Appetite for Reduction


Saying it like it is, this fine Monday morning.

John and I went to see the movie Real Steel on Saturday, and for me, it was the best movie I’ve seen yet this year. The robots just left me speechless – perhaps because I’ve been waiting to write a really good robot story. I planned to at Clarion, but never got to it, and its been burning in the back of my brain since…well, any time I glance at my bookshelf and see Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover and Metallic Love, both of which I adore like nothing else. Oh, and let’s not forget Electric Forest. Just wow. The way Lee paints obsession, and the non-human humanity of metal flesh (and affinity for).

Soon. I’ve got to write that one soon.

Anyway, the movie was just fantastic. I know, another father-son redemption story, but the son was just so spunky (although the female lead drove me nuts – how many times did she REALLY need to say the main character’s name when talking to him? Writer’s fault, there. But … she just seemed to try too hard. Her character, anyway, and the romance felt contrived. Although by the end she seemed to feel more organic to the story – in a typical woman sidekick way.) And I was very, very glad they didn’t push the “this robot is different because he’s real! cliche.” That would have been so disappointing.

So yes, go see.

Next up: Breaking Bad.

Apparently, this show started in 2008, but I haven’t really heard of it (or anyone raving about it, for that matter) until my friend Brooke started tweeting her love for it. Needless to say, John and I are hooked. Fantastic writing, fantastic acting, and the drama is actually a little too much for me at times – I’m in a constant state of tension watching it, so I may need a little break from it soon. As soon as I find out what happens next. But there’s not another show on right now that’s grabbed me in the same way – Walking Dead season 2 premieres next week, and while I loved the first 3 or so episodes of season 1, it petered out fast, so I have my doubts with that (despite the fantastic preview, which makes me want to sit and write a zombie story NOW. Still appealing, despite the over-and-done-with of the craze). And no Game of Thrones until….next year? So that leaves us with … Family Guy. Not really the same thing.

Let’s see – Embassytown, by Mievelle. I couldn’t even get through the last thirty pages, and so I finally put it down. Not enough character for me – I need a seriously zoomed-in-on protagonist, and Avice (best name EVER) was never accessible. And now that I think about it, nor was the physical world. Too much…technical detail. I think I’m just not the best reader for it, although I did see its genius.

So I’ve brought with me today Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and VanderMeer’s Finch, the latter a reread, because I’m craving dystopia/post-apocolyptia, per the usual. And because I need novels right now, as I work through Harvester the book, and to soak in as much as I can in terms of chapter to chapter motion, larger themes, and drawing all of that together in a seamless (and coherent) fashion.

Yesterday, I outlined the entirety of the first book including the male protag – it felt good to get that done. A 90k book, give or take, which is a little overwhelming (despite the fact that my first 2 were over 120k, 120k disasters) given the content I want to make sure comes through. How does one (e.g. a person like me) actually, successfully, depict the end of civilization as Heloise knows it? Especially a civilization like the Resplendent City of Free Living?

Probably a paragraph at a time. An image at a time. A thread at a time. Patiently. (Which is not something I carry around in abundance.)

Anything I didn’t cover? Oh, I’ve started a blood elf mage in WoW – their ability to one-shot others is just too brutal/impressive not to. And since I have leveling gear, it should go fast. And, I’ve been wanting to play some Bioshock and Borderlands again. Perhaps because I have been thinking about my first Clarion short, “North like a Star,” and wanting desperately to revise it – the Borderlands world, the raw violence of it, bears comparison to Bellis’ world.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin everything. I also have that on the brain. There’s a fantastic new grocery store here, with beautiful organic produce, so I bought quite a bit of it and hope to cook it all this week – lovely chards & greens & mushrooms & leeks and so much more…perhaps tonight the Veggie Potpie Stew from Appetite for Reduction, after a run. It’s 70 degrees today! Maybe we’ll get a real fall here.

Happy Monday!

Advertisements
That’s right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I’m working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch – thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man.
Oh, so a blog entry. Here’s the deal:

Go read Tom Crosshill’s “Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son” in this week’s Lightspeed. It’s very…well, just read it yourself, so I don’t have to give anything away.

Game of Thrones
premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I’ve never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I’m a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I’m plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it’s worth it.) However, once you get past the “I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c” lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world – but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I’m fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.

We’re in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I’m not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is…terrifying, for lack of a better description.

What’s next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can’t wait.

We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn’t too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn’t seem to fit the role (which I don’t believe I’ve ever said about her before).

Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I’ve just finished Gordon Van Gelder’s Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I’ve started Daryl Gregory’s Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer’s new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.

What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that’s the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you’re on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.

No blog entry wouldn’t be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz’s version) from Appetite for Reduction. I’ve made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I’m really excited to make more from Veganomican, too.

Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn’t a plus, either. I’d like to try baking them next time. If that’s even possible.

There’s a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I’ll go back to the Harvester chapter.

Finally, some great progress on Deadwalker, which is back to “The Seedling Garden.” I got hung up on the ending over the weekend, and when I passed it to John for help, he pointed out that several elements were backwards in the worldbuilding, so I had to switch those around. It was very frustrating, and then I remembered that I’ve encountered this frustration on every story with different mechanics to the world – and that these mechanics don’t always present themselves immediately. Or, now that I think about it, they never do. “The Light Stones” took a dozen (or more) rewrites to hammer itself out. So did Harvester the short. And the ending of “The Seedling Garden” isn’t clear yet, but since I spent hours trying to clean it up yesterday, maybe the elements will work themselves into clarity. Here’s hoping it will be slow day so I can make that happen. And because I have Lightspeed stories to read, and Fragment crits to do.

Took a break in the writing last night to do my first set of WoW PVP’s two-on-two (two’s) with John on Rhenza his rogue, and me with Beris my shadow priest. We got our asses handed to us in a few games; all my fault, of course, because I was so nervous and just kind of panicked, and level 85 or not, I’m still new to the game. But I’m starting to learn when do to what – fear, silence, psychic horror, shadowfiend, etc. – and we managed to win enough to cap my points for the week. And now the week has started over, so maybe tonight, too, depending on how much of “The Seedling Garden” I finish.

I finally took away the suitcase Kitty had been sleeping on upstairs, which now has a thick layer of cat hair over it. He simply found a new place.

Last night we had Chinese food and champagne – John got a new job, and finished the first prototype (there will be many, many  more in the future) of Carl the spider, his iPhone game! Very exciting. Sunday night, I went a little gungho with the Appetite for Reduction recipes. We had the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, the Broiled Blackened Tofu, and the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples. The tofu was fantastic – tasted like chicken, honestly. I went a little light on the smoked paprika, since I don’t care for it very much, and I managed to burn the sweet potatoes/apples exactly as Moskowitz says not to do in the book, because I got distracted. The Brussels sprouts were great – mine weren’t crispy, but that’s probably because I had used frozen, not fresh.

Either way, a fantastic meal. I just wish I had the time to make three things from that cookbook every night. I did order another of her cookbooks, Veganomicon, which I should be getting shortly.

Reading: I’m about halfway through Strahan’s Best of SFF Volume 5, and I must admit, it’s not what I had expected. It’s entirely possible I’m getting more particular in my preferences, since that’s the way I’ve been heading with all the SFF magazines, and creating strong opinions as to what I prefer to read regarding novels. But I’ve loved Strahan’s “Best of” series more than any other out there, and of course every Eclipse anthology of his has just been stunning. This one, however, isn’t doing much for me. The stories are very well written, and there’s no shortage of excessive creativity, startling, in fact, and inspirational. But none have entranced me so far, which makes me a little sad. Nothing is better than a story that grips you from beginning to end. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, though. The stories are excellent, and I’m sure will speak to others if not me.

We’ve also started FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is now on Netflix. We had watched it online in subtitles as it was streaming back in 2009, and while it’s dubbed now, the voices are excellent (albeit different), and the show is still excellent, and highly recommended; it has the typical anime silly moments, but the layering! And there is no attempt to sugarcoat anything. (The seven deadly sins are PEOPLE in this show. Well, homunculi. So go watch.) I had new ideas for the people around Heloise in Harvester the book, and how they’re affected by her alchemy. What happens to them when she screws up, and is attempting to make the alloy work. It was very inspiring.

Now I just need more time.

Three more weeks of tax season!

***

Update on the reading status: go buy the Strahan antho I mentioned earlier. Maureen McHugh’s story is fantastic. I just stared out in space about halfway through, a little shellshocked. I want to write more about it, but don’t want to give out spoilers. And Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn story is gorgeous – this is why I love YA writing so much. Well chosen.

>More on “Deadwalker,” which is already over 8k. Eek! Another 2k and it’s done, and then I brainstorm if and how to hack it down. But it’s good to get some writing done that feels somewhat readable. Maybe I can finish the story this week.

And there is food, of course. This is the veggie potpie stew from Appetite for Reduction. Of course I didn’t have yellow split peas, because they don’t exist in Oklahoma. However, green split peas worked just fine, and didn’t even mess up the color. (And I lacked frozen peas, too, but that’s okay). Forgive the Tupperware – I forgot to take pictures of the real thing, and of the amazing loaves of golden French bread to go with. So this is what’s left, full of vegan amazement. 

Then last night, we again had the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens (third time!) and the OMG Onion Rings (second!), which John made. And he did a way better job than me the first time – they were the best onion rings I have ever had. Vegan, too. (Almond milk!) With soy hot dogs – which taste exactly like the real thing – it was a phenomenal meal.

While I’ve brought it up, I cannot speak highly enough of the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens. I’ve pinned down my favorite way/proportions: lots of collard greens (I used two short-ish bunches), one eight-ounce can of tomato sauce, only one can of black-eyed peas, all the rest of the ingredients and a ton of hot sauce. Even John ate his before he touched his onion rings or hot dogs – and that says it all.

And, John’s first batch of cookies ever. They were winners. I was so proud of him I took a picture.

I finished reading Holly Black’s White Cat last night. I do love her writing, especially her short stories. I adored Tithe and Valiant so much so that they inspired lots of angst in my own YA books that haven’t gone anywhere (yet), but to my surprise, White Cat wasn’t what I expected. I never felt like I knew Cassel the way I wanted to – or that I was being narrated to by a 17-year-old boy. Her girl heroines were more edgy, more real, and Cassel read a little too…virginal. The whole book just seemed tame, although the content was interesting. And from a structural point of view, the book was pretty much flawless. She does everything right. Which could be why my attention wandered (or it could be the taxing-heh-work week that’s sucked away my ability to concentrate). There was no push against boundaries that I appreciate (and look for), both in content and style, which nearly all her shorts do in some way. Case in point, see this week’s Fantasy Magazine reprint of her short from The Poison Eaters. There’s a brilliant edge to that story.

Speaking of edge, there’s been some really great stories submitted to Lightspeed lately, with edge aplenty. A good plot, usually with some serious story crafting, but the envelope is pushed just enough in some way (of which there are countless), enough to grab the reader and not let them up (or make them teary, like a story in the slush did for me today). It’s really exciting, and motivating.

>

I’ve been putting this off because I thought I’d have more time later in the week, but it’s already Thursday, and I’ve got way too much to say and write and do, so here’s we go:
 
Portabello mushrooms, potato pancakes (with sweet & sour sauce) and 49-clove broccoli (with added cauliflower), the latter two from Appetite for Reduction. Amazing. The potato pancakes were better the next day. I do think thinner and crispier is the way to go, compared to the ones below, but now I know. (And I may try them with olive oil in the future, rather than sesame. We’ll see.)
Cutest cat in the world. Even with the two inch bloody scratch across my chest he gave me when I picked him up last night. And he knows he’s not allowed on this blanket, because it makes him way too happy, and then not-good-things happen. But I couldn’t bear to kick him off when he acts this cute.
And yesterday, I finally finished Kameron Hurley’s God’s War. I have a few serious nitpicks, including the fact that the religious war never really worked for me. I didn’t once really feel the faith there, not the way I did in Dan Simmons’ first two Hyperion books, with the Shrike and the obsession around it. That is the way to write religion. Also, some really frustrating lag in pace about one-fourth the way in; I can’t say I’ve ever read a book like that before (versus the typical 3rd act lag). However, the pluses WAY outnumber the cons. The world is so jam-packed full of color and life and ugliness that this is really a must read for anyone who likes exotic worldbuilding or sucks at it and needs to get better. It’s just breathtaking. On top of that is main character, Nyx, who is wonderfully hardcore, and Hurley lets everything possible hit Nyx like a sledgehammer, throwing curveball after curveball and it was a wild, exciting ride at some points. Real, brutal, and 100% believable. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Hurley throws in unrequited love (or something like it) that left me hanging. Overall, a refreshing read, and very inspiring from a writing perspective.
Next up is Strahan’s just-released Best of SFF Volume 5, which I’m really excited about, as I’ve only read a handful of what’s in there already. At lunch today I managed “Elegy for a Young Elk” by Hannu Rajaniemi, which I really loved (so much color!) and “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman. More soon!
What makes me happiest of all is that Human Seedlings has a tentative new title: “Deadwalkers.” The not so great part is that the short is looking to be 10k or so, instead of 5k like I’d hoped. But at least it’s moving, and that feels great. And now to return all the crits I owe.

>My head is full of mush this morning – a combination of too much tax dithering and a computer screen, which wasn’t aided by my joining Twitter yesterday (@erinstocks). If I knew it was that much fun, I would have joined long ago.

But on to more important things, like reaching 80 on my shadow priest. Now Cataclysm quests! And better gear. And soon I will be as good as everyone else.

Gingery noodles with tofu last night – a lovely vegan dish:

One of the best meals I may have ever had. And yes, from Appetite for Reduction. I did cheat with the tofu, since I bought it pre-marinated in a light peanut sesame sauce. The noodles were supposed to be soba, but I only had udon and lo mein, so I opted for the former, mixed with sauteed bok choy, red onion, garlic, fresh ginger, some sesame oil for fun (sesame seeds would be fun, too, although neither the oil nor the seeds are in the actual recipe) and…that’s all I remember, but there could have been one to two more ingredients. And a ton of sriracha. Broiled the tofu 4 minutes or so on each side, so it has a lovely coating while soft in the middle. Astoundingly good, environmentally friendly, and no painful deaths involved. Wins all around.

I seriously need to do some writing today. And then think about meals for this weekend, because Molly sent me cookbooks!

>A short yet hearty review of “The Light Stones,” which was exciting for me. I never found the story creepy much (whereas others of mine have had that effect on me), but I can see how worms invoke that sensation in others.

And, mushroom cannelinis and caulipots.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my leftovers today for lunch, I wasn’t as thrilled with the initial meal on Saturday. I believe the caulipots (cauliflower, tiny golden potatoes, veggie broth) just needed more salt, and the mushroom cannelinis perhaps fresh dill on top, and lots of it, rather than the dried dill that I used. Just more flavor, and that leafy green-ness that gives things a fresh, crisp taste.

Reading lately: Over the weekend, I made it about twenty-five pages through Amanda Downum’s The Bone Palace before I put it down, although I’m willing to say it’s me, not the book. As much as I love the idea of a third gender and necromancy and royal suspicions, I wasn’t interested enough, nor driven crazy by hooks like I hope for every time I pick up a new book. Maybe it’s too traditional for my current tastes? But today I did buy Kameron Hurley’s God’s War, which I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now. And I was still hooked five pages later. The writing lacks a certain lyrical eloquence, but more than makes up for it in color and grit and blood, and I’m perfectly willing to make that trade. Also, Holly Black’s White Cat, which is finally in paperback. I managed to resist Jo Walton’s Among Others, because it’s hardcover – we’ll see how long I can hold off on that one.

There’s more I want to dither on about, including the AMAZING Caitlyn R. Kiernan reprint I read yesterday, which John Joseph Adams may publish in Lightspeed. I really hope he does – the writing is simply stunning. Someday I will write like that, no matter how much blood and sweat it takes. Anyway, we’ve been seeing a lot of really good slush submissions lately, too, several of which he’s accepted, and I’m very eager to see published. Most of them have phenomenal worldbuilding, an exciting plot, and well-rounded characters that usually have some serious flaws, e.g., very human, and with the occasional AI thrown in. Keep ’em coming!

Next Page »