S#29: Write to your idols

July 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm (Cthulhu pics, Daily Awesomeness, With a list)

In preparation for the writing festival on the weekend, I visited the websites of most of the guest authors, and picked the five books that looked most suited to my taste – “The Ruby Talisman” by Belinda Murrell (about a modern girl who wakes up one morning next to her great-grea-great grandmother just as the French revolution begins), “The Rage of Sheep” by Michelle Collins (about a high schooler working out her life, love and faith in a rather unpleasant 80s small town – the writing was instantly involving and funny throughout), “Mischief Afoot” by Moya Green (a little young for me, but fun and funny to read), “Samurai Kids 1: White Crane” by Sandy Fussell (A bunch of kids train for a samurai contest – but all of the kids are missing limbs or sight or the desire to fight), and “The Starthorn Tree” by Kate Forsyth (about a goat-boy who must flee his home and cross class and species boundaries in order to fulfil a prophecy and depose an evil ruler).

They were all excellent. So which one blew my mind?

“Samurai Kids 1: White Crane” by Sandy Fussell.

A great book needs a great story and great characters. All the above books had that. Sandy’s book also had a sly but gentle humour leaking through every page, and an elegantly unique way of describing the main character’s feelings – through his spirit, the white crane. What is more, although it’s not a moral tale, it has a depth of hope and meaning that is unmistakable – the hero, after all, is a one-legged samurai warrior. So anything’s possible. And there’s the warrior’s code, too (minus the traditional suicide bit – it is mentioned in the book as being “old-fashioned”), which is great for people who are drawn to the idea of honour. And the gradual unfurling of the characters is wonderful. The closeness of the friendships reminds me of “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

But my favourite part was the sly but gentle humour.

Samurais aren’t allowed to handle money.

“A samurai serves because it is his duty. Not because he desires gold coins,” Sensei told us.

“How will he eat then?” Mikko asked.

“With his mouth,” Sensei answered.

I took my chance at the festival to go up to Sandy and say (rather incoherently) how wonderful she was (she was very sweet and genuinely flattered – as she should be, since I read hundreds of books each year, and my taste is impeccable). I’ll also make sure she knows about this entry.

Play along at home: Who’s your favourite living author? Tell them why.

Coming soon:

Love your fear

Friendsday Wednesday (have lunch or dinner with a friend, or just call them). http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=348494771209 

Three-Ingredient Thursday: Dessert (quasi-healthy this time)

Make hummus

Unusual anniversary

And here’s your cthulhu quota for today:

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Meringues (and cthulhu)

July 1, 2010 at 9:44 am (Cthulhu pics, Daily Awesomeness)

Welcome to July and “When Good Libraries Go Bad”. We interrupt your regular viewing to make this important safety announcement.

Cthulhu: coming soon to eat a planet near you.

What are they? Giant planet-eating monsters. With tentacles. (Which also tells you exactly why they appear in July’s twittertale.)

Who invented them? Probably lots of people, but H.P. Lovecraft is the big guy.

What do they look like? Every day in July I’ll post a picture of either a library or a cthulhu. Here’s a few to get you started (all from Flickr):

And now we move seamlessly into a three-ingredient meringue recipe.

Turn oven on to 100 degrees Celsius.

Beat four egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Slowly add half a cup of caster sugar (I used normal sugar, which isn’t as good).

Add half a tablespoon vanilla.

Spoon them onto greased baking paper in the oven until they look cooked (don’t open the door to check, just turn the oven off when they start to brown and take them out at least half an hour later).

Alternatively, you can eat the entire mixture raw. MmmmMMM.

As you can tell, I didn’t use baking powder, didn’t use any kind of technique to shape them, and was too busy eating to photograph them cooked.

Meringues are so excellent, and so cheap to make.

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