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 As a storyteller, wouldn't it be fun to make up an evil (or evil-ish) setting and throw in a bunch of protagonists to see how they handle it?
As a storyteller, wouldn't it be fun to take an evil world and set protagonists in it so they could make a Statement or send a Message to the world?
 
I dunno.
As a storyteller, I'd find the first fun, and the second tedious.
As a listener, I'd find the first fun, and the second tedious.
As a white liberal mom, I'd find the first interesting and the second Important.
 
Lately I've been seeing a lot of blog post and news articles about sexism, racism, and "Other"-ism in many of the science fiction and fantasy shows on the air now. I agree, in theory, to most of them - there should be no -isms to complain about, diversity should be acknowledged, bigotry is Bad and Evil.
 
I watch a few of these shows - mostly Doctor Who and lately, Game of Thrones. I don't watch much TV or movies, because I have 6 years of academic and practical analysis of how these things are made, and I get distracted by camera placement choices, costuming sets, and lighting. And lens flares. I hate lens flares. So when I watch my shows, it's with a willing suspension of disbelief and a hope for writing and acting good enough so I don't start analysing all the technical aspects.
 
Since I know about the making of these things, I know there's often a disconnect between the story and what appears on the screen. The show runner, or original author, or episode writer, may not have much or any control over what happens to their story. And the stories? Hey, I know they were written by middle-aged white guys, and therefore, I'm getting a bit of their worldview along with their writing. 
 
And I accept this. I don't always approve of it; I rail when obviously bigoted, or selfish, or even just plain bad characters aren't punished for their opinions and acts. Yet it's just a TV show. It's meant for entertainment, not for instruction or role models or moral guidance. When we see what we consider to be egregious acts that have no consequences, or storylines that denigrate entire races, classes, or genders, we should rail. We should rant, we should tell our friends. We should discuss it, online and in person, because if you think it's improper, explain why to those people who are ignorant. A lot of what are considered "privileged people" aren't even aware of their inborn status and prejudices. Talk about it. Go back and forth in the comments with people who has differing opinions, not to troll or bash people over the head with your dogma, but to have a civil discourse and share thoughts. Maybe you can learn something, maybe they can learn something, maybe the Internet can learn that people can have opposing views and still debate calmly and rationally. 
 
Okay, maybe that last part is as much a pipe dream as the people who think that tweeting about racism or sexism will solve anything. I love that people are noticing, and not taking for granted that there is a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle hatred, bigotry, and stupidity in media today, and too many people are getting their role models from there. After all, the #1 thing American kids want to be when they grow up is Famous.
 
Sigh.    
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 I'm married to a drummer. No, more than that, I'm married to a guy who's been a professional musician for nearly 40 years. I think he's one of the best drummers in Cleveland (or the world) but I may be biased, because nearly everything I know about drumming came from him. But this isn't about the husband's musicianship; it's about how that takes me to weird places. Or at least about the latest one, this weekend.
He plays in a band called Sosumi, a "damaged art rock" band started in the 80s and still playing gigs, even if some years they only play once. I think once they didn't play for like 3 years, and this year they've already played twice. Anyway. they had a gig this past Saturday at the Happy Dog.

The Happy Dog used to be a corner tavern in an iffy neighborhood. Then in the early '00s, about the time Detroit-Shoreway turned into Gordon Square and got lots of federal funds to pretty it up, some young(er) people took it over, and started having DJs come in and play strange ambient noise or old soul on vinyl, and they did polka parties, where old couples danced next to hipsters and everybody ate pierogies. Nowadays, they still do polka parties (once a month, maybe?) but the new even younger owners brought in their chef* friend to advise them, and he said "serve only hot dogs & fries, but offer unlimited toppings" so they did. They have real meat dogs made specially for them at Blue Ribbon Meats, a legendary local sausage maker, and 50 toppings available. They also have lots of beers, many on tap, pinball machines, a downstairs hangout bar where the DJs live now, and a live music stage just inside the door. 

We got to the bar about 10:30, and Sosumi was scheduled to go on at midnight.  We got drinks and dogs (I chose carmelized onions, smoked bacon, cheddar, and Ballpark mustard. Best.Dog.Ever. [or at least since childhood. My dad was a butcher.]) and sat back to watch the show.

The first thing you need to know, if you haven't guessed yet, is the Happy Dog is home to hipsters. Lots of them. I saw more interesting beards there than I ever have, including the hugest pair of mutton chops I've ever seen. They stuck out from the side of his face at least 3 inches, and hung down nearly to his shoulders. Which were, yes, covered in flannel. 

The bar staff was 3/5 hipster, with the obligatory 6 foot tall lesbian and a skinny little hippie boy thrown in for contrast. Between the hipster staff and the hipster patrons, I would have felt old and out of place without the band's regular fans.

Believe it or not, Cleveland has been (and still is) a hotbed of activity in the arts. There are still live music performances of one kind or another every night of the week, and art galleries, studio spaces, and weird collectives in every neighborhood and suburb of Cleveland. Even though our radio mostly sucks (try 87.7 when you're in town, the only sorta-independent rock radio here), there's lots of new music here - we're the home of Alternative Press [disclosure - the husband does their podcasts].

Anyway, the art and music scene in Cleveland is still kinda insular, and there's lots of overlap. Sosumi's crowd is part artists and musicians, and part friends of the band. Sosumi is one of those bands that have good nights and bad nights, and sometimes the bad nights are good, and sometimes they're just painful. Saturday was one of the good bad nights. Everyone was having fun, band and audience alike, even though the musicianship was a bit ragged and forgotten chords and lyrics figured in more often than not, but everyone had fun. And the people-watching was excellent. By midnight, the bar regulars had started mingling with the people who were there to see the band, bonding over hot dogs and beer. I didn't think I'd be really comfortable in a hipster hangout, but the hot dog made up for all the beard and flannel and ironic love of Polish things. 
 

*Chef Eric Williams, from Momocho, the Mexican fusion restaurant that took over the space my 2nd all-time favorite restaurant** used to be in. 

**Fulton Bar and Grill's chef, Steve Parrish, introduced me to the concept of farm-to-table cooking, and that was my favorite restaurant. They catered to musicians and their schedules and kept the kitchen open late. Then it closed, and now Lola is my favorite restaurant. 
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 Well, I'm usually doing this while the turkey is in the oven. but this year again there is no feast to be prepared.
 
The family has no interest in making a place for me; I have no interest in forcing them to; therefore, no Thanksgiving dinner to prepare.
I should be thankful about that. I have an entire list of things I should be thankful for. It's snarky and nasty and mean-spirited, just like the start of the holiday season. Things like, I should be thankful I don't have to cook. Trouble is, I like cooking. I like making occasional feasts. I like having family and friends gathered around the table eating good wholesome foods I've prepared. So rather than dwell on my dead mother's voice in my head telling me what I should be thankful for, I'll just do a list of what I am still thankful for.
 
I am still thankful for the husband, who loves me. 
I am still thankful that I can still "walk, sit and stand."
I am still thankful that my medication doesn't zombify me.
I am still thankful for the possibility of spring.
I am still thankful for things that make me laugh.
I am still thankful for the Internet.
I am still thankful for chocolate and coffee.
 
I am still thankful for what I have, comparatively. It could be so much worse.
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 18 years ago today, our eyes met across the makeup room.  4 years ago today, we married in Vegas. It's been a wonderful ride so far.

AND...
I just saw a man jump from 24 miles up, at the edge of space, break the speed of sound (probably) and land on his fucking feet!
For Science!!!
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 Once upon a time I had a daughter. Then I accumulated many more.
I had to make rules, for these were kids who mostly didn't have rules, and needed rules, for my sanity and their protection - no one ever really got thrown down the stairs, no matter how often I threatened. 
A few years ago, I started writing down the rules, and the reasoning behind them, because I saw an abhorrent lack of  common courtesy and common sense in the kids reaching adulthood today, and thought,
"Somebody should tell 'em"  and my tricky brain answered back "Why not you?" 
Then my husband started encouraging. Have you ever had a husband who's terrible at subtlety attempt gentle coercement? Sometimes it can be funny to watch. 
So I wrote this book.
More like a pamphlet, truth be told; I had pictured it as something to tuck into a pocket, like those saddlestitched pebbled leather notebooks men carried in the early 20th century. But the magic of technology bypasses physical publishing, and it can still be tucked into a pocket, as long as your pocket is big enough to hold your Kindle, phone, or tablet.

All this blathering is to announce: My first book is out!

If you know teens or young adults who need a dose of reality, if you know someone who need a mama to answer questions without pabulum, if you know a parent who could use some advice and a laugh, this book can help. 

[I really want to write a compelling introduction that makes you want to read this book. I have crappy coffee and have been out of allergy medicine for 3 days. It's all I can do to keep typing.]

Here's where you can get it:

Mama Mary's Rules for Daughters: Advice & Guidance For Becoming A Responsible Adult: Mary Casey Walsh: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

It's only $1.99 (US), or the equivalent in world currency. Hey, Canadians and some Europeans can get a bargain!  Thanks for your consideration.
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 Today I had a revelation.

 

I am not a Feminist.

I am a HUMANIST.*

 

I think we should be focusing less on women’s issues and more on people’s issues. Much of what started as the fundamentals of the Women’s Movement and Feminism – equality, right to work, right to be represented and to represent, right to a voice in the community and culture – these are the same rights that gays fight for, that the physically and/or mentally disabled (or are we supposed to say differently-abled? I’m not getting into that here**) are fighting for, that just about anybody who is not a member of the ruling class, whatever it is, are fighting for.  Misogyny and misogynic cultures? Not a women’s issue, it’s a people’s issue. All of the issues – they’re about HUMAN RIGHTS. Not women’s rights, or gay rights, or [insert oppressed group name here] rights. It’s about making sure that every human on the planet has the same rights and responsibilities.

 

Well, yeah, responsibilities too. You can’t just take and not give; you can’t use up and not replace. It may have been Dan Savage (and forgive me if got the cite wrong; feel free to correct me in the comments) who talked about the good camper theory in the frame of relationships –leave your site as good as, if not better, that when you got there. I’d say this works as a good guide to treating other people (as well as the planet.) Pick up your garbage (real and methaphorical) and throw it away, or better, recycle it into something useful.

 

*I probably should be using "an humanist." I think that's even clumsier than the correct spelling of thru, so I will ignore it.
**I'm likely to call myself a crippled old lady and be done with it. I've been given so many hurtful labels over the years that I feel all labels are potentially hurtful; it's just the intention that matters, not the label.
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...why not the entire world?

This afternoon I had a dance party while shelling peas, thanx to Pandora on the laptop in the kitchen.

I love living in a time when I have the equivalent of a library and a stable of entertainers living in a space no bigger than a Life magazine. Wait, no bigger than an opened woman's compact, if you count the phone.

To anyone born after 1970: Look up Life magazine (and Look, for that matter) on Wikipedia. For the definition of woman's compact, see Mad Men.
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There seems to be a unanimous acclaim for the movie, with the usual "the book is better" contingent (Yeah, I'm usually one of those.) with two exceptions, both concerned with one thing: race.

It's funny to me when people get upset about casting decisions that, in their mind, "betray" the source material, whether it's a book, a comic, or TV or movie. C'mon, people, it's Hollywood! What did you expect?

Also, with books, we create very specific images in our heads as we read. Your head canon is unique to you - it's your head, after all - and just to get an extreme example of this, go to any fan site for a book series and look at a fantasy casting thread.* Two camps of casting critics have sprung up and become vocal, and they come from opposite ends of the fanatic spectrum.

First, there are the obvious racists that object to pretty much any non-whites being cast. This is patently stupid, because to deny that there are humans with different melanin levels is stupid. I'm not even going to address it further.

The other camp is more interesting. These are the ones who feel Katniss especially was miscast, because Jennifer Lawrence is too white and the opportunity to play up the miners vs. townies, poor vs. middle class was lost. Although they have a valid point, once again, remember Hollywood? They don't want anyone "too ethnic" in a leading role, lest they offend (and lose dollars). And films with a message (or too much integrity) aren't as attractive as a cute chick in an action movie.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but from the clips, reviews, and interviews, it seems that the movie was about as faithful to the original as Hollywood could make it. Whatever its flaws, the fact that it's a blockbuster heartens me. I'm glad there's a popular movie, perhaps the first of a series, with a strong, independent young female lead. For a mother of daughters, it washes the taste of Twilight out of my mouth.


* No one appreciates my suggestion that Miranda Hart would make a great Sybil Vimes.
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Audiobooks are a wonderful thing. Since I don't get out to the library much, I can't consume "regular" books like I used to, but I can download audiobooks from 2 different library systems (CLEVNET and Cuyahoga County) with one library card and minimal trouble. I listen to books all day, and that's the big difference for me - it takes ALL DAY to listen to a book. I could have read it in an hour or two, but it takes six or eight hours to have it read to me. Usually I can gather patience, and enjoy the narrator's voice and the aural experience, but sometimes it just doesn't work for me.
The biggest problem I have is with familiar books. If I know the story, I want to speed up the boring bits to get to the good part. Or worse, the narrator mispronounces words, or names. Example: Nancy McKeown, who is most famous for being Jo on Facts of Life, read a J.A. Jance mystery. Just one, and you'll see in a bit why they got professional voice artists for the rest of the series. The series takes place in Arizona, and one of the police officers is named Jaime. Listening to the book on an mp3 player, I could be heard yelling out loud, "It's Hi-Me, not Jay-me!" every five or ten minutes.
Usually, it's not so bad. Sometimes an audiobook is a surprise, like the Stuart Woods mysteries read by the husband and wife team of Dick Hill and Susie Breck. Between the writing and the excellent voice acting, it's fascinating enough to get you through Iowa.* Sometimes, it's a pure delight, like most of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Nigel Planer brought the characters to hilarious life, and Stephen Briggs made them even more human and outrageous. Sometimes, it changes the way you interpret a book, as when you hear memoirs or autobiographies read by the author, and there are obvious points where you hear the thickening of a voice and know the material is still emotionally effecting; other places, the warmth or coldness of the reading gives more insight than the actual words into the mindset of the author.
An omnivore of books, I consume mysteries, science fiction, humor, biographies, and popular fiction and non-fiction as mood and opportunity allow. Because of the bizarre workings of waiting lists at the library, I often get a chunk of notices for books almost at once - for example, over the past three days, I've downloaded Pioneer Woman, the first Hunger Games book, The Impossible Dead, and Quantum Man. I started with The Pioneer Woman, because I love the recipes on her blog, but soon found out it was little more than a romance novel in real life, although an interesting one. So I moved on to Quantum Man, the sort-of biography of Richard Feynmann by Lawrence Krauss, and ended up staying up late last night because I was fascinated by the science in the story.** I'm not sure if I'll finish that before starting on the Hunger Games, one of today's downloads, because two of three daughters and a dozen other friends have recommended it, and by recommended I mean comments like "you haven't read it yet??? [look of astonished disbelief] It's fantastic, awesome, and other superlatives!!!" The Impossible Dead might come first, though, because I love a good police procedural, and I'm an Anglophile from way back, and it's narrated by Peter Forbes, who also read The Complaints, the first book in this new series by Ian Rankin, which I really enjoyed.***


*True story. And a long one. And now, 6 years later, it's funny. It wasn't then.
**I can't do the math anymore****, but I'm still intrigued by quantum mechanics and the whole idea that observing changes the observed as well as the observer.
***Too many commas?
****My math brain is gone, taken by fibromyalgia and/or the medications. Y'know those obnoxious people who can do sums in their head with no thought at all? I used to be one of them. Now, I need a calculator for anything that can't be rounded to tens. To be honest, I really wasn't any good at the math required for physics, and that's what made me drop out of engineering school ("I don't want to calculate where an electron is at any given point in time, I just want to know it'll be there and doing what it's supposed to do.") but I've always understood the concepts. My brain is so convoluted that quantum mechanics makes sense. I'll explain it to you someday over drinks. Drinks are necessary to explanations of quantum.

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Yes, it's that time to reflect.
Usually I do this while the turkey is roasting, but for the first time in over 20 years, I'm not making Thanksgiving dinner. I feel a bit lost, with nothing in the oven or on the stove. The husband says I should enjoy "not making yourself crazy cooking." I'm not sure I can be thankful about no feast, no leftovers, no happily overstuffed and satiated family members fighting over leftovers - yes, holiday cooking makes me crazy, but I love it.

But I am thankful for: My husband, who gives me perfect moments, usually without nougat
My #1 daughter, who still surprises me and makes me proud and is the best thing I've ever produced
The other daughters, who give me love and questions to answer
Gardening and farmers markets, and Trader Joe's, and Fowler's Mill
Doctor Who
Places online where I can read and write and discuss and comment and laugh and cry and get upset and rant (these places are not Facebook)
My weird walkable neighborhood
A continuing sense of wonder about the universe, which makes life worth living even when it's pain-filled and frustrating

and this.
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Once upon a time, I loved listening to my grandparents' stories.* A time before television! Hell, even a time before electricity and telephones were in everyone's home! What fascinated me most, in hindsight, was the anthropological details: buttonhooks to put on boots and fancy dresses, heating irons in the fire for pressing fabric and curling hair, and the stoic acceptance of the cruel double standards of the day, for both women and immigrants. Photography was only done at life events, and was more portraiture than snapshot, and featured solemnity and dour glares. Only my grandfather, late in life, told amusing stories, and we only heard one afternoon's worth, about making and selling bathtub gin during Prohibition, and fighting the other ethic steelworkers in the tavern on the corner, and most surprisingly, how he lied about his age to get out of Poland. He was really 18 when he left, and said he was 15. Being only 5'2" and looking really young, they believed it and let me pass. Finally my grandmother's Polish harangues penetrated the fog of brandy and cherry pipe smoke and he sighed, saying "O.K. Enough."

My parent's** stories, by contrast, were relentlessly cheerful stories about deprivation and climbing the social and economic ladder. Two streetcars and a walk of three miles to get to work? Well, it was a job, wasn't it? And by working hard, look what we have now! With a little coaxing, my mother would talk about studying the ladies magazines and movie posters, buying fabric and using her sisters as dress models to recreate the designer wear she loved and couldn't afford. My father, in later years, would give her money and tell her to go buy a new hat when she was especially down.

Today, I ran across a link, and realized I am now old enough culturally to tell stories about the olden days. My friends, I give you 11 Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard. Yep. Feeling ancient. All I have to do is find some kids to bore with my stories of "The Time Before Computers!"


*all born between 1897 and 1903, and immigrated to America from Poland just prior to WWI.
**both born in 1922, and they were married in 1942, before my dad got shipped overseas.
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My son-in-law the Whovian's birthday was approaching, and my daughter commissioned a TARDIS cake for him from a friend. In a fit of insanity, we decided that we needed Dalek cupcakes as well, and that we should be capable of making them. After all, we had both seen a few beautiful large professionally done cakes as well as any number of messy mini-ones, and we thought it could be fun.

I found Dalek plans online so we could plan the scale properly. The one thing she was adamant about was that they taste good. After a series of simple (to me) yet indecipherable (to her) sketches, we were ready to bake cupcakes and buy the other pieces-parts. I own weird diamond-shaped silcon cupcake molds, which worked well for the skirt. A halved regular cupcake made the collar section, three wafer cookie the base for the cake-ball head. It would be frosted with a buttercream, and the arms would be crafted out of white chocolate. Since they were going to be standing out at room temperature, I decided to try a stablized buttercream. (Very long and involved process, and next time I'll just go with a regular buttercream.)
I put together the cupcakes with ganache and frosted the bases, and here's where the problems started. The dalekanium spheres were Sixlets, bought in bulk from B.A.Sweeties, and a mess to put on, being slippery, and the frosting wasn't thick enough for them to sink in easily. This resulted in little silver spheres bouncing around the kitchen (buttercream frosting is buttery, resulting in slick fingers.) Equal amounts of hilarity and frustration ensued.
The second messy part was the arms. Both my daughter & I had worked with white chocolate before, and both of us were magically unable to do so for this project. The gun arms ended up being pieces of paperclips messily bonded with dabs of white chocolate, rather than the elegant design on paper. The plunger arms were chocolate cigarettes with chips attached rather than white chocolate creations. The only good part of the white chocolate fail was having a supply of broken white chocolate pieces to make the collars, rather than piping it in buttercream. The heads went together more-or-less as planned, and with copious amounts of frosting were stuck to the bases. They were shrouded in wax paper and stuck in the freezer until party time.

When they arrived at the TARDIS, they were exactly the right size. They surrounded it, and when my big brother spotted them, he yelled in his best Nicholas Briggs voice, "MASTICATE!"
TARDIS cake  & Dalek cupcakes
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How to Fix Everything The educational system: Stop testing, start teaching kids to learn. The deficit: Flat tax rate. Also, legalize marijuana and prostitution and tax them. Violent crime: Make a walled city. Let them fight it out in there. Washington, D.C.: Abolish lobbying. Inner cities: Allow squatters rights, and see what people can do. Did I miss anything? Let me know.
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The first time I ever won a trophy was in 1994. My whole family had trophies, lots of them, mostly for bowling and baseball. I won nothing. I was poorly coordinated and not a team player, especially when the team saw I was uncoordinated and therefore a liability to them. In 1994, trying to be divorced and with nearly no self-esteem, I won a karaoke contest. My prize? A trophy. It still holds place of pride in my living room, next to the other two trophies I've won - another for karaoke and one for special-effects makeup. I feel a glow when I look at those trophies, won at ages 34, 35, and 41, ages far beyond when most would have put away thoughts of being recognized for excellence. Competition is a young man's sport, after all. But the happiness of earning acclaim for something I've been working at all my life made me confident. Well, until I entered other karaoke and singing contests. Imagine being told you're a shoe-in. Imagine hearing 10 tone-deaf singers out of a field of 12. Imagine thinking that talent counted for something. Imagine thinking that the judges really meant what they said to you. Imagine not hearing your name. Imagine hearing the names of the tone-deaf, the off-key, the obvious buy-ins who kept the judges in drinks being announced. Imagine the feeling of worthlessness when the totally talentless contestants go on to the finals, but the talented are passed by. Why? Big boobs. I swear, it's all about big boobs. I have small boobs. I keep them under a shirt. I do not have big bouncy boobs I can flaunt, nor do I offer blowjobs. I have no money to bribe judges with drinks; I'm too honest to offer sex or drugs or alcohol or favors, so I go by talent alone. Over the past 14 years, talent alone has been downgraded. Tonight, this was forcefully brought home. Out of a field of 14, I didn't even make it into the final 7. Sour grapes? Yes, but I know I was one of 3 contestants to stay on key, and one of 4 who dressed up. My cheering section was louder than than all but 3 contestants. This, according to the rules, should have gotten me close to a win, but I didn't even get into the top 50%. I have determined my shortcomings. 1. I do not have big tits 2. I do not flash nor show off my (non-existent) big tits 3. I'm not sucking anyone's dick 4. see #1,2, and 3 5. I didn't buy the judges drinks tl;dr - To win a karaoke contest, show your tits, suck the judges' dicks, and buy them drinks. No talent needed. Yes, I'm bitter.
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Got 10 minutes?
Watch this video. No partisanship, no stupidity, no excuses, just a simple explanation of debt and deficit and what this political crap is really all about.
And you don't have to know a thing about math, economics, statistics, or politics to understand it. Well done, Khan Academy!
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Now, don't look at me like that. I mean chaos in a good way, in an ever-changing amorphous thing from which comes order, of some sort.

We once were a consolation prize for having property destroyed in a war. Then, through time, immigration, and the industrial revolution, we became a global supplier of stuff, steel and meat coal and and parts for machines and the machines themselves. As machines evolved, so did our factories. We built and ruined and built more and ruined more, and soon we were one of the biggest, dirtiest cities in America. You gotta be tough.

And we were, through the decades of decline, the shuttering of shops and abandoning of factories and warehouses, through the void of not knowing what to produce, now that our usual productions were obsolete. The core became pitted with hollows, and the edges became more like fortresses, but the walls were built to keep out the urban, not the rural.

Now we are in flux, while the infrastructure rusts and turbines begin to turn on the lakeshore. Crackhouses are ever so slowly turning into gardens, and more ethnic enclaves are beginning the long hopeful transition to hip urban centers, artists and community activists making way for developers and promoters chasing the next trend, and someday gentrification, a beacon to lure the suburban back to the urban. Holding on by our fingertips, poised on the edge while searching for the industry to succeed steel, knowing service industries can't fill the gaps by only serving each other. Holding our breath while bridges are replaced, the Flats rebuilt, a casino where we once made Christmas pilgrimages.

The chaos of Cleveland, which still rocks, where you can still find a half-dozen different kinds of live music performance any night of the week, festivals both traditional and bizarre all summer, sports teams with fanatic followers, a rotting, ruined hulk of a manufacturing city with an immense amount of small growing things inside, is starting to visibly change.

I'm truly curious to see what kind of order develops.
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There were mourning doves on my windowsill a few days back. They looked in at me, and cooed; I cooed back. Then I went for the camera and they flew away.

There was an article in the paper the other day about a body being discovered in a Seven Hills backyard. I alway read Seven Hills news, since I grew up there and especially loved juicy stories about people I might have known. The article mentioned the body may have been a homeless man, and that no one had seen him out riding his bicycle recently. That hit me - could it be Joe? I felt a weird flop in my stomach.

Last night, the news identified the body as Joe Kopp. Joe was older than me, and his parents and mine were friends through the church. Joe was "slow", "different", "odd", but never called retarded; as an adult I'd guess high-functioning autism and schizoid type stuff. He rode around Seven Hills and up and down Broadview Road on an old, battered but well-maintained bike with homemade rearview mirrors - the first mirrors I'd ever seen on a bike. If Joe saw you, he'd have to stop and talk. He was funny, and kind, and often annoying, but never mean. I hung out at Pleasant Valley Shopping Center, and often saw Joe there.
One of the strangest things about Joe was that the bullies never picked on him. The tough guys in the neighborhood always seemed to look out for him, teaching the younger bullies that Joe was to be left alone - they could throw gravel at any other weirdo riding a bike (like, me, like my little brother) but never at Joe.

Olga Kopp, his mom, was one of those no-nonsense, organizing women who ran the Ladies Guild, and after she died I guess the safety net was gone for Joe. I hear he was more-or-less homeless for the past ten years, being taken in by acquaintances whenever needed. I've read a dozen little eulogies on Facebook, from people who don't normally go out of their way to post anything serious. I've found out Joe saved up and donated his money to the homeless, even when he was sleeping wherever someone let him. I'm pleased and surprised by the outpouring of grief and outrage and memories coming from the community. I'm a little surprised by my own deep feelings about someone who I haven't seen in a decade, someone I was never close to. I guess it's because Joe was a childhood fixture, part of growing up in Seven Hills. Now, like Manners and the muscle cars, the empty lots and the woods, Joe is gone but not forgotten, and part of my memories and stories of growing up in Seven Hills.

I'll be watching the news for more on this. Why did someone, possibly the guy who took him in, shoot him and bury him? I can only hope we find out, and that whoever did it gets justice.
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Saturday: killing things. Today: growing things.

Saturday was Old School Sinema's Zombie Walk in Lakewood. I spent 4 hours making zombies for fun and charity, and John filmed the whole thing (everybody, not just me. Sometime in the future we'll post a cute little video.) I really love making ugly gory things. The red staining my hands from blood and scab is almost all off.

Today, I got out to the garden plot behind the apartment & sowed the first seeds of the year - salad greens. I also pruned the blackberry bush & cleaned out the strawberry patch. I can't wait for June and the first fresh fruit. There is nothing like that first bite of a sweet juicy organic strawberry - especially if you have managed to thwart the bakery's fat squirrel who thinks the garden is planted for his enjoyment.

A friend's post today sparked a memory.
I am 7 years old, and playing "Born Free" over and over on the piano. (The reason I'm playing it over and over is that since seeing the movie, I've loved this song, and I bought the sheet music with my allowance money & talked the piano teacher into including it in the lesson. I memorized it after a week.) I can let my fingers play this song, and I can secretly read a hand-me-down Kay Tracy paperback. (I've always loved reading, I read all the time, and would sneak books everywhere.) My mother yells down, "Don't you know any other songs?" I ignore her, because I'm busy figuring out the secret of the ibis feather.
marence: (Default)
I have conquered my one kitchen fail - pie crust.
Everyone loves my pies. Only a few know that my standard pie crust is the pre-made rolled-up kind. Since I am trying to eliminate as much processed food out of our diets, I figured it was time to face my nemesis, the home-made pie crust.
Of course, I had to research it. I scoured cookbooks and the Internet, and decided the secret to flaky, tender crusts was lard.
Of course, I had to make my own lard. So, I bought pork fat at the West Side Market, and rendered it down all day. Result - a jar of pure white animal fat goodness.
1-NoCrisco
Then, the experiment. I went with a 50-50 proportion of butter and lard, and used the same method that Julia Child and Altn Brown use - the food processor.
2-Half Lard,Half Butter
It's incredibly easy to just pulse the dry ingredients, add your fats, and pulse til it's pea sized.
3-Pea Size
Add your ice water, pulse some more, and it's crust! No pastry blender, fingers, or two knives, no chance for mixing too much - I can't believe I was stumped by this problem when the solution has been in my kitchen since the 80s.
4-Pouring Ice Water
The only old-fashioned thing left in the pie crust making was rolling out the dough. Eh, so there's still one pain-in-the-ass step.
5-BottomCrust
Filled with apples and spices, the pie went into the oven, and came out looking perfect.
6-A Is For Apple
The crust was indeed tender and flaky, with a subtle savory bacony touch that worked perfectly with the Melrose apples. Husband and grandson both declared it my best pie ever.
7-Slice
Now if I could just get the husband to stop asking me to make another pie for him...



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May 2013

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