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International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Sep. 19th, 2007 | 05:07 pm

Yarr, so I haven't posted in months, I know. 'Tis awful of me, just awful, but I still be here! I admire all of ye landlubbers who keep up with it. Regrettably, I can't say that I'm really ready to get back in the habit yet, but since it's Talk Like A Pirate Day, I figured I would commemorate th' occasion by reposting my entry from a year ago. I thought it fitting, as it be containin' expert advice on all things piratical:

Yarr!  Ahoy, ye scurvy landlubbers!  The date be the 19th o' September, so ye know what tha' means!  It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  Today be th' day when all men, women, children and parrots throw grammar and spellin' to th' winds and embrace their inner buccaneer.  (Should ye have no earthly idea of what 'tis I be talkin' 'bout, know that ye be clearly behin' the times.  Go here and gain a prop'r nautical eddikashun.  If ye should ignore this warnin', ye'll be getting a taste o' th' cat later!) 

If'n ye not yet be knowin' how ta adopt th' proper pirattitude, allow me ta furnish a few suggestions:

1. Get a pirate hat.
        Even the lowliest swabby knows that t'be a pirate ye must dress the part.  The pirate hat is oft'n seen as an integral part o' the pirate look.  While ye could certainly adopt a pirattitude without any traditional headgear, th' hat has been shown to help channel one's energies into a proper pillaging state o' mind.  Ye can also come up wi' variations on th' hat, such as a gaily printed bandana or scarf, braiding showy ribbons inter yer hair or wearin' a crown o' yer enemies gold teeth.  An' don' ferget ta accessorize!  A billowy shirt and cutlass can do wonders for yer appearance, and even arrrrgyle socks'll work in a pinch.  Jus' remember, th' possibilities are endless!

2. Swagger.

       No self-respecting buccaneer would ever let his reputation be soiled by anythin' so low as a mincin' gait.  A real pirate swaggers.  Ye be one o' th' fiercest and feared creatures in all the seven seas, an' the rest o' the world should bloody well know it!  After years on a ship, yer feet ought ta be swift, cocky and sure, with a casual, drunken sway in yer hips.  If'n you be havin' trouble with this partikuler step, aid might be found in my third suggestion.

3. Obtain rum, in any way possible.
       Rum is the lifeblood o' th' pirate.  Ta part a pirate from his rum is like ta parting a wee baby from its bottle, a cruel action that should never be undertaken lightly.  A wee baby might cry like bloody hell, but a pirate might well keelhaul ye fer yer meddlin' ways.  If'n ye be one o' them queer teetotalin' pirates, strongly brewed iced tea'll suffice, but never reveal it ta th' crew.  An' if'n ye be of an underaged sort o' pirate, keep yer runty lil fingers awa' from me rum!  That sort o' drink'll stunt yer growth, ye crusty bilgerat.

4. Squint with one eye and/or grimace when ye speaks.

       I don't rightly know what it is about th' contortions o' th' face tha' make speakin' like a pirate so effective, but it always seems ta work.  Methinks this mi' explain why there be so many pirates missin' an eye.  'Tis an easy way ta acquire a piratical flourish ta one's everyday speech.  Try it fer yerself!

5. Eliminate non-essential consonants.
       Ag'in I don' righ'ly kno' wha' 'tis abou' this tha' is so successful, bu' i' always seems ta work.

6. Practice insertin' "yarrr" where appropriate.
       Ev'n if ye only be drivin' ta th' marrrrrket in yer carrrr, a sparrrr momen' can always be put to productive use by practicin' the proparrrrrrr use of arrrrrrr.  Just let 'em roll off yer tongue on a darrrrrk nigh' while yer lookin' up a' th' starrrrrrrrrrrs while settin' on a parrrrrrrrrk bench.  It's marrrrrrrrrrrrvellous stuff once ye've master'd th' use.

Once ye've got all these down, as well as th' trick o' colorful cursin', there's no stoppin' ye!  So get out there, me hearties!  Find some buried booty, down a tankard of grog, bounce a buxom beauty a two on yer knee, and show the world yer fearsome new pirattitude!

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Serenity Now

Jun. 21st, 2007 | 12:24 am

Damn my eyes! Some days, I swear, it's as though I deliberately set out to overload my brain.  Watching Firefly while staring at food porn is too much for any reasonable person to handle.  I've decided.  When I grow up, I wanna be a space cowboy zippin' 'round the 'verse making cupcakes! With dragées!

Failing that, I would settle for a summer picnic, maybe with a little kite-flying, although probably not until The Boyfriend gets back (Just 4 more days! Whoo-hoo!). Anybody want to come along? Or maybe have some yummy menu ideas to share? I've been staring at food blogs and cookbooks for the past hour or so, silly me. Too much delicious and the brainpan is like to get a mite scrambled while the stomach growls its low and rumbly tune.

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Don't Cry Over...

Jun. 18th, 2007 | 07:45 pm

The saying calls for "spilt milk", but in my case, I think I'm going to substitute "spoiled milk". Admittedly, I'm not the most fastidious of cooks.  I've picked up and cooked with things I've dropped on the floor by accident and used eggs that were days, even weeks past the "expiration date" (haven't died yet!), but I'm usually pretty wary about using old milk. Something about even marginally old milk makes me feel a bit yick, but this was the last day before the "Sell by" date, and I had thought it smelled fine. Maybe I need to get my nose checked, because the rice pudding I just made now makes me feel a bit queasy just smelling it. I don't think the milk was well and truly spoiled, just enough to make it...questionable. As it is, I'm a little disappointed that what I'd hoped would be warm pudding is now just a sodden mess. Phooey.

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Just Add Water

Jun. 17th, 2007 | 11:03 pm

So I made a very satisfying discovery in my kitchen earlier. Tucked away at the bottom of my dry foods drawer were these neat, little packages with Japanese writing all over them. Dried miso soup! I'd forgotten all about them, but with great delight, I emptied one into a mug and added hot water. In an instant, this dusty little brown cake was transformed! I now had steaming, tasty soup with bits of seaweed and even tiny little clams to round it out! Heaven!

Awhile back, my mom had given me a handful of these in various flavors after someone gave her a whole box full, and this was the last of the lot. I only wish I had more of them. The flavor and convenience of this wonderful snack only made me lament the fact you can't really find these packets in the U.S. With a variety of different ingredients instead of a flavor packet to make up the tasty-tasty goodness, they beat the hell out of Top Ramen, let me tell you.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about what kinds of "just add water" treats there are out there. I mean, there's Top Ramen, of course, but unless you've got other ingredients on hand to gussy it up, it's not going to be very satisfying. Jello? That's usually decent, if a trifle pedestrian. Instant oatmeal? Less satisfying that Jello, but I can live with it. Anybody else got a favorite "just add water" treat?

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All Wound Up

Jun. 16th, 2007 | 07:04 pm

Rather than apologizing once more for not posting, I figure it's about time I sit down and actually write something of interest for all you poor souls who actually watch this space. Writer's block is a bitch, but I'm prepared to fight dirty. Ahem, so without further adieu, let me share with you some things that've been turning around and around inside the cluttered recesses of my mind.

A few months back, The Boyfriend introduced me to the the Syberia computer games. Now, I love these kind of point and click adventure games, so I thought Syberia and Syberia II were great, stuffed with gorgeous art, awkward voice-acting and lots of sweet puzzle solving, but they also prominently featured automata, self-operating clockwork creations. In fact, the games were pretty insistent that they were automata rather than robots. Who cares, you ask? Well, if someone had told me the game featured robots, I'd probably assume there would be talking computers and blinking lights as you voyaged through space, but 'automata' has entirely different connotations.

The automata in Syberia have this fantastic steampunk vibe to them, lots of rivets and worn metal. In fact, most everything in the game depends on a key to wind it up before you can get anywhere. Your primary transportation is a huge key-wound train, conducted by a sweetly neurotic and anal-retentive automaton conductor (think the love-child of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Woody Allen). Seeing so many neat wind-up creations piqued my interest. Later, as I was lost in a Wikipedia chain, I was delighted to learn how much automaton-magic exists outside of the digital realm.
Ever heard of Hisashige Tanaka? Neither had I until I found myself at the Wikipedia entry for Toshiba. That's Tanaka up there. The son of a tortoiseshell crafter, Tanaka was the founder of Toshiba and a brilliantly gifted inventor, responsible for the first Japanese steam engine and a famous clock (known as the 10,000-year clock or myriad clock) which seamlessly combined Japanese sensibilities with European technology. Cool, huh? But what does this have to do with automatons? Well, in addition to founding a company which has been in existence since 1875, he was also an avid enthusiast of karakuri ningyo, beautiful automata which retain the aesthetic sense of traditional Japanese dolls.
These are meticulously crafted clockwork creatures that can turn somersaults, serve tea or even shoot a bow and arrow. When I was small I thought the Chuck E. Cheese robots were fascinating in an ugly way, but these little dolls, developed lifetimes ago, could do probably do as much while being infinitely more attractive.

Today, I could go into a toy store, pick up a Sneezing Suzy doll and never give a second thought to what kind of effort goes into making it. Some kid might love it to pieces, but it's still going to be a mass-produced lump with individual elements assembled far away from wherever the raw materials were gathered or the design conceived. But the karakuri inspire a much different reaction. I'm not even that handy, but when I look at them, online and from an enormous distance, I get this itching in my fingers. I want to take them apart, learn how they work, and put them back together again. I want to understand why the springs spring, how the gears turn, and what I have to do to make my own.

I think on some level, those little automata seem somehow more real to me than the electronic brain humming in my laptop, but looking at the karakuri makes me want to understand both that much better. I find it wonderfully strange and amusing that I should be so inspired, not by the wonders of our time, but by the creaky, little clockwork creations of yesteryear, but if the Syberia series is any indication, somehow, I don't think I'm the only one.

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B-Day Blues

May. 28th, 2007 | 10:00 pm

So The Boyfriend left for some kind of advanced summer program on Sunday and won't be back for about a month.  I'm very happy for him, since it means he'll have a chance to display his glorious brilliance in a whole different state for awhile, but it's my birthday tomorrow, so his timing sucks.  Bleh.  That said, he did take me out for a lovely dinner before he left and gave me an early birthday present of The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1Amazing, if ridiculously heavy; I could kill someone with the heft on that thing.  Ahem.  But have I mentioned that I want to bear Neil Gaiman's children?  It was one of the best birthday gifts I've ever received, since it was a complete surprise and I'd been wanting it for ages.  Score one for The Boyfriend!  Alas, even that isn't quite enough to keep me from being a little glum over the prospect of celebrating my natal day alone, so does anyone have any thoughts on how I can shake my birthday blues?

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Now What?

May. 16th, 2007 | 04:47 pm

So I'm now a university graduate. Go me.

Feels rather anticlimactic, honestly, and that's not just because of my lackluster punctuation.  I've now reached the stage of my life where I'm expected to make something of the massive potential that's been bubbling out of me since day one.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what.  It seems that B.A.'s in English have all the potential in the world and absolutely no direction.  At least, that's the general consensus I've gotten from fellow grads who don't aspire to be a teacher/doctor/lawyer, and even them I question.

I really enjoyed my college years, and I'm sorry they're over with, but I'm still optimistic for the future.  Couldn't for the life of me tell you why.  I think it's because I still have this naive trust in my bright and shiny, new EDUCATION to pull me out of whatever quandary I've landed myself in.  Never mind that I don't have any solid health insurance on the horizon.

My parents want me to start thinking about grad school or law school, probably more law school than grad school.  I'm sure they fear I'll become a starving academic otherwise.  Can't say that I blame them; PhDs in the liberal arts have it tough.  I'm guessing them folks either got more brains or balls than me to travel that road.  Of course, I still secretly want to be just like them, but not until I'm dead certain I'm prepared to give up most of my living space to books.  Law school provides a different set of considerations.  My parents, The Boyfriend, and the rest of my extended friends and family all seem to think I'd make a decent lawyer; I'm just not convinced I'd be a happy one.  Some of the worst people I've known were lawyers, but, then again, they were also some of the best.  With that kind of range, maybe lawyers are more human than we give them credit for.

Of course, all of these concerns are essentially moot, since any further education won't be for at least a year or so, but I like thinking out-loud.  Right now, what I really need is a job.  Nothing fancy.  Just something I can get out of bed for that won't make me miserable.  For whatever reason I missed the big career week on campus, so now, post-graduation, I'm combing job boards wondering exactly what the hell kind of "skill set" I have to offer.  I know, I know, I'm hopeless, but, hey, I'm a university graduate.  Go me.

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Take A Finger, Any Finger

May. 8th, 2007 | 07:26 pm

Okay, so I know I haven't posted in awhile, and I promised fingers to those who cared to claim them.  In my defense, school's been busy as hell, it's finals time, and I'm graduating this week.  Yeah, that's right, graduating.  I'm actually going to have my delightfully practical B.A. in English.  I'd tell all the naysayers to quit their jeering, but I know that the piece of paper they hand me during the ceremony isn't legit, since I have to go pick up my diploma however many weeks after the actual graduation.  But I digress.

Given that my parents are coming to witness me sailing across the stage dressed up like a Hogwarts student in a couple of days, I make no promises that regular blog entries will resume anytime soon.  What I can promise is a picture of an adorable puppy butt:

Still not satisfied? Tough. I haven't eaten or slept in the past 24 hours, so that's the best I've got.

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Apr. 9th, 2007 | 12:51 pm

I'm willing to bet that a fascinating psychological study could be made about the embedded advertisements Google has on some of their pages.  I'm still trying to get my head around what kind of algorithims they must be using to select some of these things.  I just sent myself a paper I wrote on a Freud article, and when I opened up Gmail the ads were as follows:

Study Sports Psychology
Argosy University Psychology Program - Learn More Today!

Sigmund Freud Archives
The Premier Site for Freud Scholars Original Correspondence & Works!

Moleskine notebooks
ShipTheWeb offers the entire line of Moleskine notebooks for less

Breastfeeding Bracelet
Milk Bands™ show left/right, what time & how long - all on one wrist!

Okay, so the Freud Archives, that makes sense, so does the sports psychology ad.  I was writing about Freud, hence, making these utterly reasonable advertisments to encounter.  Score one for the ad algorithm!

Now, Moleskine notebooks?  That one took a little research for me to make sense of.  I was familiar with the notebooks, of course, having stood in many a bookstore line where there was the inevitable tidy display, touting it as the notebook of choice for such luminaries as Vincent Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde, but I didn't think Freud was anywhere on that list.  Carrying around a leather-bound notebook?  That would've given him loads to psychoanalyze, I'm sure, but after doing some hunting, I found that his great-granddaughter, Annie Freud, is a featured artist on the Moleskine website.  It's a stretch, but I'll buy. A for effort, ad algorithm.

Which brings us to the breastfeeding bracelet....What???  I mean, I suppose that this might tie in somehow to Freud's general pronouncements about infant libido, the Oedipus complex, and who knows what, but come on now, seriously, how in the world is someone going to casually connect the two?  For shame, ad algorithm!  No cookie for you! 

It boggles the mind, but it makes my crush on Google a little stronger for giving me little bits of extreme weirdness in the most unexpected places.

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Design on a Dime

Apr. 5th, 2007 | 02:41 pm

So for those of you who may not be aware, The Boyfriend is a consumate a cappella nerd.  He's a member of two groups, music manager for one, and constantly singing as a consequence.  Since I'm not a singer, refuse to be a groupie, and don't really want to be an a cappella widow, I've done the next best thing and become the unofficial member of his all-male singing group, Noteworthy.  What does this mean?  Well, besides the unfortunate consequence of knowing their music better than they do, I get roped into doing things like writing their shows, helping with choreography, and making flyers.

Now, they have a new show coming up in a couple of weeks, so I've been hard at work preparing, and while I have just about zero design experience, this hasn't stopped me from cobbling together what may be the single, greatest student flyer in the history of all flyers. Behold!

Just look at that artistry.  I swear, you guys, I really missed my calling back in kindergarten.  Clearly I was meant to be a painter.

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