Category Archives: life

Here’s to 2016 and finishing…hey what’s that over there?!

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what you meant to do…and all the things you managed to accomplish. Hopefully, the first list isn’t too demoralizing and the second list is a pleasant “oh, that is nice!”

I’ve written less than I wanted to in 2015, or rather, written fewer frivolous things. Day job required use of new skills. It’s been fun, but I was also reminded that it can be absolutely terrifying and frustrating when learning something new. You get quite good at things that you’ve done for years, that you forget the time when those tasks used to be challenging. Then, you handily pass off that experience as “youthful angst”, conveniently forgetting that much of that angst came from the whole, not-knowing-jack-shit part of life.

I live in a place which values surface youth in an exaggerated, and some might say, unhealthy manner. But really, the best part about being young, is acceptance of the fear of the unknown while maintaining a sense of optimism. This is the combination that allows you to grow and become more.

We accept this state when we’re young, and then we get older and we (and everyone else around us) expects us to “calm the fuck down.”  But fear of the unknown is a universal, timeless human condition. Embracing this, and being kind to one another would be much more sensible than trying to find someone or something to blame for a situation that is just a part of being alive.

(Unless you join a cult and prescribe entirely to their belief system and set of pat answers. )

And so for anyone who is afraid of trying something new, traveling on your own, ending a bad relationship (platonic or otherwise), getting a new job…remember: it’s okay to fear the unknown (see also, “Hamlet”), but learn to embrace it. Good things are out the in the wild.

Years ago, after another retroactively comedic relationship went down in flames, a friend comforted me by reminding me how quickly life can suddenly change. So, in the same way I had found myself suddenly devastated, I could also find myself giddily exhilarated. Now,  with someone that is so great, that years later, I still pinch him, just to make sure he’s a real person and not a figment of my imagination; I am reminded of how I couldn’t have possibly planned this.

So 2016, I wish for all of you, sublime moments of unexpected, giddy exhilaration, much love, many friends, and new adventures.

Happy new year!

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Terrified of horror…

I’ve never done well with scary stories. 

When I was five, I was with other kids that my mom was babysitting. One of them told me the “Bloody Mary” mirror myth, and I reacted severely enough that my mom told the other kids “you can’t tell her that that kind of story.”

At slumber parties, when a scary movie was rented, I would go and sit in the kitchen, covering my ears, while the other girls shrieked in terror in front of the tv. 

I got nightmares from movie trailers, random bar stories, a creepy picture at the end of a dark hallway…

The ones that get to me the most are the ghost stories. Even though I’ve actively avoided ghost movies, I’m really into the stories: I just don’t like being terrified. It’s a conflict which I’ve resolved by using Wikipedia to find out the ending of almost every popular scary movie. 

This contradictory behavior  touches on just why ghost stories are so compelling: because every ghost story is a mystery. The existence of the ghost means the story has an interesting beginning, but we’re just in the middle of the story…what happened ?!?  How does it end?!?

Given my long history of general cowardice when it comes to this genre, I recognize that it is not without irony that I made  this game.  

 
However, this is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on, not the least because the story writers have the genre bonafides and  the voice actors were so talented. Given that this was a tiny team, I produced, directed, and wrote supplemental script. And,  in a departure from  previous jobs, this one was audio only, no visuals. 

If I thought that somehow that work make it less scary, well… I ended up doing most of the “scary parts” work during daylight as much as possible. I’d neglected the horror adage that what is unseen is actually more frightening. 

In any case if you’re not a big ol’ coward like myself,  have an hour or so, and would like a free Halloween treat, check out the game!

Boo!

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Primary Courses: or old cookbooks

I’ve always loved used bookstores. When I was in school, not only were they the best place for a bookworm to score some deals, it was also a great place to find what my history teacher described as “primary source information”, artifacts of history to show the existence of a specific trend or set of expectations. 

For example, a modern reading of “Jane Eyre”, would show that Rochester is a terrible human being and why the hell would anyone think he was decent marriage material? 

Ok. So I still think that’s the case. But Charlotte Brontë was writing from a time when there were no mental institutions, and shutting one’s crazy wife in an attic with a caretaker, was the more humane thing to do. Not to say it wasn’t still awful for everyone involved. But it’s sort of like saying “well, the only things to eat at the time were bugs; otherwise everyone starved.” 

The right response is not “why didn’t they just eat sandwiches?” Because this was a time before sandwiches! And you can’t learn about this sandwich free era by reading “Jane  Eyre” because the author assumed her readers were contemporaries in this time of no sandwiches. You actually have to read books about the state of sandwiches  in the early 1800s, England. (In case you’re unclear, in this metaphor, sandwiches = psychiatric care, which was very bad at that time.) 

Now of course, we are in a heavily sandwich rich time, so there are no such excuses. 

One of my favorite sources of primary source information are old cookbooks. They are so much more than just a collection of recipes that remind you of how novel a microwave used to be, or the prevalence of Jell-O as an ingredient, they can also be a reminder of who used to be famous enough that they assumed people wanted to know what they wished to eat. They are a reflection of the times in which they wre published, and the state of mind of their authors. They’re  an unexpected window intro the fleeting nature of trends, of celebrity, of who used to be rich and famous… 



There’s a grilled eggplant recipe from Bruce and Kris Jenner are in here…with family pictures showing a very young Kim Kardashian in what appears to be a denim jumpsuit



Cookbooks are ostensibly about the preparation of food: everyone needs to eat. But outside of perennial, practical staples, like “The Joy of Cooking”, most of them are about something else. How to transform your body, and thus your life. How to solve some existential problem by cooking. How to somehow become more like someone successful by eating what they eat. The subtext of them say a lot about the culture from which they came; from the ingredient lists to whose recipes were considered worth collecting. They are advice and value systems, wrapped up in a food prescription. 

Like, when you think “what should I make for dinner”, you probably never think, “what should I make if I were a Laker?” But maybe you should! Why wouldn’t you want to be like an entire well compensated basketball team? They seem like they have good lives! Eat like a Laker!



Or if you’ve just discovered an evil twin, committed incest, have amnesia, or are unfortunate to have experienced all three, The last thing you want to think about is what to make for dinner. So this is the cookbook for you! 



Or if all of the above happens to you while trying to establish a political dynasty, AND you are a fan of the Renaissance Faire and Italian  food …



not only does this give you recipes that the Mediciicis would have enjoyed, it also reminds you that there was once a 13 part PBS special about them.



There are a reminders of what events people at a time wished to commemorate, but people are vague about now. 



I went to this as a kid. And I only just noticed how much the logo looks like a short penis with a third ball.



Cookbooks about movies that were popular enough at the time to warrant a cookbook  



Cookbooks for OCD physicists, or for those inviting some over for dinner. 



Cookbooks for those seeking a creative solution to pest control, or who are unable to travel to restaurants who serve unusual proteins. 



this must have been a challenge for the food photographers: judging from the results, I’ll say they failed to make the food look appetizing.



Cookbooks for lovers of a specific genre of music…



I eagerly await the dance music cookbook, the metal cookbook, and the synth pop cookbook.



And of course, one for fans of Star Trek. Recipes for a long and prosperous life!



If you have favorite, very specific cookbooks, I’d love to hear about them! 

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When Junk Food Doesn’t Count

A friend of mine has a grandmother who keeps kosher except when on vacation.

I’m not sure what the logic is in that. Is holiness so much higher away from home that non-kosher food is automatically ok? Or can supernatural beings only see you when you’re at home?

Whatever it is, I feel an affinity for her, because that’s exactly the same kind of logic I use when on road trips.

Have you noticed that whenever you stop at a gas station, the shops always have junk food that you never see anywhere else? While I haven’t seen “Bugles” at any grocery store near me for at least ten years; they’re at every gas station from LA to SF.

And I didn’t even know there were “TGIF” branded snack chips. But there are, and some are bacon flavored!

I don’t usually buy this stuff since losing the metabolism of a teenager (let me know if you guys find it, okay?) But put me on a three plus hour car ride, and it’s bring on the “Bugles”!

Perhaps it’s the weird, “in a bubble” feeling of being in a car by yourself for a long time. How many times have you seen someone swear, pick their nose, or otherwise behave in a manner that is inconsistent with how they would behave, even in their own home? How many times has that person been you?

So, it is in the same spirit of “cussing in the car doesn’t count” that “eating crap food in the car doesn’t count” has evolved.

I have not yet let myself descend to “Slim Jims” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been tempted.

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Pie is Bad!

While this topic isn’t exactly frivolous, it is something I’ve been thinking about and trying to live by for awhile, so I thought get it out there.

I’ve realized that in life, people tend to fall into two categories, pie chart people and bar graph people.

Pie people see everything in absolute terms with regards to themselves. For them, the good things in life are a finite resource. Do you have a story? Theirs is better! Does everyone find that other person interesting? That person is boring compared to them! Forget about celebrating around these folks…they can only be happy for someone if they can still feel superior.

Even if say, it’s a birthday pie, and therefore the birthday boy/girl gets a larger piece, it’s always more fun if he and she is willing to take a “slightly” smaller piece so everyone can have some, right?

Did anyone ever like the kid who was unwilling to share because it was his/her special day?

No. Because that kid was an asshole and his/her parents failed.

(I’ll pause right here for you guys to imagine your own personal pie people)

Bar graph people see their own happiness as disconnected from others. Someone else’s success has no bearing on their own. Everyone has their own awesome pie! Let’s share some pie!

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In case you can’t tell, I like bar people better. *

We can all be pie people once in awhile; it’s human to feel a bit of a sting when we hear about someone having success in an area in which we’re struggling.

But only in rare instances in life does a bigger piece of happiness for someone means a smaller piece for you. Like if you were competing with your friend for the same girl or guy, or the same job.

(To keep this reasonably frivolous, let’s try to keep this to people in your own personal circle, and not CEOs, politicians, and celebrities.)

Even pie people prefer bar people. After all, they’re unlikely to get the admiration they crave from other pie people; admiration also considered a finite resource. Pie folks are also the absolute first in noticing that someone else got a bigger piece, while conveniently forgetting all the times when they ate the entire damn pie.

The bottom line being, this might be the only situation where pie is a bad thing.

*this analogy also works with a line graph.

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What do you mean it’s not realistic?!?

Not to beat a dead horse (HAHA!) but I want to talk about my book again.

Because I got my first bad review!

While I’m okay with bad reviews (it’s really impossible to be universally loved) I do feel a bit bad about someone buying my book and being disappointed because she thought she was buying something else. Rather like thinking you were going to get chocolate, and finding a bar of soap instead.

I mean, soap is great and all, but so different!

So in case some of you out there are going, “I want to spend 99 cents (special promotional rate, going on now!) on a great centaur themed romance that makes me feel dreamy and see horses in a different light!” I beg you. don’t buy my book!

I kind of thought the tag “Ridiculous Romance” and the cheesy cover of a woman holding an apple, was a give away that this was a satire, but it seems, I’m wrong.

(If you must be disappointed, I’d like you to be disappointed for the right reasons.)

There are real centaur-themed romance novels out there, mine is just not one of them. Instead of hot horse-y love, mine has pictures like this in it:

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I love bad advice….

Or rather, bad advice columns.

Wait, no. That’s not right. I actually think the advice columns are good, but the problems are crazy.

And therefore awesome.

There’s a rubbernecking, Victorian freak show quality to them. A feeling of moral superiority, laced with a tiny soupçon of guilt.

It’s in the same spectrum of entertainment as reality tv. What you’re thinking most of the time is “thank god that’s not me!”

And when that person does something that isn’t that crazy, a teeny, tiny voice says “OMG. I really, really hope that’s not me.”

It’s the rather neat trick of mixing both empathy and judgement, in differing quantities, depending on the situation. Because while most can comfort themselves with “I would never Botox myself like that”, everyone can relate to the fear of getting older.

The psychological and emotional benefits of a few years is wonderful, but the slow physical slide is less so. Ideally, during that slide, you’ve managed to work on accruing those psychological and emotional so that it just doesn’t bother you that much.

But if you haven’t…well…there you go, botoxed and spray tanned into Madame Tussaud territory. Money can’t buy emotional well being.

In all things, both physical and emotional, let’s always opt for more human and humane. Or it will be like this.

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