And now, more cheese

And now, more cheese
Sunday, December 19th, 2005

A couple of Virginia Schlockers (and I think they may BE a "couple" in the significant sense) work on a dairy farm where "farmstead" cheeses are made. For the uninitiated, farmstead cheeses are "... cheeses made by hand on the farm with only milk produced on that farm, so that the cheese reflects the specific local character of one farm and one herd."* The cheeses have a taste unique to the plants and animals that went into them, and a true connoisseur can sniff out that signature.

These Schlockers conspired with Sandra, and sent me three half-pound wedges and a four-pound wheel from their farm, the Meadow Creek Dairy. I'm not going to attempt to review the cheeses here, because I lack the appropriate cheese-reviewing terminology. I'll just say that if you like full-flavored cheeses with real rinds and a distinctive taste, you'll like these. And if you, like me, are an American who is sick of hearing effete euro-snobs announce that it's impossible to find good cheese in the States, you owe it to yourself to get some of this.

I've been to Europe numerous times. I've HAD the fancy cheeses there. Yeah, they're nice, and they beat the pants off of mass-produced California cheddar (Velveeta, "American" cheese, and Cheez-Whiz don't even deserve parenthetical mention). But it's delightful to know that there are folks here in the states who have perfected that same art, and are creating something unique. And delicious.

If you like putting out a really NICE spread on New Year's Eve, and if you happen to love cheese, I've been led to understand that you can have Meadow Creek Dairy cheese shipped to you in time for your party. My favorites are the Grayson, the Appalachian, and the Appalachian Rosemary... in that order. Sandra likes the Appalachian Rosemary best, and I caught her putting it in an omelette yesterday morning. I've been instructed to surrender the rest of the wedge to her, since she doesn't like the Grayson, and is surrendering that entire wheel to me. I figure it's a fair trade.

Thanks Kat. Thanks, Dan. The gift was all the more special since I know you two had a hand in its making.

*Note: This "farmstead" definition comes to us from Will Studd via his 1999 book Chalk and Cheese. If my last name were Studd, and I was writing even only incidentally about dairy animals, I'd use a pseudonym, and latex gloves. But hey, Chalk and Cheese, was awarded "Best Cheese Book in the World" at the P�rigueux book fair in 2000, so I guess Mister Studd's doing alright with his name and his subject matter.

A Tasty, Tasty Biscuit
Sunday, December 18th, 2005

Eric Burns, aka The Websnark, is (in my opinion, at any rate) the foremost critical voice in webcomics. And I say this not only because he has nice things to say about Schlock Mercenary, but because his criticism is so consistently SOLID, regardless of what he's reading. Oh, and he respects the fact that his readers will disagree with him. Even when he says "I've given up on [webcomic 'x']," he does NOT berate the people who still read it and love it.

So yeah, I got 'snarked, and came out of it with a tasty, tasty biscuit. The low-carb diet precludes me EATING said biscuit, so I'm having it bronzed. I could use a trophy or two.

There's a comment from me under that particular Websnark installment in which I carefully do NOT spoil the coming weeks and months of Schlock Mercenary. Since posting it I've thought a bit more about what I can and can't say about Our Story Thus Far...

Remember a week or so ago when I mentioned C.S. Lewis and Christian Allegories? Lewis said that Narnia was a "supposal" rather than an allegory. Well, there are already a few of you who are looking at Petey, the Qlaviqlese, and Schlockiverse politics in general and wondering whether I'm creating some complex allegory for the current political scene. I'm starting to wonder if I know how C.S. Lewis felt.

I don't follow politics closely enough to create a decent allegory for the complex mess we have worldwide in the 21st century, and I'm not sure I'd want to in any event. And I doubt Schlock Mercenary qualifies as a "supposal" under Lewis' definition, though it's possible that ALL science fiction is "supposal" in nature. I THINK what I'm creating can be regarded as "satire," at least in some circles, but mostly I'm not thinking about that. I'm not a deliberate satirist. I'm just having fun, poking fun, and writing the story that The Voices In My Head narrate. One of them happens to be a nigh-omnipotent aggregated super-intelligence (nothing artificial about it, folks) who, in Ennesby's words, is "meddling."

*Sigh*. You know the Voices have the upper hand when I have to start quoting them in order to explain myself.

Kong, The Eighth Wonder of the World
December 16th, 2005

Sandra and I decided that King Kong was the one film we had to see together this holiday season. Then, like a jerk, I decided I couldn't wait until next Thursday when we can both find time and a babysitter, so I went and saw it alone yesterday.

You need to see this film in theaters. I probably didn't need to tell you that. I mean, come on... GIANT GORILLA.

You've seen the trailers, I'm sure. Often with trailers that good, I'm worried that they've shown me all the best parts of the film. Not so with King Kong. They've shown you tiny snippets taken from some of the best parts of the film, and they've very thoughtfully NOT shown you some of the VERY best bits.

I remember reading "Liberty Meadows" one day, and Frank Cho had drawn a gorilla fighting a bunch of velociraptors. The caption was along the lines of "Sorry, no story today. I just wanted to draw a monkey beating up on a bunch of dinosaurs." Now, students of Cho's work will likely tell you that this was a dig at the syndicates, because "monkey-boy" Frank Cho was sometimes at odds with his employers, the "dinosaur" syndicate editors. Regardless, I like to think that he really DID just want to draw a monkey fighting with dinosaurs. And if I'm right, Frank Cho will weep tears of joy while watching King Kong, because it will fulfill his darkest monkey-punching fantasies.

(Yes, I know, Kong is an APE, not a MONKEY. Understand, however, that "monkey" is a funnier word by several orders of magnitude. If Charlton Heston, in Planet of the Apes had said "Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty monkey," the film would have been a smash-hit comedy.)

King Kong is just over three hours long. Don't buy a drink at the theater unless you've got great bladder control, because I can't think of a single place in that film where it's okay to miss a few minutes. Just hold it in. And do go before the movie starts, kids.

Some will say that the film COULD have been shorter. Peter Jackson COULD have just given us two hours of eye-candy, with none of that bothersome STORY or CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Thankfully, he's a better director than that. Even when Kong is not on the screen, your eyes will be. You'll care about ALL these players, and you'll keep watching to find out how their epic adventure changes them (hint: at least one of them becomes monkey-chow).