Discolor Online

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


Jury Duty

I'm probably the only person I know who received their summons to jury duty with "Really? Cool!"

I'm excited about serving on a jury. I hope I'm selected! I have never been called before and I do seriously believe that in a government that is (as Abraham Lincoln put it) "of the people, by the people, for the people" serving on juries is a duty not to be shirked. I have no expectation that I'll be involved in anything "exciting" in the television movie of the week sense. I'm ok with going and being bored, I'm even ok with going and not being selected.

I'll be compensated a whopping $10 a day and given a bus ticket good for transportation to the King County Regional Justice Center, if I'm selected for a jury. I report for duty on August 2nd. I only hope that nothing interferes with my ability to go to GenCon.

[UPDATE]: When putting the date into my day planner, I realized that it fell right in the middle of the one week of "summer vacation" that I get to spend with Kate. She goes to Canada on July 5th and aside from that week and one weekend, she doesn't come back until after Labor Day. Luckily for me, the Jury office was very accomodating and changed the date to the 16th instead. Now I don't have to miss my visit with Kate or worry that a trial will run into GenCon. Excellent!


The Good Life

I'm making excellent progress on my goals for the summer!

I've begun ruthlessly booking my social calendar. I was able to get tickets to Bumbershoot at a 40% discount by signing up for their "fan club". If you're in Seattle and intend to go to Bumbershoot, it's definitely worthwhile to sign up and buy your tickets now. I also goofed and booked myself to go to their pre-festival literary event (with David Eggers, Sarah Vowel and Lemony Snicket)...goofed in that I had forgotten I'd wanted to go see Radio Birdman with Pramas that same night. Oh well, I'll have fun either way. I've never been to Bumbershoot, despite having been in Seattle proper for a decade now, and I'd always thought of it as mostly a music festival and general crapshoot, but this year there are a bunch of non-music things going on: the Rat City Rollergirls are hosting a roller derby invitational; 1 Reel is holding a Screenwriter's Salon in addition to the film festival itself; there's a spate of literary programming in addition to all the artsy-craftsy/music stuff I always heard about. Oh, and The Epoxies are playing. Woohoo!

The fine fellows at Bikeworks in Columbia City are working away to clean up and refurbish a great purple and black Diamondback mountain bike-style bicycle for me. I expect to be able to pick it up next Friday. They were very helpful in getting me fitted, talking with me about what style of bike would be right for the kind of riding I expect to do, and so on. Just what I wanted, and I didn't have to spend $1000 to get it. Woohoo x2!

After we get Kate off to Canada, I'm having the people from Trashbusters come and take away all the things that we've accumulated over the years that can't be disposed of in other ways. Inspired by my friend JD's ongoing quest to simplify his life and rid himself of accumulated collections that no longer bring him satisfaction, I'm going to be Freecycling, E-Baying, and out right tossing this summer. Feels good.

I also got Bonnie the bunny in to see the vet for a general check-up and health certificate so she can travel across the border and spend the summer with Kate in Canada. Our vet is good and is very familiar with rabbits. I met another rabbit owner while sitting in the waiting room and made chit chat. Bonnie is healthy and the staff cooed over her quite a lot. Her molars are a bit mis-aligned (a malocclusion) and we'll have to watch that, but they're not currently causing any visible problems and the vet felt that an annual check of them ought to suffice. We also had her microchip put in (came with her adoption). When I brought up her behavior issues (the strange nipping, the charging around our feet and territorial behavior) he immediately asked if she'd been spayed. We told him that's what we'd been told when we adopted her. He examined her and they shaved her belly to look for a spay scar, but couldn't find anything... I called the animal shelter when we got home and asked them to double-check their records and they definitely have her listed as "altered". The vet suggested that we just watch her behavior for the time being, so that's what we're doing. She was very sweet at the vet's office and afterward. So strange, this bunny.


Love and, um, Not-Love

Love: the smell of freshly cut grass

Not-Love: people who cut their grass at 7:00am


Before heading to the zoo

I escaped from the Dungeon of Iamnikchick!

I killed Mollpeartree the leprechaun, Artbroken the leprechaun and D20hound the leprechaun.

I looted the Sceptre of Lucien Soulban, the Amulet of Films, the Amulet of Coffee, the Shield of Mind Of Richard, the Dagger of Beer, the Crown of Mercuryeric and 71 gold pieces.

Score: 221

Explore the Dungeon of Iamnikchick and try to beat this score,
or enter your username to generate and explore your own dungeon...


The Summer Switch

It's as if someone out there flipped the big switch and turned on summer. Last week temps were in the 60s and it was cloudy and a bit rainy. This week: 90s and sweltering, with heat advisories and air stagnation warnings.

This week is Origins week for most of Green Ronin. For the first time in years, I will not be at Origins. This week is also the first full week of Kate's summer vacation and one of only two weeks of summer I get to spend with her, as she will be with her dad in Canada for all of July and 3 weeks of August. I have resolved to spend this time with Kate instead of with gamers, though I do miss seeing the rest of Team Ronin.

My plan today is to finally go buy myself a new bicycle. Kate got a great new bike from her grandparents this Christmas, and we could actually do a little biking together before she leaves for Canada. Tomorrow I'm taking her to the zoo where she'll be showing off her hard earned zoo knowledge to some friends. If it continues to be sweltering hot in our unairconditioned house, we'll probably use the excuse to go to the movies. Mmm, air conditioning and pop corn... This weekend is Seafair, and (if the invitation still stands) possibly a day at the zoo for one of the Zootunes concerts with friends who have tickets.

Every year I think about doing things to fully enjoy summer in Seattle and most years I end up doing nothing. Not this year. I'm determined. Buying a bike. Getting out to the peninsula. Taking the ferry to one of the islands, just for the hell of it. Getting out to just take some pictures. Maybe I'll go celebrate Bastille Day (cue Rush). Maybe I'll hit Bite of Seattle or Bumbershoot or The Capitol Hill Block Party or catch some Shakespeare in the park at the Outdoor Theatre Festival this year.

Who knew that the International District holds a summer festival (sponsored by, get this, McDonald's!)and karaoke contest? Or that Seattle Peace Concerts has been putting on free summer concerts in the parks for 26 years? Or that there is a Pioneer Square Fire Festival, which originally commemorated the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. Closer to home, the Columbia City Cabaret is new and improved.

Summer is too short, but the days are long and sweet in Seattle and I'm going to take advantage of that.


An Inconvenient Truth: A Challenge

Last night after dropping Kate off with her dad, I wandered over to the theater. Chris was gaming and I had the night to myself. I looked at the list of films and picked the one that was starting in 5 minutes: An Inconvenient Truth.

I'm not going to tell you that it's a great movie, that it's a necessary message, that it's "the most terrifying film you will ever see". I'm not going to tell you anything. Make up your own mind! But SEE THIS MOVIE. See it even if you hate Al Gore, Jr. See it even if you self-identify "neocon". See it even if you view free market capitalism with breathless reverence. See it if you hate the Clintons, if you've never forgiven Tipper Gore for the whole PMRC thing of 1985.

I am not full of rhetoric as I say this: SEE THIS MOVIE. I challenge you to see it. Take your partners, take your friends, take your children. I don't care if you hate it, if you think it's full of junk science or political agenda. Let's talk about that after the fact! But first, see it. I'm calling you out Ken Hite, CSA Badass, Neocon James, Hyrum Savage, Jim Kitchen. Have you seen it? I want to hear what you think about the film. See it and let's talk.

In fact, I'm willing to accept return challenges from all comers. Want me to read Ann Coulter's new book, the Weekly Standard, Instapundit? Listen to an hour of Rush Limbaugh? Watch Sean Hannity? See an Inconvenient Truth and I'll give your challenge a shot.

Report back when you've seen it. I want to talk to you about it. I'm eagerly waiting to hear what you think.



It's no secret that I can be an unforgiving bitch. It's not that I have a hair-trigger on these things, I'm also incredibly loyal and I will afford a person numerous chances to prove that some small spat may have been a genuine misunderstanding. If I've worked with you for years and you've never done me wrong, I'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt, work things through... right up to the point where you take my money and skip town in the middle of the night. Once the line is crossed, though, you're on the list.

What I find utterly hilarious (seriously, laughing out loud funny) is when people who have repeatedly crossed me, stabbed me in the back, betrayed my confidence, actually freakin' spied on me, intentionally worked to materially harm my business or my reputation, lied to my face and behind my back as well, decide to be all "gosh, shouldn't we just be friends anyway?". Even better is when they've committed slights against me personally but choose to go around me to Pramas, I suppose in the hope that he'll advocate on their behalf or over rule my opinion or something? HA! What world do they live in?

This has happened several times in the last couple of months, with no fewer than three people on "my list". Should I be all eager to bury the hatchet with someone who has repeatedly insulted me both personally and professionally, who repeatedly rebuffed my initial attempts at striking up a cordial relationship, who engages in predatory business practices that I find morally reprehensible? Should I forget that when given the opportunity, these people chose to act like assholes because now they're "bored" with being gigantic public cocks and want to rewrite history and just forget all the dickish things they've done?

Here are some examples of things that count as "crossing the line" with me:

Stealing from me

Gross hypocrisy (for example, turning over an inferior manuscript two or three months late while dodging attempts at contact and then forming a public lynch mob crying for retribution against publishers who don't live up to their contracts)

Illicitly reading my e-mail, especially with the intention of using that information to work against my interests

Making public insinuations about my moral character (I'm especially bitter about having been called a liar over things that I was later proved right on like Wizards Attic, GAMA, or Ryan Dancey)

Engaging in whisper campaigns to harm my reputation

Interfering with my business negotiations

Attempting to go "over my head" to try and force me to do something that you know I don't agree with

Making threats (against me personally, my employees, my trusted colleagues, or my business)

Fucking with my family

From where I sit, a snake is still a snake. Just because I have no urge to go poke it with a stick doesn't mean that I've forgotten it's a snake, or have confused it for Man's Best Friend. Why in the world should I think you'll do right in the future when you've done me so wrong in the past?


You don't say?

Seen at Jaynefury:

*looks at the current world's population* You must have a lot of frustration then.

What pisses you off?

Created by ptocheia


Recipe Page Update

Before Pramas starts a riot by mentioning what I made for dinner last night, I figured I'd better post the recipe.



Preach, Brother Laws

The insightful and wise Robin Laws lays out exactly what a good playtest group should be. In his very Canadian style, he stays away from the sorts of overly direct criticisms I might have included in such a write-up (Rule #1: if you want the game designer to take your comments seriously, resist opening up with some varient of 'Whoever designed this couldn't find his ass with both hands.').

You gamers out there who want to be playtesters? Read this!

You game designers who want to put together a playtest group that actually functions? Read this! Pass it on to your groups. Let them know its expected of them.


Strawberries Preserved

What to do with one slightly stale piece of angel food cake?

Start by having on hand one pint jar of Strawberry-White Wine preserves that failed to set:

Apply to cake:

Devour food porn:


Dinner 06/19/06

Last night's dinner was Copper River salmon in ponzu sauce, served with couscous. I've updated my recipe page with the recipe here: SALMON IN PONZU SAUCE

After dinner beverages included:

Frozen Mint Daiquiris

2 oz. light rum
1 Tbsp. lime juice
6 mint leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 cup crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes 1 serving.



I've been seeing idea surfacing more and more: Impeach Bush

A group of protesters show up every Friday and stand on an overpass over I-5 north of Seattle towards Marysville holding signs for impeachment (they may be there every day for all I know, I only drive that way every other Friday). I've seen more bumper stickers and window signs. I've seen more ITMFA t-shirts. A plethora of websites on the topic exist: Impeachbush.tv, the Impeach Bush Coalition, Articles of Impeachment.net, The Four Reasons.org, Impeach PAC. Newspaper ads are appearing.

Someone who was on the 520 bridge when the Bush motorcade sailed through on its way to a Republican fund-raiser at some Microsoft VP's eastside mansion swears that as the line of cars pulled over to let the motorcade through every driver (and even bus passengers) opened windows to give the President the finger. That's one unpopular President. I wonder if anything will come of it.


Another Weekend Gone

Friday night Chris, Kate, and I had the honor of attending an otherwise family-only gathering to celebrate our young friend Emily's Bat Mitzvah. I met extended family including aunts, uncles, little cousins, grandparents, great-aunts and great-grandparents. Much food and drink and socializing, a lot of good humor, and a happy girl. As a child I longed for a big family, with aunts and uncles and cousins to trip over and debate with and come together with. I married into Chris's big Greek family and have been adopted into the extended families of my friends. I'm so thankful whenever they want to share their happy times with us.

Saturday was a very low-key day. Chris was off playing board games for much of the day so Kate and I played a little of her Nancy Drew computer game together and caught up on TiVo. I finally watched the Netflix disk that's been sitting at the end of my bed for two months waiting for me and napped and tried to get up the energy to start the household projects that desperately needed my attention. It took me most of the day to clue in that I wasn't just feeling lazy but I was headachy and feeling like I was coming down with something. Sunday was more of the same, though with more bouts of sleeping. We only left the house to do some grocery shopping because it was necessary (out of coffee and bread and Diet Coke, the milk had expired, and short of making bean burritos there was nothing I could throw together for a quick dinner). We ended up getting Ezell's for dinner. I may not be able to fry chicken like my grandma used to do but Ezell's makes a good Sunday dinner (without all the mess).

So far the weather this month has been entirely too cold and rainy for my taste. Sure, there have been sunny breaks, a couple of nice days...but I want sunshine and I want to be able to go to the store without worrying about needing to bring a jacket. I'm ready. Summer, get on with it already!!


Monster House

Because of the Seattle International Film Festival, Kate and I got to go to the first North American showing of Monster House. We had to be wanded for electronics and hand over any cameras or camera phones before being admitted. It was pretty hardcore.

Kate gives the movie itself a pretty enthusiastic recommendation. She thinks five year olds might be a little frightened but it's not too scary for ten year olds. There are some genuine scares for the kids (and the babysitter is the Worst Babysitter Ever!), overall it was pretty good fun. For some reason I was particularly detached during most of it, but I write that off to having seen too many damn kids' movies. These days even the ones that get raves I tend to view from a a far too detached perspective. I was literally thinking to myself "Ah, they're going to do the whole 'camera following the blowing leaf' thing..." but I don't hold that against the movie itself. Just my own weird head space.

The director Gil Kenan was on hand to talk about the movie. Kenan, a young 2002 UCLA film school grad, was hand-picked by the film's executive producers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg to work on this movie (a script which he admits had been kicking around "for years"). He did some stop-motion work for school that apparently attracted some attention. This interview from Ain't It Cool News, shows him to be Geek Like Us (complaining about the Millennium Falcoln playset being "ridiculously expensive, like... beyond the grasp of any mortal kid") and that's just how he approached the audience for the Q&A.

In the Q&A they got into how this was done with video capture technology instead of straight up animation, so the actors (rather than going in and reading their lines in solitude, alone in a booth somewhere) were actually able to be on a stage together and act off of each other. Kathleen Turner "voices" the Monster House itself, and the director talks about recreating the town in miniature and having Turner "rampage" around on her hands and knees before they animated the scenes. I was glad Kate got to be around to hear about the creative process that goes into film making. With her perspective of how we do what we do for our company, and having opportunities to know and talk to people in the computer industry (games and not-games) and things like this Q&A, I hope that she'll never feel intimidated about what kinds of things she might accomplish.


Dinner 06/04/06

Dinner 06/04/06
Dinner 06/04/06,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Wednesday is Columbia City Farmer's Market day. That means, if all goes well, it's also a good night for dinner.

Last night I finally made the Fennel-Crusted Pork Tenderloin I'd expressed interest in trying back in April. I also noted that fava beans have made an appearance at the Farmer's Market. I wait all year for fresh fava beans, just so I can eat them blanched with a little lemon juice vinaigrette and topped with shaved parmesan. Oh, so good. Throw in a little buttered olive loaf and it's dinner.


Text Messaging Etiquette

When I've been over in the UK the one thing that's really struck me is the prevalence of texting. Frickin' everybody text messages with everyone. Another thing that struck me as being fairly civil about it is that when out in a group with others, a person texting with someone will often say "I'm asking Amy if she can join us later," or "Joe just came back from Bermuda and can't meet up with us." Even as prevalent as texting seems to be over there, it really didn't seem to be intrusive.

Texting is hot with the kids here (I listen to my friend who teaches jr. high school talk about the various challenges she faces with her kids and keeping them off their electronic gadgets is a big one) but most of my friends and peers are not big texters. One friend, though, has become obsessive about his text messages. Out in a bar and get up to go to the ladies' room? When you come back, he's texting. At the movies? He's texting. Out to dinner? Before the drinks are delivered, he's texting. In the middle of the roleplaying game (he's running!)... yep, there have been times when everyone else at the table is just waiting for him because he's started texting. (Actually, I might be a bit unfair. He's not always texting, sometimes he's reading e-mail.) It's getting a little frightening how frequently that phone is in his hand, like a little boy who has just discovered his penis. It's like he can't stop touching it.

Seriously, though, if it keeps up I'm going to stage an intervention.

I was thinking of this a bit yesterday because Kate was working on a Powerpoint presentation for her big end of the year report on tigers. She's worked on the project at least a little every day for a couple of weeks now, and it's really coming together. She was asking me if I knew how to copy a sound-bite from the web into a Powerpoint presentation and I had to tell her I wasn't sure. Images I can do, but I've never tried to stick video or audio into Powerpoint... I'm sure I could figure it out, but she just said, "Where's Tim when I need him?!" She then coyly asked me how long until she could have her own cell phone. Images of my much more tech-savvy daughter having access to a phone of her own (and its inaudible ringtones and endless text messaging capacity) and told her "When you need one." Then she asked when she could have her own laptop and didn't like my offer of "When you graduate from high school." Heh. Anyway, now's the time to prep Kate with the info that will keep her from doing all sorts of things (like running off to get married before she finishes school or having unprotected sex, or, I hope, developing bad habits like eating junk food and texting at the dinner table). Wish me luck!


Full Moon, Crazy Drivers

Saturday night after seeing OSS 117: Nest of Spies we had more than three hours to kill before the midnight show. We had dinner with Ray, Christine, and Carol at this little bento box place on the Ave, but they started turning off the lights and making to kick us out before 10:00. (Not that I can blame them, I think they actually close at 9:00 but they served us anyway.) With two hours to kill, and the Pomminger clan heading home, Chris and I tried to decide what to do with our time. I decided to head back to the house for a while, since we were car-enabled for once. As we were driving home we passed the Amazon.com building, with the full moon hanging huge and orange-yellow just above it (ala Joe Versus the Volcano). Imagine this, at night, with a huge full moon just overhead:

On the way back to the U District for the movie, I was brutally cut-off or nearly run into on the freeway (at 65 mph) twice in the span of less than five minutes. Hell, more like in the span of less than three minutes. Both times I had to lay on the horn, slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid being hit.

After the movie let out and we were making our way back to the neighborhood, I was once again tooling along down the freeway and said to Chris that I really liked driving the freeway when traffic was light. (A rare occurence in Seattle.) Within a minute, I was exiting the freeway and heading down the off-ramp when I see a pair of headlights coming UP the off-ramp right at me. Once again, horn, brakes, swerving around to avoid a head-on collision with some jackass trying to drive the wrong way down the off-ramp.

Not sure what it was making people go nutty on the freeway that night, but we're currently blaming it on the full moon. I'm just pleased that we didn't die in a horrible car accident. Totally not the way I want to go out.


Evil Aliens

RJS, have I got a movie for you!

Last night was our night to hit one of the Seattle Film Festival's midnight shows. The show: that UK gore-fest Evil Aliens written and directed by Jake West. Bodily fluids by the bucketful flow, spew, spurt, and splat everywhere. From alien fetuses and anal probes to inbred Welsh farmers this movie was perfect, absolutely perfect, for the assembled midnight crowd.

Unsurprisingly, I saw many familiar faces at the show: Jim Lin, former Senior Vice-President of WotC R&D; Aron Anderson, owner of The Dreaming Comics & Games; fellow Minnesotan Erik Mona of Paizo and Super Unicorn fame. Yes, the geeks were out in force last night and it was good fun to be among them, gasping and cringing and applauding the blood-soaked merriment (to borrow a phrase from Ork! the Roleplaying Game).

I wouldn't say it's as good a film my favorite midnight show from SIFF 2005 (Night of the Living Dorks) but a good time was had nonetheless.


OSS 117: Nest of Spies

Yesterday's SIFF viewing included OSS 117: Nest of Spies. The SIFF website summarized it like this:

Currently a box-office sensation in France. Special Agent OSS 117 pops up in Cairo, 1955, to monitor the Suez Canal, check up on the Brits and Soviets, burnish France's reputation, quell a fundamentalist rebellion and broker peace in the Middle East. "No problem," replies Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath - think James Bond crossed with Maxwell Smart and Austin Powers, with a little bit of The Naked Gun antics thrown in for good measure.

On hand to introduce the film at its North American debut were actress Berenice Bejo and director Michel Hazanavicius. Neither spoke very much English and so we didn't stay for the Q&A afterward, but the audience responded very favorably to having them on hand and went wild with applause when Bejo's name rolled by in the credits. They both claimed to be very excited to have the opportunity to bring the movie to an American audience and I think the SIFF crowd responded with plenty of enthusiasm. Laughs abounded.

Jean Dujardin plays oafish spy Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath with abandon. Part spoof, part homage, the film hits every target dead on. The retro setting, costumes, musical score, even the fight choreography are pitch perfect. Dujardin's performance makes the character of 117 equal parts goofy and despicable, suave and ridiculous; he is benign but cringe-inducing, ignorant, self-assured, yet childlike. Utterly stupid and incredibly lucky. Hilarious to watch.

The plot of the film is paper thin and disappears entirely in places but that's no criticism. We were too busy laughing to care about the resolution of the plot anyway.

There's still one afternoon showing of this film on the SIFF schedule for you Seattleites who have the flexibility to cut out and see a show on Monday. It's good fun and I recommend it.


Rabbit Rescue Update

I found a vet not too far from me in West Seattle willing to take care of my rescued bunny. I handed her over to their care. When I peeked in on her in the carrier, she seemed to be much recovered (having had a quiet, mostly dark, enclosed space in which to rest and get her wits back) but subdued. They asked me if I wanted to keep her after they'd treated her, but unfortunately I just can't add another rabbit (especially a feral one) to my household.

I was jolted awake last night by a cat fight nearby. I'm still haunted by the rabbit's screams and the sounds of the cat fight made me startle awake and then filled me with fear and fury. I was instantly afraid it was that big grey tom back again to stalk our brown bunny's white-and-brown friend. I feared that "Fudgy" was back in my yard, looking for his friend. I opened the front door and the back door, peering out into the darkness but saw nothing. No cats or rabbits.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a sap.


Wild Rabbits

A few minutes ago I heard a terrible screaming coming from my back yard. I whipped open the blinds to see a big gray tomcat mauling a brown cottontail rabbit in my back yard. The cat had the rabbit by the neck and the rabbit was wildly struggling to get away, and screaming. What a terrible sound.

I beat on the window with my fist and that caused the cat to drop the rabbit and jump back about a foot. Then I went tearing out in the the back yard and the cat took off for good. The poor bunny tried to jump away and was all off balance and probably injured. She (don't know why I'm calling it a she, but she seems like a she to me) was just laying, panting, against one of my planter boxes. I got within about a foot of it and it just looked at me, panting, but didn't even move.

I went in the house and put on some proper shoes, my gardening gloves and a jacket with long sleeves and grabbed the carrier we use for Bonnie. When I went back out, the rabbit was still laying by the planter, but when I put the carrier down, the rabbit tried to bound away. She's confused, or injured, or maybe just dizzy and disoriented. She bounded a short distance away, then back across the yard to try and hide behind my grill. I figured if she was able to get away from me, she didn't need my help but in the end I caught her fairly easily and was able to scoop her into the carrier. I think she's injured, but I didn't see any blood or lost hair or anything that would be obvious from the outside.

The rabbit rescues and humane society aren't open yet this early on a Saturday. I figure she can wait an hour in my carrier on the porch. If she just needs to rest to recover from the encounter, she can rest safely there. If she's injured, I'd hope to get her to someone who can care for her. If she's injured beyond help, at least I can offer her an end to suffering. My biggest fear in getting involved, though, is that my meddling will make her worse, or condemn her to death by getting the animal shelter involved. I have another hour or so before I might be able to get in touch with anyone who knows more than I do.

She's a smallish rabbit, on the young side I think. I don't know if this is the same brownish bunny that I saw bounding around the neighborhood a few months ago with the brown and white bunny that Kate nicknamed "Fudgy". "Fudgy" was clearly a house rabbit that someone had let go in the neighborhood, not a cottontail or other wild rabbit. I shudder to think what kind of scene we'd be having now if Kate had been here, or if it had been "Fudgy" nearly mauled to death in our yard.


Seven Swords

Chris and I headed out to the Seattle International Film Festival again last night for a screening of Tsui Hark's Seven Swords, a film that adapts the wuxia novel The Seven Swordsmen from the Mountain Tian by Liang Yu Sheng.

Originally shot as a four-hour epic, the version of the film that played at SIFF has had 90 minutes chopped out of it. Unfortunately, the film is irrepairably harmed by the brutal, choppy editing. The quest for Mount Heaven, the formation of titular seven swords, what the heck is going on with the fleeing villagers from Martial Village are all obscured or obliterated. There is quite literally a scene where two characters are running through a storm on moment and the next are laying fur-clad in an icy fotress while characters we've never seen before carry on choppy dialog about who is going to give up/uphold which vows to join the quest. You could feel the audience's collective "Wha?" as the film ricochetted through the set-up.

Some of the editing choices I do not understand at all and it's possible that I'm missing some cultural significance that would explain why, instead of giving us any hint whatsoever to the characters and their motiviations or backgrounds, we see the Seven Swords ride off to spend 15 seconds looking at the sunrise together after a tense battle. At points later in the movie, they try to fill in a bit of the characters' backgrounds with "flash-backs" that I suspect were never intended to be flash-backs at all. "Remember that time we were in this field you've never seen, talking about this thing we never talked about?" And let's not even get into why one of the main character's names is subtitled "Han" but every time anyone calls to him they call "Chiba". At least in A Better Tomorrow when they translate A-Git to "Kit" the names are remotely similar. Ah, the trials of the subtitled foreign film...

So, editing issues aside, how was the movie? I'm torn. There are several things that I want to like about it. The locations and scenic shots were great, the costuming was interesting, the ensemble cast were all quite good. Donnie Yen as the brooding, hunky romantic lead worked just fine and boy, the climactic battle in the hallway nearly made up for all the clunky, goofy fight scenes with the evil goths and their decaptiating umbrellas and spiked frizbees.

I think I'm going to wait to see the whole, uncut film before I make a firm decision.


Coca-Cola Blak

This stuff is FOUL.

Seriously GROSS. Like "drinking Coke in which someone's put out cigarettes" level GROSS.


Lemming Moment

Was out of the house/office running around for almost 12 hours today. Kate missed her bus, so I snagged the Flexcar to take her to school and went about my business running personal and professional errands for the rest of the day. Was home for about an hour to pick up some mail orders that I needed to send out and spread around yet more mulch (in an effort to fend off the accursed Home Owners' Association and their vague complaints about the state of my yard). Chris was out tonight, so Kate and I celebrated "Girls Night" by going bowling. Bowled two games. Kate beat me fair and square (but for her use of the bumpers, I suppose) in the second game.

Anyway, now I'm home, tired and sore and ready to fall asleep at the keyboard. No energy to blog anything of more substance. Instead, some quiz results:

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury


Dinner June 7th

Dinner June 7th
Dinner June 7th,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Tonight's dinner was comprised of flattened chicken breasts served with a sauce of pitted and halved fresh cherries, apple juice, and Dijon mustard. The salad included three kinds of heirloom tomatoes on a bed of watercress (all fresh from the farmer's market today) dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.



Healthy Eating

Anyone who spends any time at all reading this blog knows I love food. The very definition of an omnivore, I am not a picky eater. However, as I've gotten older and my metabolism has slowed and my body has started to pick up creaks and aches and things just don't work as smoothly as they did when I was 19, I've had to put a bit more thought into what I'm eating and why.

When I was a kid my mom tried to get on a heath food kick on more than one occasion. Casting around in an effort to keep her children healthy, she bought cereals like Body Buddies ("Fortified with 16 Vitamins and Minerals!"), tried to limit chocolate by substituting carob (I'd rather skip chocolate altogether than pretend I'm eating chocolate by eating carob instead) and some downright crazy things like substituting Caro clear corn syrup for artificial maple-flavored pancake syrup (the only explanation I can come up with for this one is that she was trying to go "natural" but couldn't afford pure maple syrup). Though I have now become an eggplant fan in adulthood, my mom will never let us live down the time my brother and I turned our noses up at her attempt to make eggplant lasagna. Mom did what she could in the wilds of Minnesota and without the benefit of Google to find answers to her questions, but if we didn't grow up eating fast food, potato chips, Twinkies, and soda it was healthy eating forced on us by poverty. Where poverty kept chips and soda out of my hands, it also denied me fresh produce, whole grains, and real butter (apples and carrots, since they kept well, were the fresh fruits and vegetables of my childhood).

Two items are currently working their way to the top of my "food concerns" list. One is hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oils first came to my attention through Bruce Cordell, whose essay Artificial Fats Are Killing You can be found on his webpage. We used to be advised to avoid or reduce consumption of saturated (or animal) fats. Nutrition labels appeared, listing not just the total fat but the percentage of saturated fat per serving. In January 2006, the FDA added trans fats to the list of things that need to be called out on nutrition labels. Trans fats and saturated fats are the main dietary factors in raising blood cholesterol. Not only that but, as Cordell points out,"When you eat a trans fatty acid, your body incorporates it into your cells--your cells actually become hydrogenated." Eww. Unfortunately, hydrogenated oils (and their accompanying trans fatty acids) are all over the place! Not just lurking in a tub of margarine, but in those "Fat Free" Ry Krisp crackers I bought. The third ingredient: partially hydrogenated soybean oil (though the label assures us that it "adds a trivial amount of saturated and trans fat").

The second ingredient on my watch list is high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is another one of those ingredients that seems to be in everything. Sodas and fruit juice drinks are loaded with the stuff, but it's in your bread and hot dog buns, your corn flakes, your ketchup, those saltine crackers, applesauce, spaghetti sauce... Health professionals advise people to avoid foods that have HFCS listed in the first five ingredients. Consumption of HFCS is implicated in Americans' increasing instances of obesity and diabetes, and researchers are compiling data from human and animal studies that show HFCS can "induce insulin resistance, impair glucose tolerance, produce high levels of insulin, boost a dangerous type of fat in the blood and cause high blood pressure". With so many potential risks and nothing to recommend HFCS (except the economic benefits for companies that use this cheap sweetener), I just don't see a reason to keep eating the stuff.


Pretending I was in A Galaxie 500 video

As we moved out of the farmlands into the grid
The plan of a city was all that you saw
And all of these people sitting totally still
As the ground raced beneath them, thirty-thousand feet down

- Liz Phair, Stratford-On-Guy

Flying into the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport through clear skies I was struck by how beautiful the lights of the city sprawl are. The plains allow for streets and houses to be laid out in an orderly grid, evenly-spaced street lights and the occasional gauzy-dotted expanse of parking lot, punctuated by irregular blotches of darkness where lakes or the Mississippi river break the terrain. Very different from the way the Seattle area is shoehorned into the undulating spaces between the Cascades and the waters of Puget Sound.

I got to see members of my extended step-family that I haven't seen for years. I'm older than of any of the Karbo clan kids, all clustered tightly together in a rough 10-year spread with the oldest about six years younger than me; all the "kids" are grown up, getting married, having babies, finishing school, finding their places in the world or still casting around wondering where they're going to land. My aunts and uncles now solidly see me as an adult. My grandparents grow older and weaker, slowing down but not ready to stop just yet. Being together for this wedding affected me much more than any of my visits back for holidays have in recent memory.

Finding myself alone and relaxed with my Lindroos clan was particularly potent. My aunt JoAnn died unexpectedly just over a year ago. My dad and my uncle and my grandpa are the remaining core of our family. Adoptees sometimes talk about the experience they have when they meet their biological families, a sense of belonging or being like these people who are otherwise strangers. That is how I feel around my Lindroos clan. Not so much with my cousins and peers, but with my elders. My step-mom pointed out to my aunt one afternoon that my uncle, my dad and I were sitting around together chatting, legs out, ankles crossed, fidgeting our toes. And we surely were, the Lindroos fidget. The ladies who married into it groused good-naturedly about the Lindroos traits that run through their husbands, and I just laughed and laughed with recognition and love. In the last couple of years, especially since my grandma's death and my uncle's return to Minnesota, I've gotten to spend more intimate and quality time with this part of my family.

The one somewhat sour note for me in the whole visit was the intense religiosity of the wedding itself. It seems all four of my brothers have grown quite religious, surprisingly religious, of a brand of Christianity that I can't personally embrace. There is no way as Kate's mother I would stand up at her wedding and exhort her to be submissive to her husband, "like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master." Every word about building a marriage under "God's vision" and "God's plan" and finding "a ministry" was like a jarring claxon; my brothers and their wives (those who have them) are moral, loving, giving people who clearly take their faith and devotion here and I wouldn't ever try to deny them what comfort or inspiration they find in the religion they've embraced but I do not take that same comfort. I can't lay a title on my own beliefs (agnostic? humanist? nihilist?) except to say that Christianity brings me no comfort or inspiration despite the alignment of my basic beliefs with the the teachings ascribed to Christ. It was the one sadness I felt on the trip.


Minnesota Wedding

Back from the wedding. I had such a wonderful time. In addition to seeing my step-brothers and all of my extended step-family, my aunt, uncle and grandpa made the trip from Ely for the celebration. I was surprisingly giddy at the chance to see everyone again. I'll have some thoughts on the trip late, but for now, wedding photos.

As always, you can click over to the photo album by clicking any of these photos.


Midwest Wedding

I managed to sneak in a viewing of The Call of Cthulhu this afternoon at SIFF. The film is only 47 minutes long, shot in a black and white "period" effect. SIFF was pairing it with two shorts in a broadly similar vein. Director Andrew Leman was on hand for a Q&A afterward. It was interesting spotting the Mythos geeks vs. the film geeks in the audience. One poor woman clearly had no idea what she'd just seen and was terribly confused about "this cult" that was also appearing in another Mythos movie that's in production (the confusingly titled Cthulhu, with Tori Spelling).

Now, it's time to grab my carry on bag and head back out into the rain to the airport. I'm off to Minnesota for the weekend for my step-brother's wedding. It's supposed to be 85 and sunny while I'm there and it will be a welcome change from the wet weather we've been having here, let me tell you.

I won't have 'net access while I'm away. Be good while I'm gone!