It ain’t chocolate ice cream, but….

But that is some damn good Chocolate Butter Cream!

I'll bet it tastes good frozen too...I'll get back to you on that!

I’ll bet it tastes good frozen too…I’ll get back to you on that!

Tonight is the Theatre Awards banquet at my son’s school…turns out his run as Piragua Guy earned him a Best Supporting Actor nod.  The cost of admission to the event for parents is a dessert…I’m bring Rockstar Chocolate Cake with ^^^^ slathered all over it…for good luck!

Anyone want a lick?

Anyone want a lick?

SpReAd the Love Challenge #2 Reminder

Lately, a favorite activity of Mini Me’s is making PowerPoint presentations…something they are doing at school this year I gather.  One of her favorites is titled “Cutie Babies”.

Babies are cuties…it’s true, but the sad fact is that tens of thousands of innocent babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens and teens live in conditions that give them very little to smile about.  SpReAd the Love Challenge #2 is coming to a close.  If you haven’t yet been able, consider sharing some love with an at risk child and letting us know about your gift.  I live in an area that is pretty idyllic in the context of the modern world, but not 10 miles from my house, there is building that provides a safe harbor for women who have fled abusive homes…very often with just their children and the clothes on their back.  This agency provides them temporary refuge and helps to outfit them as they find new homes.


A little bit for body, a little bit for spirit..

I dropped my tiny donation today, and as usual, they were hugely appreciative.  Even this small bit helps.  If you email JazzBaby or me by Sunday, we can include your kindness in the amount that will be matched money for kindness as a donation to Richard Armitage’s Just Giving Charities (several of which are child centered).

I’ll leave you today with a quote from Sitting Bull…renowned among the Lakota Sioux for his commitment to the past, present and future of the Sioux Nation.  His is a timeless sentiment that transcends race or creed:

“Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children.”


OT: I have a bone to pick…

I was walking through the living room yesterday and caught a segment on Access Hollywood featuring Rocco DiSpirito, a name which is probably well known among foodies.  For those who don’t know him, DiSpirito is a chef of some fame from NYC.  It’s struck me before that although he’s had a fair amount of culinary success and numerous best selling cook books, what DiSpirito really seems to crave, or at least it appears that way to me,  is a ranking among the best known celebrity chefs…people like Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray perhaps.  Evidently, Rocco DiSpirito, who made a name for himself  in Italian cuisine, has taken a page from Jamie Oliver’s book and is now on the healthy food path.  In addition to his new book, The Pound a Day Diet, DiSpirito is a regular contributor on the reality TV show Extreme Weight Loss.  I’m not even going to touch the practical problems with gimicky diet books and unscripted (obviously scripted) “reality” TV….just Google the book or the TV show, and you’ll get an eyeful of caveats about these issues.


The fact of the matter is that a lot of people, including me, could certainly make healthier food choices, and in theory,  I’m not opposed to assistance from the culinary world in that vein.  What bugs me is the preachy tone that is so often employed.  In this case, I couldn’t get past one insanely stupid remark that DiSpirito makes in the Access Hollywood segment:

Really…I think you might want to rephrase that Rocco.

Starting at 2:06 the demonstration turns to a healthy alternative to the usual Memorial Day Weekend fare…a healthy burger.  This burger features 96% lean grass fed (most likely organic) ground beef.  OK fine, most experts agree that grass fed beef is healthier than the corn fed alternative, but when the host questions the cost DiSpirito deflects saying, “how expensive is heart disease or diabetes.”  Oh, touché Rocco…you’re right of course – the long term costs of chronic, diet impacted illness can become astronomical, but could you possibly be more hyperbolic?!  I did a quick search and it seems that 96% lean grass fed beef runs upwards of $9-10 per pound.  $9-10 per pound for ground beef?    

At a time when almost 50 million people in the US live at or below the poverty level, I find this kind of insensitivity to economic reality ridiculous.  Millions of people don’t have the luxury of thinking about the long term effects of their diet when they are struggling to put something, anything at all on their tables.  So Mr. DiSpirito, how about instead of moralizing how you are going to “bust the myth that eating healthy costs too much” you present people with healthy alternatives using ingredients that they don’t need to locate an organic butcher and empty out their wallets to prepare.  Barring that, re-title your book…I don’t know, maybe something like,

The Pound A Day Diet

Lose up to five pounds in five days…unless you’re poor, then you’re screwed

End Rant.

et alia: So you want to write RAcy fan fiction? Don’t be SAD…

I knew it had been a while since I’d posted a chapter update to my AU John Porter fan fiction effort, Recovery.  When I logged into the DreamerFiction today, I was horrified to see just how long it has really been.  My last update, Chapter 23, was posted on March 20…that’s two months ago!  Good grief!  I don’t think I’m alone in having felt the frustration of becoming invested in a multi chapter, complex story, only to find that the author abandoned it for one reason or another.    Fear not lectores, I will finish Recovery, and soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking a little about what the hold up has been.

Just a regular day...

Just a regular day…

No doubt part of the problem is the ordinary average chaos that is my life.  Since mid March, there have been numerous additions to the regular mayhem.  First, my husband started a new job which required the Human Resources Manager (that would be me) to fill out a gogillion forms for various and sundry benefits and submit proof of the valid existence of myself and my children as related to the covered employee…my husband, their father.  (This process necessitated a visit to the courthouse to replace a missing birth certificate – I opted for the multiple copy bargain rate – just in case)  Also new to me was the intensive rehearsal and performance schedule of the in house thespian that occupied the theatrical agent and principle chauffeur (also me) for the first half of April.  Factor in the end of the academic year, grading and most recently a bout with some unspecified pestilence that first transformed Mini Me into a feverish, coughing semi invalid and has since left me with a largely inaudible squeak in place of a voice, and my lack of progress comes into focus.

I can’t credit my schedule for all of it though.  My life isn’t that much busier than it was when I started writing the story.  I found a way to shuffle things around before so that I was updating about every two weeks…what is the problem now?



Another part of the equation lies in my writing method.  Apart from blog posts, which I compose at the computer, my other writing all begins in handwritten form.  I’ve written like this forever.  If I try to sit down and compose from scratch at the computer, I end up drawing a complete blank and staring at the screen in a daze.  It’s a different story with paper and pen.  I usually sit down and start to outline…the bullet points at some stage broaden into paragraphs and dialogue.  Maybe it’s a tactile thing…I love the feel of fine paper and scratch of the pen across it’s surface.  I’ve found that I prefer gel pens since the ink dries quickly and doesn’t blob or smudge, and using a variety of colors allows me to make notes and edit as I go.  I have several notebooks, that I now carry along in my bookbag to keep them away from the curious,  which contain various chapters, chapter outlines and research notes.  I am much more productive when I can disconnect from everything for a couple of hours and just lose myself in the cadence of penning the story to paper.  I make corrections as I go along, but the transcription onto the computer serves as another stage of the editing process.    I’ve been writing like this for so long (since before the dawn of time…or at least the ubiquitous personal computer) that I didn’t realize that it was at all noteworthy until the subject came up in a conversation about gel pens between Servetus and me.  So there you go…my archaic little secret!   Interestingly, my son, a burgeoning writer himself, reports that he writes the same way – the nosy mother in me wonders where he keeps his notebooks stashed!

A rare-ish John Porter smile..Strikeback S1E4 Source: (my crop)

A rare-ish John Porter smile..Strikeback S1E4
Source: (my crop)

While the opportunity and means to write certainly play a large part in my foot dragging end to Recovery, the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that there’s another factor in the mix.  I honestly think I’m suffering from a preemptive case of separation anxiety (SAD…not to be confused with SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Honestly acronym makers!)  I think that a part of me is reluctant to bring this story to a close because I’ve become really attached to the characters and I don’t want to let them go.  Be that as it may, I fully intend to finish Recovery.  My dear pal Guylty has helped me out with my missing SB DVD, so I have plenty of renewed inspiRAtion.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised though,  if there aren’t a few holiday vignettes in the hopper for John Porter and Lindsey Tate.

What Becomes A Legend Most

Linnet and Obscura crossover 🙂

Linnet Moss

For those of you who enjoyed What the Well-Dressed Roman General Is Wearing, here’s an update. They have auctioned off Caesar’s triumphator costume from the HBO series Rome! I can only hope that the auction winner was a museum of television history or fashion that will make the costume available for study. But it was probably some bloke with a few extra K lying around who fancies getting dressed up like Caesar. Actually, that is not such a bad idea, when I consider how sexy this costume is.

111634__rome_l The cinnabar face schmear, not so sexy!

In case you’re wondering, the item sold for $4345 after 23 bids. Fortunately for us impecunious Rome fans, there is a visual record of the costume to examine in loving detail.

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 9.30.38 AM Here is the ensemble as a whole. Click to enlarge. Costume photos are from the Ebay auction entry.

The company that sold the costume ironically declared it “Fit For A…

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“Severe” Stylin’: Richard Armitage and Apollo commanding stillness

North & South - E1 Source

North & South – E1

There it is…my first official, in context, look at Richard Armitage as John Thornton.  Melee is all around him.  Machinery is spinning and humming, cotton dust is floating haphazardly, but he is motionless, unruffled, as he surveys the activities of his factory.  The stillness amid chaos of this scene called to mind a classical comparison to the god Apollo.  Well, naturally…  😉

Sculptures from the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (my pic)

Sculptures from the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (my pic)

The figure of Apollo is central in the scene above, his right arm raised.  The extreme stillness of Apollo is marked in this scene given the amount of mayhem that is unfolding around him.  This is a famous scene from Greek myth called the Centauromachy…or the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs.  Long story short, the Lapiths were a group of humans who were throwing a wedding, and they didn’t want to invite their rude, crude neighbors the Centaurs.  The Centaurs (half man, half horse) took offense to this slight and crashed the reception…cue mayhem.

Centauromachy in progress

Centauromachy in progress

Looking at the images above, it is clear that this is battle is not depicted in such a way as to convey a great deal of the action that was going on.  This almost serene battle scene is in keeping with the aesthetic of the period (ca 490-450 BC) which is known as the Severe Style.  I’ve always found the close up of the woman and centaur above rather humorous in this respect.  Look at her face…does she appear to be in much distress?  That placid face is a hallmark of the Severe Style which valued a serenity of composition over a depiction of action.  A quick look a depiction of the same subject sculpted about 50 years later illustrates a changing aesthetic:

Centauromachy from the Temple of Apollo at Bassai (now in British Museum)

Centauromachy from the Temple of Apollo at Bassai (now in British Museum)

Turning back to our central Apollo…even amidst the admittedly subdued chaos, Apollo stands apart as unusually still…his outstretched arm held stiffly aloft as he commands attention.

Apollo's message is pretty clear..."I SAID STOP! Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Apollo’s message is pretty clear…”I SAID STOP!
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This ability to command a scene through stillness is a quality that numerous people have remarked upon when describing Richard Armitage.  At the Tokyo premiere of The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson said, “Richard is one of those very rare actors, [who] uses stillness, and he uses quiet to draw your attention.”    More recently, a fellow fan, Grace, who had the opportunity to see Richard Armitage perform in the Pinter Proust adaptation at the 92nd Street Y in New York, commented along the same lines, “He can stand absolutely still for long periods of time (it’s almost eerie.”

still command

I’ve no doubt that a more comprehensive tour through the pantheon of Richard Armitage chaRActers would reveal a wide selection of “commanding stillness” shots, but for now, I think this one does nicely.


Hollywood Portfolio

I love this…thanks Linnet!

Linnet Moss

Vanity Fair’s recent “Hollywood Issue” included a selection of photographs by the celebrated artist Chuck Close, who is noted for his “realist” style and has created portraits of such diverse subjects as Hillary Clinton, Jasper Johns, and Kate Moss.

Most of the photographs are simple, frontal head shots. The subjects wear little or no makeup, and they pose in their everyday clothing–in some cases, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Most interesting of all is that no airbrushing was applied–no erasure of wrinkles, moles, and other surface imperfections. To put it bluntly, they look the way they would if you woke up in bed next to them.

The reaction to the portfolio interested me greatly. Quite a few people thought it was wrong to show these iconic celebrities without the protective coloration of pixie dust that confers their magic. We want our stars to look beautiful, and we are highly critical of any physical flaws…

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Yeah, about that STL update?

Ooops…I kind of forgot to give you the actual update didn’t I?

As of today we are up to 296 kindnesses given and received.  One of the most recent was a donation made to Graham McTavish’s Kilt Walk charity effort that was signal boosted by Servetus and JazzBaby…kilts rule!!

Whether you report it or not, keep SpReAding the Love (psst…don’t be shy, report it – then we can give some more money to Richard Armitage’s Just Giving Charities – Lovin’ Double Whammy!!)

spread the love

“Let me get that for you…” : SpReAd the Love Update

Long time no update!  Sorry for the silence.  The end of the academic year is fast approaching which means that Prof. Obscura is in overdrive answering last minute student questions and grading.  Everything else is pushed to the side.  Well, almost everything else.

Every so often, my mother enlists me to help her with an ecumenical church women’s group that she belongs to, and these events always seems to come at  fairly inopportune moments.   At the meeting last Friday, however, I met a remarkable person.  The speaker for the day was the director of local warming shelter for the homeless…a place that offers a warm place to sleep for 50-60 people who might not be accepted elsewhere.  He gave a very moving talk, and answered many interesting questions, but my remarkable person was yet to come.  The remarkable person I met was being honored by her peers with the group’s Valiant Woman Award…an award given to a woman who “who has given service to her local chapter, her church and her community…a woman who lives the Gospel message in her everyday life.”

The woman being honored slowly rose from her seat and limped to the front of the room, clearly surprised.  I watched the woman’s composure begin to slip and tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the following words describing her:

M. has been a member of her local church since childhood, where she was confirmed.  M. has served her church faithfully through the years on a variety of committees including several terms as the congregational President and the church secretary as well as more than 20 years teaching seventh and eighth grade Sunday School classes and volunteering for the annual vacation bible school program.  She is currently an active member of the Dorcas and Phoebe Ministry groups, the Worship Design team, the secretary for the Music Committee and a Co-President of the Women’s Guild. 

M. has also worked tirelessly as a member of her local  and state Church Women United Unit.  She has served terms as the Co-President and Secretary.  She has also been very active recruiting members from her home church to join CWU, hosting CWU functions and leading multiple worship programs. 

In the context of her Christian journey with her local church and CWU, M. has been an active force for mission and evangelism work in the wider community of Wisconsin and beyond.  In addition to a wide variety of activities over the years, recently, she has worked as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter, collected supplies for the domestic abuse shelter and coordinated the Church World Service Blanket Sunday initiative to collect monies and blankets for the needy both here and abroad. 

Despite many health challenges that often make it difficult and painful for her to be physically active, M. always exhibits a level of commitment and dedication to Christian leadership that is inspiring to those around her.

These words were very familiar to me.  You see, I had written them several weeks earlier when the local chapter of CWU asked me to submit a biography for the woman they wanted to honor with a Valiant Woman Award.  They didn’t ask me because of my skill as a writer, but because I had the biographical information that they needed.  I had that information because M. is my mother.

My mother has always been a integral part of my life…first as the mother of the girl I was, and now also as my confidant and my friend.  But,  it wasn’t until I sat down to write that biography that I fully “met” this side of my mother.  I realize as I go back through it now, that I have probably listed only about half of the charitable, mission and other volunteer work that my mother engages on a regular basis.  It’s not something that she does for recognition, it is something that is an instinctive part of her.  Despite the fact that she has a myriad of health issues, she digs down into some deep reserve tank to continue pushing on to support the causes that she is committed to.

I’ve also realize that this remarkable person, my mom,  has left an indelible impression on my life.  She has set an example of spreading love and kindness that I can only hope to model and to impress upon my own children.   My mother SpReAds the Love every day of her life, and I only hope that I can reach the bar that she has set for me.

As it happens, a bar reaching opportunity arose the very next day.  I was grocery shopping  at one of those supermarkets that I am sure has a ground plan the size of a airplane hanger.  It’s monstrous, but they have really good produce, and a ton of specialty items I can’t find anywhere else in my area.    I was about a third of the way through the store…in the pickle, olive and salad dressing aisle… when I saw someone who was in need of a bit of assistance.


In front of me was a toddler sitting in the seat of a shopping cart watching as his very petite and very pregnant mother contemplated climbing up onto the shelf in front of her to reach an item.  I could see that the top shelf had an empty spot, but what I couldn’t see was the one remaining bottle of Thousand Island dressing that was all the way at the back of the shelf.   Just as she was moving to step up and try to reach it I walked up and said, “Let me get that for you.”   I handed the bottle to her and smiled saying, “It’s no problem,” as she thanked me profusely.  It really was no problem to Spread the Love to someone who needed a hand.  I like to think that the young mom went on her way to SpReAd the Love along further and so on.

Thanks for giving me a head start Mom!