Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Cold Mountain and Cold Night

Chris and I saw Cold Mountain tonight. I had read the novel, but Chris had not. We both enjoyed the movie very much. J.D. had me all worried about the casting choices for the roles, with his strenuous objections to Renee Zelwegger in particular ringing in my head. It didn't matter that he'd ultimately seen the movie and taken back much of what he supposed would be wrong, I couldn't fully shake the negative voice of his early pre-release criticisms. Happily for me, though, I was still able to greatly enjoy the film. I'd forgotten enough of the details of the story that even though I knew how it ended, certain scenes and characters were pleasant surprises. Surprises isn't exactly the word I'm looking for, though. The scenes and characters were things I'd known and enjoyed, but forgotten, so that the feeling they evoked in me was like running into an old friend unexpectedly only to fall immediately into a feeling of familiarity and recognition. Two hours and thirty-five minutes passed like nothing.

On the way home from the theater, we were nearly to our house when we hit a hole in the road around some construction. The corner of the metal plate in the road came up and hit the bottom of my car and the impact was HARD. Next thing I know, lights are coming on on the dashboard, the "fuel cutout" light lit up, and the engine lost power and stalled out. SHIT.

Luckily for us, we'd already come through the long, dark, scary stretch between the theater and our house and were very close to home on a well-lit street. Chris walked to the top of the hill to the police station to see if he could report the hole in the road, and I called AAA and waited for them to arrive. In the time Chris was gone, three separate police cars stopped to check that I was ok and had someone coming to assist me. One particularly helpful officer told me to definitely file an accident report with the city and that the city was responsible for the repairs to my car in this situation. Boy, I hope that's the case! Chris came back, after being unable to actually find any police officers at the station, and we waited out in the cold (near freezing temperatures and a light wind) for about 45 minutes before the tow truck driver arrived and towed us the 8 blocks or so to the top of the hill and home.

Of course, we leave on a week-long business trip Monday morning! Oh man, what timing for this to happen. Still, I'm not going to complain too loudly. At least we made it home without being sprayed by a skunk!


The Thanks We Get

In case anyone has the illusion that getting into the game industry is just a fun, creative, rewarding career (making up for the long hours and the relatively modest wages), I thought I would share with you a great little piece of hate mail (selectively edited, because it amuses me). Yes sir, it's a happy, fun little business we have here, making games. You know, games. Made up, pretend, for "fun" and pleasure...

Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted by David
"Played D&D for 20 years" Howarth (bgates@microsoft.com)

message: I read the first couple paragraphs of the {Product} preview, and it just plain sucks. Not only do you miss the have the {Imaginary Character} holding {phallic object} in his "primary hand" (a {phallic object} is a two-handed weapon, you stupid fucks), you get the feel and mood of {Imaginary Location} entirely wrong. Glad you put a preview out there, as I might have been fooled by the promise of the title into actually purchasing the book. Also won't be buying {Product #2}, which sounded similarly promising, as I assume it is full of the same idiotic tripe that you put in the sample .pdf. Do better, or die trying. I'm not huge fan of Wizards (for instance, their editing blow chunks), but you guys don't even come close. Sincerely, someone who has been playing RPGs since before you were born and actually understands what you should be attempting to do. Good luck wallowing in Wizards' wake.


Uh, ok crankmeister. Bet you wouldn't have the guts to say that to my face, Big Man. Glad I could provide a convenient target for your ill-written, poorly socialized, power-fantasy-inspired spoo. I hope you feel better, having really put me in my place for something we offered free on the internet. Why, you're a virtual freakin' hero.



He was no Mr. Rogers, but Captain Kangaroo was a childhood favorite nonetheless. How many boxes of ping pong balls to the head did this man take, for the sake of wholesome children's entertainment? Countless, I'm sure.



Two injured pigeons have taken up residence at Kate's school after being attacked by a hawk. To the children's dismay, one succumbed to its wounds overnight. Kate is annoyingly concerned about the second injured bird and has been appointed by the other girls in the class to "take care of it." She called me from school today to try to convince me to come to the school to help her capture the bird, put it in a box the kids had "prepared" for it, and keep it here at the house where we could "nurse it back to health."

I barely managed to convince her to come home on the bus as scheduled, and she brought with her a cardboard box with holes punched in, and filled with "food" (some student's chewy granola bar) and a "bed" (Andrea's donated sweater) and some origami cranes someone folded to keep the bird's spirits up. Kate could not stop talking about how she "had to" help the pigeon, how she and the girls have "become really attached to the pigeon" and how "the whole school is counting on her" to keep the pigeon from dying. Holy cow. Using my best Animal Planet jargon, I convinced (barely) a skeptical Kate that capturing the wild bird and putting it in a box was only going to stress it and make it struggle, which might make its injuries worse. We agreed that she could bring some bird seed from our bird feeder stash with her to school tomorrow, so the pigeon will not "starve."

This reminds me of my own crusade to "help" an injured bird when I was all of 6 or 7, in first grade. For some reason, I was walking alone to school. We lived in a small town and times were different then, but I still wonder what I was doing out there with no supervision. Had anyone been with me, this story never would have happened.

I remember that I had a brand new embroidered cloth purse that I was very proud of and I was taking it to school to show and share. Walking along the sidewalk on the main street, past Zups grocery (in their old location, before they tore down my childhood home for their modern market), I was only a block from home when I saw an injured robin on the sidewalk. I suppose it flew into one of the giant store windows and it was crouching, stunned but not dead, on the empty sidewalk. It did not fly away as I approached, did not struggle as I reached down and petted it. Certain I was "helping" the poor thing, I scooped it up and put it in my purse, which was just the right size to fit a smallish robin. I'm sure the poor thing died of fright or suffocation, but I just went on my merry way: a wee thing, with a brand new, fancy, embroidered purse stuffed full of dying robin.

I carried it right into class and sat down with it in my bag. I opened the bag and petted its feathers, cooed and talked to it to make it "feel better" until one of my classmates told the teacher I had a dead bird in my bag. Horrified, I insisted that the bird was NOT dead. He was just sleeping. He was hurt and I was helping him! My teacher, completely grossed out, asked me with disgust why I would do such a thing? What in the world possessed me to pick up a dead bird and put it in my purse? As much as I insisted that the bird was alive when I picked him up (and that he was just sleeping now), there was no shaking the conviction of my teacher and my classmates that this bird was dead, dead, dead. Worse than that, if he had been alive when I picked him up (which they all doubted), then I had actually killed the bird! I was a BIRD KILLER!

I wept bitterly as I was sent outside to unceremoniously dump the "sleeping" bird out of my purse, next to the chain link fence that surrounded the playground. I willed it to awaken, I begged it to get up and fly or hop or waddle away. No dice. The bird was dead and he wasn't going anywhere. Not only that, my pretty purse was tainted, no longer something to show off during show and tell, but a filthy object that had held a dead bird mere minutes earlier. My classmates couldn't have been more put off. All was in ruins.

Over dinner tonight Kate learned a new word: moratorium. Chris declared a moratorium on discussion of pigeons. Turning the tables a few minutes later, Kate declared a moratorium on discussion of e-mail. Serves us right, I suppose. All I can say is Kate comes by her impulses naturally, from her caring and sensitive nature, to her desire to "help," to her burgeoning sarcasm and straight-forwardness.


Tough Day

The ghost of a steam train - echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere -
Just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings -
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will -
But I'd sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice.

-The Jam, A Town Called Malice

Hoo boy, today is weighing on me, squashing down on me like a real monster.

I was going to write about all the various things that are going on, but I've been finding it impossible to write specifically enough to vent my frustrations and yet obtusely enough to protect the privacy of the other people involved.

Meanwhile, I'm sending a plea out to any of my friends who might be in a position to help me out by keeping Kate during non-school hours while I'm out of town next week. I have a short-notice trip that's taking me out of town from early Monday morning to Sunday evening, and without M. to back me up, I'm scrambling. Kate is staying with a friend for a couple of nights, but they can't manage the whole time themselves.

I've put my "It's the 80s!" iTunes mix. (Violent Femmes, Suicidal Tendencies, The Jam, The Cure, R.E.M., Soft Cell, The Proclaimers, Big Star, Prince, Rush, Sonic Youth, Devo, Throwing Muses, The Jesus & Mary Chain and so on.) It's that kind of a day.



M., whose DUI-troubles I wrote about a few months ago, has fucked up again and is going before the courts one more time. She was ashamed to admit it to me, so I don't know details, but she was apparently caught driving without a license (her license having been suspended as punishment for the DUI offense) and ticketed, while still on probation for her last offense. I'm torn between being angry with her for screwing up like this, and worried for what the future holds for her. There's nothing I can do about it, I know I can't fix anything for her, but that doesn't stop me from worrying about her well-being. I can only assume jail time will be involved. Am keeping this from Kate, as she would be distressed to know M. was in such trouble.


Hate in America

Margaret Cho's website has published several of the hate-mail letters she received after Freepers got a look at portions of a transcript of her comedy bit at the MoveOn.org's political advertising contest "Bush in 30 Seconds" awards show.

I just don't personally know people who have this kind of hate. It's so foreign to me, I feel almost bludgeoned by it when I happen across it. What is it about George W. Bush that inspires these people, makes them feel that he's one of them and on their side, and has them chanting "Four more years!!" in anticipation of his re-election? Is it just that the Republican party is the "non-Democrats" party (white, rich, Christian, male?) or do they see something else, some tacit approval of their hatred of women, gays, non-whites, immigrants, and Jews?



Friday was our dear friend Kathryn's thirtieth birthday. Today was her surprise party, and boy was she surprised. Kathryn's mom, and her boyfriend Jess, planned this elaborate surprise party, complete with catered dinner, a bar with plenty of beer, wine, and cosmopolitans, and a sound-system. There was even a performance by Trois (Kathryn's mother and mates, complete with beehive wigs, singing). Kathryn was completely taken by surprise, and it was especially rewarding after her actual birthday had passed "unnoticed" by friends (a fact that had her bumming quite a bit, apparently). She was flabbergasted that we were throwing the party for her in the first place, and reduced to tears when she realized that some friends had flown in from the eastern time zone for the event. My own sweet Katherine was there, Kathryn being one of her most adored adult friends, and Kate had a delicious time and received many compliments for being both a polite, grown-up girl and for being a complete ham. She entertained a group of the adults for quite some time by trying on the singers' wigs and gowns. Apparently many photos of her were taken...I hope they make their way back to me!

We found out that mutual friends Nate and Ericka are expecting a baby (due in August). So many babies these last couple of years!! Very happy for them; they both seemed in a good, centered, calm place about it. Well I remember the days of my own pregnancy...

Anyway, the night was about Kathryn, and she seemed to have a good one. I believe that my thirtieth birthday was spent in much less a loved and glorious fashion. Kathryn has become a dear friend to us all in just the few years we've known her, and I hope that we can continue to know her for years to come. She and Jess are one of those rare couples with whom Chris and I both feel totally comfortable, and I've come to realize that's a precious, rare thing where couples are concerned. All too often, there's one side of a couple that is more dear to you than the other, but in the case of Jess and Kathryn, they're both exceptionally dear to us.

It was an honor to be invited to such an event. I'm so glad we were able to be there.


Rebirth of Gaming

Every year our game group falls into meeting irregularly around the holidays and during convention season. Fall and spring are definitely our strong times, where we meet weekly and rarely have people missing a session. As is tradition, we've started the new year with a new campaign and some new additions to our group. Last night Bruce and Tim joined us to make up characters. As a break from fantasy D20 (thanks in no small part to our recent obsession with KOTOR) Chris is going to GM a Knights of the Old Republic-era Star Wars game.

I made dinner as usual (lemon-marinated chicken breasts that could have used a stronger marinade, edamame salad, a romaine and assorted veggies salad, and some angel hair pasta tossed with red pepper and olive oil for those eating carbs), and Bruce gifted us with some of his home-roasted coffee (after a whiff of the beans this morning, I didn't even want to stop to grind them...delicious stuff). He threatens to bring wine next time. Tim may be dragged along to more adventurous eating than he's used to, though Rick will keep him company on the "I don't like green things" side of the table most evenings. Heh.

Anyway, so far we've got a bunch of great concepts: a Wookie Jedi, a Jedi who killed his master (perhaps by accident, or was it?) in a lightsaber training duel, a former Jedi turned crime boss, a hedonist Jedi with philosophical differences with some of the mainstream Jedi teachings, and an Echani soldier/duelist. Rick is in Japan next week, but the rest of us are going to give it a spin while he's gone. There's still room at the table for Kathryn and Evan (when life with Zoey calms down to a dull roar). I think this is the best group we've put together in a long time, and I'm really looking forward to it.


Kate is pissed off

Poor Kate. She has a male teacher for half the week (M-W a.m.) and a female teacher the other half of the week (W p.m.-F). As far as I can tell, she gets a long fine with the male teacher (who has a daughter himself) and is constantly clashing with the female teacher. In fact, I can't blame her...I've had the same gut reaction to both teachers. Not that her female teacher is a bad person or mean or uncaring or anything, it's just our approaches to life and our personalities are sooooo different! Spending just a few hours in a classroom during the kids' potluck had me on edge, precisely because of the female teacher's style, as well as the attitude of one of the other kids (who Kate had complained to me about before and who I instantly agreed was just as annoying and out of control as Kate told me once I met her).

So, something flared up in class yesterday and Kate and her female teacher had a little confrontation. Keeping in mind that Kate got up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday morning, I'm not surprised at all that she was having a bad day at school. Something about silent reading time being over before Kate could read her book or some similar issue had Kate complaining to the teacher, who was mouthing sympathy ("I know you're upset about the book...") and Kate struggling to put her more general angst over life into words the teacher would understand ("It's not about the book. It's about everything, it's about the whole year I'm having..."). According to Kate, the teacher just kept focusing on the book, and Kate finally said, "I'm just pissed off."

Poor kid, little did she know this was going to be an affront to the delicate hippie sensibilities of her teacher. Kate was told by the shocked and offended teacher not to use that word at school and then sent out into the hallway to "calm down" and told they'd talk about it later. Then, instead of coming out to talk to Kate herself, the teacher sent the room parent out to talk to Kate, and to pass on the message that she could come back in the room when she had a smile on her face.

I definitely feel for my child in this situation. It's exactly the kind of ridiculous situation I used to find myself in when I was in school: I loved school for the learning, I hated it for the social interactions. I moved a lot and so I was always the new kid and was always forced to make new friends. I was smart, but I was also opinionated and emotional (kinda like, well, the adult me in kid form, who'dda thunk?) and some stupid teacher would get up in my face about not singing during music class or not wanting to be part of the holiday pagent or something and I'd stupidly claim I had a right to free speech or a right not to have to sing bloody Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and get smacked down for "insubordination" or some other crap.

Kate was not trying to be offensive to her teacher. Believe me, she knows plenty of Mommy's other "bad words" if she was trying to get to the teacher or cause a scene. I've just never forbidden her from saying that she's "pissed off" if that's how she feels. Hell, my own website points out that I'm the nicest person you never want to piss off (thanks to Evan for coining that phrase)! I *have* told her she's over-reacting, that she needs to calm down about something or have an attitude adjustment before I'm going to talk to her about something, but I have NEVER told her that she has to "have a smile on her face" before she can participate. That concept just offends me. "Smile or you're in trouble." Blech.

I advised Kate to apologize to her teacher today. I suggested that she can tell her teacher that we don't consider that a bad word in our house, but we also respect others' feelings and she won't say she's pissed off at school. Unfortunately, she's going to have to suck it up and get along with this teacher if she's going to get through second grade and stupid confrontations like this aren't going to make that any easier.


Happy Birthday Zoey!

My dear friends' baby girl was born yesterday. At 8 pounds 14 ounces, she's bigger than Kate was when she was born (by 4 ounces for those keeping score), and considering that Rona is about a foot shorter I am, she has my utmost admiration. I'm thinking that newborn-size baby outfit we bought them is going to be too small in about, oh, 3 days...

Happy birthday, Zoey! Congratulations, Evan and Rona!


No excuse

There is no excuse, no justification whatsoever, that can convince me the United States government was justified in its conduct in the case of Maher Arar. Read this man's account. It's not just Maher Arar, it's happening to people all over this country: people who are deemed "suspicious," people who are held without charges, without lawyers, without protection of the law, people who are labeled "people of interest" or "enemy combatants" and imprisoned. In our country, or elsewhere at the behest of our government, the role of the United States in these scenarios is not that of "liberator." Land of the free? In the name of all that is good, spare me this flavor of freedom!

If it can happen to them, it can happen to any of us.


Space Generation

Born in 1969 as I was, I matured under the belief that space was man's domain and we could and would traverse it as we wished, exploring, investigating, building, taming, domesticating. The 70s were all about space! The psychedelic hippies decorated with shooting stars and spinning planets, the television was showing endless reruns of Star Trek, George Lucas owned the hearts and minds of the movie-going public with Star Wars. We were going to have space stations and lunar outposts and manned missions to Mars. The UNIVERSE was our oyster.

It took a while for the general public to catch on to what the folks at NASA could clearly see: there was no money for such wild, speculative exploration. Our government was obsessed with the fight against Communism, ugly wars and government scandals brought the high-flying space age literally down to Earth. Still, the occasional project managed to survive, and the citizens could point to efforts like the Space Shuttle program and convince themselves that we were still on our way.

I once had an argument with a college mathematician, one of those smarty-pants boys who was studying "higher math" and was sure there was no mystery in the world that couldn't be solved with the right scientific formula. With what he'd learned as an undergraduate math major, he was convinced there would be no travel to the planets and certainly no travel outside of our solar system because it's "impossible" to break the speed of light. I, romantic and idealistic and mathematically challenged, took great offense at such nihilism, but the only rebuttal I could come up with was, "But what if they're wrong? What if what we think we know that makes space travel 'impossible' is wrong?"

I guess I still haven't entirely lost that naïve, uninformed optimism, but I'm definitely more cynical and hold far less doe-eyed confidence in the future for man in space. When I heard that the Mars rover had successfully landed on Mars, that we were receiving pictures of the Martian landscape, I felt a cautious joy and an appreciation for all the hard work and all the lucky miracles that must have taken place for everything to happen correctly. Driving our remote controlled buggies around the surface of a distant planet is a delicate process with no assurances; just ask the poor team who worked on Beagle. There's just so much wrong here on Earth, I find it hard to muster up the enthusiasm for space missions that I once had.

When I heard that George W. Bush latched onto the Mars missions, and was going to propose manned Mars missions, my heart sank. Instead of feeling full of optimism and excitement about such a project, I ask the President, "With what money??" The economy, in case he and his millionaire friends haven't been paying attention, has been the shits for a couple of years now. We have no more budget surplus to play with, we have a huge debt that's getting huger by the day! We have the never-ending War on Terrorism to fund, an aging population to care for, insurance and health care and education to juggle...where is the money for this grand long-term project going to come from? Are we going to end up like the Soviet Union, and Russia alone after them, with poorly equipped men and women aboard half-finished space stations and living in colonies held together with duct tape because we ran out of money? Are we going to have to go begging to whoever takes our place in the world to please go rescue our stranded astronauts?

There's certainly plenty to be said in favor of space exploration. In fact, I truly believe that the human race's long-term survival is going to depend on sustainable off-world ventures. But that doesn't change the fact that we can't just keep charging everything to world credit card, to be paid back later by generations unknown. Unlike George W's other failed businesses, if the United States goes bankrupt, there's no one out there to bail us out.



There are certain musical artists whose work is so bound up in my relationship to a person or people that I can’t hear the music without remembering something about them. Unfortunately, it’s not such a precise thing that distinct, predictable memories can be called up as easily as the tune involved. Sometimes it’s only a wistful remembrance of a time or relationship now gone. Other times it’s a visual snapshot, a little mental video clip of a time, a place, a particular event. Yet other times music can call up only the vague, faded feelings that were once much stronger: love, misery, ennui, unabashed joy, gloom, all just the faintest tinge and almost unrecognizable for what they once were.

I cannot hear The Cure without thinking of Larry, my sweet, high-school, not-quite-punk boyfriend. Shriekback reminds me of funny, goofy Deej, with whom I shared a long summer of working the night shift and trying to solve The Fools Errand while those around us slept. Kate Bush is forever linked with a man I respected, admired, and earnestly strove to emulate; I hate to hear Kate Bush anymore, because that friendship ended in deep betrayal and is irretrievably broken. Liz Phair sustained me during the miserable summer after my marriage fell apart, and as I grieved, and fucked up, and smashed around trying to figure out what was right. Oingo Boingo return me to happy days, before I realized that I was harboring an unrequited love. Funny, strange, happy days. Soul Coughing will forever be linked with my friend Derek, the particular time we were at a little BBQ and Soul Coughing came on, Derek and I caught each others eye and the moment was perfect: the mood of the party, the mood we were in, the music all clicked, and then someone else objected and Soul Coughing quickly disappeared, and in just a few seconds we’d gone from “Hell yeah!” to “Oh damn.” The Beastie Boys, of course, remind me of Ray, the Cocteau Twins of John Nephew, and the Indigo Girls of a particular ex-roommate-now-millionaire. When I met my ex-husband, he played in a band that sounded an awful lot like Helmet.

There are some people who are strongly associated with many bands and many songs, of course. My friend Darrell introduced me to an astounding variety of music, from the Pat Metheny Group to Rush to Prince to Hüsker Dü. He would go to concerts and write me long, finely detailed letters reviewing each show or new album or new video. My eclectic musical tastes would be so, so much more narrow and under-exposed if not for Darrell.

A few years back, in the days before personal CD burners were as common as kleenex, I did several cassette tape exchanges with friends in an effort to expand my musical horizons. I received such a wonderful assortment: Robin Laws turned me on to the Squirrel Nut Zippers, while John Tynes exposed me to Big Ass Truck and The Grifters, Ray contributed The Reverend Horton Heat, and Chris fed me The Rezillos, The Dicks, The Buzzcocks, The Subhumans, and many other bands that don’t start with The (really!). I find myself itching again for new musical exposures, to craft some new musical associations.


Everybody's doing it...

Blatently inspired by JD's blog today

Re: SUEOAX, heat was still
Re: OAJLTUK, had long been
Re: HWL, into the wall
re: CIPWKWQ, a pocket full
Re: AGYDHLKG, house and began
Re: NO, handbags of antelope
Re: FYNYG, but to stand
Re: TBKHU, and the same
Re: BKLQNKE, semidarkness silently stood



My friend JD, who lives in the same town as my mom and brother, posted some pictures of what the ice storm did to his neighborhood. Kate, home from school again today, looked over my shoulder at the pictures, and exclaimed, "Did a water pipe break?" I told her there'd been an ice storm at grandma's house, and here too, then lifted the blinds so she could see the icy wonderland of our back yard. "Whoa, COOL!" she said and promptly volunteered to play outside.

It's just warm enough that everything is beginning to melt, and the yard isn't too slippery, so I armed her with some left-over one-use cameras from our Disneyland trip, and she's out there snapping away. I'll be very curious to see what she chooses to photograph and how the pictures turn out.


For your further entertainment, freezing rain!

Yesterday was full of bad news, with one, lone, bright spot to cheer the day. Now, the bright spot was pretty bright, but overwhelmingly yesterday was full of gloom, with a sprinkling of doom, and a handful of loathsome creatures making loathsome decisions that had me at wits end.

I burned off a bunch of angry energy by rearranging living room furniture and vacuuming. Kate declared that she likes to watch me vacuum whem I'm angry, and it did result in me feeling much better for a while. Nonetheless, at bedtime I still found sleep elusive. I drifted in and out for a couple of hours, repeatedly brought just up to consciousness to hear the vicious freezing rain storm pelting against the windows and sides of the house, and to realize my brain was seranading me with snippets of The Doors Alabama Song. Argh.

Schools are closed in Seattle again today, and from the look of the thick ice covering everything, we're going to be well and truly housebound. Maybe that means I'll be able to crawl back to bed and get a little actual sleep later this morning.


Snow Day

Yep, it's snowing again, and this time all the schools in western Washington are closed. Kate is thrilled.

I had some peppermint tea last night that was NOT decaf and as a result was awake far too late, so I hauled my sorry butt out of bed to get Kate ready for school only to find that I needn't have bothered. Bummer.

I'll probably walk down to the neighborhood Safeway later today to get a few things, since I haven't walked in the snow in who knows how long. Definitely wouldn't risk taking the car out today, unless the roads clear.


The Classics

Recorded Cary Grant's Father Goose to watch with Kate while she was away at her dad's for the holiday. We left Chris to re-play Knights of the Old Republic on the Dark Side and snuggled down under the covers tonight, away from Seattle's unusual cold snap. We had such fun with Bringing Up Baby, I was really looking forward to another kid-friendly, Cary Grant comedy. Kate readily agreed. It was right at her level, and she kept up with the plot and dialog pretty well, except for the few times I had to translate some British phrases (When they say he's pinching their petrol, that means he's stealing their gasoline...). Then, just near the end, where Grant is about to pull himself out of the ocean into the dinghy (filled to near-capsizing with young girls, dangerously close to tipping them all into the water) TiVo stopped recording! Kate and I yelled out, "Noooooooo!" in unison. She was good-naturedly upset that she would never what happened.

Cary Grant would have been 100 years old this month. His entire film career took place before I was even born. I suspect I have my mother and grandmother to thank for my exposure, such as it was, to "the classics" when I was a child. Small-town living surely had something to do with it as well. Without a surplus of movie theaters, cable television channels, or radio stations to choose from, we watched or listened to whatever we had access to at the time. I watched many an old Rat Pack movie, caught I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners or The Lone Ranger in re-runs, listened to my mother's crazy record collection (including old 78s of Bing Crosby, all those story songs of the 50s and 60s), tuned in scratchy AM radio stations rebroadcasting the old radio serials like The Shadow or the Jack Benny Show and have at least some passing knowledge of the icons of their respective days.

I'm pleased that I've been able to share the best of many generations of media with Kate already, in her short eight years. Sure, I took her to the theater to see Snow Dogs, and she's seen most of the cartoon action movies that make up the formative films of her "generation" so far, but I've also been able to extend her exposure back to my childhood (we've recently watched The Goonies, Escape to Witch Mountain, and TRON together), the music of my mother's generation (Kate knows Elvis, The Beattles, and Johnny Cash well), and now the movies that my grandmother thrilled to and the stars that set her heart aflutter in her day as well.

I also come from a game-playing family, so in addition to the XBox and the Gameboy of her generation, Kate knows well the games we play and produce, as well as the pastimes of yet older generations. She knows King in the Corner, Farkle, and Backgammon (games I played with my grandmother on a regular basis). She has a deep desire to "help" me with crossword puzzles and word searches, though her inability to spell (the current sign on her door that reads DO NOT DISTRB is just one example) puts those just out of reach for now.

She's at a great age, where she doesn't need my undivided attention every waking minute, but doesn't yet think I'm so dreadfully uncool that I'm not worth associating with. She seems to be enjoying and soaking up these little experiences and I look forward to more, especially while I'm feeling so "hunkered down" against the particularly cold fall and winter we have been having. I'd be very interested in what you, dear readers, would choose to expose Kate to as "classics" were you in my shoes.


Another Success

Bruce and Tim swung by the house 6-ish last night and we all took off to the U District for some dinner and conversation. Bruce, a native San Franciscan, was suffering mightily in the unusually cold weather, but was sweet enough to agree to relieve me of driving duty (a rare treat for me). Though it was heinously cold, the roads were clear and didn't seem icy, and we made it to the U District unscathed. Blue Onion Bistro (closed when Jim was in town) was open again and ready for business, so busy that we had to make reservations for an hour later and find a way to kill time. Luckily, neither Tim nor Bruce had been to Scarecrow Video before, so it all worked out in the end. Great food, great company, but I have to run to pick up Kate from her dad's so I'll have to wax rhapsodic about the mushroom and bacon gnocchi a bit later...


More food, more friends

Christine's best friend, David, was in town for a couple of days, so we got together with them for dinner and socializing last night. After having heard about David for years, it was a pleasure to actually meet him in person. In honor of his last night in Seattle, we decided to go to Nishino for dinner. To my great embarrassment, I lived in the neighborhood of Nishino for a while right before we bought our house and never paid it any notice. It's tucked away in what I can only call an upscale strip mall, in one corner of a building that is largely dominated by a heath club and a travel agency. I've been past it dozens of times, and never even took enough notice to note the name.

Ray and Christine rectified that by making reservations for the five of us, and WOW, what we were missing! We ordered an appetizer of cool asparagus in a citrusy glaze (I'm pretty sure grapefruit was involved, plus sesame and probably some miso) that was so out of this world that we ended up consuming three orders. We also had some excellent spicy calamari (one of the few seafoods that Ray can safely eat), and a spicy chicken dish served with several sides of pickled vegetables and intensely buttery shitake mushrooms that were divine. Then the rest of us who can enjoy seafood branched off into items like baked Dungeness crab in creamy spicy sauce, a foi gras appetizer that melted in your mouth, some creamy white tuna from South America, and Chris and I shared some crisp-fried shrimp heads. Mmm, mmm. Wine and sake flowed freely and we had ourselves a good old time.

Returned to Chez Pomminger and loaded up a DVD that David had gotten Christine for her birthday but that she hadn't watched yet, Sordid Lives. Oh my god, we laughed so hard. It is perhaps not as funny to watch if you're not at least passingly familiar with the "trailer trash" that are being mercilessly skewered in the film, but Christine and I both have relatives who could have been stand-ins. Ruthless, cruel, accurate in all the little details, a simply hilarious cast of characters with names like Nolita, LaVonda, or Wardell, who refer to each other as "Bubba" or "Sissy" or "Brother Boy" throughout. Olivia Newton-John's opening scene serenade set the tone well, and I know at least a few of my relatives who I could imagine singing it in all seriousness.

Later today we're hoping to try out a new place for dinner. We tried to go there on our excursion with Jim that Chris wrote up but ended up at Tempero do Brasil when that it was closed for the holidays. Fingers crossed that it'll be open for us tonight! Today is the last day of Kate's vacation with her dad, so it's also the last night for us to go out kid-free and live it up as adults. Kate's a good sport about coming to adult gatherings, but I try not to impose too many adult-only situations on her in a row like we experience during the holidays.

Tomorrow I pick her up and it's back to the grind of school and work. No more sleeping in past 10:30 or staying up until 4:00 in the morning for me!


New Year

Chris and I spent the third year in a row celebrating New Year's Eve with Jess and Kathryn at Jess's mother's West Seattle waterfront home. This year we were the only ones from our group of usual suspects to make it (Evan and Rona being busy having their baby, Pat and Patricia having moved to San Diego, etc) but we got to meet some of Jess's new co-workers from his job at ArenaNet. Great people, very fun to talk to. The world of computer game geekery is only one small step removed from the world of paper games I'm so familiar with, and my recent obsession with Knights of the Old Republic gave me plenty of ammo when the conversation turned to computer gaming. J&K have some very nice friends we usually only see at these sorts of get togethers, but in particular it was nice to have a chance to sit down for a couple of hours and catch up with one couple who took their honeymoon before their wedding and went to central Mexico for two weeks in August. It sounded completely fabulous, and they totally recommended their particular destination it as a culturally interesting, kid friendly, relatively inexpensive excursion. I was incredibly envious hearing about it.

Unfortunately, I developed a headache around 11:00 and though I stuck it out until 12:45, I was really suffering by the end and had to excuse myself to go home. I hate being the first to leave a party! This experince, combined with the headache that came on during Return of the King, has motivated me to start keeping a headache log again to see if I can discern any common triggers. After a couple of good years being relatively headache free, 2003 was a bad year for me. Starting during the Mutants & Masterminds summit we hosted early last year, where I had a migrane flare-up that washed over me in waves for two or three days, right through to New Year's Eve, I was too-often beset by crippling headaches that seemed to bloom out of nowhere all last year. I'm very motivated to stop this cycle, especially after having had a virtually headache-free period of a couple of years! I know a woman who has had to resort to spinal taps to get some relief from her headaches. I only hope that mine never get that frequent or that bad that I could look at a spinal tap as "relief"!