Friday, September 30, 2011


So, I strained the blackberry liqueur mash today. As you can see from the before and after pictures, with the berries and zest and all filtered out, the volume is somewhat decreased. It's still a bit cloudy, and I figure that's okay–I used a colander, cheesecloth, and a gold-mesh coffee filter. The next step would have been paper coffee filters, but that would have taken all day and to no great effect.

Recipe here.

And how, you ask, does it taste? 

Why, it's terrible! Awful stuff! Vile! If you come to my house, I wouldn't insult you by offering you any. You'd hate it. Really, you would.


Paper Emmy

Came across this wallpaper behind a stack of books on a shelf, so I thought I'd show it off.

Batman: The Animated Series was on for a couple seasons back in the early nineties. There were spinoffs, but I didn't work on those.

It was fun. First, because everybody connected to it loved the characters. Second, because it was aimed at adults and not kids. And it didn't hurt that my collaborator was one of the story editors.

The series was nominated twice for an Emmy™ in the Best Animated Series category, and won once. I had parts of several of the episodes, but the way the award was structured, only the story editors got the hardware. So my collaborator Reaves has the hood ornament on his shelf, and my contribution merited this ...

I think that award has since been changed, maybe even eliminated.

Ah, well. So much for fame ...

Hope for Our Planet

It's not as though we are a stupid species, mostly just ignorant. Now and then, I come across one of these things and marvel at human ingenuity: Hey. Here's an idea–what if we did this ... ?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Writing Biz

Those of you who are professional writers, or aspiring to same, would do well to check out Kris Rusch's blog, especially her most recent post on the fear in publishing. 

If you haven't been keeping up with things, ebooks are becoming a game-changer, and's new tablet–which is only $199–is going to be shipping in the next month or two. I don't think it will be the iPad killer, there are still a lot of bells and whistles the new Kindle Fire won't have, but it is going to pull more people into the notion that ebooks have some advantages, not the least of which is storing your books in the cloud.

As e-readers get cheaper, more people will indulge their curiosity, and some, if not many of them, will stick around the platform.

That ebook-train I keep talking about? It's getting to the "All aboard!" stage. 

It will be leaving the station soon. 

This is stuff you need to know if you are in the writing or publishing biz. Really. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fake, But ...


Got a new toy for my guitar, the O-Port. This is, as the image shows, a piece of flexible plastic you stick into the sound hole of an acoustic guitar (the flared bell part down.) Loosen the strings, pinch the plastic, stick it in, line it up, pop it into place. My classical's sound hole is a hair small, so the fit isn't exact, but it works okay. 

Once it is installed, unless you know to look for it, you probably won't notice it. 

What does it do? It amplifies the sound a bit. Not that much, and the descriptions get subjective, but to me, it sounds fatter, a bit more punch, and more sustain, especially on the harmonics.

An engineer at Bad Bear Studios did a test on it, and it's not just subjective, you can see the graph's differences.

It won't turn a crappy guitar into a great one, but it certainly enhances mine. 

The price on these is all over the map, depending on whether you the small or larger version, black or ivory color. Some sites have them for thirty bucks. I got mine from (GuitarGoods partner) for just under fifteen bucks–and that included the shipping. 

For that kind of money if you don't like it, toss it, but if it does for your axe what it did for mine? You'll keep it.

Way cool. 


We have in our kitchenware array half a dozen copper-clad pots and pans. The best two are French, a small sauce pot, and a large skillet; the others are Cuisinart stockpots, and I'm not even sure they make those any more.

It's great cookware–we call the big pan "the magic skillet" because everything we cook in it seems to be as good as it can be.

The drawback to copper is that it oxidizes and turns brown. This doesn't hurt anything, but it's not as spiffy-looking as when it is shiny. 

There are all kinds of polishes to buff it up, but we like the old standard, lemon juice (or vinegar) and table salt. Pour one of the fluids into a bowl, dump a mound of salt into it, stir it up, and apply it and elbow grease to the pot. It will dissolve the patina away, though it doesn't polish the copper per se.

Since we like a matte finish, I use the scrubbie side of a sponge and take the sheen down a little. They gleam, but not like a mirror.  Takes only a few minutes per pot, and you don't have to do it that often. I usually manage about once a month. 

Or, you can just have the butler or Cook's maid do it.

And that's today's tip from Steve's kitchen ...

Had to Share This One

Kind of like the old John Lennon comment about the depth and meaning on their songs. "Well, it rhymed with 'queen,' didn't it ... ?"

Cutting Test

Had a discussion about a TV show samurai-sword attack, and I mentioned the old ways of testing a katana, using stacked-up condemned prisoners. Thus the term "four-body sword."

They don't do that one any more. 

There are cutting competitions, using tatami rolled around bamboo, though, and this is a good example.

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Got to Love the Internet

Communications via the written word, whether chiseled into stone, written on paper, or flitting across your electronic device's screen is an inefficient and sometimes very confused creature. No matter how clear you think you are, you sometimes aren't.

Case in point:

I visit a site where there are sometimes lively and controversial discussions. Recently, a poster there put up something that led to such an exchange. The names and such are left out, to protect the guilty, I'll just use Mr. X:

"From Mr. X:

Sorry to interrupt...

It looks like they maybe have cured AIDS.

OK. Go back to whatever you were talking about.

Mr. X"

Wow, that's impressive, how did I miss that? So I clicked on the link.

Doesn't say there's a cure for AIDS. It offered that an in vitro experiment (in a test tube) shows promise as an idea that could possibly result in a way to stop the AIDs virus by using the immune system.

That's pretty cool, but no way a "cure," nor anything close to one.

So, I put this up:

"Um, Mr. X --

If this was a track meet, I think you'd have gotten called back for jumping the gun.

The news media in all their myriad forms, bless 'em, tend to sound like Born Agains telling us about the imminent Second Coming. More than a few times, we have been told of a cure for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's, only to find out that this was an in vitro (test tube) experiment that hadn't even gotten to rats yet, much less people.

As is the case here.

"Could lead to a vaccine" is not anywhere near "a cure." Being able to some day prevent folks from catching something is not the same as curing somebody who already has it.
Hope is a wonderful thing and I'm all for helping it along. In the war against disease, it probably doesn't help to make truth a casulty ... "

For which my reward was this:

"From Mr. X -- (Webmaster)  feel free to delete my previous post and this one. I got excited and forgot for a moment that when not feeling entitled to drop the "N" word whenever, Steve Perry has ALWAYS got a fresh stream of piss if you happen to have a bowl of cornflakes. What was I thinking?"

So I thought, let's take this offline. I'll email the guy. Which resulted in this exchange:

"Mr. X:

If I am in error please feel free to call me on it. If you get pissed off when I call you on it? Check your facts before you post -- you were wrong, moaning about it doesn't change that.

I use the term "nigger" when it is appropriate; if you can show me otherwise, I'll apologize for it.

Good luck with that.

Steve "

"From: Mr. X:

Wallow in your use of that word. Enjoy yourself. I'll continue to respect you exactly as much as I ever have, you self righteous racist twit."

Wow. So I said:

"Well. So much for reasoned debate.

We're done here.

Steve "

And got this:

"From Mr. X


 I never signed on to "debate" you. You don't like my, or Johns Hopkins, use of the word "cure" - so fucking be it. Like i said to (Webmaster), I foolishly got excited and thought I'd share what I took to be good news. I just forgot for one minute your over there just waiting to be a pedant and take the wind out of someone's sails. Arguing medical semantics with a smug racist such as yourself is a priori a thankless task. Which is WHY I asked (Webmaster) to remove my post. Enjoy your bleak and hopeless existence you sniping prick.

 - Mr. X"

My smug-racist-prick-bleak-and-hopeless existence? Oh, dear. Did I miss that, too? Geez. I got to get a new mirror.

"Mr. X

We're done here.

Steve "

I went back to the site, and said this:

"Hey, Mr. X

If you say something and post a link, you might expect that folks will go see what it says
If the article doesn’t say what you offered it does, you might expect to have somebody point that out.

I wish there was a cure for AIDS. There is not. The article doesn’t say there is. It doesn’t say there is about to be. You telling people it does is wrong.

If that is pissing in your cornflakes, I plead guilty. I'm not taking the wind out of your sails, I'm telling you your boat is parked on the beach.

I used to work at a clinic. One of the most disheartening aspects of the job was to have a patient who had a chronic and incurable illness come in, having read some jump-the-gun journalist's story that there was a new cure, and ask us if we could get it for them. We couldn't. It didn't exist.


This is why I don't like to see inaccurate news stories about medical advances from people who don't have a fucking clue what they are talking about.

Apparently my use of the term "nigger" has some relevance to this topic, though what escapes me, save that somebody is still pissed-off over an argument we had here a year and a half ago. And loading jacketed ad hominem rounds.

I’ve been dropping by for a couple years. If you search the archives, you won't find I used the word the most, nor often, nor as a personal insult when I did, but in discussions of the Confederacy and political correctness.

Read those posts, and if you see racism in them? You brought it with you.

Funny thing? If you do go through the archives and look for the dreaded N-word, the most recent time it shows up? In a post by you, pal. I won’t take it out of context -- it’s a book title -- but that only makes my point that there are times when, as Twain offers, we should use the right word and not its second cousin.

You want to believe I'm a racist? Have at it. One more thing you get to be wrong about ..."

Then there is this other guy -- or girl, I can't tell by the name, and it looks like a screen nom anyhow, who allows that s/he agrees that this is big news and the closest to a cure we have.

To which I am about to say this:


• eliminate (a disease, condition, or injury) with medical treatment:"This technology could be used to cure diabetes."


The interview on VoA, from which the link first mentioned here took its cue.

The end of the piece:

"So far, research has been conducted only in the laboratory. But Graham says he hopes studies in animals and humans will eventually lead to an AIDS vaccine."

Sure, I hope so, too. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Promising research is not a cure, nor anywhere close to it. Putting a dollop of poison on a cell and killing it in the lab is not the same as curing or preventing an illness in a human being. 

"Scientists have discovered an enzyme that stops cancer cell reproduction in petri dish cultures." Morphs to SCIENTISTS DISCOVER CURE FOR CANCER!

Making that leap is wishful thinking at best. That's not how it works.

If they refine it, if it works in rats and monkeys and if the side-effects don't do more harm in humans than good, it will indeed be one of the stories of the century. And if they fast-track it out the wazoo, it will be years before we know if it works well enough to be offered.

And yes, this much is news. But it's not what it was purported to be.

ALIENS LAND ON THE MALL IN D.C.! If they happen to do that, will also be news.

If, if, if. 

Is there no one here familiar with the scientific method?"

Sometimes, no matter how reasonable you try to be, people will persist in a spittle-laced response. I guess I should know that by now, but somehow, it always kinda surprises me.

And the beat goes on ...

Monday, September 26, 2011


Got a tentative schedule of panels and readings and such for the upcoming Orycon, in November. I usually spend part of one day there, meet folks for coffee or lunch, do my thing, and come home. Don't party like I used to, back in the mists of history.

The thing I found interesting is that my reading and autographing sessions are right next to those of William F. Nolan. 

I knew he lived up here somewhere, and that he was at a couple of Orycon's past, though I never ran into him.

Nolan has been writing since before the invention of the wheel, the man is old enough to be my father, but if you don't know the name, you probably know the movie based on the book he co-wrote with George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run.

This was kind of the ultimate silly 70's sci-fi movie, nowhere near as good as the book. Supposedly, there's remake in the works, though I can't see that it cries out for that any more than the Smurfs did. 

Still, I'd guess there's a moldy cardboard box in the back of Steve's garage or up in the attic that has a couple of Nolan books in it from when I was a dewy-eye teenager. Box is probably right next to the fanboy membership card that is mostly-unused, but still valid ...

I expect my reading this time will be one of the Roy the Demon stories. I can chew the scenery pretty good with one of those.

The Empire Strikes Back

According to the rumors, is about to come out with something called the Kindle Fire. Basically, this will be a 7" backlit tablet designed to compete with iPads and Androids. Supposed in the $300 range, although not available until November.

I'm all for it. More electronic readers around, the more product they'll need to fill 'em.

The announcement is supposedly on Wednesday–day after tomorrow–so they say.

Chuck Never Runs

I was reading over one of the lessons Rory and I did for the martial-arts-for-writers online class, and came across a reference I stuck in about the idea of unbeatable martial artists. I thought it might amuse some of my readers, so ...

I once wrote animation for the tube, and worked on a show that never made it, Chuck Norris’s Karate Kommandos. Mid-to-late eighties, as I recall. Reaves and I wrote a couple episodes, but the show, after a five-episode miniseries, didn't get picked up. We got paid, but our episodes weren't ever aired.

Such a terrible loss to humanity, that.

I had a scene in which Chuck’s ‘vette was trapped by bad guys who chainsawed and dropped trees onto the road. Chuck hops out and there are like eight of them. So Chuck–in my scenario–takes off, leads them on a merry chase, and slows now and then to take them out one-by-one. A strategic retreat leading to victory.

Came the notes from the producer on the script:

Chuck never runs.

I laughed. Yeah. And Chuck is gonna be pushing up the daisies if he doesn’t. Those movie face-offs with ten guys only work because each guy takes a number and waits his turn to attack.

I got around it, though. I had the same scene, but when Chuck hops out of the ‘vette, he sees a group of children playing nearby. So Chuck doesn’t run, no, he leads the bad guys away from endangering the children. Looked exactly the same, but it was, you know, like ... totally different. 

They had no problem with that.

Welcome to Hollywood.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Liked This One

Courtesy Mushtaq and Facebook. Made me smile.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

So the UARS satellite with the decaying orbit is supposed to fall, probably sometime Friday afternoon or evening. Details aren't firm, but the latest estimate puts it into the sea off the coast of Chile. North America, they say, isn't in danger.


Biggest chunk–of which there are supposed to be 26 or so that make it down without burning up on re-entry—about three hundred pounds. 

Three hundred pounds. That could mess up your evening barbecue pretty good if it comes down a little sooner than expected. 

Keep watching the skies. Wear a hat. 

Oh, and if it should start to come down earlier and you find a smoking piece of it down by the bus stop? Don't touch it, they say. Not radioactive or chemically-dangerous, but there could be sharp edges and you might cut yourself. Call your local police if you find any.

I'm serious. They actually said this. Don't touch it, you might cut yourself.

"Look, honey, it's a piece of that satellite! It's probably worth something!"
"You be careful, Waldo."
"What are you talking about, I'll just grab it–OW! OW! I cut off my finger! Ow! Call somebody!"

Geez Louise. 

Wouldn't you love to be the sergeant who gets that call? Or the patrol officer flagged down? 

"Ma'am. What seems to be the problem?"
"There's a piece of a satellite in my flower bed out back."
"Yeah, it's about six inches long. The news said I shouldn't touch it, I might cut myself, I should call the police."
"What, you don't have any gloves? No pliers?"
"No need to get snotty."
"Sorry, ma'am. It could be worse. Your neighbor three doors down? They had a chunk the size of a washtub take out their Volvo. Punched a hole right through the roof, seats, floor, and buried itself five feet deep in the driveway."
"Oh, dear."
"And of course, there's what happened to Waldo, down at the bus stop ..."


Update #10

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 07:45:08 AM PDT

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.

Hmm. Houston, We Have a Problem

Apparently, my blog has been hacked. (No, they didn't send the picture, it just seems appropriate.)

Several recent posts have disappeared, and since I didn't make them go away, either Blogger has a problem or I do.

Blogger doesn't seem to have a problem, they tell me. Maybe it's a small and invisible technical glitch.

I checked with a couple bloggers, no problems there. Well, no more than usual ...

Stay tuned. I'm changing passwords and all like that. If you can't read this, lemme know ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Speech! Speech!

For many people, the notion of public speaking instills a fear only slightly behind death, but way ahead of root canals. The thought of standing in front of an audience and giving a talk about anything scares a lot of folks down to their toenails.

Not me. I enjoy it. Making a bunch of people laugh when you want? Inspiring them to something that stirs their hearts? Imagine how it feels to be a rock star with a stadium full of fans grinning and loving every move you make. Or to realize that your acceptance speech made half a billion people smile at how tickled you were. This is puppies and kittens, very heady stuff, a potent–and addicting–drug. 

(Writers can have this, albeit the gratification isn't instant. "I loved your book, dude. I stayed up half the night reading it." Never hurts to hear that, I grin every time, even years after the book was done.) 

Having been a professional writer for thirty-odd years, I have done a plethora of panels, speeches, classes, MC-ing, even a little stand-up comedy, and after a few hundred times, you start to get a little less nervous about it. I'm comfortable onstage.

Well. Mostly. There are still occasions whereupon I find myself jittery, the butterflies trying to escape from my stomach, pucker-factor high. I do it anyway, and most of the time, it turns out great. Each speech is different, but there are tools I can take from one to another, and usually make 'em work.

But if you are afraid of standing up there and saying your piece, there are ways to get past it. 

I was once the toastmaster at a convention and the Guest of Honor was a well-known and award-winning writer who was terrified of giving a speech. He admitted it to me. Comfortable in front of a keyboard, not in front of people. My advice was, okay, here's what you do. A) Don't tell them. If you just stand there, and you don't shake so bad somebody calls the fire department because they think you are having a seizure, they can't tell by looking. (And they are disposed to like you, else you wouldn't have been invited. They'll cut you some slack.) Don't start by apologizing for the dish you are serving, let them decide. 

b) Use the Magician's Gambit. (I never imagine, as one bit of advice goes, that the audience is naked. That way lies madness, I have waaay too much imagination.)

The Magician's Gambit goes way back. Lot of them have great mechanical skills in sleights or working tricks, but they don't have the stage presence that draws in an audience. So the old advice was, don't be a magician, be an actor playing a magician. 

That might not seem useful at first glance, but how it works is, by removing yourself one step from the act, the action becomes less subjective. If you are a actor playing a role, you study the part, learn the beats, and you can emote, go over the top, chew the scenery, and it is a deliberate action. Sometimes this is just enough of a remove to allow you to become less inhibited, and if you are relaxed and not so tight you are apt to pull something if you turn your head, your performance will be better. Trust me, if your audience can see that you are relaxed and having a good time? It translates. They are usually willing to go along for the ride. 

If they are embarrassed for you and pray that a compassionate lightning bolt will strike you  down and put you (and them) out of your misery? Not so good. 

This not the be-all, end-all, playing a role. And the closer your public persona is to who you really are, the easier it is to play the part and the more genuine it will feel, to you and to an audience. John Wayne was never known for his, um, range as an actor, but the chops he had were consistent, and who he was. You hired John Wayne the actor, you got John Wayne the man. That came through, and people trusted it. Sometimes, one trick is all the pony needs to get by. 

I tend to ratchet it up a bit when I go to a convention or to do a speaking gig. Still me, but amped–I talk too much, and louder than necessary. I wave my hands a lot. I excuse this by saying I don't get out much. Still, my on-stage-persona is how I do it over coffee at home, albeit with the knob turned down a bit for the spouse and dogs. 

It's like telling the truth. Do that, you don't have wonder which lie you told. If who you are in private becomes who you are in public? That's like free money.

The second way to get past stage-fright, at least partially, is the Seven-P Principle: Proper planning/preparation prevents piss-poor performance. 

You have to give a talk, write it down. Learn your bullet points without having to use your notes. Practice in front of a mirror, using a video recorder. Time your speech or reading. Rehearse it. Know it backwards and forwards. Give it to the dogs, the cat, the wall. Work on your delivery until it sounds spontaneous; as if the thought, which is brilliant, just crossed your mind. 

You see the old trick of a politician stepping up to the podium, looking at his speech, then tossing it? Hey, I had a prepared speech, but bag it, I'm going to talk from the heart! If he then gives a memorized version of that speech, people can tell. If he really talks from the heart? They can tell that, too. May not agree, but they know. 

In Hollywood, they say, When you can fake sincerity, then you got something. But if you are actually sincere? Much better. 

If you can't tell a really funny joke, for God's sake, don't tell one. If you can? Great–as long as it is appropriate for the venue. That one about the fat, senile old guy? Might not go over well at the AARP-sponsored Weight-Watchers meeting. Or it might have them rolling in the aisles clutching at their pacemakers. Dying is easy; comedy is hard. If you are in doubt, skip it. 

Anybody can read a speech out loud. If you are a great writer and have a great speaking-voice, this will work. If not, might as well print copies and pass them around. The best speakers look you in the eye and make you think they are talking to you over a cup of coffee and every word from their lips is off-the-cuff and meant for your ears, even if every bit of it is memorized and has nothing to do with you. 

You still might get lost or clutch up, but it is less likely when you have it down pat. If you know the material, if it matters to you, if you are passionate, that all helps. You can always look at your notes if you wander off. (My favorite speech notes are pictures. Little cartoons that link one to the next. That way, I get the general gist without having to look at a lot of text that might blend together, and a picture is worth a thousand words.)

Getting up in front of a crowd is a skill, just like any other, and unless you are a natural, you need to practice it to get better at it. Once you have some chops, then it doesn't matter if it's ten people in a sleepy Saturday morning panel or a thousand people in a ballroom. The moves are the same. (Truth in advertising: A big crowd is a double-edged sword. If you are doing well, the energy influx is powerful and you can use it, channel it, give it back and make yourself better. On the other hand, if you are screwing up in front of a big crowd, it's worse than doing it in front of a small one–the silence is ever-so-much-more deafening ...)

But: That passion thing? You read your story or say your say with as much skill and conviction as you can either way. Ten people get the same ride as a thousand. Never phone it in.

One more tip: Don't forget to breathe. Do it early, and do it slowly. It helps. 

So, there you go. Your fear of public speaking all resolved. 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing Movies For Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can, Too!

Lennon and Garant have written a book, part how-to, part slapstick, and the title pretty much says it all. 

Writing Movies For 
Fun and
 Profit:  How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can, Too!

Probably you know their work: Reno 911, the remake of Herbie, and the Night at the Museum movies.

Not the kind of DVDs you are going to put on your rack with Citizen Kane or Casablanca, for fear of corrupting the images by association, but as they point out, their movies have racked up a billion and a half dollars, so they do have some idea of what sells.

Geeks, but rich and successful geeks. And smart enough to figure out what works, including some good advice on software, writing it tight, rewriting, and writing some more. 

They tell you what they think will sell, and how to go about doing it, all the while taking potshots and cheapshots at all things Hollywood. I found it amusing, a fast read, and based on my limited experience in The Biz, all-too-true. 

Things like, if you write and sell a movie, chances are 99% that you'll be fired as soon as you turn it in. The producers will say, "It needs fresh eyes ..." And how to deal with that. 

They cover the ins and outs of what to do, and what not to do, who not to piss off, and how to talk with Movie Stars, as opposed to Movie Actors and Personalities.

Hollywood, they say, is like a gorgeous young woman with great legs ...

Great legs. And Alzheimer's ...

If you are thinking about getting into the LaLaLand game, this would be a good book to have read first. It's raucous, profane, and funny in spots, though I think they sometimes go over the top. Do we really need a list of every In-and-Out Burger location in SoCal? That runs for pages and pages? They do have an idea of that about which they speak, however. Worth checking out. 

Chinaberry Sidewalks

I'm not the biggest country music fan, but I do listen to some now and again. I happened across Rodney Crowell's book, Chinaberry Sidewalks, yesterday at Powell's, and picked it up. 

Crowell, a singer/songwriter, has had a slew of hits, and was once married to Rosanne Cash.

Man is a good writer. This book is a memoir of his growing up poor in Houston, Texas, in the 1950s and 1960s. He had a contentious relationship with his parents, who had an equally-contentious relationship with each other, and while they were a cut above trailer-trash, it wasn't a deep, nor wide cut.

Some of what he talked about I remember from my own Louisiana upbringing: Riding my bike behind the DDT fogger trucks, sent to keep the skeeters down; the hurricane parties; and one I hadn't thought about in a while, the attic fan.

For those of you who have never experienced an attic fan, a brief discourse:

The one we had was in the hall ceiling, just outside the bathroom. It ran wall-to-wall wide, and that long, and how it worked was, on a hot summer's night, you flipped it on. Slats covering the blades opened, and it sucked all the air in the house out and exhausted it through attic vents. It was loud enough to drown out the TV, and we didn't run it until we went to bed.

This created a breeze through the open, but screened windows. A hole in a fine-meshed and rusty steel screen would allow the mosquitoes to get sucked in with the humid air, so you had to keep it patched. And you had to clean the screen off frequently, because they'd get covered with dead bugs of all sorts. 

Unfortunately, when the humidity is approaching 100%, using an attic fan causes you wake up in the morning about as damp as if you had gotten caught in a thunderstorm running from the car to the house ...

I remember when we got a window AC unit for the living room, and how magic it was to feel cool air in August in our house ...

Um. Anyway, Crowell's book is a fascinating look at that time and place, and well-worth the read. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beautiful Beaverton

A few years back, a developer got the notion that there should be a big multi-use construct in the middle of Beaverton.

Those of you unfamiliar with my town? Beaverton is where Portland goes to shop at 7-Elevens or chow down at Mickey D's ...

Um. Anyway, plans were drawn, ground broken, and Beaverton in the Round was begun. This was going to be apartments above, shops and restaurants below, across from a big gym, right on the MAX light rail line, all like that. A whole mini-city to revitalize the burg.

Developer ran out of money. Sold it at a loss, and last I head that developer ran out of money. The big lot where the torn-down movie theater sat is still vacant.

But there are some restaurants that started and survived, and one of them is Mingo. Which, as far as I am concerned, serves the best rustic Italian food I've ever eaten. Never had a bad meal there. Indoor or outdoor, with big, garage-bay doors that open when the weather is nice. You can watch the children play on the terraced lawn or in the fountains, and the trains as they go by. 

As a late celebration of our birthdays, we went to Mingo for supper yesterday. I had the lasagna with chicken and lobster mushrooms, and it was to die for. A small glass of thirty-year-old port for dessert. 

My only regret was that razor clams weren't in season, because those are one of the best pan-fried appetizers ever ...

We don't eat out that often, and can't afford to dine ala Mingo as much as we'd like, because we'd be a) beached walruses and b) broke pretty quick if we did, but it is a delightful treat.