800th Post!, Under the Dome, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Milking a Cow!, ROW80, and Recipes

Horror, as a genre.

I wouldn't actually say I read it, the same way I don't really watch zombie films. But after a while, there's bound to be one or two books and movies that creep into your life. So, for instance, I've seen the classic Dawn of the Dead, as well as Shaun of the Dead ("we do the quiz!") and most recently read World War Z.

And as for reading horror... I read Stephen King. I'm sure I've read a handful of other authors, and of course I've read lots of folkloric ghost stories, but King is the one that sticks.

The hardest part about King, though, is when friends or bookstore employees (this happened again just last week) say: "I've always wanted to try Stephen King, but I don't like horror/being scared/ghosts."

I get all tongue tied and don't really know how to recommend him, beyond babbling "but it's a good scary, and usually - okay, sometimes - it turns out all right in the end! Also, try Bag of Bones or The Body."

What it comes down to is type casting, and I don't think an author who writes local New England speak as well as King does, who captures entire generations, who can create in-depth characters in barely half a page, who has such an original voice, and more, should be typecast. I mean, look at this list: Stephen King novels. That's only the full length books! There's so much to choose from in his bibliography. There's a lot more than one clown.


I lost all of last weekend to reading Under the Dome. (I won't say anything about the tv version, which I'm not sure I'll ever get around to watching; I couldn't beat Stephen King's own words on the subject anyway: King on the adaptation of Under the Dome.) Someone on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum mentioned that the ending felt a bit rushed, but I didn't think so. It was more a case of caring so much about the characters that you really wanted to know what happened to them for the rest of their lives! And the pacing worked really well, given what the survivors (trying not to give too much away here) were attempting - a last gasp at life.


Around the same time, I got my signed copy of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane from Porter Square Books (thanks for all your help Theresa!). Perhaps I shouldn't have read it so quickly after another intense read - I'm thinking I might turn around and reread it this weekend just to savour it a little more. I learned a couple of new words, was pleasantly reminded of Madeleine l'Engle (in both the time and space aspects, and the importance of naming things), and - best and worst of all - the old UK fire, which had been lying dormant for some months, has been rekindled. Some day, some day, I will live there (or at least visit for longer than a month!).

Neil has mentioned in various interviews that the Hempstock family of OceanLane, and their farm, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book, have been in his mind for years and that he's "lived with" the characters since he was very young. I don't actually have a full story or characters like that, but I do have one line that has stuck with me for years and years and years:

"you know it's the ride to hell, because the red woman just got off"

Perhaps someday I'll find out what exactly that means...

Speaking of doing things for the first time off the list of 30 Things I'd Like To Do, I can cross one off!

Last weekend, I milked a cow!

first attempt...

show me how, again?

It was both easy and difficult - easy because the cow was so placid and patient, and hard because I just couldn't get the rhythm. Because of that, I didn't quite get to taste it either (and wasn't supposed to try - it's against health regulations. But I'd like to try it some time. And I did get to buy cheese made at the factory on site).

Here she is:

forgot to ask her name!

This all took place at Upper Canada Village, a Canadian version of the Ironbridge Gorge's Blists Hill - basically a recreation of a 19th century farming village. We visited right in the middle of re-enactments of the War of 1812, and the fields were covered in soldiers' tents...

across the marsh...





 
tree swing!

 
if you can learn the rules...

 
soldiers, post-battle

 
other conscripts

 
panorama - the United States across the river

 
one of the ships used in the re-enactment

 
a hoary old tree

 
inside a masonic lodge

outside of the lodge
(this reminded me of the Outlander books, of course, where Jamie Fraser is made a mason while in prison)

 
signal point

interesting looking anchor

commemorative edition of the village Gazette
(I know it's hard to read - the most fascinating thing about this was learning that it took about eight hours to set one column of type - this sheet has six columns, and the Gazette cost five cents. Five cents for a week's worth of work!)

 
a playbill for Beauty and the Beast! Aww, perhaps it's an adaptation of my novel...

type cases - the upper case letters are in... the upper case

The last post on this blog was my 800th post! To celebrate, please enjoy some fun links:

Misha's hosting the Pay It Forward Awards once more!

If you're busy writing or editing (like I'm supposed to be - got through a few chapters of print-out edits last night, so I don't feel entirely worthless), then don't forget to check out the official A Round of Words in 80 Days site for pep talks from fellow authors!

An interview with WRiTE Club founder DL Hammons, by Ninja Alex!

And look! Mini Alex at his first gig! I'm so happy he likes his Who Scarf.

Finally, both Lara and Ayak posted recipes last week, for 3-ingredient berry cobbler and 3-ingredient brownies. Yum!

I've featured börek on the blog before, but today I've got Neil Gaiman's pancakes! From his interview with Joe Hill:
"NG: There is no make-believe in cooking. There were few things I took as much fun in cooking, when I was a boy, as pancakes. (I liked making toffee, too, because it was a little like a science experiment.)

Right. The night before you are going to make them, you mix:
1 cup of ordinary white flour
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups of milk and water (a cup and a half of milk and a cup of water mixed)
1 tablespoon of either vegetable oil or melted butter

(You'll also need some granulated sugar, and a couple of lemons to put on the pancakes, along with other things like jams and possibly even maple syrup because you're American.)

Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Crack the eggs in and whisk/fork the egg into the flour. Slowly add the milk/water mixture, stirring as you go, until there are no lumps and you have a liquid the consistency of a not too thick cream.

Then put the mixture in the fridge overnight."
Read the rest - how to cook and eat 'em - and Neil's answers to questions about OceanLane on Omnivoracious. At the end, Neil adds: "This is a very peculiar interview, Joe. Let me know how the pancakes come out." See the photo above for Joe Hill's verdict - they came out great!

I might have all three, the cobbler, the brownies, and the pancakes. How can I resist?

What have you been eating lately?
Are you writing or editing, or is it too humid out?
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