viedma: I will rule the world! Emperor Cupcake! (Default)
[personal profile] viedma
Last Friday I threw a dinner party at our house. I do this every solar eclipse or so, and each time I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t do it again. And then time passes and I forget and the whole vicious cycle repeats itself. Not to get into all the reasons why the evening was Fail (I’m a nervous and anxious person by nature and I worry so much that people aren’t having a good time that I torpedo the whole evening), but here goes: I don’t understand my heterosexual women friends on a fundamental level. Sure, write fanfic about them, pay them to cut your lawn, whatever, but men seem like a lot of work for not a lot of return. Or as the Hobgoblins MSTing line goes– “If you just let go they’ll fall over.”

And then to top it off I got some poison ivy on myself that night and rubbed it all over Vali, who always suffers more than I do with the urushiol than I do. In spite of all this she hasn’t asked for a divorce. Last night I made her favorite snack (spicy sweet potato and spinach knish) in an attempt at making amends.

A long while back [ profile] violetisblue asked me Five Questions.

1. You mentioned once that Marilyn Robinson's Housekeeping (which I haven't yet read) is your favorite book. Why is that?

I read my mom's marked up copy of Housekeeping back when I was an impressionable teen, and boy did it make an impression. (To sum up: sisters Ruth and Lucille live with their grandmother, then their mysterious aunt Sylvie, after their mother's suicide.) It's very much a ghost story as the dead haunt the living in unexpected ways. I like stories where inanimate objects become real characters of their own, as the lake does. The language is beautiful; every word is carefully chosen. I remember the simile the air was as sour as a coin because Mom had written ??? in the margins, but I knew what she meant. I liked it because Ruth had a chance to become normal like her sister Lucille, or to go off the rails like her aunt Sylvie, who lived as a hobo before coming to take care of her nieces, who had no one else to care for them. Ruthie ends up slipping through the cracks of normal life to join Sylvie in a transitory style of living, and they were content in each other's company. It was written in the book almost like a sad thing, but I didn't think it was an unhappy ending at all. I like that even though Sylvie had the barest idea of what it meant to be a parent (or a guardian) that she did her best imitation of it. There's a movie too, if you want to see it with me sometime. I was originally horrified, but it's actually quite good, faithful without being a strict recitation of every scene. It's one of those books that I don't want to re-read just in case I don't like it as much as I did then.

2. You are whisked off to the White House and informed that the president and Congress will allow you personally to make three, and only three, specific policy changes which they will obey absolutely, regardless of political ideology/special interest money. Your changes must be specific and impact current policy in whatever arena you choose, not something nebulous/utopian like "End world hunger" (though they can be as large or small real-world policy changes as you like). What do you order them to do and why?

Golly. Okay, let's see, I get to go to the head of the line, so let's think big, shall we?

First, cut the Department of Defense budget. Hack it to pieces That money will go instead to national health insurance for everyone, repairing our infrastructure and increasing our energy independence, providing high-speed rail throughout the country (Except for Hawaii. Sorry guys, I haven't figured out how to get a train across the Pacific yet), beefing up programs like Head Start. Also, each household will receive a voucher good for one free spay/neuter of a pet in their care. If they don’t have a pet, that money will be channeled instead to a fund that would pay for TNR (trap/neuter/return) programs for feral cats throughout the country and free spay/neuter of pit bulls.

Second, use Dennis Kucinich’s idea and create a Department of Peace in Washington. Seems like we’ve tried the other way and haven’t really got anywhere.

Third, pass a constitutional amendment to limit copyright protection to the life of the author plus fifty years. I feel this is a more than reasonable limit– I mean, when the grandkids are riding your coattails it’s time to cut off the gravy train. I believe people should have their work protected so they can be rewarded for their labors, but part of the two-fold agreement was that work would be created, then after a period of time it should go into the public domain to enrich all of us. If copyright protection was forever there would be no Disneyland, or Jane Austen pastiches with Colin Firth goodness. That would be a sad world indeed.

3. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost come to you and say, "We like the cut of your jib, help us plan and write our new smash hit television series!" Assuming a healthy show budget and creative freedom, what sort of series do you plot out for them, what characters do they play, what format, etc.?

I thought about this one for a while, and what I really want them to do is “Hot Fuzz: The Series.” It should have be one part English locked-room mystery, one part Lawn Order police procedural, one part Wicker Man, and one part hedgehog. And there should be at least one episode where either Danny or Nicholas is tied up and has to be rescued by one or the other because I said.

4. Share one culinary memory (good or bad) of the time you lived in Russia. Be as detailed as you like.

Good memory: Gosh, so many. Blini with fruit preserves, afternoon tea with biscuits and lovely berry jam, lots and lots of borscht, potato cutlets with ground beef inside, wild mushrooms, my first experience with a reconstituted product called “Veggieburger” (which was probably spiced TVP, as near as I can describe it). Parmalat yogurt you could drink from a box. Loads of cabbage soup and beet salad, black bread and white bread, cheese and sausage called kolbasa. There were these gingerbready teacakes that created an irresistible craving in me– one night I got a bag and ate my way through them while watching a Godzilla movie I couldn’t understand (something to do with giant lizards or summat, I dunno). Oceans of tea. Remembering Star Trek the Next Generation, I decided to try tea, Earl Grey, hot and it’s still one of my favorite flavors. Probably the best memory of all was eating these gorgeous creamy pastries in a shop on Nevsky Prospekt. You had to stand up while eating, something I wasn’t used to, but the memory...the lady I was with, a very nice teacher at the school where I was teaching English (very very badly), she’d lick the spoon and get every crumb. It was impossible having any sort of dignity while we were eating these things.

Bad memory: Only two stand out. One was a dinner I had with one of the teachers at the school. My Russian was pretty rusty or I’d gotten my wires crossed and I didn’t realize I was being invited over for dinner. The dinner was good, but I’d already eaten dinner. She’d just lost her son in an accidental drowning that year, and she was obviously still devastated by his loss, so I sat and ate and remembered feeling guilty because she didn’t have a lot of money and I felt I was taking food away from her, who was already full to start with. There we sat, her crying through dinner and me trying to say comforting things in a second language. The second one is probably my worst food memory ever: being served a bowl of shredded meat encased in a three-inch thick layer of gelatin in a sort of beef-on-the-bottom yogurt from Hell, and having to take a bite while the whole family watched me do so. It took everything I had to keep it down. Luckily I wasn’t expected to eat any more.

5. You are given the power to permanently end world hunger and all known wars for the rest of humanity's history, but at the immediate cost of 100,000 randomly selected innocent lives. Do you do it? Why or why not? Does your answer change at all if you can be guaranteed that the 100,000 people killed will all be total strangers?

I would snuff a hundred thousand people in such a scenario and here’s why: not making a choice is also a choice. If I don’t do this, a lot more than 100,000 people are going to die because I failed to act and we still wouldn’t have an end to hunger or war. I know that makes me sound like zee trains must run on time! but that’s my decision and I’m sticking to it. Would it change my answer if I can be guaranteed they’d all be total strangers? Actually, it’d help if I could pick– the guy who dreamed up the Open Source Boobies Project might want to contact an attorney would specializes in wills, trusts, and estate planning. I know one, but I have it on good authority that she’s busy washing her hair that day and can’t be arsed.
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viedma: I will rule the world! Emperor Cupcake! (Default)
Bill Rebane, Moviemaker and Feminist

April 2010

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