The Wolf is at the Door

Canis lupus

Le Figaro reports that wolves have made a rather impressive comeback in eastern France recently. They no longer limit themselves to chomping on wandering sheep in summer pastures, high up on the slopes of the Alps; they now kill cows barely 100 meters from human dwellings in the plain near Grenoble! Time to call in the Wolfbusters

Posted in General Musings |

Birthday Girl in a Birthday Blur

Stiff Little Finger Jake, and a Girl I Didn't MeetBirthday Jess
In the Uterus of LoveBrenda Ponders
Jess and SharonaMoi

As the rest of the world collapsed in its nerveless tax-day heap, Our Favorite Blogger Jess turned 30 and celebrated in the distinctly non-taxy Grassroots Tavern — Home, we are told, of the Hot Bouncer. Jess is handling the new decade well: she only agonizes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The pictures are a bit late, but here are some of them.

For my part, I went the Kobayashi Maru way to turning 30, by which I mean that when the birthday came knocking I was not at home to receive it. I rolled over into the new decade midway through a rafting trip on the Sun Kosi (River of Gold) in Nepal, and the trappings of the occasional digit were far enough away to seem irrelevant. It was long ago, in a galaxy far away.

Posted in About Last Night |

You Can See Me Flickr in the Light of the Moon

A slice of Harvest Moon
Ukulele Louie, the Bad Ukulele Clown
A Slice of Miss Saturn

This was mostly a weekend for staying in, and as it happens I mostly stayed in this weekend.

Since I don’t already have enough ways to fritter away tinker-time on those Internets </sarcasm>, it’s a lucky thing Flickr came along. Flickr is a sprawling virtual warehouse e-complex for storing your photographs. It’s also a fantastic time sink, and a whole lotta fun.

Back in the old days when humanity used to shoot film — February, in my case — your pictures were those things that wouldn’t all fit into the photo albums and eventually got dusty and crumpled and tacky on the finish side from exposure and where did those negatives go anyway (YMMV if you are not a slovenly bachelor, or if you have lots of closet space). Now that we shoot pixels — they shoot pixels, don’t they? — your pictures are those things that won’t all fit onto the hard drive, so you conveniently burn them to CD.

My theory about burning things to CD is that it’s a really great way to open dimensional portals. It works like this. You take those 200 files you don’t really want — shy photos, what-was-I-thinking mp3′s, incriminating drunken email notes, Yahoo chat logs, whatever — and burn them to a CD to keep them out of the way, along with 5 or 6 important items you’d actually like to see again. These might be drafts, notes, ideas for Really Great Inventions, snippets of dialog for Really Great Stories. You put the CD away onto the Dimensional Rift Storage Spindle™, and let a few weeks pass. Then you wake up with a hankering to hear that mp3 of that song you suddenly like so much. You fish out the CD, toddle it into the CD tray, pull up a file menu, search through it. And voilà! 200 files you don’t want, and none of the good ones.

Dimensional portal. We’re working on harnessing it for future Star Trek spinoffs.

Anyway, for 25 clams a year and as many hours as you can yank out of a day, Flickr will store your photos. All of them. (With the free basic account, Flickr will store just most of them: thanks go to blogger buddy Paul Frankenstein for upgrading me to the awe-inspiring Pro account.) Between that and the first season of Deadwood on DVD, there went Friday, some of Saturday, and bits of Sunday. Now you can thumb through my pictures on Flickr. That, and has there ever been a character as deep and dark as Al Swearengen? I intend to talk like Al from now on, until someone points out that I’m acting like a jerk.

The image slices up above are crops of fuller photos you’ll find on my Flickr page: up top is lovely Harvest Moon and on bottom is glorious Miss Saturn, both of whom brought light into a dark rainy Saturday night. Between them is Bradford Scobie as Ukulele Louie, who doesn’t inspire raptures so much as paroxysms. But that’s another story for a different kitchen. Suffice it to say that Saturday night ended far into Sunday morning and the words “ouch” and “whoa, ouch” were not far from mind.

Jess and I went out for another in our series Bad Monster Movie Blogger Events later in the afternoon, chowing down on The Amityville Horror, a.k.a. It’s a True Story No It Isn’t Oh Yeah What Do You Know Well It Isn’t Just Shut Up Fine Bite Me. We should get this straight right away: it’s a pretty poor movie. And by the end we were clenched in our balcony seats, feet pulled up from the dangerous floor, tingled and flinching. Silly and shallow, yes: and that was some scary shit.

Next up on the Bad Monster Movie Blogger Events calendar: House of Wax, with Paris Hilton. Yay!

Posted in About Last Night |

Some News is Good News

I Have Parquet Floors Because I’m Slimming Down: Lo these many years I’ve told myself I’m not fat, I’m just healthy. As it turns out, I was right all along. The Centers for Disease Control finally fessed up what should have been obvious from the start: we lightly-tubby people who actually eat food live longer than those stick-figure fashiony types who just look at it and take the occasional lick.

A day of triumph for Jewish mothers everywhere, I’m sure. In other good news, the New Orleans Journal of Medicine announces that Binge-Drinking and Promiscuous Sex are Good For You. Hey, I read it in The Onion, so it must be true.

Things That Go “Bump” in the Afternoon: I completely forgot that Tuesday was National Look One Way And Walk The Other Way Day. And me with my combat armor at home. Seriously, it was like bumper cars out there. Anyone remember that scene in The Matrix where Morpheus strides through urban crowds, which part before him, and Neo pinions along behind him getting bumped by everyone on the sidewalk? It was like that, only without Morpheus.

Shakespeare, It Ain’t: When you reach a certain age, your Mom throws out your comic collection. This means two things. (1) Mom has had it up to here with your crap in the cellar/garage/closets, and (2) they’re not going to name that museum wing after you after all.

A lot of Greek and Egyptian comic book collections were tossed by a lot of moms in the thousand years or so that the people of Oxyrhynchus used the desert outside of town as their Ye Olde Dump, and historians and out-of-work English majors have been unearthing and preserving the scraps from the Oxyrhynchus site these two millennia after the fact with tender care. This month a joint project of Oxford and Brigham Young, using image systems derived from infrared satellite technology, has read whole tracts of papyrus previously thought to be blank or damaged beyond repair.

New sections of dialogue from the fragmentary Sophocles play The Progeny is one of the discoveries. Here’s a new bit:

Speaker A: … gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.
Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle’s songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.
Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot’s rail.

This may not mean much to you or me, but we’re not experts. In the proper hands, this stuff is dynamite: gritty, authentic, realistic, the actual bones that a solid writer can flesh out into true drama. David Milch has already plotted the entire first season of a new HBO mini-series based on these lines alone … so keep an eye out for next year’s cable blockbuster, Toga Party. The guy who runs the local taberna, Al Gamemnon, should be a real corker.

Posted in General Musings |

Carnival of Sorts

Once in a while we join in the reindeer games with other blogs, but in general, Pepper of the Earth does not play well with others. We’re OK with that.

For no reason, or because it’s spring, or both, we’ve got a post linked this week in the current edition of Carnival of the Vanities, a regular anthology of blog entries from all over the place on all kinds of topics. The Carnival wanders from blog to blog, as carnivals will, and this week it is hosted at Conservative Dialysis. We share company with a gajillion other bloggers writing on politics, war, religion, history, law, courts, culture, and the internet. Among other things.

Our entry is about burlesque and pizza, under the Life & Culture heading. We’re OK with that, too.

Posted in General Musings |

Did you remember to change the battery?

Changing the batteries in the smoke detectors is a quasi-equinoctial (yes, that’s a word) ritual associated with the resetting of the clocks to and from summer time. But did you remember to do it this month?

Hot Stuff!

Howdy DoodyThis afternoon, I spent a couple of hours taking pictures in the apartment of a friend who was the victim of an electrical fire a couple of days ago. It all started with ancient wiring in the wall above the stove, and quickly spread back to the bathroom and up to the floor above.

My friend wasn’t there at the time, and he is meticulous about turning off all electrical appliances when he leaves –OK, he’s a penny-pinching maniac– which may well have helped minimize the initial fire, but by the time the fire department was done with it, after breaking in from the neighbor’s because of the door and window gates on this ground-floor apartment, half of it was a burnt-out shell, and the other half a soggy, grimy mess. And his cat was dead. And Howdy Doody was singed and covered in soot.

So, do have another look at your detectors. And make sure no extension cords or wall outlets are warm. A couple of fire extinguishers is not a bad idea, too.

Posted in General Musings |

To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores

Syndicaat Mondiale degli Stagioni
4 Vivaldi Drive
Central City, Uqbar ORB3

Attention: Most Hon. Caliph Winter

Dear Winter,

I write from your familiar haunt of New York City where, as you know, your recent prolonged local residence was the topic of much regional discussion.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to be said for chipper-faced chilled children fresh from running and leaping over poised, quiet land, and for the splendid convoluted silence of falling snow; a mug of steaming cider or mulled wine turns the dark a magical color, one that goes beyond the eyes and deep into the heart. When the ground turns in with cold ahead all the world is sere and stunned, clasping life in itself against a season of sweeping exposure. There are wisdoms there as bracing and kind as any I have ever known. Cycles, circles, decline and rebirth: this is all taken, and appreciated.

I side with the Bard, with some sympathy, when he writes,

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference; as, the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’

That being said, however, and with the temperature outside edging up into the 80′s today, I can only add the following:

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.

Love, Linus

Posted in General Musings |

Five for Fighting

Julie, Tony, Jason, Virginia and Linus reading "U Suck!"

We five rascals above did the first reading of a new play called U Suck! last week, and Pierre has pieced together photographic evidence of the rascalry as it looked from the house. That’s me on the right, along with (heading left) Virginia, Jason, Tony, and Julie. You can’t see it in the picture, but I’m wearing my Actor shirt. By which I mean it says “Actor” in big letters on the back (and small ones in the front), just in case there should be any confusion.

Mr. Grist: What are you doing here?
Linus: I’m with the band.
Mr. Grist: (looking around) What band?
Linus: No, sorry, never mind. I’m, er, an actor.
Mr. Grist: You’re what?
Linus: See?
Mr. Grist: Oh, of course. Carry on then.

Speaking of which, I’m looking for new audition monologs. Any suggestions? The old warhorses that need a bit of grazing downtime shelter are from Mamet’s Lakeboat (Scene 26, “Joe’s Suicide”) and Shakespeare’s Henry V (II.ii 109-146, the speech to Lord Scroop at Southampton). Anyone? Bueller?

Posted in General Musings |

A Bird in the Plan

Blanche the Quilter, Matriarch of the Gelber Clan

It’s gorgeous out there. Gorgeous. How hard does a 72° day hit, after our long straggling niggling wetfoot streaks-on-the-threshold stretch of winter? Put it this way: Hulk smash. Our looser metrosexual trees are squirting blossoms down the flinty streets. We’re just a few days from sloshing through petals. Even the barkier deciduous stalwarts, old enough to know better, are already in prim puritan bud.

It’s been a cozy weekend, untrammelled by frenzy. On Friday night Jess of Blind Cavefish celebrates her not-so-scary-after-all 30th birthday with a party at the Grassroots Tavern on St. Marks Place, an institution of sorts (at least judging by the inmates). Last time I was in the Groots was probably in 1981, and it smells much better now. Somewhere between 1981 and Saturday, girls began to venture in, which does wonders for the feng shui of the place. Jess has notably yummy friends (birds of a feather and all), so our feng is mightily shui‘d, and much popcorn is flung about in obscure expressions of desire. Remember, if you get her a good one in the eye it must be love. Bloggers are present in force and numbers.

Saturday I join my parents up on the Upper West Side for buffet brunch at Tandoori North. I’m not much into the Indian buffet concept today, but lo: the food is fantastic and pitched to the devourer. Fancy? Maybe not. Delicious? Twice that. Their $5.99 brunch is a complete joy. We adjourn back to the Ancestral Gelber Apartment and Mom takes out her current project, the State Bird Quilt, which is currently filling her retirement time stitch by stitch. The folks took up bird-watching some years back, so the renderings are loving and accurate: the dozen photos so far in the Quilt Gallery are of the early stages, and I’ll hope to update them every few months until the beast is done.

And today? Hulk smash, dude. Also, Hulk check out cute girls in springy little jiggly tops, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Posted in General Musings |

You Got Vanilla on my Peanut Butter

Vanilla is the color of my true love's chocolate?

If it Ain’t Broke, Fix it ‘Til it Is: From the Department of Not Very Good Ideas, we bring you the White Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Thanks for trying, Hershey’s, and let’s not make a habit of it, shall we? I’m with Paddy O’Poppycock on this one: not a good way to spend your diabetes dollar.

By the way, I’d post a better picture of the thing – but that one has already been eaten, and I have no intention of buying any more of them.

Posted in General Musings |