Discolor Online

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


Recipe Page Update

I have some beautiful globe artichokes in my fridge. All I want to do is steam them up and sit around decadently dredging them in butter, leaf by leaf. Sadly, artichokes must wait. But in the meantime, I figured I'd mention that I've posted a recipe page update. I'm going back and filling in some favorite recipes that I haven't made in a while.



More Movies

Yesterday was Dear Pyongyang, last of my doom and gloom documentaries for a while. I've got tickets to one of the showings of Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, and I might try to take in The Trials of Darryl Hunt, but the weekday films are a lot harder for me to juggle and still meet my other commitments.

Dear Pyongyang was a very personal documentary. Focusing entirely on the film maker's family (her pro-communist, activist parents living in Japan and her three "returned" brothers who were repatriated to North Korea as teens) the film unfolds slowly and painfully. Yang Yonghi does not flinch from showing her father's weaknesses, picking at any crack, prying for any hint of regret, expressing her conflict and disagreement with him in voice over while needling him on camera. Through her we see North Korea, the desolate and barren-seeming countryside, the port city with decades-old signs welcoming ferries with words like "Blitzkrieg" and "Destroy All Enemies". We see the city of Pyongyang itself, the deserted streets, the buildings in poor repair, the stalled construction projects, all mixed with the iconography of the "glorious leader" and parades and facade. When it is revealed that the "returned" sons and their families survive only because of monetary allowances and care packages sent by their family in Japan, we struggle to make sense of the parents' continued vows of allegiance to the cause and support for North Korea in the face of it all. Surely they can't believe that, you think to yourself, surely they must regret, they must know they've made the wrong choice... Lip service must be the price they pay for access to their families? What excuse, what rationalization can a father looking at the life he condemned his sons to possibly make? The last fifteen minutes or so of the film are particularly rough, unflinching and verging on cruel as Yang Yonghi presses hard. Nothing is resolved. It was a difficult film, with so much left unsaid, barely hinted at. Nonetheless, I was glad to have seen it. I'd rate it better than Gitmo, less than King Leopold's Ghost.

Chris went to work for the rest of the day while I drove off to pick Kate up from her dad's. She'd been at camp all last week and at her dad's for the long weekend, so she hadn't been home for a week. She returned to me with a hole in her shoe, so we shopped unsuccessfully for new shows and other things, and got home in the evening. Kate, dying to see X-Men III, begged Chris to go out with us and he agreed, so we trotted off to yet another theater. In general, it was a good enough way to pass the time. I agree with the criticisms I've read that the story was too spread out, never focusing enough on the parade of characters that are (re)/introduced. I found some of the character choices baffling but enjoyed others. However, when you have a 10 year old girl complaining, "I like the comic books better. Wolverine shouldn't CRY! They make him too sappy," I think you've got a serious problem with your franchise.


Memorial Day

Saw some movies today, but as it is Memorial Day I think I'll wait until tomorrow to write them up. Because of the nature of some of the documentaries I've been viewing at SIFF this year, I've definitely had government and war/conflict and politics and freedoms (both appreciated and taken for granted) on my mind.

We should be damn sure we know what we're asking our military to fight for.


SIFF Report

I could say more, but I'm tired. A rundown:

Friday: a/k/a Tommy Chong. A light, meandering documentary, not unlike a bunch of good-natured hippie stoners telling a story. The subject matter itself (how the Ashcroft-era DEA entrapped, strong-armed, and eventually convicted Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame because his son okayed shipping an order of hand-blown glass bongs from their family business to Pennsylvania, which is against the law there) isn't light but the film treatment of the case itself is fairly cursory. We're told of the ridiculous show of force used in raiding Chong's home (including helicopters, dogs, and guys with machine guns), of the deal he strikes to plead guilty under threats from the government to go after his wife and son if he goes to trial, of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania who uses Chong's almost 30 year old movies as reason to request he be sentenced to 9 months in prison. Mostly, though, we're left with the impression that this guy is not a hardened criminal, certainly not a threat to national security (as the "terrorists use drug money to fund their operations, therefore drug offenders are aiding terrorists" Bush White House made sure to point out).

Saturday: Gitmo: The New Rules of War. Swedish film, aiming a blurred lens at the circumstances surrounding Gitmo's one Swedish imprisoned "enemy combatant," the inability to find out much of anything about anything, some of the key players involved in the war on terror and the policy of abuse that exists without really shedding any light on the subject. Worse, though most of the film is in English there are several segments where people are speaking in Swedish, sometimes at great length, without subtitles or translation. After the subject of the film finally breaks his long-held silence about his experiences in detention and goes on for some time in Swedish, the next spoken English line was literally, "That might sound like a prisoner's wet dream...". People in the audience actually yelped out, "What?!". Disappointing.

A Prairie Home Companion. Laughed out loud several times. Ah, my people. Not a perfect movie, but certainly enjoyable enough. The line went around two corners and we thought for sure we were screwed, but ended up having pretty good seats and time to get popcorn. An annoying chick two seats down from me kept talking loudly to herself, which was a drag, and an elderly lady was helped by a flashlight-wielding usher into a seat next to me after the movie was already well underway where she proceeded to talk to me and ask me "Is that Meryl Streep?" and "What's happening?" As a nice Minnesota girl, I just sucked it up and laughed all over again at some old, familiar jokes.

Sunday: The Proposition. Some SIFF tight-ass wouldn't let us (or 8 other couples) into the movie when our bus rolled up 5 minutes late. Or, actually, our bus was over 20 minutes late, but we were only 5 minutes late for the movie. "No Late Seating" the guy said. I was far more angry about it than I might have been otherwise because MY viewing had been interrupted at that very theater just the night before while SIFF ushers seated people right fucking next to me, well into the film. At least 15 or 20 minutes into the film! Good god, the arbitrariness just galls me. The guy made excuses for a while, but it didn't change the fact that we were screwed, with too little time to go home before the next film but too much time to comfortably kill. I suspect the movie will be good. Perhaps we'll have a chance to see it in wider release or as a DVD.

King Leopold's Ghost. Based on Adam Hochschild's the book of the same name, produced and directed by Pippa Scott, who was on hand for Q&A after the screening. Wonderfully done, powerfully reconstructed, this film not only covers the actions of Leopold II himself, but the ramifications of the Belgians in the Congo that continue to play out to this day. Pramas has more. This is a real winner and I recommend it. My Hello Kitty baseball cap is off to Pippa Scott as well, who started off as the daughter of the screen-writer responsibly for those Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire pictures, went on to an acting career of her own (appearing in The Searchers and Auntie Mame), formed Lorimar Productions (which produced just about every damn mega-hit from the 70s or 80s you've ever seen... The Waltons, Eight is Enough, Dallas, even The Big Red One) and eventually decided she "wanted to give something back" and so started doing films for Human Rights Watch and the United Nations. She founded the International Monitor Institute, which led her to do this current documentary. Fascinating woman. I was sitting in the second row when she did her Q&A and could have gladly listened to her talk more.

Books: While busing around and waiting in line, I finished The Sparrow, which I was reading for my book club and found that I quite enjoyed. It's not exactly science fiction in the traditional sense, though in a way it is exactly science fiction. It also delves deeply into the realm of spirituality, sexuality, religion, and other very non-sci fi things. Might pick up the sequel. Am half-way through the slender paperback, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok, by Unclaimed Territory's Glenn Greenwald, the constitutional lawyer who has some very informed, very cogent things to say about issues like holding US citizens indefinitely and without trial, or warrantless wire-tapping. I would love for my conservative, Bush-voting friends to read it and tell me what they think, in the hope we could have a conversation that didn't involve me being called a moonbat.


Microwaves and Movies

I got myself a new microwave for Mother's Day.

My previous microwave was a hand-me-down White-Westinghouse dial model purchased by my bachelor dad back in the 1980s and bequeathed unto me when he married and moved in with my step-family. It had two settings: FULL and DEFROST (which was full power blasted in 5 or 10 second increments), and couldn't be set for less than two minutes or it would simply fail to turn on (so if you felt you needed something microwaved for one minute, you had to just stand there and wait), and no turntable or fancy features. Over the years I'd gotten pretty good at estimating how much "real" time it would take in my oven compared to printed instructions and had gotten used to food having hot or cold spots, cooking unevenly, and generally being unsatisfactory.

Having had this microwave in my possession for over 15 years and having moved it across the entire country, into Canada, and to at least 15 different homes, I was not surprised when the poor little thing started to finally give out, making disquieting clanging noises when it was running and continuing to tick for a few seconds after it stopped. It hadn't technically given up the ghost and was still working somewhat but I figure I've gotten quite a bit of use out of it and have been appropriately frugal...no need to risk irradiating my family when $100 could replace our little workhorse with something more powerful, more versatile, and (probably) safer.

I know it's a silly, mundane thing to be excited about but I am pleased with my purchase nonetheless. This microwave has a turntable, multiple settings and sensors and works the way it's supposed to. The melt butter setting? Actually melted the butter! The popcorn setting? Pops perfectly, no scorching, no bags of wasted, half-popped corn! A cup of coffee can be reheated in 33 seconds. Two eggs can be perfectly poached in my microwave poacher in 50 seconds. Seconds... There's a pre-set for zapping a quart of rock-hard ice cream so it can be scooped, perfectly and ever so slightly softened in a matter of seconds. A marvel of modern technology, I'm telling you! Best appliance since the electric kettle (an item which I haven't had since splitting with my ex...he kept the kettle, I kept the French press).

The Seattle International Film Festival begins for us this weekend. I'd originally planned to go down to Portland to visit my brother. We talked frequently during my grandmother's recent medical crisis and I thought the long weekend might offer us an excuse to get down there for a real visit with him. Unfortunately, Kate's dad needed to swap his visitation schedule all around this month and ended up scheduling a visit for this weekend, which is traditionally mine. (He originally told me that he needed to be "out of town for work" but his e-mail auto-responder said he was "away on a short spring holiday in lovely Belize"...a few years ago the deception would have irked me, but time and distance has allowed me to just shrug, because really, who cares what he's doing in his spare time or what his excuse is for not seeing his daughter for several weeks in a row. Not I.) I just couldn't see taking Kate half-way to Canada and then turning around and going all the way to Oregon in the same day, so instead Chris and I are seeing a whack of SIFF movies. One tonight, two tomorrow, two on Sunday and one on Monday. Look for reviews as I can summon up the energy!


Trouble in Bunny Paradise

As we've just passed the four month mark in bunny ownership, things with Bonnie the bunny have taken a turn for the worse. Bonnie started out as an inquisitive, friendly, curious bunny. Yes, we had a little issue with her peeing in the doorway every time I came in the room at first, but we seemed to get over that alright.

Slowly, though, Bonnie's begun exhibiting more and more inappropriate and aggressive behavior. It started with her digging at my back while I was sitting on the floor with her, then escalated into nipping (especially at my elbows, of all the weird places) whenever I came in and spent any time in the caged-off area of the room where she's allowed to run free. Then she started charging our feet, especially if we were just stepping over into her area and especially if we were moving over to her cage (to get her fresh hay or water, for example, or to clean the litter box). Now she's taken to biting ankles (Kate, Chris, and I all have been nipped hard enough to break the skin) if we try to step into her "area".

I've read lots of advice for how to gain the trust of an aggressive bunny who starts out aggressive, but I'm just not finding a lot of help on the issue of a bunny who started out sweet and curious and who has developed aggressive and territorial behavior. This morning I let her out of her cage and sat with her to give her some attention since Kate is away at camp all week. The result: she nipped me repeatedly until I put her back in her cage and left the room. I've tried the tips from the experts (except for spraying her with a squirt bottle because I don't actually have a spray bottle and keep forgetting to buy one): I've squeeled loudly, I've tried firmly saying "NO!" and I've tried to assert my dominance by pressing her head and shoulders to the floor as if I am the top bunny. I can present my hand to her to lick, which she does, and she'll let me pet her as long as I want to, then she turns right around and nips me.

This turn of events makes me quite sad, especially because Kate is becoming skittish around Bonnie, out of fear of getting nipped. I can't blame her, I'm a bit nervous about it too. My next course of action is to have Bonnie checked out at the vet but I would be surprised if it were a physical problem. She eats and drinks well, her poop is normal. She has food, a large cage, an area to run free, and numerous toys; she is to all appearances a healthy rabbit with an attitude problem.


Recipe Page Update


Made this for dinner last night. It was dead easy and tasted great.


Catch Up

Whew, the last week has been a blur.

Last week Kate and I had Zoomazium events, one right after the other. Donor's night, Member Preview Day, and then the Grand Opening. Kate missed school for some of it and had to be on site in her Zookids uniform. She got to meet the mayor, was interviewed for the radio, and made a short appearance on tv when the kids all entered the Zoomazium after the "ribbon" cutting ceremony.

We left straight from the Zoomazium opening to drive to Mayne Island, British Columbia where Kate and I spent the weekend with other mom friends and their kids at a cottage belonging to friends. I'd never been to Mayne Island before and it was gorgeous.

Yesterday was a day to catch up a bit. Kate leaves for four days at camp with her class today, and then she's at her dad's over the long weekend. In two weeks I leave for my step-brother's wedding and then it's JUNE already. I can't get over how time is flying by. I find myself wishing I could just go back to Mayne Island for another week! Alas, it is not to be.

As usual, clicking on the pictures above will take you to the whole set at my Flickr site.


Better than Cup-o-noodles

Yesterday I noticed my local store had salmon steaks. As the fish counter guy advised me in February, I should grab up salmon steaks when I see them as they're rarely available anymore due to Safeway's fulfillment process. So I did! Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that I was at a Zoomazium event tonight, so my plan to make them for dinner morphed into a plan to make them for lunch instead!


Chris loved it from the first bite and declared it was "like buttah."


Humanity: A virus with shoes

Something like years ago I heard Bill Hicks' Rant in E Minor, where he said "I'm tired of this back-slapping 'aren't humanity neat?' bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, OK? That's all we are."

About that same time, I was living in Vancouver, BC and watched a lecture from David Suzuki (a former detainee of Canada's WWII Japanese internment camps who went on to become a world-renowned geneticist and environmentalist) wherein he described the impact of humans on the environment and illustrated his point by noting We are like bacteria in a test tube. We multiply exponentially, using up our available food and resources at an increasing rate. And, like bacteria with a diminishing food supply, we won’t realise we are doomed, even after our environmental gluttony has sealed our fate.

Perhaps it's because I was born and spent my youth on the edge of a pristine wilderness area, or because I grew up surrounded by farm fields and hunters and heard the debates about fertilizers versus run off, conservation versus industrial prosperity, poisoning with lead shot versus maiming with steel shot, that I grew up paying attention and caring...deeply caring about the world around me including the plants and animals, the fields and streams and air. I don't know why.

In the summer of 1993, while traveling the great plains states on my summer job with the Great Plains Chautauqua, I had the opportunity to stop with some of the scholars and meet botanist and geneticist Wes Jackson, then a recent recipient of the MacArthur "genius grant" and co-founder of The Land Institute, author of the pessimistic Altars of Unhewn Stone. It was an enlightening, if dreary, visit. This stuff is not fun. It's not entertaining. I'm thankful that these people had the tenacity to dig into the massive problems they foresaw when others wouldn't. Wes and his students at The Land Institute have been toiling, really toiling, over the environmental issues before us, and I really feel the time is coming when the rest of us are going to have no choice but to wake up and pay attention. We think we have the option to look away. We don't, but we think we do.

Three weeks or so ago, Bruce Cordell (a game industry writer, yes, but one who holds a degree in Environmental, Population, & Organismic Biology (with a nod to Molecular & Cellular Biology) for you doubters) tipped us off to Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth. I'll admit right out that I'm one of the people who bought Gore's Earth in the Balance when it came out. I am going to see this movie. I hope you will see it, too, and that we can come together to change the course we're on.


Mother's Day

Katherine was convinced that Saturday was Mother's Day and insisted that I promise to sleep in. Of course, I've been waking at 6:00am now that the sun is up that early and I wasn't entirely willing to stay in bed that long, but for my girl I laid in bed awake for two hours or so.

Finally, I was rewarded with this:

Check that plating and presentation! With herbs and flowers from our yard. I guess watching all those cooking shows with me has stuck with her.

She looks pretty good in my Pampered Chef apron, too.

Because it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend, we joined Ray and Christine for a fantastic barbecue and ended up chatting the night away. I'm so proud and happy to be Mommy to my girl. Looking at her, asleep on R&C's couch after such a lovely day, it was perfect. Just perfect.


Recipe Page Update


Zoomazium: Press Week

Seattle-area readers, fire up your Tivos and start watching the evening news! The Zookids are spending the week showing off the Zoomazium for the press in anticipation of the grand opening of the facility next Friday (Thursday if you're a Zoo member). Kate appeared in front of KOMO 4's cameras last night, though I didn't see any coverage of the Zoomazium actually make the news, and she'll be at the zoo again Thursday.

It's been very exciting to see this project come together. I took some photos of the mostly completed exhibits and play areas.

Quite a contrast from the in-progress tour we had back in March!

(Clicking on the photos will take you to the photo sets for each visit)

Katherine has one last donor event next Wednesday night, and I'm letting her skip school for the Grand Opening on Friday. I might even let her come on next Thursday if I can justify letting her skip school two days in a row. Mostly it's been great seeing all the ideas the kids had come to fruition. This has been a great project to be associated with and I think it's going to be a fantastic draw for the zoo. The Nature Exchange idea is inspired, the ability to project live webcams of animals (such as the nesting BC eagles that were such a hit last month) or other zoo exhibits is really cool, the plan to have live animals appearing, it's been downright exciting for the kids and the families who have been involved and we can't wait to start sharing it with the public!


Bon Voyage

Stan! and Liv
Stan! and Liv,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
We attended a farewell send off for Chas and Tammie, who are moving to England in two weeks. Several old friends were on hand to wish them well in their new endeavor. Stan! made a special trip up from San Diego so as not to miss saying goodbye. I had a lovely time, though tinged with sadness at yet more friends moving on to opportunities elsewhere. I snapped a few photos which can be seen here.



I read a blog post that included this line:
"The panelists grilled the U.S. delegation on Guantanamo..."

and immediately thought to myself:
"Mmmm, grilled...cheese. I could go for a grilled cheese sandwich right now."

When did I become freakin' Homer Simpson?! ARGH!

That's it. I'm signing off the internet for a while. And getting more sleep. Or something.


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Can Can

Pramas wrote up what we did Saturday night. I've been waiting for him to get to it already, because I can home ready to write it up almost immediately, only I promised him I'd give him first crack (since I wrote up the Epoxies show).

All I have to add is "Fuck-a-doodle-doo"!