Robert Motherwell. Like Japanese calligraphy art in an alien language that you can still understand.

The impressionist and modern masters exhibit led me to the following conclusion about art: people have been abusing the concept of light for political/philosophical reasons for a long time. The exhibit was split into three or four main areas: 1650-1790ish, 1790ish-1870, 1870-1914 (and possibly 1914-1950).

1650-1790: The Spotlight of God shines forth, as if to say, “Hey, dumbass! I’m the KING!!!” (When you look at the paintings, there are bright spots of paint over dark shapes.) (Subjects were famous, wealthy, or both. Didn’t see any landscapes. Lots of still lifes.)

1790-1870: The Ideal comes from within (a la Enlightenment). Glowglowglowglowglow! (The light areas of the painting are layers of light colors. This picture was from the permanent collection, not the exhibit, but I couldn’t find the Teresa of Avila I wanted.) (Subjects were symbolic, either of pagan or Chrisitian icons. Landscapes showed the sun just beyond the horizon.)

1870-1914: Light shines on stuff. Get over it! By the way, this is what I saw… (The paintings aren’t so much tricky layers of paint as they are oddly-shaped slabs, streaks, or pixels of paint. Like a predecessor of TVs.) (This would be the same time as the industrial revolution. Subjects were just people; landscapes started to get sunny.)

1914-1950ish: First, light goes into your eye. Then your brain. So what is it we’re seeing anyway? Brains. We’re seeing brains. (When I have a sinus headache, this is how it starts to look. Another picture not at the exhibit.) (Subjects were a combination of the ordinary and the myffick — the painters all had personal mythologies, which one may or may not relate to.)

Special case: Jackson Pollock. Something that doesn’t really come through in the pictures of his paintings is that he doesn’t wait for the paint to dry. The colors, still wet, swirl together. It’s like looking at a fractal — each level of investigation is just as messy as the one above it.

Recipe: Chocolate Pots de Creme

A pot de creme = homemade chocolate pudding. It’s creme brulee, with chocolate, without burnt sugar. It’s richer and more grown-up (but, conversely, less comforting) than regular, cooked chocolate puddings.

I used this recipe on New Year’s Day.* Although it only coughs up eight tiny, miniscule, itsy-bitsy, possibly even fussy (because you really should use separate containers, to prevent 1) overcooking and 2) fights) little puddings, think of it as eight large pieces of cake worth of calories, condensed. And totally low-carb.**

Now, the important element here is the chocolate. I used two bars of Green & Black’s Maya Gold. Dark, dark chocolate, still my biased favorite. The pots de creme were dark. Ray didn’t like it; it was too bitter. I loved it. Everyone else, I think, was too full to care, and, admittedly, they don’t like chocolate as much as I do.

But it almost called out for more bitterness. Coffee bitterness. I’m thinking you could really get down into the primal flavor of coffee + chocolate with this stuff. What’s your favorite espresso drink? (Well, honestly, mine’s a good cappuccino, but that’s almost more about the texture and the way it sinks into the cockles of your heart like a good chicken noodle soup than it is about a particular flavor. Almost.) But anyway, the interplay of chocolate and coffee should be pretty yummy here.

If I live, I will let you know.


  • I melted the chocolate with the milk and did not quite reach a simmer; did not strain through sieve as the temp never hit high enough to mess with the milk proteins.
  • Didn’t use boiling water, only hot (which may have affected cooking time).
  • I raised the temperature to 350F after 45 minutes of the damned things not setting up. I’m halfway up a mountain; YMMV.
  • I normally throw creme brulees almost immediately in the fridge and end up with small cracks, which the sugar covers. I actually left the pots out on the counter for an hour as directed, no cracks. La! Let the light shine through the crack in my head 🙂

**Ha! I almost had you there, didn’t I?

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