Happy New Year

Well, here we are again, at the end of a lovely year.

I suppose now would be a good time to say some touching, surmising reflections? Or maybe I should discuss my goals & resolutions for next year. Should I tell you all the things I achieved in 2011?

Let’s see if we can mix these things up. Instead of saying “New Year’s Resolutions,” what about saying, “New Year’s Wishes?” In other words, things that I wish would happen to me in 2012:

1. Get published. If you’re a writer and this isn’t at the top of your list—well then, uh…Then maybe you’re not as preoccupied as I am. 🙂

2. Travel. Travel free of tour guides, tour buses, cruises, rent-a-cars, five-star-five-story hotels, and cars that say “Tourist Vehicle.” (Don’t laugh. That’s happened to me before. Sheesh, it was like an advertisement to get mugged!) I want to explore, without the help of those lists that should all be titled, World’s Most Expensive, Most Corporate and Westernized Resorts.

3. Work In A Greenhouse. Even if it’s just for a bit. I think that might be kind of fun! For obvious reasons.

4. Get On Top Of Things. I’m a slob when it comes to filing. I am by no means a daksinarrow—red or whit—I’m more of a daksinapil—(pronounced DÚHKS-in-a-PÌLE) and I hope 2012 is my year for getting things in order. You know, the ability to know where everything is. It’s kind of important, I’ve been led to believe.

5. Bump my Blog Up To The Next Level. Needless to say, things have really spun down around here, and that’s mainly due to my new job responsibilities, which keep me hopping for most of the day. Blog Time isn’t very abundant right now, except for on vacations. So, in 2012, I wish that I can zap this House back to life.

6. Write Four More Books. That’s right folks, if you aim big, you fail big. But I’m not afraid of failing,  I just hope that when I shoot for the moon, I’ll actually get there, instead of hitting one of those obnoxious stars. (Seriously, those things are burning balls of methane, carbon, and argon—who’d wanna land on one of those?!)

7. Generally, Be Excellent. Doesn’t that sound exciting?

Well, here’s a cup of kindness yet, and let’s drink to Auld Lang Syne.

Happy new year everyone!

Some People Are Just Sushi

Some People Are Just Sushi

Don't it look beautiful!!!

When was the last time it happened to you: You looked across the table at that friend you’ve always envied…The dinner party is always livened up by him, everyone wants to be the first to say hi, everyone tries to nail down lunch with him. Or perhaps all her finances are in order, she’s got a nice car, she lives in a gorgeous flat with a balcony overlooking downtown L.A. Or maybe he’s really good with animals…they simply slobber all over him, while they snap at you. Or maybe she got married young to Mr. Perfect, and they live in a Perfect Villa on Perfect Road with two Perfect Children and a Perfect Hydrangea?

If this has happened to you…lighten up a little. There’s a good chance that they’re sushi.

No, I don’t mean that they’re actually tobiko-filled, nori-wrapped automatons disguised as humans. I mean they’re figurative sushi.

Ha ha. No kidding, right?


Yesterday, my year-long plan was finally fulfilled, as I gathered all my ingredients for my improv dragon-roll, pictured above.

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Popping Hello-Panda’s as I worked, I did everything exactly as described on my recipe. And if you believe that, I also have a bridge to sell you, and maybe a few nice Rolex watches.

The truth is, I fudged it. And as a result, I pulled it off without barbeque eel (wonder why I couldn’t find THAT at the grocery store?) or tobiko (Flying fish roe—same situation; What kind of store wouldn’t carry tobiko?!), and I only made one roll, so I had to alter the proportions on my recipe. I did it without a calculator.

My cucumber slices were sloppy. My avocado was mushy and old, and I way overcooked my shrimp (although I must admit that the tempura was a very tasty option!). I think there was too much vinegar in the sushi rice, and I got tempura dipping sauce to sauté the shrimp, not straight tempura.

Improvising a sheet of…uh…well, I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t bamboo—I rolled the nori, and tried to cut it into slices. Maybe I used the wrong knife, perhaps a hack-saw would’ve been in order. Either way, remind me to write the U.S. government and tell them that they really must start using nori in making bullet-proof vests and vaults for banks.

The two end pieces became my sampling pieces.

After an hour and a half’s toil, I finally came up with the above-pictured roll, which looks less like a dragon and more like a whale beached on an Okinawa shore, then salvaged by starved natives with nothing but butter knives.

With the digusting ends gone, finally, yes, finally I had my long-besought sushi.

Well, at least it still looks something like sushi.

A relative was at my place that day cooking with me, and when she saw me photographing my sushi, she exclaimed, “Oh! Can you take a picture of my salad?!”

She pointed to the array on the far right. “Those are marinated raw mushrooms.”

Such a master of the kitchen.

Yes, yes. That makes me feel real good about my beached-whale-roll.

In the end, the slices that I cut were far too big for one bite, and I ended up having to destroy the segments in order to eat them without gagging on oversized balls of rice wrapped in unchewable nori.

I gave in and had Brazilian-style beans & rice for dinner, and my friend was generous enough to let me have some of her ninja-awesome salad.

The point of this whole story?

Those friends of yours, those “Made-it’s”, what stage are they in? They may look like perfect sushi now, but have you seen their whole story? Have you seen which parts of the recipe they skipped? Have you seen them browsing the racks at the local supermarket, looking desperately for anything that looks like tobiko? (And like, what does that even look like—does it come in a can? A jar?)

They may look like perfect makizushi right now. But wait until dinner time, when they find out that the nori is impenetrable, that they put too much vinegar in the rice, that the avacodo went a week ago.

Or maybe they really are perfect sushi right now. But who’s to say that it didn’t take them an incredible amount of time in the kitchen (and plenty of epic mistakes) to get there?

Don’t get discouraged, don’t feel like some awful failure. When you’re served a perfect dragon roll, know this—that you don’t know what went on in the kitchen.

Only Up From Here

Only Up From Here

TODAY is the Winter Solstice!!!

From here on out—from now, the shortest day of the year, the days will get longer. We get more of the light, less of the night.

Sigh—Summer was so long ago. And so long away.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. If it doesn’t go away, it can’t come back, they say. Well, okay. I’ll live.

But still…

It will be nice to see the trees alive again. Nice to see the world thaw out, melt. See streams run from muddy embankments, mist linger on pavement, fog cover lush, ironic cemeteries.

It will be nice to see the world come back to life in the Spring.

Come back soon.

J. P. Cabit 

I asked you if you’d be gone long,

You only nodded ambivalently,

And mentioned some words about wandering.

I told you to come back soon,

But you only muttered something

About holding down the fort,

And that you’d miss us.

And I guess last detail

Trivial as some may see it,

Was enough to hold us through.

Peanuts and Wood Shavings

This piece is the continuation (part 2) of a work found here.

Henrietta wandered into Uncle Edward’s office. Well, he called it his office. It wasn’t exactly…It was more of a workshop. Yes, that’s what it must have been, but everyone called it his office, and he himself called it his office and would only recognize it if people addressed it as such.

The floor, wide maple boards, was covered in wood shavings, as well as half-carved, defective figures of Queen Victoria.

Upon hearing a change in the atmosphere, Uncle Edward turned and faced Henrietta.

“Well, Henny…?” Uncle Edward started, but didn’t finish the question.

Henrietta locked her gray eyes onto him. She wanted to love him, but…it never came.

“Hello, Uncle.”

“For the last time, Henny, I have a name!” Uncle Edward laughed, with a chuckle that reminded her of Indian chai. He turned back to the work bench, and continued on his carving. Henrietta walked up behind him, and looked over his shoulder. He was working on a carving, not of Queen Victoria, this time it was an Egyptian. A very good Egyptian.

“Ran out of steam for Queen Victoria, my dear,” Uncle Edward sensed her question. “I get tired of it after a while. Some day, maybe I’ll happen upon her. But until then…” Here, he trailed off again, and popped another shelled peanut into his mouth, past his huge oversmiled teeth. “Henny, why have you been so preoccupied? What are you thinking about? Will you let me in on it?”

Henrietta shrugged.

Overtaken by a sense of frustration, Uncle Edward turned, and looked straight into his ward’s gray eyes. Nothing.

He’d heard it said that inside everyone is a genius. Uncle Edward was looking forward to the day when Henrietta’s genius was revealed.

Bad Poetry: Flippy Floppy Fish Fail

I struggled for a while this December Night,

As I tried to think with some of my might,

About what upon this blog I’d write.

And after thinking the whole thing over,

I figured that I may as well

Write a poem that’s unfit to tell

In the public sector, or by people named Hector,

Or even to be trashed by a garbage collector.

So, I set down to write a po’m.

And while I think, I think I’m goin

To write a poem about poetry,

Cause it’s meta, and meta is okay

With me.

So think real hard, and think about

A poem whose poet you can fitly call a lout,

Whatever that is.

This poem now fizzes,

And sizzles, and stops

And stops and sizzles, and crackles

And pops,

And finally ends

Right where the fish flops.

Get A Clue!!!

Ashley Peldon as Turtle Wexler. © Child Starlets.com.

You’ve heard it before. I’m a big…no, huge fan of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game. Couple nights ago, I watched the movie made after the book. First, I was not convinced…Judging just by the box for the DVD, you’d say the same…

But, boy was I surprised! The movie was good. No, great. Unfortunately, despite the book’s greatness in storytelling, some things were changed to make it more movie-like. Some of the differences are below:

Book Movie
  • Sixteen Heirs—eight pairs—are matched
  • Only about five pairs—ten heirs—are made.
  • Angela is engaged to Denton Deere
  • Angela is engaged to Edgar J. Plum (Denton Deere only gets about minute’s screen time)
  • Mr. Hoo is married
  • Mrs. Hoo, his caricature of a Chinese bride, is nowhere in sight.
  • Turtle is paired with Flora Baumbach
  • Flora doesn’t exist; Turtle gets stuck with Chris Theodorakis (Read on)
  • Chris Theodorakis is a sufferer or palsy paired with Denton Deere (See Above)
  • Chris simply stutters, and is paired with Turtle.
  • The book, if made into a movie, would’ve been like three hours long, with an insanely huge cast.
  • Only 96 minutes, only twentyish characters. Shortened up nicely for Americans. 🙂

As bookish’s (I would say bookie—like foodie—but that carries bad connotations), we can get flustered when a movie isn’t just like the book. I’m planning on seeing the Adventures of Tintin when it’s released here in America, and I imagine I’ll probably find myself saying things like,

“Oh come on!!!”

“That wasn’t in the book…”

“Hergé never even hinted at anything like that!!!”

“Where did that character come from, a cheap employment agency?”

But when it comes to the Westing Game, it still carries over some of Raskin’s spirit. Ashley Peldon made a nice Turtle Wexler, and Sally Kirkland did a great job portraying the eccentric Sydelle Pulaski.

Like the book, the movie focused on the characters and their interactions, rather than gimmicky props and concepts—perhaps that’s why I didn’t mind the differences so much.

Perhaps that’s why I like the Westing Game so much, because in the end, more than the Westing Windfall, more than the Sunset Towers and its luxury, the story is all about the people.

Have you been peeved to the point of tears and violence when you watched a movie that in no way followed the book? Conversely, has a movie ever made the story better than the author did?

P.S. By the way, iMDB—If I had my way, the Westing Game would NOT be classified as a horror movie. Just sayin’.

Finishing #nanowrimo

Hey everyone! I’m back!

Phew! It’s been a long month. Over the past thirty days, I’ve traversed the state of Providence with my friends, Weslie, Fred, Mr. Brookline, Inspector Deschance and all the rest. I’ve found myself in jail with them three times, I’ve gone to an “Insane Asylum” which wasn’t what it pretended to be, I’ve biked probably a hundred miles or so, I rode in a helicopter, I saw the mountains of Western Canada, I’ve gone to France and back…It’s been quite a trip!

At the beginning of the journey, I was sticking to my count, falling behind on the weekends and then using my one full day-off in the week to write my brains out and catch up. Sometimes I fell behind a day. Other times I fell behind two days. Either way, catch-up work was not much fun. Here was my pattern:

Last day of writing = LOL!!!

Yes, that’s right, I finished two days early. The thought of making it so far, and then NOT finishing scared me. What a waste of time, if that was the case! I know, not a waste completely, I would still have a (junky) novel on my hands, I just wouldn’t have finished. Dear readers, do you know what it’s like to not finish something? So, yesterday I wrote my brains out.

I was so wiped, miserable, and vitriolic by the time the day was done. (Forgive me, those who I was snapping at by the end of the day. :))

But, my Nano is done. I’m officially a “Wrimo.” And, I hear, there’s also a prize included (although I’m not sure what…I think I’m supposed to wait for the beginning of December to find out). Hopefully, it will be some novelling software…that sounds fun.

Anyhow, this has gone from a focused post, to my brains spilling out my fingers onto my keyboard. But then again, that’s how I’ve been trained to write the past month. Because, that’s Nanowrimo.

Have you ever tried the Nano? Ever finished it?