Chewy Ginger(less) Snaps

So, yeah, you might remember that I’ve said before that, as much as I like cooking, I tend to have trouble with baked goods.  Anything even slightly more complicated than basic white bread usually doesn’t work out.  Still, when you need something to make on a Sunday afternoon, you don’t want to go to the store, and you have some molasses and ginger to use up, you do what you gotta do.

And I gotta say:  These actually turned out okay.  I haven’t really tried to make cookies much.  There’s not much to them.  Throw the wet stuff in one bowl, the dry stuff in another, mix ’em together, and then put them in the oven just long enough to make them a bit nervous.  Not bad.

In fact, these turned out so well that I bragged to my mother about making them the next day.

“Really?” she said.  “Did you use fresh ginger or powdered?”

I opened my mouth to respond.  Then I thought about the bottle of ginger powder sitting on my kitchen counter.  Unopened.

Okay, yeah, I forgot the ginger in my ginger snaps.  But you know what?  I remade them a few days later WITH the ginger, and I could barely taste the difference.  Maybe a recipe that lets the molasses overpower the ginger is the best recipe, but I’d eat these chewy molasses cookies again any day.

Clown Noir

Guys, this should be an actual thing.

“I knew the dame was trouble the moment she sat on the whoopie cushion.”

Noir actually seems like it’d be a good fit for a clown.  When I think about a noir protagonist, I picture a beaten-down man who struggles to live another day only because he’s too tired to die.  I think, basically, of cynicism personified.  And really, is there anything more cynical than a man whose face can only muster a smile if it’s painted on?

Besides, if there were a clown in a noir, he’d have to get beaten up quite a bit, and the thought of a clown getting punched in the stomach is bound to make somebody smile.

Comic Con Warm-Up

I spent my Saturday evening at a tournament for Magic: The Gathering, which, if you don’t know, is a nerd game for nerds.  For the record, I won 3 of my 4 games.  Not too shabby.  

Anyways, the store owners hired this girl to dress up as a character from the game.  As far as I can tell, she was really only there to create a photo op, although maybe she sold some prints or something?  She had, like, her whole portfolio there.
Anyways anyways, all the guys in the shop that took pictures with her got these happy little portraits done, with their arms around the girl’s waist while she held up her crazy spear like some psycho death metal version of American Gothic.  After watching this go on for a while, I had to jump in and show this crowd how one should REALLY get their picture taken with a cosplayer.  After all, I can’t imagine this girl strapped on those blood-stained wings and jammed those blackout contacts into her eyes in order to reenact Lilith’s First Prom Night.

And all this got me thinking… Guys, I am getting, like, STUPID excited for Salt Lake’s 2016 Comic Con. This is honestly a little disturbing to me. After all, should I, a grown man with a mortgage and a full-time job and a whole host of other serious concerns, really be getting so excited to wander through crowds of costumed weirdos in an overpacked convention hall, just so I can spend my day talking about comic books and getting pictures taken with teenagers all dressed up as their favorite anime character, especially when said event is still more than a month away?

You bet your buttermilk biscuits I should.  Jumping in to dumb photos with the cosplayers at last years convention was about the most fun I had all year.  Dignity and decorum be darned, but I absolutely loved getting the crap kicked out of me by every kid in a video game costume, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Besides, I’m also getting super stoked for Christmas, and, seeing as how it’s now July, I think we can all agree that’s a more serious problem.

Priciest Toy I Ever Bought…

A few weekends ago, I realized that, with my new change in employment, I was suddenly way more… financially solvent… than I’m used to being. So, to balance the scales, as it were, I decided to empty my savings account and buy a new toy: an iPad Pro.

I’d read the reviews: this is not a device for everyone. In fact, I dare say most people are better off getting something completely less expensive. But for me, someone who’s been trying to draw more regularly, it’s been one of the most exciting additions to my art tool belt.

I’ve been using an app called Procreate (I know, I know) for my digital drawing for years, and, while I’ve loved it, I’ve never been satisfied with the way lines traced with my finger have looked. Now that I’ve been using the iPad Pro (with the Apple Pencil) (sold separately) (for a pretty penny more than a normal pencil), I feel I can do much more drawing purely digitally. Everything, from draft to inks, I can now do on the iPad screen, and I wind up with something that looks as good as if I’d done it the old fashioned way.

Which, you know, still isn’t necessarily GOOD…

The above picture took me about three weeks of sleepy Sundays to finish up. Maybe not my finest work, but I feel like I gave it my best effort. Any shortcomings in the picture I can blame squarely on the artist,  rather than the tools.

All of which is just to say that I’ve finally learned how cool a stylus can be. Thanks, Apple!

(Okay, yeah, this post got pretty snarky… but seriously, the iPad Pro is really cool!)

Trying to Respect the Day

So… Independence Day has been my least favorite day of the year for the last few years.


I dunno. Maybe it’s because I think fireworks and rodeos are overrated.  Maybe it’s because I hate hot dogs. Maybe it’s because I get hives whenever I hear martial music.

(More like John Phillip Loser… Lose-a… Whatever.)

Or maybe I’ve just become increasingly uncomfortable with the level of seemingly blind pro-American sentiment our country tends to display, especially as I become more aware of the role America plays on the international stage. Nationalism, especially in an era of global-scale crises, seems foolish.

That said, I have been softening on the 4th of July holiday quite a bit. I’ve learned you can put onions on hot dogs, and they taste much better. I’ve also been meditating a lot on what America has meant to me throughout the years.

I grew up watching Schoolhouse Rock. The idea that America is a place where people from any background to work and try to make a place for themselves has been with me since my childhood. As a descendant of immigrants, that means a lot to me.

I sang in my high school choir, and the director had a particular fondness for patriotic jams. I remember a particularly powerful experience, singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” with hundreds of other teenagers, with the support of a full military band. As hokey as I find “God Bless the U.S.A.” Now, I can’t deny that patriotic music brings a tear to my eye from time to time.

As powerful as those nostalgic feelings are, it’s been difficult for me to set aside my… I’m going to say ,”embarassment” over the way we, as a nation, have acted over the years. I don’t know that I could say I’m ashamed to be American. However, if you were to ask me, I’m not sure I could deny it.

But recently, I’ve started to take a different approach. Maybe my country’s not in the place I’d like it to be, but it’s still MY country. My pride in America doesn’t come from any objective standard of measure. It’s dear to me because it’s mine, the way my home and family are dear to me, despite knowing there are things about them I wish were different.

Look, patriotism is a hard sentiment for me, especially now that I’ve reached my crotchety thirtysomethings. I’m still ashamed of some of my country’s actions, but Independence Day isn’t about where we are, necessarily. It’s about where we’ve come from. And that’s something I can easily celebrate. All the good, all the bad, all the… morally grey… All of that is MY history. To hold. To love. To learn from.

So… Yeah. God bless. May we all own our country and do our part to shape at least our little neighborhood into the type of America we’ve always loved.