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November 25, 2010 / justerik

It takes THREE HOURS people, max.

I just know what all of you are doing today – between gulping down giant portions of fatty starches and sweet starches and proteins – is waiting to see what I’m going to say about Thanksgiving.

The first and most important thing is to give thanks. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year – more, really, than I know how to talk about. This has been a hard year for a lot of people, not just friends and family, but the whole world. Look around your Thanksgiving table this year and more than likely you’ve got a few more sad tales than you did last year. I’ve been uncommonly fortunate over the last 18 months, and only more so as the year has wound on. I’m extremely thankful, especially for the friends and family who have taken more care of me than I deserve this year. Thank you Sarahbeth and Gracia. Thank you Mike. And especially right now, thank you Rebecca. Thank you all.

The second most important thing is this: it doesn’t take that long to cook a frickin’ turkey! Who decided we should spend ten hours drying out that poor bird that DIED for your meal. Come on! A 14 pound bird should be done in 2 and a half to three hours at 350 degrees, depending on your oven. Salt and pepper inside and outside, brush the outside of butter, put it in a preheated oven. Last hour of cooking, slap a double thick piece of aluminum foil over the breast to keep it from drying out, cook till the juices run clear out of the dark meat, and don’t open the damn door to check on it, or baste it, or adjust anything. Let it sit 15 minutes before you carve it and it’ll be the best turkey you’ve ever had.

And brining that sucker isn’t hard either! Google it!

I love all y’all. Here is to another year.

November 23, 2010 / justerik

The Works and Days of Hands

So, this is an enormous pile of grodish laundry.

What you don’t see is the identical giant pile to the right of it. To wash that picture out of your minds, here is a picture of the cat who until recently was nesting in the laundry.

She is now nesting on my face.

After a couple of moves over the last year and the loss of about fifty pounds over the last three, my wardrobe has become a bit of a mess. And over the last three months of doing plays (I did two, back to back), my laundry has turned that messy wardrobe into an unnavigable floor trap and improvised cat nest. So, today’s project has been to turn aforementioned laundry pile into this:

Pardon the awful things the flash does. Also, yes. That’s a dragon design on the green tee. Astute observers have already moved on to the purple suede blazer.

However, at this point in the process I have two piles of laundry and no more coat hangers. Which means we’ve reached critical mass for the “Erik’s Clothing” project. Tomorrow, I’m going through everything I own, and anything I own a duplicate of, or anything that doesn’t quite fit, or anything a well-meaning relative gave me that I just don’t freaking wear is going into a trashbag and heading (cleaned and folded!) to the Goodwill. Because when you’re a clothes horse like THIS guy:

…you must periodically purge all but the least pitstained Wal-Mart Shirt-In-A-Bags from your closet. Of course, this means hitting the internet for replacements for any now missing staples from my wardrobe, which will probably mean also buying that really nice cashmere sweater, as long as I’m on the website and buying things anyway. Which also means –

Well, it means I’m going to have to buy more clothes hangers.

 

ADDENDUM:

Friends of the author: “Erik, why are you telling us about your housemate’s cat, and your disgusting housework?”

The Author Himself: “Psh! I’m a blogger now.”

November 18, 2010 / justerik

Cowboys And Aliens And Parallel Development

I buy notebooks somewhat obsessively. There are at least three legal pads within arms reach of me right now, as well as a spiral bound notebook and more than a few floating sheets of loose leaf.

Most of these represent projects that were aborted or went into deep freeze, or in a few cases completed projects, mostly for work. But in the back of a large five subject notebook stacked up in a box somewhere is the beginning of a film script. Hold on, lemme see if I can find it.

EXT. SOMEWHERE IN THE TEXAS PANHANDLE – NIGHT

A COWBOY. Posed against the night sky like a cigarette ad, lit by a dying fire.

THUNDER. Doesn’t clap, it rumbles, rolls. A growing ROAR. With it comes WIND, whipping at the brim of the cowboy’s hat. He looks up.

In flat country, weather comes fast when it does come. We see a THUNDERHEAD coming that looks to set records, beautiful and terrible.

The rolling wave of grey wipes out the stars like stray marks on a chalkboard. LIGHTNING cracks like bullets. Our hero stumbles to his feet.

The cloud is nearly upon him now, the sounds of his frightened HORSE adding to the cacophony. Within the cloud’s edge we see a FIRE glowing brighter and brighter, crawling to the surface of the stormcloud, a ROAR growing LOUDER and LOUDER, the air itself screaming until the fire breaks free and we see –

THE HULL OF AN ALIEN SPACESHIP red hot from reentry and PLUMMETING TO THE GROUND.

Okay, so please ignore both the quality of the writing and of the formatting. It was a first draft, and WordPress won’t let me do anything too pretty.

On the next few pages I’ve got notes about various western and alien invasion tropes, looking for cool intersections. But like many things I got distracted and never came back to it. It’s nothing but single cool image, a page of a first draft, and a title: “Cowboys versus Aliens”.

Now check out this. Cowboys & Aliens. It’s cool. I’ll wait.

You’d think I’d be bummed that someone else got to my idea, but a couple of things of note. First, this looks to be solidly in the action-Western genre (think Magnificent Seven, or the remake of 3:10 To Yuma), whereas I think I was going to go a little more High Noon meets Pod People. Also, it looks like the graphic novel on which the flick is based precedes my sketch by about a year.
The way I like to see it, I now get to see the movie without having to write it. Best of both worlds.
November 17, 2010 / justerik

Pimpin’

Okay. So, I realize that I haven’t posted anything here in months. But I’ve been planning on turning this into a more ongoing blog sorta thing and today’s post just wouldn’t fit into a Facebook status update. So this is what you get. I’ll try to get you lolz sometime soon, to make up for it.

It’s the time of year where I try to convince you to give money to things. Really, we should give money to people all year round, but it does seem to be easier around now, and I’m as guilty as the rest. Let’s assuage that guilt collectively, shall we?

First up, we have Worldbuilders, which is pretty frickin’ awesome. The short pitch works like this: you donate money to Heifer International, which helps raise families out of poverty by providing them with sustainable sources of food and income. Worldbuilders then matches 50% of your donations (you donate $30, Worldbuilders donates another $15). Then, for every 10 bucks you drop, Worldbuilders enters you into a raffle for FABULOUS PRIZES. Like, seriously fabulous. As in stuff from Phil and Kaja Foglio, Neil F’in Gaiman, and Patrick Rothfuss. This is stuff you want.

Worldbuilders also has cool stuff you can straight up buy (called “The Christmas Present” option), and auctions. All the proceeds still go to Heifer International. It’s simple, straightforward, and makes the world better, all things which are appealing post-election. (Thus ends the political content of this post. Also, zing!)

Once again: Worldbuilders

Worldbuilders is a new thing, and I think it’s cool. But many of you know that every year I also like to point you toward Child’s Play (link is not a horror movie).

Child’s Play puts games, movies, and toys in the hands of patients in children’s hospitals and in the hands of their families. These toys distract from the misery of being in a hospital in the first place, and provide a way for even kids who are physically quarantined to interact with their brothers and sisters, moms and dads. The letters will say how much that matters better and more directly than anything I can write.

Child’s Play is pretty cleverly put together. The hospitals make Amazon wish lists, Child’s Play provides a map to link donors directly to those lists. This way you know that all of your donation goes to the hospital, and you can decide which hospital gets what. Last year I donated to a hospital in Atlanta and everything I bought was in Spanish because I thought, what the hell? Let’s make sure the kids have at least one copy of “Toy Story” in their native language, right? This year I bought a hospital in Charlotte a copy of “How To Train Your Dragon” because that movie rocked and a copy of Barbie Horse Adventures, because who am I to judge?

Take your bow: Child’s Play

In exchange to donating to either of these fabulous charities, not only will you receive the heartwarming feeling of Having Done Something For A Change, Dammit, I promise you’ll get more blog on the soonish. How’s that for a deal?

February 9, 2010 / justerik

In Which A Cellphone Is Reviewed

I replaced my old flip-phone-which-doesn’t-hold-a-charge-and-kept-dropping-calls-anyway. I replaced it with a Motorola Droid ™, which is the New Hotness. Except it’s been out for a while, and  bunch of the guys at work have one so it isn’t really new, and the Nexus 1 (also ™) came out which is way better, but you can’t get it on Verizon yet.

My Droid used to be the New Hotness.

My Droid is a touchscreen smartphone, with integrated GMail, GTalk, and Facebook sync. It has a webbrowser, plays movies, and has a huge library of thousands of installable applications (“apps”). It does MMS, SMS, and GPS. Also, it makes phone calls.

My Droid has a slick touchscreen interface. When I first turned it on I was so entranced by the gleaming icons and the way they responded to my every gesture I just kept touching and touching. I touched and touched and accidentally called my friend Cassady. I could not figure out how to touch the phone to un-call her, so I kept touching until I hung up right after she answered. She texted me to ask if I called her by accident. I said yes, but I could call her for real if she wanted. She didn’t.

My Droid has 5 megapixels. That’s 4 more Megapixels than my old dinky flip phone, which I bought when I got married a while back and still has my ex-wife on speeddial because I don’t have anyone I really need to dial speedily, and I couldn’t figure out how to change it anyway. That is a lot of Megapixels. I’m pretty sure it’s the most. The camera is awful, though. You load it up and point it at something and the previews look all grainy and there are several shiny icons but I can’t tell which does what so I press all of them and nothing happens till like half a second later when the phone goes all “click”. The picture is superclear, not grainy like the previews, but it doesn’t matter because by then the dog isn’t making that face anymore. I have lots of pictures of the dog, but just being like a normal dog. I have some cute pictures of the dog from my old flip phone that I transfered over, and some of being married, and some of my cat that ran away. My Droid makes old pictures look tiny on its big screen.

My Droid doesn’t wrap around my face. My old flip phone wrapped around my face, because it was a flip phone.  The microphone part went in front of my mouth and the speaker part went beside my ear and if I wanted to I could open and close it like a little puppet. My Droid is flat, like calculator flat. It’s like holding a real big calculator up beside your face. I thought it would be uncomfortable to talk on a calculator but it was okay during the one phone call I made. I called Chris. He said who is this, and I said it’s Erik from work, and he said Oh, and I said I got a new phone and he said he had to go he was busy, he’d see me on Monday. The speaker is really good, I could hear all the stuff he was busy doing in the background, I think making lunch for his girlfriend. I never would have heard that on my flip phone. It was so clear that I could barely hear him. It sounded like stir fry. I like stir fry.

The best part about my Droid is the internet and the syncing. I used to spend all night checking my email, and then checking my Facebook, and then checking my email again to see if anything came while I was checking my Facebook, and then watching that one video with the cat, and then checking my email and my Facebook again. Now I never have to check anything. If I get a friend request, or a email, or my ex-wife is playing Farmville, then my Droid just tells me (it says “Droid!” in a funny voice), and I don’t have to check. I’ll sit in my bedroom and think I should check my Facebook, and then I remember there is nothing because my Droid tells me if there is something and I check it anyway but my Droid is always right, so I go back to sitting. My evenings are much more efficient. It gave me time to write this review!

My Droid is much better than my old crappy flip phone, which I keep anyway just in case, and even charge it some, because you never know. I love my Droid.

Verdict: Buy.

January 19, 2010 / justerik

Murfle

“I used to listen to this album on repeat with my eyes closed and wonder what it would feel like to love.”

Yesterday, someone had the temerity to dislike Fiona Apple in the presence of some deeply supportive company. My response engendered horrified looks, something I thought impossible. Haven’t these people met me?

I’m good at being a certain kind of sad. It fits comfortably; a worn but beloved shirt that no one can convince you to throw away. But it is not the sum of me.

Today is my birthday. There was surprise cake, lunch, more surprise cake, a kiss or three, and more well wishes than I deserve. Later this week, there will probably be a more concerted sort of celebration. I am, in short, delighted.

A birthday can be an excuse to look back, and become melancholy. It gives weight to that sort of thing. But let’s not do that. Not this time. Maybe later. Now, let’s eat cake.

January 14, 2010 / justerik

Let the moonlight take the lid off your dreams

It’s not late enough for bed, but I’m sleepy, and the space heater is keeping a three foot square of the bed warm. If I move, that part of my body gets cold, so I’m curled up, cozy but awake like a cat. Listen to me talk about stuff while I wait for myself tire out?

You’re sweet.

It’s been pretty comfortable, the first two weeks of the decade. I’ve had meals with friends and shared stories. I’ve met some people, and liked them. I’ve read to little kids, and sang in the shower. I keep forgetting my birthday is coming, just a few days away. I had a cookie, some popcorn, and ice cream for dessert today, pretty much overwhelming dinner. It was nice.

I love women. That’s a thought I’ve kept hidden away from myself since high school out of a fierce feminism and a misguided desire to not be my father. But let’s face it, you’re all gorgeous and fascinating and delightful. If we’re close friends, chances are at some point I was completely head over heels in love with you, at least once. I hate that there isn’t world enough and time to know you all, your heartbreaks and little joys and what you laugh at when no one is looking and what you taste like. Ah well.

I need to get fat again, so that I’ll feel an urgency to exercise and eat right once more. Instead I want to put on winter weight and hibernate. That should bother me. It doesn’t. This is why I never get anything done. Like clean my bedroom. It’s terrible in here. I’ll clean it after I’m done hibernating.

(Technically, bears do not hibernate, by the way. Bear sleep state is a completely different thing. Eat that, common knowledge.)

I miss telling stories. For the last few years the only stories I’ve been able to tell are autobiographical, and comi-tragic. I should stop that. David Sedaris is better at it anyway, and I miss the monsters and dragons and talking mountains who used to keep me company.

I’ve been waiting for the hot water to go take a shower. But it’s been an hour now. I should probably get clean and get in my pyjamas and stare at the ceiling and drift off.

Thanks for listening. There are things in my head that refuse to become anything and refuse to stop bothering me, so I can’t sleep. I try not to bother you with any of that, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

Good-night.