Saturday, September 12, 2009

The top five signs you're too tired

5. You fall asleep during the sex scenes in movies. (Exceptions: any sex scene in Eyes Wide Open. I'm generally a Kubrick fan, but in that film he managed to make an orgy tedious.)

4. You have to put your alarm in a padded cage across the room so nothing you hurl at it can reach it.

3. When a work colleague asks you on Monday morning if you're all rested-up from the weekend, you momentarily consider ripping off his arm and beating him with it.

2. Your fantasy life changes from sex in exotic places to sleep in hotel rooms with really great black-out curtains.

and the strongest sign that you're just too damn tired

1. You dream of sleeping.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random thoughts on Friday, 9/11

On the morning walk, I couldn't help but notice that here and there on neighborhood trees the green is giving way to yellow and brown. I'm not ready yet for the season to change.

This day still gets to me, and all I did was watch on TV like millions and millions of other people. Flying past Manhattan six days later is still vivid in my memory. My heart has hurt all day today.

It doesn't matter how hard you work for your art or how much you suffer or what it costs you. In the end, the art must stand alone.

I hope to do parts of Science Magic Sex in San Francisco at the Borderlands signing and maybe all of it a few more times at cons. If Balticon has me do another spoken-word show, I will probably write a new one. Working title: Wake Up Horny, Wake Up Angry. Don't ask.

I admire many people of faith who hold true to their beliefs. I do not, however, think that this particular page, which Sarah brought to my attention, is doing anyone any good. Best passage: "However, it appears that Satan is behind the whole health care debate. He is not interested in free enterprise."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sarah's career goals

When you have a kid who's a senior in high school, you learn that people far and wide ask the same question: Where's she/he going to college? The kid, of course, often has not yet decided, so you stumble around for an answer.

Now that Sarah is in college, I've learned that many of those same people are back, but with a new question: What's Sarah majoring in?

I could grope for an answer. I could make up something sensible, such as, "Well, because she's just started she's focusing on getting core requirements out of the way and finding fields of interest to her, after which she'll select a major." I could try to stop the conversation with something unintelligible, e.g., "I'm not--squirrel!"

Instead, though, I decided to ask Sarah. Now, Sarah's not handy, so I had to ask her telepathically and rely on my superb paranormal skills and my deep psychic bond with my daughter to make the answers clear.

Her response was that she had decided not to pick a major yet but instead to take courses that would advance her top ten career goals:

10. To be the first person to prove that the key to extending the average human life span is to eat only beige food.

9. To develop computer software that can identify new bands before their members have even considered getting together.

8. To create an edible cure for the scarring of AP Euro.

7. To teach all the sound crews in all the world's clubs how to do a proper mix.

6. To lead a protest march from every state and every land to Duke and force the administration to give air conditioning to all freshmen.

5. To run and own the finest bakery in Florence--and then add a massive gelato window to its front.

4. To force all the world's Halo 3 players to bow before her 1337 skills.

3. To rise in the Rock Paper Scissor ranks to the ultimate rating possible: number two, behind, of course, her father.

2. To construct the first fortress capable of keeping a hardy band of survivors alive until every zombie on the planet comes to it and then falls victim to its laser-defense system.

and her top goal, of course, was and remains

1. To challenge and beat Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

R.I.P. The Mint

The Triangle's best restaurant, The Mint, is no more. The business is still operating under that name, but Eric Foster and Jeremy Clayman, the two chefs who made it great and who brought molecular gastronomy to the area, have now both left, so the restaurant I loved has died. (Clayman went some time ago, and now Foster is no longer on the restaurant's site.)

If you want to see the difference between the meals I've glowingly described on this blog and what you can buy today, check out The Mint's dinner menu. The main courses, now down to three, sadly resemble the room-service offerings at most Westins--a fine hotel chain, to be sure, and one I quite like and often use, but not where I go for good food.

Clayman has resurfaced at the Busy Bee Cafe, where he's under-utilizing his skills but still producing some very tasty fare. I don't know where Foster has gone.

When those two were working at The Mint, and even when Foster alone was in charge, I was willing to proudly tell anyone that Raleigh had a restaurant that could produce a tasting menu of absolutely top-drawer caliber. I no longer can say that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Fray at DPAC

Earlier tonight, a group of us went to see The Fray perform at the new Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). I'd never been to DPAC, and I'd never seen The Fray, so I was quite pleased to have scored tickets to the show. As frequent readers may recall, I've been listening to their song, "How To Save a Life," almost daily during the work on Children No More, so in that small way The Fray have been a part of my life for almost this entire calendar year.

The show was excellent, better than I'd expected. The sound mix, though of course not as good as an album's, was far better than what you get in most clubs. The Fray performed all their hits and a fair selection of other songs. The lead singer, Isaac Slade, has a stage persona that at times is rather odd, but he was nonetheless fun to watch and seemed genuinely to care about the music.

The opening act, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Wheel, was also quite good, interesting enough that I plan to pick up their CD sometime soon.

If you like any of The Fray's music and their tour comes near you, definitely check them out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The ice cream jury has handed down its decisions

and, to my amazement, none of the five "Straight from the Dirt" strange flavors proved to be at all nasty. In fact, all were at least tasty, and some I quite liked. I have to hand it to the folks at Jeni's Ice Creams: they make good flavors even from ingredients, such as beets, that I strongly dislike. Here's how the flavors measured up:

Carrot Cake

Probably the weakest for my palate, it tasted like a really great carrot cake turned into ice cream. Chunks of walnuts and candied carrots helped sustain the impression.


Imagine the flavor of green. Now, make it subtle, blend it with a superb sweet cream, and you have this taste treat. I expected to hate this one and instead quite loved it.

Cucumber Honeydew with Cayenne Yogurt

The Uma Thurman Kill Bill ninja warrior of the bunch, this one starts out all pretty and nice, charming you with its sweetness and hints of cucumber and melon, and then, wham!, the cayenne kicks the shit out of the back of your throat. Each person reacted the same way: at first wondering where the cayenne was and enjoying the smooth flavor, then reaching for some water.

Of course, if it were actually Uma Thurman kicking my ass, I'd still be downstairs (semi-)defending myself.

Red Beets with Lemon & Poppy Seeds

I am not a fan of the noble beet. I know it has its admirers, but so does Dick Cheney; it's a big world, and there's more than enough weirdness in it to go around. This ice cream, though, won my vote as second-best of the bunch by using the lemon to tame the beets and the poppy seeds to impart a wonderful earthiness.

I can't believe I'm saying this about anything with beets in it, but I might well order this one again.

Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries

I'd had this one before, so I had already gotten to know it. I like it, but I don't love it. The sweetness is good, the corn taste is minimal, and the raspberries are delightful--but it's only merely good, which is rough for a flavor sitting in the freezer next to so many stronger treats.

As usual when discussing Jeni's, I should conclude with this piece of unsolicited advice: If you're an ice cream fan and you can afford to pay the hefty price without breaking your bank, order some Jeni's now. It's that good.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The children danced

Sarah auditioned for and won a seat in Duke's symphony orchestra. Tonight at 6:00, after only about four hours of rehearsal, they made their debut performance of this school year, an outdoor Labor Day pops concert. I attended primarily to watch my daughter perform, but by the end I was very happy indeed that I was there.

I'm not a classical-music guy. I'm a rock-and-roll guy through and through. Because this was a pops show, however, it included music that even I at least somewhat recognized--and a lot of it was not classical but rather other music I actually knew. The concert ran a tad over an hour and proceeded roughly like this:

* some Strauss
* some Mendelssohn
* some Brahms
* a Duke Ellington medley
* a Leonard Bernstein medley, all from West Side Story
* a medley from Grease (Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, sez Wikipedia)
* a piece from The Pirates of the Caribbean (Klaus Badelt)
* a John Williams Stars Wars medley
* John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever
The afternoon was beautiful, the temperature perfect, the white-flecked sky melding the best of summer's end with a hint of the fall to come. People spread blankets and folding chairs, ate cheese and chips, drank wine and water and soda, and watched as their little children played and listened and danced.

The children, you see, didn't know any of the pieces were classical or show tunes or movie soundtrack songs; they just knew it made them want to move. They bounced in time to the rhythms, they danced when the music possessed them, they turned away at the scary bits, they laughed at the funny bits--they reacted, as children so often do, directly and from the heart.

I am a very bad dancer. Somewhere long ago, I learned this fact, and I know it to be true. Every now and then, though, I wish I hadn't. I wish I could dance without inhibition, uncaring of how stupid I looked, simply because the music moved me and I was once again a child. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that, but in the meantime, it gives me great joy to listen to the music, to watch and hear my own wonderfully talented children perform, and to see the children dancing.


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