The Olympics? Err, No Thanks

4947999_700bOh, Winter Olympics, why can’t I love you?  Summer games, you are a lost cause, I know…but winter?  We should be so good together!

I’m a hockey player and fan.  I ski (quite poorly).  I snowshoe and hike in the snow and ice.  Hell, I live in the frickin’ mountains!

But the Winter games are still dead to me.

Part of it — a very big part, admittedly — is due to the sheer level of corruption and insanity that go along with putting on the games.  The money involved passed stupid a long time ago, blew right past ludicrous, and has moved well into the realm of silly.  For no host city or country are the games even remotely “worth it”.

The Games have become, sadly, nothing more than an uber-expensive exercise in nationalist chest-thumping.  Why on Earth would you ever want to spend the tens of BILLIONS it costs to host one?  And spare me the BS about tourism and marketing: you could pick twelve million people at random, give them each a thousand dollars to come visit you, and STILL spend less than the Pyeongchang games are costing…

And if the games cost too damned much to put on, so too do the athletes.  The games cost billions just to put on, but sending the athletes ain’t much cheaper.  And then you get into paying those athletes…and, no, “amateur” most definitely is not a thing anymore.

A gold medal isn’t about excellence, or pride, or competition — a gold medal is about money.  And that, I think, is my real problem with the whole thing.  Well, that and the raw nationalism…

I don’t give two shits how many medals the US won in comparison with Canada, or Norway, or freaking Lichtenstein, for that matter.

“Wow, that skier is really good…but they’re fucking British, so they can burn in Hell.”

One of my best friends in the hockey world is Polish…and, you know what?  He’s still my friend.  I still root for whatever team he is playing for…

I very much am a US patriot, but count me out on pointless-nationalism-thing.

Err…sorry about the squirrel-moment-rant — I just happened to read a story this morning about how “bad” the US team is in these Olympics, and about how the whole thing was a failure because of that…and about how the athletes themselves are failure, and miserable people.  Yep, you guessed it, that article drove me freakin’ nuts.

The Olympics were supposed to be about individual and team competition and achievement.  They were supposed to be about sport, not politics on skis.  Unfortunately, for most of the commentators and many of the viewers/fans, they are not about the sport…and all about the chest-thumping politics.

And with many of the athletes, that doesn’t get much better: they are about the dollars and sponsorships, not the sport.

Oh, there are still examples of the “true spirit” of the Olympics (“true” if you believe the old Chariots of Fire image), but they are all too few and far between.

Previews - Winter Olympics Day -1If I watch anything at the Peyongchang games it will be one thing: the Jamaican women’s bobsled team.  Not because of Cool Runnings, but because their coach quit and took their damned sled…and they stayed.  Red Stripe beer bought them another sled*, and the team is still trying.

*Brilliant damned marketing, by the way.  Even I’ll go buy a six-pack of a beer I don’t like for this one…

The Jamaicans won’t win, and they won’t make shit for money, but they’re still trying.  And THAT is what the Olympics are supposed to be about.

The Movie Marathon

I started thinking about movies…both the good and the bad.  More importantly, I started thinking about the greats that stand the test of time, and their contrast with, well, the rest of the shit.

Okay, okay…so I’m grumpy and ranting at the moment, but have you really looked at the formulaic crap the current studios and directors and actors are trying to pawn off on us?  If they think I’m going to waste my Netflix subscription — let alone the $567,834 a trip to a movie theater costs — on “Boss Baby” or a remake of “Jumanji” or **shudder** “I, Tonya”…

Oh, for God’s sake, just how low can we sink?

Where the hell are the real writers and directors?*

*Before you ask, I know essentially nothing about writing screenplays.  I’m a prose guy — my only interactions with scripts came in various high school and college acting classes.

I mean, c’mon…when even STAR WARS fails, when even those “remakes” are so bad as to make the damned prequels look like outstanding cinema, we’ve reached peak-stupid.

This all got started when I watched an Andrei Tarkovsky movie the other day (Ivan’s Childhood).  Shit howdy, what a difference.  Maybe it’s because I’m writing “dark” in the current stories, but I have a real thing for Russian writers and directors at the moment…

The thing is, that movie got me going.  It started a movie jag — a GOOD movie jag: Casablanca, The Shining, Unforgiven, The Godfather (I & II), Fargo, Bridge on the River Kwai, Dr. Strangelove, Empire of the Sun…and the gut-punch at the end of the (multi-day) marathon, one of my all-time favorites, Au Revoir Les Enfants.

Shit…how do you go watch The Commuter after that?!

I’ve said it before, but I want to stress again this point: stories are stories, no matter the medium.  You can — and should — learn from all forms of storytelling.  And movies — good movies — have a great deal to teach about storytelling.  Go watch the movies I list above, and pay attention to how they develop the themes, and the characters…pay attention to how they communicate, and how they elicit emotion and thought.

And don’t stop there.  Go watch a bunch of Kurosawa films, then change things up with some Mel Brooks.  Watch the classics (African Queen is another great Bogart movie), then dive in to some foreign stuff.  Watch the indies and the low-budget, then change things up with some anime (Akira still stands the test of time).

Watch to enjoy, yes, but also watch to learn.  How Spielberg tells Jim’s story in Empire of the Sun is a freaking masterclass, and when you follow that up with Eastwood’s handling of Unforgiven…well…if you can’t learn something from those, I don’t know what to tell you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I can hear Terry Gilliam’s Brazil calling my name…

The End Is Nigh!

bob3Cower in fear, for the Four Horsemen ride!  War and Famine and Death and…the other one!

The brewery is out of beer…

No, really, totally out of cans.

All the certainties in my universe are gone.  Innocence is forever lost, and my dreams crushed under the jack-booted heels of “production problems”.  Crap, it’s like they repealed all of the laws of motion, even the ones I didn’t like.  It’s like Einstein sat up in his grave and said he got it all wrong.

What’s next?  My word processor runs out of letters?

Crap, I didn’t even want the stuff to DRINK!  I had a delivery to make, one I have to reschedule now…

*sigh*

No, this is not a first world problem, goddamit!  This is universal!  Beer is either the second or third oldest drink in the world (after water and, potentially, mead), and one that was drunk for millennia in preference to water!*  Hell, it was beer that got the Israelis through that Egyptian-slave-thing; that brought the Germanic tribes strolling down to Rome to create the seeds of modern Europe; that got the Vikings off their fat asses and sailing around…

*The brewing process kills and filters most of the contaminants and little critters that made old-school urban water so…erm…questionable.

No, you say?  It’s more complicated than that?  Bah!  A pox on you!  It’s my blog, I get to interpret history however I want!

Ahem…

Sorry.  My production-problems-caused trauma is turning to full-fledged PTSD on me.

Wait…

Wait a damned second…

ohno.jpgWhat if the beer never comes back?

WHAT IF THE BEER NEVER COMES BACK?!

Forget the Apocalypse…forget AIs exterminating us…forget nuclear wars and genetic plagues and all the other End of Days scenarios…THE BEER IS GONE!!

An Off-Topic Squirrel Moment

Aside from the lunacy of Alabama’s recent special election, I don’t comment on politics much.  Hey, as I’ve said before, you and I might disagree — or we might be totally simpatico — but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a meaningful conversation.  It certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  Not to trot out an old (vastly maligned) saying, but “some of my best friends are…”  You get the idea.

But you know who I’ve decided I respect?  Political writers and bloggers.  To dive into the cesspool of domestic politics every single day?  To write about it…hell, to even acknowledge it, every single day?  Worse, to do so voluntarily?!

Yeah, there ain’t enough shampoo in the world to wash that particular stink out of your hair.

But, and this is the big but, I love to read about politics, and to explore the backstabbing and shenanigans as much as the next guy.  Err, maybe more than the next guy: that history degree in the Roman Republic ain’t because I liked Catullus’ poetry…

It is, quite honestly, the politics that draw me into history.  It was, especially, the cut-and-thrust of international politics.  That there is some fascinating stuff, especially if you have a basic understanding of the cultures involved.  Unfortunately, far too few people seem interested in that part of it.  Far too few want to understand before they (try to) judge.

Countries like Russia, China and Iran — just to name three of the biggest players in the news right now — make easy “villains” in the kabuki theater of the US’s worldview.  Unfortunately, that is simplistic thinking of the worst sort.  That is thinking that gives rise to stuff like the (satirical) map I added to this post.the-world-according-to-americans

Thankfully, for those who want to learn and understand, that thinking lasts only until you actually get to know the histories of the others, the outsiders (from your perspective).  Until you look at things from other perspectives.  Until you switch off prejudices and judgments and try to understand.

Oh, even when you do so, the world is still full of adversaries and allies (well, confluences of interests, anyway)…but it’s nice to understand that your adversaries are neither insane nor maniacally evil.*  Historically speaking, Russia and China have valid reasons for why they are the way they are, both politically and culturally.  Hell, if we had their history, we’d have some of our own issues, too.**

*Both sides of the current US domestic political insanity could learn THIS damned lesson.

**Yes, I know — we DO have our own issues, but I’m staying off domestic politics in this.

And Iran? Let’s be honest: in spite of the last forty or so years, Iran is pretty much the oldest continual civilization in the world (the Persians).  It once was a beacon of science and art and learning…and will be again.  That is something I very much believe.  That is also why I have been so interested in the recent, nascent protests taking place there…they give me (and others) hope for the future.

Sadly, until you understand that history — the history of the Persian people as much as the various states that fall under that name —  Iran will be little more than mullahs and violence and threat.  Once you learn, there is so much more there…

Just like understanding the Russians: a country that has suffered violent invasion and slaughter for most of its history.  Hey, it’s not paranoia if everyone really is out to get you…

Just like China: a country that, in living memory, really was carved up and dominated by outside powers as private, colonial fiefdoms…

And that interplay, the “great game” between nations on the world stage, is just as fascinating now as it was centuries, or millenia, ago.

Snarking At The Moon

Okay, so I write sci-fi (for the moment)…

This, apparently, makes me an “expert” to some folks.  Now, I do know a lot of shit about a lot of things, but that’s mostly because I read…and because I love to learn.  cqg441259eqn34Hell, I once had to learn the actual math behind orbital mechanics — it made the nerd in me tingle with excitement, and the historian go out and get drunk.

None of this means, however, that I have a PhD in Astrophysics…

I still get the questions, though.

“What’s this stuff about habitable Earths around other stars? Does that mean people, too?”

“Why can’t we just build bigger rockets and go to the next star to meet them?”

“Why go to [insert planet/moon here]?  There are no cities or people, so why go all that way just to find some algae?”

*sigh*

Want to know about the political nature of the various priesthoods under the Roman Republic?  Or maybe get a breakdown of the Social War and its role in the rise of the Empire?  Maybe even learn a bit about Marius and Sulla?

You don’t?

Okay…okay…

Most of the sci-fi-ish questions I get arise from a couple of problems:

  1. Folks don’t learn the basics — specifically, the basics of physics and how the universe works, and so don’t know what to question, let alone how.  They learn “everything they need” from stories in the news, which leads to…
  2. Reporters are idiots.  Take relatively simple, easy-to-communicate facts and they will still dumb them down into complete uselessness.

So, a few (bitter, snarky) answers:

All of the “Earths” we have discovered so far are not.  Not “Earths,” I mean.  They are potentially rocky planets in something like the right orbit to potentially have liquid water.  That’s it.  That’s as “Earthy” as they get.

Let’s take the potential earth-like planet “found” orbiting Proxima Centauri.  Hey, it’s the closest star!  We have neighbors!

censored

It’s a potential rock orbiting a red dwarf, for fuck’s sake!  In order to be in the “Goldilocks zone” where liquid water can exist, it orbits all of 7.5 million kilometers from the star.  Earth, by comparison, is twenty times farther from the Sun…hell, even Mercury is something like five times farther out!  You could go boil your head in a microwave for the next thousand years and not absorb a tenth of the radiation that cooks this rock every single “day”.  If it does have “intelligent” life, those folks will look a whole lot like reporters…

Ahem, never mind.

And, before anyone asks: No.  Just no.  We cannot go there at the moment.  Oh, there are all kinds of theoretical engines that could get us there in…well…in a century or two.  But none of them actually exist at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, some of those technologies and theoretical engines are fascinating — but that is all they are: theoretical.  Even if we could build a sufficiently powerful, practical VASIMR engine right now, do you know how much fuel you would need to accelerate to (and decelerate from) anything resembling a useful interstellar speed?

Even if we perfected the perpetually-fifty-years-away technology of nuclear fusion, you would still need loads of deuterium or tritium for the reactor.  And that fuel for your reactor does not include the (exponentially worse) metric-shit-ton of reaction mass you would need for your thrusters on the ride.

And, please, don’t even get me started on the pipe-dreams of “solar sails” and “laser-powered” craft.  For the former: take a sheet of paper and hold it on your finger tips…that is roughly the amount of thrust you would get from a square kilometer of solar sail in our inner system.  In interstellar space?  Yeah, your dog could fart you to Proxima Centauri faster.  And “laser-powered”? Just pure sci-fantasy bullshit.  Those designers read “Mote In God’s Eye” way too many times…

Just…no.

Look, I’m not shitting on the legitimate excitement of these discoveries…nor on the dreams of exploration.  We need those dreams.  We need to continue to stretch and reach beyond our grasp, or we will stagnate and die.

But, for the love of God, could we please do so with a modicum of common sense?

There are “new earths” out there.  The odds are there is intelligent life out there.  But, in all honesty, these things are a century or more from mere confirmation, let alone direct interaction.

No, what should really excite us right now are the wonders, and discoveries, on our own doorstep.  I agree 100% with manned missions to Mars…if only for the dream of discovery.  But that’s not the truly exciting stuff.  No, what really floats my boat is more of a reach…and more of a dream:

Missions to Titan, and to Europa, and Enceladus…places that are the most likely of all to have life.  No, it won’t be “intelligent”, but it will be different.  Different DNA, different evolution.  Crap, what more could you ask for?  Do you know how much we could learn just from some freaking algae?!

Missions to Uranus, and Neptune, and Pluto. These planets (and their moons) are things about which we still know next-to-nothing…

And let’s not forget the practical: asteroid mining, orbital research and manufacturing…

No, we have more than enough to keep us busy at home, thank you very much.  Dream big — always dream big — but act small.

Error, Coffee Deficiency Detected

Honesty time: I am the least handy person on the face of the planet.  I, literally, am that guy that looks at a paint brush and has to figure out which end to hold…

We are, on the other hand, redoing the taproom at the brewery.  And I, of course, have to help.

Well, “help” might be more accurate.

I’m pretty sure my friend’s two young daughters are contributing more than your friendly writer-host, but…well…

“Here, start texturing this wall…” my friend said.

“Here, build a space shuttle from scratch…” I heard.

I looked around, in a panic, until I found someone who could help.

Two minutes later, I was carrying shit to the trash and a six year old girl was texturing the wall.  All was right with the universe.

The downside, unfortunately, is that writing (and everything else) has taken a back seat for a couple of days.  Well, that work is kinda-sorta-done-ish, so now I get to play catch up.  Hell, maybe I’ll write a carpentry scene…if I had any idea whatsoever what I was doing in that regard.

error__out_of_coffee_by_runedragoonAs part of catchup, today’s post is going to be short and sweet…plus, I’m out of coffee.  Writing without coffee, even so much as a blog post, would very likely result in the spontaneous combustion of my brain.

Grocery store, here I come!

Dammit, Jim, I’m A Writer, Not A Thinker!

When did we forget how to think?

No, seriously — I just read a story about Google. The CEO was lamenting the fact that it was very, very difficult (read: impossible) to “teach” an algorithm to recognize “fake news” when both sides vehemently believed what they were saying.

No shit.

That’s what human brains are for, goddammit!

Why on Earth would you ever expect — why on Earth would you ever want — a computer program to determine “truth” for you?! That is utterly and completely asinine.

One of the hallmarks of being ostensibly intelligent, self-aware beings (besides opposable thumbs, and shit like the Kardashians) is the ability to…you know…judge for yourself.

That ability, that judgment, is both privilege and burden…which is as it should be. Anyone who expects someone else to lay it all out for them, to tell them what and who to believe, deserves the empty shell that their life has become.

Now, look: I know I’m an old, cranky bastard — shit, the fact that I actually remember the Ewok Christmas special is enough to tell you that! — but I simply can’t be alone in this. Do people no longer learn to assimilate information, weigh the evidence, and make their own judgment? C’mon, it ain’t that hard, folks!

The real problem, unfortunately, seems to be the same for people as it is for Google: when people disagree, it is hard to decide. Unfortunately, far too often “we” (as a people, not us in specific) tend to shortcut the judgment-thing and just go with what our “team” says.

“A conservative Republican/liberal Democrat said it, so it must be true.”

And of course, the converse: “those (other) evil bastards believe it, so it must be a nefarious plot…”

It goes back to something I harped on over the summer (while avoiding most of this crap by living in the wilderness): we, as a country and a society, are so polarized, so split and torn-apart, that we can’t agree even on a common set of facts. Black and white no longer have the same meanings to people on different “teams”, and 1+1 only equals 2 when it benefits one side over the other.

*sigh*

This is, by the way, how societies die: not in great, thunderous wars but in the pathetic whimpers of blind, narcissistic parochialism.

Those voices howling alone in the wilderness? Those voices trying to stand against the tide and scream “No More”?

Yeah, those are the voices of those trying to hold it all together. The voices of common sense and the good of all above the good of self.

The voices of those losing the fight.

Now a philosopher, or a profound thinker, would have a list of prescriptions and advice to try and address this problem. Me? I just want to slap the shit out of most of these folks.

“Wake up!” I want to scream. “Wake up and use your fucking brain!”

Hrm, didn’t seem to work…

Back to the wilderness, and to my solitary howling, I guess.

You Morality Is None Of My Business…

…and mine is none of yours.

Look, to reword and rework a tired, old phrase: morality begins at home. Morals and belief systems, as well as the personal behaviors to which they lead, are…well…personal. They are — and should be! — the intimate, immediate decisions only of the individual involved.

No one else need have input. Hell, no one else should have input. My morality — or the occasional lack thereof — is none of your business, thank you very much.

And that “no one else” goes double — goes ten freaking times — for the government! It is no business of the government’s what, or who, I do. Or how…or why…etc… Fill in your own damned blanks on that one.

Okay, let me back away from the confrontational and shoot for the rational…

I am a pretty moral guy. Yes, I drink too much. Yes, I cuss too much. Yes, I’m a cynical asshole. But…I don’t do drugs (anymore), I don’t steal, I don’t lie (much…and no, those pants DON’T make your butt look big!), nor do I rape, pillage or otherwise live a pirate’s life.

My stories aside, I’m actually pretty fucking normal.*

*My definition of “normal” may differ pretty significantly from yours, but…no harm, no foul.

But I live that “normal” life from choice, not because someone told me to. Hell, just about every time someone TOLD me to do something, I did pretty much the exact opposite. I’m not, it should be said, a terribly good follower.

I choose to be good, to be — in most senses of the word — moral. I make a choice to which I am neither commanded nor compelled. I CHOOSE TO.

And that makes a difference.

Every time a government — any government, take your pick from history — has tried to legislate morality, it has failed spectacularly. And it always will fail because normal, everyday people know and understand just what the limits should be, and those limits do not include telling us what we should and should not do.

Now, what got me to thinking about this?

Yep, you guessed it: more Roy Fucking Moore (again).

Beyond his need to grope teen-age girls, that asshole — judge or not — threw aside any semblance of legality and liberty with his statement that homosexuality should be illegal. He went so far as to imply that gays and lesbians should, beyond just jail, potentially face the death penalty.

What are we, Saudi Arabia?

Look, I’m a straight white guy: I have nothing to fear from people like Moore. But, many, many friends (and relatives) DO have things to fear from people that want to deny them their rights and their liberties. Hell, people that want to deny them their lives.

From a religious point-of-view I get it, I really do. Religious folks, especially Evangelicals, have very real problems and reservations in this area.* Fine, no problem. Your beliefs, like my morals, are your business. BUT, when you decide to start inflicting those beliefs on other people, THEN we have a problem…a very real, and very serious, problem.

*I understand these — I don’t agree with them in even the smallest way, but I do understand.

Then again, those folks seem to have all kinds of problems that they want to “help” with, things like: drinking, dancing, listening to music, watching movies/TV, science, history, education, the list goes on and on.

Honestly, I am NOT attacking these folks. I have far too many friends and family members to whom the label “Evangelical” applies to condemn them, just like I have far too many LGBT friends and relatives to condemn THEM. All I ask is that both sides let the other live in peace.

That, in the end, is the bottom line of my libertarianism: you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. Call it the Revised Golden Rule for the Truly Cynical.

Now, that does cut both ways: when the LGBT folks attack those Christians who do not toe the line, it can be just as bad as what the Evangelicals want to do to them. Neve forget that tolerance is NOT the same thing as approval, and it never should be.

To put another spin on it: I’m a slut. I’ll sleep with any girl that will give me the time of day. My relationships have all ended as major disasters anyway, so why bother with the whole “get to know you” thing? Now, I don’t ask anyone to approve of my lifestyle — hell, I’m not sure I approve of it! — but I damn well do expect you to tolerate it.

See the difference?

Evangelicals: you don’t have to approve of anyone else’s lifestyle, of the “sinners”, but you damn well DO have to tolerate other individuals’ right to live the way they choose.

“Sinners”: YOU don’t have to approve of the Evangelicals, but you DO damn well have to respect TREIR right to live and believe what and how they choose.

It’s called Freedom of Conscience, folks…and it means a great deal.

Folks who have been reading this blog for a while know I have a real problem with how regular folks lack voices and input into society today. To be blunt, about the only control we do have is in our own lives, and how we choose to live is far too important to let someone else — anyone else — dictate and control.  That applies to other individuals just as much as to governments.

Focus on your own choices, and your own life, and let everyone else live theirs.* That is the foundation of a free and just society.

*And, no, I am not an absolutist in any sense of the word — there IS right and wrong in the world. Rape, violence, and the corruption of power (power of all stripes) ARE immoral and wrong from ANY perspective.

Random, Pointless Post O’ The Month…

**Warning**Warning**Danger, Will Robinson!**Random Post Incoming!**Danger**Danger**

Speaking of Alec Guinness moments…

My God, what have I done?

I killed off my Amazon Prime subscription…the Prime subscription I’ve had since the damned program began.

Keep in mind, I’m “that guy” who spends more on books than most people do on rent. Who spends far too much, I should clarify.

Between the “free” express shipping and the streaming service, how could I not use my Prime to fullest advantage?!

Because it…well…it actually kinda sucks.IMG_0951

Do I really need to get my copy of A Great and Terrible King in two days?

Do I really need to binge watch old 80’s game shows?

Because those two things are about all Prime actually has. Ugh…a hundred bucks a year for shipping I don’t need, and shows I don’t watch?

It ain’t the useless insanity that my cable bills used to be, but it’s pretty damned close.

Especially when I can nerd-out on anime with CrunchyRoll and binge watch actual good shows with NetFlix and iTunes…

*sigh*

What has my life come to when this is the major event of my week?

When the hell did I start weighing the pluses and minuses like an…err…adult?

When the hell did I turn into my parents?!

I gave up adulthood when I gave up “business casual” attire and life as a sales & marketing weasel…

Look, I’ve got no kids — no dependents of any kind — and a complete inability to make any romantic relationship work*. Hell, I don’t even have a freakin’ goldfish, let alone any ties that, well, bind. In no sense can I be considered “grown up” or responsible. Quite the opposite, in fact…and I don’t give a damn what the grey hair is supposed to mean.

*I might be the only guy in the universe for whom the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me” is 100% true. If all my relationships fail, and I’m the one common element in all of them, well…even I can do that math.

But still adult behavior sneaks in…

I’m so disappointed in myself.

I have a choice, right now: go do something responsible and intelligent, or go to the brewery…

Hammerschlagen, anyone?

IMG_0952

A Hint Of Food Porn

You don’t really realize just how satisfying it is to cook for yourself until you have to eat someone else’s cooking — every single damned day — for better than five months.

*sigh*

I love to cook. I love to cook…and I’m pretty damned good at it.

By now, I’ve made decent progress through the list I had in my head of the stuff I wanted to make when I got back. From basic steaks, to Thai green curry, to jambalaya (simmering away as I type this), the list goes on and on.  Now, it turns out, I’ve been sucked into a food & beer cooking/pairing contest.

Oh, not a real contest — just a group of friends, doing a beer-themed dinner. Except, like everything else we do, there has to be an element of competition to it. Of course it has to be a freakin’ contest — we’re the jackasses that would make a game of goddamned hopscotch competitive!

Okay, so the set-up: everyone drew randomly out of three hats for their course, for the protein they have to use and for the beer they have to pair and cook with.

Please, please, please…just not dessert, beef and IPA. Please, God, anything but THAT!

Nope, the universe (for once) smiled on me. I drew the third course (out of seven). Now, keep in mind: in a full, formal multi-course meal, that should really be a fish course…but not this time. Nope, this time I got pretty much everything I wanted from the universe. So, the dish:

Hand-made ravioli, stuffed with venison and mushrooms in a cherry lambic sauce.

Oh, shit, did I win the damned prize with those draws! I can feel my friends’ hate right now — it’s keeping me nice and warm…

And to the poor bastard who got the salad course and stouts? HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Err…sorry about that, got carried away for a moment.

Now, why do I like cooking so much? Well, aside from the fact that I absolutely love food (and, yes, beer), there is a bit more to it.

Cooking, you see, is in some ways a lot like music…and like writing. The common thread to those pastimes is simple: in almost no other profession/calling do you take a bunch of unrelated bits and pieces and create from them a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Now, I’m not much of a musician.  In spite of my love of listening, I pretty much top out at playing chopsticks on the piano*. But I am a cook…and a writer. There is, when you get right down to it, very little in this world more satisfying than sitting down and making that all, well, just work.

*And, yes, Mom…you were right way back when: I really do regret giving up the piano when I was 11!

To take “Characters A & B”, mix them with “Plot Points X, Y & Z”, bake them in “Setting N”, then come out the other side with a good story? That’s freaking magic. As a reader it’s magic, but as a writer it’s even more so.

Just like taking the worst cuts of meats you can find, and coming out with a charcuterie dish that makes everyone fall all over themselves for more…