Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Complete Derailment

I love Achewood. It's my favorite web comic at the moment. I spend hours puzzling over Chris Onstad's miraculous invention of quirky characters, completely weird but quirky-cool catchphrases, and the unique dialogue patterns for each individual character. Plus it's funny as hell.

Chris Onstad also has a blog (and a blog for each main character in his comic, in their individual manner of dialogue). On his blog the past couple weeks he's recounted his experience with The Grateful Palate and their Bacon of the Month subscription. They also sell a splendid collection of Sea Salts that I am dying to try, as I continually find myself falling on the salty end of the Sweet vs. Salty addiction scale.

This entire round of Internet linkery has led me to ponder and put down in form my habits re:food. Both culinarily and consumptive-wise I tend to think of myself as a barbarian. I love strong, salty tastes, and I have little attention for the nuances of complexly spiced dishes. I wade into the kitchen like a street brawler with a ladle; if I don't have a recipe to follow, I'll just throw in what I think is appropriate for each ingredient (and oftentimes do this even if there IS a recipe), while tasting the results of course. I'm known for my Speecy Spicy Sausage pasta, which is a blast in the mouth of oregano and garlic drenched tomato sauce, copious amounts of Pecorino Romano sheeps' cheese, and the spiciest Louisiana hot links I can find. It's a dish that sets your tongue aflame but stokes your desires for more.

So, I'd like to try those various Sea Salts, but I feel the subtle nuances would be lost on me. All I REALLY need is a recipe for P.F. Chang's Five Salt Spice, and I should just get up off my lazy posterior and do a Google search for it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Stillness That Comes

- I've been knee-deep in the sights and sounds of Germany today. My family's planning to go there for our summer trip this summer, and it falls to me to organize where and what we'll be seeing. Since time is short (two weeks) and there's a lot to cover (Germany, Austria, and a brief stop in the Czech Republic) I'm planning to do Munich, Dresden, Salzburg, Vienna, and time in Prague if possible. Dresden is the highlight for me so far. The Semperoper, one of Europe's oldest and most beautiful opera houses, and Zwinger Palace, home to Saxon kings for many, many centuries, among other sites. I'm entirely looking forward to reveling in the land of Beer as well...

- May have more leads on a new job traveling to Japan. Lauren's friend Ryan whom I met at the St. Patrick's Day shindig has a friend who works the exact job I'm looking for. It's in anime/manga, and the position requires him to visit Japan for about three weeks every couple of months. I'm really hoping this turns into a solid opportunity, as that job sounds divine.

- Not quite sure what to think of 300 yet. Well, no, it's just that any deeper impressions are hindered by the level of ecstatic violence in the film. I felt it was a great story, one I loved in comic form, but the grotesque and vulgar level of violence it went to in the movie really disconnected me from the film and feeling anything for the characters. I think I just need time to let those parts of the movie fade, but it honestly got under my skin.

- Currently reading Sam Harris' End of Faith. I went into the book initially very wary of his claims, that religion as it exists in the world today is racing us towards armageddon with basic, incompatible tenets of the major faiths which pit themselves against each other in a no-quarter-given war for Truth, with the capital T. However, he does have some very good points, and he does make allowances for the necessity of spirituality in the human experience, merely in a more liberal way, free from dogma.

- Goddamn, I wish that Tony Takitani movie had come with a warning label. It was about a man who grows up alone and withdrawn, then finds a woman who completes him and brings out the soul in him, only to lose her and then spiral down an hour-long plunge into depression and loneliness. I had moved a number of Japanese movies to the top of my list in the hopes I'd catch a few, like Shall We Dance, which were positive. Whoops!

- Need to get more breakfast, need to remember that.

- Speaking of jobs, it looks like I may be extending my departure from my current one a bit farther. My coworker's engagement and quick departure is going to leave our very, very, very small company at a disadvantage right about when I was planning to move on. Now it looks like rather than leaving in June, I'll be quitting at the beginning of September, giving myself time to move if need be. If I did get the Japan job though, there's little that could keep me at Bella, all things considered.

- Green tea is awesome as always.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Transmetropolitan

There it is. A tale of hope, even in the bleakest of situations, for even the most dire of cynics. But it's a story, fiction, not real. Why does it matter?

Because at the very least, it proves one person believes there's still hope in this screwed up, wizened little world. One person had the fortitude to sit down and write a massive piece of work like Transmetropolitan. And it was a lot of work. Writing's hard. I used to believe there was always that percent, utter geniuses, from whom writing, great works, and masterpieces would flow like unstoppable leaky snot down your nose. I don't know if they're out there, I think I believe they're not, or if they are they're so utterly rare as to not be counted on. No, writing is hard work. Writing is pouring ever bit of your soul and brain into a blank sheet of paper, and then wringing whatever you can out of the rest of your parts. Writing is creating an entire world out of scratch. Writing is a job and a half.

Transmetropolitan's about journalism. About giving a fuck about the world and telling other people about it. Caring enough to get in the face of someone who's wronged you, not letting big crimes with shadowy, quiet impact go by unpunished. Transmetropolitan's about standing up even when you know you're gonna be smacked down. It's about dying for integrity. That's a message you've heard before. You've probably ignored it here, or ignored it there, found situations where it's too difficult to apply. I know I have. Transmetropolitan reminds you why it's important to stand up even when there's a loaded gun pointed in your face, always, 24/7, because of all the things that can be taken from you: your money, your house, your life, your integrity is the most important. Integrity is that very last inch where you are free, the one thing that absolutely cannot be taken away by force. Your integrity is you.

Spider Jerusalem's the crankiest, most ornery son of a bitch you'll ever meet. Guaranteed. But by the end of the comic you love him, because you realise that of all the parts of himself he's not willing to sell out on, all the grimy, ugly, perverted little parts of himself, at the center is his integrity.

I've been groping my way blindly through Vertigo comics for the past couple of years, and Transmetropolitan's at the top of my list, with The Sandman. Hell, I'd tell you to read Transmetropolitan instead of The Sandman, because if there is one comic you absolutely must read, it's this one.

I've got my copies lying around if you're interested...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Up Against a Wall

I don't talk about my eating habits very much. In particular, my aversion to cheese and dairy. I often tell people that I'm lactose intolerant, or that I just can't handle cheese, but that's not the case. In actuality, for about four years now I've been on a no cow-dairy/no flour/high-green vegetable diet. The logic being that there is a certain type of enzyme in cow milk, which could be lactase, I'm not entirely sure, that is incompatible with our bodies. The reason for avoiding wheat is because the vast majority of wheat in wheat-based products today has been so blasted with chemicals and refined, that it too is detrimental to our bodies. Eating more green vegetables is part because the over-arching theory of the diet is that a healthy body is one where the acids and bases are balanced, our food culture today is an entirely acidic one, we are not getting nearly enough bases in our diet, and green vegetables are inherently base.

The reason I've never talked about my diet much is because I am not one for pushing my beliefs on other people. In truth, you could say I'm at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I don't talk about my beliefs because I'm of the mind that when you expose that part of yourself to someone, they immediately want to tell you about their beliefs, and, even unconsciously, it becomes a battle as to which beliefs are "right". Plus, it's a lot easier to say "Oh, I don't eat dairy." than "Oh, I don't eat cow-dairy because it's inherently incompatible with the human body."

I've been on this diet for four years now. My mom introduced me to it. Since I've been on it, I haven't had a cold once. The only time I've gotten sick is the sore throats I get when I eat cow-dairy. I've honestly seen a positive improvement in my health from it.

My grandmother was in the hospital this past week because she had a heart attack. She's had lung cancer and another heart attack previously. She's always had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She is the sweetest woman I've ever known, and honestly the single most positive influence on my life. She's always happy and glad to see us, and not afraid to let us know. (Whenever we visit, every other sentence out of her mouth is "I'm so glad to see you kids." and you can see it in her eyes.) I remember her singing old songs from the 40s to me when I was a little kid, her little rhymes, and the endless, grandmotherly teasing. (My entire teenage years were punctuated by her jokingly asking "You getting hair down there yet, Freddy?" Heh, now she's putting Schuyler through the same torment.) In short, she's not someone I want to lose anytime soon.

In light of her health problems, me and my mother have been trying to get her to pay attention to her diet, and to get on the same diet we're on. She'd be open to it too, if it weren't for my grandfather. She grew up in a time when "husband knows best", she's not forceful, and my grandfather, well...he can be completely overbearing and stubborn. He is a great guy, very intelligent, and he's constantly trying to drag me and my brother into philosophical discussions when we visit. (He's very smart, fascinated by quantum physics. I often think that if he didn't grow up with the ethic that he needed to provide for his family above all else he'd have become a physicist rather than a steel welder.) I love my grandfather, but he doesn't listen to anyone but himself. He's staunchly of the belief that anything besides what established, medical doctors tells him is complete horseshit, and there's nothing you can do to convince him otherwise. So of course when my mother and I bring up my grandmother's health and our diet he talks us in circles for hours and never once admits it could be possibly helpful to look into. (It doesn't help that my grandmother's doctor is taking his side and saying dietary supplements/our diet is a complete waste of time and money.)

So right now she's contemplating open heart surgery, not willing to listen to us as far as helping her body survive, my mother's talking herself blue in the face trying to convince my grandfather to let her try out this diet, and I'm completely frustrated and sad, because there's nothing I can do. They won't listen.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Zug Zug

- It's happened! I'm back on the WoW train. I've got an Orc Warrior named Chareos on
our server. I'm thoroughly enjoying the game this time around. I'm glad to have a place where I can meet up and share a fun experience with my friends. It's cool to see who chose what, and how their characters reflect them.
I think I can manage a WoW account rather well too. I've never gotten the addiction, and I chalk it up to the fact that, while WoW has the most enjoyable gameplay mechanics around, its world, races, and classes are rather mundane. Even though it's a giant leveling treadmill, Final Fantasy XI is what fulfilled those criteria for me, and I was addicted to for a good amount of time. Dark Knight/Ninja Catgirls for the win!
All in all, WoW is fun, and I'm certainly not complaining that I was able to make eight levels today soloing while doing engaging quests and shouting back and forth to Warren and Mahea =)

- I thought some more about careers this weekend. I'm starting to firm up my plans for quitting my current job by making a budget for the next couple months. After that I had been planning on finding a job that would allow me to work in Los Angeles while traveling to Japan frequently. In the end though, Japan is where I would really want to end up, and even such a job as my next one would be a half-way point to getting back there. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching English. As I said before, it's been my favorite job out of college. There are many other things I miss about Japan as well. So, my thinking today was, why not go straight for what I want? Why not apply again? Why wait?
I'll have to think about it.

- I've been reading a lot of Transmetropolitan lately. I'm glad I didn't dismiss the series out of hand, because it actually has a lot of good points. There are moments where they break through Spider Jerusalem's never-ending cynicism and show how he really cares, and he's doing what he does because he believes there's still some good in the whole sad mess that is humanity. Really gets me.

- Anime Club was good on the anime. Death Note is absolutely enthralling, and Honey and Clover was much more entertaining than I thought it would be.

- I'm at Vector in FF6, and the game doesn't show any signs of slowing. Now I've got Setzer in my party too!

- I could really go for a 30 order of Utsunomiya Gyoza right about now.

That's all!