February 19, 2014
There’s a new Harry and Marlowe story up on Lightspeed!
This was a fun one because we get to see Harry in her Princess Maud role, as well as her family, Princess Alexandra, Crown Prince George, his wife Mary of Teck, and even a quick glimpse of Prince Carl of Denmark. All that research, paying off! I’m on a roll with Harry and Marlowe stories, so I’m giving rein to the impulse — I’ve just sold another one that will probably be out later this year, and I’m gearing up to write yet another. So many stories to tell!
In other news, I’ve been super excited about Guardians of the Galaxy ever since the easter egg featuring the Collector showed up in Thor 2. So weird! So aesthetically different! So intriguing! Well, the full trailer just premiered. I…I….I AM SO SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MYSELF. I’ve never even read the comics. I remember when this movie was announced and everyone was so skeptical, why on earth would they make a movie about some fourth string comic heroes, how is this even going to work? And you know what? I don’t care, because THIS IS THE SPACE OPERA I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR MY WHOLE LIFE. This….it’s…space ships….talking raccoons….tree aliens…humor….action…ooga chucka…
I’m gonna stop now. *takes deep breath*
February 17, 2014
January 24, 2014
THIS POST PROBABLY OUGHT TO COME WITH SOME KIND OF WARNING THAT YOU MUST BE 21 TO CONTINUE, IF YOU’RE IN THE U.S. SO. UM. I GUESS THIS IS YOUR WARNING.
“As God is my witness, this is for Science!”
So, we did Cocktail Laboratory at New Year’s Eve.
My friends and I have spent awhile now talking about various cocktails and mixed drinks, inspired by a micro distillery run by a friend of a friend in Golden. Golden Moon Distillery is making some vintage liqueurs, like Creme de Violette. This makes it possible to mix vintage cocktails from the 1920′s and earlier, that went out of fashion because the ingredients were no longer available, or because they just went out of style. (I’m becoming fascinated with how cocktails come in and out of style, how the go-to drinks of fifty years ago vanish, how new ones come into being, and how the old ones get rediscovered. Some of those 20′s cocktails, like the Aviation, are making comebacks. My parents’ favorite drinks from the 70′s have disappeared. What the hell is a Harvey Wallbanger, anyway? Turns out it’s a screwdriver with Galliano added. Um. No.)
Using recipes from Golden Moon, a holiday recipe guide, and my trusty copy of Steamdrunks, we set out to figure out some of these drinks. And because this was totally For Science, I now share what we learned with you.
(We used plastic shot glasses for taster samples. I take full credit for this brilliant idea that meant we could mix one drink and share it between 6-7 people, and thereby keep sampling all night long. I still got drunk, but it took like 6 hours instead of twenty minutes.)
We made a lot of drinks, and we made people write notes, so we would remember what we actually thought about the drinks. See? SCIENCE!
White Christmas #1: 1 oz vodka, 1 oz amaretto, 1 oz cream. Shake with ice, garnish with nutmeg. Really really nice! Boozy and smooth. (recipe found online)
White Christmas #2: 1 oz heavy cream, 1 oz vodka, 1 oz peppermint schnapps, and 1 oz creme de cacao. Shake with ice. Tastes just like a candy cane. (recipe found online)
French Martini: 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1/4 oz chambord, 1/2 oz pineapple juice. Shake over ice. Really, really nice. A big hit with the crowd. (discovered on a trip last fall)
Fallen Angel: 2 shots gin, 1 tsp creme de menthe, juice from 1/2 lime, 2 dash of bitters. Shake over ice. Not just no but hell no! Although I just saw another recipe for a different Fallen Angel that looked much nicer. (from Steamdrunks)
Orange Abbey: 2 shots gin, 2 shots orange juice, 2 dashes orange bitters, garnish with long-stemmed cherry. Shake over ice. One of my favorites. The Golden Moon gin does really well with anything citrus — really opens up the flavor. (from Steamdrunks)
Golden Lily: 1 oz gin, 1 oz dry curacao, 1 oz creme de violette, 2 dashes bitters. Fruity and a little astringent. Kind of meh. (Golden Moon recipe)
Aviation: 1.5 oz gin, 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur, 1/2 oz creme de violette, juice of 1/2 lemon. It’s sharp, citrus, interesting. (From Golden Moon recipe)
The Elf: 1/2 oz Midori and 5 oz champagne. This tasted just like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. This is not necessarily a good thing. (From a holiday recipe book.)
Candy Cane Martini: 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1 tsp peppermint schnapps, 1 oz club soda. Mini candy cane garnish. Shake over ice. Ugh. Medicinal. Actually got worse with each sip. (From holiday recipe book.)
Here we get into egg drinks, which are kind of scary, but also very Victorian. Many of our participants refused any of the drinks made with raw egg, even though for most of them we used pasteurized whites from a carton, rather than whole eggs. (We did not try any of the curdled milk recipes, because just no.)
Egg in a Blanket: 1/2 shot Absinthe, 1 shot brandy, 1 egg white, 1 tsp sugar, 1 dash orange bitters. Shake over ice, garnish with lime. Quite nice, complex blend of tastes. (Steamdrunks)
Rummy Egg: 2 shots rum, 1 shot brandy, 1 tsp sugar, 1 whole egg, grated nutmeg for garnish. Shake over ice. This was a very bland drink. Just like eggnog, basically. (Steamdrunks)
Brandy Egg Cloud: 1 egg, 2 shots heavy cream, 1 shot brandy, 2 tsp sugar, dash vanilla extract. Shake over ice, garnish with cinnamon. This tasted like ice cream, and totally needs more brandy. (Steamdrunks)
And now some absinth drinks (plus the Egg in a Blanket above). Confession: I am not a fan of absinthe. I kept trying it, lots of different brands, with the right kind of loucheing, the wrong kind of loucheing with the burning sugar cube, and I just don’t like it. So I was very curious about making mixed drinks from absinthe — I had never heard of such a thing. Turns out, absinthe makes lovely mixed drinks. Other flavors tone down the licorice, and you end up with really unique cocktails. As Steamdrunks says, absinthe cocktails need very little absinthe, but they make a great hit at parties because they’re so different and exotic.
Green Russian: 2 shots heavy cream, 1 shot vodka, 1 shot (or 1 tsp, depending on taste) absinthe, 1 tsp sugar, mint leaf garnish. Stir gently in a lowball glass. This was a big hit. Creamy and licoricey. Fun. (From Steamdrunks)
Death in the Afternoon: 1 oz Absinthe, 4 oz Champagne. I wasn’t a fan of this one, but some people were. Exotic, but there are too many good alternatives to settle on this one. (From Golden Moon’s recipes.)
- If someone doesn’t like gin, there’s nothing you can dress it up with to make them like it, even as nice a gin as Golden Moon’s. I have discovered: I like gin. It goes so nicely with fruit.
- Eggs and cream basically turn cocktails into dessert — most drinks including egg and cream end up tasting like cake. This should come as no surprise, but it makes for a nice set of experiments.
- My hatred for the current trend of infused and flavored rums and vodkas has only increased. What in five hells would you ever want chocolate cupcake flavored vodka for? Especially when you get the same taste by mixing vodka, cream, and Baileys or Kahlua? There are so many more interesting, classic liquors out there, based on actual real fruits and herbs. If you’re trying to mask the booze, you’re drinking the wrong booze.
- A drink with more than 4-5 ingredients has too many ingredients. Unless you’re really into stunt drinking.
Another project I took on has been figuring out what the cocktail is that the bartender pours during “Snow” in the movie White Christmas. When you google “White Christmas” and “cocktail recipes,” it turns out there are something like ninety hundred different recipes for drinks called “White Christmas.” I have not yet discovered a drink that makes that lovely white froth. The quest continues. (Yes, I understand the actual drink was probably just a prop made out of dishsoap. I don’t care! Much like Mythbusters, I intend on figuring out what it would take to make that drink a reality.)
January 22, 2014
I picked yesterday to get my working life set up on a brand new computer, which may not have been the smartest thing to do after recovering from a trip, but it was definitely necessary. It’s kind of like the dentist trip, better to get it over with and it’s usually not as bad as you expect. In fact, I had the thing mostly up and running and was getting some work done within about 2 hours — this included transferring over my Word files and photos and music and whatnot. Excellent! I hit a couple of glitches that will take some time to smooth out, but I can work. I actually look forward to playing around with the new system and seeing what bells and whistles I can use.
So, I have a lot of commentary I could spout off about cyberpunk tropes in general, which ones have made it into the movies, and the ways in which cyberpunk has evolved — and in some ways, died out. In grad school I took an upper-level seminar on the topic of. . .come to think of it, I’m not even sure what the topic ultimately was, I think the professor may have just been mining us for her own paper topics. But we read Snow Crash. This was the second seminar in which I had read Snow Crash, because the novel has passed over the barrier and become “okay” for academia. As the only SF geek in the department, I got to then go up to the professors teaching it and ask if they’d read Neuromancer. In one case, yes, “Because Frederic Jameson made it okay to read science fiction,” to which I thought, “What the actual holy hell are you talking about?” The other said, “No, because I’ve heard it’s very problematic in its treatment of women.” And I said, “Well, yeah, probably, but if you haven’t read it you’re missing a big chunk of Snow Crash. Seriously.” (Like Snow Crash is all that better in its treatment of women than Neuromancer, sheesh…)
There’s a reason I didn’t go on for a PhD.
Anyway, I’ll never forget this seminar because in the middle of the discussion of Snow Crash, one of the other students, clearly baffled, said, “The story here is really kind of conservative. I thought cyberpunk was supposed to be all radical and subversive, but I don’t see that at all.” To which I, the only person in the room who had any experience with cyberpunk beyond Snow Crash, said, “Um no — this entire sub-genre exists to make nerdy computer guys feel better about themselves.”
Cyberpunk is heroic, conservative, and messianic. It’s about a powerful elite — the computer programers who know the code, who know how to manipulate the system — being the center of attention, the objects of desire and admiration.
I think one of the reasons cyberpunk kind of died out as anything other than a set of adventure tropes is that once the Internet opened up to a wider audience, it turns out you don’t need a hacker elite — anyone with a smart phone can surf the web. And it turns out we don’t really care about the code underneath. (Although even I can do basic HTML, right?)
This doesn’t mean cyberpunk isn’t still fun. It’s just not the literature of the future people thought it was in 1985. Anyway, here’s my list of movies I was thinking of as cyberpunk movies, which I’m throwing open to discussion. In rough order importance — or maybe it’s in rough order of my own preference:
Tron/Tron Legacy (let’s just mash them up, even though they’re thematically quite different)
The Matrix (I have a confession: I don’t think this holds up all that well. It’s stylized and kind of overwrought, and that scene where Neo and Trinity walk into the building and blast away absolutely everyone — and everyone they shoot is wearing a law-enforcement uniform — was kind of deeply upsetting the last time I watched the movie a few months ago. The post 9/11, post public shooting epidemic world has changed how this movie goes over.)
Electric Dreams (Anyone else remember this? It’s a big reason I haven’t gone to see Her yet, because I saw the previews for Her and thought, wait, isn’t this like Electric Dreams?)
Ghost in the Shell
There are a couple of movies that I either haven’t watched or don’t remember well enough to comment on — someone want to help me out on Hackers and Swordfish?
Then there are a bunch of movies that are definitely cyberpunk, but just aren’t very good: The Matrix sequels, Johnny Mnemonic, Elysium, Lawnmower Man, Nirvana.
Wikipedia has a much longer list of cyberpunk movies, but I don’t know that I’d class all these as cyberpunk. They seem to be lumping a lot of post-apocalyptic in with cyberpunk, as well as anything with robots and cyborgs, but I’d say there needs to be a significant computer hacking element to really be cyberpunk. Like Blade Runner — it has every cyberpunk trope but computer hacking, so how do you classify that? Is it the AI that makes it cyberpunk, not the robots? Then is 2001 also cyberpunk? Isn’t genre fun?
January 17, 2014
My Christmas present to niece Emmy this year involved shipping a 25″ square box to her, because everyone deserves a present larger than they are at least once in their lives.
What was in the box?
I used this squid pattern from Build-a-DIY Tumblr. Because I saw it and thought “OMG Emmy needs a giant squid.”
I was mostly afraid that Emmy’s parents would never forgive me for giving her a present that doesn’t actually fit anywhere. I had hoped by this time to be able to post a picture of Emmy with her squid, but on my visit to Oregon last week, Rob showed me the video of Emmy opening the box and reacting to the squid.
I may have given her a squid phobia for life. :-/
Maybe when the thing isn’t significantly bigger than she is, her parents can pull it out of the closet and try again.
December 16, 2013
A few days ago I went to an antique store in my neck of the woods looking for chairs. This particular store specializes in woodwork and restoring wood furniture, but I really like them for the glassware — lots of quirky liqueur glasses and vintage sets and so on. I got my retro martini glasses and tumblers there.
This time, I found something I completely and totally wasn’t expecting — because this store doesn’t do toys and kitsch and obscure geeky things. What I saw was a red box with a familiar logo tucked away on a bottom shelf, forgotten. I dug it out of the pile of dust, and sure enough, it was this:
The Captain Power Powerjet XT-7. This was the thing you had to buy to be able to interact with the interactive, shoot-em-up elements on the TV show. I loved the TV show, but I never had any of the toys and was frankly deeply annoyed at the commercial element of it all. And the fact that my viewing happiness was interrupted by those red flashy bits that showed up whenever the bad guys did because that was how the show signaled to the toys that something was happening.
The owners of the store heard me gushing at my friend about the amazing thing I discovered shoved away on a shelf, and wanted to know what I was talking about. They had no idea what this thing was — they bought it as part of a lot of games and toys they’d acquired in a sale (one of the two owners still seemed rather annoyed that the other had done this). While I explained to them about the show, the toys, the interaction, and so on, they starting looking the toy up on eBay because they hadn’t priced it yet and didn’t know what to charge me. So I made a preemptive strike as it were, and made them an offer before they could figure out what it was actually worth (and then jack up that price because I was so obviously a fan). “Sold!” They were obviously very excited to get any money at all for this thing that they had no idea what it was.
This means that after 25 years of being a fan of Captain Power, I now own a Powerjet XT-7. It’s not that I particularly wanted or needed one — several are usually available on eBay at any given moment, if I’d ever decided I wanted one. I’m not much of a collector. I love concepts and shows and worlds and ideas, but I don’t really need things, and almost every action figure or Doctor Who or Star Wars thing that I own was a gift (geeks are so stupidly easy to shop for). But I bought the XT-7. Because you see, I had to rescue it. It didn’t belong in that store, surrounded by 19th century furniture and old china plates, and people who’d never heard of Captain Power. It belongs with a fan. Like, me. So I rescued it.
Next step is to find batteries, put in the DVD’s, and see if this baby still works…
December 14, 2013
Thought 1: “Hey, I’ve been wanting to make some new garb. I’ve got that fabric… I should make a new outfit for the SCA event this weekend.”
(I’m thinking this on Thursday.)
Thought 2: “NO NO NO NO NO do not decide to make a whole new outfit in two days! Just NO! Stop it! Stop adding things to the list! Just stop it!”
December 6, 2013
My comics-guy friend Max and I went out for coffee. Here’s what we talked about (roughly edited for dramatic effect).
Max: Did you see they cast Wonder Woman for that Superman v. Batman movie?
Me: Yes. You know what the story’s going to be, right? It’s going to be Superman and Batman duking it out for Wonder Woman’s affections.
Max: No. No.
Max: No, that’s just not right.
Me: You know who’s directing, don’t you?
Max: …. Zach Snyder? Just no, he won’t do that.
Me: I have two words for you.
Max: (winces) What….
Me: Frank. Miller.
Max: (puts head in hands and repeats in a tone of despair) No, no, no, no……..
(It’s like the DC movie franchise is utterly terrified of a solo Wonder Woman project. And yet they desperately, desperately want a Justice League series than can compete with the Avengers. But they can’t do Justice League without a strong solo Wonder Woman project. I can see the producers curled up on the floor, hands wrapped around their heads, weeping…)
November 30, 2013
I’m a day late on blogging. I’ve decided that means I successfully celebrated the holiday. And I’m not done! My friends have put together an Artemis party today — we’re looking to get together something like four or five crews working on the same mission. It should be pretty outrageous. For the occasion, I made cookies.
Red Five, standing by!