Wakanda Forever

Fantastic and thoughtful response to Black Panther. Spoilers within!

Black Light

We’ve (finally!) all seen Black Panther. It’s amazing. Below, some reflections (and some spoilers):

Lucianne: My new life metric: “How will this thing I am doing look on my visa application to Wakanda?” (Maybe Shuri needs a janitor for her lab?) I have been so excited to see Black Panther, I bought my tickets for opening night as soon as I could — then I realized that opening night here was also the night of the new moon, so I had literally been watching the phase of the Moon to count down to see this movie. Yes, I am ridiculous– but come on, it didn’t disappoint! There’s a lot I could say about the film, and honestly I think a lot of those musings have been written about more intelligently in Black writers’ think-pieces following the release, so I’ll spare you my armchair film review and speak to…

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I woke up early, showered, dressed, and went outside to shovel.
I shoveled a path to my car.
I shoveled the walk from the back to the front.
I shoveled the steps to the porch.
I shoveled a path to the mailbox.
I shoveled off the porch so that the landlord could get to the other apartments and the mailman could get to my front door if any packages arrive.
I shoveled a path to the sidewalk.
I shoveled the sidewalk to the property lines.
I shoveled out my car.
Without drifts, the snow was about seven inches (almost 18 cm) deep. According to Google Fit, I have more than accomplished my exercise for the day.
I have been through worse. This used to be the usual state of winter in this area. Being out in this felt … good. It felt right. Difficult, but the right level of difficult. The kind where you can feel the resistance between your body and the world, like an elastic band stretched between your fingers. The kind of resistance that builds callous on your hands and fingers, or tans your skin – a tan is chemical callous after all.
And as has been my wont for as long as I can remember, my mind wandered as my body strove. At first, I thought of my daughters. My mind always goes there first. Then to other random things: music, art, poetry, science. But eventually, my mind quiets. And I simply keep working until the job is done. I feel things. I see things. I experience things. But my mind is silent.
And then the job was done.
I hit the road. Not many vehicles on the street. And the ones around me were driven by people who understood how to balance caution with expedience. Even the people in SUVs seemed to know that engine power does not automatically provide a greater coefficient of friction between tires and snow.
I arrived at work about an hour later than my usual time. It’s practically a ghost town here. I’ll work my full day, go home, and possibly go for a run.
There will be no speed record today. But I am hopeful that I can get a few miles in. Then I can take a rest day tomorrow without guilt.
Meteorologists say that it is going to snow all weekend, but I am still hoping to run 11K on Sunday. It is probably not realistic, and I will be happy with what I get. But it is what I am aiming to accomplish.
I will run.
I will see things. I will hear things. I will experience things. But my mind will quiet.
And I will keep going until the job is done.
#snow #ChicagoMarathon2018

On bats, acceptance, and Adam West

My friend Blake goes through something that many fans, including myself, have experienced… the clash of conflicting versions of a hero and maturity vs aging.

Blake M. Petit

get rid of a bombI have a complicated relationship with Adam West.

This is not to suggest I ever met the man, because I never did. Nor am I going to pretend to be greatly familiar with his body of work beyond the Batman TV series or other roles which were deliberately derivative or satirical of that series. I’m pretty sure the only acting role I ever saw him take where he wasn’t playing Batman, a Batman pastiche, or himself was on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I haven’t even read Burt Ward’s tell-all book about their time making that series, which would at least presumably offer a little more insight into who he was as a person. To me, and by no means to me alone, Adam West was simply Batman, full stop.

But it’s more complicated than that.

When I was a kid, like so many of us, I…

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Universe Hearts Tart

I must make this! Also, a poem by Edith Södergran!

The Piebrary


A dark chocolate ganache with pomegranate syrup and pomegranate seed garnish, inspired by “On Foot I Wandered Through the Solar Systems” by Edith Södergran.

I recently gave a talk at Fieldston Middle School in the Bronx about books, pie, my day job in publishing, and how rewarding it can be to pursue what you love. To be sure that everyone was on the same page and knew the texts we’d be sampling in pie form, I selected a couple of poems that we could read together. In an effort to diversify and branch out from the typical canon (i.e., read someone other than an old, white, American/British dude), I drew on Haley’s knowledge of obscure international poetry. The poem that she recommended, “On Food I Wandered Through the Solar Systems,” immediately became one of my favorites for it’s bold feminine courage and empathy.

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Basic lentil soup

All the YUM!

Source: Basic lentil soup

Another New Day

Do I look forward, back, or live in the present?

Another year is about to end in our arbitrary way of marking things. I kind of wish that the year started in September. School and fiscal years would match better. Or perhaps spring, perhaps in April. Either way, winter would no longer be split into two years. As it is, a blizzard in December of one year followed by one in January of the next would appear to be two separate winters on paper, even though people living through them would say that they are all part of the same season.

But I digress.

A part of me wants to look back on 2015. I want to see what has happened, good and bad. I want to recognize the patterns and learn from them. I want to give credit to the good and grow from the bad. I want to see what has been lost and what has been gained as if doing so would quantify and qualify this year as “good” or “bad” in some definitive fashion.

This might be a foolish impulse. For the year itself is just a demarcation of time. Is the year real? It’s not like I can go back to some box, pull out 2015, open it for my friends and say, “that was a good year. See?” as I pull out bits and pieces to display. Or perhaps drink it and let it suffuse us as we chat and remember and then put it back to be remembered at some later date.

I do know that things happened this year. They always do.

I know that many things that happened hurt me. I know that many things pleased me. I know that I ate and drank and ran and played music and painted and danced and juggled and joked and learned and laughed and cried and slept.

I know that I did not die.

And in that, I find that I am one of many fortunate people.

Fortunate. It is not something that people like to be told they are. It is OK to recognize on our own, but to be told is disconcerting.

“Do you know how lucky you are,” asks someone. Maybe a paramedic. Maybe a police officer. Maybe a doctor. Maybe a parent. Maybe a friend. Maybe a stranger.

Our first reaction is almost always confusion or disbelief. You can see it in survivors of accidents or other traumatic events. You can see it just as easily if you grab a child and pull her out of the way of a speeding car.

Tell a person that they are lucky and they do not know what you are talking about. They might even start trying to argue.

“Lucky?! I have a broken arm!”
“What are you talking about? I lost everything in that fire!”
“My car was totaled!”

It does not matter who says it, “you were lucky” is not an entirely welcome statement when it comes from without.

I suspect that is why people have problems with the idea of racial and gender based privilege.

Telling someone that they are privileged is saying that they were fortunate. That they were lucky. That their situation arose more from accident than design. That implies that what they have could be taken away with a roll of the dice, a flip of a coin, a spin of the wheel.

  • If this sperm had beaten that one
  • If this word had been spoken instead of that one
  • If a left turn instead of a right
  • If the driver of that car had gotten a good night’s sleep and could have fought off that cold
  • If that jerk hadn’t spilled coffee on our best outfit on the day of the interview
  • If the thousands of random meetings in the generations previous had not produced you and the economic situation of your parents
  • If the people around us had done things slightly differently

would we be the people we are? Would our situations be the same? Would we have the same goals, hopes, dreams, and abilities?

Calling someone privileged is saying, “you were lucky.” And even if it is true, most people do not want to hear that. They want to hear that they were strong, smart, or talented. But lucky? No one has control over that.

It robs us of security.

Most of us know that they world is unjust. But most of us also believe that we are just.

But if the things that happen to our fellow humans are prevented mainly by the luck of being born to a particular family in a particular social status in a particular nation in a particular period of time …

And if we refuse to help one another out of denial that fortune was the deciding factor, then can we truly call ourselves just?

This is not where I pictured this post going. I was going to write about this past year, the good and the bad. I was going to write about my change in employment. I was going to write about my health. I was going to write about my family. I was going to write about unicycling and magic and who I am and how it seems I am becoming who I want to be. I was going to write about how I do not really make New Year’s resolutions because I try to make course corrections pretty regularly (sometimes daily, but never less than weekly.)

I do not have any answers. I am not even sure if I am asking the correct questions.

I just know that I am going to keep doing what I have been for my entire life.

  • I’m going to keep trying to learn a little more about the world around me and the people in it
  • I’m going to keep learning new skills and improving the old ones
  • I’m going to keep seeking out the nifty and sharing them with everyone who might appreciate them
  • I’m going to roll with the punches when I can and heal from the blows when things get too tough
  • and I’m going to do my best to treat everyone and everything with love, respect, and a little humor.

Sweet potato-black bean enchiladas

Little cubes of sweet potato jostle with black beans and diced poblano pepper in rolled corn tortillas with a gentle drape of cheeses and a velvety brick-red sauce. Yowza.

Source: Sweet potato-black bean enchiladas

Old Gods Pie (American Gods Pie, Part 1)

Source: Old Gods Pie (American Gods Pie, Part 1)

In Defense of the Universal Monsterverse

I concur with Blake on this one. The Universal “Monsterverse” did the shared universe long before the Avengers. And I am hopeful that they will succeed in revitalizing the franchises with these new movies. In Defense of the Universal Monsterverse.

Living in Plan Z

Last night, the plan had been to wake up early this morning. Well, actually before that the plan had been to buy some last minute Halloween supplies and do some laundry. I should know better than to expect to go with plan A.

I had arrived home last night to see a note from my landlord on the door. He was stopping by today to check the smoke alarms. He was being considerate by letting me know. He didn’t want to stop by while I was sleeping, just in case I was working an odd shift.

I called back and let him know that I am on day shift this week and next and that he could enter while I was gone.

Then I walked up the stairs and saw the mess. I had forgotten about that. I have not had much of a chance to clean. The rotating schedule saps my energy. I get lazy and my apartment becomes cluttered.

That was an understatement.

It was not dirty by any stretch of the imagination. I wash dishes. Clean sinks, stoves, bathtubs, and toilets. I disinfect. I dust. I change the kitty litter. But organization is another matter. I just do not always have the energy to do that.

So my apartment continually looks like the earth swallowed stores filled with my favorite hobbies and vomited them into my apartment. Books. Sheet music. Stringed instruments. Strings. Cookbooks. Comic books. Magazines. They cover every possible square inch of my apartment. My loveseat had the bills I needed to pay and my checkbook strewn across it. Stubs of paid bills spilled off the seat and onto the floor. Laundry baskets of clothes to take to the laundromat were in the center of the room, awaiting my next trip.

It was a bit of a mess.

And because I had been busy, there were a few dishes in the sink awaiting washing. Not many. Maybe fifteen minutes of work tops. And a good chunk of that was because it takes time for the water to warm.

Lots to do. And I was pressed for time. And exhausted. I organized the piles. I washed the dishes. I made a plan. And then I got distracted by talking to family and watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And then by You’re Elected, Charlie Brown. And then I could not drag myself off the loveseat until it was time for bed. D’oh!

Oh, well. I would wake up early! No problem. I set my alarm for an hour early. I took a painkiller for the slight headache I could feel developing, and I went to bed. I double checked that the light was on, verifying that the alarm had been set. I double checked the time it was to go off – 5:30am. No problem.

Unfortunately, I did not look closely enough at the label of the container I had opened. I did not grab the usual painkiller. I grabbed the PM version.

I do not remember shutting off the alarm, but I must have. When I rolled over and looked at the time, it was 7am.

7am?! I usually am finishing getting dressed then and almost ready to leave! Adrenaline kicked in and I was out of bed in a flash.

I filled two garbage bags with papers that I no longer needed. I hastily moved the laundry into the bedroom, the books onto shelves, the comics into boxes, and the music into files. I put the banjo behind the loveseat and the ukulele and the guitar into the closet. I wrote a check for November’s rent, put it in an envelope, and taped it to the inside of the door so that when the landlord left, he would see it and have it a day early.

I looked at the time. 7:45am. Darn it! It takes at least fifteen minutes to get to work on the best of days and I was supposed to be there at 8am. There was no way. I hadn’t even washed and changed yet!

Eli watched me through all of this. He was nice enough to stay out of my way, but you could tell that he wanted attention. He sat on the sofa and purred whenever I came near him, but otherwise stayed still. Poor cat. At least with the automatic feeder he would not be hungry. I made a mental note to play with him more as soon as I got home.

I took the fasted shower since college, then I grabbed a short sleeved black t-shirt and a long sleeved red one. I pulled on some black jeans. Black shirt first. Then red. Made sure that the black was showing through the top. Then, the final touch, my Star Trek Engineering badge. Perfect. I had wanted to try to put on zombie makeup or something, but no time. 7:55am! Ack!

Fifteen minutes later, I was not only at work, but had found one of the closest possible parking spots. Still not sure how that happened. Maybe working at a particle accelerator for so long has given me hidden powers over the time-space continuum. Or perhaps Eli took pity upon me and granted me luck. More likely I broke several laws and was not spotted by local law enforcement.

The plan for tonight? Stop at the grocery after work and grab a bag of candy just in case plan A for the Trick or Treaters is not sufficient. You see, I bought about forty comics to give away, but what if:

  • the kids (or parents) don’t like them, or
  • I run out?!

I’d better have a backup plan.