Thursday, April 30, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this piece by Joel Grey about the loss of live and in person theater in a time a crisis very moving.  
2. I caught up to the whole Subculture concert with Jason Robert Brown, but as the headline suggests, Ariana Grande singing "I'm Still Hurting" (from "The Last Five Years") is a particular highlight.  Links to both in article.  Also, I've heard a few singers from Cynthia Erivo to Anna Kendrick perform "I'm Still Hurting".  It's a mark of a great song that it suits a number of performers.  
3. A cat alerted it's owners to a smoking crockpot. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

It Sucks But Also Gets Better

One of the things about living is the repeated chance to re-evaulate experiences you lived through.  I talked with someone a while back about recognizing that watching the Anita Hill hearings before I even truly entered the work force had lingering effects.  My thoughts on the harassment she experienced have gained more nuance at the time, but regardless, it sent a message, that you can show up and lay your pain bear, and people will say, that sounds bad, but why shouldn't he get what he deserves.  
I've been slowly watching "Little Fires Everywhere" and the discussion of privilege, and should you feel bad if you've never faced hardship shows up in lots of ways.  
So, all of this is to say, I've lived through a few health crises now.  And I will tell you that yes, it sucks a lot.  It sucks if you are newly working from home, it sucks if you are working from home like always but with extra people, it sucks if you are trying to teach PE to kids via video conference, it sucks if your job disappears when there aren't people about, and it sucks if you are a health care worker, a package deliverer, a grocery store worker or any of the other folks still expected to show up while all their friends are like join our sixty two video conferences, we're drinking at noon!  
I remember seeing one video in response to the "It Gets Better" series from a kid saying, okay, cool, but telling me I have to make it to adulthood to get better is kinda depressing.  And the kid was right.  There are many many things wrong with our current world.  Crises make clear some of these things.  I think a lot about Lin-Manuel Miranda saying when he read up on Alexander Hamilton, he realized so many of these issues we struggle with today are baked into our country.  
So we have always been broken as a system.  Some of the ways we fixed it were good.  Some were not.  Some were meant to be stopgaps until a better idea came along.  We have the chance to push for some changes now, and some more later.  I can't promise we will get a better, fairer world out there.  I can't promise you won't know people who died who shouldn't have.  I can't promise that in another decade something won't happen that will make you want to scream, "We already talked about this, why haven't we fixed it?"  I can tell you, that those who tell you this is not the time to push for social and political change are wrong.  I can tell you to remember the lessons you have and are learning and carry that with you.  I can tell you that if that sounds utterly exhausting, I hear you, you can take a nap it's cool. 
My church used to have a minister who talked about marching in the streets all the time.  And she said once, I know marching in the streets isn't the only way to make a better world, it's just my way.  If your way involves adopting cats, that's cool too.  There are many ways, and many paths.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. This op-ed by John Cho reminds us that this pandemic has had additional implications for Asian Americans about the conditionality of their acceptance.  Also, Hollaback and AAJC are doing a virtual training right now, on bystander intervention training with a focus on helping prevent anti-Asian bullying.  
2. This piece is about New York, but I think most city dwellers will find something here.  I never thought I would miss climbing onto a bus or metro so jammed we all had to think carefully about how we stood.  But I do.  I miss that doing that seemed normal. 
3. One college student made masks designed to help deaf and hard of hearing folks still read lips.  Note: This article autoplays a video. 
4. Bonus non-pandemic thing: I caught up to this article with author Beverly Jenkins, who continues to be delightful. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

7 Things: Chopped

I've been watching a lot of "Chopped" lately.  "Chopped" differs slightly from other cooking competitions in that the format is very unchangeable.  They have certainly done special episodes, but one of the challenges you find in some other cooking competitions is that a chef who watched 2-3 episodes to figure out what they were signing on for might see three challenges that end up being not applicable to their own experience.  Of course, it does mean that when "Chopped" does break format - like everything is breakfast, use chocolate in every dish, I have even less sympathy with the contestants. 

But I have - in addition to be a dude, which helps tremendously - - I have come up with seven tips for contestants that my non-chef, just watching at home self has determined.  

1. If you nicked yourself get it taken care of. The chef who gets blood on the plate goes home. Seriously, they will have more sympathy for your dish being unfinished and not bloody, than they will for bloody.  There is more than one instance of a chef who did not think they were bleeding who got blood on the plate.  The clock is your enemy but inedible is inedible. 

2. Any meat you have or anything else you have that has a long cooking time, you will do better using small amounts and getting it fully cooked. Sure they might ding you for portions, but cooked correctly is going to work out better for you. The number of chefs who thing they can cook steak in thirty minutes and then forget that you have to factor in prep, in some cases butchering, marinating, and resting.  If you can't cook it in ten minutes, make a new plan.  

3. Taste it. In fairness, a lot of these boil down (lol) to time.  But if you haven't tasted all the things, then little things like two little or too much salt that you could have fixed will escape you.  And if they asked you if you tasted it and you have to say no, it's bad.  Not as bad as trying to pretend you meant to serve a salt lick. 

4. Count. You have four ingredients.  But limited time.  So, as you race to get the things you need for ingredients A and B and your station gets cluttered, it's so easy to misplace that little tiny bottle or just not see that bag of greens or whatever.  Count.  Make it part of your process so that you don't have that realization a minute after they called time.  

5. Don't be a dick. I know the chef world prizes arrogance and boldness.  I know the show is designed to constantly ask you why you think you're better than your competitors.  I know my personal wishes and desires as a person who does not hire and fire chefs, probably matters little.  But here's why I think you should avoid being a dick about it.  Because the editors at "Chopped" get to pick and choose clips after the show has been decided.  And sure, if you say things like, well, I was really proud of what I served but I'm up against some great competitors, you're right that they may never use that even if you end up the winner.  (Although the winner always gets to say the last few words.  Plus the winner gets money.)  But if you say, at least my dish didn't look like trash the way Susie's did, and you get cut that round, they are definitely using you saying that.  And you go out looking like a dick. 

6. If you make it to the dessert round, only one of you is going to have time to use the ice cream maker. Also, this isn't a real kitchen.  Even if your competitor makes it in and out in time, they aren't going to clean the ice cream maker.  You shouldn't ask.  And if you try to use it without cleaning, your results might end up gross.  Basically, I'm saying have a plan B that isn't ice cream.  

7. Putting a cold thing on a hot thing melts the cold thing. I know this seems self explanatory, but I have seen this come up multiple times. It's often a result of thinking of ingredients and not the whole plate. So if you baked something that you then want to put something cold on, you need to allow time for that baked thing to cool.  

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. I personally had planned to see my stylist for my biannual cut this month.  This article about how Black women in particular may be adrift when the salons and many of the places that sell hair care products are closed was interesting.  
2. R. Eric Thomas' look at "A League of Their Own" through a pandemic lens is fascinating. 
3. Ruby Lang pointed me towards Epicurious' Cook With What You've Got site. As someone who just discovered a lingering cup of yellow peas in the back of the cupboard, this is exciting news.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Seventeen

Note: The top of this post has been updated to correct counting. Also, I do have plans to get the rest of this story out in the world. Newsletter subscribers will get the first update on when that will be.

Previous entries: 

Prompt one - which includes what's happening and a link to the person who started this idea, Prompt two, Prompt three, Prompt four, Prompt five, Prompt six, Prompt seven, Prompt eight, Prompt nine, Prompt ten, Prompt eleven, Prompt twelve, Prompt thirteen, Prompt fourteen, Prompt fifteen, Prompt sixteen.    

Today's prompt is playoffs.  

Al: What's your schedule like?

Sienna looked at the phone.  He had texted her last night when they made it to DC, so it wasn't an idle question. 

Sienna: Why? You gonna whisk me away somewhere? <winky smile>
The junior hockey league was getting ready for their finals - a time-crunched playoffs and finals all in four days.  Sienna had offered to go, but it turned out there were limited seats on the team bus.  Once she had realized the whole team plus coaching staff needed to travel by bus for nine hours together, well, Sienna was happy to watch their games on the livestream.  
With a lot of the stuff for KeKi running well, it meant Sienna's schedule had normalized for a bit.  Although it turned out paying attention to hockey was a real schedule eater. 

But did she have some free time to offer a certain goalie?  Perhaps she did. 

Al was stopping off to do a quick appearance at the children's hospital after doing the media gauntlet. 

Sienna: Way to brag.

Al: Lol.  Yeah, there's no way to be like, oh I have to go smile a children and not sound like you are bragging or lying.  At least not that I've found. 

Al: But seriously, you pick anywhere you want.  Preferably not too fancy, although I own suits. 

Sienna: So all the pressure is on me.  It's cool.  I'm used to this.  
Al: I believe in you.

Sienna felt a little fluttery something.  But he was joking of course.  Gosh.  Sienna was so used to being taken somewhere.  Her one Ex seemed to know people at all these places.  And well, yes, in retrospect, they were mostly women that he knew in all these places.  Sienna was more savvy now.  Knew plenty of people said things just to say them.  Getting caught up in thinking every single one was true was how you ended up sleeping on your brother's couch for a while.
But food.  Sienna wished there was some place she had been secretly dying to go.  She liked food, appreciated food, but didn't track the food scene, mostly just went where other people suggested.  She could ask people of course.  Raven or Marcus might know somewhere.  But she had the whole of the internet available to her. Besides both Raven and Marcus would have questions she didn't want to answer. 

But Kyran.  Kyran wouldn't.  Kyran worked as a concierge at the hotel where her brother worked.  When things had gotten a little tense with Sienna staying with her brother, Kyran had let her stay with him for a bit.

Sienna: Hey, Kyran - gimme a good restaurant.

Kyran: Gonna need more info.  Price range? Group size? Desired ambiance?

Sienna: Two people.  Not noisy but not like Valentine's Day.  And price is not no object, but less of a concern. 

Sienna had googled hockey player salaries.  Not because she wanted a piece of Al's money.  But well, it seemed once you were on a long term contract, you were doing okay.  And while this felt like a date, Sienna was not going to be the one who took a friendly dinner request and pushed it over the line into date territory all by herself.  Nope.

Besides she had a focus on business not dating rule.  If someone else broke it that was one thing.  But she wasn't going to go out there making it happen. 
Kyran helped her settle on something and Sienna made a reservation and texted Al all the details. 

Now she just had to figure out what to wear.  Fortunately she had tons of experience in crafting an image.  

Knit Night Loses a Knitter

I can't remember quite how long I've know Cristina.  The knit night at Looped is about nine years old, but over the years there have been regulars, irregulars, folks whose lives, jobs, kids, and/or school have caused them to cycle in and out. 

At some point Cristina and I figured out we were the same age.  I am a dedicated cat person.  She was a dog person who had also had cats, but been too sad to find another when her previous one passed away.  But then she took over a relative's and she shared the slow winning over process as the cat decided she might be an okay caretaker.  

The nature of knit nights are that I can remember talking jobs, and bad bosses, and taxes, and condoms with Cristina. She was firm in what she wanted in so many ways.  She went from knitting stockinette that she never quite finished (oh those seemingly easy projects) to amazing colorwork.

It is easy to assign battle terms to illness, as if the amount of fight in a person has some bearing in their eventual success.  Cristina said they considered her young and healthy when she came in (which, being the same age, I heartily approve of this framing).  

COVID-19 is a nasty germ.  Cristina was added to the death totals in Maryland this week.  Due to various social distancing policies, we obviously haven't done in person knit night for a few weeks now.  It's heartbreaking to think I won't ever get to see her in person again.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Sixteen

Note: The top of this post has been updated to correct the counting. Previous entries: 
Prompt one - which includes what's happening and a link to the person who started this idea, Prompt two, Prompt three, Prompt four, Prompt five, Prompt six, Prompt seven, Prompt eight, Prompt nine, Prompt ten, Prompt eleven, Prompt twelve, (day off in between), Prompt thirteen, Prompt fourteen, Prompt fifteen.   

Today's prompt is draft.  

Al waited until they were on the bus to the airport in Toronto before checking his phone.  Just as he'd hoped there was a text from Sienna. 

Sienna: Good game. 

Al: Thanks. 

Sienna: Are you on the plane? 

Al: Bus now, then plane. 

Sienna: Cool, text me when you're back in DC.

Al: Okay. 

He pocketed his phone.  Kunyk was looking at him.  "Texting your sister?" he asked.

Al frowned.  "What do you know about my sister?"

"So not her then.  Parents?" 

Spruce leaned over the back of his seat in front of them.  "What are we talking about?"

"Stop is texting someone very intently." 

"Really?" Spruce said.  "Who is it?  Is this why you're watching rom coms?" 

"Rom coms are great." Mulvenna leaned over the back of his seat, so now Al had three sets of eyes trained on him.  He'd honestly rather be back on the ice, if this was the grilling he'd get off of it.  

"I was just texting a friend that I'd be home later tonight." 

"Do you have friends that are not on this bus?" Mulvenna asked.

"Are you guys this lacking for entertainment that we are counting friends now?"  Al asked. 

"I was honestly just teasing you, dude," Kunyk said.  "You looked so serious that I thought for sure you were texting your agent or something.   But then you smiled and got all squirrelly when I asked you. But you can have secret friends if you want." 

"Tell me the secret," Spruce chanted. "Tell me the secret." 

"Has anyone got Nyquil?  Some sort of sleeping pill. Chloroform maybe," Al asked.

"Hey," said coach who Al hadn't seen walking down the aisle until just then, oops. "No drugging your fellow teammates." 

"So," Kunyk said, "other teammates are still on the table.  Yes."  He fistpumped.

"And I'm walking away so I have plausible deniability later," said Coach. 

They all snickered.  
"Are we gonna have time to play a game on the plane," Spruce asked.  "Or are you fogies all going to sleep." 

Mulvenna pillowed his hands under his cheek and made fake snoring sounds. 

"Boo," Spruce said. "I need new friends." 

"Hey," Kunyk said ruffling Spruce's hair.  "Just remember fogies wake up early and know how to charm hotel staff." 

"Ugh," Spruce said.  "I hate you.  It was bad enough I had Hrkac as my roommate all last year.  This year I was supposed to have some privacy."  Spruce had been drafted last year.  First year players often had to share a room on road trips.  This year he didn't.

"I don't know why you need privacy to dress up like a princess and sing Disney songs.  That seems like the kind of thing that would go over better in groups," Kunyk said.

"It's called cosplay, duh," Spruce said.  "And I do do it in groups.  But only with people who like respect the characters.  Not people who confuse Elsa and Merida." 

"Those are completely different characters," Al said. 

"I know!" Spruce said.  "But this dude," Spruce pointed to Kunyk, "saw a red wig, a bow and arrow and somehow thought that was an ice queen."  Spruce shook his head. 

"Wait, why is this about me all of a sudden. Does everyone even know there is a Disney princess named Merida?" 

Al and Mulvenna both nodded. 

As the team filed off the bus, Al could hear Kunyk going up and asking the other players.  Al was sure the other players were confused, but honestly, everyone had post game entertaining themselves while they travelled rituals. 

"How complex is your cosplay?" Al asked.  "And do you bring it to every trip?  Is that why your bag is so huge?" 

"We can't all be one suiters like you, Al," Mulvenna said. 

"Wait," Spruce said.  "You have one suit?  I thought for sure you at least had two identical suits." 

"I do," Al said.  "Trust me, all it takes is one spill to learn to bring a spare."
"Okay.  And no, I don't bring it to every game.  Kunyk busted into my room to do whatever when we were playing Chicago at the same time C2E2 was happening." 

"Wait it was?" Mulvenna asked.  "That wasn't this year, right?  I'm gonna be so bummed if that was this year." 

"It was, dude, sorry.  But if it coincides again, I'll let you know," Spruce said.  "Usually C2E2, New York, and Seattle, are the ones I keep an eye out for when we get the schedule.  A lot of the rest are in the off-season." 

Spruce and Mulvenna started talking favorite conventions and Al slipped his phone back out of his pocket to text Sienna.

Al: Getting on the plane now. 
He couldn't wait to get back to DC. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Clear as Ice - Hockey Fiction Prompt Fifteen

Previous entries: 
Hilariously, I am going back to counting by prompt. Note: Post has been edited to correct counting. 
Prompt one - which includes what's happening and a link to the person who started this idea, Prompt two, Prompt three, Prompt four, Prompt five, Prompt six, Prompt seven, Prompt eight, Prompt nine, Prompt ten, Prompt eleven, Prompt twelve, Prompt thirteen, Prompt fourteen.   

Al and Mulvenna both suited up for practice even though the plan was for Al to play tonight.  Since two goalies had to suit up, it was easier for the goalie coach to run them both through a quick routine on one side of the ice, while the folks shooting pucks stuck to the other side.  It was more workout than practice, since the game itself would provide all the practice. 

After the players all showered and were reminded what time they needed to be at the stadium for the game and were sent on their way. 

"So," Spruce said, "I found like the best place to have lunch. We should all go." 

Al knew the we was really just Kunyk and Mulvenna.  Spruce would and had likely already texted the whole team about this place, but the players tended to stick to their sub groups on the road.  
Mulvenna was right behind them and nodded when Al looked.  "Did you already text Kunyk?' he asked.

They turned the corner in the hallway and Kunyk was standing right there, looking like a freaking hockey poster. 

"I did," Spruce said. 

"I'm so hungry," Kunyk said. 

"Did you skip breakfast?"  Mulvenna asked. 

They walked outside.  "Are we walking or driving?" Al asked. 

"We can walk."  Spruce said leading the way. 

The restaurant Spruce had picked looked kind of like a sports bar.  It was a good sign.  Spruce sometimes went a little more esoteric with his picks.  Nothing he'd ever selected had been terrible, other than the one place that turned out to only do raw food.  They had all gotten a snack after that.  The challenge was often finding something that was open, near enough to the stadium that they didn't have to worry about being too far away, but offering a wider selection than if they had just gone back to the hotel to eat. 

They ate enough hotel food anyway.  After tonight's game, they were going to check in at the next stop too late to have any other options.  

After they made their orders, Kunyk and Spruce started sharing pictures they had taken with the team dog.  Al looked over at Mulvenna.  "I listened to that podcast.  Just two episodes though.  Not gonna make a habit of it, but you were right, it's pretty cool." 

"Did you listen to my appearance?"

"I did.  And well, I already knew you talked to your goal posts, but man dd you have to tell like everybody about that?" 

"You talk to your goal posts?" Spruce asked. 

"Oh," Kunyk said, "that's not even close to the weirdest goalie thing I've ever heard."

"Well," Mulvenna said, "I'm so glad that's what we're going to talk about today, and not say, weird habits of forwards and defensemen." 

"What's the weirdest goalie thing you've heard?  Was it the guy who puked before every game?"  Spruce asked. 

"No, although that one's odd too.  Why make yourself feel gross right before a game?," Kunyk said.  "But it's gotta be-" 

"Here's your orders, gentleman," the waitress said, quickly sliding plates in front of each of them.

"Sorry, man," Al said quietly to Mulvenna.  Raising his voice so the other guys could hear, he said, "Of course I heard there was this one hockey player who liked to eat raw food before every game." 

"Oh come on, now," Spruce said.  "I apologized for that one.  I thought it was like the next level up from farm to table.  Or like sushi or something, where some things are raw.  I really didn't think they were going to give us like a plate of veggies and juice." 

"How did we start talking about this anyway?"  Kunyk asked. 

Al was fully able to take the blame when something was actually his fault, despite some people's thoughts about goalies.  "Mulvenna was on a podcast, and he mentioned talking to his posts." 

"Thanks for clarifying that," Mulvenna said.  "Who watched a good movie last night?" 

"I did.  I watched 'Then and Now'," Al said. 

"You and your chick flicks," Kunyk said. 

"It's pretty funny,"  Al said.  "There's this one part where-"
"Nope!"  Mulvenna held his hand near Al's face.  "No reenactments in the restaurant.  We all remember what happened in Boston." 

Al nodded.  "Fine, but it was funny.  You all should watch it." 

It was only as they left the restaurant, he heard Spruce lean over and ask Kunyk, "Okay, but what did happen in Boston?"  

What Social Distancing and Sex Ed Have In Common

Social distancing is like Abstinence Only Education.  Hear me out.  So, in much abstinence only sex ed, the instructor shows up, says don't have sex until your married, and then blathers on about how violating this rule makes you bad and worthless. 

So the folks in the audience who have children and are not married tune out. 

The folks in the audience who are already having sex tune out.

The folks in the audience who can't imagine a scenario in which they would ever want to get married tune out. 

Sure there are folks who keep listening.  And some of them think, okay cool, I just won't have sex until I get married.  And they don't ever engage in any sexual behavior until they get married. 

Some of the folks still listening think, okay, I'll just skip sex, but surely they meant like married sex, right?  So that's like a penis and a vagina together.  There's tons of stuff I can do that's not that.  No worries.

And I feel like we have arrive at this approximate place with social distancing.  Some people are healthcare workers, construction workers, food workers, pharmacy workers, grocery store workers, security guards, landscapers, bus drivers, first responders, taxi driver, and other essential employees, and so they are still going to work. Some of them have been given PPE and some have not. 

Some people have a job that is either currently cancelled, has transitioned to work from home, or was always work from home.  Some of those people have fridges and pantries large enough that they can go weeks without leaving. 

And they are either staying entirely inside, or going out with face coverings, exercising social distancing as they do so. 

Some people have kids or dogs or tiny spaces that don't let them keep several weeks of food stored up.  They are used to going outside every single day, multiple times.  So going out once or twice a day, feels like a huge adjustment already.  

Some people don't have homes, and while my city's current stay at home please order encourages you not to be homeless, I could hardly blame someone for deciding even now, especially now, that the street is safer than a shelter, where social distancing is near impossible.  (See also, jails.)  

And some people hate rules, and so they are going to do what they want to do, and if some stupid germ comes for them, so be it. 

It isn't even that last group that's the most dangerous.  They may be out there, mask and glove free, touching all the things and still spitting in the street, but they are clear dangers.  As with so many things, the person who thinks they are social distancing well, and yet continues to go out and touch all the shiny things outside, they are, in my humble opinion, the one who's gonna be the big infection vector. 

In the sex positive sex ed class that I teach we do an exercise with candies.  Everyone gets a bag with an randomly assigned batch of candies and they can go and trade with their classmates or not.  When we did this with adults in the training, one of the adults decided not to share with anyone.  A couple of us went wild, sharing with anyone who asked. 

At the end, we were told which colors represented disease, which represented condoms (ie PPE for sex), and which meant nothing.  It's a silly exercise, and a great excuse to get the whole class hopped up on sugar.  But in the end the idea is that the people who look just like your friends may be sick and not know it.  They didn't mean to infect you.  But the interactions you engage in without protection are the ones that don't only have risk to you. 

And yes, there is a PPE shortage in this country, and medical professionals do not have enough.  Do not use medical grade PPE unless you have been assigned it by your job or your medical professional. 

But we have to think not only about our risk, but that of others.  Maintaining equilibrium with those beings inside your house is important too.  I am not trying to take that away, especially as we face what looks like a longer bout of this. 

But so far we've been given a lot of don't go out unless it's essential.  And it seems, based on my recent trip to get some food, folks definitions of essential is where we are seeing a lot of variance.  

Friday, April 10, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. I have become the person who has now made self isolation bread a time or two.  (I have kim chi.  If you have kim chi and bread, may I recommend kim chi toast?)  So this list of recipes using less staples was interesting.
2. I don't have children and have absolutely worked with folks who thought my childless state meant they should get more work accomodations than I.  Interestingly, when my old job made us all telelcommuters, it was a number of the parents who were like, crap, this looked like it was gonna be easier.  And schools were open at that point.  So, this Ask a Manager post about what is reasonable to expect of an employee who is also now tending to a child in their house is spot on. 
3. If there has been more or any Zoom in your life, Nerdist has compiled many of the great Zoom backgrounds. As folks have pointed out, not only are virtual backgrounds fun, it can also let folks who might be crammed into a closet while the other folks in their house try to get some work done worry less about what their actual background looks like when some of the folks on the call are in a screened in porch overlooking a beach. 

Monday, April 06, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Fourteen

Today's prompt is offsides.  

Note: The top of this post has been edited to reflect counting by prompts. Previous entries: Prompt one - which includes the what and who, prompt two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine, prompt ten, prompt eleven, prompt twelve, prompt thirteen.     

Sienna did not get a call inviting her to go watch the Domes game against the Oaks.  It took her until the day of the game to realize that's what had been itching at her.  It was funny.  A month ago she wouldn't have cared, wouldn't have even known there was a game.  But having been invited to three, it had started to feel like a thing that would just automatically happen. 

She could buy a ticket of course.  She checked online, and there were still tickets available.  But maybe she would just watch it at home, the way she had for the away games. 

She and Jay had met up at the coffee shop again and Raven had sent her home with a bunch of brownies.  There were never brownies at the hockey arena so this was fine.  She had grabbed takeout from a nearby Vietnamese place. 

And she settled in with the game streaming, she kept her phone up.  She had joined a chat for the fans and folks on the podcast.  Her first appearance had gone well and they were having discussions about bringing her back on to do a regular feature. 

Someone had helpfully explained what offsides meant because the announcers for the game just told her it had necessitated a stoppage in play and a face off. 

SiennaClear:  Appreciate it folks, I'm learning.  Slowly but surely. 

The Oaks scored and there was a bunch of ughs and boos let loose in the chat. 

NumberOneDomeFan:  Mulvenna sucks.  They should put Stop in. 

ATMPMod1:  Hey, folks, just a reminder that we all love the Domes, but we want to critique specific player behavior on the ice, not make blanket statements. 

There was more mumbling with folks declaring their love for Stop or Al or Tseu.  Hockey players went by so many names, Sienna often found it was like reading a regency historical novel where the duke character would have a first name, a last name, a title, and different people called them some variation of each of those names. 

Actually, that was a great idea for a KeKi post.  Sienna grabbed a notebook.  Everyone had lots of names, personas, especially folks who existed on social media. 

There was something in the announcer's tones that made her look up at the screen again.  An Oak player skated across the ice, the Domes player behind him looking way to far behind.  The Oak player flicked his stick and Mulvenna dropped into a butterfly, but the red light behind him followed by the cheers of the Oaks players said it was too late.  Sienna watched the slo-mo replay. 

"Right through his five hole," the announcer said as the puck passed between the goalies skates while he was still dropping down. 

That had to be so hard, Sienna thought. 

Sienna thought about texting Al, but probably he didn't want to talk to anyone right now.  Sienna had caught herself scanning the shots of the bench, for glimpses of him. 

Sienna tugged her shirt and realized she had forgotten to put on her jersey.  She usually only wore it when she went to a game in person.  Of course that meant she'd worn it to the Blizzards game too.  But what could it hurt right?  And if it didn't work she just wouldn't ever tell anyone. 

She went over to the closet and grabbed the jersey sliding it on.  These things were so warm when you were sitting inside. 

Sienna check on the chat again. 

NumberOneDomesFan:  I told you that Mulvenna sucks.  They should put Stop in. 

There was more agreement this time. 

Keymaster: Folks, Stop gets a day on the bench like everyone else.  Heerema's a top ten scorer in the league this year for a reason. 

NumberOneDomesFan:  Hey Sienna, tell us the truth, you wore Stop out didn't you?
Sienna read it twice before the text disappeared before her eyes. 

Underneath a new message appeared.  
ATMPMod1: Okay folks, we've got a user on timeout.  Going forward, let's try to leave the penalties to the players. 

An alert appeared that she had gotten a private message.  "Hey, Sienna, we wanted you to know the user who commented on you has been moderated.  We apologize, that's not the environment we're trying to create here.  If there are additional concerns we can address, let us know." 

Sienna appreciated it.  She logged out of the chat anyway.  It was just too much.  Kunyk scored for the Domes next, and Sienna patted her jersey. In the end the Domes had a rocking third period and pulled ahead just before the buzzer.   

Jay had been right though.  Tangling with sports fans was a dangerous proposition. 

Reading Roundup - First Quarter 2020

I know some of these came up in my Books for These Times post.  But this time just looking at 2020 reads.  

Akwaeke Emezi - Pet - As I mentioned before I read this is paper.  In a world where monsters have been defeated the child makes a monster and then has to reckon with the monster who says it has a job to do, and what the existence of monsters really means.  

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong - This was a really interesting book of essays looking at the Asian American experience and how the push for model minority status created a situation where a generation of Asian Americans were encouraged to not discuss any racism they felt.  For me personally, the opening story was tough to get through, but once I did the rest was interesting enough, that I may well wish to revisit it.  

Mikki Kendall's Hood Feminism - Also a book of essays, in particular looking at how the focus of mainstream feminism on upper and middle class white women leaves a lot of gaps in issues that affect women harder.  

Jessica Kim's Stand Up, Yumi Chung! - Yumi Chung wants to go to comedy camp this summer and not study camp.  But her parent's restaurant has hit a bad patch and they need her to get a scholarship to keep going to the fancy school they expect to bring her success.  Except she wanders into comedy camp and they all assume she's a student with an Asian sounding name who had signed up.  I don't read a lot of MG, and this book was delightful until it reached a big reveal moment, and oh my god, if you suffer from second hand embarrassment, it is really tough.  It was still delightful and I was glad I read it.  

Tehler Kay Mejia's We Unleash the Merciless Storm - In a fantastical world where the fancy folk have two highly trained wives, and the rabble are kept out with a wall, a high ranking wife has just been killed by her son's segunda wife who was revealed to be a spy for the rebellion.   Except Carmen - said spy - had to leave behind the primera wife who she had maybe been falling in love with.  She discovers the La Voz organization has changed since she was sent on her mission, and they perhaps do not believe her when she tells them Dani, the primera is on their side.  So she's going to have to take fixing things into her own hands.  This is the second in the duology.  I mentioned elsewhere that I haven't quite figured out how much my enjoyment of the second was due to the POV shift, or just more getting to the part where things start happening.  None of this is to say I hated the first book, I would never have tried the second if I had.  But if you thought the first was enjoyable but quiet, this might be to your liking. 

Mia Sosa's The Worst Best Man - Read about Brasilian food and wedding planning, and lots of things we cannot be doing right now.  Okay, but seriously, Carolina got left at the altar and to get a new job she has to team up with either her ex-fiance or the brother who convinced her to dump him.  The brother seems like the lesser of two evils.  But maybe he is even more than that?   

Jayci Lee's Temporary Wife Temptation -  It's super tropey.  He needs a wife to avoid a matchmaking grannie.  She needs a husband to prove she's stable (and rich, rich doesn't hurt either) enough to adopt her sister's kid that the grandparents want to adopt.  So they get married.  And hang out with a baby a lot.  And it's great.  Until someone ruins it and then has to try to fix it.  

Camryn Garrett's Full Disclosure - This is a story about a teen who is HIV positive, who had to leave her old school after word got out about her status and folks did not handle it well.  So now she's at a new school, and working as the student director on a production of "Rent" and there's a cute someone and she has questions about how to best handle it.  Content warning:  Her status does get outed at the new school.  

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado - I got this book out of the library in e, and when the library emailed me I looked at it and thought, hmm, did I really ask for this?  But I downloaded it, read the first chapter, and went, oh yes, I need this.  It is a story of an abusive realtionship told in pieces.  It is not an easy read.  But it looks at how people get to a place where the realtionship they are in matches some but not all of the things they have been warned about, what it's like to have been told your lifestyle will lead you astray and then need help.  It ends well, as the author is now not in that relationship.  I don't often get super excited about the way a story is told, but for me this one was interesting and not gimmicky.  

Suleika Snyder's Tikka Chance on Me - A grad student who has moved home to re-figure out her life and work at her family's restaurant finds herself noticing one of the bikers in the biker gang that comes for dinner every week.  They run into each other elsewhere and things move fast but there are secrets and things to be sorted out.  

Rebekah Weatherspoon's A Cowboy to Remember - Amnesia, so you know I was in.  A TV chef gets pushed down the stairs soap opera style and then her team decides the best place for her to recover is the small town where she grew up which also contains her first love.  

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Clear as Ice - #Hockey Fiction Prompt Thirteen

Today's prompt is penalty shot.  

Note: The top of this post has been edited to reflect counting by prompts.

Previous entries: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine, prompt ten, prompt eleven, prompt twelve

Al loved a good penalty shot.  They were more fun in his opinion than overtime shootouts, where you faced off against three different players in quick succession.  However, here, hanging with the junior league team today, he had not planned on facing a penalty shot. 

But the teen acting as ref in today's practice called for one after one of the players in desperation used her stick on the other's skates to stop a breakaway and here they were. 

Penalty shots with players you didn't know, certainly hadn't had time to study beyond the ten minutes of the scrimmage, were always a little more wild.  Al also had way less padding than normal today, since he and Sienna were supposed to be observing this scrimmage and then one goalie had been late, and they had found skates and a stick for him, but had nothing else in his size. 

Pucks were made of dense rubber.  It didn't take a lot of power or strength to make them hurt like hell, but junior league or no, he was also not going to let this puck go by him just to avoid a bruise. 

The skater moved towards him, swishing the puck back and forth with her stick.  Al spread himself wide and tried to watch her eyes.  The cage style masks the team wore were a little different, as far as his visibility on her expression. He saw her glance to his left, and he tensed.  He didn't move yet, waited for her to skate just a smidge closer before she paused infinitesimally and took the shot.  He slid left managing to catch the puck with his shoulder, something he might really regret later today. 

Her teammates gathered around her, and patted her back, telling her what a good shot it was. 

The coach, blew her whistle.  "Hey folks, out goalie has arrived, so let's thank Mr. Tseu." 

He had tried telling the coach they could all call him Al, but she was had shook her head at that.  "Thanks, Mr. Tseu." 

"Thanks to you all for letting me join in.  And now I get to just watch you all, which will be fun."  He waved and accepted some high fives, before striding off the ice to the bench, where he removed the skates. 

Sienna slid onto the bench with him and offered up a gel pack.  "For your shoulder," she said. 

"Thanks.  Where'd you get this?" he asked.  He didn't normally carry around gel packs, the trainers took care of all that for them. 

"I asked the coach if they had some.  They did,"  Sienna shrugged, like it was a normal thing for someone to think of. 

"I appreciate it," he said.  "Ooof."  On the ice there was a pileup of players as one of them had lost her edge and taken down a few fellow players with her.  "I hope they have more of these." 

"They have tons," Sienna said.  "Thanks for coming out here with me today." 

"No worries," Al said.  It was fun to hang out with junior teams.  They still thought literally everything about hockey was the coolest.  He still loved hockey, but the enthusiasm dulled every once in a while, it was easy to spend too much time worrying about stats and trades ad salaries.  Hanging out with teams that just cherished every chance to get on the ice was fun. 

"Well, anyway, I'm sure your busy, so I appreciate it.  And well, I hope you're good at playing through bruises, because if your bruised shoulder keeps you out against the Oaks, I'm not sure the fandom will ever forgive me." 

"Mulvenna is playing against the Oaks," Al said.  "That was already planned.  Although I can't remember if it was announced yet, so shh. But my shoulder's fine. I've been bruised before." 

"Good," Sienna said.  "Well not good that you're bruised obviously.  But you know what I mean." 

The coach blew the whistle, and waved the players to come off the ice.  "That's my cue," Sienna said.  "Can you stick around a bit.  I'd love to talk to you after I talk to the team. 

Al was curious what she had in mind, so he nodded. 

She smiled and left the bench.  He removed the cold pack from his shoulder and looked around at the now empty ice arena.  He was a goalie though.  He was good at being patient.  

Friday, April 03, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Twelve

Today's prompt is intermission.  

Note: The top of this post has been updated to reflect counting by prompts.

Previous entries: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine, prompt ten, day eleven.   

The Blizzards were currently sitting at the bottom of the division, unlikely to even make the cut for the playoffs unless several teams were sucked up by a spaceship in the next few weeks. They'd had coaching issues and some key injuries, it just wasn't a good year for them.  But that meant they played tonight like they had nothing to lose.  There had been sixty eight official shots on goal, and Al felt like he felt every single one of them.  Of course it didn't work like that.  The shots on goal was just the official shots, not all the nudges, bumps, and everything else that happened throughout the game.
Coach had given them a rousing pep talk during the first intermission when they had been down two.  The second intermission the locker room had been eerily quiet. In the end, they finished four to two, resulting in the first Domes loss at home this month.  Al knew intellectually it didn't matter if you lost away or at home, but it always felt like a bigger deal. 

And he knew Sienna had been up in the owner's box.  This had been the first loss she'd attended.  He wondered if she would quit hockey after this.  Some folks only liked the days they won.  Asked for refunds on the days they didn't. 
Al had a basketball game waiting for him when he got home.  He just had to get up off this bench and go outside.  He didn't know quite what he was sitting in there waiting for.

The reporters and press weren't gone, but they had all moved into the area for the post-game press conference, so he was able to walk quietly through the hallways of the arena.  He heard voices up ahead and spotted Daisy talking to Sienna. He almost turned around.  Even though the only other way out of the arena took his past the press room.  

 "Hey, Al," Daisy said.  "Sienna was asking about the junior league teams we work with regularly.  It was a tough game.  But we're still in good shape for the season." 

Al smiled because Daisy was nice and she meant well.  This was why he stayed away from post game interviews as much as he could.  He hated false cheer as much as he hated explaining that some nights the other team played in a way that led to more scoring.  It wasn't even about better or worse.  Teams playing like crap pulled off wins sometimes too. 

"I'll email you to get more info," Sienna said.  "Thanks so much for everything." She looked at Al.  "Could you walk me out?" 

"Sure," Al said even though he was worried she wanted to try whatever her brand of soothing him after a game was.  If parts of him perked up a little at the possible images that evoked, other muscles screamed for sleep.  He had already moved past the post-game full of energy, can't sit still mode. 

Once they were around the corner, Sienna patted his elbow.  "I can actually find my way out of here, but you looked like you needed an out. I'm just going to metro." 

"Me too," he said. 

"Hockey players take metro?"  Sienna asked.  "They don't like mob you or something?" 

Al huffed a laugh.  "No.  Although tonight they might want to throw things at me.  But even with social media and all that, I look different without the mask." 

"I'd recognize you," Sienna said. 

"Well, fortunately for me, most people don't." He did pull out a hat emblazoned with the local WNBA team's name and stick it on though. 

"Still looks like you to me," Sienna said.  "But people do see what they want to see."  She gave him a look like she was fighting asking a question. 

"Spit it out," Al said. 

"I have a thing to ask you, but now is probably not the time.  Can I text you tomorrow maybe?"

"Sure,"  he said. 

"Cool.  I'm headed this way."  She pointed down the street.  "Talk to you later." 

He watched her leave, to make sure she stayed safe of course.  She was still wearing his jersey but it didn't cover up the slim fit jeans she was wearing, and of course, he had a very good memory for what those legs looked like in shorts.
Definitely time for him to get home.  

Zoey Update

Here's the interesting thing. "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" and the movie version of "Chicago" both used a musical viewpoint as a thing the main character saw and everyone else didn't. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" even tied it to the character's mental health. 
"Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" keeps trying to have it's cake and eat it too. They also aren't picking songs that suit the voices of their cast. 
So, I am going to now spoil the hell out of this week's episode. 
I am all for Jane Levy getting a chance to sing. But spending this many episodes building up Zoey's ability to hear other people's inner songs as a super power, only to use it as a sign of suppression in the main character, well, it's ghost sex (to make a "Grey's Anatomy" reference). It's yanking the rug from under your viewers and telling them everything they have been told by the show is wrong, it isn't a cool trick. It sucks.
Also, sidenote. Apparently women are not allowed to not be romantically involved with a coworker. Platonic relationships don't exist. Also, their one LGBTQ character is barely making it past stereotype and that's mostly because of a stellar performance.
Back to the songs. In addition to the betrayal of the audience, its also a character betrayal. Zoey got a peek into folk's heart songs, but it was just Zoey. Zoey's songs were revealed to everyone. Uncontrollably. Zoey was embarrassed personally and professionally. 
Now I know these songs worked differently than the others. But then I'm back to the show needs rules. If the songs are sometimes in Zoey's head but sometimes not, without any rhyme or reason, then that's honestly a world building fail. In Broadway musicals people sing things that other can and cannot here, and there are clear ways to do that with staging.  The show is refusing to do this.  And then to use their lack of world building as an excuse to embarass their main character, it's pretty awful. Jane Levy is a wonderful performer.  I was thrilled to see this.  But there was not a convincing reason for her heart songs to work differently than other people's.  
I put up with a lot for good song and dance numbers. But this show is suffering an identity crisis.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Eleven

Today's prompt is skates.  

Previous days linked below.  Note: The top of this post has been updated to reflect counting by prompts.   Previous entries: Prompt one, day two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine, prompt ten.

"So, I've been invited to be on the hockey podcast," Sienna said.  They were having another KeKi meeting in the coffee shop.


"The 'All Things Must Pass' one or a different one," Jay asked.


"That's the one," Sienna said.


"Okay, so I'm going to say a thing that makes me sound like a fun hating jerk, but hear me out."


Sienna nodded.  Jay often brought the practical side to their partnership, and sometimes it meant Sienna needed to push her to be more excited about things, but often she was right.


"So," Jay said, "you said when we started that part of your goal was to push away from being just a body.  And I know it's not the same, but there's a way where you turn out to have a really interesting and unique perspective on hockey, and you find people that appreciate that.  And there's also a way where you just become like a glorified trophy girl blowing kisses at the players."

Sienna didn't cringe but she wanted to.  But Jay was right.  Sienna could push this in the direction she wanted, but sometimes her first idea was to blow a kiss for the camera and that wasn't the brand she was building now.  That was old Sienna.  She nodded.  "Yeah, yeah, I hear you."


"Okay, I will sit back.  And obviously, I think the stuff you did with the volleyball team was great.  We got a lot of signups that mentioned that.  And the volleyball team applied to be a featured sponsor next month.  So when their season starts up we should look into stuff.  The cross stuff."

"Cross promo?" Sienna asked.  "Yeah,  I'll check in with them on that."


Jay turned back to her screen and Sienna scrolled through more of her email.  The junior hockey team wanted to know if she'd come to their last game.  And there was another email from Daisy.  Sienna opened it up.  Yup, they wanted to know if she'd come to another game.  This time the owner was offering to let her join him in his box which was fancy.  She wondered if you still wore a jersey for that or something a little dressier.


She told Daisy yes, of course.  Sienna had turned into a hockey fan, even watching their away games on her tablet and adding a score alert app to her phone.  If she had set up a fake insta to check on a certain goalie, well, that was just her newfound love of hockey.  But Jay had a point.  Just like she'd had to lock down her DMs because people thought the #UnderMyJersey stuff meant she had some interest in their dick pics, people were going to try and push her in a lot of directions.


The key was to make sure they were the directions she wanted to go,  Skimpy on skates, wasn't anything she needed to do or be.  But sharing interest in a sport she hadn't previously known a lot about, there were plenty of reasons to engage in that.  But given her history, people were going to assume she was in this to find a dude.  And intriguing goalie or not, Sienna could not afford to put herself back in the public relationship space.  It was a danger to her brand, a danger to her heart, and she didn't know quite which one scared her more.  But she could handle this.  Navigating media both social and not, was something Sienna had been doing for quite some time.


Three Interesting Things

1. This interview with Keke Palmer is such a delightful representation of millenial cutlure. I had nothing to do with Keke becoming a child star who has transitioned well to being a public facing adult, but I am still happy for her.
2. My love of all things "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is no surprise to folks here, so this piece on Adam Schelsinger, who died yesterday of complications of COVID-19, talking about his collaborative spirit, is just lovely.  
3. Warning - plays video and contains a friend of mine.  I didn't know Christina when she graciously let me on her "Leverage" podcast to discuss my love of Parker, but through the course of this we have become friends.  This peek at what her library is doing for these times is delightful. . 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Ten

Today's prompt is hat trick.  

Note: I have updated the top of this post to reflect counting by prompts.    Previous entries: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine.

They had given Sienna seats on his side of the ice tonight.  Well, the side Al would be on for first and last period.  They wanted to play the volleyball video during one of the period breaks.  The player shad been given the option to watch it, but Al hated watching that stuff, so he had passed.  Not even the chance to see Sienna in those shorts again was quite enough. 

They were playing the Herders tonight. The Domes were on track to take their division, and since the Herders were in it, a win would be extra nice.  But the Herders were generally good sports, so Al expected the game to be competitive but fun. 

He glanced over and saw Sienna in her seat, wearing the jersey with his number again.  He wasn't a super famous goalie, people often used adjectives like hard-working and steady to describe him.  So yeah, his jersey was in the team store just like everyone else's.  He had sent a few to his parents.  And a few folks wore it to the game.  But he didn't usually spot folks in the stands with his number. 

He moved his shoulders getting himself ready.  If people wearing your jersey was an indicator of anything, well, all the forwards would score hat tricks every night. 

He sipped from his water bottle and skated back and forth in front the goal.  Once the game started he was fully focused. 

It stayed scoreless through the first period, although there had been plenty of shots on goal to keep Al busy.  One of the Herders wingers was spending a lot of time camped out near Al like if he couldn't make a play himself he was going to get the assist. 

Al had mentioned it to a few the defenders, but they laughed it off. 

Beginning of the second period, Kunyk scored in the first few minutes.  It was good, but Al knew that the Herders were going to play even harder now. 

Sure enough the puck barreled back towards him and there was that Herder's forward lurking nearby.  Spruce stole the puck and disappeared around the backside of the goal with it.  Al glanced in the direction of the linesman as the Herder player shifted so close he was just about knocking into Al, definitely blocking his view of what was going on. 

Seconds later the puck shot around the side of the goal, and the lurking Herder dinked it up and over Al's shoulder.  Al took a sip from his water bottle while the Herders celebrated.  Telling the defender he had warned them, did not good.  In sports it didn't matter who was right.  At least not in the middle of the game.  They had to keep working together.

Fortunately next time he saw that same Herder player try to move in front of him, a Domes defender showed up to clear him out of the way.  The Domes scored again, bringing them back to up one and that's how the second period ended.  

Al had stripped down to the basics, gone to the bathroom and was chilling on a bench in the player's room when he could hear the arena crowd reacting to something.  It sounded like laughter or something.  They did all sorts of goofy games and such to entertain folks. 

Spruce came into the locker room.  "Dude, you didn't watch?" 

Oh, the volleyball video.  "No," Al said. 

"They made us look good," Spruce said, "although of course they showed that last point the ladies won." 

Al gave Spruce a thumbs up. 

"And at the end, Sienna wished the Domes good luck and blew us all a kiss." 

Al repeated the thumbs up, but made a mental note to