Month: October 2007 Page 2 of 3

Pissed off.

An atheist lists the reasons she’s angry at Christians, because a lot of Christians, as Christians are jerks or worse.

Okay, Christians: even Christ got angry on occaision. Wouldn’t Christ get angry at some of this stuff?

I’m angry — enraged — at the priests who molest children and tell them it’s God’s will. I’m enraged at the Catholic Church that consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, for years, acted to protect priests who molested children, and consciously and deliberately acted to keep it a secret, placing the Church’s reputation as a higher priority than, for fuck’s sake, children not being molested. And I’m enraged that the Church is now trying to argue, in court, that protecting child-molesting priests from prosecution, and shuffling those priests from diocese to diocese so they can molest kids in a whole new community that doesn’t yet suspect them, is a Constitutionally protected form of free religious expression.

And I’m angry that Jerry Falwell blamed 9/11 on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU, and the People For the American Way. I’m angry that the theology of a wrathful God exacting revenge against pagans and abortionists by sending radical Muslims to blow up a building full of secretaries and investment bankers… this was a theology held by a powerful, widely-respected religious leader with millions of followers.

I’m angry that huge swaths of public policy in this country — not just on same-sex marriage, but on abortion and stem-cell research and sex education in schools — are being based, not on evidence of which policies do and don’t work and what is and isn’t true about the world, but on religious texts written hundreds or thousands of years ago, and on their own personal feelings about how those texts should be interpreted, with no supporting evidence whatsoever — and no apparent concept of why any evidence should be needed.

I maintain that Christianity would be a great religion if it weren’t for two things:

  1. The insistence that somehow the Old Testament trumps the New
  2. Hypocrites

Too bad the inevitable direction of organized religion is to crawl in bed with hypocrites. And too bad I read so much 🙂

(via ***Dave)

Recipe: Hour Soup.

I was trying to figure out a name for this recipe…it’s kind of a fusion between Thai & Chinese versions of hot & sour soup, but what a terrible name for a recipe, right? “Fusion Hot & Sour Thai & Chinese Soup.” So I fused the words “hot” and “sour” together…also reflects approximate prep time, so why not?

I wasn’t brave enough to add eggs; it just sounded wrong when I made it. Maybe it’s because the Thai version doesn’t have eggs and is so much less RICH than the Chinese version. I didn’t have any lemongrass on hand, so I threw in a bag of Thai Chai and a bag of Ginger Lemongrass tea. For more authenticity, you could crush a stalk of lemongrass and throw in three or four kaffir lime leaves instead. But I was winging it.

1 1/2 c. uncooked shrimp (I used tail-on).

Thaw shrimp if necessary; remove tails and reserve.

1 box chicken broth (1 qt; use homemade if you have it*)
1 pt. water
8-10 tiny thai chilis (I have a bag of frozen ones; they keep forever if you can find them) or crushed red pepper to taste (say, 3-4 of the chilis you put in kung pao chicken)
1″ ginger, sliced into chunks
3 green onions (I have problems with them going bad, so I’ve started throwing them in the freezer for soup when they start getting brown)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Thai chai tea bag (or regular chai, or any tea containing lemongrass, or a combination, or 1 lemongrass stalk and 3-4 kaffir lime leaves, which is what you would add to real Thai soup)
Shrimp tails

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

1 box mushrooms, sliced into strips
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 T. turbindo/natural sugar (I would say use white sugar over regular brown, or maybe mirin instead)
1 T. sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. powdered, dried ginger
1 lime, peel grated into soup and juice squeezed into soup through
filter (to catch seeds)

Return to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are nearly done.

1 box silken tofu, diced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Shrimp

Add the tofu, cilantro, and shrimp and cook until the shrimp have turned pink all the way through. Remove from heat. Serve with thai hot sauce (or similar) on the side.

*I need to start marking chicken carcasses “Soup Corpse” or something similar, don’t I?

November is the Month of Busy.

So I signed up for the fall PPWC Writers Workshop today…it’s on November 3rd.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!

Here’s my brain, totally fried and running in circles. “Big step! Big step! Are you ready for this? Are you able to handle this? Do you deserve this?”

Well, you know, if writers were totally secure people, we wouldn’t need to get published, wouldn’t need attention, wouldn’t need to show off in front of other people, wouldn’t need to be writers…which means a continuous state of seppuku* for not being a good enough writer, for not having more blog hits, for stacking up rejections, etc.

The truth of November and NaNoWriMo has sunk in; I am now totally slacking off, which has the added benefit of being able to toss aside the Alien Blue revisions, which I didn’t mind as much as the YA revisions, but still, they’re revisions. Ha! I begin your revisions so I may gleefully avoid them!

Hm…I say slacking off, but what I mean is coping with Ray’s birthday and Halloween and parent-teacher conferences and eleventy bajillion documents and and and…

*Only to be avoided on days in which one receives checks. Or PayPal notices. Either is good.

Book Review: Territory

by Emma Bull.

Here are the reasons I can’t be objective about this book:

1. Freedom and Necessity (co-written by Stephen Brust) is one of my favorite books ever; the two writers are irrevocably tied in my brain now, so everything Emma Bull writes gets subconsciously compared to Stephen Brust. And I really like Stephen Brust, but he’s written, oh, twenty books or so, and Emma Bull has written maybe four.

2. The issues Ms. Bull seems to be dealing with in her writing (as a writer, not themes, I mean) are the ones I’ve been dealing with lately. (I’m not even going to try to figure out whether that’s coincidence or transference.) So while I pick her stuff apart, I’m really trying to figure out how to make it work in my writing.

That being said, somebody should make sure she keeps writing and publishing. With more experience and confidence, she could do some brilliant, fun stuff.

Territory is the story of Tombstone, with magic. — It isn’t just the story of Tombstone; it’s the story of Wyatt Earp and co. under the influence of the movie Tombstone (1993), with magic. And if you didn’t like that movie, what is wrong with you?

The additional characters are handled believably and seamlessly. The magic is balanced well — it doesn’t throw the story off, but adds a new perspective. The writing is clear and vivid.

But…

Why are the main characters even involved in the story? They “get swept up” into the story using writerly tricks and further pulled in just because. They don’t have any real stakes (not until later, anyway). Why (I’m not giving anything away here, trust me) do they fall in love? Because of chemistry? Why is their story so important? Why is it included at all? What’s at stake, in the end? What’s important? What does it all meeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaan?

It’s almost as if the author came up with this brilliant pitch, and then panicked in trying to come up with a way to pull it off. And nobody told her to cut closer to the bone, to find out what would make the characters weep and bleed. For example: the main character is pulled into the story when an old friend of his casts a spell to draw him into town. Why is the old friend there? He just happens to be there, having been kicked out of San Francisco. The main character is pulled into town when someone tries to steal his horse, and he shoots him — but nothing really bad happens to the main character because of it, he never has to pay for it, even emotionally, really, even though he says he feels bad. These things, they happen because the author needs them to happen, because otherwise, there wouldn’t have been a story. Maybe it’s just a way of saying that everything in Tombstone happened because chance made it happen, but that’s a boring moral to put on such an interesting idea. You see?

It’s a good story…but it could have been a masterpiece had the author dug a little deeper, made the characters go through their darkest moments, make their most painful choices, and pay the costs — sometimes all out of proportion.

And then, the ending cuts off early. Too early; everything she’s been leading you to believe you will be able to see carried out — pfft. Some writers can carry this off. I try to do this on occaision. But it doesn’t work without some very complex setting up of a second plot within the supposedly-main plot, with the second plot being the real plot, so it doesn’t matter if the first plot ends or not. But because the known characters — the Earps and Doc Holliday — have so much more at stake than the main characters, I felt cheated. The main characters’ storyline doesn’t even pay off! Auuuugggghhhh!

But like I said, here’s me, not being objective. The book was well worth reading, and it’s not the author’s fault I can’t see it more clearly 🙂

Book Review: Briar Rose

by Jane Yolen.

(Another one of Terry Windling’s Fairy Tale Series.)

Instead of giving any details about her past (even her real name), a girl’s grandmother always tells the slightly-altered story of Briar Rose (or Sleeping Beauty) whenever anyone asks about her past. The girl is a grown woman when the grandmother dies, first extracting a promise that she find the castle where the grandmother had slept a hundred years…

I don’t want to give away too much; the plot unwinds like a really good detective novel, with the central mystery being how history affects the people you love and, by extention, you. The plotting is great, stringing you along, doling out information at exactly the right moments. I initially wondered why the granddaughter got so much attention, why the story wasn’t about the grandmother, who has a much more interesting story, but that’s not what the story was about…

So let me just say the grandmother arrived in the U.S. after WWII and leave it at that. I recommend it, although I doubt I’ll read it as often as I have other books in the series — but then, Schindler’s List was a great movie that I’ll never see again, either.

Chocolate Review: Godiva vs. Choxie

Godiva
So I had my first bar of Godiva chocolate the other day. (I think I’ve had a couple of truffles before, but that’s not the same thing — you taste the filling more than you do the chocolate.) Out of all the different bars of chocolate I’ve eaten, you’d think I would have run across one earlier. As it turns out, department stores and chain bookstores sell Godiva…but World Market and good grocery stores don’t, in general.

Um…it was okay. Rich, but a little waxy-tasting, rather than buttery-tasting. Definitely not “creamy” as was claimed on the shiny gold packaging. No snap when broken. At first I thought I didn’t care for it all that much because it’s so hyped. But if so, why don’t more places carry it? I mean, more places where you might be able to compare it to something really good, like Schaffen Barger?

Choxie: Single Origin Chocolate Thin, 49% Venezuela Cacao
You know where you get Choxie? Target. Their thins were on sale last night, so I picked up a bunch. This was about the same intensity as the Godiva, the same level of richness, but blessed with a friendly buttery texture that made me want to wander around licking the smudges off my hands (so I did). Nothing subtle for taste, just an easy crowd pleaser: this is what Godiva was shooting for, and ended up with “well, it’s better than Hershey’s” instead.

So when you’re in the mood for Godiva, get this instead. It’s better, cheaper, and easier to find. Neither one is the grand heights of chocolate essence, but the Choxie accomplishes what it sets out to do, while the Godiva makes you feel like the packaging is the best part of your purchase.

Elastic Band

My aunt Carol sends me…

Sweeney Todd Preview!

Click here for the ‘orrible vision!

What Kind of Reader Are You?

This is one of the best kinds of personality tests, the kind that tells you something you already know.

As predicted by BD, I am a dedicated reader, scoring almost 100% on the “obsessive-compulsive bookworm” and “literate good citizen” ranges, about 50% on the “book snob” range, very low on the “fad reader” range, and the range for “non-reader” seems to be entirely skewed to the left. (The graph didn’t show up well, so I axed it.)

Recipe: Steamed Pork Bun Dim Sum

(a.k.a., Char Siu Bao)

If you want the real recipe for Char Siu Bao (or at least, a “realer” one than the one that follows), click here. But if you want to use up leftovers, and you have no patience with bread dough (or you’re just in a lazy mood), see below.

2 c. cooked pork roast, diced to 1/4″
1/2 c. (or less) char siu sauce (or bbq sauce with a little soy sauce stirred in)
3 pkgs. refrigerated dough for dinner rolls (the little ones, about 30)

Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with 1/4-1/2″ water and insert a vegetable steamer. Spray the steamer with baking/cooking spray, cover, and set to a boil over medium-high heat.

Mix the BBQ sauce into the pork; make sure the pork is relatively dry so the sauce doesn’t explode out of the buns.

Flatten one of the dough rolls in the palm of your hand and put 1T or so of filling in the center. Squish the dough around the ball, leaving a puckering kiss shape behind (I pinched them into half-circles, then squished them into a more rounded shape). Repeat with the rest of the rolls.

Place four of the buns in the steamer insert, leaving lots of space between them. Cover and steam until the dough is cooked, about 3-4 minutes. Spray the steamer with more baking spray and refill water as necessary.

Ray says, “These are the best ever!”

I say, “Death to leftovers. AAAUUUUGGGHHH!”

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