Category Archives: Grunts

Games and Toys and Wolves

A couple of busy weekends have passed, and I haven’t been able to tell you about them, because stuff.

Three weekends ago, Honey and I threw a great, big launch party for Spy Guys. At first we were aiming for some sort of industry mixer thing, you know for reviewers and publishers and the like. Then we realized we really don’t know any reviewers or publishers or anything remotely of the like. So we invited people we thought would like to play the game– you know, our friends. 🙂 But it was in an open space at our favorite local pub, so if people off the street wandered in, they were welcome to join us, too! It definitely changed the tenor of the event– for one thing, now kids were invited, but I think that since the game is kid friendly, that worked to our advantage.

Continue reading Games and Toys and Wolves

Six Life Lessons I Got From RuPaul’s Drag Race

I’m not sure what it is about RuPaul’s Drag Race that I love so much. I’m about as far from being a fashionista as you can get. Geeky tee-shirts and jeans are more my style. But here I am, binge-watching the most fabulous drag queens serving realness, throwing shade, and wearing the most ridiculous outfits anyone can imagine. AND I LOVE IT.
And you know, when I talk to the girls on the screen– I mean, c’mon. If anyone can hear me calling across the distances of time and space, it would be these Glamazons. But yeah, when I’m talking to them  through the screen, there are a couple of things I find myself shouting season after season, and the weird thing is, that with just a little twerk tweak here and there, the same things apply to me as I learn more and more about how to survive in the “real world” jungle.

Continue reading Six Life Lessons I Got From RuPaul’s Drag Race

Awww! Mushy mushy!

Tradition says that if it rains on your wedding day, it’s good luck. I’m not sure if that’s true, or if it’s something comforting to say to a tearful bride as a year’s worth of planning (give or take) literally washes down the drain– unless she was smart enough to plan an indoor wedding, but honestly, who does that in Los Angeles? You know, I mean aside from the weirdos who think it might rain (so unlikely!) on their wedding day. Hush! Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. We’re in a drought! It doesn’t rain here anymore. I’m sure that sounds heavenly to all the folks on the other side of the country, what with all the Weather y’all have been having this winter, but I promise you: water rationing is NOT fun, especially when it affects the food supply for you and half the country.

But back to weddings. One year ago, California was facing a terrible drought. I mean, we still are, but last year was nasty. Seriously, we generally have two seasons: Rain and Summer– and Rain only lasts for a month or two. Well, last year all of the rain for the entire season came down on one day: our wedding day. The waves were huge, the streets were flooded, the children were scared– and Honey and I were saying I do. Continue reading Awww! Mushy mushy!

Back in the Kitchen. BOOM, baby!

Wow. The Holidays really took it out of me. I’ve been recovering slowly: the tree came down some time after Valentine’s Day. And it was just this past Sunday that I was ready to start baking again. OMG! It feels so good to be back in the kitchen! And now that I AM back, I feel like I want to make All The Things. Just all of them. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.

I started the day by picking up my favorite GF bread-making book: Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe François. I freaking love this book. It’s because of this book that I was able to feel like I could handle myself in the kitchen again—a huge blessing. So because of Thistle’s post about West Virginia delicacies a few weeks ago, I have been chomping at the bit to try making some GF pepperoni rolls. I’ve been gathering ingredients since then: making sure I have the necessary flours to make the right blend, picking up the GF pepperoni (yes, you have to check), reviewing various recipes to figure out the best way to make these rolls. Oddly enough, Hertzberg and Francois didn’t add such an important recipe to their book, so I’ve had to innovate.

I’d love to report that I nailed it in one, but I can’t. I did bake some lovely bread rolls that have pepperoni in them. They’re tasty, because you know, PEPPERONI, but they’re not Pepperoni Rolls. I shall have to experiment some more.

While I was letting the rolls bake, I decided to try out another recipe I’ve been eye-balling for a while: vegan Doritos popcorn! Along with pepperoni, I also have to check snack foods that might be processed in a facility that also processes wheat, because even if wheat flour isn’t one of the ingredients in what I’m buying, it’s very sticky and if the machinery isn’t cleaned properly, I can still get sick. So it’s been a while since I’ve had Doritos. It’s not so much that I care that it’s vegan (I don’t) but that it’s also gluten free and SUPER easy to make. OMG.

Since it’s not my recipe, I’m not going to type it up here. Instead I will send you to the page where I found it, so that I’m not claiming something that isn’t mine. I will say this however: while the powder is delicious and is a lovely home version of Doritos, watch the salt: I love salt, but that was a bit too strong, even for me.

http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/dorito-flavored-popcorn-dairy-free/

I need to go clean the kitchen now. And I might make fudge. And then clean the kitchen again.

Have a great week, everybody!

The Stories that Breathe

A while back, Arcana and I went to see Wicked, which is a retelling of her favorite story, The Wizard of Oz. We talked a little bit about how even though the world is the same, the characters are the same, she considers them to be entirely different stories. I understand completely, because I’ve been saying for years that I consider the original Star Wars trilogy to be a different story from the full six that are currently out. (The OT is Luke’s arc, the full six is Anakin’s.) But the whole thing got me to thinking about remakes, reboots, and retellings. 

There was a time not so long ago when the only access common folk had to “the media” were stories and songs shared by the fire after a long day’s work. If a man was very lucky (or wealthy), he might have a couple of books to read, but most stories were shared orally. Occasionally, a performer would come to town and share their stories, songs, and news from afar in a live performance of some sort, but pretty much it was just regular people telling tall tales to anyone who would listen.

As you can imagine, these stories would change from telling to telling. That’s what happens when people tell stories– they change. We embellish, we alter to suit the needs of the current audience, and we dismiss the details that no longer suit us, adding new ones that are more fitting. This used to be expected, relished, even. How will big that fish be this time? And in the retelling, the story would grow and become more meaningful to its audience, who would then want to hear it again, to enjoy once more. 

Eventually the best stories were written down, and then the printing press came along, and the written versions were more and more available to virtually anyone. Then came recording sounds on wax cylendars. And not long after, moving pictures captured first on film, then on tape. And now we have the digital age, with its bitstream highways and byways. Suddenly (within the terms of humanity as a whole) our stories are frozen in time. There is no longer a need to have Grandpa tell us the story at the hearth each night. We can access our media whenever we want. The same storyteller tells the same exact story the same exact way every single time. Every single time.

Of course it’s a revolutionary way of sharing stories! Everyone across the globe can share in the same tale, told the same way, no matter where the storyteller was born. New vistas! New challenges! New adventures! Right here, in your home town, told as no one who lives here could. To people who weren’t raised in this environment, the whole set up is truly mind-boggling. Hell, it boggles MY mind, and I was practically born with a keyboard in hand.

That doesn’t make it perfect, however.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE watching movies over and over. I’m as bad a two-year old. Ask Honey how many times I’ve had a Lord of the Rings day (about to become a weekend, as soon as Smaug gets his boxed set– even if the whole thing is two movies too long.) Or how many times, I’ll flip through our disc library and croon about how much I love this one and this one and this one and OH! this one….

But still. People get so STUCK on how things should be, how awful remakes are. Don’t remake that one, they did it right the first time. Or Why did they reboot it? It was perfect the way it was. Or how about, Geez, Hollywood doesn’t have any creative ideas. They just keep revisiting the old stuff.

I know. I used to be one of these people. But then came the Clooney/Pitt version of Ocean’s Eleven (I know it was a while ago, but go with me here), and I realized that this version actually improved on the Rat Pack’s original vision. Granted, Sinatra didn’t offer much time for artistry (legend has it each shot was allowed only one take), but the story, it turns out, is solid. And it was actually improved by a new storyteller, a new set of details (and a new budget). Then I saw the Karate Kid reboot WHERE HE DOESN’T EVEN LEARN KARATE WTF??? and I was off the band wagon again. And yet.

Somewhere along the line, it struck me that kids today would no longer be able to relate to Ralph Macchio. He’s no longer one of Today’s Youth. He’s a relic of a time before these kids were even born. (No offense, Ralph. For what it’s worth, I am too.) And while bullying is still an issue today, the life that Daniel-san lived was different. No cell phones, no computer; social media was going to a movie with your friends. Homework was written and handed in, rather than typed and emailed. A story that doesn’t have a relatable hero will die. If no one can connect with him, his motivations, or if his life is just too foreign, an audience will lose interest and drift away, especially in our current “what have you done in the last five minutes” culture.

The reason that Hollywood is remaking everything– aside from the built-in-audience factor for the business-types– is because these are the stories that the artist-types love. (In point of fact, Hollywood has been remaking already-told stories since the way-back– Tarzan, Robinson Carusoe, and Allan Quatermain immediately leap to mind. It’s just that in the earliest days, the old stories they retold were originally written, not filmed.)

**TANGENT: And don’t even get me started on this whole thing about there being no movies with original ideas. You want that? Go to your local Indie/Arts Film theatre. You’ll see stuff there that will warp your brain. It’s just not as polished as what you get from a Big Studio.**

What I find fascinating is that this evolution is still expected and even demanded in one current form of storytelling: live theatre. Each director has his own vision, as does each actor, each costume designer, each lighting designer. You can go to a hundred performances of Midsummer’s Night Dream, and reasonably expect to see an entirely different show each time. Some of that is because of the live factor. An actor may forget a line or play with an audience a little bit more one night than another. And even in theatre, it is understood and expected that not every night will Hit It, even with the perfect cast, the perfect crew, the perfect audience. Sometimes, the stars are simply crossed. But it’s also because theatre people understand that in order to connect with their audience, they must be interactive rather than operating by rote. Come to think of it, music artists get it too– how many Grammy awards have been handed out for “I Will Always Love You”? And I think that Hollywood gets that concept, too.

The way to keep a story around for everyone’s enjoyment is not to freeze it in time, but to retell it, add details relevant to today’s audience and drop the bits that no longer apply. It can be painful for those of us who already have a favorite version, but look at it this way: Are we guaranteed to get a better retelling every time? No. But we will get one that continues living, even when that means changing the lyrics and music to the songs from Annie, or taking the trip to Mars out of Total Recall (I did grieve for that one.) What you are witnessing is the growth of living, breathing stories.

Oddly enough, it takes our stories longer to evolve, now that they can shoot round the world almost instantly. Back in the day, by the time a story had circumnavigated the globe– and believe me, they did (take a look at Proto-Indo-European mythology, if you don’t)– it looked entirely different. … Sort of like how Dorothy’s fantastic voyage grew from being a simple children’s tale into social commentary on terrorism.

Image found here: http://www.fivepointstance.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Five-Point-Stance-Story.jpg

Blessed

Apologies for the lateness of this post. Just because you write something, doesn’t mean it automatically posts when you want it to. Sleep deprivation and technical difficulties will do that to you.

***

As I write this, I am sitting in an auditorium full of people, awaiting one of my favorite teachers on the planet to take the stage. They would probably tut-tut me for saying what I’m about to say, but I like offering context to people who may or may not understand what’s happening here. Also, I’m not perfect. So sue me. Here’s the short version:

2005 was a bad year, starting out with me in the middle of a five-car pile up, and ending with the death of my mother and my first marriage only two days apart. Following that came a point in my life where I was dealing with some pretty major Depression.

I suppose you could say I was lucky, because at the time I was not working for an outside employer, so if I slept all day, nobody cared except for my grandfather. Of course, he had needs, so I really only got about two hours of sleep at any one point, day or night. Things got pretty rough for me– I was really deep in my hole. I don’t think I was ever suicidal; like, I wasn’t planning how to do it or anything. I had just stopped caring whether I was still alive.
Continue reading Blessed

The Children Choice

My mother and I were sitting at an absurdly tiny table in a suburb of Atlanta, waiting for our tea and crumpets. It was early in my first marriage, and I was telling her my plans for when I have kids. I wanted to teach them to be happy, functioning members of society, I said. Rather than just giving them chores and an allowance, I was going to assign each chore a dollar amount, depending on how often it needed to be done and how badly I didn’t want to do it– you know, just like a real job. I wanted them to understand at an early age that life going to School is not like “The Real World.” I wanted them to think critically and to learn how to make solid decisions after looking at potential outcomes, and to have compassion for others. I had plans, outlines, and even charts (in my head) for all the different ways I had thought of to get these concepts across to little people who don’t yet have life experience.

I must have gone on for a solid ten minutes. And when I ran out of breath, she just stared at me, a little baffled. “I had kids,” she said, “because that’s what people do.” Continue reading The Children Choice

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There are two people, currently active in my spheres, that I am very angry with. One of them, Blowhard, has been abusive to a very dear friend of mine. The other, Nina, was abusive to me.

I am not going into what Blowhard did; as I said, his actions were against my friend, not me. But he is pretty high on my shit list, because he caused my friend deep and abiding pain, and I had to witness it. The situation was fairly complicated, because people are complicated, but at the end of the day I just don’t like him, because of the choices he made.

As for Nina, at first I thought she was simply incompetent. I suppose it’s because I have a trusting nature– everyone has their blind spots, I suppose– but when I first started dealing with her, I thought that since she had a responsibility to me that she would honor it. I was wrong. Slowly it dawned on me that the actions she took, the choices she made, were not out of ignorance, or even just the result of a bad day, but were in fact deliberate and malicious in intent. Continue reading unLoading…

The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!

Are you superstitious? Mostly I’m not. Except for sometimes. According to my personality profile (and my husband), I read meanings into EVERYTHING. I’m not sure if that makes me superstitious, but apparently I read too much into things. I like it, though; it’s fun. 🙂

Anyway, last week I dubbed 2015 “The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!” Wanna hear about my first day in the YOACRRKA?

The first thing I did, before even waking up, was I dumped one of my pills on the floor. I have a timer set each morning to wake me up long enough to take my pill, and then with enough time before I “wake up” that I can easily get back to sleep. (Just go with me on this.) Anyway, Honey and I had to miss one of our favorite parties of the year, because both of us were sick. 🙁 Which meant that for January 1, we weren’t hung over or exhausted, so that part was kind of nice. But I didn’t wake up well for my pill alarm, and managed to drop the bouncy little thing on our hardwood floors.

I could hear it skitter away from me, hit something, and stop. Oh, GAWD, I thought. My year will be filled with losing things?

Continue reading The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!

The Hand I Was Dealt

I generally don’t do holiday cards; I find them tedious, unless I can somehow specialize each card, but those take time I usually don’t have; Decembers are really busy! Rather, I take this time to think of my loved ones, hold them in the highest, most beautiful light I can imagine, and send them waves of love. So, if you’re sitting there at some point, minding your own business, and a wave of love hits you out of the blue, it was me, sending you an ether-card.

But the draw-back to not doing cards is that I don’t usually send out a year in review thing. I don’t generally write mine up, but I do two a year: one in July and one in December. Back at my birthday, I was riding pretty high. I had figured out my last personal year (birthday to birthday): the end of 2013 had laid out quite a few personal challenges for me all at once, and the beginning of 2014 laid out the solutions for pretty much all of them. It was really rough going, but I survived. I feel like that was the year of Jumping The Hurdles. So now I’m trying to see where the arbitrary time-span of 2014 has taken me; what is the name of 2014? Continue reading The Hand I Was Dealt