lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
On Saturday, after taking Mason to work, Shawn and I decided to check out the ReUse Center of the University of Minnesota. That place is kind of a trip. Check out all the--I assume, abandoned--bicycles

an ungodly number of bicycles hanging from an industrial ceiling

There were all sorts of other things, too, like all the weird old science equipment that a mad scientist might want:


And, of course, books that had been culled from the University libraries:


We didn't find anything to take home, alas, but it was really fun to see all the stuff. We had much better luck at our earlier thrifting spot, GoodWill. Shawn found a few baskets, including a big wicker basket for laundry (something she always covets.) Also, she found more of a set of dishes that we'd picked up earlier. We swear that GoodWill has the whole set, but it only putting out a few pieces at a time.

So, while the rest of you fools are decluttering, Shawn and I are digging through your castaways.

Why? Because it brings us joy.

Saturday was actually a very good day all around. Mason came back from work and we had a lovely dinner. Shawn and I watched "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018) which we had on DVD from Netflix (because we still get DVDs from Netflix.) I... didn't hate it? Shawn seemed to enjoy it, but woke up this morning to inform me that she'd had epiphany: "They should stop making sequels of these." I mean, she's not wrong? But, as I pointed out, DINOSAURS. Like, how else are we going to get a dinosaur movie in the future? Pretty much anything you do is going to seem like a rip off the Jurassic franchise. So, let them keep making them? I honestly love any movie where I can root for the dinosaurs. But, I will say that "Fallen Kingdom" had some moments that made me VERY SAD. Spoiler )

But, at the end of the evening, Shawn turned to me and said, "This was actually a *good* day." I had to agree.

Today, Sunday, was pretty good, too. We didn't do a lot, played Smash and hung out. I've been writing a lot of fan fic, some of which I posted today.  Then, we were going to have pot stickers for dinner tonight, but Mason's GF had to cancel last minute, and so we randomly decided to have fried chicken fingers and onion strips a meal we make while literally sitting in front of the deep fat frier.  Such a terrible meal. SO GOOD.  

I still need to do my spell of the day tonight, but, otherwise, I'd say it was a lovely weekend. 

How've you been?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 The lake weekend was wonderful. I spent a lot of time, unplugged, staring out at our friends' garden watching the hummingbirds.  I managed to get a good picture of one:

A hummingbird sitting still for a photo. NO. REALLY.

Now it's the regular week and I'm trying to get back into the groove of things.  Today I took Mason back to Washington; he had a robotics planning meeting.  They're starting to look forward to next year, and there is some talk of a demonstration and/or competition of some kind at the State Fair.  (I can only be as clear and detailed as my son was to me, so that means: not very.)

Tomorrow, we are headed to the DMV to see if Mason can pass the written test and get his learners' permit.  He just took an official practice test and got a 90%. So, fingers crossed he can repeat that under pressure.

Otherwise, I'm trying to decide if I want to catch any Fringe shows this year. Last year, I went to see my friend [personal profile] naomikritzer do her thing and so I am now on the Fringe's mailing list. A lot of the people I know in SF/F fandom are also theater geeks, so a number of people I know are involved one way or another in Fringe... and some of their shows seem pretty interesting. Plus, it was fun to hit a show last year and I'm wondering if I should pick one or two and do it again this year. Since my family isn't up for it, I've found it easiest to pick a late night show and go.  

One year, I'd love to invest in a VIP pass and go to as many as I can fit in, in the week.

Meanwhile, I've been catching up on correspondence and enjoying not having as crazy a work schedule as I did last month. Tonight, for instance, I was able to make pot stickers (a family favorite) and not have to dash out the door to go to Roseville or some other place.  I've been working a LOT of Monday nights this last month and it almost feels weird to be sitting at home.

I haven't been feeling like writing ANYTHING lately, but I suspect that will pass. I think my brain is just doing a little 'reset' post-class. I got my evaluations from the Loft. Most are glowing or non-descriptive, but I had one comment that's been haunting me. Someone wrote on the "things you wish there were more of in class" section. "There was no freedom." I have no idea what that means in this context.  I, of course, have been spending many waking hours trying to puzzle it out. The best I can figure is that I very much teach in lecture-style. It's possible that this student was hoping to get up and move more.  Or perhaps my structure was too repetitive?  I did have people write via prompts, but I always said that you could use any writing time as free writing, so....?

This will now be the mystery that occupies my life.


Apr. 8th, 2018 10:22 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Mason made it home safely, but his phone did not.  Hopefully, it is winging its way to us now, having been sent by the hotel.

We heard a lot of the New York stories as they happened, via text.  They visited the Columbia campus as Ms. Auyeung has a friend teaching there.  Mason's text read, "Ah, Columbia. If you breathe deeply enough you can smell the New England money."  He then texted back and forth with me that, despite his snark, "not gonna lie," it'd be pretty cool to go there.  

At one point they spontaneously stopped at the Natural History museum and Mason texted, "Forty-five minutes at the Natural History Museum. I'm in physical pain."  Not more than a few minutes after that, I heard that we HAD to return to New York because there was just so much to see and do there. More importantly, Mason thought that the city was _made_ for the way he and I travel together. He's not wrong. The experience he's referencing was the time he and I conquered Washington, D.C. via metro and guide book.  He had all the metro stops memorized by our second day, and I was always the one both getting us terribly lost and then found via randomly saying, "Let's try this bus, it looks like it's going the right way." (Mason still "hates" to this day that I was right.)

Ms. Auyueng ran those kids ragged, so Mason was pretty pooped out for most of Friday. I will say that he got me the most thoughtful gifts. He bought me a "lucky coin" from Chinatown that is supposed to bring in money, because he knows that I always carry foreign coins in my pocket. He also bought me a couple of packets of stationary. So perfect! 

Yesterday, Mason had an appointment at the University of Minnesota with a History Day coach. They reviewed his documentary and offered suggestions for improvement.  The twenty minute session was at Wilson Library, which I haven't been to in so long that I initially mistook it for Walter (which is the one on the East Bank.)  But, I dropped him off and found a parking spot on Riverside Avenue (amazingly!) and got myself some lunch at the Hard Times Cafe.  

I hadn't had lunch because I spent the entire morning talking at Claddaugh Coffee with an acquaintance who is a beer brewer.  My agent got some interest, ie, an editor asking "Do you have anyone doing x...?" about the craft beer scene.  Probably someone more knowledgable than I am will end up writing the perfect cozy mystery for this editor, but I thought I'd give it a try, since Martha thought she might be able to sell on a proposal and a few sample chapters. That second bit, the sample chapters, usually bogs me down, but I literally have nothing to lose. Plus, it's kind of amusing for my brain to try to plot a murder mystery, especially when you need red herrings, clues, etc.  Of all the mystery genres cozies are at least in my wheelhouse in terms of the kinds of characters they usually involve. I don't, for instance, have to know anything about being a police officer or a detective.  

At any rate, I hadn't been in the Hard Times Cafe since the Riverside Cafe used to exist (so.. 1990s?) and I'm much older now than I was then. I forgot about writing your own order slip, and was unaccustomed to the blaring punk rock (speed metal?) music playing at one in the afternoon.  I'm glad cooperatively owned places like this still exist, however. Seeing the young turks with their anarchy symbol patches on their ragged jean jackets made me nostalgic and happy.

The vegetarian biscuits and gravy were good too.

In the evening I played taxi driver. Apparently, Mason was in New York during Rosemary and his anniversary, so they had a big date night on Saturday. She took him to see "Pacific Rim: Uprising," He took her out to dinner (well, I paid for Firehouse Subs, so nothing super fancy).  Then they came back here and hung out watching YouTube videos and anime until 9:30pm.  I kind of wasted the evening because, honestly, I was tired and really wanted to go to bed around 7pm! But, hey, my Bejeweled scores are AMAZING.

Today has been slow and sleepy. Mason is facing homework that he was able to blow off the entire spring break.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
Saturday was a busy day and not just because it was Saint Patrick's Day in Saint Paul, MN. Mason, as I have been reporting, had his History Day project due on Saturday, as he had a 10 am showing as part of the documentary exhibit/competition. He worked on that until 2 am on Friday night. It's kind of a learning curve in terms of technology, for one, though I think the thing he ended up fussing with a lot was syncing the photographs/movies with his voice over. I got to see it when it was completed at 2am because I'm easy to wake up and Mason needed a little help figuring out how to get our printer to do the things he needed. He was pretty wired and punchy when I dropped him off at Johnson High School at 8 am on Saturday.

Despite being super-tired, things went well. In fact....

Mason's blue ribbon for History Day

Mason's project is advancing to State! Woohooo! Go, Mason. Sorry about the quality of this image. I had to take a screen shot from Washington Technical's FB page. The next step is going to be registering for State, which is going to be held at the University of Minnesota, April 28th. Mason will probably tweak his project a little, but the judges did not have significant critique, which is wonderful. Mason, I think, is ready NOT to look at this for a while, and go back to his robotics team, which he's had to miss while focusing on this.

For myself, I had a Saint Patrick's Day house party at [personal profile] naomikritzer's place. Since I had interrupted sleep, I was fairly tired and therefor, not entirely, energized enough to go into full-on party persona. I had a lovely time, however, getting to hang out with Peg Kerr, Haddayr, Dave Schwartz, and L. M. Kate Johnston. The food, as always, was amazing. I could have eaten the Burke-Kritzers out of house and home.

 Sunday, was pretty low-key. Shawn and I had planned to stay in our pajamas all day until Shawn suddenly remembered that we'd agreed to meet an out-of-town work colleague of hers that night at 5:00 for dinner. It was definitely one of those "OMG, I don't wanna!" that turned into a great time once we actually dragged our butts out there. Shawn's colleague is from Washington, DC, and is the event coordinator for NAGARA (The National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators).  NAGARA is having their conference in Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2019, so he was scouting locations, venues, etc.  He was an interesting guy--has travelled all over the world, grew up as a conservative Mormon until he came out (even worked for Mitt Romney for a while!), and so he had some amazing stories to share.  We had a good time hanging out with him.

Probably some other things of note happened, but I've completely forgotten them.  How was your weekend?


lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
I had a fair number of panels this weekend, many of which went very well, but a lot of my con was plagued by me NOT KNOWING WHEN THE LIVING HELL TO SHOW UP.

For instance, Friday--for some reason I got it into my head that my first panel ("Roundtable Discussion: What are You Reading?") was at 7 pm. I got dressed and headed out around 6:30 pm. I got there with 5 minutes to spare and started freaking out because I could not find a space anywhere in the hotel parking lot. I happened to see my fellow panelist, Bryan Thao Worra, walking up the sidewalk and so I shouted to him and asked him about overflow parking. I might even have said something like, "Well, I'll see you fifteen minutes. If not, you'll know I'm still hunting up parking!" I'm surprised he didn't look at me and say, "What are you talking about?"

Because our panel didn't start until 9 pm.

Bryan said that he'd heard that it was okay to park in the lot for the Wildlife Refuge Center, so I did, despite actual posted signs that said, "NO HILTON PARKING." I decided to risk it (spoiler: I was fine) and I dashed in, figuring I'd quick stop and register, because if I was late my fellow panelist at least knew I'd be on my way shortly. I'm glad I did, because in my manilla program participant packet was my schedule. WHICH CLEARLY SAID THAT MY FIRST PANEL WAS AT 9 PM.

Suddenly, I had almost two hours to kill.

MarsCON, I have decided, is a weird con. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I go every year. I kind of consider it the opener for the con season. But, given the situation with the parking lot, you'd figure I'd have no problem finding someone with which to pass the two hours hanging out. Nope. I don't know if it's the way the hotel is laid out, or the fact that I don't do much with the extremely popular musical track, or that the party floor is nine stories removed from the paneling area, or everyone else is invited to secret parties to which I did not get the memo/invite, or what, but I would NOT have guessed that this con apparently attracted between 900-1,000 people. I would have thought it was half that. The halls seemed empty.

This is also not necessarily a down side. I mean, it's nice to have a con that is not as overwhelmingly crowed as say, CONvergence. BUT, one thing that I told Minicon when preparing for my Guest of Honor gig there this year (in a matter of weeks!!), it's actually almost better to overbook me as a panelist than to leave me with huge swaths of time with nothing to do. As an extrovert, I really do feed off the high energy of a con. If I'm sitting and staring at the wall wishing I had a book, I crash. It's a lot harder for me to ramp back up to my "performance level."

So, I can't say that, by the time I actually sat down next to Bryan in the "Eagle's Nest" conference room, I was super peppy.

I did, at least, think ahead and prepared a list of stuff I'd been reading over the past few years. Bryan recommended a number of poetry books--like, full length books. Later, when i saw Bryan again, I thought to ask him a question that I should have at our panel, which is, is there a proper way to read a book of poetry? Are you supposed to just start on page one and power through? I've never done that with the few books of poetry that I own (granted at least half of them are Shel Silverstein). Mostly, I randomly pick poems and read them. There are Marge Piercy poetry volumes I own where I'm sure there are still dozens and dozens of poems unread, because I just never hit that page when I was leafing through. Bryan confirmed that that's totally how it's done, so I guess I haven't been missing some key to appreciating poetry all these years.

Because I'm a weird combination of extrovert and morning lark (opposite of you night owls), I went home directly after my panel.... oh, right, there was another reason I did that, too. I texted home at one point to let people know I'd arrived too early and wouldn't be coming home until after 10 pm, and I got a text reply informing me that our problem kitty, Inky, had peed all over the basement floor. Everyone was apparently very upset about this because Mason didn't see the mess until he plopped our brand-new beanbag chair right into the center of it. There was worry that it was completely ruined FOREVER. Problem kitty is also usually my responsibility, so everyone was mad at me for not being around to do the clean-up on aisle 5. (Before you assume the worst from my family, my responsibilities include one that I fail all the time. I'm supposed to pill our cat, because he has fewer accidents when he's consistently on his Prozac. My family rightly surmised that if he was peeing inappropriately, it was because I had forgotten to pill him. When he pees inappropriately when I'm the one who forgot to make sure he got his daily pill, it stands to reason I should be the one to deal with the fall out, as it were.) So, I rushed home to change kitty litter and to wrestle a pill into Inky.

In the back and forth with the kitty trauma, I ran out of minutes on my phone and so I also had to problem solve THAT on the fly at the hotel (it involved finding the business center and logging into TracFone)... it was, shall we say, an inauspicious beginning to my con. My only consolation (?) was that Bryan had had to deal with a puking puppy all day, too. (I don't know that that actually made me feel BETTER, per se, but at least my misery had company, as it were.)

So, that was Friday.

Saturday... let's see, I started my day off with probably the highest energy panel of the con for me, "Marvel Cinematic Universe." We talked a lot about "Black Panther," of course. We had two PoCs on the panel--Rob Callahan and a young woman named Kianna--so we were at least spared the awkward that is a bunch of white fans yammering on. Kianna had an interesting take on Killmonger (whom, it seems, is often misread by white people) and Rob talked a lot about the Indigenous response to the movie. That was probably the best panel of the con, for me.

Oh, but I forgot that my Saturday morning actually started way before that panel, when I was at home frantically making a powerpoint presentation because I realized when I got my schedule the night before, I was still the ONLY person on the "Manhwa/Manhua Explosion," and I thought, that as hard as it was going for me to fill an hour all by myself, I thought it would be even worse if I couldn't show visual representations of what I was talking about. I want everyone reading this to know one thing. I HAVE LEGITIMATELY NEVER MADE A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION BEFORE IN MY LIFE. Yet, the program is simple enough that I managed to cobble together ten or so slides before I left for the con.

I did, however, spend some of the downtime between the MCU panel (at 11 pm) and my solo presentation (3 pm) making more slides and genuinely TRYING to prepare... Even though I had no idea whether or not the room would actually have AV equipment that I could use. (Spoiler: it did. MIRACULOUSLY.)

So, I can't say that the "Manhwa/Manhua" panel was an unmitigated disaster, because I did attempt to mitigate it, but... I mean, there's a reason I prefer panel discussions. When there's at least one other person there, you have a CHANCE at a dialogue. I did tell my audience that I was not an expert, and that I had, in fact, proposed the panel because I wanted someone ELSE to tell me more about it....the other thing I warned them is that I could only talk about what *I* was reading and, frankly, what I read is SMUT. (Did I mention they put this in the "teen" track!?) But, the audience was sympathetic and somehow we limped through it.

My last panel was at 7pm and it was called "Writing Humorous Science Fiction and Fantasy." I... might not have been in the best head space for that particular panel. For one, I had had to kill a lot of downtime. Much of which was taken up by the other problem with the MarsCON hotel, which is they are in a virtual food desert. The Mall of America is within spitting range, but to go there, one has to be willing to leave their parking spot (or, I suppose, have enough time to hop the light rail.) There is a hotel restaurant, but the restaurant seems to always been chronically understaffed (I swear the SAME surly waiter who served everyone last year, served us again this year.) The hotel also has a kind of convenience store, but it's stocked with the sort of convenience store food that we have in this part of the country.... sandwiches wrapped in plastic that are fresh, but which have clearly sat around long enough for the various condiments to have made the white bread soggy and gross, you know? The con suite serves food, but it can not feed a multitude before having only pumpernickel as a bread option in the PBJ room.

I'd had lunch with Naomi, her family, Rob Callahan and his friend Jei. We braved the restaurant and heard a lot of cool stories about Jay's students (they teach at a Native charter school). I'd kind of blown my con budget on that --not that I really had one, but the food at that restaurant is not varied enough--or cheap enough--to warrant a lot of return visits, so I ended up eating a couple of hotdogs in the con suite. I will say? That hungry, those hot dogs tasted AMAZING.

Anyway, I found myself feeling a little... professional jealousy towards MaryJanice Davidson, who was on the humor panel with me. MaryJanice Davidson was someone who was hot when I first started publishing paranormal romances as Tate, and sitting on that panel with her gave me a stab of the classic green-eyes "why is SHE still publishing, when I'm not." That kind of threw off my game. Luckily, the panel was totally ruled by Ivery Kirk (Melissa Buren) who co-wrote a book with possibly the single greatest title for an erotica ever: TIMEBANGERS:One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tudor.

I ran into a friend, Jason, after the panel and I told him that what was especially weird about my reaction to MaryJanice Davidson was that it caused me to attempt to talk seriously about the topic of humor in SF/F.  Jason looked aghast and was like, "What? You?  I would have wondered where my Lyda was and demanded a refund!"  And, yeah, see, this is my con persona... and, of course, the one of the dangers of running into someone you long considered a rival (I was told I couldn't use DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS for a book title of mine, because MaryJanice Davidson was putting out a book that same year with the same title.) I think I was thrown too because sometimes you set up in your mind this kind of rivalry and the other person LITERALLY has no idea who you are. (Davidson totally give me a blank look when i said i wrote paranormal romance as Tate Hallaway).  

Anyway, so that one was kind of a bust, despite how cute and hilarious Kirk/Buren was.

Today was another WAIT, WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO BE THERE days. Shawn told me that my first panel was at 1 pm today, and, since she'd been right about the 9 pm one on Friday, I believed her.  So, I'm sitting in my chair, cat on my lap, thinking about having a nice, relaxing morning when I decide to look at my printed schedule. Oh no! According to my sheet, I'm actually supposed to have an 11 am panel. I quick throw things together and rush out the door.  I get there, miraculously find parking in the lot, jump onto an opening elevator and arrive at Krushenko's at 11 am SHARP. Only, Eric tells me that the schedule has been changed. My 11 am panel was moved to... 2pm. 

Now, I could have stayed, but I'd already run out once to get Starbuck's so I thought, no, I'm going to go home, go grocery shopping, have a decent lunch and come back for my 1 pm panel.  That actually worked out really nicely. By chance, I even arrived at my house in time to introduce myself and Shawn to neighbors who are moving in across the street from us. I had a nice sandwich at home and headed back. Two panels in a row, in the same room, on similar topics.  The first was "Androids, AI, and Gender Theory" and the second was "Artificial People in Science Fiction."  My favorite fellow panelist (besides Naomi, of course,) was Justin Grays, who was on both.  Post panel, I instantly cyberstalked him and became FB friends, etc., like you do in this, the era of social media.

So, that was my con in a nutshell.  I think the only awfulness of the con was the audience member in the Gender Theory panel who wanted to insist on an old-fashioned and outdated (and now considered offensive) term for intersex people.  But, the panel dealt with the person quite gently, IMHO, but there are always some people who take the changing terminology as some kind of personal affront, it seems.  I mean, "Oops, my mistake, [use correct term offered]" is the easiest response. It's also okay to say, "I didn't know it had changed," once, but then go away and Google, for crying out loud. The panel is there to educate to some degree, but the topic was not changing terminology, so... time was wasted on that.

There were a few other awkward moments in the two Sunday panels, but, I think, for the most part, people were unintentionally awkward, instead of malicious... which I guess makes it a little better? I hope so, anyway. (For broad context, let's just say things get weird when white people try to explain away reasons for slavery.... even in the out of historical context and about why we might have clones.)

I dashed home after that, too, because WEATHER is supposed to be on its way.  In fact, Saint Paul schools just closed in anticipation of another afternoon storm tomorrow. (I imagine the superintendent does not want to deal with another situation like last time.) I think it's the right call, but if it ends up raining all day tomorrow and not snowing, people will no doubt say he was too hasty. Honestly, the poor guy can't win. I think it was smart to err on the side of caution this time, however.

Right, that's me to bed.  Hope you guys all had a good weekend.
lydamorehouse: (writer??)
 There was a lot of snow, but we had our "Silent" Reading party, anyway.

I would say it was a success. I honestly didn't know how much reading would actually get done, but think everyone other than Shawn and I actually finished a book.  I bailed on the book I was reading, actually. It was called OUT OF TURNS by Anne G. Faigen.  What I wanted was another book like GHOST MONTH, which I really enjoyed--which was a light missing person mystery that was really more a travelogue of Taipei.  The mystery was little more than an excuse to go places in Taipei and "show them off" to the reader. That was GREAT.  Mysteries are fine, but when I'm reading one base in another country, what I really want are details about that other country.

It's weirdly difficult to find good novels that take place in Taiwan. 

Anyway, I started the STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMISTS DAUGHTER instead, and am enjoying that a lot.  I only wish I'd started it sooner, given the two dud books I bounced out of.

So, our party had, as I think I mentioned, a "high tea" theme.  Our friends brought Victoria cakes and a fruit terrine.  We provided finger sandwiches (cucumber!  cream cheese and walnut! brie and apple!) and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd.

And, of course, tea:

high tea for the reading party

I'm actually supposed to be a work right now, but Mason has, I think, a migraine.  He complained of a sore throat this morning, but he had bathroom issues and a really bad headache, that the Tylenol did not touch.  He is prone to sore throats in the morning, but the stomach and head thing could be related, as it's really common in younger people to have stomach upsets with migraines.  So, he's napping right now. If that doesn't punch through the headache, he's going to try to migraine prescription that his doctor gave him years ago (which he's never had to use.) I suspect that's going to do it.  The way this suddenly came on feels very much like one of his mom's migraines. 

We ended up taking him to school only to have to turn around and fetch him. I was able to let work know that I had to bail. I always feel bad when timing works out like this. No one can control a sick kid, but I work so rarely that you'd think the timing would work out better. Ah, well. It's not like I was on for a terribly long shift--only four hours. I suspect they can make it without any one, if the office can't get an emergency replacement.

So there you go. My weekend in a nutshell. You?
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
Robotics is coming to a close. Tonight, in fact, is the last night for building. Mason's team has until midnight Eastern Time (11 pm for us) to finish tinkering with their robot. After that, they have to shrink-wrap it and put it away until competition. I have no idea when I'll see my child tonight. I suspect the Washington team will go as late as possible (and my son will LOVE every minute of it.)

Luckily, he got to bed early last night.

And Shawn and I get a mid-week date night, so that works out pretty well. I suspect we'll catch up with "Victoria" and eat a lot of popcorn. Who says romance is dead?

Speaking of movies, I saw two this weekend. You'll never guess what the first one was.... yeah, actually, it WAS "Black Panther." My Marvel crew is always on top of things, so Mr. Murphy got tickets a week ahead, which was good because theaters were selling out. I had work at Maplewood from 10 am to 5 pm, and so I joked to Mason (who had spent from 8 am to 3 pm at "Week Zero" robotics, where they test their robot against the obstacle course for the first time) that both of us would be lucky to keep our eyes open. Hahahahahaha, yeah. No worries there. "Black Panther" was amazing. I don't have much to say about it that hasn't already been said, but I will add my voice to the chorus that recommends you to go, if you haven't already.

The other movie we watched was "The Great Wall." When Mason noticed us watching it he snarkily said, "Oh, I see, we're having the complete opposite experience from 'Black Panther' now, eh?" [If you're curious about the controversy around "The Great Wall" and somehow missed hearing about it when people were discussing it, Huffington Post pretty much sums up my argument about the movie: "No, 'The Great Wall' Isn't Racist Whitewashing (but The Question if it is a White Savior Movie is a Bit Tricker.)"]

What these two movies had in common was kind of surprising. Somehow, I missed that "The Great Wall" was a fantasy, where the Great Wall of China was kind like Wakanda in that it was fantastically science-fictionally advanced... the ancient China we want, full of amazing costumes, beautiful people, impossible heroics and acrobatics, and super-powered monsters.

Of course, in "Black Panther" the white people were superfluous to the plot (Tineey-tiny spoiler )), and the 'monster' was actually one of the more sympathetic characters who actually brought with him a legitimate conflict with real world implications.

It was an interesting double-feature, though, given the controversy around "The Great Wall."

I am not, by the way, recommending "The Great Wall." I found it to be somewhat vacuous, if pretty. The only thing going for it is that it very much had the vibe of a SUPER big budget version of a Hong Kong film, ala "Once Upon a Time in China" or "The Bride With White Hair" but with the annoying addition of Matt Damon. I can see why people cried "whitewashing," actually, because even though 8 out of 10 actors were Chinese, Damon's role is OBVIOUSLY the sort normally occupied by someone like Jet Li. It's kind of weird to see a white guy get the slo-mo slides and off-the-wall jumps, while shooting arrows... that's clearly supposed to be Li or Chow Yun Fat or Jackie Chan or Brigitte Lin or Michelle Yeoh.

So, I mean, "The Great Wall" and "Black Panther" both had the same number of white actors (3), were directed by PoCs, but one of these movies is a giant ball of Fail (at least in the US market. I have no idea how "The Great Wall" played in China. Okay, quick check reveals that Wikipedia says, "The film went on to gross $170.9 million at the Chinese box office, which is considered a disappointment.")

It was an interesting movie weekend.  The rest was same old, same old, I suppose.  I hinted at the fact that I worked at Maplewood on Saturday. That was another full day, but, wow, it was so much nicer to be at a place that respected my work. It went so much faster, despite being the same 7 hours. I also, because it's Maplewood, came home with a new manga series, which I read the first two volumes of last night called: The Girl From the Other Side / Totsukuni no Shoujo by Nagabe.  It's very "spoopy" as the kids might say.  I'm probably going to write up a review of it later today.

I guess that's me. You?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I haven't see Star Wars: Last Jedi yet and I have no idea when I will. All through the weekend, I did my due diligence and avoided being spoiled.  Then, this afternoon, I thought: why?  I kind of want to know what I'm getting into, frankly, if/when I go.  YEAH, you saw it. There's an "if" there. I liked Star Wars: Force Awakens a lot, but I walked away from that movie with some things in my heart that are going to make any follow-ups... difficult.

Poe and Finn are never going to be boyfriends.  This makes me unaccountably sad.  I kind of don't even care if they give me more hints of subtext in this current movie, I now want TEXT and only a moron thinks that's going to actually happen in the Star Wars franchise any time soon.  I think this is a spoiler since I found it under someone else's cut )

I was in the minor minority in that I liked Kylo Ren.  I liked him the moment he walked on the stage and I never stopped liking whiny-baby Kylo.  Not once.  From what I've gathered, I might start to hate him in this next film. This makes me seriously consider just not going. 

So, I started reading the spoilers looking for reasons to want to go. I haven't found any yet.  If you've seen it and you want to tell me why I should go, drop a note in the comments.

My weekend was otherwise nothing to write home about. Shawn and I made rosettes--well, okay, I made them, while Shawn kept me company. I spaced out and accidentally only made a single batch--apparently the recipe tells me to double it, but I didn't read all the words. (A perennial problem, honestly.)

rosettes on the kitchen table

I spent today wrapping the last of the Solstice gifts. My family gives gifts a bunch of times during this holiday season, so I'm actually FAR from being done with holiday shopping and wrapping. But, at least this part of the holiday is ready to roll. 

I work tonight at Shoreview, so it's a good thing that Shawn made double batches of lasagne yesterday, too.  We'll just have leftovers, since I have to dash out at 4:30pm.
lydamorehouse: (aizen's return)
 Saturday's class went astonishingly well. I was expecting eight students, but ended up with an even dozen.  They were all lively and ready to play.  It could not have been a better crew.  

I mean, maybe I will get a evaluation or two that says: "Teacher was very random" and/or "too accommodating," but that's just my teaching style. But, from what I could tell, everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Did they learn anything?  I hope so. I did have a couple of bits of wisdom to impart, but... you actually never know what sticks with a student.  I've had people say to me at conventions, "Do you remember saying [this one thing]? It stuck with me for years. Can you expand in it?"  And, 9 times out of 10, I have zero recollection of having said the thing. Unless it sounds completely unlike me, I tend not to let on and just go ahead and expound on whatever idea it was.  Because that's the thing. You really don't know what, out of the zillion things you say, what's gong to seem the most meaningful.

Mason came home from his last debate kind of late, somewhere closer to 5 pm. That worked out really well. I ended up having to wait with a student who had forgotten her phone until her dad arrived to pick her up.  From there, I stopped at Subway and picked up dinner for Mason and I.  We ate separately because Shawn was off to a work party on Saturday night.  

I could have gone to the party, but, once this extrovert wound down from the high of teaching, I was pretty pooped out.  Plus, Shawn is starting to be invited to the kinds of parties where the directors and board members are in attendance and... those upper echelon people baffle me. I can't compare Louis Vuitton bags. In fact, I don't even own a pair of dress pants any more. If I had been planning on going, Shawn and I would have had to go to the store to buy something appropriate for me to wear.  And that seemed stupid (not to mention expensive) for just one party. Admittedly, another big part of not wanting to go is the feeling that I'm cool enough any more. I'm not writing and I haven't published since 2013.  If people asked me what I did for a living, I'm not sure what I'd even say. 

So, there's that.

Yesterday, we got our Solstice tree up and decorated. I'd love to post a picture of it, but Facebook is being very weird.  So, maybe tomorrow.  We did our annual dash across University Avenue lugging a giant tree. It's become quite the tradition.  It starts with a walk over to the "Y's Men's" lot.  They used to set up directly across University from us in front of the YMCA.  However, now that Dickerman Park/the City of  Saint Paul has reclaimed that area, they've moved to a parking lot just up Wheeler on that side of University.  After finding the tree, paying for it, getting the bottom trimmed, we inevitably have this conversation:  

Them: "Where are you parked?"  
Us: "Oh, we're walking."
Them: "With the tree?"  
Us: "Yep! We live just across University."
Them: [looking vaguely confused and alarmed] "Good luck."

I'm sure we're quite the sight to the motorists on University Avenue.  I'm only glad we were able to talk the light rail people into giving us a pedestrian crossing. Otherwise, we'd have to walk down to Fairview, cross there, and then walk all the way back. That'd add several blocks.  In some ways, having the pedestrian crossing has made it a little easier. There were years when Shawn and i would be standing on the little concrete island between lanes for minutes waiting for a break in the cars.  Now, because the light rail has signs saying to keep an eye out for pedestrians, we will occasionally actually get people who will stop.

Then there's the semi-traditional arguing while we try to make sure the tree is properly in its stand.  We actually didn't do as much of that, probably because Mason is now old enough to stand at the door and direct us.  Before it would be: adjust, adjust, crawl out from under the tree, see that it's crooked, swear a lot, and rinse and repeat.  

I work today for three hours, starting at 11 am.  I get to try to brave this new dusting of snow all the way out to North Saint Paul. I'm sure it will be fine.  I can return eight of the volumes of Nana that I read over these last few days.  North Saint Paul is usually fairly quiet, too. I'm probably just covering some folks' lunch hours. 

Mason has a robotics field trip today, so I'm picking him up a little later than usual. Last night he went to Rosemary's. They switched to Sundays because of debate, but this meant he was home late last night and ended up staying up at least an hour over bedtime. He has a real problem with bedtime.  We harass him a lot, but there also comes a time when you have to say, "Okay. It's on you." No surprise, he woke up really rough this morning.  Anyway, I hope we can get him to bed earlier tonight.  Sigh. Teens.

Right. Well, I tried one more time to post to FB, but it's not working at all. And, now it's time for me to get ready for work.  

See you all again soon!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
I teach today at the Loft from 1 to 4 pm. It's a one-day workshop for teens writing science fiction fantasy called "The Dawn of the Attack of the 80-Foot Writer" (which is possibly my best class title, ever.) However, despite my dazzling title, I have only 8 confirmed students, and I think that's why I'm not feeling super-anxious. Eight is normally a very manageable number for me. Of course, it could all go horribly wrong if every one of those 8 students is a complete introvert...and no one talks or offers suggestions at all. Though, I have been known to fill my own silences, so I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I'm very much of the attitude, "It will be what it will be." Which might be awesome... or dangerous.

Mason is off again today at a debate tournament. It's the final one of the year, but he informed us yesterday that he'd like to be a debate judge. I guess that's going to involve a lot of us dropping him off at various school campuses around town, but I'm up for it. I'm really pleased that he's found something like this that he enjoys so much.

Though it's weird for Shawn and I to find ourselves with so much alone time. We continued our earlier binge watch of the last season of "Longmire" I spent much of last night dreaming about Wyoming. I think after this we're either going to finish up the weird set in the arctic show "Fortitude" (spoiler: cannibalistic zombie police procedural) and/or watch the third season of "Broadchurch." Meanwhile, while doing dishes I've been working my way through the anime of Mushi-shi, which I've been really enjoying.

In about a half-hour I'm going to do a Google hang-out with [personal profile] jiawen  , which should be fun. I've been writing a lot of letters to her in Taiwan, but we haven't chatted for a number of months.  

Well, I suppose I should see if there is, in fact, anything I need to do to prepare for class.  Hope you have a nice Saturday!

lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
I haven't checked in since the anniversary, so here's a full report of my weekend, starting with Friday, the big anniversary.  

Mason, as I think I've mentioned, is in debate this year.  The debate team has the craziest tournament schedule. This last Friday? They were in Eagan until sometime after ten. I didn't get him home until almost 11:30 pm, and then they get up to be on the bus again, Saturday morning, at 6:45 am.  

The only upside of that, for Shawn and I, was that we had the whole night together.  Va-va-voom, wink-wink-nudge-nudge. That's right. We got take-away from Vina (a Vietnamese/Thai restaurant in Highland Park) and binge watched "Longmire." I don't expect my nerd friends to be terribly familiar with "Longmire" as it's the type of show that I tend to associate with the "wine mom" set.  It's a Western/Police procedural that takes place in a make-believe county in northern Wyoming. The hero is a manly-man of few words and (supposedly) sterling character. There's nothing about what I've just describe to you that would normally make me say "OOoooHHHH! SIGN. ME. UP."  Except, the story telling is very compelling, and I'm fascinated by the intersections between the county Sherif's Department and the various tribal police (Cherokee and Crow nations). I have no idea how accurate it is or what the American Indian community thinks of the show, except I do know that the actors are all Native. 

It was, however, a grand way to spend the evening with Shawn.

Saturday, while Mason was away debating again, we made a lot of Solstice cookies.

a table full of Christmas/Solstice cookies.

I love making these because I love mixing the color into the frosting.  (I'm still very much a little kid in this regard.) Not shown are the date cookies... with are also favorites because I have a strange weakness for warm fruit.

Sunday, we intended to keep baking but, after I made an amazing yeast-based plate of cinnamon rolls, we kind of topped out.

gooey plate of cinnamon rolls, fresh from the oven.

This is a new recipe that Shawn found for "easy" cinnamon rolls. They were, actually, fairly easy for me, though that's said by someone, like myself, who makes a LOT of yeast breads and has done for decades.  So, if you're not super-confident with yeast, I wouldn't necessarily call this recipe "easy."

I can post it in the comments, if anyone asks for it.

Then Sunday night, Mason and I hopped on the light rail and headed into downtown Minneapolis to see "Brain Candy" with Adam Savage and Micheal Stevens at the Orpheum.  That was a good show.  It was basically LIVE science, but Adam Savage is very much the same sort on stage that he is on MythBusters (impish, vaguely dangerous, funny...).  We watched Adam build (and explode) things and Michael (a science You Tuber that Mason loves) explain things.  Even though it meant another LATE night for Mason, it was well worth the price of admission.  

We actually had really nice seats, too. We sprang for the middle-range price tickets, and so got first balcony, front row. We had ZERO leg room, but we had no one sitting in front of us.  The house was packed, too.  We were cramped knee to cramped knee with a full row, but the show was entertaining enough that I didn't actually mind at all.  Mason had never been to the Orpheum and said, "Wow. I feel under dressed," because it's the kind of theater that has a giant chandelier and fancy architecture (being historic, and all.)  

I hope we can keep doing things like this. That was a lot of fun.  A friend of mine at the coffee shop this morning said that the University of Minnesota puts on some kind of science show in January that's worth seeing. I'm going to see what Google coughs up about that, and see if Mason is interested.  These things get expensive, but, with luck, we can do them now-and-again.

That's the weekend.  Onward.  I'm planning on doing even more cookie-making today, because holidays. We're not even having guests, but Shawn and I love to celebrate Solstice with lots and lots of treats.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 Mason's friend Rosemary had never been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival before, so, despite the 90 F / 32.2 C degree temperatures, we decided to take her on Sunday.  Likely filed under "things you didn't know about Lyda" is the fact that, back in the late 1980s, I used to work as a performer out at the Ren Fest. I wore a big, red, curly wig, a costume sewn by my mother, and went by the stage name "Nut Meg."  (You can't actually see my face very well in this photo. I may have to find another one. But this is me, in either 1987 or 1988--I believe those are the only two years I worked as a performer out there.)

old photo from 1987 of Lyda in costume out at the MN Ren Fest

But, at any rate, because I used to work out there, I made two teenagers get up early so that we could arrive in time for 'opening gate.'  One of the things Rosemary, who is a HUGE fan of the Minnesota State Fair, wanted to know is, why did Mason and I like Ren Fest better?  Her point, which is a valid one, is that they're a lot the same: crowded, expensive, food oriented, and full of stuff you don't really need to buy, but that is fun to look at.  For me, the answer is the entertainers.  The shows--but particularly things like opening gate--are these dorky, improv experiences.  Opening gate is a free show and, technically, so are all the others (though the performers pass hats because at lot of them do make their living doing the Ren Fest circuit.)  There isn't anything quite like that at the State Fair. 

Plus, my people are there.

In fact, Mason summed up the difference pretty succinctly:  "It's nerdier."  

And, that's really it.  I would probably like the State Fair, if it was the nerd fest Ren Fair is.  Don't believe me? While we were waiting for the opening gate show to start (I always miscalculate how long it will take me to get from St. Paul to Shakopee.) I noticed this guy:

Ren Fair Deadpool

Ren Fair Deadpool is exactly the kind of person who would never cosplay at the State Fair. What does State Fair Deadpool even look like?  (Okay, probably now that I've asked, someone has done this and knows EXACTLY what Minnesota State Fair Deadpool would look like.) But, the point is, Ren Fest is like a science fiction/fantasy  convention with a middle ages theme, outdoors, that lasts for several weekends, plus great food.  I literally don't know why anyone would go to the State Fair, when you can have the State Fair x Nerds = Ren Fest.

Plus, what was the thing that Mason and Rosemary loved the most?  "Zilch." Zilch is this performer who tells fractured fairy tales in Spoonerisms.  This is such a nerd thing, I can't even.  There's so much to see, too.  We also watched Fandazzi do their fire dancing:

A woman in Renaissance costuming dancing with a fire rope--or a rope on fire, however you'd like to imagine it.

It's kind of hard not to have a good time out at Festival, IMHO.  I mean, it was so hot I was SWELTERING, but I really wanted to stay until 4:30 pm so the kids could see Zilch do his version of Romeo & Juliet, since they're both studying that in English this year. But, I just couldn't make it. How I used to pull full day performances out there, I have no idea. This may be why I only lasted a few years. (Actually, I know it's why.  Working Fest was the only time in my life that I had a doctor hand me a prescription with one word on it: "Sleep.")

Also, for the first time since the 1980s, I actually sat through the entire jousting show. That's actually a kind of amazing thing.... they really do run at each other in full gallop and break their lances. It's very clear that some of it is staged, but, even knowing that, doesn't diminish the excitement of it.  

Alas, I only got a still shot:

the jousting show, wth one of the "knights" on the ground spoiling for a fight.

Anyway, that was my weekend. How are you?
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
We spent a lot of time baking this weekend.  Shawn made pumpkin & cranberry muffins, some pecan pinwheels.  I made cinnamon swirl bread, pizza dough, and French bread.... Oh, and we both made a blueberry pie:

blueberry pie with a moon cut-out

The artist flair happened when I realized I'd cracked the pie crust. So, I decided to repeat the design intentionally around the crust and then add the moon cut-out. As my friend [personal profile] jiawen says it's sort of a reverse eclipse pie.

I do a lot of things like this when the politics suck. Remember how right before the election I spent days and days on lawn care? Well, it's been raining here a bunch (though nothing like Houston, HOLY SH*T) and so I couldn't get out to do any weeding or mowing or raking. Thus, much baking.  This current administration is going to make me gain five thousand pounds.

On the flip side, the house smells AMAZING. And there are a lot of leftovers.

The other thing that happen is that on Friday, a gift arrived in the mail! At CONvergence, I promised my friend in Oregon,[personal profile] offcntr ,  that I would send him a signed copy of Seanen McGuire's Rosemary and Rue.  In exchange, he offered pottery.

handmade poetry, looking down, with a falcon visible painted in the well of the bowl

This is what I got!  Lovely, isn't it? It is now displayed prominently in our dinning room next to my stamping things.  A place of honor!  If you like the look of this, you should check out the rest of Frank's wears at: !!

The other stuff that happened this weekend is that Mason went to the State Fair with his friend Rosemary.  Rosemary and her mom always run the 5K "Milk Run" at the crack of dawn (sometime after 7 am?) and Mason is their official "purse holder." In exchange, they get him a free ticket to the State Fair and they all hang out together for as long as my little extroverted introvert can take it.  Mason is extroverted enough that he likes going to things like this, but he's an introvert at heart and he leaves the party early with decreased energy, if you know what I mean. When he came home he had to hide in his room for several hours just to recharge his people-battery.  We had been hoping to hit the Munchkin Tournament  at Mischief Books & Games, but Mason just could NOT any more people.

This ended up working out just fine for me, because we had planned a big Sunday roast chicken dinner, and the timing would have been difficult if we'd run off to do the tournament.  The food was amazing. The French bread and blueberry pie, both HUGE successes.  I tried a simple roasted Brussel sprouts recipe that was... okay. Both Mason and I like Brussel sprouts, but I have been struggling to find a recipe that's tasty.  I swear I make them differently every Thanksgiving. Everything else was delicious. Shawn is only moderately fond of mashed potatoes so we ended up having hominy as our other side.  It worked pretty well, but I missed having an extra thing to slather with gravy and so had to do with extra helpings of "gravy bread."  :-)

So. Many. Extra. Pounds.

Though, if they all come from such good food, I will pat my round belly and sigh in happy contentment.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Ah, it's already Monday and I have to go to work in about an hour. (I work at 10 am at the White Bear Lake branch, and it takes me a little over a half hour to get there.)  Somehow I got through the weekend without doing my homework for class tomorrow night.  I have a feeling that there will be much panicked reading this evening. :-P  

On the other hand I did manage some gardening.  I should take a picture of the amazing bleeding heart that we have in our faux Japanese garden.  (I would love a legit Japanese-style garden, but I think the closest thing I can hope for is to emulate the aesthetic of one. I'm just not that tidy and organized a gardener.) The bleeding heart is huge and gorgeous, and inspired me to pick up a couple more bleeding hearts, because: damn.  I should also connect the hose to water the new plantings.  Last week I didn't have to remember to do that because I was basically gardening in between the rain showers.  This week looks to be fairly dry and sunny, so I'd better get out there and water things. It'd be stupid to do all the transplanting and planting just to have everything croak.

Sunday, Mason's baseball team did a fundraising gig at the Cub Foods on Larpenteur Avenue.  Nine of them working as baggers raise a couple hundred bucks.  When I picked up Mason, coach made sure to let me know that Mason "had good hustle."  

Here's a picture our friend Sean Murphy (SMM Photo) took for us at last Thursday's game:

SMM Photography, mason slides into baseMason running for home

Pretty good action shots.  Of course, Murphy is a serious sports photographer and you should have seen the size of his specialty lens!  Huuuuuge, as 45 might say.

Speaking of fundraisers, though, Mason is going to suggest the whole bagging thing to his Wind Energy Teacher/Advisor. His wind team still has a couple thousand dollars to fundraise to make their goal, and so they're looking for ways to make that difference up in the next few weeks.  My friend Naomi thought of a rummage sale for charity, and so we've cooked up something with one of the other moms from the team.  Gods know, Shawn and I have a ton of stuff to contribute.  We don't really have a great place to host it, but the other mom does, so fingers crossed that we can raise a few more bucks for the kids that way.  I mean, obviously, having made it past their deadline, Washington Tech is committed to sending these kids to Anaheim, but it would be nice to continue to lighten the school's burden.  (You can still donate here:  They leave on the 23rd of this month.  We're hoping to have the rummage sale that Saturday RIGHT BEFORE they leave, May 20th.  I'll post details about hours and location here and on all my other social media outlets once we have everything firmed up. 

That means we're starting to eye everything in the house with the "can I sell that???" look.  I think the cats will be lucky to escape without being tagged "$10 OR BEST OFFER."  ;-)  

Right. I should go get dressed for work. See y'all on the flip side.

lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
This morning started out rough.

We have a cat who has bathroom issues. I came down stairs to start a breakfast for Mason (normally, he just grabs himself a bowl of cereal, but today is his first day of swimming practice and so I thought I'd start him off right with eggs and bacon!), and I saw Inky, the problem cat, crouched very suspiciously over a paper grocery bag we'd left out. Sure, enough, he was doing his business.

I blame myself. Inky has pills that he takes to help with this problem, but I keep forgetting to pill him. Plus, I slacked a bit this last week on the boxes. But, so not only did I have to do emergency clean up and pilling, but I also decided I'd better get off my butt and change a few boxes.

All this before my morning cup of coffee.

Plus, it's just gray outside. Gray with rainy gray highlights.

The only silver lining in all this gray is that I still have some birthday cash leftover so I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Claddaugh, to get a fancy latte. I chatted up a guy there who was playing Pokemon Go. I don't play myself, but I think it's fascinating, but a bunch of my friends play and I'm familiar enough with the DS Pokemon that I can have a passably intelligent conversation when I see other people playing. Anyway, I asked him what he was catching in downtown and he said "Mostly Pidgeys." (I'd known from another friend that downtown St. Paul is pretty much Pidgey territory.) But he wasn't too bummed by it, because they'd released Ditto and rumor had it that Dittos were hiding among the Pidgeys. So I wished him luck Ditto hunting.

Once here at home, I had a ton of yesterday's dishes waiting for me. Last night was our traditional, post-Thanksgiving making of the knoephla with the leftover mashed potatoes. They're basically homemade potato noodles so there's a lot of pots involved, especially since Shawn's family traditionally eats them fried in bacon grease.

I decided to watch another episode of "Yuri on Ice," to help lighten the load. If you're looking for an respite from the current political climate, you really can't go wrong with an competitive ice-skating sports anime with SUPER GAY subtext.

Speaking of TV, Shawn and I binge watched the new "Gilmore Girls." We were fans back in the early 2000s and so we thought it'd be fun to catch up. I had mixed feelings, but I think it was a perfect echo of the earlier show. This sequel just reminded me of all the issues I had with the original. (Rest of my opinions have been removed for the moment, pending an article for Bitter Empire on the same theme.... because Rory Gilmore can SUCK IT. Seize the day, Motherf*cker~!)
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Mercury's backwardness* continues to affect my household.

Last night, Mason was hit by a terrible bout of insomnia.  Normally, if he can function at ALL, we send him off to school.  Today?  We decided to let him catch up with his sleep.  The semester is almost over and it's the day after a long weekend. He should be fine to catch up, particularly once he's gotten a decent amount of sleep.  

Consequentially, the whole household was delayed getting out the door.  Normally, this makes me a little cranky, if only because, even without a regular job, it still messes up my routine.  Today, however, I was glad for it, because I've been meaning to get to the bank to finish off a transaction that will FINALLY finish setting up my account on ACX and I can get the whole ball rolling with my voice actor friend, Jack, and the audible versions of my AngeLINK series.  We dawdled.  I bought coffee.  I waited patiently through traffic lights, drove the speed limit....


Even after all that noodling around, I still ended up having to go home for a half hour before heading back out.  Again, none of this is fatal, but gosh darn it, it's irritating.

On the other hand, yesterday was extremely pleasant.  For any overseas friends reading this, yesterday was what you would call a bank holiday here in the U.S.:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Schools were closed, as were all federal businesses.  Shawn had the day off work.

Since it was also supposed to be a bazillion degrees below zero (the scientific term), we decided to make the day a game day.  It would have been also a pajama day, but at 8:30 am our doorbell rang.  It was our neighbor, Ruthie, whose car wouldn't start. She needed a jump.  After running upstairs and throwing on some jeans, I pulled the car around and waited while they got it going.  (Ruthie is a nurse and doesn't get holidays like the rest of us and had a shift starting at 9 am.) But, outside of that tiny bit of excitement, we spent the day quietly.  We played two games of Munchkin (we have a lot of sets and we found a fun combo in Apocalypse and Mission Impossible/Spy,) and a seriously cut throat game of Monopoly.  I posted a picture of our game board on Facebook because by the end the board was RED with hotels. Ever since the time I quietly became the slumlord of Mediterranean/Baltic and brought my fellow gamers to their knees with the crushing rent of those awful properties with massive hotels on them, Mason has become obsessed with building on his monopolies. So, it was a fun game.  I actually survived paying $750 in rent. TWICE.

It was a good day, honestly.  I've been doing a lot of stamping, as I call my stamp collecting.  I'm still baffled as to why I find this activity fun.  But, it's very companionable, since Shawn will often sit next to me at the dinning room table, sewing together strips of cloth for the rugs/loom, and we will just hang out, chat, or watch/listen to a show.  She's been watching some British show (some soapy thing, I can't remember the name of it ATM)  that I've been experiencing mostly as an audible book, as it were, since it's too much trouble to try to watch and look through my stamps.  But, that's pleasant, too. Very old-timey, in a way.  Like listening to a radio play.   

Okay, well, it's just turned 9 am.  I should zip off and see if I can get my business sorted at the bank.  See you all later!

*In case you're wondering, as I often do, when will this madness end? The answer is:  Mercury goes direct on the 25th.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Rachel contacted the people in charge of setting up the blog roll, and the issue seems to be resolved. So that's a yay.

There are two more reviews of Song of Secrets up: For the Love of Fictional Worlds and Reading with Pixie, which is, of course, MY favorite because the blogger called out Gabe as their favorite character.

I had a very brief, drive-by, attendance at Diversicon this weekend. Eleanor invited me to sit in on the MCU panel and, as I said on Twitter, I geeked out so hard that people were checking with me about authors for certain runs of comic book titles. (I'm good, but not THAT good. :-) Still, that made me feel like a super-geek and I appreciated it, deeply.

The rest of the weekend was eaten by birthday related activities including several hours at the Mall of America herding pre-teens around the amusement park. I did get to see my friend Frank who stopped by to hang out on the porch with my folks on Mason's birthday actual, which was very lovely.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Uffdah, as they say around here.  Mason is back at school after three weeks hiatus, and every SINGLE Crossroads parent seemed to have forgotten how to use the parking lot. I'm lucky I'm not still there (or responsible for some car/child accident!)

This weekend, Mason spent part of his time at KidCON, which is [ profile] naomikritzer's gaming gathering of friends.  Mason came back really wanting to play Munchkin with us.  We have a basic set, and I've now been tasked to pick up a booster packs, if they have them, at MarsCON.  It was, admittedly, a lot of fun and totally got me jonesing for my RPGing days.  And Mason is the kind of person--not unlike myself--who actually ENJOYS hearing the tales of campaigns past, so I got to tell him about Fred Fumble, the Moon-Moon of the elf world, who routinely stumbled into his campaign mates and did THEM damage during a fight.  Fred's other name could have been Friendly Fire Fred.

It makes me wonder.... am I still one phone call away from a game?  If I asked around, could I find a D&D/RPG going down  RIGHT NOW to hook up with???

I used to joke that RPGs were my drug of choice, because if you go down the "Are you an Alcoholic/Drug Addict?" AA/NA pamphlet check list, "Do you have a hidden stash?" etc., my answers were often YES, if bent to include words like "of dice" or similar.  Do you think about gaming when you're not gaming?  OMG YES.  Do you schedule your life/change plans with others so you can game?  OMG YES.  Have you ever skipped work to game?  OMG YES.  The big one was always, "Could you get your drug of choice with one phone call/within the hour?"

Could I?  I used to be able to.  I had at least two friends on speed dial that were GMs who I probably could have talked into gathering something RIGHT NOW.  Actually, I bet I could... I still know gamers and their husbands/partners.

The other thing we did over the weekend was finally watch "The Wolverine."  True confession time: I can't remember every single detail of the Japan Saga.  I'm not even sure I ever read the Claremont & Miller original 4(?) issue miniseries in 1982 or if I caught up with Logan and Yukio later when Buscema penciled.  I have only the vaguest memories of those issues, and they kind of go like this: Yukio = kick ass; Makoto Mariko = tragic love interest (wife?); Silver Samurai = cool and adamantium.  The rest is lost to the annals of time or have been replaced by Bleach trivia.

Even with so little, I still feel like the movie betrayed my SACRED MEMORIES.

I will say, the filming on location, that was beautiful.  I wanted to live in all the houses they were in, particularly Mariko's bolthole in Nagasaki.  I also wanted her to feed me the nabemono she cooked Wolverine when they were there.

But the rest?  How did they make a cool arc so uncool?

I mean, Japan is just cool.  I don't know how you mess up Japan.  They even go to a love hotel and it's not nearly as funny and awkward and 'WTF, Japan?' as it should be.  There is talk of honor, but, I think, ultimately, it's hollow....particularly for the one person it should never be: Wolverine.

Shawn, half way through the film, turned to me and said, "They're making Wolverine nothing more than a brutish thug."  Casual fans of Wolverine might say, "And?" Isn't that his character?  No, it's really not, nor has it ever been.  Shawn is a much, MUCH bigger Wolverine fan than I am, but I can tell you the simple Marvel formula that sums up what Wolverine is about:  Wolverine is a beast struggling to be a man.

Wolverine stories, when they're at their best, tap this core issue.  I feel like (and I may be misremembering since I, frankly, remember almost nothing,) Claremont's Japan Saga and subsequent Japan arcs deal with this in a unique way--the idea of Wolverine as a ronin, as a masterless samurai.  They said those words in "The Wolverine" but they never meant them.  The writers of "The Wolverine" seemed to think this meant ronin = wild, lawless thug.  When, in fact, ronin should equal a lost soul that desperately craves honor and a code to live by.  This is a good analogy for Wolverine's constant struggle to tame his inner demon. Claremont knew that (I think.)  Or, if he didn't, subsequent writers who took on the Japan Wolverine really hammered that into my subconscious.

"The Wolverine" screwed this up a number of ways.  They did that thing modern superhero movies often get wrong, they focus on the super and not the HERO.  At one point Wolverine comes across one of the baddies and LITERALLY thows him over a hotel balcony.  We see that he's survived the fall by landing in a pool, but Yukio says, "How did you know that pool was there." Wolverine says, in full-on badass mode, "I didn't."

But, see, right attitude, WRONG MOVE.  Of all the Marvel heroes, Wolverine is most-likely-to-thoughtlessly-slaughter, but a good writer makes him suffer those moments because Logan/Wolverine doesn't WANT be only a beast.  Similarly, there's a moment when Wolverine sticks his chopsticks upright in the rice bowl and Mariko explains the chopstick taboo to him (which has to do with funerals and being considered bad luck/bad taste), but then he does it again.

I mean, okay, Wolverine is a brute.  This is one of the reasons I never entirely cottoned to him as character in the comic books.  However, I always felt that Mariko/Japan was one of the things that civilized him in a very sympathetic way.  I mean, it's classic, right? The love of a woman tames the wild man.  I'm pretty sure that started with Enkidu and is a total trope, but it's a good one... and it works with Wolverine, IMHO, because sometimes the love is slightly more platonic, like his relationship with Kitty Pryde.  And with Mariko/Japan there was (at least in my head) this lovely combination of love and HONOR.

The movie didn't seem to even try to go there, which is weird, because it was kind of slow in places.  If they were going to skip the character stuff, just SKIP IT, and go right into the ninja pile up, you know?

Ah, well, opportunities lost.  Once again, Hollywood neglected to call me.  I'm not sure what they're thinking when they don't tap me, honestly.

In other news, if you're curious about the other members of my writers' group, Wyrdsmiths, today on our blog Kelly McCullough is the featured interviewee.  Check it out:


Feb. 15th, 2013 07:53 am
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I woke up this morning feeling very dutiful. So I went downstairs, made coffee, and put in a thousand words on Samurai High (my current WIP, of which I'm trying to get sample chapters ready for an editor who showed interest in the proposal by early March.)

This is a good start for me, because we're planning to spend most of the day as a family having a "Staycation" at the Waterpark of America.

Last summer, Mason participated in the Roseville Library's "Book-a-wocky," wherein he vowed to read for 20 hours over summer vacation (which for him is only the month of August.) The deal was that if he made good on his promise, he'd receive a bag of goodies from the library. In that bag of goodies were several free passes, including an all-day pass to said waterpark. This, of course, is Mason's biggest scam. Reading is never a chore and, if he choses to focus on it, it can he read about 20 hours in three days.

But neither Shawn nor I think rewarding Mason for reading is ever a bad idea, even when he'd do it anyway. Finding a time when we can all go to the waterpark (and have the money for two extra tickets), however, has been a chore. So the day has finally come. Mason has been hopping up and down singing, "Water park day! Water park day!"

I, on the other hand, have been having PTSD about the water slides.

Actually, the slides aren't that bad. But, as an adult/old lady, I find I suffer vertigo a lot easier than I used to even at, say, twenty.

So that's going to be be my day. I wonder how my hair will do--it's been dyed several times now and clorine is never nice to hair dye. Perhaps all this rusty red will turn Yachiru pink! Then I'll just have to get a different hairstyle (and, if I felt clever, a captain's haori. If I were going to cospaly Yachiru I'd have be her as an adult.)

Last night was Valentine's Day and we watched "Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix" as a family with popcorn and lemonade. I spent the whole movie wondering why the Doweger Countess was being so... NICE. ;-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
First of all, I'm completly bummed out.  We bought two new shubunkins (calico goldfish) at PetCo and happily brought them home.  They've been doing great after what seemed like the inital shock of being in a new place where the lights go on and off.  We named them Thor and Loki. 

Thor is dead.

I was so shocked to discover Thor's lifeless body this morning after dropping the family off at school and work.  I mean, he was swimming happily a few hours ago!  I have no idea what happened.  My only thought is that the fish either brought some disease with them or, somehow, despite several thorough water changes, there was still something lurking in my tank from the previous fish. 

The only good news is that PetCo knows that fish are risky, so there's a 30 day "return" policy.  If your fish croak, they'll replace them free of charge.  So, if Loki pulls through this, I will go back and get him a new companion, and perhaps name the new fish something that would make Loki happier... perhaps Fenrir?

In other less depressing news, I started the sequel to Precinct 13 (and it's hillarious!).  Having talked to [ profile] haikujaguar off-line a bit aout this, I think I'm going to try the serialization model.   The plan is that once I get a couple of thousand words written, I'll post the first part "for free."  After that, I'll follow with an offer for more, if folks are interested in paying for it... or maybe, I'll just link to a tip jar for a while until I'm sure I have an interested readership.  I think besides some of the nitpicky deals (like setting up the tip jar icon through paypal), the challenge is going to be getting the word out. 

I thought I'd post here as well as the vastly under-used tate hallaway blogspot blog, and promote it via twitter and facebook. If you folks have ideas, now would be a great time to send them along.

It's going to be an interesting experiment, at any rate.  I've been writing like this (in small installments) for fan fic, so I'm not worried that I can push myself to continue to post every several days and that the story will be coherent.  What worries me is that these stories will go out into the world with a resounding thud, as they fall from the nest completely unable to fly.  I have a hard time believing I have enough fans to make this work. 

If nothing else, I should have something resembling an e-book at the end.

And, it should be fun, regardless of any profits made along the way.

Meanwhile, I've gotten several pages written on my next stab at a military SF proposal for my editor.  This time I'm going for a much simpler, straight-forward story with an uncomplicated hero.  As Shawn said to me the other day, "Think: Captain America."  That very well be the peice that's been missing from the other tries, and, as they say, nothing ventured.... I've been stuck on some plot points for that, but I've decided to let my brain turn things over and percolate a bit.  Still, I hope to have something for Wyrdsmiths to look over at the next meeting, which I think is this Thursday.

Oh, yeah, and I spent all day yesterday painting the foyer.  It's a tiny space, really, but this included painting the crown molding (which the previous owners sprayed over with that bumpy plaster crap), and the door and a bunch of other picky bits.  Still, it looks marvelous now.  I'm quite pleased... and tired now.

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