Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Tuesday morning stuff:

* Charlotte: E-mail me your mailing address and I'll get the magazine out later this week.

* Today begins Lent, for those of us who are practicing Christian. (Well, I guess it's a different day for Orthodox Christians, as some of them follow a different calendar....). I hadn't really thought about what practice I might do for Lent but I decided this morning to try again what I did (with not a great deal of success) last year: to strive to avoid getting annoyed over the little things I don't have control over and that which really don't affect me greatly. Like, for example, someone "poaching" the spot I was heading toward in the parking lot. Ten minutes after that happens it doesn't really matter, and my getting angry about it won't really change someone else's behavior.

* Since today is Ash Wednesday, that meant yesterday was Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/Paczki Day, depending on your tradition. I will note with some bemusement that IHOP calls it "National Pancake Day," as if they invented it. Actually, the tradition of pancakes and pancake races goes back several hundred years in Britain (Wikipedia, which is a fast but not entirely trustworthy source, says 1445). The idea was using up eggs, milk, and butter before the fast-time of Lent. (I will say I'm glad that for most of us, the "fast" of Lent is just one specific item - some people go vegetarian, some give up would be even harder to give up all rich foods, and for someone like me who has dietary restrictions otherwise....well, not being able to have a little cheese to put on some of my vegetables would make me unhappy)

Some places they do races where people run and flip pancakes. The local news showed a clip from the National Cathedral (which I guess is Episcopalian, and so, would more or less trace its roots to Church of England, which has been doing the pancake thing pretty much since it began) of schoolkids and others (including a bishop? Or someone in ecclesiastical dress) running and flipping the pancakes.

* So I made pancakes for dinner last night. I used the recipe out of "Going Solo in the Kitchen," which calls for one egg and a small amount of milk and just over 1/2 cup of flour (I have to use a bit more flour as I use extra-large eggs, and the recipe calls for medium). It makes a manageable amount for a solo eater, which is nice:

I put blueberries in them to make them a bit more healthful, because eating vegetables alongside of pancakes is not exactly appealing to me.

I used my new non-stick pan, which I'm happy to report is REALLY non-stick, so much so that I could easily have used it in a pancake race (or could have re-created the pancake-flipping scene from Christmas in Connecticut). I didn't, though, because my aim isn't that true and I had just cleaned my kitchen....

* I mentioned earlier watching the fairly new cartoon "Steven Universe." I was really set not to like this one. (For every decent cartoon, Cartoon Network seems to come up with a couple of duds....or at least cartoons I try watching, go "Why?" and turn it off). It's growing on me. Little bits of the backstory are revealed each week....the creator remarked that it was told partly from the viewpoint of Steven (the eponymous hero) and there's a lot of stuff he doesn't know, stuff that happened before he was born.

Essentially, the show is about the Crystal Gems, which are sort of embodiments of energy or spirit or something (they're not actually physical beings, apparently - they don't age, for example - but they seem to have a physical form in our universe). Steven is half-Gem; his mother was one. (And it's very slightly alluded to, but not directly said, that she somehow gave up her existence to bring Steven into the world. I don't know if that's going to be too deeply sad for the cartoon to explore in the future, but it would be interesting to know more). Steven lives with the Gems. (His father lives in town but isn't very active in Steven's life; the unspoken thing is that his father is kind of a slacker). There are three Gems, as I mentioned before: Garnet, the leader; Pearl, the smart one; and Amethyst, the funny one. They all have very different body types which makes them interesting: Garnet is muscular and powerful, Pearl is tall (though not as tall as Garnet) and very slender. And Amethyst is actually kind of like me: shortish and round, with big hips and a belly and a bosom. Oh, I don't mean she is "sexy," somehow she isn't. But it's just interesting to see a fattish superhero.

Anyway, they kind of fill the role of older sisters/mentors to Steven. The past two weeks' episodes have been interesting - last week's was "Giant Woman," where the fact that Pearl and Amethyst can pool their energies and powers and become Opal, a fusion form of the two, was dropped. And of course, in typical little-kid fashion, Steven is OBSESSED by this. He wants to see the giant woman. He wonders if one of them controls one arm and the other one the other, and do they share the same stomach? It was funny to me because it seems very true of how kids are: their minds latch on to something and they pester about that thing.

I am thinking of a time when I was a kid, and my mom said, in passing, about some restaurant that had opened near where we lived, "Oh, that's the one run by the old Bunny," meaning a woman who had apparently once worked as a Playboy Bunny ran it. But of course, in my childish mind, I envisioned something very different, that somehow it was a REAL bunny, like one of Bugs' cousins or something, and I wanted to go to that restaurant SO BADLY because I wanted to see what a restaurant run by a bunny would be like. (Heh. A real bunny-restaurant would probably only serve salad). I can't remember if we ever actually went there, or if I'm conflating it with the smorgasbord restaurant I begged to go to because it sounded cool, and then I was disappointed once I got there. ( But anyway, that kind of thing, of really wanting something and building it up out of all proportion to what it probably is, seems so true to life. (He does, eventually, get to see Opal. She's very tall, and walks en pointe and has four arms like some Hindu diety.) (There's also a very funny bit - apparently Pearl and Amethyst have to dance in order for the fusion to work, but their styles of dance are VERY different: Pearl has a very controlled, ballet-like dance, and Amethyst...well, she shakes her groove thang. (the creators on their Tumblr claim that she is NOT twerking, but is rather doing the "stanky leg." As my only real experience with social dancing was the stand-in-a-corner-and-sway-in-time-to-the-music that a lot of shy kids in the 80s used as their primary dance move, I don't know enough to evaluate that claim. (some little animatics are here. No, Amethyst's backside isn't naked; she wears something like a tunic over her leggings, it just looks odd in that animatic, because it shows the curvature of her butt under the tunic. But I have to admit, the dancing in the cartoon made me laugh really hard.)

This week's episode was about birthdays - Steven realized none of the Gems ever celebrated their birthdays, and again, in little-kid fashion he feels sad about it. So he decides to have birthdays for all of them, with the special birthday cape and crown his dad made him, and cakes, and little pedal cars, and Steven even dresses as a clown at one point. And when the Gems kind of fail to see the point of all of it, Steven begins to wonder if he's getting too old for this kind of stuff. And then, the Gem part of him makes him start aging unpredictably - and fast. By the time he returns to the beach where the other Gems are, he's an old man.

And then something really interesting happens, something that was unsettling and yet also utterly expected to me. I mentioned that Amethyst is the Gem I'm built most like - well, Pearl is the one I'm most like intellectually and emotionally - she's all superego, she's very controlled and perfectionistic. And she sees aged Steven, and she totally loses her stuff. Starts crying uncontrollably, tries frantically to do things to "fix" it, and of course nothing works. And as I said, it was really unsettling for me to watch it, partly because I always find it unsettling to see someone who's very controlled normally lose their stuff. But I think it was also unsettling to me because it's *exactly how I would react* in a similar situation - which is why, as I said, it was utterly expected. (Fortunately, Steven remembers what it's like to be a kid - and he ages back down to his normal self. Hm. Maybe there's something in there about not taking life too seriously.)

Anyway, I'm more and more taken by the cartoon as it progresses, and I hope it's been renewed for another season.

1 comment:

CGHill said...

Derpy News, which was the first MLP:FiM news site, now also covers Steven Universe and Disney's Wander Over Yonder; the latter is produced by one Lauren Faust.