IT FEELS GOOD to write again. It has been just over six years since I last added to this blog (which once boasted a...
To our game group, a couple of dozen people in Northern California’s Diablo Valley playing hundreds of five-or-six-player sessions between 1978 and 1983, “Dungeons and Dragons” was not yet an accepted rite of geek passage, a million-dollar industry, or a major cultural influence. In those days it was barely known outside SFnal convention circles or college campii; I learned of it through a fan friend who was heavily involved with legendary game-guru David Hargrave‘s Arduin campaign — “campaign” being the term for an ongoing adventure milieu, a created world like (and often modeled on) Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Lewis’ Narnia, or Leiber’s Lankhmar.
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“GOOD GOD, MAN — WHAT HAPPENED?”
“Well, I was on the freeway, and my car stalled right in front of a hurtling semi. Fortunately, the orchestra changed tunes at exactly that moment and distracted everyone.”
(THESE WERE WRITTEN JUNE 21 on the unnetworked “writing laptop,” which I only mention to explain the last verse and thank you for not skipping ahead. And now, this.)
So soon the heat comes
after long weeks of spring rain.
Sweat follows storm drops.
And a pool to eat it by.
What more do you need?
dances on the patio:
cool green tree cavern.
in an ice-filled glass alive
with summer music.
Roll out the bandstand
and strike up the musicians:
It’s summer solstice!
THE UNIVERSE IS FULL OF “Learn Here” stickers, each with a different adhesive strength. Collect enough and you win.
PS to my friend, Lillian, who says, “Define ‘enough’” — if you’re still collecting, you haven’t won yet.
“HELL, BOY, THE ONLY DIFFERENCE between us is that I know I’m asleep. Now if you want to see a real miracle, hand me that wrench.”
“PEOPLE’D BE A DAMN SIGHT more polite to each other in this country if they had to work a year behind a retail sales counter. At least, all my retailer friends think so.”
IN THE EMERALD INCESSANCE, THAT great sprawling swamp east of epicurean Pormaris, Prosatio Silban was searching for his world’s tastiest meal.
The Emerald Incessance was hundreds of square miles of hummock, tussock and overtowering reeds, inhabited by societal castoffs and furtive oal-herders — not a likely group among whom to find something described with bliss as every man’s favorite dish all in one fried bundle.
“Like my mother’s potato-and-pea stew, only more so,” sighed one wizened indigine.
“The Soup Demons take you!” objected his friend. “Fresh roasted oal, it was, like I hadn’t tasted since my first hunt.”
“Ye’re both wrong,” chimed in a third. “It’s apple crumble. Hot.”
Prosatio Silban hoped to discern the recipe and perhaps add it to his own great store. So he had hitched up his galleywagon and driven into the green. He gave more-or-less free rein to his buopoth, Onward, due to the quaint and lumbering beast’s uncanny footing and impeccable nose, and thus came two days later to a tumbledown shack under a large cypress tree. An old woman in long tattered grey shift was stirring a pot set on a long brick hearth. Nearby was a rough wooden table lined by half-sawn log benches. The air was redolent of a seductive melange blending savory, sweet, and something he couldn’t name.
Prosatio Silban climbed down from his galleywagon, told Onward what a good buopoth it was, and approached.
“I know what you’ve come for,” she said before he could speak. She didn’t smile, but her eyes were kind as she pointed to one of the benches. “Please.”
The cook sat. The woman oiled an iron frying pan, placed in it a thin white disk of dough. After some time, she stuck a ladle in the pot she’d been stirring and poured its bubbling contents over the dough, which she closed with a quick flick of a spatula. She poured a clay mug of blue duliac, plated her creation, and placed both before Prosatio Silban. “You’ll want to eat this hot,” she said.
Prosatio Silban was fascinated. The World’s Greatest Dish seemed to be little more than a fried wrap filled with some sort of cheese concoction. But what was that indefinable smell? He lifted the wrap to his lips, took a bite, chewed.
It tasted of little more than its ingredients: flour, water, a bit of egg, soft cheese, and something he still could not identify — a texture which changed from creamy to crunchy as he chewed, its flavor still eluding his curious tongue. Malt? Fish sauce? Sourbean paste? Whatever it was, it was another chef’s secret. He sighed, and raised his eyes to the woman. She smiled a conspirator’s smile.
“All my other customers wanted their favorite dish,” she said. “Only you wanted to know what it was in it.”
1. THE FOLKS AT WHOLE FOODS’ Sonoma branch were trying to do the right thing. Last week, I noted that their refrigerated Passover display contained some sixers of He’Brew Beer (unaffiliated with but heartily endorsed by Metaphorager.Net). Fermented grain being Passoverly inappropriate, and wanting to save the store some face, I mentioned this to one of the managers (“This isn’t offensive, just incongruous to knowledgeable shoppers.”). As of yesterday, the beer is now gone — but the other freestanding display now features cocktail rye breads and two boxes of hamantaschen.
(I love hamantaschen, which are poppyseed-filled Purim cookies. I love them even more on Purim, which holiday occurred two weeks ago. But I really love the human impulse to make the customer comfortable, even if we don’t know what her comfort level is.)
2. If you’re in the Sonoma area tomorrow, join us for “painless Torah study” (no experience necessary) from 10 am to noonish. Our portion is Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59; Haftorah: II Kings 4:42-5:19). Call 707.933.9430 for directions.)
3. I am way pleased to announce that PunkTorah.Org has published one of my divrei Torah at http://punktorah.org/dvar-torah/ (the one titled “D’var Tazria & Itchy Skin Diseases”). PunkTorah is what you get when young people play in the vast Jewish landscape with today’s tools, yesterday’s texts and eternal enthusiasm. (They have an online minyan, or prayer meet, three times a day!) Nachum-Bob says “check ‘em out.”
“FUN’S FUN, GENERAL. BUT THIS …”
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