Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Buffy and Unique Characterization

Andi's doing quizzes again. This one was the superheroine quiz. I ended up as:







You Are Buffy the Vampire Slayer


"We saved the world. I say we have to party."

What Superheroine Are You?



I wasn't surprised. If you know the heroine, you can answer the questions so you get that heroine. I've been watching Buffy lately. I borrowed the DVDs from my son and I started making him give me two seasons so when I finished one, I'd have the other one ready to go. I just started season six. I'm seeing why people liked it so much.

As a writer, I intend to watch it again, this time to study how the characters develop and change and how the uniqueness of each person is portrayed. It's rare to see a show or read a book, or watch a film where only the character who says a line or bit of dialogue could have said it. If someone not in the cast read the script aloud, I'd know who was supposed to say each line. The lines for Buffy don't sound like Willow's lines. Even if they're expressing the same idea, Willow doesn't use the same words as Buffy. Even though they're both teens in the same era, Xander doesn't sound like Oz. Showing characters as being themselves, and not interchangeable with other characters, is a tricky thing to do. It's something I've been working on in my writing, lately.

Just for fun, I did the quiz again as if I didn't know what the answers would lead to. I ended up with:







You Are Trinity


"Touch me and that hand will never touch anything again."

What Superheroine Are You?



I can live with that. Trinity's pretty cool. lol

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

That about says it all. I'll post when I post. My life is going to be crazy for the next few days. Here's wishing you and yours the best Christmas ever. A Happy New Year, too. (And the musician in me unconsciously paraphrases Christmas songs.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Couple of Christmas Quizzes

I got these from my friend Andi's "friends and family" only blog. At her request, I'm not posting a link. But I had fun doing them. I admit, I'm a Christmas junkie. I love the holidays and don't hate the commercialization as much as the "What Carol Are You? blurb indicates. I also don't hate the secularization of Christmas. I don't expect everyone else to believe what I believe or to celebrate the way I do. I wish people would take the time to decide what matters to them about the holidays and do that, instead of doing what they think they're supposed to do, even if they don't enjoy it. And that's my Christmas wish for everyone. A happy Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, because you did it your way.

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

christmas garland
You are the Christmas Garland.


What Christmas Ornament are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

What Christmas Carol Are You?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.


What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, December 19, 2005

What's Happening

Today is a bit of a letdown, as the end of the Christmas concert season usually is. The concerts were great. They went well and we had a good time doing them. It's so wonderful to be doing music again. We'll still be singing on Christmas Eve. And Paul and I are going to be in town for Christmas, so we're going to be part of a small group to sing at the service on Christmas Day. Then we get a break until January, when our church gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary. We have a break from Ladyesong, while our director is out of town celebrating the holidays with her family. Then we start working on the repertoire for the Spring concerts.

It's going to be a quiet week around here. Paul's off working and he expects to be doing 10-12 hour days. I have mixed feelings about that. I like the overtime pay, but I miss having him around. It's nice to feel that way after 27 years of marriage, too.

We have a holiday tradition in our family not to have traditions. We look at our resources, our living situation, and everyone's schedules and plan what will work best this year. Then we do that and we don't have the hassles, stress, fights, etc. that plague so many people who try to do the "picture perfect" holiday thing every year, no matter what else is going on. It looks like this year my family will celebrate Christmas the day after, as long as our youngest son doesn't have to work. The plan is to go out to breakfast and exchange gifts in the restaurant. If Chris has to work earlier than usual, we'll change the plan to accommodate his work schedule. All we need now is one evening where Paul gets home early enough to zip to Target for treats and cards to fill the stockings Tammy made for us last year and we'll be ready to go.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and that next year is a wonderful one. If you celebrate some other holiday, enjoy what makes it special for you. If you don't celebrate one of the "official" holidays, make one up because everyone needs to celebrate and have a good time to offset the gloomy weather of winter. (Can you tell it's gray and rainy these days out here?)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mixed News & Recipes

Mixed News

Paul's been hired for a three-month contract job, working through a temp agency. It could become permanent at the company where he's actually working, but we're not counting on it. We've been burned by that before. We've learned that until you've signed the paperwork for the actual company, instead of the temp agency, you have to plan for the possibility of not having a job. So, we'll continue the job hunt and save what we can toward either moving back out on our own or another period of unemployment. However, it will be a miracle if we can find a place we can afford on his salary because the places that take cats are more expensive than those that don't and rents have gone up a couple hundred dollars a month in the past eight months. The state turned me down for their training program. So, I'm going to have to update my skills on my own dime, if I'm going to try to make up the difference between what he's making and what it really costs to live here. Can't afford that right now, so it's on hold.

I'm catching up with stuff we didn't get done the past few days, since we haven't been home very much. Mostly we've been off doing errands. I've been at my older son's house helping him with his English portfolio. He needed that fresh set of eyes that can catch the spots where you didn't actually say what you thought you said, the typos, punctuation glitches, etc. that you miss when you've read it yourself for the umpteenth time.

I suspect it's going to be tomorrow before I can get to catching up with typing in the handwritten stuff. That's been on hold because I can't type if I'm not here and I've not been here so much lately. So, the handwritten stuff's been piling up. Maybe by the end of the week, I'll have an updated word count and can change my progress bar.

And we went to see Chronicles of Narnia. It was exactly what it should be. I loved it.

Recipes

Andi asked me for my Cranberry Sauce recipe. The recipe originally was from Cooking Light Magazine. I combined two different recipes, changed the amount of spices, and added a touch of my own. I can't remember whether the original had apples or pears, but it was my idea to do both.

Wen and Lisa asked me for the pot roast recipe that's the easiest I've ever made. It's an unusual recipe because pot roasts are usually braised in a bit of liquid over fairly low heat for several hours. This recipe is done at a high heat and you don't put any liquid in the pan. The high heat eliminates the need to sear the meat before you cook it, so prep time is really short. The onions have a lot of liquid in them, which forms the base for the braise. The fat from the chuck roast combines with the onion juices to caramelize the onions so they're sweet and golden brown. This recipe originally came from Gourmet Magazine. I changed some of the instructions to fit my "pinch of this and pinch of that" cooking style.

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 package fresh cranberries
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Bosc (red) pear
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash of ground nutmeg

Instructions:


Seed, then dice the apple and the pear into pieces about the same size as the cranberries. Put everything in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down and let simmer until the apple and pear are tender and the cranberries start to pop. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and chill before serving.

Notes:

1. You can peel the apple and pear, if you want. It doesn't matter to the recipe, so do what you prefer.

2. The cranberries may start to pop before the pear and apple are tender. It's Ok. Just keep cooking until the pear and apple are done. Tender, however, doesn't mean mushy. A toothpick should go easily through a piece, but the piece shouldn't fall apart when you stab it. There should still be some firmness to it.

3. Adjust the spices to your taste. The original recipe had so little spice that you couldn't tell there was any. I figured why waste the spices if you can't taste them? So my ingredient list has double the spices of the original.

4. You can put the sauce in a bowl before you chill it. I serve my food from the kitchen, so I serve it from the pan and save myself some washing up. The sauce will thicken as it chills. It's not going to jell, like jelly or gelatin, but it won't be soupy, either.

Braised Beef and Onions

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds onions, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
Chuck roast (See Notes for specific information)
Salt
Pepper
Ground allspice
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400ยบ .

2. Pat meat dry. Sprinkle top with salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle allspice over the meat and rub it in.

3. Put half the onions and garlic in the bottom of a 13x9-inch pan or a Dutch oven. Place the meat, spice-coated side down, on the onions.

4. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle allspice over the meat and rub it in.

5. Put the rest of the onions and garlic on top of the meat.

6. Cover the pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

7. Roast for an hour. Turn the meat over, scraping the onions and garlic off the top of the meat into the pan. Pick the meat up to spread the vegetables evenly underneath. Roast until the meat is very tender. (See notes for timing.)

8. Take the meat out and carve it against the grain.

9. Use a slotted spoon to put the onions and garlic into a sieve to drain off the fat. Mix the parsley in with the onions.

10. To serve: Put the meat on the plate and spoon some of the onion mixture on the top.

Notes:

1. The recipe calls for 2 2-lb. boneless roasts, 1-1/2-inch thick. I never found any that size. I used a 4-pound, bone-in roast and a 3 pound boneless roast. It took about an hour per pound, plus an extra half hour for the bone.

2. I usually use a Dutch oven that has a lid. I put the lid on top of the foil, which gives it a better seal. That's optional, though. The recipe will work fine if you just use the foil.

3. The onions won't caramelize properly if you leave them on top of the meat the whole time. That's why I suggest scraping them off when you turn the meat.

4. The parsley is optional, but it adds a nice color to an otherwise drab, brown dish. And it has a fresh flavor. Be sure you get the Italian parsley, not the regular kind.

5. The meat can be braised 2 days ahead and reheated. This makes it a good dish for company and the flavors will blend and intensify when it sits. Be sure to remove the fat before you store it for serving later. Because the liquid doesn't cover the whole dish, the trick you use for soups and chilis of taking the congealed fat off after it's chilled dosen't work for this recipe.

Mangia!

Friday, December 09, 2005

So Much for Writing Every Weekday

Condolences

I learned some bad news this morning. Frank O'Brien Andrew and his wife drowned in a boating accident over the weekend. He was a buddy on Forward Motion. I will miss him. I send my condolences to their families and friends.

The Regular Stuff

I can't believe it's been over a week since I posted. Then I look at how the past week has gone and I can see why. I haven't been home much. Errands, rehearsals, concerts--both those I'm performing in and those friends are performing in, holiday parties, Christmas caroling, lunch with friends, pot luck dinners, car repairs and keeping up with the everyday stuff, helping out my kids with rides and stuff, and it goes on. That's what's been going on for the past week and what's happening during the upcoming week. I love being busy. I love getting a chance to sing for people, to watch my friend's performances, to spend time with people I don't see as often as I'd like to. But it wreaks havoc with my writing and blogging and keeping in touch with my online friends, who are important to me, too. So, I'm going to post when I can and after December 18, my life gets slower again because I only have Christmas Eve stuff to worry about and we're not having rehearsals that week.

Upcoming local concerts you might enjoy, if you're in the area:

Tonight, December 9 at 8 PM--San Jose Chamber Orchestra at Mission Santa Clara, on the Santa Clara University campus. You can check their website for contact info to find out if tickets are still available.

Sunday, December 11--Christmas Concert at First United Methodist Church in Campbell at 4 pm. The address is 1675 Winchester Blvd, Campbell, CA

Sunday, December 18--The Prince of Peace choir, Ladyesong, and soloist Layna Chianakas will present their Christmas Concert at 7 PM at Prince Of Peace Lutheran church in Saratoga. Info is on the web site.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Quizzes

Tambo got it from Bob. And several other people whose blogs I read have picked it up. I thought it was funny, so here's my Generic Smut Novel Character:


Which generic smut novel character are you? (With somewhat relevant pictures!)

The Well-Endowed Kitchen Wench

Look, if you’re going to keep slipping in the rain, at least stop wearing those revealing cotton gowns.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.



Jean found this one via Monica Jackson's Message Board. This one was fun and I came out as my favorite superhero.

Your results:
You are Superman
Superman
80%
Spider-Man
75%
Green Lantern
70%
Robin
62%
Iron Man
60%
Batman
55%
Supergirl
53%
Hulk
45%
Wonder Woman
43%
Catwoman
30%
The Flash
25%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...