A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Friday, December 28, 2007


My Google alerts have been live with Joëlle Jones messages today.

First, Marc Mason over at the Comics Waiting Room gives us a shout out in his Popgun review: "There are some gems early on the line-up. Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones contribute a nifty relationship tale (their specialty) that’s as solid as any of their other work in that genre, and it gives the reader an early good taste in their mouth."

Personally, I think Joëlle made the script look better than it really was.

Second, she goes and gets her blog plugged at Newsarama for her recent Donnie Darko post. Go see what the fuss is about.

And buy Popgun, vol. 1!

Current Soundtrack: "Singing Bee" on the TV while I make my peanut noodles

Current Mood: proud


* The Walker, Paul Schrader's new film never quite gets up to speed, despite some excellent performances by Woody Harrelson and Lauren Bacall.


* Film Noir: Five Classics from the Studio Vauluts, a handful of Kino noirish DVDs tossed in a box, proving the term classic is fluid. Includes work from Fritz Lang, Michael Powell, Anthony Mann, and Ida Lupino.

* The Last Legion, which surprises as light entertainment. A quest for swords, kicking some ass, and Aishwarya Rai.

* Perhaps Love, a Chinese film paying homage to Hollywood musicals. Directed by Peter Chan, with cinematography by Peter Pau and Christopher Doyle (!).

* Titanic - 10th Anniversary Edition. Spoiler Alert: The boat sinks.

In addition to that, I'm beginning to now add weekly new reviews to Criterion Confessions as the reprints dwindle. Three reprints added this week, but also, just in time for the holidays, Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. Spoiler Alert: Jesus doesn't stay dead.

Current Soundtrack: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Current Mood: cold

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Daring Students' Association vol. 1

Current Soundtrack: Maxïmo Park, "Like I Love You" (Justin Timberlake cover)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Karaoke Watch for December 24, 2007

Combining the A Christmas Story Chinese Food tradition with drunken caroling and rock 'n' roll, we met up with some folks at the Ambassador to do some karaoke. I had never been before, and the place is huge. What is interesting is that it turns out that there are two karaoke rooms, and while everyone crams into the main room with the bar, a smarter set moves into the side dining lounge where there is actually room to move and you can get your songs up and actually sing.

The night would see us perform some old favorites and try some new ones, too.

Spandau Ballet - "True"
The Monkees - "She"
My Chemical Romance - "Teenagers"

The Foundations - "Build Me Up, Buttercup"
Natalie Imbruglia - "Torn"
David Bowie - "Life on Mars?"

Apparently, she also tried "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" in the other room, but it lived up to its title. The track was edited and compacted and totally threw her off.

I also got screwed up on "Teenagers." First, I couldn't hear the backing track at all, which meant my performance was a lot of shouting and rushing to try to catch up with the words on the karaoke screen. I was also called over by the KJ in the middle of the performance to be chastised for cursing. One of the whole reasons for doing that song is to be able to shout out, "Teenagers scare the living shit out of me," right? Well, apparently at the Ambassador you're not allowed to curse on the microphone, not even when it's part of the song lyrics, because apparently in a bar where you have to be of legal drinking age to come and kill brain cells, there might be some sensitive souls sitting and reading their Bibles and sipping soda water. So, drunk and now pissed off, I kept changing the lyrics to how I wasn't allowed to swear at the Ambassador. Then, as I sat at the table, and the anger boiled inside the alcohol, I started randomly shouting strings of curse words, as varied and as foul as I could come up with. Oddly, no one seemed to mind.

Fuck the Ambassador. The Ambassador to my Ass!

This gentleman was massively awesome. In the photo, he's dancing to "Thriller," and he did a fantastic job. Earlier in the evening, he also did a spot-on Axl Rose and sang "Weclome to the Jungle." The night belonged to Singing Santa.

Current Soundtrack: Dave Gahan, Live from SoHo (iTunes Exclusive)

Current Mood: aggravated

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Hubris? Check!

Naivete! Check!

Self-delusion! In spades!

Here I thought ginger snaps would be a breeze. I've made cookies tons of time. Cookies are easy. You've got this, Rich. Don't sweat it.


Okay, not disaster. I'm exaggerating. I did screw up, though. I had mixed my dry ingredients and was starting to add the wet ingredients, the final stage, when I realized the two tablespoons of molasses I had just added were really two tablespoons of vanilla. Ooops. Look at that bottle you grab, you doofus!

I tried to scoop out the offending clumps of dough and replace them with guestimates of the other ingredients, but then I decided it was better to scrap it and start over.

This is mainly a mixing game. Put together dry goods in one bowl, sugar and butter in another, and then start throwing in the eggs and the molasses and put it all together. Because of the gluten-free element, the recipe called for two types of flour--both soya and potato. I'm curious as to what difference that makes. Maybe gets closer in consistency to wheat flower? (For those of you who don't know, flour is probably the most common source of gluten. Think about that, for a second. Flour. It's in everything! So, it's a tough allergy to have.)

Second mixing went fine. I messed up the order a little, and put the flour in with the butter and sugar before the egg and molasses, but I am not sure it made a difference. I'm actually tempted to go and buy some more sugar and make a second batch just to see. I'm on the third and last pan, though, and I've sampled one from the first batch and it actually tasted good. Not spectacular, but good.

The caramel seems to be drying ever so slowly. I wonder if it is weather sensitive like the divinity? [Edit: It is!] As an experiment, I cut a small corner out, and though it stuck for a little while, it eventually filled back in. It's still almost all cinnamon, too. Not a success, that one.

Current Soundtrack: Kylie, X

Current Mood: good

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Before I get started, I just want to remind everyone to be kind to their retail clerks today. They aren't any happier about your last-minute bullshit than you are. Christmas is the same time every year. You've had plenty of warning. Also, remember your wait staff who has to work through the holidays--your bartenders, servers, etc.--while you're having fun. Tip extra. Slip that kid at the movie theatre or the guy renting videos to you a fiver or something, also, just for being there so you can be, too.


My estimation that I bought three times the walnuts I needed turned out to be exactly accurate. I had a total of two more cups, which is just the right amount for what became project #2: cinnamon walnut caramel.

This looked to be an excellent solution. All I needed to do was buy a cup of raw honey and mix all the ingredients together. No cooking required, just 24 hours to let the caramel dehydrate. So, I went to the neighborhood co-op after lunch, and came home to make my caramel. (I've been temping at 23rd Avenue Books for the holidays, and I only had a couple of hours left before my shift, so what else was I going to do?)

The measurement gods smiled, and the container I chose for purchasing the bulk honey turned out to hold exactly a cup. The karmic kickback: I only had half of the cinnamon required. Back to the co-op, and eyeball 1/4 cup of bulk cinnamon. I was a little over, but better that than under.

Essentially, in this recipe, is you dump the honey and the cinnamon in a bowl with some vanilla, stir, add the walnuts, and then create "small clusters." As it turns out, my definition of small and theirs is different, particularly once the caramel started to spread. Again, it looks like I'm making cookies, and again, it's not pretty, but then, America likes ugly. My Christmas candy is hip, y'all!

Seeing the goopy caramel spreading like my thighs are going to spread after I eat it all, it reminded me of first or second grade. I had this book of neat household things kids could do themselves, and there was a recipe in there for fudge you could make in ice cube trays. I decided to do this for Christmas for my teacher. I melted the chocolate and did whatever else you did, poured the trays, and then the last day before break, popped the fudge out of the trays and into a plastic bag. I then rode the bike to school, clutching the plastic bag, hanging them over my handlebars. By the time I put the bag on the teacher's desk, the fudge was just a brown mess at the bottom.

When it came time for her to look at all her presents, the fudge looked terrible, and I was relieved that my name was not on the bag. Or maybe she was being kind and pretending it didn't have my name. Either way, I didn't fess up that it was me who had brought the bag of chocolate poo, but I am sure my face betrayed me. It was the first time that I remember thinking that maybe my family wasn't the same as other kid's families, that maybe we didn't have the money to go out and buy fancy gifts for my teacher. It wasn't that we lived in abject poverty, my father always provided, but I do recall thinking that there was something strange about the fact that all of these kids had nicely wrapped presents and I had fudge I made myself in ice cube trays that I had dumped into a clear plastic bag. Maybe it wasn't poverty, maybe we just weren't big on the social niceties.

Cooking with honey is not something I can say I enjoyed. I don't actually like the taste of honey, and dumping it from one container to another and then to another, and then having to mix it up with other stuff--it's sticky and it's messy and it got all over everything. Stupid bees. I've gone from chocolate poop to cinnamony bee poop!

I came home after working my shift, and couldn't believe my eyes. The caramel continued to spread while I was away. Some even flowed right off the edge of the table! (Note: I put wax paper over the clusters, not just under. I live with a cat. She has no interest in them, but her fur does.) Look at the picture above, and then look at this picture now, 18 hours later...

Someone switched my candy with a dirty diaper!

There are still six hours of dehydration to go. When that is through, I am going to try to move the gunk into some kind of hard container and see if I can't form it into some sort of brick. That is if it even tastes good. Right now, it's all cinnamon.

The divinity, on the other hand, I tried last night. It held its cookie shape, but the taste is pretty good. The texture is not exactly right, but I think it's pretty close to success--particularly since I've been discovering since posting yesterday that it's considered an even harder candy than I thought.

The after picture:

Current Soundtrack: Dubstar, "A Certain Sadness (Astrid Gilberto Cover;" The The, Soul Mining

Current Mood: mixed

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, December 21, 2007


I decided that I was going to do some candy making and baking for this holiday season. I am going over to Joëlle's on Monday to do a gift exchange, and since they will be hosting and making food, I wanted to contribute. One of our party has a gluten allergy, however, so I had to do a little research and find some good holiday recipes that would not aggravate this condition. This meant also shopping for specific items, including special flours not made from wheat. I even bought gluten-free vanilla. Myself and the woman at the store were at a loss to figure out what puts gluten into regular vanilla, but if they have a bottle that says "gluten-free," may as well get it.

I must say, this woman at the store was very helpful overall. I was at a large supermarket, in the health food section, and she ran to the baking section to find the vanilla. She also answered my dumb questions about the recipes and how they indicated tablespoons and teaspoons. I understand "tb" and "ts," but they were not uniform throughout. One recipe even had "tb," "ts," and then plain ol' "t." That was when I learned capital letters are for table and lower-case tea. Huh.

Here was my ingredients haul:

Cough drops, gum, and whiskey not called for.

Note the recipes taped to the cabinet. Easy access, no flipping through books or seeking out the paper.

My first assignment was what will hopefully be the toughest: divinity.

Like most divine things, divinity is a persnickety creature. It reguires close monitoring of the mixture, and it also requires a non-humid day. I was warned that rainy days would not be suitable for making this candy, as the pieces won't properly set. This meant I had to check the weather forecast for Portland--nicknamed "Puddletown," remember--to choose my ideal day for the project. That would be today, the only day expected to be free of rain. To help matters, I turned on the heater in my living room for the first time this winter and the one in my kitchen for the first time since I moved here in 2002.

First task: chop a cup of walnuts. For this, I actually had a machine. Go figure.

Second task: separate the egg whites. Believe it or not, junior high home-economics class comes in handy quite often. I actually knew how to do this, bouncing the yoke back and forth between the two halves of the egg shell while the white drips out.

Next I dump the sugar, water, and corn syrup into the a pot and boil. The recipe called for white corn syrup which I did not find, so organic syrup would have to do (it was next to the gluten-free stuff). Does anyone know, does the white syrup help with coloring? You'll see why I ask later.

Check it as it boils. It's like Cream O' Wheat on acid.

You have to either monitor this goop with a thermometer or perform tests on it once the sugar dissolves. The test is dropping a bit of it into cold water and seeing if it hardens into a ball. I don't know if they mean like a perfect little ball, like a marble, I went with a state that was something close to it. Could have been mistake #1, I don't know.

Then you pour the goop into the egg whites, stirring all the while, and add vanilla.

Beating the mixture is important at this stage. My stepmom told me that beating it by hand would be hard. (Stop snickering!) I do not have an electric mixter, however, so I had to show what a macho dude I am and put my muscle into it. I ended up sitting on the floor and using two spoons at once. This after trying to stir simultaneously with one spoon in each hand. Try it. It's impossible!

Note that the cat stayed the hell away from me this whole time. Too bad. I'd have loved to see her try to steal some divinity goo and then run around like a freak when she couldn't get it off her paw.

In the middle of this all-important mixing process, the phone rings. It's the special alarm-style ring I have for the front door. It's the UPS man, and he has two packages for me. I can't stop beating, however, so I run out there with my bowl and spoons. He laughed, and was cool about it. He didn't call me a "homo" or punch me or nothin'. In fact, he didn't even make me sign for the packages so that I wouldn't have to mess around with the little pen and the LCD screen. Good on UPS!

The envelope is full of books from Tokyopop, the long box turned out to be a poster for Invincible, which I guess I got because I am on the Image comp list. I am trying to get my friend Mason to take it, because he really likes Invincible and for some reason I'd like to be the catalyst for him never getting laid again. I don't want to destroy anyone's self-confidence, but I'm pretty sure the ladies don't think highly of the superhero posters. Granted, my Audrey Hepburn posters inspire UPS drivers to punch me and call me "homo," so who am I to dole out advice?

Last step is to add the walnuts. You do this once the goop forms "peaks" when it drips off the spoon. Again, I don't know how literal that is supposed to be, so I did my best to guess.

The recipe then indicates that you have to dollop the goo with a teaspoon very fast. Once you start stirring, this is when everything hardens, so you have to hustle.

If I ever do this again, I am going to have to work on my dollop technique, because I wasn't getting the divinity off the spoon very well. I was also disheartened to see that the candy was flattening out like a cookie and not sticking in a craggy clump like the divinity I've always had.

It's also not very white. More off-white. This is why I wondered about the corn syrup.

The early samples of the little stray pieces that glooped to the side suggest that even if they aren't pretty, they actually taste all right. The texture is maybe a little more fudge-like than it is supposed to be, but that could pass as the candy dehydrates. They turned out very, very sweet.

I have learned that I am no good at eyeballing how much a cup of walnuts are, and I think I bought about three. I have a caramel recipe that I may try that calls for walnuts, I just need to get some raw honey. I will definitely be making ginger snaps, though, but I'm doing that Sunday night.

So, yes, still plenty of time for embarrassing stories of me cooking. Today went too easy. There is going to be a price to pay here somewhere.

Current Soundtrack: iPod shuffle, and to be honest, I haven't been keeping track

Current Mood: hungry - i cooked but did not make lunch!

I've been busy writing, working on all manner of stuff, trying to go deep. It's winter. That's what I do. Nest and hibernate.

And see movies.


* Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Tim Burton's blood and gore musical delights with revulsion.

* There Will Be Blood, the masterpiece P.T. Anderson skeptics have been waiting for. And what about Daniel Day-Lewis? And that Jonny Greenwood soundtrack? Cor!

Some of these movies are Christmas Day Limited releases. In addition to the reviews, I have an interview with Marjane Satrapi that is being podcast through DVD Talk Radio. Right now, the links are a little crossed, but you can find the story by scrolling down on the DVD Talk front page. As of this writing, it's third item from the top. [Edit: And now the Radio page has it.] It's ten minutes long, a short chat with the creator of Persepolis. And yes, I do sound like that. Like a frog who drank too much milk. I also happen to review the film...

* Persepolis, a wonderful animated adaptation of the comic that I daresay improves on the original while maintaining its spirit.

Satrapi was interesting to talk to. She was all business, no fooling around, and very forceful. You'll hear, she's very opinionated. I think she kind of liked me at the end, because I told her that I would be quick and painless and there I was, done in ten minutes, affording her a thirty-minute break between interviews. In fact, I have her on tape, cut from the piece, replying to my "I told you it was quick and painless," saying, "You were quick and painless." I should make that a press blurb for myself.

It was a little weird being back in the saddle doing interviews. I need to learn to use my equipment better if I am to podcast in the future. We had to cut my intro due to me not realizing if I held the microphone to my mouth to record it, and then put the machine on the table to capture the both of us, the levels are going to be way off. Plus, mispronouncing the title of the book/movie in the first sentence is not a very impressive way to begin.

Still, I kind of like what I came up with. And she got a copy of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her for her troubles.


* Bloodhounds of Broadway, a 1950s musical adaptation of Damon Runyon stories, with Mitzi Gaynor taking the lead.

* Peach Girl, vol. 6, a disappointing end to an originally promising anime adaptation of one of my favorite manga series.

* Two-Lane Blacktop - Criterion Collection, in which criss-crossed American drifters search for the last frontier on the open highway. (Also posted at Criterion Confessions.)

Another DVD Talker, Francis Rizzo III, has started a new blog called "1106: A Moment in Fictional Time." It's all screencaps of movies at the 11 minute, 6 second mark. I've started sending him images from the movies I review. It's turning into an interesting collection, found art with a theme.

Current Soundtrack: Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood score

Current Mood: determined

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich

Monday, December 17, 2007


Glister #3 by Andi Watson is on sale this week. Has a bit of a holiday theme, but even despite that, it's pretty damn awesome, I must say. See a preview at Newsarama.

Current Soundtrack: Arctic Monkeys, "Teddy Picker" single (despite what this dink says, their second album was tops, and that second Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! is virtually unlistenable)

Current Mood: ravenous

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich