Friday, October 31, 2008

On the Thirteenth day of Halloween!

Happy Halloween to All our Ghouly Friends and Family!

Unfortunately, we didn't get our act together to get a party planned- though we did actually make our costumes last week. Sigh. A rather pathetic end to the holiday. We have made the effort for a little holiday horror - watching the Italian film "Rec" this week. ("Night of the Living Dead" meets "Blair Witch Project". Let me be clear.... I cannot recommend it.) and the British series "Dead Set" (zombies meet Big Brother. I CAN recommend it. Well, it is better than "Rec".)

So, as the season winds down to the ultimate night and ghosties and ghoulies and long leggety beasties roam the earth, I hope you are all safe and snug at home with your loved ones- with a little jack o'lantern to warm the night and keep you safe.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On the Eleventh day of Halloween

From Savannah Cemetary

I thought it was time for a little creepy. This photo was taken in Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery featured in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". Savannah is one of my favorite places to visit. When Kevin and I visited we took a Savannah Ghost Tour. More spooky fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On the Tenth Day of Halloween

I DID find some of those family Halloween photographs. They were hiding on Kevin's computer! I don't know why I didn't scan any of the earlier photographs. (They were taken with a Polaroid Camera.) So, here you have

1. Mutant Millennium Bugs for 2000
2. Over 40 Synchronized Rhythmic Gymnastic Team 2002
3. Sheep 2003
4. S'Mores (not yet assembled) 2005

Obviously, we really enjoyed the head gear for the bugs!

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Ninth day of Halloween

I think we may be starting to jump a bit chronologically. Zelda and I went to a Halloween Dog Walk - in costume. We didn't win. We were obviously robbed. Zelda took her bee life very seriously as you can see. She was keen on pollination but couldn't figure out how to make honey.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the Seventh day of Halloween: AKA I married a Zombie

Kevin's zombie obsession dates back to the final quarter of the last century. When I first met Kevin he had already watched "Night of the Living Dead" something like 47 million times. His goal was to be a part of the next Romero zombie flick, "Day of the Dead". Because I do things like this, I decided to help him.

Kevin and I created a zombie portfolio complete with resume, references, and photographs. Included here are some of the photographs. We had some very cool zombie ideas: the priest zombie, the punk zombie (dead with oozing ketchup blood), and even the "wild and crazy guy" zombie. (That dates us!) My roommate, Robin, helped out as zombie fodder.

And, both Kevin and I did get to be extra zombies in "Day". Kevin even scored a couple of frames of screen time!

For any other zombie-loving boy the story might have ended here. But no. Recently, my zombie-loving man found an opportunity to once again become a zombie. This time in the comic book "Walking Dead". Once again, I took zombie photos for Kevin. They weren't very good. We didn't invest in blue face make-up or tearing of real flesh. But, then, all the artist needed was something from which to draw Kevin into the story: the glasses and the "I'd rather be playing Cosmic Encounter" t-shirt do that very nicely.

And, in keeping with the title, it must be said that Kevin and I did try to get married on Halloween in 2003 - but my father had a medical appointment and since he was 1/7th of the guest list, we decided to schedule it later in the year.

For the record- Kevin is not the first in our family to find himself in the pages of a comic. A hybrid Ann can be found in Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor: Our Movie Year".

A Song for Sarah

Another spider tale

I'm not sure if you've seen this story where you are, but I sat up and listened on Thursday when it was on the radio as I was driving to the pet store to vaccinate puppies. Oooooooooo. This, the largest orb spider in Queensland (maybe the world- let's hope) was photographed in Cairns- which is way north of Brisbane. The arachnologist (I just learned that "spider expert" is an insult! You probably already knew this.) who was interviewed carefully explained that the spider is probably NOT eating the bird. It DID kill it, but now it just wants it out of the web so it can get back to the business of catching insects and Americans.

He also threw in the decidedly unappealing tidbit that these GIANT spiders sometimes can be found in the Northern suburbs of Brisbane! Nooooooooooooooo.

(Obviously, I did not take these photographs. I found these here.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

On the Sixth Day of Halloween

From halloween blog

This isn't actually from Halloween - but Kevin thought it was. So, I included it. I was actually on my way to a "Pimp and Prostitute Party". More wholesome college fun. Kevin then wanted to know about my boyfriend's costume. No. That was just him. I doubt seriously that he went to the party. Actually, I doubt that we were even dating at this time. But, how could I resist such a spiffy dresser? And, he coordinated with my rose!

In the mail!

From singles 2

We are balloted!!! Keeping both our ballots pushed back on the table top to avoid Ms. Z having her way with them. In an underhanded trick, I have removed her "bite-not" collar and she is now focused with licking the underside of her tail. Why did they trust me with a medical license?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On the Fifth day of Halloween

From halloween blog

1980. Not totally sure what the plan is here. I am the family dog, however. Not a very impressive looking tail. But, my desk looks relatively neat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the Fourth day of Halloween

From halloween blog

1979. We were freshmen at OSU. These are 2 of my roommates and our "not in our room" friend. We were going to a party at our dorm. I'm still pretty impressed by these costumes - except for mine. What I can't figure out is where we got that beer sign that is behind us. My only guess is it had to belong to roommate #4. Hmmmm. Or, maybe this wasn't taken in our room. There's no view of the floor or my or Diane's desk - which would give it away. See photo below.

From halloween blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On the Third day of Halloween

From halloween blog

1978. Probably. I don't remember much about this night, except we got dressed up and went trick-or-treating at our social studies teacher's house. She took the photo. We were there for quite a while. There are other photos of us playing some sort of game. I suspect hers was the only house we went trick-or-treating at. And, of course, it probably was not beggar's night. Obviously, I ran with a very cool crowd.

Finish this phrase.... BUY ONE GET ONE

From singles 2

Buy one get one _ree. See, I gave you a hint.

Recently, Kevin and I went grocery shopping. It was a big deal. It was the first time we'd been shopping since the red dragon returnethed. It could be a "more than you can carry" experience. I was in need of a couple supplement essentials and was pleased to see them with special stickers on their tops.

Fast forward to standing outside the store. Kevin says something like "The Pentagon spends less for groceries" and starts reading over the receipt. "What's this? 700billion dollars for vitamins?"

So, I rip the page out of his hand to show him my big savings. (It could have been $1.4 trillion.) But, no. I was charged for EVERY BOTTLE.

Furiously, I dig through the bags. (We're still standing with our cart right at the exit of the store.) Pull out a bottle explaining, "I had to look through the bottles on the shelf to find the ones that were marked with the special stickers on the top. We've been overcharged."

And, then my mouth dropped.

Kevin and I are now the proud sponsors of trees in Tumut, NSW.

You're welcome.

(I'm looking at the post labels and thinking I really need another one that says something like "my march to senility".

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On the Second day of Halloween

From halloween blog

This is my friend Shorty. I'm not sure but I imagine the year is around 1977. She's dressed up for a Halloween parade. Her rank dressed as members of KISS - I'm sure you've figured that out on your own. What I like about this photo is how menacing she looks- is that a weapon in her hand???

No. I think it is a sucker in combination with a clarinet.


On the first day of Halloween

From halloween blog

I thought I'd make use of some of my old Halloween photos by staging a countdown here. Unfortunately, I don't have access to all my photographs. So, you won't get to see my family's great crayon - or hula girl - or sheep - or synchronized rhythmic gymnastic team costumes. (We have a big family Halloween party each year at my cousin Elaine's house. Everyone, well almost, creates a costume. We cook hot dogs on a bonfire. Eat really yummy, fully adulterated, American baked beans. Drink apple cider. The party is actually today. I'm not calling my mother this morning because she's dressed as Hurricane Ike and everyone knows that you can't hear the phone ring with all that wind.)

I'm hoping you'll enjoy the photos I have (I decided to present them chronologically) and- for all you Australians out there - it will serve as a countdown to the big day. Halloween is always on the 31st of October. Really.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Unabashedly courting the Z - vote

I read an article from The Huffington Post (from whom I borrowed these photos- thank you) this week that Sarah Palin is pulling out all the stops and "letting her hair down".


Trying to look more like Zelda. It just might work...but I need to remind you (and her) that despite her fervent interest in American politics, she really isn't allowed to vote.

Black Cherry Blues

From singles 2

Then a breeze springs up and dries the sweat on your face and neck, you wipe your eyes clear on your sleeve, scrub the ball against your thigh, fork your fingers tightly into the stitches, and realize that the score is irrelevant now, that your failure is complete, that it wasn't so bad after all because now you're free and alone in a peculiar way that has put you beyond the obligations of victory and defeat.

This is the first book I'm re-reading or, rather, re-read. (Not ever. But in the context of reading Robicheaux.) I listened to it on tape less than 2 years ago. I remember carrying my "boom box" down to our bedroom in the house on Maundrell Terrace and listening to Dave, Clete, and Dixie Lee. I wondered if I maybe should have just checked it off...

but I'm glad I didn't.

Wow. This is Burke at his best - as I might have guessed seeing that it was for "Black Cherry Blues" that he won the Edgar Award and CWA Macallan Gold Dagger (whatever that last award is. I assume it is British. The copy I have was published by Phoenix Paperback (an imprint of Orion Books of London). I'm going into this detail because - before discussing the novel - I want to discuss the BOOK.

Wow. Obviously Phoenix Paperbacks has a spell check. There were no mis-spelled words. There were interesting phrases, however, like:

... the way billows of fig rolled out of the swamp in the morning...
... we fished for white trout out on the salt, when to crab boils and fish fries...
... it looked as though spring had never touched the land here, as thought this place had been predestined as moonscape...
... I pulled to the side of the road, seat boiling off my face, my windows thick with steam.

That's just a sampling. I've never encountered anything like this before. The book is thick with typos. I've decided to purchase a US copy from Amazon and make a gift of it to the Brisbane Library System. I'm debating about sending a letter to James Burke and Phoenix Paperbacks. (Kevin laughs.)

Now, back to the NOVEL.

I enjoyed reading this even though I already knew the story (sort of. My memory is fast slipping down an ugly slope toward total amnesia.) While listening to the beautiful southern voice of Will Patton reading is magical, I don't appreciate Burke's prose and descriptive passages as thoroughly on tape. I read sitting in a chair. Maybe I'm drinking tea. I listen while driving, while doing dishes, while sorting papers. A lot gets lost in the process.

My "hit list".
- Beautifully written, poetic passages.
I'll never forget that summer, though. Its' the cathedral I sometimes visit when everything else fails, when the heart seems poisoned, the earth stricken, and dead leaves blow across the soul's windows like bits of dried parchment.

- The re-introduction of Clete Purcel who is monumentally contrite and who sincerely loves his friend, Dave.
"Why is it you always make me feel like anthrax, Streak?"

...I walked off toward a group of children with whom Alafair was playing tag. Then Clete called after me, in a voice that made people turn and stare. "I love you anyway, motherfucker."

- Folksy descriptions of people and events. Statements like "the best part of that guy ran down his daddy's leg" and "he's just on of those guys who'll always have his elevator stuck between floors" may seem written to you, but I've known people who talk like this.

- An interesting idea about time and God, if you're inclined to believe in such things.

I made a peculiar prayer. It's a prayer that sometimes I say, one that is perhaps self-serving, but because I believe that God is not limited by time and space as we are, I believe perhaps that He can influence the past even though it has already happened. So sometimes when I'm alone, especially at night, in the dark, and I begin to dwell on the unbearable suffering that people probably experienced before their deaths, I ask God to retroactively relieve their pain, to be with them in mind and body, to numb their senses, to cool whatever flame licked at their eyes in their final moments.
It will probably stick with me in the way that the science fiction story I read years ago about a race who would remove people from planes that were about to crash and replace them with assorted body parts. (I'll have to ask Kevin if he remembers the title of this story.)

- Nutria. Since we've been collecting words at work, I make a point to write down things I encounter that I don't know. In Burke's books I always find several- including lots of fish and other things he's eating. Like nutria. Which also make some characteristic sound in the bayou - though I haven't been able to find this on line.

- Great bad guys who've done really awful things. (A big hello to Sally Dio! But, sorry man. You are WAY over shadowed by Harry Mapes and Charlie Dodds.)

My criticism.
- Come on, Dave. How is it that you are 50 years old and you've only had 3 significant relationships with women: your mother, your first wife, and Annie (wife #2) and now you're adding to this list Darlene- who you've known for a week at most, been in the company of 3 times, and slept with once??? At, at the end of the book (and of your time in Missoula) you're in love with Tess and think you should have married her? You didn't even kiss her!

But sometimes at dusk, when the farmers burn the sugarcane stubble off their fields and the cinders and smoke lift in the wind and settle on the bayou, when red leaves float in piles past my dock and the air is cold and bittersweet with the smell of burnt sugar, I think of Indians and water people, of voices that can speak through the rain and tease us into yesterday, and in that moment I scoop Alafair up on my shoulders and we gallop down the road through the oaks like horse and rider toward my house, where Batist is barbecuing gaspagoo on the gallery and paper jack-o-lanterns are taped to the lighted windows, and the dragons become as stuffed toys, abandoned and ignored, like the shadows of the heart that one fine morning have gone with the season.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spiders, Floats, and Lemonade

I finally got it.

It really started two weeks ago when I was left alone (with my able bodied nurses) in the clinic for a super-long weekend. And, there was a big-ass spider in the women's toilet. "It was one of 'these,'" I said as I jumped into a broad based stance and spread my arms out menacingly. "I shall be using the men's room."

They laughed. Then, equipped with a can of Aussie "Raid", we inspected the restroom. And, of course, it was not there.

This isn't a story of how I ruptured my bladder. This is a story of how my spider rendition persisted. And, grew. Then, morphed.

Repeatedly, for the next week, I was asked "what kind of spider did you see?" And, while I believed it was a "huntsman"- though this one was most likely a "huntswoman" and would, no doubt, be voting for Sarah Palin if only Australian Spiders could vote in the US election - I mimed the answer and threw myself into the spread-eagle-spider-on-the wall pose. Eventually everybody had seen my show and the conversation became more philisophical. Not, how could a spider of that size vanish into thin air? but, what is a spider?

To which Kayla responded "ice cream and lemonade".


Which brings me back full circle to Sunday's revelation as we were tooling down Gympie on the way home from the grocery. It was then I remembered: Australians don't mean lemonade when they say lemonade. They're asking for something like Sprite or 7-up: a lemon soda. They want the "un-cola".

So - as with all great questions - one answer leads to more questions.
- What do Australians call lemonade? (lemon juice + water + sugar)??
- Why do they call those ice cream drinks "spiders"?
- If they combined coke with ice cream, is that a spider? a tick? a centipede?
- Where did I see Barq's root beer for sale?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Red Dragon Returns

From singles 2

Last week Kevin located a distributor in Brisbane!! We decided that a used or reconditioned distributor would be sufficient for our needs. The Red Dragon only had to chug about for a couple of years more and for the cost of a new (and long awaited) distributor we could buy two or three less than new distributors.

Anyway, Kevin found it and on my day off last week (Thursday) I took the train to Windsor and learned that a distributor fits nicely into a green shopping bag.

Yesterday (Tues.) was our appointment to get this new distributor (which it was, in fact. New, but "generic".) installed. Kevin's plan was to begin the journey to the garage on Monday. He wanted to see if he could make it...or at least get out of the driveway before calling for a tow.

1.5 KM.

So, now we have a new cam (timing) belt and a new distributor and a new radiator and four shiny tires. (The tires are not new- though one is newly patched. It is just that every time Honda looks at our car, they shine or re-shine or re-re-shine the tires.)

And, the car runs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Big Foot Sighting!

From singles 2

Notice to Barack

Kevin and I have been notified that we are now registered to vote. Just waiting for our absentee ballots to arrive. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we've been practicing making x's and filling in squares and pushing out chads. "Go Chad! Out! There shall be no hanging!!"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Heaven's Prisoners

From singles 2

I was just off Southwest Pass, between Pecan and Marsh islands, with the green, whitecapping water of the Gulf Stream to the south and the long, flat expanse of the Louisiana coast line behind me - which is really not a coastline at all but instead a huge wetlands area of sawgrass, dead cypress strung with wisps of moss, and a maze of canals and bayous, that are choked with Japanese water lilies whose purple flowers audibly pop in the morning and whose root systems can wind around your propeller shaft like cable wire. It was May and the breeze was warm and smelled of salt spray and schools of feeding white trout, and high above me pelicans floated on the warm air currents, their extended wings gilded in the sunlight, until suddenly one would drop from the sky like a bomb from its rack, its wings cocked back against its sides, and explode against the water's surface and then rise dripping with a menhaden or a mullet flapping from its pouched beak.
But the sky had been streaked with red at dawn, and I knew that by afternoon thunderheads would roll out of the south, the temperature would suddenly drop twenty degrees, as though all the air had suddenly been sucked out from under an enormous dark bowl, and the blacked sky would tremble with trees of lightning.

I was looking forward to reading this after having so recently seen and been disappointed by the movie. (Sometimes I don't even understand myself.) Would I enjoy the book since I knew the story? Would my negative impression color over to the novel?

Above you have the first two paragraphs of the novel. Very quickly it was looking like I was going to be pleased, for in this book unlike either the movie or "The Neon Rain" the tree and bayous, the water moccasins and alligators, the sky and the weather were sharing focus with the action. And, it isn't just that I like a pretty picture. I really like a well crafted turn of phrase: "tremble with trees of lightning."

The movie had been faithful to the storyline of the book (with a few exceptions: number of gunners, Dave's relationship with the sheriff and the stripper, who's dead at the end). And, let me point out here- Clete Purcel is NOT a party in the book. (And, I'm guessing he isn't in "Electric Mist of the Confederate Dead", either. All this means 1. I was wrong to complain and 2. it must take quite some time before Dave is ready to forgive Clete (and Clete is ready to make his way back to Louisiana having fled the country at the end of "Neon Rain".)

OK. So the plot is pretty much the same. Its just that the book is so much richer thanks to Burke's descriptive passages. For example, early in the story Dave is "visited" by two goons who beat the crap out of him. The attack is ugly and painful in both the book and the movie. In the book, however, we end with:

I lay in an embryonic ball on my side, blood stringing from my mouth, and saw them walk off through the trees like two friends whose sunny day had been only temporarily interrupted by an insignificant task.

I love that image and how much it conveys about the attitude and character of his attackers. Violence is just part of their day - like kicking a can or picking a flower. They are neither agitated by it nor rushing off in fear of being caught.

Obviously, Dave falls off the wagon in the book as well as the movie. His drunken behavior was hard to watch in the film. It is pointless and self destructive- you know - alcoholism. It is no more impressive in the book, but because we're watching from inside Dave it is painted heavily with remorse. And, it comes and goes much more quickly. (And, maybe it helped to be reading it alone rather than watching it with Kevin. It is embarrassing to watch one of your hero's fall so low in front of someone to whom you are only just introducing him.)

Like the Atchafalaya Basin, the Cajun people - particularly Batist and Dave's (memories of his dead) father - color the novel in a way they don't the movie. Sure, we have to have Batist and Bubba Roque (Bubba happens to be the best thing in the movie)- but the dialect feels stilted and foreign. The odd manner of throwing in pronouns sounds awkward - like a child reading poetry. I want to hear this spoken by someone who knows. And, like other Southern American peoples, I love the stories they tell.

I didn't have an answer for her. But my father, who had been a fisherman, trapper, and derrickman all his life, and who couldn't read or write and spoke Cajun French and a form of English that was hardly a language, had an axiom for almost every situation. One of these would translate as 'When in doubt, do nothing.' In actuality he would say something like (in this case to a wealthy sugar planter who owned property next to us), 'You didn't told me about your hog in my cane, no, so I didn't mean to hurt it when I pass the tractor on its head and had to eat it, me.'

So, I'm back on my Robicheaux horse and riding off to the "Black Cherry Blues".

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat

From singles 2

This was a first for me. I actually read a cook book. It isn't entirely a cook book. There are plenty of pages where Naomi reflects upon growing up and eating in Japan, discusses Japanese food history and reviews why a Japanese diet may be more healthy. And, more importantly, there are NO PICTURES of food.

"So,how did this happen?" you ask.

I was at the Asply Hypermarket. I was hungry. And, the book cost $5.95.

I have made the teriyaki fish (with salmon). You'll quickly see one of the problems I (as an American) have with the book. Though Naomi and William live in NYC and have so for years and most likely wrote the book there, this particular copy is a UK edition. Not only must I contend with the damn metric system, but they have this odd (to me) inclination to measure amounts of some ingredients (like vegetables) in mass units (grams) when I'd prefer (and better understand) volume units (1/4 cup): 75 g finely chopped Napa cabbage. Am I supposed to weigh that? or look at the funny "other" side of my measuring cup?

Anyway- I've included a recipe, though I've put some of it in my own words.

Teriyaki Fish

Four 125 gram (4 oz) fillets (each 1.5 cm thick) of salmon, striped bass or halibut
1 T canola oil

2 T sake
4 t soy sauce

Teriyaki Sauce:
50 ml mirin (= 3 T + 1 t)
2 T soy sauce
1 t sugar

1. Make the marinade by blending the sake and soy sauce in a shallow dish. Place the fish fillets flesh side down in the dish. Marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Make the teriyaki sauce by blending together the mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl whisking until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Using kitchen paper, gently blot each fish fillet on both sides to absorb any excess marinade. Place the fillets in the frying pan (skin side down, if the fish has skin) and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the fillets and cook for 1 minute more.

4. Transfer the fish to a large plate and peel off any skin.

5. With kitchen paper, wipe out any excess grease from the pan. Place the pan back over medium-high heat and add the teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute. Add the fish. Tip the pan slightly and spoon some of the teriyaki sauce over the fillets. Cook them for 1 minute or until the center portion is just cooked through.

6. Arrange the fish on individual serving plates and top with the hot teriyaki sauce.
"And, what do you think?" you ask.

The salmon was good. The book was ok- a little food fantasy. But, honestly, I'd rather read a menu.

And, here's a question: how long does a Japanese woman wait for a Honda Distributor???

Clues, clues, clues, clues

Thought I'd give you a little help with the find the Ann puzzle.

The year: 1976. One of those numbers will help you longitudinally.

The place: The OHIO State Fair competition.

The program: some military tattoo- I've forgotten the full name, but I bet I could still play part of it. Give me a bottle, I'll blow across it. Followed by, you guessed it! Van McCoy's "The Hustle". We probably looked a lot like the prisoners in the video- only less orange. Finally, "No Man is an Island".

I believe we scored a 2- which won't help you much unless you square it.

Now, from the top....... "Do the Hustle!"

P.S. I wonder what effect enforced line dancing has on crime recidivism? I wonder if they have dance in women's prisons? It is probably too hot in the Phillipines for me, anyway.