Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'd like to begin with an apology to any of my Save Saturday Service correspondents. Summer time is busy time and I have written maybe two letters in the past two months. But I haven't forgotten about you, I swear! I'll be making a better effort to write more letters just as soon as I get back from my next trip.

I said I've been busy, and this past weekend was no exception. I spent the day Saturday at Comic-Con, and had a great time. I don't know if it shows much here, but there is a geek inside of me. I've been known to complain that the casting of superhero movies isn't true enough to the character (and also argue that the characters can and should evolve), contemplate the best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and weigh in on the debate between the hotter Harrison Ford role: Han Solo or Indiana Jones. When a friend started a graphic novel book club, I was all over that. There are webcomics I read reliably. So when a friend offered the complimentary passes she earned for volunteering, I was pretty psyched to go!

I used to buy tickets, but it's not important enough to me to buy the tickets a year in advance, which you pretty much have to do now. I bought tickets last year, because I wanted my boyfriend to see what it was like since he'd never been. Even though it's not really his scene, it's easy to find this he's interested in because it has grown so much and encompasses so many things. Further, there is no better place on earth better for people watching. I haven't traveled much but I still feel confident in that statement.

For the uninitiated, there are two basic aspects to the convention. One is the exhibit hall, with booths of all kinds, including those of individual artists, comic book vendors, DC and Marvel, LEGO, various movie studios, book publishers . . . I could keep going but you get the idea. The other is "programming," which is a blanket term for panel discussions, movie & television sneak peeks, gaming, film festivals, and probably some other stuff I can't think of right now. I try to avoid the movie and TV stuff, which tend to be just absolute madness in terms of crowds (although I wouldn't say episodes like this are common), but I do like to attend the panels, which vary greatly in their topics.

But the Comic-Con experience goes beyond that. People dress up as their favorite super heroes, graphic novel protagonists, anime characters, and, of course, movie roles (to varying degrees of success). Downtown becomes incredibly lively as the whole city gears up for it. This year, the transit service changed the Trolley signs across from the convention center to Klingon. A group organized a zombie walk, which was fun to observe. Comic-Con is really a neat thing.

Highlights for me this year included: finally caving and buying a Jayne hat, getting a 3-D photo taken, purchasing a sketch from Ramona Fradon, seeing the Family Guy*, Cleveland Show*, Futurama, and Simpsons panels (especially the clips/cast readings of the Comic-Con inspired episodes), and meeting up with friends for drinks and the conclusion of the Zombie Walk. My description cannot do it justice, so without further ado, I'll give you a few photos. I didn't take many, and none show how crazy crowded it is, but here's a bit of my Comic-Con 2010 experience.

An R2-D2 just rolling around.

At the convention center.

I'm ready!

An exhibitor display of "You-Know-Who"

My disappointment that this is not the Big Three
is mitigated by my appreciation for this Flash costume.

Futurama panel with Matt Groening.
The panelists are seen on the screen
and in the far background.

The hero of Canton . . .

Emma Frost (in her diamond form) with
a character I don't know and Ms. Marvel

Batmobile on the street.

At Quality Social, preparing for the imminent
arrival of the zombies.

The Zombie Walk wraps up at Quality Social.
Even zombies get thirsty!

*Not actually a fan of the shows, but not opposed and attending the panel guaranteed us seats for the Groening panels.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dumplings and Other Kitchen Adventures

Lately Matt and I have been experimenting with filled pasta. A few weeks ago we made pierogi and this week we tried our hand at ravioli. For the pierogi, I did a little research and found this really helpful site. We didn't follow the recipe, but it had some good tips. Some pierogi we filled with potatoes and cheese, some with sauerkraut, and we even got really experimental and added jalapeƱos to a few (hey, we do live in San Diego).

After making the pierogi, I decided it would be fun to get a ravioli press to make more dumplings. For the ravioli, we followed a recipe from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles, which I gave him for Christmas with his pasta machine. We haven't actually cooked the ravioli yet, we are freezing them to cook sometime this week. The filling is meat and ricotta with basil, and we plan to serve the ravioli in a basic tomato sauce.

In addition to having fun with dumplings, a few weeks back I made a strawberry rhubarb crumble using an easy recipe from The English Kitchen that delivered great results! Also, Matt bought some darling flower-shaped egg molds, so he whipped up a cheery breakfast this morning.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

On Independence Day

I would not call myself a patriotic person. I don't even understand the phrase, "Proud to be an American." For me, pride is for accomplishments. Being an American takes no special effort on my part. I was just lucky enough to be born here, where I have a good quality of life and plenty of opportunity to excel. If I had to earn my citizenship, I would likely feel proud to call myself an American, but as it is, I just consider myself fortunate.

That said, I don't think patriotism is all bad. Patriotism doesn't have to be nationalism. It can be as simple as love for one's country. While I don't agree with, and am even disgusted by, the Fox News story and ensuing reader comments regarding Wonder Woman's recent costume change and what Fox News thinks it represents, I know that expressions of patriotism needn't be so idiotic. So I was surprised to realize how many people oppose the celebration of the Fourth of July. A friend posted the following quote of facebook, and it definitely got me thinking (as was his goal):
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour." -Frederick Douglas (full text here)
 It's a powerful statement, and the choice of this passage by my friend suggests that while much has changed since Douglas so skillfully strung these words together, we still have much cause for disgrace. While our history is marred with much oppression and bloodshed (including the obliteration of Native Americans, slavery, and Japanese internment camps, etc.) and our present is similarly blemished by much (including, but not limited to, our discrimination against immigrants and those with non-normative sexualities), that doesn't mean that we can't feel love for our country. Another friend shared a very different quotation on facebook. The words are William Faulkner's (who incidentally, was probably racist), and are taken from an essay on Mississippi. I do not know the source work, so I have quoted it exactly as my friend did, and make no claims regarding the accuracy of the text:
"Home again, his native land; he was born of it and his bones will sleep in it; loving it even while hating some of it. . . But most of all he hated the intolerance and injustice. . . But he loves it, it is his, remembering. . .Loving all of it even while he had to hate some of it because he knows now that you don't love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults."
This is true about love in general, but I really appreciated the sentiment as it relates to one's country. Seeing the two quotations side prompted me to think about this holiday more than I generally do, so I wanted to share the experience with others. Now that I've typed this, I'm going to go make some potato salad to share with good friends at a barbecue, where the subject of our nation is unlikely to come up at all.