10/19/2011 Apple/pasta/popcorn/chili month

The weather this week has been a glorious mix (do I use the word glorious too much when talking about nature? Impossible!) with both sun and rain coming and going in quick succession. The sky has that blue peculiar to October, the trees are displaying New England colors with abandon. In my garden strip there are just two morning glories, tiny, as their vines die, but vibrant fuchsia against the fading foliage. Other than that, we have a couple of pots of ornamental kale by the door. In the last few years I like to get those- we steal a few leaves for soup until mid-winter, which makes me feel clever. The view of the back through the dining room window is a study in green and gold and red, with falling leaves drifting by with a regularity that makes me imagine someone off screen shaking a dispenser for artistic affect. We’ve taken the screen door off- finally, which makes letting the cats in and out easier, but the real cold hasn’t started yet (there’s no need to wrap up to go outside unless I’m planning on staying out for a while, but we have started reminding John to stop going out barefoot). (He does anyway.)

This may be a short letter or a very long one. Most of the week I spent dealing with my cold, so either I’ll share with you the various odd thoughts that came into my head while I was inactive, or I will decide to get back to playing “catch-up”. My way of dealing with a cold is to sleep as much as I possibly can, drink as much tea and soup as I can, and pay attention to my dreams and thoughts to see if I can figure out what messages my subconscious wants to send me. I am convinced that there are enough bacteria and viruses out there that we could all be sick all the time, but sometimes our subconsciouses decide to take advantage of what’s available to make our bodies sick, and send us a message. For colds, usually the message is “slow down, stop trying to do so much!”, and I suppose that could be what this was. Certainly it was a bad week to “take off” (think about it, don’t you generally get colds when it’s least convenient?). It’s about a month until my con, and there are dozens of things that all need to be done right now, and only Jane and myself to do it.
Having decided I was sick on Wednesday, I stopped worrying about other stuff and dedicated myself to Getting Well. I slept myself out in the morning, by which time lying down started to hurt by back, so I propped myself up at the table with my head on a pillow, and “watched” movies. My inactivity was reenforced by being light sensitive- I couldn’t bring myself to look at the computer screen- even with the brightness turned down. I dosed myself with herbal teas, homeopathic remedies, vitamins, and of course, good old chicken soup. John mostly made me the tea and soup. Willow brought me orange juice, but the girls- gearing up for Another Anime Con (really, that’s the name of the con), and I intentionally stayed in different rooms so they wouldn’t catch whatever I had. There was a lot of sneezing, so I’m sure that what was there was available to them. In case I wasn’t sure, all the kids are showing some symptoms now- runny noise, tickle in the throat, etc. Willow is particularly concerned that she may have carried whatever it is, asymptomatically, to the Con. I’m not concerned- as at any large gathering, people from all over bring whatever they have locally to share. If people got sick when they got home, it could have been her- or any of a dozen others. A cold is hardly typhoid.
I actually know that my “onset” was at 5:45 am, as I woke up and noticed both the time and a sore throat. The departure of the beast is more gradual. Yesterday I woke up with that wonderful day-after-a-cold feeling that I could breath, but I still have residual need to hawk up phlegm from my lungs; and I won’t feel fully recovered until that passes. I developed a theory that my headache came from dehydration, as many of the traditional symptoms of a hangover result from the unfortunate side effect of alcohol being a diuretic. While I was indeed downing quarts of soup and gallons of tea, I was passing it all through with equal speed, even at night when I wasn’t drinking, so that’s the source of that theory. I’ve only had one hangover in my life. When I was about fourteen I thought that it would be better for my writing if I didn’t just parrot back what I’d read and actually experienced what it was to be drunk, so I drank about four ounces of my parents liquor. I discovered that the dizziness, and other symptoms of being drunk were just as I’d read, and the same could be said for the after effects. Since then I’ve been far more willing to “learn from the mistakes of others”. I’ve also decided that whether it’s something like getting drunk, having a baby, or a dozen other things, everyone experiences it differently anyway, so in writing, one can only write for the effect one wishes to create, and not worry about it. Some of the readers will not get your perspective, and some will identify even if you made it up out of your imagination. Your experience is important for you. Their experience is important for them. I’m not even sure that travel books are useful as they’d like to be.

300884_2091857224177_1477673935_31723785_1052258827_nThis week’s cool thing is the girls going to AAC. It’s in Nashua, so they could seras_Victoria_by_garf03commute and didn’t have to pack. Friday Willow wore her new Cos-Play Samurai Apple-Jack. It’s a kimono (referencing the character Samurai Jack) with the “cutie mark” from the my little pony Apple-Jack as decoration. Enough people recognized what Willow was going for to gratify her, and justify the effort. Kat wore her Blind Mag (from Repo-man) outfit. The girls have promised me pictures.73053_1679647916769_1404682201_31746048_720230_n
Saturday they wore Marluxia and Namine from Kingdom Hearts. I felt well enough to check my mail, but not to get back to real work. Sunday, Willow cosplayed Seras Victoria from the Helsing Manga (a military type with big weapons). 200614_1025008020694_1090065858_72299_8869_nI’m aways amazed that she can fit all her hair under that short wig- as are her cosplay friends. Kat was wearing one of her black frilly Lollies. They told me that they’d gone to a tea party and were dismayed to discover that some of the people there didn’t know how to make 227429_213269332031113_100000441432690_742971_391920_ntea. I’m not talking pre-heat the pot, make sure the water is actually boiling, or ratio of leaves to water- they didn’t know how to put a tea bag in a cup and pour the hot water over it. Sigh. I guess they just liked the idea of tea-parties.

(Running a tangent off that- realizing that there was no way I could expose Megan to my germs and they were due to leave for England and their canal boat on the 20th, I called to say goodbye. But they’ve canceled this trip- there is no water in the canals just now. So they get to have Halloween at home. And I may be able to see them before they schedule the next trip. When the British canals have water in them again- wonder where it went?)

I bitched about the dishes not being done (afterwards felt bad about it- they were in the middle of a huge multi-stage project, as I’ve often been), and got to experience showering while Willow did the dishes. When I was younger I heard that one should always rinse after a shampoo with hot, then cold, then hot water. After a while I figured that the real reason for that was because it’s really important to rinse all the soap out, because I’m not sure what the cold water rinse would do- maybe help your hair not be over heated? Anyway, I don’t think they meant changing every ten or fifteen seconds back and forth (as she rinsed dishes). That’ll teach me to tell her when I’m going in to shower! Interesting experience.

Monday I started the “catching up” process. I logged in the reservations that had come in over the last week. Still not enough to break even. I’m annoyed. Why does the hotel need the balance of payment a MONTH before the event. Last year it was 10 days or a week before, which seems reasonable (or it did, until they said- your check has cleared, and by the way, your dealers room is not going to be available- sorry). I totally understand telling them a month in advance that no, we won’t need the three extra rooms we had on hold in case we got huge. Maybe next year we’ll need them. I figure the month before is when most people make that decision- unless it’s an annual event they know from the year before they’re going to want to attend. Jane’s working on an extension- SHE hasn’t taken a break while I’ve been idling. Thank God it’s not just me.
I spent almost all day yesterday on the phone with TDS and Apple trying to figure out why my computer won’t open many of the files people send me, and I can’t upload graphics the way I was able to before changing computers. Annoyingly, the best they can do is tell me that often macs and pcs aren’t compatible, and that upgrading sometimes means that things don’t work anymore. Well, duh! Why the heck do they upgrade if it’s only going to make things NOT work?! For this I bothered to get well? Today I’m back to work trying to get the classes arranged on a schedule. I’d hoped to have that done in September. Or half past October. Oh, well.

What did I “accomplish” this week? I watched the first season of the TV show 24. According to Norman Cousins I should have been watching something that would make me laugh- but I had it out of the library, and wanted to send it back. I remember when it first came out it was supposed to be special because it was in real time. I know that when I’m watching someone underwater on a movie I tend to hold my breath along with them, but this was something different. I did appreciate the way that in the later episodes the hero tended to splash water on his face to stay awake… or drift off…. I loved the theme- it explored what a good man is willing to give up, how to deal with the problem of being forced to choose between two things when both are unacceptable, and how different people dealt with it. It rather bothered me that at no point did anyone associated with the presidential candidate, when faced with blowing his chance at winning EVER talk about any of the things he’d hoped to be able to address BY winning. It was always talking about winning, about achievement- as if going through all the crap one has to to get into office is about winning a prize. I don’t think anyone does it for that. It’s because they each care about people- different people with different problems, so what seems like a solution for one is causing problems for another. But that bugged me.
Even in the Occupy Wall Street situation, people seem to be focusing more on frivolities. Yes, it’s tacky for the people who came out on the balconies with their expensive clothes and drinks appear to be “flaunting” their wealth in the presence of people who have grievances. But some of them may well have gone in and seriously discussed the issues, no matter what they were wearing or drinking. The issues are about how our world is run. We need to stop thinking that a lot of money running through the system indicates that it’s working, and start to think about what the system is producing. Not how many products, or even how many jobs. But how many people able to support themselves (WAY different from number of jobs), or how we are living on the planet. A person who is eating his way through even a big pile of food, and who isn’t doing anything to make sure that it’s replenished is not in good shape. WE need to be looking at the long term effects of what our culture is doing to the individuals who make up the culture, and our environment. It’s not sustainable, and we need to address that.
John is indeed watching horror movies to celebrate October. I joined him in watching Graveyard of Horror- (I’ve already forgotten it), & Bats, which was your basic updated version of the Birds. Both John and I were really annoyed when their chiroptologist (bat expert) identified the bats as flying foxes. Flying foxes are some of the most adorable looking bats- they have big eyes, and long snouts like most canine species, these probably invented (to look evil) bats had the flat face with vertical triangular nostril with the eyes on either side of it- look of your typical vampire bat.
Similarly the made for TV miniseries Hercules combined some good stars including Sean Astin, and Timothy Dalton, really cool effects (I especially liked the hydra regrowing it’s heads) with a mauling of the plot (5 labors as opposed to 12- they kept combining them). They framed this as a war of the sexes, the followers of the earth goddess vs. the followers of the sky god in a very heavy-handed treatment. While having wonderful centaurs, satyrs, monsters, and nymphs (Leelee Sobieski sprayed with gold paint), they presented the gods as figments of imagination (of course, there was that thunderbolt shooting down and hitting Hercules, and the sudden rainstorm putting out the fire). The bit about Tyresius being an hermaphrodite and appearing as the oracle at Delphi was interesting. I could have liked it to have been extended so that they could have done all twelve labors. I really enjoyed the extras with Sean Astin saying that playing “sidekicks has been very good to me”. Another, I sent for for similar reasons In the Name of the King, a Dungeon Siege Tale was a recent fantasy film. It had magic and orc like baddies, but more importantly it had John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman, Burt Reynolds and Leelee Sobieski, and a good sense of fun. Frankly, when one is ill, one should watch funny things, not horror, and fun may be as close as I got to funny.
I saw the horror classic Revolt of the Zombies, (1936) the second Zombie film ever (after White Zombie). While White Zombie was in the Haitian zombie tradition, presenting zombies pretty much as the victims of the zombie masters, not as monsters themselves, this one was based in Cambodia. After the first World War a multinational force assembled to dig at Angkor Wat and try to discover how to make zombie soldiers through ancient Hindu rituals to get their advantage (being unkillable) in trench warfare. Other than the word “zombie”, there didn’t seem to be any connection to the usual traditions. The special effects were pathetic- people walking in front of projection screens, it was awful. But fun in the usual way of looking at period pieces. Finally the Battle of Britain (1969) was about as boring as a war movie could get- mostly because it was nearly a documentary and had almost no plot or developed characters. The specials were incredibly evocative though- they did their best to show what the Battle of Britain was like, and for all I know used footage of London burning. It was awful. The final chapter showed lots of footage of planes fighting and crashing to classical music. It just kept going on, and on. That made a huge impact. The other thing that struck me was the unconscious sexism one so often sees in old movies. It never occurs to them that women should be treated as thinking people with responsibilities. You can see some of a similar effect if you look at racism in old movies as well. So, while it will never look like a horror movie, I still enjoy looking at some of the old movies.
When not sleeping, I re-read some of the Marcus Didius Falco books. I had a half-baked idea of reading through the entire series, but I kept falling asleep. Given that, I also watched a bit of Spartacus, mostly because I lack a copy of I, Claudius, which has much better costumes.

The girls are off doing the weekly errands, including a dental visit for Kat. When they get back I’ll see if they can find me pictures of their costumes. I should get back to generating the schedule for the con.

~ Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden ~ Orson Scott Card

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