Letters to Holly

Thursday, September 16

Out. About.

I ran along the new sidewalk/bike path for the first time. It was recommended to me by the state trooper next door, and he noted it was a longer route than my usual uphill slog. It's also flatter. Off I went, huffing and puffing and cursing my out-of-shape shape. This new path runs along the back stretch of the downtown race route, so I know it pretty well. It's deceptively rolling and requires strict pacing lest I burn out before I reach the halfway point. It's rough enough to run at the end of a workday. My stretching and warm-up can only offset so much of hours and hours of sitting. Also, I had a heavy lunch. My excuses are all lined up.

The temporary Halloween stores have returned to town, and I need to find a costume for this year's race. I really have no preference what I dress as this year. I'd prefer not to wear pants, if possible. I see people run in long pants legs every year, and every year I think they are deranged. Dusk in late October isn't that cold, especially when you run for three miles. I've run at midnight on Halloween in shorts -- in the rain, even -- and I was fine. The pants philosophy is a dangerous threat to our running culture, and I won't stop until we have legislated against it and protected our children. I'm Snob Runner, and I approve this message.

Your Outgoing Sister took the deputy for a walk with a fellow teacher in a woodsy area. The mosquito netting was put to the test and passed. She said the bugs swarmed the netting, desperate to get to the fresh blood of the infant. The teacher and her husband affirmed the deputy is beautiful, and I again credit his mother. Your Dad, however, agrees with me that he has My Dad's nose.

I have a new strip online. I've been asked to do a guest strip for the website's main comic, and that will run in November.

Moving Picture of the Day
Lucasfilm if producing a series of these books, and the second comes out soon. The first book, on Star Wars, is a monster of minutiae, both technical and financial. I want to skim these books, but I'm not sure if I could read them.

Tuesday, September 14

Cooking With Villainy: Coq Au Vin

Doom beholds the approaching end of summer in these majestic Latverian mountains. Dotted as they are with five-story statues honoring Doom's unquestioned superiority, the mountains also regard Doom, and together we are bonded in gaze and stature. Here, finally, Doom begins to comprehend his own glory, and it is truly a wonder of this measly earth. Doom wants more than this speck of dirt, Doom admits. Doom deserves a greater world upon which to bestow his largess, a wider path upon which he shall march toward his unbounded destiny.

Even now, Doom weaves his designs into reality, drawing the immaterial into the raw clay through which Doom shall build his Olympus. And the world waits his next miracle, the heretofore unseen melding of element and genius. Through this, Doom will triumph. Doom will prevail. As ever. As is right.

Until then, Doom is peckish. Doom shall feast. Join him. Sit at Doom's table and glean what you may comprehend. Today, Doom requires more than the simple sustenance. Doom demands a meal worthy to nestle in his innards.

Coq Au Vin
3 pounds of chicken
15 pearl onions, peeled
1.5 cups Burgundy wine
quarter-cup chicken broth
1 cup whole mushrooms
1 cup sliced carrots
1 tablespoon parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
half-teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
half-teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, crispy and drained
2 tablespoons cooking oil
salt and pepper
hot noodles

Doom commands you to brown the chicken in the cooking oil over medium heat in a skillet. You are then directed to drain the fat away and season chicken with salt and pepper.

Doom commands you to add onion, wine, broth, carrots, mushrooms, parsley, garlic, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf to the chicken. You must bring to a boil and simmer. SIMMER, DAMN YOU! Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

Domm commands you to remove chicken and vegetables and set aside. Remove the bay leaf. It is no doubt an unnatural machine constructed to poison your mind, cobbled together by Richards and intended to hobble your brains and make him appear all the smarter. Richards is low, and Richards is desperate. Believe not his lies.

Doom commands you to combine flour and butter in a bowl before stirring into the wine mixture. Cook this until it is thickened. Doom then requires you to cook for one minute more. Do not question Doom. Season with salt and pepper.

Now heed Doom as you have never before: You are not making a soup. This is not Coq au Swim Wings. You are to make a rich, savory sauce. The wine concoction will reduce and must reduce, and Doom shall not abide a watery slop besmirching his vittles! The evaporation will concentrate the bold taste. Doom does not lead you astray, not to false victories as Richards may. No, Doom beckons you to a brave realm of victory. Reduce the mixture as you reduce yourself rightfully in Doom's presence.

Doom commands you to pour this conquering creation upon the meat and serve with noodles.

Doom commands you to relish this hint of his constant satisfaction. Doom is assured you will be forever grateful.

Monday, September 13

Suspicious Packages

There was slight running around Saturday as she searched for scrapbook albums. We do have such a store in town, and she went there twice within hours for the perfect covers. A trip to the consignment shop was cut short when she couldn't stomach the racist babblings of an older customer. She said the poor clerk behind the counter was agreeing quietly in hopes the jerk would eventually leave. I spent the afternoon straightening the workshop in preparation for some small art projects coming up. I don't know when I'll put up the ceiling fan in there. I ran that morning and was caught in a shower.

The boy was back in the bowling ally Sunday. We were invited to a kids birthday party, and there he was again on a table near the chicken wraps while his parents be-bopped around in rented shoes. Your Mindful Sister mentioned that he's now only waking in the night for diaper changing, not for feedings.

Earlier in the day, she attended a local Anglican service with a newish congregation while I minded the sidekick. He and I spent much more time together than is usual, and his patterns were obvious by nightfall. He's easily overstimulated when he needs to sleep, and he must be wrestled into dozing. Most babies, I assume, use a pacifier to keep mum. We use his to distract him into sleeping.

Your Industrious Sister was up baking snacks for Monday's visit with Your Parents and Aunt. She's nervous about being in mom mode around them. I assure her that she's doing fine, and anyone3suggesting otherwise can find the door.

+ + +

As I mailed off some comics to Wisconsin, as one must from time to time, I experienced an aggressive assistance program in the Asheville post office. I intended to use one of the flat-rate boxes for my books and box up the books there. As I prepared to fold up such a box fresh from the shelf, a manager approached and asked if I needed help. She saw how much I was attempting to mail and suggested a smaller, variable rate package. I was baffled. The USPS has pushed these flat rate deals for a year now, and her desire to redirect me to another plan was suspect. It had to be a scam. She suggested I not pack the books before the clerk called me up to the counter, and that person would weigh my books and put them in the cheaper package. I argued that this would pack up the line behind me. She insisted. I consented, and indeed I saved $2. The manager was helping other folks in line in simialr ways, and I thanked her as I left.

This was a good thing, a genuinely helpful retail experience, and yet I still feel hornswaggled. It won't subside until the package arrives and appeases the Midwest comic phantasms who demand tribute.

Picture of the Day
Still considering Halloween race costumes.

One Last Thought
I've avoided news rants lately to avoid riling myself up over comments made by poopy heads, but I don't want to ignore good material. The president held a QnA with the media Friday and ended the conference by talking about the Islamic center in New York City. He was asked about it directly, and he replied in what I assume to be extemporaneous remarks, but I'm positive he at least outlined his thoughts beforehand. Look at this:

REPORTER: I wonder if I can get you to weigh in on the wisdom of building a mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. We know that the organizers have the constitutional right. What would it say about this country if they were somehow talked out of doing that? And hasn’t the Florida minister’s threat to burn a couple hundred copies of the Koran, hasn’t the threat itself put American lives in danger, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, on the second -- on your second question, there’s no doubt that when someone goes out of their way to be provocative in ways that we know can inflame the passions of over a billion Muslims around the world, at a time when we’ve got our troops in a lot of Muslim countries, that's a problem. And it has made life a lot more difficult for our men and women in uniform who already have a very difficult job.

With respect to the mosque in New York, I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here, and that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal; that they have certain inalienable rights -- one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.

Now, I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11. I’ve met with families of 9/11 victims in the past. I can only imagine the continuing pain and anguish and sense of loss that they may go through. And tomorrow we as Americans are going to be joining them in prayer and remembrance. But I go back to what I said earlier: We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts.

And we’ve got to be clear about that. We’ve got to be clear about that because if we’re going to deal with the problems that Ed Henry was talking about, if we’re going to successfully reduce the terrorist threat, then we need all the allies we can get. The folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda. That’s what they’ve been banking on.

And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in: How do I make sure I can get a good job? How can I make sure that my kids get a decent education? How can I make sure I’m safe? How can I improve my lot in life? And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part -- overwhelmingly.

And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here. It’s a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts, and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.

The other reason it’s important for us to remember that is because we’ve got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They’re going to school with our kids. They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

I’ve got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan in the uniform of the United States armed services. They’re out there putting their lives on the line for us. And we’ve got to make sure that we are crystal-clear for our sakes and their sakes they are Americans and we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don’t differentiate between them and us. It’s just us.

And that is a principle that I think is going to be very important for us to sustain. And I think tomorrow is an excellent time for us to reflect on that.

If that's all spontaneous, he's a smarter cookie than I thought. It's as perfect a comment on the matter as I'm likely to encounter.

And of course, our local backwoods apocalypse radio preacher denounced the president for "praising the wisdom" of building a "ground zero" mosque. Because he is a carny huckster desperate to terrify his hillbilly congregation.