Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another post from my reason for living...

You big sweetie. You posted my last note, and I'm sure you haven't even thought about how to describe the Enoteca San Marcos debacle, so here it is from my side of the table.
First off, the disengenuous charm of the Venetian indoor canal, with the poncy shops and faux everything, including elegance. Appalling tourists from all over Europe. You were right, there are more Eurpoeans there than anywhere else on the Las Veas Strip. Better dressed than their Minnesotan counterparts, but equal in bad manners.
We sat overlooking the piazza and stage. Kevin (or Scott, it was one or the other) was a distinctive waiter in that he had more aftershave than personality. Fresh-faced, towheaded with sad teeth, he looked about 17 but was really 28. He spoke with the patronizing authority of a sous chef only without a speck of credibility. I found myself wanting to order something he didn't like just because he lacked even the appearance of judgement. Pleasant enough, if you weren't allergic to the scent. Probably an Italian designer fragrance.
Never mind that, or the busboy who bought himself an iPhone only to have to return it when his mother bought him a Blackberry, what matters is the cheese. First course, they brought a beautiful trio of condiment jars and spooned out our servings of whole cherries in brandy, sliced apricots in white wine with chilies, and truffled honey. Then came the cheeses.
My oh my. First, a young fresh goat cheese, the 2 month aged Coach Triple Cream. Then the rightly called "King of Cheeses", Parmigiano Reggiano, a cow's milk cheese aged 21 months. Lastly, the magnificent Rosso di Langhe, a brine washed cow and sheep's milk cheese from Piemonte, fully aged and perfectly pungent, providing a crescendo of cheesy goodness.
Downhill from there. The nondescript escarole and walnut salad with pecorino. The Fritti Grande, which looked so good on the menu was just fried stuff with too much rosemary oil. Risotto balls, stuffed zucchini flowers, pizza dough fingers, seafood, and the fried mozzarella and anchovy sandwich that you called a "fish doughnut". At least the sandwich tasted good, and not like rosemary oil.
Escape from there, quickly. Because our final stop of the trip was the best of all. Bouchon Bakery, hidden next to the theater which inexplicably houses "Phantom of the Opera". There we each had that little miracle, it tastes like a fresh Parisian croissant opened up and filled with a blob of Chicago-style cheesecake (more caky than New York cheesecake and not as sweet, just right) and topped with two slips of sugared lemon rind--- which they absurdly call a "cheese danish". Your pot de creme infused with wild mint and covered in milk chocolate was just as epiphanically good. So much so that I once again find myself grateful that the most delectable pastry and sweets we have locally aren't anywhere near that standard. Our health and safety would be at risk otherwise.
Ciao bello, thanks for posting.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bouchon in Las Vegas

I had wanted to do a post about the wonderful time that my dearly beloved and I had at Bouchon restaurant in Las Vegas. I was feeling lazy and hadn't yet posted when I received this email from my reason for living. She did such a great job, that I decided just to post it.

Just reminding you about a few details from Vegas, you know, for the Blog. Be sure to tell them about the table, that it was big enough for six with a curving banquette and overlooked the Italian garden. (this is just the Bouchon meal at the Venetian, the rest isn't important) And the waiter spells his name Krxstv. Such a nice boy. 6 months away from his Master's in engineering when he gave it up and moved to the desert to become a happy career waiter. He endeared himself when he kept a straight face when we didn't order booze or wine. Do you remember what town in Poland he was from? I should know that.
Not that you forgot, but the first dish (after the gorgeous bread and little jar of pistachios) was the homemade gravlax, salmon cured in lemon juice and honey for 36 hours. Lemon confit, cranberry pain perdu (savory bread pudding) and salmon skin cracklings. Finished with a whisper of rosemary oil, nothing like the Enoteca San Marcos meal--- but I digress. I'm only discussing Bouchon here.
Kristof (to spell it phonetically) really hooked us up with the second course, the salmon rillettes. I told you, this should be subtitled the Salmon Diaries. Or you can make a Salman Rushdie pun, I won't, I'm on strike. A 2 /1 ratio of fresh to smoked salmon, poached in Pernod with egg yolk, shallots and creme fraiche, then covered with clarified butter and sealed in a mason jar. The under-waiter scooped the butter off in one elegant swoop and we got the jar with those marvellous toasts, which must have been a skinny baguette sliced in half-inch increments then toasted on a grill and brushed with butter. Kristof brought us that extra little tower of toasts that no one else in sight got. A lovely boy, did I say that yet?
My truite aux amandes, your leg of lamb. Yours was roasted, then served with a sous vide fennel bulb, butternut squash puree (also sous vide) and french prunes poached in Pernod. The sauce was made from the lamb drippings.
But the dessert... If you post anything, you must tell them how Kristof wouldn't let us see the dessert menu. He was disappointed when I refused chocolate, but your little bitter chocolate bouchons with valrhona sauce and vanilla bean ice cream did you just fine. (And I don't think he would've been embarassed that you had a chunk of vanilla bean still in your ice cream, you should've let me say something) And my pot de creme was better than your chocolate. Egg nog infused, and those little cookies that were crispy to the tooth then disappeared in an effusion of butter and spice. Even the espresso was exquisite, no grounds at all and a perfect crema on top.
When you post, be sure to get in the details, like the flaming gas lamps over the brocade carpet and Italianate molding and 17th century-esque wallpaper in the hall we walked through to get to the restaurant. The deliciousness is in the details.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

NaNoWriMo - Mission Accomplished

Wow, one month later and I've finished writing a novel. I finished "Oskiri, Master Criminal" on Nov. 30th at 5:42 p.m.. The sad part is that the title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I'd started with an idea to create a 'making the hero' story about a small time forger that becomes the leader of a group of criminals that steal some huge whatever. In the end, though, I wrote a story about a guy that travels through time to steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can travel back in time with the ship and steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can travel back in time with the ship and steal a time travel ship so that, in the future, he can...

I think you get the idea. It's a lousy plot and the story has tons of problems, but it didn't turn out to be as horrible as I was expecting. There are a lot of great moments in there that really work. National Novel Writing Month turned out to be a really great experience for me.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Well, I'm closing in on the end of the novel for NaNoWriMo. If I keep up the word count, I'll be done on time. Woot! It has been a really great experience but I'll be happy when I've finished the novel.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I always figure that I can either do something right or I can do it myself.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I'm writing my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I don't expect to be able to post all that often right now, but I'll be back with more of my ramblings soon. I've got the basic "Caper Examination" written out, so I'll post it as soon as I can edit it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Caper: An introduction to my examination of caper stories.

As I get closer to writing a novel for Nanowrimo, I’ve decided to take a closer look at capers. Mostly because, at this moment, I’m thinking of traveling down that route myself in November.

I love capers because there’s a friendliness among a group of people that are gathered together to complete a single goal: to commit a perfect crime. The group’s dynamic as they go through the process of planning and committing that crime really show off their different personalities. What separates a caper from other crime stories, for me, seems to be a level of fun. There is rarely a feeling that any characters will truly suffer or die. Harsh reality has very little to do with these stories other then to bring the group together at the beginning.

Over the next few posts, I plan to go into what I think are the important elements in the Caper.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rules from the Scream trilogy

In honor of the season, I've collected the rules from the Scream trilogy. (thanks to wikipedia for the material)

Scream - Rules for surviving a horror movie

- Don't have sex.
- Don't drink or do drugs.
- Never say "I'll be right back."
- Don't ask "Who's there?"
- Never investigate any strange noises

Scream 2 - Rules of the horror sequel

- The body count is always bigger.
- The death scenes are always much more elaborate, with more blood and gore.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead.

Scream 3 - Rules for the concluding chapter of a trilogy

-The killer is going to be superhuman. Stabbing won't work. Shooting won't work. In the third one, you have to cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up.
- Anyone, including the main character, can die.
-The past will come back to bite you in the ass. Any sins committed in the past are about to break out and destroy you.
-Basically..In the third movie, all bets are off.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Robert A. Heinlein's Rules for Writing Success

1) You must write.
2) Finish what you start.
3) You must refrain From rewriting, except to editorial order.
4) You must put your story on the market.
5) You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Laws of Narrative (V)

V) The Glove Law (AKA. Fletcher’s Law (A))
This law is purely visual, so it is only found in film and television. When all you can see of a mysterious figure is a pair of gloves at the end of long sleeves, the mysterious figure is female.

When a director wants an actor who portrays the villain to do a physical “evil act” on camera, but doesn’t want to give away which character is the villain, they’ll show only the villain’s hands during the “evil act”. When the hands in question are large, manly hands, this isn’t a problem. Audiences are used to seeing male hands doing physical actions, so it doesn’t really register. If those hands are smaller female hands, they stand out and give away too much. Instead, those small hands will be hidden in gloves, usually either black leather or gardening gloves. So, when all you can see of a villain is black leather gloves as they strangle someone or crush a skull or flip off an innocent pedestrian, the culprit is female.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Laws of Narrative

IV) The Law of the Missing Major Character

Any major character from a series that goes missing will be fine. No matter how built up the story will be about them being in danger, don’t worry. As much as the writer may hate the character, publishers and producers know that fans of the series would be pissed if their favorite character just disappears. Pissed off fans don't pay for the next part of the series. So, no matter how dire the disappearance, the character is just waiting for the rest of the main cast to catch up with them. Tuppence may have been kidnapped by villains of the worst sort, but she’ll be fine when Tommy finally realizes that he needs to rescue her. Richard Jury may be bleeding to death on a dock, but he’ll still be alive when Melrose finds him. George Kirrin may have said she’s running away forever, but she’s really just playing with her dog on the island, waiting for the rest of the five to come to Kirrin on holiday.

The Laws of Narrative

The Laws of Narrative
III) The Law of the Missing Minor Character

Any minor character that goes missing is dead. A character that’s “going home to free their country” died before he got to the boat. When you hear “Dad usually calls on his business trips”, dad never even made it down the street. If a guy ever says, “The boss is on a trip and can’t be reached”, that guy probably killed the boss and buried the body in the garage.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Axel Olrik’s Laws of Epic Narrative-

Axel Olrik. "Epische Gesetze der Volksdichtung." Zeitschrift für Deutsches Altertum, Vol, 52 (1909), 1-12.

The Law of Opening and Closing (Folk narrative does not begin with sudden action or end abruptly)

The Law of Repetition (Events are repeated, often 3 times)

The Law of Three (Things come in threes)

The Law of Two to a Scene (Each scene will contain only two speaking characters. Any other characters present will remain mute.)

The Law of Contrast (Folk narrative loves contrasts: weak & strong, poor & rich, man & monster, good & evil)

The Law of Twins (Folk narrative is fond of twins, however, if they play a major role, they will probably be subject to the Law of Contrast [one bright, one gloomy])

The Importance of Final Position (The youngest son will have our sympathy, the last test will be decisive)

The Law of the Single Strand (Folk narrative follows one temporal strand of action. It does not shift scenes to follow parallel actions)

The Law of Patterning (Repeated scenes will be as similar to each other as possible)

The Use of Tableaux Scenes (Certain moments of folk narrative evoke a strong visual image.)
The Logic of the Sage (Folk narratives find their plausibility not in their sense of reality, but in a certain internal narrative logic)

The Unity of Plot

The Concentration on a Leading Character

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

* - A Quick Note

A quick note on my naming of the Laws of Narrative. I’m naming the laws according to where I first encountered them. This is meant to be similar to laws that are named after the court cases that led to their creation. The Laws of Narrative are not meant to be exclusive to whatever I’ve named them after. For example: Fletcher’s Law (A) can also be found in the film, “Urban Legend”.

The Laws of Narrative: Christie's Law (A)

The Laws of Narrative:
II) Christie’s Law (A) - If you don’t see the body, they aren’t really dead.

Many Agatha Christie characters die “off screen”. There is much dialogue about the death, but we (through the viewpoint character) never actually see the corpse. This is a trick to stop us from suspecting that the dead character is the murderer. Remember, murders are like potato chips, one is never enough. Thus, in the last chapter, we find that the “off screen” victim has been alive all along. They’ve either been hiding in the hidden passages or they’re dressed up as a secondary character that we’ve barely noticed, happily wreaking havoc.

Don’t believe it the next time you read: “he died in the war” or “he was poisoned in Egypt” or even “the police found his body”. He’s either hiding behind a secret door or pretending to be the butler. And we all know what butlers do best.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Laws of Narrative: Banacek's Law

The Laws of Narrative:
I) Banacek’s Law - When something that is impossible to steal is stolen, then either it was never there or it is still there.

Every time my dearly beloved and I would sit down to watch Banacek, we'd place a bet: “Never there" or "Still there”. Banacek was a ‘70s mystery show about an over-the-top-cool investigator who solved seemingly impossible thefts.

Let me paint you a picture that didn’t actually appear on the show. Say there’s a heavily insured frigate moored at pier 10. It’s under a large tarp. There are armed guards 24/7. On the night before the big party to celebrate the frigate being un-tarped, catastrophe. The frigate is missing, pier 10 is empty. “But that’s impossible!” the 70s actors all say. Normal insurance investigators are flummoxed. Only George Peppard, as freelance investigator Banacek, can figure out what happened, for a fat fee.

By the end of the episode we’ll see that either:

1) The frigate was actually a large balloon painted to look like the frigate. During the night the owner strolled out to the frigate, pulled out the cork and the frigate-balloon deflated to the size of a basketball that was then thrown away. Luckily, the tarp was really stiff and held that “frigate shape” until morning. Thus, the frigate never was actually at pier 10.

2) Some evil bastard switched the signs and we’re actually standing at pier 11. You see that frigate over there? The one by that other sign. That’s the stolen frigate. You see the frigate is still at pier 10, just like it’s always been.

The Laws of Narrative: Introduction

Over the years, my dearly beloved (who happens to be a writer) has referred to what she calls the "Laws of Narrative". These references are usually complaints, when some story (whether book, movie, or tv show) fails to obey her holy writ, which has never actually been writ. I intend to rectify that, and quantify the laws as I've been able to observe them in action.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The air grows colder.

The autumnal equinox is sunday. Starbucks has rolled out their pumpkin spiced latte. These are my signs that soon, life will turn to chaos. I’m not talking about Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Quanza, Hanukkah or even St. Crispin’s Day. Those are only minor distractions. Blips on the radar that pass quickly.

I’m about to put myself through a month long hell known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). Starting November 1st, I will be writing 1,667 (or so) words a day. The goal is that by the end of November, I will have written a 50,000 word novel. The anticipation has just started for me.

The last couple of years I relied on friends to help me through the process. Friends that said they’d be there with me through the whole process, working on their own novels. True friends that said they’d be at my side through thick and thin. Friends that gave up on their own novels by the 5th and were sick of hearing about my novel by the time I’d given up on the 8th. This year will be different. I’m not going to rely on friends to help me. I’m going to give up on my own!

Actually, I really hope I can make it the whole month. I’ve got an idea for a story that I want to write and the deadline involved in the whole NaNoWriMo thing might actually help me. This year I will succeed, I’m 38% sure of it.

Anyway, if you want to write up a novel during the NaNoWriMo thing, check out or the book “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty.

ps., to be fair to my wonderful friends, I want to mention that unlike me, they’ve at least finished novels in previous years. The bastards.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Future is here and it’s not as cool as promised (part 3)

William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” came out at a time just prior to the PC revolution. During the mid-80’s, large companies used mainframe style computers, small companies had a single computer and the vast majority homes didn’t have a computer at all. Hackers were lonely guys sitting in their basements dialing randomly with their acoustic couplers, hoping to get in touch with any kind of data link they could access. There wasn’t an internet. Communication happened mostly through bulletin boards. People that used computers were strange folk that lived in a world that 99% of the population couldn’t really understand. From that perspective, I can understand how Gibson thought the future would lead to hackers actually living “online” in a virtual reality, accessing a world that most folks would never see, stealing valuable information from evil megacorporations. It sounded cool. I think that everybody reading “Neuromancer” probably pictured themselves “decking in” to a virtual world and dueling their way into company’s systems.

Then the PC revolution happened. Computers became accessible to everybody. Everybody could get to the internet via their local library. The cool secret online world became mired by what’s known as the “lowest common denominator”. Interfaces like a jack in the base of your head instead became a mouse, keyboard and monitor. There was a short time where we tried to use virtual reality helmets, but using them for more then a few minutes would leave the average person with eye strain and a sore neck.

I think the “virtual world” presented in “Neuromancer” was flawed from the start. Nobody would spend that kind of money to create these exotic interfaces like towers of data when only 1% of the world would see it. The virtual reality we got instead makes a lot of sense. Computers have to be very accessible if your grandmother needs to use it to get her taxes done and it’s doubtful that you could convince her to implant a device into her cerebral cortex.

As for what happens in the actual online virtual world of today, we shouldn’t be surprised. Hacking into companies may seem great to 5% of the population, but most people don’t want to deal with identity theft. Instead we have the internet and it takes care of what humanity really needs to survive. We have porn to take care of our sexual needs. Email and forums take care of our emotional needs. Shopping sites like and allow us to take care of the physical needs. We’re set. Our online virtual world doesn’t sound as cool as the secret world that Gibson dreamed of, but at least this one is a lot more useful.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Future is here and it’s not as cool as promised (part 2)

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was set originally set in the future world of 1992- changed in later editions to 2021 (thanks all-mighty but sometimes horribly wrong Wikipedia). In the novel, androids exist that are very difficult to tell from being whatever they were modeled after. I think Honda has gone as far as anybody else towards creating an android that can walk just like a person. We’ve got a while, I think, before we can actually make an android human that works as well as the real thing, so let’s move on to another idea presented. In “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” the earth is a radio active hell thanks to a third world war. Life has become unlivable on earth so most folks have left it. Many species of animal have died out. Real animals are so expensive that people get android animals for companions. Well, here’s where we’ve made the most advances. We didn’t need a war to destroy the earth though. We just needed a reliance on petrochemicals to destroy the ozone coupled with a mad desire to destroy wildlands in third world countries for profit. It’s probably only going to be a matter of a few years before animals only exist in enclosed environments like zoos. Thank goodness for advances in android animals like AIBO, Nintendogs and Furbies. As our animal species die out we’ve already got the technology to replace them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The future is here and it’s not as cool as promised.

Throughout my life I have turned to Science Fiction for a glimpse of the future. I’ve come to the conclusion that Science Fiction lied to me when it said things will be cool.

“Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein came out in 1959, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick came out in 1968, the novel “Neuromancer” by William Gibson hit the shelves in 1984. As a teenager, these were the books that shaped my ideas of what the future held. I was positive that by 2010, I would be living in a world that’s exactly like the ones presented in these great works. 2010 is just around the corner, so I thought that I’d take some time to compare reality with whatever was conjured in my teen mind.

“Starship Troopers” promised me that we’d all be jingoistic, fighting wars because we wanted to be better citizens. We’d all be powerful warriors fighting in exoskeleton suits, proving our value to a society that appreciated what we were doing because they’d been there themselves. The first problem is that we aren’t fighting bugs. It’s easy to hate a species that is so obviously evil. Humans aren’t as easy. I think that the second place where this all failed was when the people in command of the military didn’t actually serve in combat. Since our commander in chief has never been put in harms way, he doesn’t seem to value our military as much as he should. From what I’ve been given to understand, we don’t put our military in exoskeleton suits, much less even armored cars because that’s too expensive. The only time we see that kind of technology at all is when a person survives a combat with a limb missing. At that point we put on false limbs that almost exactly, but not quite, match the properties of what was lost. If we aren’t willing to help out an individual trooper until they have barely survive a battle, people aren’t going to want to be that trooper. Fewer folks are signing up to join the military then ever. So, I guess, jingoism died when the decision was made to go to war without armor, not to mention nifty exoskeletons.

Next time: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mom's Favorite - a random thought

If your parents ever said, "We don't pick favorites" to you, you weren't their favorite child.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Psychotic Ramblings.

This is my second attempt to start a blog. I have every expectation that this one will end just as quickly as the first. I give it two weeks, tops.

What am I trying to get out of the whole blog experience?

I have no idea. That might be a major stumbling block for me. I do have problems finishing things when I don't have exact goals in mind. I guess that I'm hoping that since blogs never really "finish", my problem with finishing things won't be a problem at all.

Anywho- welcome to my blog. There are going to be spelling mistakes, major punctuation errors, ideas that go unexplained, and a wide variety of jokes that aren't funny. Sorry about that, but that's the way my mind doesn't work.