May the Fourth

 

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from Neatorama

Hello, May. Something light and frothy. Let’s see. Oh.

May the Fourth Be With You. If you don’t get that…I cannot help you in any way, shape or form.

So, yesterday. I had saved a submission opportunity and actually took a moment to read through it, as I noted, somewhere in my messy mindhole, that I might have something to actually send that way. [The Honest Women, to be honest and frank and factual.] 

Ah, yes! I read through the FAQ, like an innocent little idiot. I saw the requirements were not too weird, absurd or strenuous. I saw the deadline date– May 31, 2018. No entry fee.

I can do this, I thought with real American vigor. I can do this!

So, I tidied up a full-length play, which I’ve written about here a bit. Yep, the rewrite, I finished it! It was just sitting there, pages not numbered, no title page. A sad little full-length that had not yet had my attempt at polishing it up a bit.

So I spent, yes, the entire morning, putting page numbers in, doing a title page, coming up with a synopsis. Coming up with this, that, the other as per the submission guidelines. I even had to PDF it! Oh the horror! No, actually, it’s not, but I added that for dramatic effect. Get it?

GET IT NOW?

Okay, so I magically produce a product that roughly fits the guidelines of this submission opportunity. I email it off, using the email address the FAQ provided. I had a real sense of accomplishment. Oh yes, I did. I knew and know now that my play getting picked is a long shot on the odds of a donkey winning the Kentucky Derby. You know, that ‘not gonna happen’ outlook that I have so cheerfully and sweetly adopted. So that when I do get picked for whatever, I will be truly and honestly surprised.

So, not seconds after I sent off my submission…I get an email back from this crew. Claiming I had MISSED THE DEADLINE, that it was April 30…and they included the link to their FAQ.

I read this over several times, it seemed to be in Klingon. [ Or whatever Wookiees speak.]

What the hell, I thought, honestly and truly bewildered. I then went to check my saved link to this submission opportunity. Nope, it said May 31, 2018. I checked the link the crew sent me. Nope, May 31, 2018.

Gaslighted? Were they playing some weird Gaslight prank on me?

But wait, THERE’S MORE. Can you dig it? Can you survive the rush of adrenaline that just hit your system, fellow babies???

So today, as I write this, I went back to check for that bit that says the right date. And there’s an email from this place, that says, hey, you were right, we were wrong, so sorry.

Happy ending? What??!! Some trickster god went, hey, here, I’ll give you one, you sadsack. Is that what happened?? I’m looking for supernatural elements in a very mundane, boring clerical error story. I must be an American, bwha ha ha. 

The moral of this story is…don’t pet fish.

I have no idea what the moral is here. Other than double and triple check dates for deadlines? I’m careless that way.

I also didn’t just let this go, I went back and rechecked the date and then copy-pasted that into my email back to ‘them’. Instead of sighing and going, oh well. So that’s…um, something. Right?

I was also nice and polite in my email. Nary a cuss word or hint their mom wore combat boots. Not that I regularly send off emails to sub ops cussin’ em out.

It’s nice here today in Eastern Oregon, my mini garden is yet alive and the dove baby I wrote about in One Egg IS STILL ALIVE AND THRIVING , thank you. A beautiful little birdling.

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Me invading this poor young bird’s privacy. Isn’t it cute???

There’s also a nest of tiny babies squawking in the privet hedge.

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Me playing bird paparazzi. Tiny newborns hastily caught with my elderly digital camera

And the blackbirds are back, with their ugly warning shouts. The lilac blooms. The ancient irises persist in throwing up their swordish leaves. Spring has sprung and I have learned not to pet fish. All is well, my darlings, all is well.

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My Great British Baking Show Obsession

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Here I am, watching a show about, um, baking stuff. A reality show, at that! About mixing ingredients, yeast, dough, sauces, showstoppers! I ‘discovered’ this show about a year ago and have been an obsessive weirdo ever since. It’s my version of lithium, my version of a sedative that keeps me from GOING INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE.

I think, honestly, it’s the calm British voices and the intense concentration of the various bakers that send me into moist-eyed near-still viewings of this baby. I must admit, also, to enjoying the products that arrive from the chaos of flour and frowny faces. The four-layer sponges frosted with piped on buttercream roses in different colors, the elaborate presentations of tiny pastries filled with creamed walnuts and lemon curd, the homely scones, the how did they get their pies to look like that pies; the simple cookies that must all be THE EXACT SAME SIZE AND LOOK ALL THE SAME. How things look really, really counts.

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It actually did almost end up this fancy. Time runs out, what can you do?

I’m also learning how to be a better baker myself and to want to attempt braided breads and baked puddings and French pastries with those frou-frou names. I want to wade into those rich flavors! Mint and raspberry and cardamom and hazelnut and white chocolate and…! Everything seems made of butter and castor sugar. [Powdered sugar? Sugar from Castor?]

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from the Sun

And the British measurements confundle me a bit but then I relax and just go with it. A gram of this, a bit of that, ooh la la–giant multi-layered cake with exotic fillings decorated with hand-made chocolate silhouettes of Man City players. [I know there are two soccer teams in Manchester. I did not learn that from the GBBS.]

I also planted a bit of a garden but that’s quite another post. I just planted  some dill and Greek oregano, each protected a bit by an old tire and an end cut off a big plastic pipe.

I also thrill with the great triumphs that come out of the various ovens and nearly cry at the failures that come out of the various ovens. My stomach hurts as I wait for the judges, two stoic British stalwarts named Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, to murmur their pronouncements. Good or bad? That’s a good bake. What happened here? The nods. The pitying smiles as they tap a bit of underdone bread. The tasting of cake that looks pretty but apparently tastes like imitation vanilla cookies run over by a two-decker bus. The technical challenges nearly always makes me go very still, hardly breathing as the remaining bakers who survived the week before’s letting go, rush about trying to all bake the exact same thing. The camaraderie that seems very genuine among the contestants. The hugs given out when something goes oh so very wrong. 

I have no idea who those two others are that wander about and crack jokes. The ones that announce what’s what and call out the time remaining, etc. Those two? I can’t remember their names. But the show would not seem the same delightful casserole without their presence. Anyone for a biscuit? Which, by the way, means something entirely different in ‘murica. It’s not a cookie. It’s, well, an actual biscuit, you British tosspots. 

Back to the technical challenge musings!

Usually some obscure, very fiddly recipe that they’ve NEVER HEARD OF. A Danish tower of circles, sprinkled with powdered pistachios, with icing piped on it…meant to look like a Christmas tree. Each circle of pastry/cookie, whatever it was, had to be gradually smaller and smaller. The results were…varying. One poor bloke seemed to have skipped the pistachio bit altogether and his vaguely tree-like creation just looked like a stack of weird donut-like circles with icing sprayed near it. I wanted to pat him and say, oh, that’s too bad. In my best posh British voice, of course.

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Kransekeke. What it’s supposed to look like

Pastry dough must be cold before it’s used, or the butter or lard will melt.

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Mary Berry

I’ll not go on too much longer about one of my fave shows. If you have no idea what I’m writing about here…go check it out if you like reality cooking shows pitting one baker against another. Or even just a rather gentle, very family-friendly, so veddy British confection. I do also know there are variations of this show– even an American one. Which they, those at ABC, aired during the Christmas season last year. However, it went away because the American judge had been a bit dodgy with a contestant. The #MeToo movement had led that person to speak up so ABC decided to air something else entirely rather than air already filmed episodes.

Anyway!

The GBBS calms me. Soothes me. Makes me a happy little clam. I thrill over a hard technical challenge and mourn when someone’s pastry won’t bake as it should. I marvel over the lovely cakes produced in a three-hour time limit. My cakes taste okay but they look like shite. I need to work on my presentation, oh yes.

I also use cake mixes a lot, with my grandmother’s words echoing through me about how cakes had to be made from scratch in her day and how marvelous you can just buy a cake mix. One already mostly assembled for you! She was truly amazed and happy one could just go to a grocery store and pick out a box with a pretty cake on front. And add water, eggs, oil and get a cake. It was a modern wonder to her. My gran would have LOVED this show. Oh my lordy, she would have flipped her home permed curls over all that baking and attempted some of it herself, all while smoking a Pall Mall and turning up her hearing aid a bit. But she was quite the excellent baker herself. I won’t go down memory lane here, I promise. 

Umble pie– where the servants in a household were fed the innards of an animal, usually a deer, enclosed in a pie crust. Which gave rise to the phrase– humble pie. The more you know.

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Please note I’ve not talked about Honest Women or my BOOKS WHICH ARE ON SALE RIGHT FREAKING NOW SO BUY BUY BUY. I’ve kept to my single topic of British baking shows. I want that noted and on the record, please.

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from Cheshire Life. Paul Hollywood and pie, steamed pudding, something very British?

Green

 

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From, yes, a St. Pat’s pub crawl in…Shenyang, China. 

Oh so the skies are a’meltin’ and the birds be building homes in the wakening trees. Yours truly is flubbergating over yet another restart of Honest Women and trying to give herself leprosy rather than attend a St. Pat dinner at the relatives. I’d rather gouge my eyes out for Jesus than endure the carping of Fox  well-trained seals still waiting for Hilary to be arrested…no, not kidding. There is no kid here. The kids have left the building, to hunt down the real Elvis. 

So!!

I find myself waffling, like a giant lady waffle, over WHAT THE HELL IS THE STORY for my full length Honest Women, instead of just, um, writing and letting whatever lorch onto the screen/page. Lorch is such a spot-on word for vomiting. I can’t even. Are the children still using–I can’t even– as a catchphrase? Do I need to move on?

However, I wrote thirty some pages yesterday. My fingers flew like yard robins. Things coalesced. Themes emerged from the murky swamps. Those murky dirty swamps that one swims in and often drowns many times over within before deciding such and such is crap and thus–goodbye forever. Or decides such and such needs a total ass-kicking rewrite from scratch. There’s options here.

Basketball plagues the airwaves and the minds of hearty, flag-wavin’ ‘muricans right now. A plague on all your brackets! I don’t care and could care less if Seton Hall defeats Satan in a thrilling overtime deathmatch involving flamethrowers, those Mad Max cars and naked female mud wrestlers straddling ‘gators. Nope! March Madness is just basketball. It bounces, it goes in the net, it bounces. It overshadows Women’s History Month…coincidence?? Huh. Prolly not. Ahem.

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from Affinity Magazine, 2015

How come women get a whole month? When will it be Men’s History Month??

Yep. Yep yep yep. Head. Explode. Ah.

I didn’t have a cohesive topic for a blog post, but since my pattern seems to post on Friday or Saturday or any other day of the week, I thought I’d gather a few rando notions and force them into the same vague essay-ish lorch.

To sum up– am reworking Honest Women YET AGAIN BECAUSE I GET TO ACT TWO and I wonder…who the fuck is gonna want to sit through this shit? And then start a new version, where, eventually, I will consider the poor audience members suffering through this dreck and then restart YET AGAIN BECAUSE WAH. Yeah, that’s my super-secret writing process, laid out in surgical precision and coldly logical robotic terms.

Trying to get leprosy or just calmly state, no thanks…for the St. Green feast of corned beef and America First.

Some other piddlings to fill in the sparse content a bit.
Though…I’d probably have material for about ten blog posts if I attended the St. Green’s feast of corned beef and America First but oh my blessed baby Jesus and pint of Guinness Stout…IT’S JUST NOT WORTH LOSING MY SOUL OVER. Satan, after all, has first dibbs on that poor, battered bit of swamp gas that floats in me with a bewildered puzzlement nearly all hours of the day or night.

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from TeeRepublic. Look at me, challenging the notions of what’s wrong and right in this world!
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This is the start of the night, at the Green Mile. Notice the wearin’ o’ the green…notice that.