Friday, January 30, 2004

Emily Short, the diva of Interactive Fiction, has added Alan's 2001 IF game(?) The Isolato Incident to her recommended playing list under the Player Character "Unusual Narrator" category. If you enjoy his fiction (don't we all?) you should try the game.
According to the Cost of War website: Over 1,0040,000 additional housing units could have been built with the money the U.S. has spent on the war in Iraq.
A December U.S. Conference of Mayors hunger and homelessness report shows that despite the President's claim of recovery, hunger and homelessness continued to rise in major American cities over the last year.

From the report: "As the overall economy remained weak, requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 17 percent over the past year, and requests for emergency shelter assistance increased by an average of 13 percent in the 25 cities surveyed.


"This survey underscores the impact the economy has had on everyday Americans," said Conference of Mayors President and Hempstead (NY) Mayor James A. Garner. "The face of homelessness has changed and now reflects who we least suspect.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Looks like my comments are off again. Oh well. E-mail me if you'd like to continue the 5 question thing.
5 questions from Gwenda Bond

1. What is the weirdest and/or most disgusting foodstuff you've ever encountered?

Natto - fermented soy beans made with a bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, and sometimes known in the west as soy cheese.

I was going to say it was toss up between natto and both raw and cooked sea urchin (even when presented beautifully in its prickly shell) but while sea urchin is merely yucky, natto is completely disgusting. Right after I arrived in Japan for the first time, my pregnant aunt took me out for sushi. She offered me a bite of natto saying it was full of protein and very good for you. I took a bite and couldn’t even swallow it, it ended up in a napkin. It was like eating what you find at the bottom of a trash dumpster on a hot summer’s day. A few years later, I saw my now elementary school aged cousin eating it out of these little plastic cups that you can buy in the grocery store. Not only does it taste horrible, it looks horrible being an oily, sticky brown with a little white stuff like egg yoke thrown in that you have to stir together before you eat it. I’ve always prided myself on my adventurous eating habits, but my uncle, my cousin’s American born sister and a good portion of Japan hate it, too, so I don’t feel so bad about it. Ugh.

2. What surprised you most about Alan once you started going out?

The difficulty of this question is how to answer without pissing him off. I knew Alan pretty well in a lot of ways by the fifth week of Clarion when we started dating. We went to get beer together for a video night the second night in Lansing and from then on we were together, with a few other people, almost constantly. I guess I didn’t know how shy he really was because he always has so much more confidence when he’s in a literary environment. One thing I've always admired about him was that he went straight into grad school for poetry after college. He was the youngest in the program and an MFA in poetry isn’t the most practical training for making a living but he knew what he wanted to do and did it.

3. If you could rule from the beautiful Ice Palace, what would be your first decree?

Ooh, does this mean that I get to be the Snow Queen? My first decree would be that all brave and true hearted girls get to travel with their own Snow Queen.

If I only had control over winter, I’d make sure there was enough snow to snowshoe, sled and ski, but not too much snow, and that it was cold enough, but not too cold, for the ice sculptures in Rice Park to last a little longer.

If my authority was limited to just St. Paul, I would order Governor Pawlenty to kiss my toe and roll back all of his nasty cuts to state programs for poor and low-income people.

4. Which kind of dragon is the best kind?

I’ve always been partial to the wise, non fire breathing Chinese dragon, although I probably prefer the fire breathing type in movies.

5. What's the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?

One snowy, cold Thanksgiving, in the pre-cell phone days, I was on the my way in to open the shelter for the evening and I got a flat tire on the freeway. I was the only staff person signed up for duty that night and I needed to get there to let in the volunteer dinner group and later the guys. I’d changed many tires in my life before then, but I couldn’t even get the nuts off the stupid thing they were so tight. I had only been struggling with them a few minutes, though, when a guy pulled in behind me to help. He got them loose with a hammer and changed the tire for me. He then followed me all the way to the shelter because he was worried I’d be stranded without a spare if I had another flat.


1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. I will respond; I’ll ask you five questions.
3. You’ll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. You’ll include this explanation.
5. You’ll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Friday, January 09, 2004

We left Erie in a whiteout and came back to Minnesota in time to weather a couple of really cold days. Now that the temperature has reached the upper teens, it feels almost balmy.

The visit with the DeNiro clan was great as always. We celebrated New Year's for the second time in a row with Chris in Youngstown and Elad, who was also visiting, made four of us. The crappy-okey was fun but daunting. College aged kids were lined up to get up on stage and belt out 80s classics such as Bon Jovi's Blaze of Glory (personally I think Wanted Dead or Alive would have been a better pick), a-ha's Take On Me, Def Leppard's Photograph, and Men without Hats's Safety Dance. Yes, I admit it. I was there for all that music the first time around, and I was at that age where music vibrates through your emotions and into your soul. So, I knew every word to every song. Some of them were favorites, tied to important teenaged memories and episodes. (Pyromania always will be linked to a summer spent at a cabin on a northern Minnesota lake flirting with boys and water-skiing. I'm smiling just thinking of it.) It was unsettling to say the least to have them so boisterously and affectionately mocked by kids.