Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Bissextile Year: Experimentation With Intercalation

2012 is no common year. The next 10 months will be witness to a presidential election in the US, the Summer Olympic Games in London, the final solar transit of Venus of this century, the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, the opening of Joss Whedon's*Avengers” movie in IMAX 3D, the end of the Mayan calendar... and possibly the end of time.

It also gives us an additional day. Granted, it is a winter day at the end of February, rather than, say, a nice, long summer day in July. Nevertheless, there it is, so we might as well enjoy it. Maybe with a cookie. Or hot chocolate. With whipped cream. That's always nice.

Leap Day is a reminder that the calendar year is a practical (and not particularly elegant) contrivance for keeping track of the planting and harvest seasons, as well as when “30 Rock” is in reruns. It is not the real measure of a lifetime. Each of the grand events I mentioned earlier is the culmination of multiple calendar years' worth of planning, observation, research, development, and execution. Some projects are just too grand to be measured in weeks or months. 

Let this Leap Day be your spring-board, your jumping off point, to pursue your long-term projects – those desires and goals that are too expansive to be crammed into a mere 365 days. More than a New Year's Resolution, make a Leap Day Projection of what you want to achieve in the next 4, 8, 12 years and the steps you can take to make it happen. More than a scale for judging what you've accomplished in the past, make the yearly calendar a timetable for planning what you will achieve in the future.
On a related and wholly self-serving note, my new book “Hometown,” is (finally!) due out this Spring. Only half a year later than originally planned... but who's counting?

Today's lesson: Take a leap!

Next: Maybe the story of the conversation out of which The Yummish Faith was born. It involves grapes.

Bonus Historical Fun Semi-fact: In the past, in certain areas of Europe there was a Leap Day tradition of women proposing marriage to men. If the man refused, he then had to give the woman a sort of consolation gift – often clothes, jewelry, or other accessories. Boy howdy, would I have racked up a stack of gloves and gowns back in the day! (Bonus Fun Fiction: The character Sadie Hawkins was originally inspired by my 9th grade yearbook picture.)


*What do you think? Future Yummish Saint? Vote here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Oscars

This Sunday, February 26, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host their 84th Annual Awards celebration, often referred to as “The Oscars.”

Though I love films (both watching and working in them... hint, hint...), admittedly this year, between working on my next book and my addiction to watching semi-randomforeign” films on Netflix streaming, I have fallen a little behind in my box office support responsibilities.

Still, never one to let ignorance stand in the way of a good (or bad) blog post, I have compiled a list of my suggestions for the Oscar Awards. 

Today's lesson: I have a terrible sense of humor. Just awful.

Next: Something further highlighting the statement above


**I understand this is an unforgivable sin and makes me a horrible human being. I've come to terms with that. Yet, I stayed awake through the entire “A-Team” movie... Go figure... 

***Yes, I did have to sing the jingle to remember how to spell it properly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Primes of My Life: A Timeline

It has come to my attention that in spite of my best motorcycle-riding, wine-drinking, doughnut-eating efforts to the contrary, this Friday I will mark yet another birthday.

The 37th one. (They say a lady never tells her age. That remains the case.)

The prime of my life... Or one of them, at least...

Below is a chart outlining the many primes of my life, so far.

Age Occupation Chief Source of Entertainment Chief Concern
3 Toddler Sesame Street Obnoxiously adorable blond baby brother hogging all of the parental attention
5 Wearer of pigtails Water slides Not falling down and busting out my front teeth during a dance recital
7 Brat Roller skates Meeting the expected yearly sales goals of both grade school fundraiser chocolate bars and Girl Scout cookies
11 Freckle-faced Nerd Books Getting a$$ kicked for reading books
13 Pseudo-goth Applying layer upon goopy layer of cheap black eye make up and nail polish (Maybelline Great Lash forever!) Skin under eyes stained permanently grey from too much cheap eye makeup. Ditto with the nails and black polish
17 Teen Airhead Boys Boys
19 Theater Major/Drama Queen Parties The aftermath of parties
23 Cog in the machinery of state bureaucracy Motorcycle road trips Finding more exciting roads
29 Marketing/PR Starbucks Iced Caramel Macchiato – by the gallon Caring far too much about my job
31 Marketing/Sales Airline free drink vouchers Caring far too little about my job
37 Writing my little stories The voices in my head That there are voices in my head to which I listen
41* The World's Best Selling Author – EVER The adoration of millions Being crushed by an avalanche while attempting to scale a mountain of gold in my Scrooge McDuck-style money bin

Today's lesson: There are many “primes” in a lifetime. 

Next: More whining about my age! Whee!


Friday, February 10, 2012

A Case for Lupercalia

The truth is, not everyone is into Valentines Day. In fact, some people find it down right obnoxious. 

The Yummish holiday, Bonding Day, offers one alternative, celebrating all of the loving connections in a person's life rather than just the romantic ones.

Still, there are times when a person might find even that to be painful/unsatisfying/inconvenient/otherwise unappealing.

To them, I say, “Consider Lupercalia.”

Lupercalia is a pre-Roman holiday of uncertain origin and unclear focus. According to my exhaustive research,* what we do know is that it:

A) was celebrated around this time of year.
B) involved burned sacrifices and flogging.**
C) had something to do with wolves.

Since we aren't exactly sure what our ancient ancestors were celebrating or how they celebrated it, there are no pre-established social expectations or pressures associated with Lupercalia. (Though we do know that during one Lupercalia celebration Cicero derided Anthony for being nudus, unctus, ebrius – naked, oiled, and drunk – which has its possibilities.) In fact, it is less a holiday than the outline of one – complete with a really cool sounding name.

This February 14, if you find that you need an antidote to all of the paper hearts, boxes of waxy chocolate, and flowery sentiment, it is time to get your wolf on.

Below are some suggested lupine elements for your celebration:

Today's lesson: Get loopy!

Next: A week of me whining about my advanced age. Consider yourself warned.


*Googling “Lupercalia” and reading the first three results

**But, then, don't all really good parties?

***Stop hating, hater. 80s teen flicks rule.

***Haven't yet seen “The Grey.” But I will. Trust me. I will. 

****Not “Dances With Wolves”... Never “Dances With Wolves”... I'd rather be slapped in the face with a wet fish than watch “Dances With Wolves”...

*****Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Wolf Blitzer

Friday, February 3, 2012

Funky Tastemakers: Ten Food Combos That Shouldn't Work, But Do

We all have our dark secrets – favorite treats that, when revealed, cause others to stare as if we'd just sprouted antennae.

Yet, where would humanity be without such adventurous pioneering in taste? Eating our peanut butter and chocolate separately? Peanut butter sandwiches without bananas? Ice cream without cookie dough? The horror...

Like that hat/jacket/pair of pink stiletto moon boots gathering dust in the back of your closet, it's time to break out our funky tastes and show them proudly in the light of day.

Below are just a few of mine, in no particular order:

Today's exercise: Share your favorite outrageous flavor with someone you love. Better yet, post it in the comments section.

Next: It's sunny and 66 degrees out... Will think about it later... Going outside to play...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Souper Bowl: Random Thoughts on Everyone's (Second) Favorite Liquid Lunch

Properly prepared gumbo should be cooked in an aluminum pot large enough to serve as a decently sized jacuzzi. The contents should be reminiscent of the flotsam on the beach after a tropical storm.

Properly prepared clam chowder will always have a trace amount of sand.  

My favorite soup: Hot and Sour – because, like me, it is both spicy and bitter.

My least favorite soup: Alphabet – because it always gets cold while I'm trying to spell out naughty words with the letter-noodles.

Chili – soup, main dish, or hot dog topping?

The smell of my mom's vegetable beef stew with peppers and cabbage simmering on the stove...

The smell of my split pea soup with ham hocks...

Could cold cereal with milk be considered a type of breakfast soup?

Potato soup makes me proud of my Irish ancestry. Italian wedding soup makes me wish I were part Italian.

Does every culture have a version of chicken noodle soup? Someone should pay me to make an exhaustive study of this.

I  have been cured of illness by chicken soup. Actually, it was homemade udon with chicken and hot barley tea. In Indianapolis, IN, no less. Fortunately, my husband is as resourceful as I am picky.

Bread bowls confuse and upset me.

Could Bloody Marys be considered a type of gazpacho? ...Please?

Crackers? You betcha! 

Today's lesson: Soup's on!

Next: I have no idea!