Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Internet Wants You to Run A Marathon: 30 Things To Do By 30 Lists

I’ll be turning 30 in 40 days. It’s troubling for a number of reasons (will I need to stop singing the Sailor Moon theme under my breath at all times?). One of them is that I have yet to run a marathon, apparently. There are so many “[Enter some #, usually 30 unless the author is lazy and decides on just 9] Things To Do Before You’re 30” lists on the Internet, but they’re all different. How to arrive at the true things necessary to accomplish before your third decade? Science, bitches. We’re going to do this academic paper style.

Literature Review
Turning 30 is scary because it’s the first time a birthday seems laced with humanity’s fear of aging and death (Existential Dread, 2am). Sure, EVERY birthday marks the passage of time till it’ll be your turn to forget where you left your teeth and die in some sad, undignified way, probably while pooping. But when you’re in your 20s, it’s easy not to think about. You have so much time to get serious about boring adult stuff like careers and buying clothes that aren’t plaid (do they make those?). But once you turn 30, it is freak out time (Kim, 2012; Amorosi, 2015; White; 2016; Odell, 2016).

Those citations are actually just the first results in Google I got when I typed in “turning 30”, and they are ALL TRYING TO CONSOLE ME and give me lists of reasons why being 30 is great. Totally wouldn’t be necessary if we were all happy about it. And with that sense of our own impending doom comes a sense of urgency. I can’t be wasting my time reading the Wikipedia entry on high fives–I NEED TO MAKE MY MARK ON THE WORLD or start a family or have a job that pays money or whatever. Because how much time do you really have left? Are you ALREADY BEHIND? As my research will prove, yes you are.

I read 24 lists of “____ Things To Do Before You’re 30” (see Appendix A) and recorded each item presented. The lists were the first 24 results in a Google search for the term “things to do do before 30” and are therefore the best. I then went back and combined items that were clearly similar (for instance “Learn Spanish” can clearly be included in “Learn a Foreign Language”). I assigned each item a category (Self-improvement, life skills, adventure, charity, creativity, social, and career). These categories were pretty evident from the data and I didn’t think too hard about them.

There are so many limitations it’s going to be easier to just list what isn’t: I have a master’s degree and have written papers like this approximately 65 times before in various academic and work-related settings. They were all much more serious than this, even the one about Dora the Explorer picture books. Still, some of that professionalism is bound to rub off. Also I’ve been published in an online Korean library science journal THREE TIMES, motherlicker.

Also I’ve kind of forgotten how to do the math for if a finding is statistically significant, and I uninstalled my stat pack 2 laptops ago. So we’re going to say the p value of this whole thing is officially “whatever”.


Let’s get down to it. I collected 295 separate items from the lists surveyed. Here’s a breakdown by category:


Adventure is most often cited, followed by Self-improvement. Least popular was Creativity followed by a tie between Charity and Career. I really thought Career would be higher, honestly.

The single item cited most often on these lists is to Learn a Foreign Language, listed in 58% of articles, followed by Read (50%), Saving money (42%), and then Run a Marathon (or half-marathon or 5K), Volunteer, Road Trip, and Travel Alone, all at 38%. The top 40ish list looks like this:

1. Learn a Foreign Language: 58%
2. Read: 50%*
3. Start saving: 42%
4-7. Run a marathon 38%
4-7. Volunteer: 38%
4-7. Road trip: 38%
4-7. Travel alone: 38%
8-9. Bungee jump or sky diving: 33%
8-9. Live healthier: 33%
10-15. Go to concerts/your favorite band: 25%
10-15. Find your dream job: 25%
10-15. Learn to cook: 25%
10-15. Learn to bartend/make your favorite cocktail: 25%
10-15. Unplug for a day/week/month: 25%
10-15. Develop a workout routine: 25%
16-23. Move somewhere new: 21%
16-23. Attend a music festival: 21%
16-23. Go skinny dipping: 21%
16-23. Drive or test drive your dream car: 21%
16-23. Find a charitable cause to get behind: 21%
16-23. Learn about your family history: 21%
16-23. Take a class of some kind for fun/work/continuing ed: 21%
16-23. Learn to play a musical instrument: 21%
24-44. Attend a major sporting event (eg. Super Bowl): 17%
24-44. “Do something that scares you”: 17%
24-44. Eat something adventurous: 17%
24-44. Get lost: 17%
24-44. Ride a motorcycle: 17%
24-44. Sing in public/karaoke: 17%
24-44. Stay up all night partying: 17%
24-44. Go camping: 17%
24-44. Climb a mountain: 17%
24-44. Get a tattoo: 17%
24-44. Splurge on something nice that will last: 17%
24-44. Adopt a pet: 17%
24-44. “Create something”: 17%
24-44. Fail at something: 17%
24-44. Take lots of pictures/get better at taking pictures: 17%
24-44. Stop criticizing your body: 17%
24-44. Improve your wine knowledge: 17%
24-44. Throw a dinner party: 17%
24-44. Date around: 17%
24-44. Travel somewhere “exotic”: 17%
24-44. Live abroad: 17%

*See Appendix B for details

Also, here’s a chart of the weirder things listed, all of them only once:


The vast majority of items on the list fell into 3 categories: 1) things that are harder or more annoying to do the older you get (eg start saving for retirement, learn a new language, start a career), 2) things that older people “can’t” do because they are so fun and whimsical and old people are tied down by serious responsibilities and work expectations (eg. dye your hair a fun color, go on a spontaneous trip, “fall in love with the wrong person” (what?)), and 3) something the list writer really wanted to do and doesn’t care if it doesn’t apply to your life (eg. scrapbook, see R Kelly in concert, wear a bathing suit (?you haven’t?)). Never mind that a lot of these goals are almost impossible to accomplish by a normal 20something. Visit all 7 continents and all 50 states? Are you insane? How much spare money/vacation days do you think I have lying around?

In general, I was pretty surprised that career or money related things weren’t more in evidence. Sure, that part of your life isn’t as exciting to write about, but it’s a major deal, more so than if I’ve eaten tres leches cake in South America. And realistically I won’t be able to do ANY of these things without also having a viable source of income (sometimes an insane amount–do you know how much those Antarctic cruises cost?). Also, I don’t understand why running a marathon is so high on this list. Are people that into marathons? Do they avoid talking with me about it because they know I hate running so, so much? That’s probably it, actually, please continue to not share this part of your life with me.

Also, if you’re curious, I’ve done 70% of the things on the “Top 40ish list” and 58% of the total. I guess I have 40 days to run a marathon.

I miss my science job.

Amorosi, A. (2015, September 12). 9 things I’d tell anyone who is terrified of turning 30. Retrieved from:

Kim, J. (2012, August 12). If you’re turning 30 and freaking out. Psychology Today Online. Retrieved from:

Odell, A. (2016, July 12). 10 things all women who have endured turning 30 want you to know. Retrieved from:

White, H. (2016, February 6). 18 reasons you should look forward to turning 30. Retrieved from:

Appendix A: Lists consulted

LOL sucker, there’s no way I’m typing all that up.

Appendix B: But WHAT Should I Read?

I’m glad you asked! I also looked at lists of “[Some number] Books You Should Read Before You Turn 30”. But I’d gotten kind of lazy and didn’t keep track of all the lists I consulted. I do know I found 404 separate books, which is nuts. Here are the top 30:

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Why have I never heard of this book??? Clearly I’m going to be reading it in the next 40 days if everyone thinks I should.

2. The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
I’m as surprised as you are. Luckily I’ve read this in both French and English so there’s no need to revisit this twee existential crap.

3. 1984 by George Orwell
4. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
This is another one I’m adding to my TBR since it’s not “a classic” but has such a consensus.

7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
11. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
13. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
14. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
16. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
17. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
18. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
19. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
20. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
21. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus
22. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
23. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
24. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
25. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro
26. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
27. The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
28. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
29. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
30. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Most of these seem to be the usual round up of classics and perennially popular titles that are maybe going to become classics if they haven’t already. Not really sure why it’s necessary to read them before turning 30, but there you have it.

VIDEO GAMES; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bouncer

Welp, looks like it’s time to bookend the year with another post about my own silly personal interests. Don’t worry though, I’m not gonna make a bunch of gifs about some anime that may or may not have directly inspired the creation of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. What I am gonna do is write a bunch of words about a random collection of games I’ve played!


The Bouncer

This game was ostensibly supposed to be a “playable action movie” that blended the best parts of action games and narrative heavy RPGs, featuring some of the slickest visuals of the time and the entire film’s worth of voice acting, complete with language settings and subtitle options. If The Bouncer had come out today, I have no doubt that there would have been a director’s commentary option in there as well, and honestly, I kind of wish the existing game had that, if only because it would provide some insight into the design process for this game, Re: WHY IS EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS GAME SO TERRIBLE

The plot of The Bouncer is that the three bouncers who ostensibly work at a bar inexplicably named DOGSTREET witness the main character’s homeless not-girlfriend (described in the game booklet as having become DOGSTREET’s “mascot”, which is BULLSHIT BECAUSE DOGSTREET’S MASCOT IS CLEARLY THE DOG EMBLAZONED ON ALL ITS PARAPHENALIA JESUS CHRIST THIS GAME WAS WRITTEN BY MONKIES) get kidnapped by a ninja wearing what appears to be Mankind’s facemask, and then spend the rest of the game skipping work so they can pummel their way up the corporate ladder of the local evil Solar Energy Conglomerate. You see, kidnapper/CEO Dauragon C. Mikado has decided to take revenge on the society that failed to save his sister’s life by using his newly constructed remote energy transfer satellite as an ORBITAL DEATH LASER. His plan to accomplish this involves kidnapping some random homeless girl because HUGE SURPRISE it turns out that she’s the robot clone of his sister. Or she’s his sister’s cyborg zombie. Or something. Either way, Mikado needs to plug his giant telescoping satellite laser into his robosister so he can blast hot vengeance all over the face of the earth because [SCENE MISSING]


The best part is that they spring this on you literally out of NOWHERE

Less hilariously, the “playable” portion of this “playable action movie” is, at best, aggressively shitty. You basically run around a bunch of rooms  in various locales with no interactible objects or useful geometry to distract you from the game’s incredibly repetitive combat, usually consisting of using the same one or two techniques against a group of identical triplets who have decided to try to rough you and your fellow bouncers up. Boss battles play identically to normal enemy encounters and the only real variation in gameplay comes if you choose a different character to play as, and even then, the only difference is the animation of whatever attack you are repeatedly using to stunlock the feckless computer enemies into oblivion. Also you probably shouldn’t be playing as more than one character your first time through the game, since only the character you choose to play as will gain BOUNCER POINTS at the end of battle, which are required to learn new techiques that aren’t complete ass and otherwise make it so the final boss won’t require upwards of six billion dropkicks to the nuts before keeling over and admitting defeat.


If you want an idea of what the gameplay of The Bouncer is like, just imagine this dipshit donkey kicking a security guard in the face, FOREVER.

Oh man, speaking of the final boss, in true Squaresoft fashion the CEO of the evil electric company is a multistage beat down against his various transformations, by which I mean, you kick his ass, and then he takes off his edgy trench coat, revealing that underneath he has been BARE-CHESTING SUSPENDERS this entire time, at which point you have to fight him AGAIN, his shirtless suspenders somehow granting him a SECOND LIFE BAR and UPGRADED ATTACKS. Did I mention that if you beat the game with all three characters (which requires you to play through this game THREE SEPARATE TIMES (WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF)) he will get back up after round two and dramatically unbutton his overalls, REVEALING A MAGICAL DRAGON TATTOO THAT ALLOWS HIM TO USE EVIL PURPLE FIRE KUNG FU

The Guy with the Dauragon Tattoo

Yeah Dauragon knows what the ladies want *FLAME PUNCHES THE LADIES IN THE GUT*

From this progression I can only assume that if Dauragon were to remove his pants he might literally ASCEND TO GODHOOD.

Oh and in case you can’t tell JUST BY LOOKING AT THEM, the characters in this game were all designed by the now infamous Tetsuya Nomura. After the downright mainstream designs he put out for Final Fantasy 7 and 8, he must have removed his shirt and reached his FINAL FORM, because this some next level shit from the future inventor of some of the most memorable fashion disasters in video game history. Like I don’t even know where to begin with some of these designs, shit is like some kind of Fashion Chernobyl.

And no, they NEVER explain what the fuck is up with Volt's horns



The SaGa Series

Make history, or you'll BE HISTORY

Pictured: A SaGa game being remarkably candid about your chances of success

The SaGa Series is a group of Japanese RPGs created by mad genius Akitoshi Kawazu in an attempt to give the player the ability to organically shape their role playing experience to their own tastes with the unintended unifying theme of outrageously complex underlying game mechanics which are never explained, and quite often never even revealed, to you the player. I think I’ve seen like ONE SaGa game that has any in-game tutorials available, and for every aspect of gameplay that it explains, there are like SIX other game-defining concepts that it doesn’t even so much as HINT AT.

And I’m not talking like the game never tells you the secret method required to unlock a cool ultimate treasure or something. Which it doesn’t. But more to the point, I’m talking like one time I killed one too many lizards in the lizard cave, which caused a frontier town the other side of the world to get BLOWN THE FUCK UP by a giant bedazzled sandworm. I’m talking about the time I randomly pressed the right control stick in as though it were a button and discovered that doing so activated a core gameplay mechanic vital to completing most of the dungeons in the game. I’m talking about the primary method the game expects you to increase your characters’ power being to routinely choose one of three random abilities presented to you at the end of a scenario and place it in one of seven spots on a hexagonal grid with literally no explanation of how what you’re doing works beyond showing you a preview of how a bunch of unexplained numbers will change depending on where you stick it. I’m talking about how you’d better figure out REALLY FAST whether the game is scaling the enemies based on the numbers of battles you’ve won, especially if you’re playing the game blind and flailing around too much in the early game trying to figure out where to go. Because again, why would SaGa tell you where to go? What, does SaGa look like your mom to you? DO YOU WANT SAGA TO TUCK YOU INTO YOUR GOD DAMN BED AT NIGHT WITH A PECK ON THE CHEEK AND GLANCE IN THE CLOSET TO ASSURE YOU THAT YES THERE ARE NO MONSTERS IN THERE? WELL THE JOKE’S ON YOU KID BECAUSE WHILE YOU WERE SCREWING AROUND IN A PLOT-IRRELEVANT CAVE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE YOU KILLED ONE TOO MANY GOBLINS AND NOW YOUR CLOSET’S FULL TO THE FUCKIN BRIM WITH ALL MANNER OF GREATER LICHES

I like these games. I really do. But my enjoyment of them is directly proportional to the number of GameFAQs pages I have open at any given time while playing.


The Xeno Series

Not pictured: A character named Sellers who looks EXACTLY like Dr. Strangelove

Pictured: Two characters from the SAME GAME

What if you were anime Jesus and you had to kill the anime Demiurge using a giant kung fu robot whose power source was the literal Judeo-Christian God trapped in a lower plane of existence as a disembodied field of electromagnetic radiation? What if you had to kill the anime Space Pope with the help of android Mary Magdalene before he could use his giant robot cathedral to annihilate his two sworn enemies, Gnosticism and Secular Government? What if the Devil sent a bunch of robots to wipe out all the sentient lifeforms God had created and God retaliated by transforming said lifeforms into HORRIBLE MINDLESS ABOMINATIONS, and it was your job, as anime Jesus, to BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF BOTH OF THEM?
The answer to all of these questions, of course, is that you would be playing a game from the Xeno Series, because these games are all fucking INSANE

Why have chu forsaken me

Reminder: Chu Chu died for your sins



Sonic ’06

To clarify for the uninitiated:

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) is the game where you play as a mascot character codenamed “Mr. Needlemouse” who uses his Bubsy-like speed and in-your-face 90s commercial appeal to defeat an overweight animal hoarder with way too much time on his hands.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is the game where a human princess character unique to this game becomes Sonic’s love interest and eventually kisses Sonic on the lips to bring him back to life after he gets stabbed through the heart by another character unique to the game, Mephiles the Dark, who is a spikier shadowy counterpart of Shadow the Hedgehog. Yes, you read that right, this game’s villain is THE DARKER EDGIER VERSION OF THE DARKER EDGIER VERSION OF SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Seriously, this dude is like some kind of Deviantart SINGULARITY


Sonic ’06 is a game where it often feels like you’re just constantly hoping that when you press the attack button, it will actually cause Sonic to attack, and not, say, launch himself into outer space, or blast him through the floor into inescapable lava, or breakdance off into the horizon while you and the camera are left behind, watching the shot dim as the game deducts a life and restarts the level. No breakdancing allowed, the game chides, as it silently replaces every button with BREAKDANCE.

Sonic ’06 is a game with gameplay SO BROKEN that the game will often completely take control of your character away from you whenever the track you’re running on gets any more complicated than a straight line, for fear that you might accidentally rub up against the wrong wall and PHASE INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION. Even when the game is ostensibly in control, though, there’s a hilariously high chance that Sonic may just FLY OFF THE RAMP he’s running on and die ANYWAY. There’s a sequence where you run through a loop and you can’t actually adjust your angle during it, so Sonic will just run forward in whatever direction you entered the loop, meaning that if you don’t have the foresight to know that the game is about to remove your ability to control the character there is a 1000% probability that sonic is, at some point during the loop, going run off the edge of it at roughly MACH 5 and is now careening into the skybox, where he will die, restart the level.

Sonic ’06 is a game whose failure states for this game are so bizarre and poorly implemented that I am entirely capable of believing that literally no bug-fixing was done prior to the game’s release. When you die in Sonic ’06, and you will die, it is the rule, rather than the exception, that it defies logic. Sonic flies through an invisible death wall and suddenly just noclips through a mountain? WORKING AS INTENDED. Sonic jumps over a wall at 400mph and the camera doesn’t know how to handle it, causing the entire stage to vanish, leaving Sonic breakdancing above the black void of Hell? IMPLIMENTED AS DESIGNED. Sonic gets caught in a programming oversight and is condemned to being repeatedly flung against an invisible wall, trapped in an endless purgatory of horrible looping voiceclips? IT’S NO USE IT’S NO USE IT’S NO USE IT’S NO USE

Basically what I’m saying is you’d have more fun (and much more responsive controls) trying to use your controller to direct the actions of a real live hedgehog.


Final Fantasy: Dirge of Cerberus



What if The Force Returns had starred a Jedi Master Jar Jar Binks and ended with a sequel hook where Samuel L. Jackson showed up and recruited him for the Avengers?

What if when Go Set a Watchman was published we found out Harper Lee’s reluctance to release it was because it was a terrible AU Twilight fanfic with the main character’s name blatantly find/replaced to X Billups?

What if the final chronological sequel to Final Fantasy VII was a poorly implemented 3rd person shooter that starred completely optional and entirely plot-irrelevant looks-27-but-is-actually-57 glampire VINCENT VALENTINE, and its plot assumed that you were not only familiar with his (again, entirely optional) backstory as laid out in the original game but were desperately interested in playing an ENTIRE GAME REVOLVING AROUND IT? What if Vincent’s support team consisted of Final Fantasy VII’s OTHER totally optional character, a serially ineffectual electric company executive, and original character slash walking fashion disaster, with a later appearance by a now DISTRACTINGLY TEXAN airship pilot, a blink or you’ll miss it cameo by everyone’s favorite Super Smash Brother, and a FORCED STEALTH SECTION where you play as god damn CAIT SITH, aka nobody’s favorite gameplay mechanic featuring nobody’s favorite character?

And no, she's not winking; she's missing an eye and wearing an eyepatch would just look SILLY

Shalua what is even HAPPENING HERE

What Gothy McBroodgun had to fight against a heretofore unmentioned cabal of bad guys with a vague connection to PREVIOUS GAME’S ANTAGONISTS who now pose a serious threat to world peace, no really guys, these dudes are serious business, please take my OCs seriously

What if Alucard Von Shootman’s love interest in this abortion of a game ended up being a 19-year-old girl in the body of a 9-year-old who’s had the mind of our 57-year-old protagonist’s now tragically deceased and also unrequited one true love downloaded into her brain?

Why don't you have a seat right over there

Also she’s Shalua’s sister

What if the game ended with a literal self insert of Camui Gackt showing up

How the crap did this jagweed outlive Sephiroth



And that’s pretty much it for this installment of my ongoing Master’s Class in Having HORRIBLE TASTE. Tune in next time when I write like a million god damn words about every horrible manga I’ve ever read


Adventures in Leather Costumery (or, a comedy of construction errors)

Let’s start with the obligatory finished-product shot:

The finished product

The finished product

So this all started when I’d been thinking about picking up a new hobby (ostensibly to make some leather bits for my own costume this year) and Patricia mentioned an idea she had for a monstrumologist costume. What she came up with was something that could do bandolier duty, but go with the awesome khaki safari jacket and pith helmet at the same time. After a little digging, I came up with an old fashioned Sam Browne belt, onto which we could always strap other accouterments.

Sam Browne belt

Old school Czech military uniform, looking super dapper.

It’s a belt, two-tongued buckle, over-the-shoulder strap, and a little hardware. Can’t be that hard, right? (Famous
last words)

Here’s how it all came together…

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An Engineer’s Guide to Art

The Town of Cary always has various kinds of public art on display in all of its buildings. They host art loops and artists’ receptions, and seem to work hard at bringing the public different kinds of art in different mediums. So I thought the best thing to do would be to go on a tour with the person I know who would least appreciate it: my dad. I was actually surprised that he made stabs at what things might symbolize, although not at all disappointed by his amazing summations of exhibits. Behold:

Beth Palmer: Fiber Art – Exploration in Color
Gallery Description: Beth Palmer is an artist who explores color and surface design in her work. Trained as a painter, she is always investigating new materials and techniques to enhance her work. History has always intrigued Beth. Found objects as well as old and antique materials are a fascination and one of the themes of her work.
Ron’s Description: “It was dyed cloth with a bunch of crap on it.”

Poseidon's Revenge by Beth Palmer

Poseidon’s Revenge by Beth Palmer

Ron: The first one they had was “Poseidon’s Revenge”, which, when I looked at the title, I was thinking “Oh, we’re going to have something about Greek mythology,” and it’s just a bunch of loops and odd colors and everything else and if anything else it may be some abstract art of Medusa, but certainly not almighty god of the sea Poseidon. And it’s even got a bunch of browns in it, when you’d expect some greens and blues of the sea.

Crossroads by Beth Palmer

Crossroads by Beth Palmer

Ron: There’s two white squirrelly lines that look like they do cross, so I suppose there’s something there. But all of these other little things there, like the embossing [note: I think he means embroidering] and the circular embossing… it’s just clutter as opposed to art.

Who and Movements #1 by Beth Palmer

Who and Movements #1 by Beth Palmer

Ron: There’s another one called “Movements #2”. I think maybe she forgot that she named one of them Movements, and then she named the other one Movements, and, what the hell, she had to add the 1 and 2 on them to differentiate them. Though they are different, they’re not that different, so who cares? And this one named “Who” looks more like a bunch of red blood cells than it does anything like the interrogative nominative pronoun or the musical group. It doesn’t look like ethier of them. It looks like a bunch of red blood cells and blood. Actually, it’s much too thick.

Sticks and Stones by Beth Palmer

Sticks and Stones by Beth Palmer

Ron: This one is sort of nice. It’s called “Sticks and Stones,” and it’s got this rectangular pattern that does have sticks and then it’s got stones in it. This is the most literal one of all. And, you know, just seeing stones isn’t all that great a deal.

Me: So is that your favorite?

Ron: Oh yes… my favorite… my favorite… is… is… is… uh… that one’s really the most bizarrish thing. What’s it titled?

Inner Dance by Beth Palmer

Inner Dance by Beth Palmer

Ron: So it’s just chaotic totally. It’s difficult to try to make anything out of it, so maybe that’s the one I can give up on the quickest, so I wouldn’t waste as much time on it.

Me: So it’s your favorite?

Ron: It’s my favorite, yes.

Me: Would you put any of these in your house?

Ron: Uh… The only thing I could see useful is that you’re out in the garage and you’re using them as rags for painting or working on your machinery or something. That’s about all I would ever use them for.

Me: Burn.
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Lorde’s “Tennis Court” Song is about the French Revolution

It’s probably a coincidence that this song came on the radio while I was listening on my way to the library on Bastille Day. OR WAS IT. I am 99% sure that this song is all about the French Revolution, most obviously the tennis court oath:

Let's go down to the tennis court and talk it out

Let’s go down to the tennis court and talk it out

I mean, really, what ELSE could that lyric be referring to? In 1789, Louis XVI was broke, in no small part because of France’s involvement with the American War for Independence, so he called the Estates General, an advisory body made up of nobles, clergy, and commoners. The Estates General was a purely advisory body, and traditionally each of the groups had met and advised the king separately, but the 3rd Estate, the Commons (i.e. 99% of France), wasn’t taking that shit anymore. In protest, they refused to do any work until the others agreed to meet all together. The stalemate went on for weeks, until one day the Third Estate found their traditional meeting room locked. Coincidence… OR ROYAL PLOT? They filed on down to a tennis court and took an oath to not leave until they’d given France a Constitution. A little act of Englightenment-style rebellion that basically led to this:

Because I'm doin' this for the thrill of it, killin' it

Because I’m doin’ this for the thrill of it, killin’ it

And then later:

Getting caught's half of the trip though, isn't it?  I fall apart with all my heart

Getting caught’s half of the trip though, isn’t it?
I fall apart with all my heart

Think about it.

Baby, be the class clown

Baby, be the class clown

I'll be the beauty queen in tears

I’ll be the beauty queen in tears

Everything's cool when we're all in line for the throne

Everything’s cool when we’re all in line for the throne

But I know it's not forever

But I know it’s not forever

Open your eyes, comrades!

Take this

I’m all kinds of sick today so take this.


When Garlic Breaks Your Heart

No time to chat, too busy getting ready for another year of All Star Thanksgiving. But check out this picture from one of the cookbooks Steven checked out from the library:

Oh garlic, why do you do this to me?

Oh garlic, why do you do this to me?

I don’t know what’s going on here, but I wish more cookbooks were as expressive.

2013 Cookbook Project: DONE!!!!

Woo! Finished with my goal to make one recipe out of each of our cookbooks! That’s 35 in all!

Nothing is better than seeing 100% on a spreadsheet

Nothing is better than seeing 100% on a spreadsheet

Here’s a breakdown of the final 4 since last time we talked:

The Cooking of Italy by Waverly Root and the editors of TIME-LIFE BOOKS

Sorry for the all caps, but that’s how it’s formatted on the title page. It doesn’t surprise me that Time-Life books can’t figure out how to get their caps lock off. Check out the weird cover too:

Not even a title. I guess they think that picture says it all

Not even a title. I guess they think that picture says it all

I’m like 96% sure Steven bought this at Half-Price one day because he’s compulsive and only recently learned that there are lots of recipes on the Internet. It’s cool, this book is pretty alright. It’s organized by region of Italy and has a section at the beginning of each chapter where it talks about life in that region and specialties. We chose to make spinach ravioli with pesto:



Neither was very difficult, especially since I made Steven do all the work:

Kitchen Hack: coerce someone else

Kitchen Hack: coerce someone else

The Hungry Scientist Handbook by Patrick Buckley

This book is more about theory and crazy things that take too much time, effort, and equipment for the likes of me. Steven was really into the section on catching wild yeast to bake with, but that seemed too time-consuming and iffy. You have to check pretty regularly to make sure you aren’t catching mold instead.

I mean, I have my own labcoat, but I mainly wear it while making spreadsheets

I mean, I have my own labcoat, but I mainly wear it while making spreadsheets

However, there was one recipe I thought I could excel at! Wonton wrapper cranes! Basically, you get wonton wrappers, which are already little squares, and then fold them using the power of origami! Then you fry that sucker and it becomes a chip shaped like a crane!!!! Well, that’s the theory. They’re really hard to fold without breaking.

My ridiculous attempt, with a paper one for comparison. See if you can spot the difference

My ridiculous attempt, with a paper one for comparison. See if you can spot the difference

Steven was way better at it than me, probably because he has more patience:

Also, he refused to put a shirt on for this process, even though I TOLD him I was taking pictures for the Internet

Also, he refused to put a shirt on for this process, even though I TOLD him I was taking pictures for the Internet

So you get bonus footage of Steven’s man-nipple. Enjoy!

Eventually, I gave up on cranes and turned to the only kind of origami I can reliably fold: fortune tellers!

What will your wonton fortune be????

What will your wonton fortune be????

Oops, you're going to die

Oops, you’re going to die

The frying process was also fraught with peril, because the origami shape would unfold in the oil if you didn’t kind of hold it awkwardly in place with some tongs.

It took a few sad tries to perfect this process

It took a few sad tries to perfect this process

Here are the after shots:

Fortune teller: not really recognizable

Fortune teller: not really recognizable

Cranes?? Or blobs?

Cranes?? Or blobs?

Hard to believe that that was the easiest thing in the book I could find!

Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook by Terry Pratchett

This one is kind of a joke, supposedly written by one of the characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It has some good illustrations, life advice, and also some legit recipes.

I REALLY wanted to make Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler's Sausages Inna Bun, but I don't like sausages

I REALLY wanted to make Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler’s Sausages Inna Bun, but I don’t like sausages

So I had to go for the next-most famous: Banana Soup Surprise. Nanny Ogg has this to say about the soup:

People say: ‘What’s so surprisin’ about bananana soup?’ And I say, it’s got banananas in it. Of course, if you’ve ever read my book The Joye of Snacks you’ll spot that some of my special ingredients have been left out. People complained they made the soup a bit too surprisin’.

The recipe involves cooking mashed banana (or bananana) with vegetable stock, sherry, and some spices. What really stands out, though, is the presentation:



Unfortunately, the soup didn’t taste that great. Maybe if we had a higher quality sherry or I had used the food processor to puree the bananas. As it was, it mostly tasted like banana chunks floating in sherry. Ew.

Still, can't beat the presentation

Still, can’t beat the presentation

Cake Pops by Bakerella

Look at this

Look at this

This one was the last cookbook, and I’m not ashamed to admit, I was putting it off for a reason. Look at that cover! These cake pops are way too advanced for me. And I found that I just didn’t care enough to gain the necessary expertise even to fail at making them for you. My cooking strategy is very results-based to maximize deliciousness and minimize effort. I’m not adverse to work when it pays off, re: my homemade pie crust or bread, but if you’re spending hours on something that’s just cosmetic? Yeah, I’m good. Plus, unlike the last time I sucked at art for this project, I would have needed to buy a lot of stuff I would then proceed to never use again ever, so I just said screw it and made the “basic cake ball” recipe. You remember how to make cakeballs, right? That was probably the last time I made cakeballs, actually, two whole years ago! Also in the corner of one of those pictures is my old purple netbook.

I miss you purple netbook! So stylish

I miss you purple netbook! So stylish

Anyway, this time I let Steven choose the flavors, and he went with lemon cake, cream cheese icing, and milk chocolate coating on the outside:

Deformed as always, but delicious! Just the way I like it

Deformed as always, but delicious! Just the way I like it

That’s two of my 2013 goals down!

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