Monday, October 22, 2018

Pumpkin Cakes for Halloween

Baker and food blogger John Kanell of The Preppy Kitchen has made these clever mini-pumpkin cakes that look just like the real thing.

If you want to make a pumpkin cake, visit his site for the recipe and step-by-step instructions.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

BEAUTY: Illustration for Halloween--Alex Ross

Esteemed comic book writer and artist Alex Ross has created a series of illustrations featuring classic movie monsters from the Universal Studios pantheon.

Prints are available at Alex Ross' web store:

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Graveyard Brownies For Halloween

These Graveyard Brownies feature Halloween candy buried under the "ground" which you discover when they are cut or better yet, when you take a bite! I love the little candy femurs on top!

The original recipe can be found at JoCooks:

Friday, October 19, 2018

"Love It If We Made It" by The 1975

The new video for "Love It If We Made it" by The 1975 is pretty devastating. Lyrics reference drug culture, racism, the new nonsensical world of post-facts, dying and dead immigrants, the looming death of our planet via climate change, the current culture's (and President's) stomach-churning obsession with fame and celebrity, Black Lives Matter, Trumpism and his revolting misogyny and breathtaking lies and cruelty and petty gossip mongering, and WW III happening right now, fought piecemeal all over the globe. The video images reference the death of the world's oceans by plastic, the destruction of cities and countries by their own regimes, the insane gun culture of the United States, the opioid crisis, the continued assault on people of color, the unethical for-profit prison system that has infected much of the world, ongoing homophobia, Harvey Weinstein and Brett Kavanaugh and the #MeToo movement started by women who have had enough of being sexual victims, the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, and white supremacists and the KKK. That is what this song and video is about while masquerading as a fun little pop ditty.

But the montage of the faces of young people must be--has to be--a direct call to action. The youth vote is the only thing that is going to turn the world around. THAT is what this song is about too. With the rise of xenophobic right-wing isolationists in the United States and around the world, with Trumpism ripping apart any shred of humanity left in the US, we MUST vote in the upcoming mid-terms. This is the first step in restoring sanity and humanist values. This is not a drill, this is not a test, this is not something that will blow over, this is not something that can be waited out, this is not a game, this is not a reality show. It is literally life and death at this point. We have had decades and decades of warnings to change the way we behave and now we hear the news: we have maybe 20 years left. After that, the seas will be too warm to support the oceanic food chain so no more food. More Category 5 hurricanes, more droughts, more wild fires. The rising waters will displace millions and millions of people--if you think there is an immigration problem now, just wait 20 years. Earth is really dying. We are killing ourselves. And the ones who are in power now are doing nothing to right the ship and reverse course. They don't care. They--and their supporters--don't care that we are going to be out of land, out of food, and out of luck. They don't care that people of color are being assassinated, they don't care that women are being raped, they don't care that children are shot en masse in their own schools (of course conservatives shriek about protecting fetuses, but once you are born, then they will destroy you). We need decency, sanity, the ability to think ahead and determine consequences. As John F. Kennedy said, we need leaders who believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, and the human heart as the source of national compassion. And when you see conservative leaders and their supporters siding with Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, denying a safe haven for those ravaged by poverty and war, giving--yet again--huge tax cuts and more money to the wealthy and more and more hardships for everyone else, deliberately telling lies to incite violence toward one of our most cherished manifestations of democracy which is a free press, blaming women for being victims of male violence, supporting child molesters and wife beaters and embezzlers and black-out drunk sex-assaulting judges for public office (they have admitted the only reason they do so is to annoy and incite the left, which is harming themselves as well), and trying to destroy any system of sane healthcare in favor of profit margins for insurance companies, it is clear that they are NOT the ones who will bring much needed dignity, purpose, action, liberty, or compassion to the United States.

If you or someone you know has ever thought or said, "I don't vote because my vote doesn't count" has to realize that 2/3 of the US population usually does not vote. If that missing 2/3 did vote, then their vote would matter tremendously (and we have seen proof so many times where a candidate won an office by only a handful of votes). Then they would wield power, and in order to wield power, you have to take it. You have to actually vote. If you or someone you know has ever thought or said, "Well, I'm not really into politics" has to realize that what is before us is not "politics." This is not partisan, this is about survival. We have a chance now. Maybe the last real, clear shot. I too, like The 1975, would love it if we made it, if we pulled through and were brave enough to create the world that the best part of ourselves strive toward.

We're f******g in a car, shooting heroin
Saying controversial things just for the hell of it
Selling melanin and then suffocate the black men
Start with misdemeanours and we'll make a business out of them
And we can find out the information
Access all the applications
That are hardening positions based on miscommunication
Oh f**k your feelings
Truth is only hearsay
We're just left to decay
Modernity has failed us
And I'd love it if we made it
Yes, I'd love it if we made it

And poison me daddy
I've got the Jones right through my bones
Write it on a piece of stone
A beach of drowning three-year-olds
Rest in peace Lil Peep
The poetry is in the streets
Jesus save us
Modernity has failed us
And I'd love it if we made it
Yes, I'd love it if we made it

And I'd love it if we made it

Tell me something I didn't know
Fossil fuelling
Liberal kitsch
Kneeling on a pitch
"I moved on her like a bitch"
Excited to be indicted
Unrequited house with seven pools
"Thank you Kanye, very cool"
The war has been incited and guess what?
You're all invited
And you're famous
Modernity has failed us
And I'd love it if we made it
And I'd love it if we made it
And I'd love it if we made it
Tell me something I didn't know

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spirit Day 2018

Today is the eighth annual Spirit Day and I'm wearing purple to particpate. The movement was launched in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan in conjunction with GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) as a day to remember the young people who have taken their lives due to homophobic bullying and soul-destroying lies perpetuated by homophobic groups, both political and religious in nature (and some who think they are above the law and combine both without paying any taxes!). To show support to the young gay people still with us and to combat the rampant bullying and frantic hatred that still infects our country at cultural and political levels, today is a day to wear purple and demonstrate to anyone who might be feeling alone and worthless that there are many people in the world who believe in the value of their lives and souls. As a past victim of homophobic violence and bullying, this observance is very close to me.

GLAAD's website says, "Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to "go purple" on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world."

These are frightening, disappointing statistics.
- 85.2% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed.
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks from TEACHERS AND/OR SCHOOL STAFF because of their gender expression. These are the exact adults who are supposed to be in charge of a young person's SAFETY AND WELL-BEING.
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students did not report experiences of bullying because they doubted an intervention. In other words, they felt teachers and school staff would fail to protect them.
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
- 48.6% of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying.
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.

No wonder gay teens take their lives at much higher rates than the national average.

For more information, to take the anti-bullying pledge, or to donate to GLAAD, please visit their website.

Dear gay teen contemplating suicide:

You are not wrong. You are not "bad.” You are not sick, defective, or evil.
You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.
You have done nothing wrong and you have done nothing to deserve being humiliated, punished, or hurt, either physically or emotionally.
Bullying and discrimination are never ever innocent: the bullies are the ones who are wrong, bad, and sick for hurting you.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are any less of a human being than they are. Don’t let them tell you it is a choice or that being gay is about behavior; you are who you are. Embrace yourself and be proud of being alive.

You have value. You have as much right to be here on this planet as anyone else.
It may seem like the world is against you, but there are people for you out there, there are places for you out there. You will be happy, you will get to live YOUR life the way YOU want to, without having to pay any attention to the bullies or whatever “bible” nonsense some people might throw at you… you are not "impure," "immoral," "unnatural," or "against nature." Those are just ridiculous lies they tell to hide their hatred, fear, and prejudice.

You will survive and thrive! You get to live here. This is your RIGHT.
You might turn out to be an important author, a doctor who cures a disease, a famous designer, someone who invents a new type of metal, an inspiring performer… or you might end up working with kids who need to hear that they have value and are perfect the way they are.
Please stick around.
We need you.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"Honey" by Robyn

Robyn has finally released "Honey," another hypnotizing song based in dance music but which tugs at the heart...a song that describes not so much the food but a certain kind of transcendent experience that is possible in life. The track will be on her album "Honey" released October 26, 2018.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Dalai Lama and Kate Bush Love Maine Coons

Photograph of His Holiness The Dalai Lama by Raghu Rai from A GOD IN EXILE (published by Roli), his new photo essay book covering four decades of The Dalai Lama's life.

Photograph of Her Holiness Kate Bush from her website.

I have owned Maine Coons cats (and a Norwegian Forest Cat, a cousin to the Maine Coon) my whole life--one is sweetly asleep a few feet from me as I type this--and I just adore them. They have a wonderful temperament, are very sociable, are much larger than your average cat breed with huge ears and paws, and are simply beautiful to behold.

Illustration by Sophie Corrigan

Monday, October 15, 2018

"A Step" by Manu Delago featuring Pete Josef

This beautiful chamber version of "A Step" by percussionist Manu Delago featuring Pete Josef on vocals is tender and delicate...

Never ending stream which touched a million rocks
In the twists and turns of its course
Falling mountain tears with innocent seven degrees
Only your skin is between you and the earth, the ground below
In that moment every second lasts forever

A step that you will never regret
A step that takes away your breath
A step that you will never regret
A step and you're awake as it gets

New born, hovering and wishless with a sparkling mind
A post-peak cool and a pre-joint healing
With only three but three so dear
Not five thousand faceless here
The thread to the world outside is severed and you'll discover again

The step that you would never regret
A step that takes away your breath
A step that you would never regret
A step and you're awake as it gets

Sunday, October 14, 2018

BEAUTY: Photography--Reuben Wu

Photographer Reuben Wu (who is also a founding member of electronic music group Ladytron!) photographed eerie rock formations at night illuminated by light-carrying drones for his arresting Lux Noctis series. I love the theatricality and heightened sense of place just by shining a bit of light on a cliff or glacier. It turns a terran landscape into something extraterrestrial. And this extraterrestrial sense is only magnified by the lines and halo patterns the lighted drones make in the air. It's magical...

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Just finished reading...

...HERE by illustrator Richard McGuire.

Well, "read" is a bit misleading as this is a graphic novel. Look? Watch? See? How does one absorb a graphic novel? No matter as this is unlike any graphic novel you may have encountered before. Absorb is a much more apt description.

In 1989, McGuire created "Here," a short, 6 page illustrated story which was published in RAW, a comics anthology edited by legendary graphic novelist and cartoonist Art Spiegelman along with Françoise Mouly. The narrative was simple enough: a meditation on a single home and all the people who have lived there and things that have transpired on that spot at different points in history and time. But the execution was something the comics world had never seen. McGuire effectively deconstructed the comic format, something that had not been done before. It proved so revolutionary that, in his book READING COMICS: HOW GRAPHIC NOVELS WORK AND WHAT THEY MEAN, author and critic Douglas Wolk wrote that its "influence has echoed through art comics for decades."

The idea was so profound, McGuire greatly expanded on it and published HERE, a 300+-page version of the story, in 2014 and I am so glad he did. This is a deeply moving, thought-provoking book which keeps the same basic premise but covers even more time.

Imagine a film camera set up on a single spot, filming everything that passes in front of it. Imagine that camera has been there for a long time. I mean a long, long time. And imagine that it will stay there for a long, long time to come. Now imagine you get to flip through moments this camera has captured over this time span...past, present, and future. After all, physics tells us all time is simultaneous. We begin in a house, camera pointed toward a corner...window on the left, fireplace and mantel on the right. People come and go, families live there and pass on. They may be related, they may not be. People celebrate holidays, people have parties and dance, people get angry with each other, people misplace keys and wallets, people have children, people lose loved ones. But before the house was there, the location was there...and so was our camera. The angle and placement of our view never changes. And never will.

As you can see, the story unfolds simultaneously, in windows--sometimes small, sometimes large--that show us glimpses of what was, what is, and what will be, identified by the year in the top left corner. The windows move around in our frame, showing us something in this corner, that corner, by the fireplace, all around the space. It is a startling premise, one that proves to be truly transcendent. The cumulative effect is one of impermanence and permanence at the same time. When you step out of the subjective time stream, it all looks so fragile and beautiful: the grandeur and the daily minutiae is heartbreaking. Embedded in the change is a sense of eternity.

This story resonated with me deeply because I basically grew up in my grandmother's house in upstate New York. The house itself was built on the site of a previous home. My grandparents bought the plot of land and the shack that was on it for my grandfather to tear it down and build a new home for his bride. He dug the basement and poured cement and fitted rocks for the walls and foundation. This was during The Great Depression and materials and money were scarce so he had to be inventive. An indoor miniature golf attraction at the edge of town had recently closed and the raw pieces were being sold off so he sourced the wooden floor boards to be the floor boards in their new home. An occasional golf-ball-sized hole is still visible if one stands in the basement and looks up. My father and his siblings all grew up in that house, my grandfather died in the house he built with his own hands--so much love and resentment and laughter and joy and tears and new life and death all contained within a small structure of wood and glass and metal--and the home stands there to this day, with new occupants who have no idea how the house came to be, what has transpired in it, who lived there, or how much it means to certain people who are still alive, and who would love to step into it once more. I actually got to walk through it several years ago when it was between owners, and the smell of the kitchen was the exact same as when my grandmother lived there. Yet the backyard had changed. A small hill had been filled in and a flower garden and extensive vegetable garden had been eliminated. It was all just grass, no trace of the strawberries, sweet corn, and crunchy peas I used to nibble on as a child. The charming white fences had been destroyed. My aunt, who grew up in the house as well, had a chance to rent it recently but discovered that the house has not been cared for the way it should have. She moved away. Ever since I was young, I have tried to imagine the little shack that stood there before the home that I know and love so well, the home that occupies my dreams at night. I try to imagine what was there before the town existed, the First Nation people who lived there. And the ice sheets before that...all the way back to Pangea, to a molten ball of lava, to the formation of our solar system and galaxy. And there, the little house sits now. What will become of it? And what will become of us? We will all be eliminated and destroyed like the flower and vegetable gardens and fences. But your spot will remain.

Recommend? Absolutely. Buy it and absorb it. It is a quick "read"--about 20-30 minutes. But once you are done, wait a few days and then go back and ponder through it again. You will pick up more each time. It's just gorgeous.

Friday, October 12, 2018