Monday, December 28, 2009

A Very Corny Christmas

I hope everyone's Christmas was a good one, spent with family and friends, or not, if you're not into that kind of thing.

We had a good holiday with this being the first where Logan was really getting it. He'd been telling us for weeks that Santa was going to bring him a big garbage truck, and when he opened the garbage truck he really liked it. That is, until he opened a three-inch plastic train a few minutes later and then that was the toy of the day. Ava got a lot of clothes, and Brandi pretty much picked out her own presents, so she got what she wanted. Makes it easier on me. Brandi spent way too much on me and got me an ipod Touch, saying that I never get anything throughout the year and she wanted to do something special for me. And let me tell you, Adult Swim's Amateur Surgeon Christmas Edition is fun and addicting.

Probably the most notable thing we got for Christmas was popcorn. We like popcorn, and ever since we started popping it on the stove a couple years ago, we've probably only had a handful of microwave popcorn. The microwave stuff smells good but rarely tastes as good as it smells. You're probably thinking 'what's the big deal about getting popcorn for Christmas?' It's not so much that we got popcorn, but the volume of popcorn that we got.

We received:

2 lbs of black kernels
2 lbs of black jewel kernels
6 lbs of red kernels
2 lbs of white kernels
50 lbs of what it probably yellow kernels

If you did the math, that's 62 lbs of unpopped popcorn, or nearly twice Logan's body weight in popcorn. The smaller bags came from a couple people, and then Brandi's dad thought it would be funny to get us the 50 lb bag from Sam's Club, which I kept joking about. Then I also got a bottle of gourmet popcorn oil (we make ours on the stove) and four different kinds of seasoning.

All the different kinds of popcorn have their own attributes. The white and yellow, which are the most common kind, have a 44:1 popping ratio and have the regular 'butterfly' shape. They generally don't have a lot of flavor, but are light and tender. The black popcorn, our favorite, pops smaller and has more of a nutty flavor to them. Hot off the stove with a little salt and it can't be beat. The black jewel popcorn doesn't seem to pop as easily, is a little larger than the black, but without the flavor. The black jewel popcorn does have a very satisfying crunch though. The red is similar to the black. It pops a little bigger and has a bit of that nutty flavor to it.

There are other kinds that we haven't tried, but that's probably just a matter of time. There's blue, rainbow (which is just kernels that have been died), mushroom cap (which pops with that rounded shape and is used for carmel corn) and rice popcorn (small rice-sized kernels with a very thin shell). Of those varieties, I'm the most interested in trying the rice popcorn. And there's probably more of a variety that I'm not aware of.

I will sometimes mix colors in the pan so then you get some more flavor and crunchiness variety in the bowl. Most often we just put some popcorn salt on there and eat it that way. Brandi's dad doesn't usually put anything on his. Sometimes we'll put a little butter on there. I like experiementing with different flavors and putting them into the mix in different combinations. A little garlic powder in the oil when popping with give the corn a kind of roasted garlic flavor. Rosemary works particularly well in the oil for adding flavor. Garlic powder, in moderation, after it's popped it quite good.

At peak consumption, the entire family can go through about a pound of kernels a week. Logan's a big fan of popcorn, so we don't ever have to ask him twice if he wants any. We don't go through that much every week, we do get a little tired of it from time to time, so the supply should last us clear to next Christmas. Although I'm sure we'll be stopping at the roadside stands in Wisconsin when we go to The Farm this summer to pick up some more specialty popcorn.

So if you're ever hanging out and want something cruchy to munch on, I'm sure I can whip something up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Heart Metalocalypse

We were watching the wonderfully funny Metalocalypse last night in which the members of the band, Dethklock, realized how close to dying they came after a particularly destructive concert. The members of Metalocalypse in talking with their manager about their mortality didn't want him to say the word 'death'. Instead they asked him to say 'hamburger time.' And the episode chugged along from there. I couldn't find the particular passage from the show, but I did find the video at the end of the show.

I can't understand even half of the lyrics in the songs on the show, but something about the show is just magically funny to me. Each episode has the juxtaposition of what's going on with the band and a group of world leaders/military officials keeping tabs on the band and reacting to what is going on around Dethklok, which is a world power unto itself. I don't have time right now to go into it further, but I must say, if you haven't checked it out give it a go. You don't even have to watch from the beginning (I know I haven't) to be entertained.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009 Results, and Why I’m a Glutton for Punishment

I finished NaNoWriMo 2009 with 50,218 words by the skin of my teeth. On November 30, when I got home from work at about 9:45, I had 1,400 words to go. No big deal. However, my computer decided that the power cord wasn’t going to connect right, and for about an hour, the laptop would shut down due to a lack of power. It’s a second-hand laptop (the battery never worked while I have owned it) and has served its purpose so far, but right now it’s all jacked up with this power issue and some viruses and/or adware.

So every five minutes or so, just about the time I would get the computer back up and get the file open, it would shut off on me. Or I would be able to type about two sentences, hit save, and it would turn off. This went on for about an hour and I really thought that I wasn’t going to get my novel uploaded into the NaNo robot thingie before 12:00. Brandi suggested I just copy and paste some text, knowing that I was going to finish and it was the computer that was holding me back. That felt too much like cheating to me and so I declined.

Finally, I was able to get the computer balanced just right on the edge of the footstool and got my word count in. The story doesn’t have a proper ending on it, just some notes on where I want the ending to go. Overall, the story needs a lot of work, but I am satisfied with the rough draft that I was able to pump out in 30 days. There were too many of those days in there that I did not write at all and I had to play a lot of catch up toward the end of the month.

The novel is the story of a retired professor/widower who decides to finally go on the trips that he and his late wife had planned on going on and never got around to. The story takes place in the late 1950s or early/middle 1960s, for which I will have to do some research on a revision. As he starts to travel, Luther encounters many strange things that he would have never thought existed, including people who have lived for decades in the same Illinois corn field (without the farmer’s knowledge), man-eating Venus fly traps, and killer squirrels with a thirst for blood, among other things. I was also excited that when I go into revision I will be able to use some of the Survival Tips that I started writing a couple years ago. I’ll give it at least a month before I go back and start to do any kind of revision on it.

Why am I a glutton for punishment? Is it because I plan to revisit this somewhat random work of fiction? No, it’s because last night I started another large writing project that has been bubbling around in my brain since some point, mid-NaNo. This is a super villain story in which the villain finds out that getting everything he wants isn’t necessarily what he wants. I’m hand writing this one, partially because the computer is on the blink and partially because I enjoy the process of writing something out by hand, making notes in the margins, etc. and it has been a long time since I’ve done that.

Since I work at a library, my writing goal is to one day have a book published, check it out to a patron and say “You know, the N.Y. Times review of that is pretty harsh, it’s really not as bad as they say it is.”