Tag Archives: the internet is a silly place

For the love of food and geekery

Ok, so no recipe this week. (Just like last week – whoops.) Mostly because my gut’s been in all-out rebellion against anything nummy, and/or related to dairy. And the very thought of cooking makes it lurch.

(Nearly six months gluten-free, drinking lactose-free milk, and now my stomach’s all hissy because of dairy? ARRRRGH! CAPS LOCK CANNOT CONVEY THE FRUSTRATION!!)

So, while I’m on a self-imposed BRAT diet (banana, rice, applesauce, and toast), and eating homemade waffles and banana bread for every other meal because that’s the most that my stomach can tolerate, I have this lovely just begging me to use her.

Isn’t she pretty?

She comes from my great aunt, who was a…unique…woman. A bit shrewish at time, but an AMAZING cook. She made lefse so tender that it disintegrated on your tongue, made pies and cakes to die for, and all of it with this mixer. Even now, several years after her passing, my family still finds themselves comparing edibles to Aunt Grace’s. Even though barely half of us actually remember her anymore.

She died when I was in school (grad school? College? Who knows – my personal life at that time was/is a blur of neuroses), and when my folks helped the family clean out the estate, my mom came home with boxes of knick-knacks, a cabinet-style sewing machine from the 1920s, a bunch of chipped china, and then some. And I just so happened to be home when they came back.

Mom: Remember how you always complained about the hand-mixer? Ta-DA!

Me: …It’s nice but, where am I supposed to put it?

Mom: You’ve got a kitchen.

Me: With 24 cubic inches of counter space.*

Mom: In the cupboard then!

Me: I repeat my statement.

Mom: Then we’ll keep it here til you get enough space!

* Slight exaggeration, though not by much. That apartment was tiny!

And that’s where this old girl sat for years – collecting dust in my parents’ kitchen, occasionally getting pulled out to make whipped cream for holiday pie. Despite the chipped paint, she’s in great working order, and tackles anything that I throw into her beaters with the gusto of a high-school quarterback trying out for pro. Now that I finally have a decently-sized and -shaped kitchen, I can finally use her.

Except that I can’t eat normally right now.

*headdesk*

At least I have a few other things to keep me occupied. Like reading my stack of goodies from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!

Free Comic Book Day is the (un)official celebration of one of the most geeky of pastimes. Every year on the first Saturday of May, the major publishing houses (DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc.) give away free comics to anyone who steps into a comic book store. For this geek, it’s like Christmas in May. Not only can I get stuff from major titles (like Iron Man, Avengers, X-Men, etc.) without digging through back issues, but I can also find one-shots and teasers for upcoming series that I might not touch otherwise.

Plus, since the comics are free, I have no qualms about cutting out their splash pages and turning them into wall art.

Photographed on my bed because these must have the most reflective glass known to man. Or at least to me.

A two-pack of cheap metal frames from Michael’s, some acid-free artist paper cut down to size, some photocorners, and voila! No more boring wallspace!

This particular ‘set’ came from a sample of Jake the Dreaming, a YA illustrated novel. I don’t recall the plotline, but the art is so pretty! And a bit warped, which is probably why I like it so much. I also have this soft-spot for multi-media art and found items. (If you ever want on my good side, toss me some pretties by Dave McKean, and I am yours.)

Unfortunately, this year there weren’t many free comics left when I got there, and none had artwork as pretty. However, there was this one:

Shiny!

No cutting this one up. My Captain is getting framed full binding and all. Maybe right next to the Firefly Les Hommes set, once I order it. And once I find some wall space…

(Me, a fan of Nathan Fillion? Naaaaah.)


A quiet neighborhood…

Well, no recipe experimentation this week, mostly because I spent the majority of last week out of town and out of state.

That, and I have no food in my fridge.

Add a pizza box and 12-pack of Mountain Dew, and it's my grad school fridge all over again.

So, where was I? ICFA!

No, that is not some alien profanity, it’s the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which brings together academics, scholars, writers, and nerds of many colors under one roof. Honestly, it’s kind of amazing. I’ve been to conventions (anime and scifi), and to conferences (the Pop Culture Association, SW Texas branch and National), and each one is its own sort of beast.

At both, you can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and within 30 seconds be chatting like old friends, but only at a conference (academic) can you go from discussing the latest Supernatural episode to how the show explores Marxist themes in horror, all without without losing a beat.

I love these things.

Plus, the conference sponsored its own ghost hunt.

*cue ear-to-ear grin*

Since I’m writing a series that involves ghosts, angels, demons, and grief counselors for the dead, I’ve been watching a *lot* of paranormal investigative shows, and am slowly working up the nerve to actually contact a team to join in one. Luckily, ICFA planned it’s year excursion to Greenwood cemetery, the only cemetery allowed within Orlando city limits. And I has pictures!

Okay, little less spooky, little more too-long-exposure-on-the-camera. Meh.

We wound up with three characters of tour guides (‘tour guides’ in the sense of they guided the whole herd of academics on a tour, since I completely forget their actual titles). Imagine a cemetery tour led by Bill Engvall, a quiet old Victorian undertaker, and a gardener with a penchant for ‘seeing things,’ and you’ll get a vague idea of what it was like. And I LOVED it. (Especially when the undertaker guy kept whipping out his measuring tape on people.)

(Yes, for those type of measurements. Not the other kind of ‘those’. Geez, brains out of the gutter!)

And naturally, I took a lot of pictures.

Hey, look, DUST! And spanish moss...

A mausoleum...

The grave of a guy whose face got eaten off by a lake monster...

Ooh! A light anomaly! Beside that tree in the background. (Or, just a reflection off another headstone.)

And...The tallest gravestone in the cemetery. Erected by the guy's wife. Engraved with 'a loving husband' and 'forever greatest' or somesuch. (Yeah, not going there. I'm not Freudian enough.)

Ooh, but here’s a good one!

Ghostly fingerprints!

Apparently, the gardener/groundskeeper guy was driving around the grounds one night, tooling along full speed, when he noticed these smears on the stone and screeched to a halt. He knows these stones, and those smears had not been there the night before.

The poor woman in this grave has a double indignity – she has no death date (though she is buried there), and her name is horridly misspelled. So, with those smears, it’s as if she reached up from her grave and stained her own stone.

Even better? When the guy got back to the cemetery office, he found out that the police had gotten several reports the night prior of an elderly woman roaming the grounds in that exact spot. And no one could find the gal.

Saddest part – none of the staff can do anything about it. Even if a stone falls over in the graveyard, they need permission from the families to set it upright again. And a lot of those families just don’t come around anymore.

With stories like this, I keep finding that I have more and more sympathy for the ghosts. Used to be, ghost shows fascinated me; now they just sadden me. After all, ghosts aren’t sideshow freaks or bears trapped in cages that the living should go around poking with a stick just for ‘the experience.’ Ghosts were people too.

(No, that is not the tagline for my book.)


I’m not a grammarian, but…

funny pictures of cats with captions

I have always been passionate about language. As a kid, I memorized big fancy words not to make myself seem smarter, but to actually use them in my daily vocabulary. My parents went from correcting my fiction to being corrected on everything they wrote. (I am the sole reason my mother stopped writing the family Christmas letter.) In high school, I dreamed of taking foreign languages simply so I could learn more about English and its linguistic roots.  And then in grad school, I taught first-year English – half for the tuition breaks, and half to wage my own little war on freshman ignorance.

Yes, I am that much of a nerd.

Good news is, those three years of teaching successfully beat my grammar-nazi tendencies into submission, and I learned to pick my battles. The average person might not care of the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom,’ but so long as he/she doesn’t commit any egregious crimes against linguistic humanity, can use the correct form of ‘your,’ and can make the message heard without causing too much trauma, I can bite my tongue. Language evolves, and those who use it have to let it evolve, lest it die entirely.

And then I read this article: Proper Spelling? Its Tyme to Let Luce!

And I had a mental aneurysm.

What starts out as a writer’s rant against autocorrect quickly devolves into a hissy fit over grammatical rules and the apparently haphazard nature of English construction. (Note: I mean the construction of the English language, not a slam against British-built buildings.) So let’s take this ‘argument’ apart a bit…

“Consistent spelling was a great way to ensure clarity in the print era. But with new technologies, the way that we write and read (and search and data-mine) is changing, and so much spelling.”

Pardon me, but when did we move out of the print era? Just because we are moving away from the ink-on-paper tech and into the digital realm does not mean that print is passé, or that clarity in written language is no longer necessary. If anything, it’s even more crucial now than before, because unless you’re using nothing but audio and podcasts on the internet, everything is written. Everything.

Also, what does the writer propose that we allow English to ‘evolve’ into? LOLcat speak? There is a reason that icanhascheezburger.com is an entertainment site, and not a place where you publish a medical case study, an academic paper, or even where you attempt to carry on intelligent discourse (trolls, there are many). It is fluff, it is fluffery, it is not serious. LOLcat is a non-language!

(Sorry, been watching Monty Python lately. Couldn’t resist.)

“The notion that words can and should be spelled only one way is a fairly recent invention…”

Here the author does have a point, but there is a reason that standardization was developed – it makes reading easier. Try taking a look at Chaucer in the original Middle English, and try reading through that mess of extraneous letters and inconsistent spellings. I first read Chaucer as a college junior, and though I was not a stupid student by any stretch, I had to read that thing out loud to myself, carefully pronouncing each word until I’d acquired a mongrel Scottish accent and drove my roommate screaming from the room. Hamlet took me less time and I remembered more.

(I remember farts. There was something about farts. And Reeve Tuesti. But I was also playing FFVII at the time so things might’ve gotten jumbled…)

Anyways, the entire point of a standardized system of spellings is to make reading faster and easier, so that the reader can spend more brainpower on the meaning of the message instead of deciphering it. And at this point in time, so many generations have been trained in the use of that standardized system that it’s practically ingrained in us. As a society, we search for a specific structure in our written documentation, and if it’s not there, or if it’s off by a noticeable amount, we automatically look down upon the writer.

There’s a reason there’s a couple Facebook groups named, “I judge you when you use poor grammar.”

“Standardized spelling enables readers to understand writing, to aid communication and ensure clarity. Period. There is no additional reason, other than snobbery, for spelling rules.”

Oh yes, because we only use communication for trivial things like posting on teh internets. Not for emailing your boss, or constructing a resume, or writing laws, or protesting said laws, or overthrowing governments, or…You get the drift.

“We need a new set of tools that recognize more variations instead of rigidly enforcing outdated dogma. Let’s make our own rules. It’s not like the English language has many good ones anyway.”

Tell me this doesn’t sound like a child stamping his/her foot, then grabbing the toy from the sandbox and going home because Timmy and Sally wouldn’t play the game he/she wanted to play. Because that’s what it sounds like to me.

Here’s the kicker: This article came from an English professor. Who should know better than to rant like this. Unless, of course, the entire article was satire, in which case it fell short of the point it was trying to make. (Which would have been…?)

I’m sorry, but when I encounter that kind of attitude, be it from a student or another professional-type individual, my answer is the same: Laziness is not an excuse for ignoring the rules, or for throwing a hissy fit about them.

And If you don’t like the autocorrect for your tweets, then here’s an idea: TURN IT OFF.

What do you think – satire or legit grievance? What is your response to poor grammar and spelling? Is this the future of the English language?


Hello world!

Yay, another blog! On teh internets!

But this isn’t just any blog, it’s mine.

And by ‘mine’ I mean the slightly-coherent-musings-of-my-grey-matter-that-will-be-updated-in-a-more-timely-manner-than-my-wangsty-livejournal. I’ve had a personal livejournal that by now has dwindled to random hey-friends-list-I’m-still-alive! posts, but I figured it’s about time to stop hermitting myself behind shiny avatars and sporadic postings.

So, what does this mean for you?

Once a week, I shall offer up the finest of my fictional finery – be it a short story, a poem (GASP!), book/movie/media reviews, random musings, or a bunch of shiny baubles, or heck, even a recipe.

No, I am no Emeril. My cooking equipment is more likely to go Bam! than I am. With smoke. Lots of smoke…

Anyways, blogging. Riiiiight…This page will always be updated at least once a week, so every Monday there will be a bright shiny new post to kick off your work week (or wake you up after you get home). If other posts crop up during the week, consider them happy little presents from me to you.

Just don’t drown them in water. I promise, the packages won’t be ticking.


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