Making my springtime plans. I'd already planned on being at the World Horror Convention, March 27-30, in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. I have now added appearances at Lunacon (http://www.lunacon.org/) in Rye, New York (it's right by work), March 14-15; The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (http://iafa.org/), March 19-23; and Eeriecon (http://eeriecon.org/), April 18-20.
My Christmas present to myself - the complete, ultimate DVD collection of Kimba - The White Lion. Watched the first two episodes tonight. In some ways I was more taken aback than when I watched Thunderbirds again, in some ways saw the magic that was still there. The animation is atrocious. Repeated sequences and mass crowds all in sync and no attempt at reactive or fluid motion - you've seen little books where you flip the corners that looked much better. All characters are drawn so broadly it makes you cringe, as do the "feel good" morals of each episode. BUT... I guess I just saw how the whole idea would - no, SHOULD - appeal to a seven year old (which was how old I was when I first saw the series). Mom's gone (a la Bambi), Dad's an impossible ideal to live up to (a la Lion King, Hamlet, and, oh yeah, I almost forgot - REAL F'IN LIFE, many times!), but everything works out. Bullies really do back down when you confront them. Some impossible coincidence always saves you at the last minute. That's where the connect with the real world breaks down, but I guess some little part of me still responds to that. Oh, and so nice to see such sweetness and optimsim packaged up and exploited by someone other than DISNEY!!! At two episodes/night, it'll take me a while to work through them, but I think I can do it!
My friend Bill has this whacky Thanksgiving tradition of grading all the dishes each year and sending a mass email, so I'll rip off the idea for my blog.Turkey - very good, moist. I sprinkled the outside with a dash of chili powder so the crispy skin had a nice kick. Ham - generic, but while rummaging (see below) I found an old jar of jalapeno-honey mustard and that made it really good. Stuffing - really good, and it was a save. I didn't have sage or chicken broth. So I dug around and found this ancient container of several spices, including a tiny bit of sage. It was so old I didn't think it'd have any flavor left. Then I boiled the celery tops to make a broth. Came out nice and wet with a little brown at the top and edges. (I make it in a casserole dish.) Cranberry relish - like crack, you can't stop consuming it. It's always made up of 1/2 bag of cranberries, 1/2 cup of sugar, then whatever fruit is in the house (this year, tangerines), and whatever nuts ( this year, pecans). So sweet and tangy. Gravy - no one touches the homemade stuff but me, so I bought a packet of something labelled "pepper gravy." I wasn't sure what it was, and it turned out to be the white kind (like you pour on biscuits or chicken-fried steak), but people started really liking it after a bite. Pies - I don't like pumpkin, but it was a good 'un, nicely spiced. The pecan was too runny, but the goo is so good, all buttery and sweet like toffee.Pickles - my first time making them from scratch (back in August). Great taste, but a little mushy in the middle, I think because I had to quarter them to get them to fit in the jars, and because I didn't have enough ice cubes when I made them (because no one but me fills the ice cube trays when they use them).
Back from LA
What a successful trip! Went to the Augustine meeting at the AAR on Saturday. I thought the four papers were thoughtful and detailed, and the Q&A afterwards was especially helpful to the audience. Then we ended up going out to this great Mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego - giant margaritas and excellent food. The plan had orginally been to drive back up to Burbank (where I was staying with my friend Bill), but my colleague Robert had a suite instead of a regular room, so we ended up staying in San Diego, drinking till all hours, and crashing there. Overheard from the pedi-cab drivers at 9:30 pm - "I'm sick of these Mennonites! I'm outta here!" Do my colleagues in religious studies limit their concern for the poor to prayers and organized charitable organizations, but aren't so great with tips? Scandal! No, wait - the real scandal was that the Harvard reception only served bad red wine and no beer or liquor. That's scandalous! Jesus would've taken care of that wine in a trice! The next day we were back in Burbank and I got to my signing at Dark Delicacies. I sat there with the other two authors and no one else showed up! I was thinking it was one of the usual signing experiences where you end up not selling any books. But then the owner brought out two big stacks of books for each of us: one stack was books that had been pre-ordered (each had a slip of paper in it telling us how to sign it), and the other stack was books for the store to sell later (and we're not talking the one or two copies a Borders usually buys at such events, but a nice stack of a dozen!). I ended up signing 30 books! Thanks to the nice people at Dark Delicacies for organizing that and being so generous!Red-eye home, not so hot. I need to go to sleep finally after being up since Monday morning.
Off to LA!
Gettin' on a plane. I'll be at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting tomorrow, then I'll be signing books at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Sunday at 2pm.
Horror Web Review
Finally!http://www.horror-web.com/(Reviews are listed on the right-hand side. Scroll down.)I was a little concerned about this one, as the site has a reputation for not pulling any punches and frequently giving one- and two-star reviews. So I'm relieved and thrilled!
Dead Man's Socks, Not Walking
You know, the last blog entry was entirely too upbeat, so probably I need to get back to my more typically morbid thoughts. My father died almost exactly three years ago (the results of the 2004 election killed him, a situation I completely understand). When I went to clean out his tiny apartment, there was all manner of junk, but not much useful, to be quite frank. (My mother died in 1980 [the impending election of Ronnie killed her, so death by Republicans clearly runs in the family], and in the following 24 years there was a brief second marriage and about six more moves for him, so there was almost nothing left from when I was a kid.) All of his wardrobe was cheap tshirts and shorts (it being L.A. and 80 degrees year round), EXCEPT for a cache of barely worn Gold Toe socks. Why, you ask, was everything he wore cheap, generic crap, except for six pairs of the Cadillac of socks - ? I have no idea! The human mind, especially in its twilight years, is a strange, confounding creature. So, on those rare occasions when I wear white athletic socks, I've been wearing those. But even the Dom Perignon of socks eventually goes flat. No elastic left in the poor devils. Useless. They had to be demoted from footwear to rag status. But I did make sure that I stuffed one pair of them into the old sneakers I have in the trunk of my car. (My father always made a point of having a box of old clothes and shoes in the trunk of his car, so it's carrying on his tradition.) And what will YOU be remembered for when you're among the (un)dead, gentle reader? Isn't that what we all have to ask ourselves with some frequency and urgency?
Seeds and Stars
Tonight I finally went through the two buckets of cold, orange slop from the jack-o-lanterns, so I could sort out the pumpkin seeds and toast them. As usual - even though every year we get tired of them and end up throwing most of them out after a while - the first hot, crispy bites as I pluck them off the cookie sheets were just awesome - salty, chewy, burning. A stainless steel bowl of them is sitting on my lap now, uncomfortably warming my left thigh. While the seeds were toasting, I took out the trash and looked up at the stars. I usually forget to, since I just hustle out with the trash and hustle back. It was almost cloudless. It made me want to always look up at the night sky - endless, mysterious, perfect. There are just so many things that make me feel grateful to be alive.
Back from World Fantasy Convention
Nice enough time, though the panels weren't always relevant to my work. The town of Saratoga Springs is really great. Incredible restaurants and shopping. Had a nice time with Mike Brendan from The Other Dark Place, and Linda Donahue, contributor extraordinaire to the upcoming History Is Dead anthology. I sat in on several readings. Two things became quite clear to me. First, compared to a really great author like Tom Monteleone, my writing needs a lot of work; his is creative, flowing, elegantly simple. Second, compared to a lot of other authors, even those with multi-book deals with major publishers, I have nothing to be embarrassed about; their writing is simultaneously overwrought, plodding, and confused.