Month: August 2006 Page 2 of 5

House Update

Quite a bit of the stuff is packed. No insurmountable obstacles looming.

I’ve been in a foul mood the last few days, mostly caused by a few minor issues and a lot of worry. The more stuff is packed/cleaned/resolved, the better I feel, though, so it works out.

Auuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggghhhh!

Word of the Day

nudiustertian (nu-di-uhs-TUR-shuhn) adjective

Of or relating to the day before yesterday.

[From Latin nudius tertius, literally, today is the third day.]

( via wordsmith.org)

My Brother, the Yellow Journalist!

Knippling selected for newspaper job

BY C. SHEPPARD
Billy McMacken, publisher of the Brookings Register, has announced the hiring of Matt Knippling to join the Moody County Enterprise staff. Knippling will begin his employment August 28th and will replace ML Headrick, who worked for the newspaper for over 20 years. Knippling lives in Eden Prairie, MN and works for Home Depot, along with doing free lance graphics work. He is a 1995 graduate of Flandreau High School and received a degree in graphic arts from SDSU. Knippling and his wife, Erica, will be moving to this area in the near future.

Loituma

I ran into this the other day and didn’t think much more about it. Yesterday, I heard an article on NPR about it. While the image that accompanies the song is obviously anime (I missed where it was from–if you know, tell me), the band is Loituma, a Finnish folk music quartet. The NPR article said that some Finnish folk music was intended to be easily improvised, so a single song could be performed for hours on end, creating a trancelike effect in the players (and the listeners).

Finnish isn’t supposed to be closely related to other languages…I wonder if the same barbarian tribes that ended up in Japan split down the middle and travelled to Finland, too.

Update:
Now, we just need the same thing for Kate Bush’s Army Dreamers.

Graphic Novel Review: Castle Waiting

By Linda Medley.

Stories tend to be too tightly written. After having read Castle Waiting, I realized that. The storyline goes all over the place and doesn’t so much leave you hanging at the end but blow out the light and crawl into bed.

The story starts with the “Sleeping Beauty” folktale. New baby, twelve witches/fairies, one wicked witch who was left out, the spell, the briars, the falling asleep, etc. The prince comes, wakes the princess, and they ride off to the prince’s homeland, silhouetted in the sunset.

Now what?

The castle becomes a waypoint, a safe haven. The story shifts now to focus on a traveller, running away from her husband in order to give birth to her lover’s child. She makes her way to Castle Waiting.

Now what?

Well, the traveller likes stories, and ends up asking the story of Sister Peace of the order of Solicitines. Sister Peace tells her story, which involves the abbess of the order telling her story…

Now what?

Well, hopefully a sequel. Castle Waiting ends (after 452 pages) with the main part of Sister Peace’s story, but there are a lot of loose ends. What about Iron Henry, who has lost his son and is learning to love again? What about the traveller’s husband? And who was her lover anyway (here’s me, not spoiling a significant plot point, aren’t I so good)? And so on.

A wandering story. Even most episodic stories aren’t this wandery. Even Scheherezade manages to tie things up more snugly. But good.

The art is great, too. Most significant for yours truly, the people’s faces look like people’s faces. Not pretty, not monstrously ugly, but individual and expressive. Even the fairytale characters (for example, Sir Chess, a knight with a horse’s head) manage to reveal their souls with an ease that makes Disney and Pixar look contrived. Oh! And I should mention that this edition is one of the more beautifully put-together books I’ve seen in a long time. It has the bookmark ribbon, the internal motifs, the color scheme, the rough-cut edges…everything.

–How come you never tell the rest of that story?
–What, about how I’m constantly plagued by a pesky demon?
—About how Clarice really didn’t want you to leave. About how you were supposed to be the next Abbess?
–Cripes, were you born in a barn?!! Get your feet off my bed! Why would I tell them about that? I think an Abbess with a pack of mastiffs is just as good as one with a brace of lions…
–Maybe they’d take you more seriously if you did.
–If they took me more seriously, it would make my job of helping them even harder.
–Why do you bother? It’s a thankless job. And anyone who ends up here is halfway to Hell anyway…
–That’s not true, and you know it. Besides, we don’t all have to get into Heaven through the front gate.
–Ha! The back gate of Heaven stands awful close to the front gate of Hell, Sister!

Cookbook Review: Cook What You Love

By Bob and Melinda Blanchard.

I checked this out from the library, but it will be a purchase after we get settled in after the move.

So…with all the free recipes online, why would I need to buy cookbooks? (Why? asks Lee. Whyyyyyyy?) The authors address this question in the introduction, and I agree with the answer they quote in their book:

“Like other good books, the best cookbooks have strong voices that lure readers into unfamiliar worlds, give colorful observations about those places, and, above all, reveal a passionate interest in sharing pleasure.” (Barbara Haber, food historian.)

Online recipes (not the food described, but the writing style, if that makes any sense) are usually straightforward and colorless. “Do this. Do that. Don’t let this happen.” The recipes in the best cookbooks, on the other hand, imply the outlook of their writers. “Do this, because it will make your tongue melt. I did that the other day, and while it isn’t for everyone, it made me want to dance around naked.”*

The recipes in Cook What You Love are appealing. The first section, breakfast, begins with a short essay about the joys of making breakfast in bed, so while I was reading this section, I was imagining my husband bringing me breakfast in bed. “Yes,” I said to myself, “I would eat Crunchy Coconut French Toast in bed. I would eat Orange-Currant Muffins and One-Eyed Jacks and Spanish Scrambled Eggs in bed…” It all sounded good. I then asked myself whether I would cook all those recipes if it meant getting up early to do it…well, that one was harder, but I ended up with a “yes” there, too. As I read my way through the book, I realized I would cook anything in the book, just so I could eat it, and that, I think, is the mark of a good cookbook.

The mark of a really good cookbook is when it can talk you into trying something you normally wouldn’t try, either because you don’t care for it or it’s a pain in the butt to make. I found myself actually considering roasting cherry tomatoes, even though I don’t like them, just because of the description in the book:

“We’re always looking for ways to add color and texture to a recipe. Food seems to taste better if it looks beautiful. Roasted whole cherry tomatoes are a quick, easy way to brighten up a platter of these or any other scrambled eggs. Just toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400F for about 10 minutes or until hot and wrinkled. Serve them hot or at room temperature.”

Hm….I’ll think about it. I keep promising myself a trip to the farmer’s market. Maybe I’ll pick up some cherry tomatoes and give it a go.

*Also, online recipes usually don’t have pictures. Mmmm….it’s food erotica.

Kids’ Book Review: Tim Egan’s Roasted Peanuts

(Age 3-4 on up.)

I like Tim Egan’s kids’ books. They aren’t spectacular. They aren’t a delight to read (not the way books by Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak are). What they are is literate. They are, in fact, the most “literate” kids’ books I’ve ever come across.

Most kids’ books assume kids can’t assimilate a mature storyline. The characters have to have one main trait, and that’s it. Relationships are straightforward. Conflicts are fully resolved. There’s a moral to the story…generalities, true, but true for most of the lackluster kids’ books I’ve had to read over the years.

Anyway, Roasted Peanuts is the story of two friends, Sam and Jackson, who love baseball. Sam is a natural. Jackson can throw far and accurately, but not fast or hard enough to excel as a pitcher. Sam makes the town’s minor league team. Jackson doesn’t. “At least one of us will be a legend,” Jackson says. At first, Jackson sulks and won’t go to Sam’s games, but Sam’s playing sucks so bad Jackson takes a job as a peanut vendor, so he can heckle his friend during the games. (Great picture of a quietly grinning horse in a baseball uniform here.) Sam’s playing improves magnificently, and Jackson establishes himself as a legend, throwing bags of peanuts a hundred rows away and continuing to work at the ball park even after Sam’s seven-year run with the Grazers is over. The end.

See? No daring rescues, no bad guys turned into good guys by the application of virtue, no adults stepping in with overblown advice, etc. Just a nice little literate story. I’ve also read Friday Night at Hodges’ Cafe, Serious Farm, Metropolitan Cow, and Burnt Toast on Davenport Street. I think Burnt Toast has been my favorite so far.

Beauty and the Beast

Disney has made all kinds of sequels and tie-in videos for the movie Beauty and the Beast, but all of them show the Beast as a Beast, and not a man. Apparently, the man isn’t interesting enough to be a character.

Thoughts about Houses

I’m not sure what the train of thought was, but I was thinking about some of the many books that show unreal or distorted houses. No, wait–I’m reading Mountain of Black Glass at work, and one of the character groups was travelling through a VR world consisting of a single, unending house. Anyway, I made a few mental leaps and ended up here:

Houses are containers of meaning. Certain things can only occur in certain types of houses–luxury, for example, is an idea that will only rarely occur in a hovel, even metaphorically. A house is like a language. You can express certain ideas in some languages better than others. Some ideas, perfectly obvious and rational in one language, become nonsense in another language. Or in another house.

Before writing was such a widespread skill (and paper so affordable), people practiced the art of memory. The art involves changing ideas into symbolic images–for example, changing the idea of “prudence” into the image of a woman with eyes on the back of her head.* The images would be sequenced in a certain order, so one would be able to recall the entire sequence if only one of the images was remembered. And, usually, the images would be placed inside the image of a house, with wings of the house representing general areas of though, and the rooms representing particular subjects, etc.

Many people dream about houses. Often it’s a house they have never seen in their lives–but for the rest of their lives, they will dream about this house and no other. Inside the house are strange doorways, infinite passageways, unknown objects and furniture, and people whose faces they do not know but find familiar. These dreams are often imbued with the sense that something important has been communicated, but, upon waking, their dreamers only say, “I dreamed about that house again last night.”

Lee said the other day, “I hope this house will become a haven.” I agree. It seems like a good place for it.

*This was one of the traditional mnemonic images used. The art is documented back to ancient Greece.

Book Review: Dzur, by Stephen Brust

Not!

What can I say without spoiling the plot for my beloved spouse, who hasn’t read the previous book in the series, Issola. Auuuuggghhh! Give me back my husband, you foul MMORPGs! He isn’t reading enough books anymore! And Issola is in a box somewhere, waiting for the big move! Double aaaaaaauuuuuuggggghhhhh!

I’m hoping the next book in the series will be about Vlad’s adventures in the East–he keeps dropping hints about them–but it probably won’t come out until the same weekend as the last Harry Potter book or something.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

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