Author Chow: Sirloin of Roast Beef

Scottish Wedding Dinner

This is the Scottish wedding dinner provided by my brother-in-law, Tommy Brady, and his lovely bride, Jacqueline Mckweown-Brady, at their wedding reception on June 30, 2018. Easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Scotland.

Prepared by the Normandy Hotel, this is their sirloin of roast beef with a sea salt and herb crust, accompanied by Yorkshire pudding, a rich roast gravy and a selection of vegetables and potatoes. It was preceded by an Atlantic prawn salad with a marie rose sauce. And followed by strawberry cheesecake.

Another interesting feature, the “Hangover Kit” in the upper left corner, composed of Iron Bru (a popular Scottish soft drink; the other national drink, apart from whiskey), chocolate, a satchel of Nescafe coffee and several little packets of tic tacs.

My Scottish relatives have done a splendid job of feeding their “hungry American”…a most excellent roast beef dinner. And a fitting accompaniment for a truly special day.

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Author Chow: Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

If you want your favorite authors to keep pumping out those stories, they gotta be fed properly. That’s what these Author Chow entries are all about.

This is a meal called “bangers and mash” from the Rose & Crown Restaurant in Disney’s Epcot park in Florida. It’s basically English-style sausages with mashed potatoes and gravy.

This is actually an Americanized version of the dish. In Scotland, they put the sausages in a bowl with mashed potatoes on top. Then they cook the entrée until the mashed potatoes have been slightly browned on top. The next time I’m, in Scotland, I’ll post a picture of the true version of this dish.

This is also a meal that’s featured in my story, “Road Trip,” which was published in the anthology, Reliquary. When Rocco Fitch, a down and out military vet, and his irascible neighbor find themselves in London by magical means, Rocco insists that his friend try a local dish. That story, by the way, is being published as a standalone in September.

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Author Chow: Señor Ramon Taqueria

Author Chow: Señor Ramon Taqueria

Help feed all of the poor, starving authors out there in, well, wherever. Authors tend to be solitary critters, although they do gather in small herds (er, writing groups) sometimes. Still, somebody’s got to make sure they get fed, or the stories will dry up.

Here’s a meal from the newly opened Señor Ramone Taqueria in Chantilly, VA, featuring two deluxe tacos, accompanied by chips and salsa. On the left, the Ghost Taco, with Chicken Tinga, Cotija chess, shaved onions, sweet peppers, cilantro and ghost pepper cream. On the right, the Gado Taco, with skirt steak, caramelized onions, guacamole, jalepenos and Cotija cheese.

Good stuff. High recommended. Will definitely keep your favorite authors’ daily word count cranking along.

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Inspiration: Cat People

Cat People Dream Sequence

This is an image of a strangely moving, recurring dream sequence from Cat People, the 1982 romantic horror movie starring Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell. The movie is about shapeshifters, specifically dangerous, black leopards. Irena Gallier is a young woman who keeps having a recurring dream about black leopards, eventually leading her to the discovery that she’s a were-creature, a shapeshifter.

She eventually finds out that shifting in her species is triggered by sex. And that she’ll have to make a decision between the normal human that she’s fallen in love with and another member of her kind.

Note: (2018/03/03) I find it interesting that Marvel’s new hit film, Black Panther, includes a similar dream sequence featuring panthers in a tree. Used for slightly different effect, of course, but nevertheless remarkably close in aspect and impact.

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Inspiration: Worst Cities in a Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse

If you’ve ever worried about which cities would be the worst to be in when a zombie apocalypse starts, well, here’s an infographic that ranks the worst cities in the United States. Not unexpectedly, New York tops the list (which just happens to be where I’ve set my upcoming zombie story).

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Inspiration: Olympus Mons and Arizona

Olympus Mons and Arizona Our inspiration this week is the long-dead volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons. As you can see in the accompanying image, the mountain is literally as big as the entire state of Arizona.

It has a height of 13.6 miles (or 22 kilometers or 72,000 feet, take your pick). In short, it’s two-and-a-half times the height of Mount Everest above sea level. Olympus Mons is the largest known volcano in the solar system. As a shield volcano, built up from successive basaltic flows, it’s much like the Hawaiian volcanoes, but on a much larger scale.

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Monday Mashup: Little Fuzzy

Little Fuzzy - by H. Beam PiperToday’s mashup is going to be a little different. The image is the excellent cover of the book, Little Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper (the Kindle edition appears to be free). The cover is from a 1970’s reissue of the book; it was originally published in 1962. The illustration is by renowned cover artist Michael Whelan.

Why is this a mashup?

Well, the character is Jack Holloway, a prospector on a Class III frontier planet called Zarathustra. The planet is essentially “owned” by the Zarathustra Corporation, which was created to exploit the planet. The story thus has the general feel of a western, albeit technically updated in plausible ways.

But note the furry little critters in the image. They’re fuzzies, a new mammalian species that’s migrating into Jack’s prospecting territory due to an ecological catastrophe caused by the Zarathustra Corporation. Jack comes to believe that the fuzzies are sapient, i.e. – as intelligent and self-aware as humans. If he’s right, it means that the Zarathustra Corporation may lose its exclusive charter to the planet.

Now we’ve got a thrilling David/Goliath showdown, with ecological overtones, combined with a first contact scenario.

But the whole story is going to hinge on a ground-breaking court case…which means that it also becomes a legal drama.

Now that’s what I call a serious mashup. Check out the book. It’s excellent fun, although you’ll have to ignore a few things that date it a little bit (cigarette smoking, the clumsy way the characters use view screens for communication, etc.).

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Monday Mashup: Buzz Lightyear Enters the Grid

Buzz Lightyear Enter the Grid from TronWhat could be better than Buzz Lightyear, of Toy Story fame, entering the Tron universe?

Heck, it’s even possible. Disney owns Pixar, which created the Toy Story movies, and Disney itself created the two Tron movies.

This is one mashup that I’d certainly go see…

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Monday Mashup: Godzilla vs. Titanic

Godzilla vs. Titanic

OK, yes, I know, it’s probably not politically correct. But it was a long time ago. This picture purports to show the true cause behind the sinking of the Titanic way back in 1912. Clearly, the tragedy resulted from a collision between the Titanic and Godzilla.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Potbelly Sandwich Shop I’m at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, where I’ve ordered a salad for myself, a sandwich for my wife and a few accessories. I get up to the cash register, they ring up my order and I reach into my back for my wallet…which isn’t there.

I apologize, make my excuses and head out to the car to see if I’ve left it there.

Nope. I head back in and tell the cashier to just set my order to the side. I’ll run home and get my wallet.

A tall man with salt and pepper hair is standing near the cash register, waiting for part of his own order to be completed. He says, “You forgot your wallet?”

“Yeah.” I’m shaking my head, because I’m still annoyed with myself. “I’m just gonna go home and get it.”

“Ah, don’t do that. How big’s your order?”

“Just lunch for me and my wife,” I say.

He grimaces and then gives a shrug. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just pick it up for you. I’ve been in this situation before, myself.”

“Thanks. Uh, if you give me your name and number, I can pay you back…”

He waves me off. “Don’t worry about it. Just pay it forward.”

He calls out to the cashier. “I’ll pay for this guy’s order.”

The cashier looks over at us. “The order’s already paid for.” He points past us at a slim, red-haired lady who’d been behind me in line. Without saying anything to us, she’s walking out of the shop. “She’s already paid for it.”

I ended up getting my lunch for free because of the kindness of strangers.

Sometimes it’s easy to be down on humanity, thinking that people are stupid, ignorant, callous, easily fooled, etc. Pick your particular gripe at any given moment. But really, most folks are just regular, decent people. And sometimes it’s really nice to be reminded of that.

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