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Showing posts from November, 2011

Home on the Range

I am unreasonably excited about this. I'm getting a new stove! New as in new from the store, not new as in transferred from one of the vacant apartments! And only seven years after I first reported trouble with my stove!

Hey, this is the life of a renter. On the up side, someone else pays for your new appliance. On the down side, you're at the mercy of someone else's decisions about your appliances. For the most part, my landlord's okay. When something breaks, they get someone out to fix it. When we have a problem, they listen and they do what they can to help. It's not their fault that the building has almost no insulation and we freeze to death every winter, or that the college students treat the place like shit. It's just par for the course.

I moved into this apartment in May 2004. At that time, one of the burners didn't work. In addition, the front door of the oven didn't quite close completely, so baking time had to be adjusted, everything had to b…

Tradition!

I'm watching Fiddler on the Roof tonight as I do mindless tasks online and off. I love the music, the humor, the culture, the fiddling. And the serious undertones of the plight of the Jewish people give it a touch of gravitas often missing in the musicals of the '60s.

Watching Topol sing "If I Were a Rich Man" reminds me of my first Dragoncon. No, not because I'm so broke at Dragoncon every year that I end up eating Chef Boyardee cold out of a can.

My first Dragoncon was my quietest. My first book had not yet come out, and nobody had ever heard of me. I had exactly one panel and spent the rest of the time haunting my publisher's booth and stalking Harlan Ellison, who was at the show for the last time, as it turned out.

Harlan Ellison and Peter David are best friends. Apparently they had suggested doing a song-and-dance routine to the show, which became some kind of talent show. They were scheduled to do a boring panel on writing for TV, so they decided to sha…

Mr. Utterson was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile

Image
I love these things even though they make no sense at all. I fed this segment of the new book into the analyzer:


The flexglass slammed into place, right in front of Hawkins and Butler. A moment later, an older man struggling with a cane appeared with Anthony, a teenage sanitation worker that Hawkins had known since he was a midway scamp doing card tricks for the marks. His heart twisted as the old man banged on the flexglass with his cane.          Then Selena emerged from behind the old man. She slammed her fists against the flexglass, silent screams that Hawkins could feel inside his chest.          Butler shouted wordless curses at the flexglass, pressing his hands up against Selena's outstretched palms. Her lovely strawberry-blonde hair was tousled around her shoulders, her eyes filled with fear. I love you, her mouth seemed to say, though Hawkins could not hear it.
This is what I got:



I write like
Robert Louis Stevenson I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writi…

Recipe: Cranberry Nut Bread

By request.... here's my mama's recipe. It turned out a little dry and crumbly for me, because my oven is extremely variable these days. Therefore I recommend you double-check with the toothpick beginning at 45 minutes. I also recommend using a food processor to chop the cranberries; you'll save an eternity.

PATRICE'S CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

1 c. cranberries, chopped
1/2 c. nuts, chopped
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. Crisco
3/4 c. orange juice
1 egg, beaten

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in Crisco. Stir in orange juice, egg and orange peel - mix just to moisten. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Put in greased and floured bread pan - makes one standard loaf. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Best on second day.

Big Bird

This year, the boys are going to Memphis for Thanksgiving. J will be spending the holiday with his family - something he hasn't had much chance to do because previous jobs did not allow the time off. The boy will ride down with him to spend Thanksgiving with his father.

Me? I'm a slave to the world of journalism. As in, I gotta work. The fam is out of town, so are 98 percent of my friends. J already warns me he's gonna get it from the family for not bringing me. *waves hi* Sorry, fam, I'll meet you eventually...

Since we aren't going to be together for the holiday, we're having a private family Thanksgiving this Saturday. It's really my excuse to cook a giant meal... and I can eat off it the whole week while they're gone. My evil plan is working.

Me: Okay, how big a turkey should I get? There's only three of us.
J: BIG!
Me: Cornish hen.
J: No!
Me: Itty bitty little turkey.
J: No. TURKEYZILLA!
Me: Sparrow.
J: Zilla! GIANT TURKEY!
Me: Hummingbird.
J: …

in which I offer no original content...

... because Brian Keene knocks it out of the fucking park in this speech. Read it all, friends and neighbors. Especially you beginning writers. Yeah, Nanoers, I'm talking to YOU. All of you. Stop the mad typing for ten minutes and read this speech.

A horror writer should know the genre’s history for several reasons. First and foremost, they should know it so as not to repeat the mistakes of its past. They should draw upon that history, letting the books and stories that have been written in the past inspire and inform and shape their own work. You know that novel you’re working on about Nazi ghosts haunting a tank? Graham Masterton beat you to it back in the Seventies. If you’re writing about vampires, you’ve probably read Dracula — but did you also read the works of Les Daniels, or Salem’s Lot, They Thirst, Vampyrrhic, or Lot Lizards? Maybe you saw Ramsey Campbell at a convention and were told he is one of the most important living authors, but you’re not sure why. This i…

Culinary Vacation, Day 5

Today's experiment is actually not an experiment, but I needed to make a cake I could rely on.

BASIC WHITE CAKE
1 package white cake mix
1 c. milk
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla.

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Grease pan. Melt butter. Add ingredients together and blend about one minute. Scrape down the sides and blend two more minutes. Pour batter and smooth into the pan. Bake 20 minutes, then turn and back 25-30 more.


Notes: This makes a deliciously moist sheet cake (9x13) or a two-layer 9-inch round cake. I double the recipe for a half-sheet pan that is my standard. You'll notice it starts with a cake mix, but the add-to ingredients are decidedly different than the oil-and-egg nastiness that they put on the box. That makes a weak, flavorless cake that will crumble when you approach it with your storebought icing *shudder*.

If I were not planning to decorate this cake, I'd have gone for the snickerdoodle version: add 4 tsp. cinnamon to the batter and make cin…

Culinary Vacation, Day 4

Oops, I forgot to post here. Today's experiment will be foisted on an unsuspecting group of miscreants - er, my friends - when we attend a potluck dinner tonight. It's a recipe courtesy of a little country orchard in ... some Midwestern state through which we passed on the fall tour. *shrug*

APPLE BROWN BETTY
6 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 c. breadcrumbs
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
(opt.) whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice them and put them in a bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well.

Melt butter in frying pan or microwave. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. Spread half the apples in a baking dish. Cover with half the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat with remaining apples and breadcrumbs.

Bake 35-45 minutes until topping is golden brown and apples are tender. If the topping browns too quickly, red…

Culinary Vacation, Day One

So I don't have the money to go anywhere or, y'know, do anything. But I do have a week off work. I have an apartment full of two adults' crap to consolidate. And I have a larder full of food.

I'm going to do three things this week: Sort and organize the apartment. Work on the book. And try new recipes all week. You know how you always have a pile of recipes you never got around to doing? The menfolk will be eating well this week.

Today's Experiment: Herb-Basted Chicken

Assessment: This is a very simple recipe that is also very economical if you are a spice freak like me and have all these things hanging around in your cabinet. Lemongrass and herbes de provence, baby, I have it all. Therefore the actual cost of this was somewhere around a buck eighty for the chicken, as long as you don't have to run out and buy marjoram.

Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosem…

VHS Bonanza!

Blasts from the past in brightly-colored boxes...

Here is a list of VHS tapes we plan to dispose of by any means necessary. Many are for young children, so if you've got a youngster (or know someone who does) and you still have a working VHS player, these would be good for you. You know the one advantage VHS has over DVD? They're a hell of a lot harder for kids to gnaw on. (But not impossible.)

These are all commercial VHS, no pirates. All played just fine the last time we played them, which was a looooong time ago. I've starred the ones that don't have boxes. They're $1 each plus shipping, unless you're in the St. Louis area, in which case I'm happy to meet up with you. Post here if you want them.

Ordinarily I'd be giving them away, but we're trying to raise money for the Hospital Fund and it's sloooow going on eBay, let me tell you. Any that don't sell will be donated to libraries or other good causes (if you know of a local shelter that n…