Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spice Cake, Trans Fat and Tim Curry

We made spice cake a couple of days ago--from a box, with frosting from a can--you know, the way I like it. We haven't done this since the girls were born because of how just about all of the spice cake mixes in a box contain 1 gram of trans fat per serving. Seems like everybody else in the entire world has wised up and taken trans fat out of their products, but not the damn cake mix people. Even Crisco has taken out the trans fat, and as far as I was aware, all Crisco was was trans fat. So come on you cake mix people! Wise up already!

Anyhow, trans fat and all, we had the cake and we ate it too. Technically, that isn't particularly hard. I've always felt that expression, "have your cake and eat it too," ought to be reversed. Anyone can have their cake and eat it too. What's hard is to eat your cake and then still have it. You can't do that--which seems more to the point of the old saying. However you slice it, and we sliced it with a special cake knife, spice cake is awesome. The girls mixed food coloring in with the white frosting so that the cake actually came out a nice shade of pale blue. We used to let them mix in as much color as they wanted with frosting, but then you get the whole inside of your mouth dyed and you look like you've got some horrible disease or something. And also, my oldest still can't eat any kind of desert without getting it all over her entire head--even on the back of her ears. Not too problematic when you're talking about a ginger cookie, but progressively worse when it's chocolate, something with frosting or something with food color augmented frosting.

As I was eating my piece of the cake, the shuffle on my iPod turned on the song "I Do the Rock". I love that song--in a different way from how I love spice cake, but it's still love. In case you are unfamiliar, you should check it out. It's by Tim Cury from his second album, "Fearless".

So, check out the song, get yourself a piece of cake and relax. 1 gram of trans fat probably won't kill you. Not immediately anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Inviting Disaster: On Raising Lemons, Pseudo PALK's and Best Sellers

I have a lemon tree that I have nearly killed three times now because it is hard to grow lemons in Portland Oregon. They do fine in the summer, but as soon as it starts getting cold, my poor lemon tree starts dropping leaves and lemons and looking all mangy. I swore that this year I was not going to let it suffer, but then we moved a short time ago and left the tree at the other house. So, of course, there was a cold snap. Now the leaves are all yellow and half the tiny little lemons have dropped off and I feel like a shoddy tree keeper again. It's a good thing there isn't an anti-cruelty to plants society or I would be in some serious trouble.

I don't know much about raising lemons, but here's something that strikes me as odd. There's been one particular lemon growing on my tree for well over a year. It's not a particularly big lemon, and in all that time, it hasn't turned yellow yet. What's up with that? Do lemons just take forever to ripen, or is this a peculiar lemon? Anyone with advanced lemon knowledge should feel free to comment and let me know.

I guess that is an open invitation to the various fiends in the world posing as people with advanced lemon knowledge but who actually have little to no lemon knowledge. That's right, I'm talking about the despicable pseudo PALK's. I know you're out there, just itching to spread false lemon knowledge, and I dare you--no, I double dare you--to try to leave a fake comment without me knowing. Chickens.

Apart from that, the Helm issue #2 has made the Best Seller list at Dark Horse and the Diamond top 300 for August! Whoo Hoo! I'm two for two! But now I know I'm just inviting disaster for issue #3 by gloating about the first two.

I guess that's what I'm doing with this whole blog entry--inviting disaster--if not from pseudo PALK's, then from the gods of the comic book best seller lists. Oh well, that's just me. That's just how I roll.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moving, the Total Collapse of the Economy and the Borg Cube

I don't like to appear egotistical or anything, but I'm pretty sure that the completion of my new house triggered the collapse of the global economy.

We've been working on remodelling a house for the last year and that whole time I've been joking with people who asked when it would be done. I'd tell them that the new house wouldn't be finished until the real estate market totally collapsed so that I wouldn't be able to sell the old house. I guess I should be more careful what I joke about. We moved on Saturday and on Monday the market plunged into the toilet. Maybe we'll rent the old place for a while.

Apart from triggering the total collapse of the world economy, I've been kind of unproductive lately--probably due to the frenzy of moving into a new house and dealing with the fact that everyone in my family got sick and we don't have phone service, Internet, mail or anything. I haven't been doing much writing--just surviving--but it's starting to make me feel a little listless. So I suppose I should get my butt in gear and start working on some things--like figuring out what move I can make to trigger the recovery of the economy. Maybe unpacking boxes in the basement? That's a frightening idea.

Our basement (a brand new basement that we had to lift up our house to build) is currently packed with everything that used to be in our old house. The bulk of it is in this giant 12 foot cube of packing boxes--what we've been fearfully referring to as the Borg Cube--you know, that big deadly cube-ship that the Borg used to fly around in on Star Trek the Next Generation. Anyway, somewhere in the Borg Cube, right near the back of the bottom row (the most inaccessible part) is an alarm clock. This particular alarm clock is shaped like a doggy drill Sergeant holding a bugle, and when it goes off it play reveille and shouts "WAKE UP!!! RISE AND SHINE!!!" at tremendous volume. It's an alarm that is impossible to sleep through--the very reason I bought the clock fifteen years ago and the same reason that I eventually stopped using it. It was just too harsh to wake up to.

Anyway, we know that the alarm clock is in the cube at the center of the bottom of the back because it goes off twice a day--at 5:30 PM and 5:30 AM--for a solid hour each time. Dinner time and just before the sun comes up. It is very annoying--particularly because we can't figure any way to get at it to shut it off short of actually unpacking all of the rest of the boxes. You'd think we could simply throw the other boxes aside to get at that one, Incredible-Hulk-style, but there's just no room to move the boxes. The rest of the basement is too full of other junk that is not in boxes. So, to turn off this clock, we actually have to get all of our stuff in order.

It feels kind of like a metaphor--the kind I hate.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cheerio Soda Pop Burps

I was talking with Wayne today (of course, you all know Wayne) when Cheerios were mentioned in passing and he said, "Cheerios give you nasty burps if you eat them while drinking soda."

That there is a fundamental human truth you can only discover from experience--and the fact that Wayne knew it made me aware of how powerful a tool it is for identifying like minded individuals. You see, most people eat Cheerios for breakfast and they eat them with milk on them. Again, most people would never drink a soda while eating something with milk on it--that's just a bad and unattractive idea. The two curdle because of the whole acid versus base thing. So, to know that Cheerios produce stanky burps when combined with soda, you have to be a person who has eaten cheerios without milk--either dry as a snack with a soda--most likely while watching television--or, if you are truly hardcore, dry out of the bowl or box with a soda for breakfast. For me, the combination is most often Cheerios and Dr. Pepper either super late night or super early. And just to be clear, I don't pour the Dr. Pepper on the Cheerios, although I can't vouch for Wayne on that issue.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wacky Packages

I was cleaning out my basement over the long weekend in preparation for moving to a new house and I came across my framed, uncut sheet of Wacky Packages. I love Wacky Packages and I was really pleased to see that they'd started doing them again a couple of years ago--and that they'd gone back to including gum in the packages.

My memories of Wacky Packages are intimately connected to the smell of the stick of gum that used to come with them. Getting a whiff of that gum smell instantly takes me back to grade school and stirs feelings I don't have any language to articulate. Of course, my original collection is long gone--lost in the mists of time with all the other cool stuff that would be worth a small fortune today if only I knew where it went.

Years ago, right after I first found out about eBay, I discovered a thriving market for Wacky Packages. The first thing I bought was the uncut sheet of original Wackies I just rediscovered in my basement. It was my first successful bid and I was thrilled--I could barely wait for it to come. But then, when it finally arrived, I was irrationally disappointed to find that it didn't have that gum smell. Of course, an uncut sheet wouldn't have the smell. They were never packaged, so they were never exposed to the gum.

So, I delved further and actually found some people selling unopened boxes of Wacky Packages. I think I bought five boxes. This was, you understand, before I had kids--back in the days when I had disposable income and free time. Now, I didn't expect that the gum would still be edible, I just wanted the smell of it on the cards. Imagine my surprise when I opened the first box and discovered that there was no gum! These were re-issues from the 1980's rather than from my childhood in the 70's. Apparently, Topps had determined by then that collectors were only interested in the cards and didn't care about the gum. Me, I was heart broken. I consoled myself by going through the cards and reliving some of my memories of the great Wackies.

Then I had kids, and my Wacky Package collecting got put on hold. I shelved the remaining unopened boxes and buried my "no gum" heartbreak. The uncut-sheet poster came down to make room for alphabet flash cards--A is for Apple, and I forgot about that gum smell.

And then, about three years ago, while browsing the Internet, I came across a reference to new Wacky Packages. Topps had started up the line again. And there were rumors of gum!! So, despite the protests of my wife, I started buying them. And there was gum, and it was good. The gum was thoughtfully packaged in a plastic sleeve to stop it from damaging the stickers--so the stickers didn't have the smell--but the gum had the smell, so everything was fine. I could sit there, pouring over the stickers and sniffing the gum like a glue sniffing junkie and get that weird rush of half memory, half emotion. I dutifully bought each new series as it came out.

Until the most recent one. They've stopped putting gum in again! Bastards! I still don't have time to keep up with all the details of what's going on in the Wacky Packages world, but I can't help but feel that this signals another end to Wacky Packages. At least for me--because for me it was never just about collecting the stickers or chewing the gum. It was about being eleven and buying my first candy with my own money and making fun of the products my parents bought (even if I didn't really understand what they were exactly) and sharing a new currency with my peers. All of which flooded back to me as I stood in the basement holding my Wacky Packages uncut sheet poster. Which is where my wife found me.

"You're not taking that to the new house, are you?" she asked, with that tone that suggests the question was rhetorical rather than legitimate.

"Of course I'm bringing it," I answered.

"You're not thinking of hanging it in the new house, are you?" Same tone.

"Above our bed," I answered.