Archive for the ‘The Smorgasbord’ Category
I’ve been waiting for some news for quite a while now. This all links back to my post of a few weeks ago, and unfortunately there’s been no movement which is disappointing. I’m not sure I’d say its life changing stuff, but to use the bullshit bingo term it is “game changing” for me at least. So much so, that my happiness levels have been on a bit of a rollercoaster these past 3 weeks as my thoughts and predictions on the possible news twist and turn. Now I’m in the pessimistic quadrant (if such a thing exists) and I’m liable to stay with my glass half empty until the final confirmation is given.
I’m rambling of course, but thats okay because thats what Monday Musings is all about. It also demonstrates why I’ve not been updating here as often. My concentration levels are, as someone has commented quite succinctly in the past week, akin to Dory from Finding Nemo. Quite.
Normal service hopefully will be resumed this week.
I’ve started to reread The Business of Thought as its been a while since I wrote it and I know it needs work. Where I’d left things was at the end of the first act and of everything I’ve reviewed, the last line there is my favourite and will stay no matter what. It seems such a natural note to close things out in terms of the setup and, with a wink to the reader, we’re set for the confrontation.
Of course there are bits I like, some that need rework and some that really shouldn’t be there in the first place and need to be put out of their misery. Luckily, very little dialogue appears in the latter category which is surprising as I often find that I drop in one to many cliches or that a couple of characters end up with the same voice and require big rewrites. This gets me thinking about whether these characters seem more rounded than I had previously thought and, at the paranoid end of the spectrum, are they too unique (if such a thing were possible) that they could end up grating on me and the reader. As I say, thats the more extreme end so probably not. Still, I’ll keep a close eye on a couple of characters as I go along.
I intend to do a longer piece on 1 or 2 characters in a later post, but want to mention Jennifer who is fast becoming my favourite. I remember spending quite a bit of time on her introduction and backstory at time of writing and it shows as she was primarily a supporting character but now plays a pivotal role, not only in terms of the denoument, but also as the eyes of the reader.
Anyway, more later on Jennifer and the scope of the rewrite.
Riding on the bus the other morning, my mind wistfully visiting somewhere warm and sleepy, I happened to notice a young woman waiting outside her office. It wasn’t that she was doing anything extraordinary, or particularly interesting, rather that her face was caked in fake tan. Which of course I recognised – the colour, not the face – as something I had seen recently. Yes, it was the colour of the inside of one of Holly’s nappies.
I smiled a lot that morning.
You see, there are benefits to changing nappies.
So, things are moving on and while I don’t think colic has gone, and she remains uncomfortably windy, she does seem to be able to sleep most of the night which is great because it gives her mum a well deserved rest for a few hours. Of course, I’m now touching virtual wood.
Even better are the smiles of which there are plenty.
On the first born front, Liam has now finished Stage 3 reading which is amazing. Kate and I both look forward to – and fight over – helping him with homework at night and we are both so happy with his progress. His writing is great as well – don’t tell him, but much more coherent than his dad – and last week he made a card for those from his old nursery and wrote in about half a dozen names. This was all for a visit last week as Holly will be starting there later this year.
This morning we had a read of the Tiny Titans trade I bought him for Christmas and he seems to like it. The geekification of my son continues apace.
No, this won’t be a discourse on crossing busy streets or dodging potholes/dog poo. I can hear the collective sighs of sadness even as I type*.
The danger which I speak of today is letting your mind wander and create more potential projects when you are supposed to be working on something else. Which is basically what happened this morning as I strolled into the office, trying desperately to block out the chilling wetness that was soaking through my shirt onto my neck and back region. For some reason – and I don’t know the trigger – my imagination took over and decided to inject yet another idea into my already swamped artistic consciousness.
This time, it started tempting me with a concept for a TV sci-fi/drama series, within 10 minutes I had the concept and came to the quick conclusion that if it did ever exist, it would run for one season and one only. The way things started to map out on my journey, I really couldn’t see it having any legs to stretch out more than a dozen episodes and even then that might push it.
Now it has a working title of “Fundamental” and thats all it’ll be for a while. Notes have been captured and it’ll sit there while I work on the more formed ideas. It’ll come back every so often and tickle me when I least need it to – when I have a self imposed deadline, or perhaps there’s a scene I’m struggling to nail – but it’ll have to wait.
To be fair though, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Really, if my brain wants to keep throwing out ideas then great because the day they dry up I’ll just look stupid and you’ll all stand there pointing and laughing at me. No, better to cage the creative beast and let it out every so often than smack it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tell it to go lie down.
In the meantime, I need to try and force thoughts on current projects as I walk to ensure nothing else creeps in there. Or maybe I should put on my Zune and crank up the volume and drown out the creative process.
If you would like a piece on the potholes and dog poo in the future, let me know in comments section and I’m sure I can accommodate.
* Which of course is odd, because you’re not reading this as I type unless you have control of my machine and running some sort of key logger. Apologies, I watched “Enemy of the State” 5 years ago.
I love a good caption arrow don’t you? Especially when there’s a question. Doubly especially when its for such a cracking mystery.
Yeah man, I got your Twilight and True Blood right here.
Daredevil was never invited back to boat parties as his new hat had a tendency to affect the tides.
Never again would Nightwing borrow Huntress’ perfume and leave the top off the bottle
The Inhuman’s Scissor Sisters tribute band was a hit across Attilan
I have never been so drawn to a button hole
Its still winter(ish) so more comfort food is appropriate I think. This is a great dish to use with leftovers for example if you’ve cooked a lot of rice one day and keep it in the fridge. Its a bit indulgent with double cream, but what the hell you need the extra fat to keep you going over the cold nights.
- 350g of undyed smoked fish (haddock works)
- 100ml of double cream
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons mild curry paste
- 250g rice (cooked in advance)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- Place the fish into a microwavable bowl and pour over the cream. Cover with cling film, pierce some holes in it and cook on full power for 5-6 minutes.
- Flake the fish and remove the bones
- Heat butter in a wok or heavy based frying pan and gently fry the onion
- Add the peas and stir together for 4-5 minutes until onion is soft and peas are cooked
- Stir in curry paste and cooked rice and cook for 1 minute.
- Add cooked fish and cream mixture, lemon juice, chopped eggs and parsley
- Mix together and serve
Strange things are afoot, which are hard to describe without giving the game away which isn’t something I want to do at the moment.
Suffice it to say that following an event last week, I was contacted by 2 people who had heard about said event. One wanted some advice and the other to offer some. All very strange and hopefully I’ll be able to give context at a later date, but for the moment my mind is racing with possibilities, especially after I spoke to both individuals separately on Saturday and Monday.
Still, 2 days off last week and a pretty bad night on call Sunday/Monday meant that my plans for content were severely curtailed. I would say normal service will be resumed next week, but I want to break from the norm which is why I am focusing on writing more. If you get my meaning.
Look out for a recipe later today (yes, its not Monday), more past comic selections on Wednesday and my take on what fake tan looks like on Friday.
Dig that crazy cat Nefaria. He takes request you know.
Reminds me of that old adage, “Too Young to Die, Too Stupid to Live”
Where’s The National Enquirer when you need it Lois? They would have had the scoop years ago.
I have a feeling this has something to do with frat boys.
No Superman don’t listen to him. Pour it on. Melt the sidekicks. Especially Jimmy.
As it is Shrove/Pancake Tuesday, its time for my favourite pancake recipe. This is from The Joy of Cooking and I make these every Sunday morning. Serve with fruit of your choice (berries are good, especially blueberries), maple syrup if you like and bacon if you eat meat.
- 1.5 cups of plain flour (wholemeal is very tasty)
- 3 tbsp of sugar
- 1.5 tsp of baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1.5 cups of milk
- 3 tbsp of butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- a squirt of vanilla flavour/essence (latter much stronger)
- Take 2 bowls – one for dry ingredients and one for wet ingredients
- In the dry bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
- In the web bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla
- Pour the web into the dry and stir together well
- Heat a little butter in a shallow frying pan
- Turn down the heat to low
- Drop a ladel full of batter into the centre
- Swirl around until you get the size you want
- Return to low heat and wait until lots of bubbles form and burst (about 1 minute)
- Flip over the pancake and pat down
- Leave for a further 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness) and check underneath to ensure it is cooked
- Remove from the heat and butter when warm
- Repeat from 7 until all pancakes are made
- I usually use the first pancake as a tester. Its usually fine and can tide people over until they’re all ready
- Keep the pancakes warm in the oven until all done – quickly open the door and pop the next buttered one in each time
- To speed things up, I usually remove a cooked pancake and then spoon in mixture for the next before i go back and butter the cooked one
- If you want to add fruit(eg strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas), chop them up and add them to the wet bowl
The following was one of the first posts on The Smorgasbord. Something happened (I believe it is technically called an Internet Fart) and it disappeared. However, I had a backup – Hoorah! So, in the interests of completion, historical posterity and my own bloated self worth (not really) here it is again.
So, hand dryers. Yeah, not keen. Never have been.
I never saw the point because they never dry your hands properly. Either there’s not enough puff and you have to stand there for an age, or the heat is so intense that you withdraw your hands after a few seconds in searing agony. So, you have to divest time, flesh or my personal choice, use paper. Which is crap because then you feel guilty for contributing to the destruction of the planet.
Of course they don’t usually have paper towels any more – and by that I don’t mean the rotating towel which is so wrong on so many levels – so your only option is to dip into a stall and get toilet roll instead which can be difficult when all are taken. In those situations, the only option is to use the hand dryer.
The other week, I was given some slightly good news and then some horrifying news on this particular subject. I’d like to share both with you.
Dyson, that fine innovator and purveyor of the highly efficient vacuum cleaner – now with added ball technology – has dipped his hand in the hand dryer market. Literally as the machine has been designed for you to dip your digits into the machine and move around – or up and down – to allow for the full drying effect to take place. Believe it or not, the fact that this looks like some sort of robot mouth is not meant to put you off. Some will be of course, but those people have no imagination.
Which is a shame because those with imagination will steer clear of this monster due to the horrifying news that I heard rapidly after the Dyson news.
You see, the main issue with hand dryers is that they are quite good at blowing out bacteria and – get this – fecal matter. Which I don’t understand because I thought that when you wash your hands you get rid of any fecal matter, unless you’re starting to get into an atomic level and if that’s the case tehn all bets are off really. Of course, the Dyson is supposedly the worst for this as it seems to gather the water from people’s hands in a little reservoir at the bottom of the dryer. Which in turn is probably circulated around by the dryer itself, so while you are shaking your immaculately cleaned hands around the dryer you get the output of other people’s poor clean up jobs whirling around your fingers just waiting to latch onto semi dry flesh.
Dyson’s have been around for while now I believe, but following the revelation that they existed I was in a toilet last week and saw them in the metal. What was worse was, after I gave them a huge body swerve to use hand towels, I spied someone else using one and indeed saw the pool of fecal infected water at the bottom awaiting to pounce. I desperately wanted to intervene but unfortuntely I fear that if I had, the surprise would have meant an unexpected soaking so I did the usual and ignored the poor sap as I left silently.
So whats the solution? How do you create a hand dryer which is automatic and is sanitary? I don’t know but something like this that I found could do the trick.
I have to admit that The MacGuffin Trilogy was stumbled upon by accident really. Maybe, in years to come, I’ll look back on it as divine inspiration or some true destiny, played out as if it was planned all along and not just something which happened because I have a problem finishing what I start.
Why, two posts about procrastination in the past week? Whatever can that mean?
Anyway, the real reason for The MacGuffin Trilogy existing – or the name at least – is because there are 3 distinct novels that I want to get finished, all drawing me into their mythos and demanding that I give them equal attention. Which of course I couldn’t because of other things such as life. But, fundamentally each spoke to me in a way that made me want to keep going, and tell the central characters’ stories.
As I said, timewise it wasn’t really working and I found myself flitting from one story to another as scenes and dialogue for one popped into my head when they really needed to live in one of the others. It was confusing and in the end I was getting nowhere. Fast.
Finally I sat down and took a break. I had to come up with a way of being fair to all three, making sure they understood that while I did want them to exist, some would have to wait a little longer than the other(s) to get there. It was simple after this late night heart to heart – and once the emotions were let out – for us all to move on.
Then of course, I had the idea of a framing scene which would link all three together like the triplets I know I couldn’t cope with. This scene, played out in different times in each novel’s narrative, seems to serve as a way to have a shared universe and perhaps make the whole thing seem more real.
All that was then required was a title and what could be more appropriate for a fictional shared universe than the term MacGuffin?
Nothing like a good headlock to get things started.
More Wonder Woman goodness but I’m in two minds whether I want to be The Demon in this scenario.
Considering this comes out in February you would have to have a lot of patience to wait 10 months to open this issue.
Cuteness combined with brawling = WIN!
Whatever happened to this guy? Would Nicolas Cage be interested in playing him in a movie?
Macaroni and Cheese is a very simple dish to make. However, it can be bland and to be honest anyone serving poor Macaroni and Cheese should be punished severely. With that in mind, and to help eradicate corporal punishment for bland cooking, here is my favourite recipe for this cheesy pasta classic.
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 cups milk
- 1 small onion, grated
- 3/4 pound shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (3 cups)
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
- 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375°F, 190°C, Gas 5
- In saucepan over medium low heat melt 4 tablespoons butter
- Blend in flour and seasonings, stirring until smooth and bubbly
- Gradually stir in milk; cook and stir until thick and smooth.
- Stir in grated onion and cheese.
- Place cooked drained macaroni in a buttered casserole dish.
- Pour sauce over macaroni and gently mix to blend.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs over the macaroni.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Sometimes I like to put some sliced tomatoes on just before I add the breadcrumbs. You can experiment with other toppings as well, but the breadcrumbs are important.
My life has changed recently, with a new addition to the family. Born on 18th December, Holly Louise joined the Little clan and its safe to say that things have been very different ever since.
Positively different of course.
Of course I can’t blame fatherhood for my lack of contributions to the site as procrastination is my middle name. On the contrary, what I would say is that becoming a dad again has inspired me to write more, which I part attribute to the birth being a fresh start, and part due to having a lot of time to think and plan while I pace up and down the 18 square foot space in the kitchen at 1am.
Embracing this new vigour, I have finally started up my personal website which will collate previous works (heh), these posts and updates on various projects. You can find it at http://davidlittlepresents.co.uk if you like – and you might – so drop by.
I’ve also looked at the original plan for The Smorgasbord and only one themed day was ever updated on a regular basis. I’ve taken a look and worked out which do still have legs and which need to be shaken up or removed completely.
So, here’s the new weekly line-up.
Monday Musings: Thoughts on things. Hard to define as it will change from week to week. So far we’ve had subjects from flat pack furniture to hand dryers althought the latter one seems to be gone. I need to find it and repost.
Recipe Tuesday: Some of my favourite recipes that I need to share with you. In the main they are simple and always delicious. You must then go and make them. Immediately.
Wednesday Why: The best of the world’s weird.
Comics I Might Have Bought: My pull list for the week for the same day several years ago.
Thursday Tales: Posts on my pursuit of a literary career.
Friday Fatherhood: A summary of my week as a dad.
Spam of the Week: Best piece of spam seen in the comments section.
There you have it. Hopefully you’ll drop by regularly to read the plethora of content, or at the very least, help blow the tumbleweed across the virtual ghost town.
Good to see Superman was a stalker before the movie reboot. Stalking yourself though… thats got to be the weirdest.
Oh, looks like it runs in the family.
Avenging the Avengers? You see what they did there?
You wouldn’t want to be stoned looking at this cover. But it might help.
Elektra provides a potentially extreme cure to Daredevil’s deviated septum.
These cookies come from the remarkable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who isn’t so much a British chef but an exponent for self sufficiency. Over the years his River Cottage series have shown him raise his own produce, and help catch and cull various animals and fish to prepare for his family’s plate, or as part of a banquet to those local heroes he so loves.
When I make these, I often mix things up by having a batch of dark chocolate and a batch of white chocolate or both in one. These really expand to create huge cookies so ensure you leave lots of space between the blobs of sweet goodness before they go in the oven.
- 100g/3½oz good dark chocolate
- 125g/4½oz unsalted butter
- 100g/3½oz granulated sugar
- 75g/2½oz soft brown sugar
- 1 free-range egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g/5¼oz plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Chop the chocolate into little chunks and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a small saucepan very gently until it has just melted. Meanwhile, put the two types of sugar into a mixing bowl.
- Pour the melted butter on top of the sugars and beat well with a wooden spoon.
- Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well blended.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl and stir them in, then add the chopped chocolate.
- Dot heaped pudding spoonfuls of the mixture over the lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space in between them–they really spread out while baking.
- Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are just turning golden brown.
- Leave the cookies on the baking sheets to harden for a couple of minutes, then carefully lift up the baking parchment and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
- You can eat these cookies warm, but they are also good cold, and they store well in an airtight tin.
Serve, of course, with a tall glass of chilled milk.
As Winter continues to grip our unmentionables with its frozen, school nurse-like hand, thoughts wander to warmer, more filling and comforting foods. This recipe is a cheap, warming and tasty solution for the long nights. I like to substitute the bacon for pancetta to give it a more smokey flavour. Also, remember to thoroughly drain and rinse the beans because not doing so can take away the awesome.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 12 good free-range pork sausages
- 6 rashers of bacon or some chopped pancetta
- 1 med red onion
- 2 cloves garlic peeled & chopped
- 1 red chilli (or more to taste) chopped
- 1 tablesp dark soft brown sugar
- 2 x 400gr tins plum or chopped tomatoes
- Dash of red or white wine
- 2 410 tins cannellini beans drained and rinsed.
- 1 410 g tin kidney beans drained and rinsed.
- Leaves from fresh parsley.
- Place a large heavy based saucepan on the hob and heat the oil.
- Add the sausages and fry over a medium heat, turning them over until they are browned.
- Take them out of the pan, halve them and set aside.
- Add a little extra oil if necessary, turn the heat to low and add the bacon and the onion and fry gently for about 10mins stirring from time to time so they don’t stick to the bottom. They will pick up the lovely sausage goo from the saucepan.
- Add the garlic and chilli and fry for another couple of mins then add the sugar.
- Pour in the tomatoes, wine and 275 ml of water. Stir in the sausages and the beans.
- Bring to the boil then cover and cook for 15 to 20 mins over a low to medium heat until the sausages are well cooked through.
- To Serve taste and season and sprinkle with the parlsey.
- Serve with fresh crusty bread or mash potatoes.
I’m not sure, is faceless kissing a good thing? A step up from wearing a paper bag perhaps?
This is confusing as well. Are those men about to throw Superman into a lake to celebrate his birthday, or are they … oh wait.
So when did Transformers start controlling our children’s education? Did no one even think to send me the memo? I guess the Target Masters are for that new fangled early examination fad. It’ll never last.
The only Strange Tale I’m hoping resides beyond this cover is how someone came up with those costumes. Although, to be fair, it looks as though the Black Cat has her usual costume on backwards. But Dagger? Really?