Monday, December 28, 2009

This Week's MC-D Beagle / Colts Haiku, Plus BONUS SONG LYRICS!!!

This week our esteemed Colts/Beagle haiku reporter struggles to deal with the ignominy of a loss, and finds that 17 syllables just aren't enough to continue her angst:

Colts: a record streak
And 50,000 yards. Kate
Beagle simply shrugs.

[And now, to the tune of "Blowing in the Wind"]

How many games will we see Indy tank
Despite setting records again?
And how many questions will Caldwell deflect,
Painter getting boos from ev'ry fan?
The answer, my friend, lies with Bill Polian;
The answer lies with Bill Polian!

--Mary Campbell-Droze


Meanwhile, in Lions Land we note that the Colts took 23 games to gather their 23 wins prior to that game, while it has taken the Lions most of a decade to earn* their last 23 wins. And so, your esteemed Lions correspondent finds that just nine syllables can contain his feeling about the Lions' twentieth consecutive road loss, a streak that threatens to soon pass the NFL record of 24 consecutive road losses set by ... you guessed it! ... the Detroit Lions, earlier this decade.

Anyway, here are my nine syllables on this week's Lions stinker:

"Thank you sir may I have another?"

*"Earn", "Luck into" ... eh, whatever.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Katie the Reindeer

Katie The Reindeer,
Despite her embarrasment,
Barks, "Merry Christmas!"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Comics from the University of Michigan - Flint

Yesterday I went down to Vault of Midnight comics in Ann Arbor to attend the in-store signing by Ryan Claytor's comics studio class at the University of Michigan - Flint. I always enjoy student work in a variety of fields because it's a chance to see people trying something new and different. And I especially appreciate when people are willing to put their work out there for other people to see.

By the time I got down to Ann Arbor, there were seven creators with seven books left. I put a good dent in my comics budget for the next couple of weeks by making a clean sweep at three bucks a pop. Here's a panel or two from each:

From Ew by Garrett Blondin

From A Small Collection of Comics by Chelsea Case

From Stars Beneath Stars: 3 Short Comics by James Barclay

From Tales of Marvinism by Marvin J. Dabideen

From Art in Sequence by Brian Hunt

From The Tales of T. by Travis Larkin

From The Extraordinarily Ordinary by Elizabeth Sevick

Each of the books contained three parts: an artistic statement a wordless comic, and another short comic. I saw a lot of Ryan's influence on the artistic statement sections in each. (Though that could also just be that Ryan's the only comics artist I know who has dedicated multiple books to exploring a theory of autobiography, so any comic statement of artistic self-examination is likely to remind me of his work.)

Not surprisingly, they were all a bit uneven, but all of them contained interesting images and cool bits. There were a few things that particularly struck me: Elizabeth Sevick's feel for facial expressions, Travis Larkin's storytelling in The Tales of T., James Barclay's "A Night in Amsterdam", and Chelsea Case's amazing anthropomorphic sponge, Gary the Loofah. I've read a lot of comics, but I've never see one that featured a loofah sponge as the protagonist.

Ryan also taught a class at MSU this semester, and he has both another MSU class and three UM-Flint classes in the Spring. If you get a chance to attend one of their signings next Summer, stop by and pick up a few. You'll see something entirely different, and the students can probably use your three beans more than the corporate overlords of DC and Marvel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week's MC-D Colts/Beagle Haiku: In light (enlight?) of yesterday's exchange.

Nam Myoho Indy Kyo

Manning is Dharma.
Katie Beagle is Buddha.
The Colts? Nirvana!

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More High-Falutin' Poetry Analysis

Just thought I'd share a recent e-mail chain among friends that uncovered some deep thoughts regarding poetry and current events:

From: Campbell-Droze, Mary
Subject: The Poetry Koan-er meets the Zen Masters

Surprise! Buddhist monks write a lot of stuff I wouldn't expect they would. One dreams about a very specific attribute of his sweetheart, another flings cusswords at a crow that would make a 20-year Marine proud, and one likens the air to elephant flatulence.

Some of the pieces hew more to what I anticipated:

I'm trying to tell you something I can't say
Like eating mist or chopping your shadow in half

but you never know what to expect from guys who simultaneously write about insight and picking their noses.

From: Magee, John

They're simultaneously writing about insight and picking their noses?

Are you sure you haven’t accidentally picked up a volume of Vogon poetry?

From: Campbell-Droze, Mary

Good grief, where's my TOWEL???

From: Kardos, Tim

Okay, Zen master, here’s some fodder for you:

NZ gal's Bulgarian airbags halt traffic:
Flashes jubs, gets run over

By Lester Haines

A New Zealand teenager whose mates dared her to flash her chesticles at passing motorists brought traffic to a standstill when an appreciative driver ran her over, the Southland Times reports.

Cherelle May Dudfield, 18, stood in the middle of an Invercargill road with her assets exposed on 27 September. This turned out to be ill-advised, and despite her attempts to evade an oncoming vehicle, she "rolled over the bonnet, cracking the windscreen".

An uninjured Dudfield earned herself an appearance before Invercargill District Court on a disorderly behaviour rap, where she pleaded guilty to improper use of Bulgarian airbags.

Duty solicitor John Fraser suggested the driver involved could have been a little more careful, but conceded he may have been "distracted".

Judge David Holderness said Dudfield was lucky the consequences weren't more serious and slapped her with a NZ$275 fine.

From: Magee, John

Oh, there’s at least a limerick in that incident

Now let’s see, what rhymes with “Bulgarian airbags?”

From: Campbell-Droze, Mary

Airhead Bagged

Dugs-field fell, was fined.
No noses were picked, and no
Elephants fahrted.

From: Magee, John

Oh sure, it makes a fine haiku. But I think you can see my problem here:

A young lady from Southland, New Zealand,
Thought she could improve traffic’s wheelin’
By standing in streets
And exposing her teats
Until one driver lost control and hit her in her Bulgarian airbags.

It just doesn’t quite scan.

From: Kardos, Tim

Close enough!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What you should be reading instead of this blog

Hey, you! Yeah, you with the mouse.

What are you doing reading this blog? You should instead be reading Arsen Darnay's Symphony in Ghulf Major saga. The first two books in the trilogy (Ghulf Genes, In Search of Anna Magna) are finally available at both and directly through Lulu press.

The third book (Anna's Song) is coming very, very soon, and I'm sure you'll want to be ready to greet it when it's hot off the presses.

Ghulf Genes

In Search of Anna Magna

Go. Order. Read. Enjoy. You can thank me later.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Beagle-Haiku Sports Commentary

This one rescued from the comments on another post:

Katie the Beagle
Hangs her head in shame. Bye-Bye
Curtis Granderson.

--Michelle Darnay-Paret

The Beagle Karma

Item #1) Mary Campbell-Droze begins writing weekly Beagle / Colts haiku.
Item #2) Indianapolis Colts start the season a perfect 13-0, and set the NFL record for consecutive regular-season victories.

Coincidence? MC-D, Katie the Beagle, and I think not. The Beagle Karma is here, and it is real.

Of Equine and Canine Perfection (Part 2): Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Season

In thirteen Colts games,
The only thing more perfect
Was Kate the Beagle.

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homebrewing Tips

I heard recently from somebody starting out in home brewing who was wondering if I had any tips for beginning homebrewers to pass along that might not be obvious from a book. I reckoned a book would hammer home the first commandment of home brewing -- "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" -- so I thought I'd pass along a few others that might be worth considering for the beginning brewer:

1) Find a brewing buddy or two if you can. Both the brewing and the tasting are more fun with a couple of good friends.

2) It might be worth planting a couple of hops vines this Spring. As you start to move beyond the simplest brews, you'll need some hops, and hop prices have risen a good deal over the past few years, which means that you might fine yourself shelling out $3-$6 per batch for hops.

The vines themselves usually start producing a lot the second year, though you may get a few flowers the first year. Planting them now means they'll be ready when you are. Monique and I planted a couple of hops vines this spring, and got just enough to flavor a batch of stout we made this fall. It was genuinely fun to use our own hops for the flavoring, and I'm really looking forward to hopping most of my beers next year off our own vines.

3) Don't be afraid to experiment. Feel like dropping a quart of maple syrup in your stout? Go for it! Want to try adding some vanilla to an ale? Why not? (I can now tell you from personal experience that if you do try some vanilla, the beer really does need to age a couple of months afterwards.) The point is that whatever you do, the end product is likely to contain alcohol and to be something interesting.

And drinking the mistakes can still lead to a fun evening!

4) Most importantly, have fun! Some bits of brewing can get pretty technical, especially if you're just starting or if you're trying something complicated. But at its heart it's not much trickier than baking a cake or a pie, and you'll figure out the tricky bits as you keep trying. Once you've known the joy of drinking the fruit of your labors, no other beer tastes quite as satisfying.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Facebook vs. The Blog

I came across a post (Facebook, Twitter, and so forth) on Sailor Jim's blog (Sailor Jim; Storyteller 2.0) in which he discussed the fact that he recently joined Facebook but finds the hubbub of it all less appealing than blogging. He uses a pretty good metaphor for the two:

It seems to me that the Facebook / Twitter model is that of a large room, full of people saying things at random as it occurs to them, each with several other people standing there commenting on whatever random thing was said, whereas blogs are more like one person on a stage with a mic, standing in front of an audience. After they get done with their performance, someone out of the audience takes their place and does a turn, while various critics still in the audience write reviews of and suggestions for the performance they just watched.

I thought it was an interesting metaphor, and I wrote a few comments on his entry to try to extend his metaphor to explain why I see the two mediums as complements to one another, not competitors. Then I reckoned I'd copy them here, which just goes to show that self-plagiarism spans all technologies. Here's what I had to say:

Just think of the blog as the stage, and Facebook as just all the folks out there at the tables chit-chatting with each other and not paying too much attention to the stage, the bar, the wait staff or really anything other than their Farmville farms. There's no need for performance pressure on FB; it's just a place to chit-chat.

Then sometimes a good act comes on stage and people pay attention for a while.

I tend to use FB as a place to keep track of my family and friends, and I reckon the ante is that I pony up a status update when I check in. (Thus the hundred-plus "lunchin' in the cube" updates I've posted in the last year.) No pressure, just a quick sentence on whatever comes to mind.

That my seem like it's filling the Internet with trivia ... er, more trivia ... but really getting to know somebody over time involves knowing both the important stuff (got married, got a new job, had a kid, etc.) and the little things. And since my family members live all over the place, what I like most about FB is that I feel I have a much better sense of the little things in their lives. For example, I would have known that one of my brothers travelled to Norway for work recently, but I wouldn't have known that he was really thinking about buying a viking hat while he was there. That sort of stuff.

I tend to use my blog as a place to write out my longer, more coherent thoughts on things. And every now and then when there's something there that I think might be of general interest, I link to it from my FB account.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What a Depressing Christmas Season

I was recently struck by the inherently depressing messages of TV Christmas classics:

  • A mentally disturbed child suffers peer rejection, then kills a plant. (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  • A community mocks and shuns a deformed youngster until they learn that they can exploit his freakish physical difference for profit. (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
  • It's okay to steal a hat if it belongs to somebody you don't like. (Frosty the Snowman)
  • A burgler avoids prosecution and is instead feted by his gullible victims. (The Grinch That Stole Christmas)

    Hmmmn ... maybe the problem is that I need to go back a bit farther. How 'bout some good, old-fashioned Christmas movies from the good ol' days?
  • Fiscal irresponsibility and banking irregularities are okay if you seem like a nice guy. (It's a Wonderful Life)
  • A single mother learns that it's okay to lie to your child as long as the lie is backed by powerful corporate interests and corrupt politicians. (A Miracle on 34th Street)

  • Uh-oh. Well, so much for the 20th Century. What does 19th Century literature have to say on the subject?

  • Miser grows wealthy by exploiting workers, but buys his way out of eternal damnation with a pittance in indulgences. (A Christmas Carol)

  • Dang.

    I reckon I'd best go a bit farther back in time. Let's go all the way back.

  • Men in power don't care if the poor give birth in stables, presumably because they have no health insurance. (Luke, 2.1-8)

  • Okay, so much for going backwards. Maybe it's time to start a new Christmas tradition, a cheery tradition. Let's find a happy Christmas season tale in today's news!

    Curtis Granderson Traded from Tigers to New York Yankees.

    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Detroit.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Michelle & Stella's Visit: A Few Random Photos

    It's nothing I'd call a true photo-documentary of Michelle & Stella's visit to Michigan for the last couple weeks of November but I reckoned I'd at least throw a few pictures up on the ol' blog. For more pictures, go check out the images captured by the visitors themselves over at the Pontoon Pirates blog.

    Suddenly, Arsen and Baldy regretted asking John to do his famed tornado-siren impression.

    Now a few from the Novi Pet Expo:

    Flying dogs!

    An unusual species of kitty cat.

    Photographing the photographer.

    Afterwards, Katie the Beagle badgered Michelle incessantly with questions about what she saw at the Pet Expo.

    We also visited a Lions game:

    Here Stella and John discovered that our tickets were so high up in the cheap seats that Stella needed to affix the binoculars to the zoom lens of her camera to see the field.

    And now, a photo series I like to call "Gift Wrapping the Boat" starring Stella and Monique!

    On Thanksgiving Day we (Monique, Arsen, Brigitte, Michelle, Stella, Wendy, Anna, Lexi, and I) all lazed about the house and then ate waaaaay too much turkey.

    Katie the Beagle helps Arsen with a game of My Word.

    Wendy reading "How Fletcher Was Hatched" to Katie the Beagle, Lexi, and Anna.

    Arsen and Lexi reading on the couch.

    And after dinner? Mmmn ... pie! (From left-to-right: pumpkin, chocolate pecan, apple, and pecan.)

    On the last Saturday night Arsen, Michelle, Monique, and I went for a walk in Grosse Pointe and amused ourselves by taking pictures of Christmas lights while spinning the camera. This might have had something to do with the growler of beer we drank before we went for the walk.

    Stella created her own art the next day, a couple of music videos.

    Finally, we close with a few photos of the Darnay girls with their mother.

    Monique and Brigitte:

    Brigitte and Michelle:

    It was a great visit.

    Wherein MC-D realizes that Beagles have an inherent advantage over Colts

    Colts go 12 and 0!
    But then, Katie the Beagle's
    Perfect EVERY year!

    --Mary Campbell-Droze

    Another quick update on Susan

    Just passing along another quick update on my sister Susan's status for anybody who hasn't heard. She got out of the hospital yesterday, and is back home for now. It sounds as if a lot of bed rest may still be in the cards. She'll still be able to nurse wee Emerson, which is a great relief to her.

    She hasn't yet updated her blog (Gettysburg Family) but she did pop a post up on Facebook yesterday, so she's back online at least a bit. Thanks for everybody's good wishes, both here and on her blog.

    Oh, and the whole pulmonary embolism thing has led her and Rich to rethink their stance on smoking. They've quit.

    Thanksgiving Leftovers Update.

    This will be my eleventh straight day of turkey. There have been turkey dinner platters, turkey sandwiches galore, turkey burritos, turkey tacos, turkey fajitas, turkey-wild rice casserole, turkey spaghetti, and turkey omelets. Katie the Beagle has eaten so many turkey scraps that she's starting to grow feathers. We'll probably take the rest of the meat of the carcass tonight and make turkey soup.

    Monique and I ate the last slab of pumpkin pie last night. We're down to two servings of mashed potatoes and gravy, one wee scoop of cranberry sauce, and 1/3 of a container of andouille sausage stuffing (which is oh, so yummy on turkey sandwiches!)

    'Round these parts the Thanksgiving season lasts nearly as long as the Christmas season. And that's just the way we like it.

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Your Local Government's Work Is Never Done

    This story in today's New York Times' Week In Review section amused me this morning. It's from 100 years ago this week:

    Back Then: Dec. 3, 1909

    The Improvement Association of Edgewater Park, N.J., has found much cause for complaint recently in the whistle shrieks of the Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives. ... Men placed near the tracks by the Improvement Association noticed that one train, which passed through the town three times a day, was the principal offender. A fair-haired girl was found to be the cause of the tooting of this train, for no sooner would the shrill sound issue forth than this young woman would come out on the porch of her home and throw kisses to the engineer, who would return them, and give a few extra blasts in recognition of the salutation.

    The Improvement Association has decided that if the engineer cannot woo his fair young friend without annoying the whole town he had better have her home moved further away.

    This sounds like just the sort of thing that might come before our own village council in 2009. And it also sounds like just the sort of way we'd investigate it. However, given the general depopulation and real-estate collapse in Metro Detroit, we're not enouraging anyone to move farther away, no matter how annoying her beau's train whistle is.

    (And I can't help but whatever happened to that engineer and the blonde.)

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    Quick update on my sister Susan

    Just a quick update on Susan for folks who haven't gotten an update elsewhere. She's still in the hospital, though she might get out in another day or two if she continues to improve. It sounds as if her condition was worse than we had heard: clots in both lungs and in both legs, plus a collapsed lung. Not good. She's going to be on blood thinners for a while.

    The good news is that she seems to be on the mend. She's not happy about being separated from her kids, of course, especially Emerson. But Rich has been taking them to the hospital to visit. There's also good news in that it sounds as if she'll be able to nurse Emerson again once she gets off one of her medications (an anti-nausea med) despite being on the Coumadin.

    If you haven't yet had a chance to wish her well on her blog, I'm still encouraging folks to go to her most recent post -- The New Normal -- on her Gettysburg Family blog and post a get-well note in the comments. I don't think she has internet in the hospital, but I'm sure she'll be glad to see them all once she gets out.

    And that's about it. We're all still worried, but also encouraged.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Last night, level at Fl 410

    Last night, level at Fl 410,
    above the clouds,
    silvered by moonlight,
    the stars scattered far and wide,
    above, beyond, and around us,
    a beaming Mars rising red/orange in the east,
    and some distant storms flash/flashing in the far distance,
    we knew for an elusive moment a sense of peace.

    Beneath us a northeaster was raging,
    and that turbulent, rain-swept, crosswind battle at Morristown
    was yet to come (Joy !)

    God is good to us.

    --Tony Buttacavoli

    This was a Facebook post I came across this morning by a friend of mine who's a pilot. I don't think he particularly meant it to be a poem. But I really, really liked it. So I've added some linebreaks and posted it here.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Hey, everybody, send your "get well soon" wishes to Susan!

    Hi, everybody. Just passing along a quick update via blog to let folks know that my sister Susan is back in the hospital today with pleurisy and an embolism in her lung. (Harrumph. So much for her theory that she could minimize her hospital time by arriving just fifteen minutes before she gave birth.)

    It sounds as if they expect her to recover fully, but it will probably take a while. If you're reading this, I think it would cheer her considerably if you go to her blog at Gettysburg Family and post a comment at her latest post (The New Normal) to wish her a speedy recovery.

    (While you're there, click on a few ads, too. I'm sure a sudden jump in her AdWords revenue would also help her recuperation.)

    You can also send along wishes for a speedy recovery to Susan's husband Rich and his brother Michael. No, they're not sick, but they're watching the whole unruly Gettysburg Family crew while Susan's in the hospital, and I'm sure it will take them quite a while to recover from THAT!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Looking for a gift idea? How 'bout the gift of beer!

    A friend of a friend (I shan't say more, for fear of giving away surprises) was directed to me for some advice on the beermaking kits on as a Christmas present. Since I wrote it up, I reckoned I'd pass it along for anybody else looking for advice.

    When I started brewing again a couple of years ago it was with a Mr. Beer kit, which is one of the ones listed at the top of the listings on Amazon. It's really pretty easy and fun. The regular kit just comes with enough mix to make one batch, so adding in one of those three-mix variety packs is kind of a good idea.

    It's a good idea to pick up a good book to go with it. The Mr. Beer pamphlet is pretty short on detail, history, and theory of beer. But a great book for a beginning home brewer is Charlie Papazian's Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

    In the long run, the best thing to do is to hook up with a local home brewing supply store, especially if you want to start building a kit around some existing pieces like your glass carboy. Those sorts of stores a great source of expertise and advice, as well as a handy place to pick up some of the little do-dads that make it all a bit easier. If you don't know of one nearby and can't find one in the Yellow Pages, there's a pretty good listing of local stores here: (It's set to Michigan as the default, but you can change states.)

    Happy brewing!

    Katie the Beagle says, "Finally, a Morning at Home with Monique!"

    The beagle welcomes
    The return of her routine,
    And returns to bed.