November 27, 2014

What Turducken? How The Romans Would Beat Us At Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that I've slowly warmed up to in the later years. Having grown up in Belgium, we never celebrated it, so it never held much meaning to me.

However, I was lucky enough to get invited to a friend's family Thanksgiving dinner parties a few times, and got to witness (and taste) a most amazing feat in culinary skills: the turducken.

For those of you who, like me, didn't grow up in the U.S., a turducken is a chicken, inside a duck,
inside a turkey! Triple bird in one.

And really, when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING! And I know, from all the tales that were told later that day, that the skills required were just short of those of Dr. Frankenstein when he put his monster together.

Now let's go back in time a little bit. As in a few centuries, during the Roman era. Wanna know what some of 'em rich folks cooked up once in a while, apart from making tasty snacks out of rotten fish, that is?


That's right. It's a chicken, inside a duck, inside a goose, inside a pig, inside a cow!

So who's up to the challenge for this Thanksgiving dinner?

Romans and their rich foods
Rotten Romans

November 25, 2014

A Few Notes On Progress

One of the (many) things that has (unfortunately) slowed down my progress with Rise of the Fey is my desire to write better than I did in my first book, and my fear of failing to do so.

But then I try to remember that one thing I've always enjoyed when watching shows or reading comics/manga is seeing the progress in the art over time. Hopefully, people will be able to see that same progress with my work as well...

Here are a few examples:

Mickey Mouse at his very beginning (and I believe I spot a Minnie as well!)
The Simpson family may not have aged over the years, but their style has.
Here is Snoopy over the years--he never lost his smile!

The original Smurf drawing (their hats have gotten a little rounder over time).
I hope this inspires you to keep working towards your goals and not give up, for you see, no one starts "perfect." :)

November 18, 2014

Get Ready To Show Your Pearly Whites!

As the holidays are right around the corner (yay, my favorite season!), I know someone in the family's bound to whip that camera out and get snap-happy. Which means more pictures that are bound to capture my ever-awkwardness on (digital) film for all posterity to see. Thankfully, I now have this dandy little go-to chart to emulate, courtesy of all the pro-selfie Koreans out there, which I thought I'd share with anyone else who's cursed as I am :)


November 12, 2014

History Of A French Expression's Descent Into English

Living in the States for a number of years, I really had a lot of fun listening to how Americans born and bred liked to make English words sound French (Target, for instance, is often pronounced Tarjay)--a blatant exception must be made for the word "croissant"--or butchering a French expression to make a brand new one in English.

This has been most blatant with the word bourge, which is an abbreviation of the word bourgeois and is used to describe those who are posh, materialistic and oftentimes pretentious. Of course, the French "r" is quite hard for most foreigners to pronounce, so the expression turned into bouge (which technically means "move"). Then, the latter not sounding cool enough, they switched it to bouge-y which, if you want to make it look French, becomes bougie.

Bougie, however, means candle in French, so whenever I hear Americans* say bougie to talk about posh people, I can't help but laugh.

By the way, if anyone hasn't seen Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière, I seriously recommend it!

*I can only vouch for people in the States as I haven't heard (probably because I haven't spent any time with) British, Australian or other native English-speaking peeps use it.

November 11, 2014

Some Rules On Being A Good King

I am currently reading The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (I am really liking this trilogy so far, if anyone's interested in fantasy). In it, one of the main characters has to learn to become a king, and his newly, self-appointed trainer tells him the following*:

"Don't apologize unless you really mean it. And don't make excuses. You don't need them. A leader is often judged by how well he bears responsibility. As king, everything that happens in your kingdom--regardless of who commits the act--is your fault. You are even responsible for unavoidable events such as earthquakes or storms. Or armies. It is your responsibility to deal with these things, and if something goes wrong, it is your fault. You simply have to accept this. Guilt [however] does not become a king. You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have to feel confident that your actions are the best. You have to know that no matter how bad things get, they would be worse without you. When disaster occurs, you take responsibility, but you don't wallow or mope. You aren't allowed that luxury; guilt is for lesser men. You simple need to do what is expected. [That is,] to make everything better. [And if you fail,] then you accept responsibility, and make everything better on the second try. [And if you can't make yourself better on the second try,] you remove yourself from the position."

Though this is coming straight out of a fantasy book, a genre deemed by many not serious, I still think this is actually very good advice. I wish more politicians, not just kings, would follow this advice. Unfortunately, I feel that in our day and age, scapegoating and refusing responsibility is too common a currency.

Any thoughts on that?

*the words are taken verbatim from the book, but I've removed the whole back-and-forth going on between Elend, the newly-minted king, and Tindwyl, his trainer, for ease of reading.

November 4, 2014

Art And Critics

I'm reading a short piece, Art Is a Journey, written by Bob Eggleton, an artist.

In it, Eggleton talks about fame and artists' desire to achieve it. In particular, Eggleton warns artists against letting any positive or negative criticism get to their heads. Because, really, what does such critique mean?

He then goes on to give an example:

Salvador Dali did his epic painting Persistence of Memory (the one with the melting clock) and critics praised this as some life-changing, almost existential, self-defining work of inner truth. In reality, his entire inspiration was from...Camembert cheese. That was it. It did not detract at all from this fine work, but some people who wanted to read something more into it felt betrayed.

This reminds me of a French lesson back in high school when my teacher, Mr. Hayet, talked about Rimbaud having written a poem which critics of the time lauded as being quite deep and meaningful, and Rimbaud enjoyed listening in on classes where they would dissect and analyze the poem because, he later admitted, he wrote it without attaching any meaning behind it. (Unfortunately, I don't remember which poem was in question :( ).

Eggleton concludes his piece with this advice:

[B]e the best artist you can be; don't worry about being the best there is. You'll be a lot happier in the long run. Later on, history will judge your work to be the work of some genius--or not. Then again, it could all be the Camembert cheese.

I think this is great advice for life in general as well!