Sunday, February 28, 2016

hiatus interruptus

With the drying up of the local economy in recent months, so too has much of my paid work. I haven't minded having the extra time, to be honest, to tackle the list of home improvement schemes that I have imposed upon myself (and others). Things have been painted, rooms have been rearranged, no longer needed crap has been given away by the truckload. Dozens of Disney movies on VHS, anyone? I have even gotten into the luxurious habit of reading a bit in the afternoons and accompanying the recently retired one to matinees at our local cheap seat movie theatre.

That all ends now, though, with a recent batch of new assignments (first one due tomorrow) and the promise/threat of an avalanche of same just around the corner.

Now, I just need to relearn how to write.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

brotherhood of the travelling gun

The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt

I have been hearing rumours that The Sisters Brothers is scheduled to be made into a film, with John C. Reilly playing the part of the narrator, Eli Brothers. I am glad for this. Not only does pretty much everything that John C. Reilly touches turn into gold, but he closely fits the mental image that I had of Eli. I am counting on the filmmakers not to muck it up.

The Sisters Brothers is the story of Eli and Charlie Sisters, two assassins-for-hire who travel from Oregon to California during the height of the gold rush to carry out a hit on a prospector. Charlie is impetuous and brutal, Eli is introverted and has a certain sweetness to him, despite the fact that he has no problems murdering people. The novel is at times gory, at other times touching, and it is woven throughout with generous strands of dry humour.

The Sisters Brothers is inventive in its scope - a darkly comic western noir - and its sparsely worded pacing fit the genre perfectly. I will admit that it took me a couple of chapters (they are very short chapters) to appreciate the narrative voice and to understand why everyone seemed to love this book so much. But once I did, I was hooked.

I could easily have kept reading, had the book been twice as long, and it would take very little prompting to entice me to revisit the world of the Sisters Brothers, be it in a film, a reread, or (dare I hope?) a sequel someday.

The Sisters Brothers has won a mitt-full of literary awards, and for good reason. You should read it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

if you squint just wrong

Sometimes my favourite photos happen by accident. 

While peering through the view-finder to get a better angle to photograph something else entirely, I noticed that a collision of overhead lights had doubled up to make the shadows cast by the camera in my hands look sort of otherworldly. Or at the very least, like a fabric pattern left over from the 60's.

I think it swings.

In other - more linky - news, I'd like to offer up some of my recently published scribblings:

In the latest edition of Latent Image, my short story called The Handbook of Facultative Morphology.

On the National Music Centre website, two articles about the new exhibition spaces - Amped Up Exhibitions at Studio Bell and Behind the Scenes: Developing NMC's Exhibitions. 

May you always see the good in the weird.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

some assembly required

I don't bake very often, other than around Christmas, because:
(a) I would just eat it, and
(b) you pretty much have to follow a recipe while baking, and I like to think of recipes as mere suggestions.

I'm not good at following formulas - too many flashbacks to Biochem 235. With cooking, I can make stuff up and it usually tastes pretty good, and if it doesn't, I can usually figure out how to fix it. Not so with baking.

Until today.

I had an almost full container of ricotta that I wanted to use up and have been thinking for a while about making the Spousal Unit (aka the Resident Macaroon Aficionado) some coconut macaroons. So I threw the ricotta together with a bit of crushed pineapple that I had in the freezer and some icing sugar and almond extract, with the idea of making macaroon balls. The mess tasted fine but was not in any way rollable. And, not containing any chocolate, it wasn't worthy of eating with a spoon.

So I figured I would turn it into a cake. Not able to find any suitable ricotta-coconut-pineapple cake recipes on the interwebz, I figured I would just make a white cake and incorporate the mess into it.

But I discovered that all the white cake recipes on the internet start with Take one box of white cake mix ...

What the what? If you are using a cake mix, why would you even bother to post a recipe? It's on the side of the ding-dang box. That's not baking; that's paper shuffling.

But from somewhere in the recesses of my tiny brain I pulled out enough cake chemistry data to remember that you have to cream together butter, sugar, eggs and flour (with baking powder and salt mixed into it) at a roughly 1:1 ratio. 

I alternated adding the dry ingredients with the pineapple-coconut-ricotta mess (more latent cake chemistry knowledge), threw it into a greased pan and baked it for about half an hour. Oh, and I tossed in a bit more almond extract and also some lime juice, because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Turns out it was a darn good idea. Turns out you can hack a cake recipe after all. Especially when you slather it with a lime-coconut buttercream icing.

Who wants to come over for dessert?