MINIONS! Why does it always have to be Minions?

Bear with me — I am unused to writing fanfic.

A little while ago, during The Decoratoring™, I had a holiday Pandora station playing because I am a good husband like that, and at some point I apparently snapped because I suddenly started singing along to “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” — in the voice of Gru, from Despicable Me.

It made sense at the time.

Suddenly I thought how wonderful it would be to release a holiday album of Gru singing Christmas classics. Imagine it — I know you’re smiling right now just thinking of it.

And then I thought, we could probably get Steve Carrell and Julie Andrews to pull together something like this for charity. THE MINIONS SINGING THE CHIPMUNK SONG, YOU GUYS! Turn turn kick turn, YES, IT WILL WORK!

But what charity, you ask? I thought about leaving that to our artists, but the problem of homelessness weighs on my mind a lot, so let’s make it contributions to organizations that are working to end or at least reduce our houseless population.

Then it hit me: A MINIONS HOLIDAY SPECIAL that ties into the charity fundraising CD.

You can see where this is going, and so here you go, a half-baked treatment for The Minions Do Christmas: Homeless for the Holidays. (We can negotiate the title.)


[SCENE: GRU’S HOUSE, CHRISTMAS EVE.]

Chaos: the GIRLS [MARGO, EDITH, and AGNES] are hyper, squealing, writing enormous wish lists, play-acting the toys they hope to get, etc. GRU waits patiently, gleefully, to fulfill their wishes.

GRU’S MOM[1] is grumpy. “You’re spoiling these girls. When I was little girl, I was lucky to get turnip for Christmas.”

GRU: “Yes, yes, we know, but things are different now. Look how happy they are.” The girls are oblivious and clearly adore MOM (and she them, though she tries to conceal it — can’t spoil them, with love and all that business, you know).

The GIRLS finally finish their lists and hand them over. GRU distributes the lists to the MINIONS to buy everything, but AGNES’s list is too long, so he tears it in half and takes half for himself.

GRU forces his MOM to go with him to buy all the toys, leaving the GIRLS to decorate the house with NEFARIOUS.

(As GRU and MOM drive through the streets, we see in the background, among the holiday hustle & bustle, homeless families.)

As GRU’s car fills with packages, MOM gets testier and testier until she finally pitches a fit and leaves the car. GRU, in a snit, drives off, figuring either he’ll come back to get her later or she’ll get a cab and come home by herself.

In a rage, MOM flings her purse to the ground/street, where it is promptly run over by a bus and destroyed, so she’s without ID or money. She begins to walk.

Meanwhile, MINION shenanigans as they shop, maybe some GIRL antics as they decorate. (It is important to note that because of the GIRLS’ varied personalities and interests, the MINIONS are loading up on all kinds of toys, not just “girl’s” toys.)

GRU pulls into his driveway, goes in, discovers MOM is missing. The GIRLS panic, but GRU tries to remain calm. They pile into the car to go look for her.

MOM is becoming disoriented, not sure which way is the way home. Her confusion is noted by a boy who asks if he can help her. She grumpily replies that she’s not even sure if she has a home (or words to that effect). He interprets her dilemma as one of houselessness, so he tells her to come with him — he takes her to the homeless shelter where he lives with his mother. It begins to snow.

The homeless shelter is clean and well-lit, but it is filled with families with children who have nowhere else to go. MOM is nonplussed, but she is polite enough with the people whom she meets and is soon enjoying interacting with the children there.

GRU radios the MINIONS to let them know of the problem and in true MINION fashion they swing into berserk helpful mode. Hilarity ensues.

Back at the shelter, one of the workers approaches MOM and asks if there’s anyone they should call. Sure, she says, and scribbles down GRU’s home phone number. She goes back to enjoying herself.

NEFARIOUS, home alone, is working on a MOM Tracking Device (with a helpful MINION of course who finds himself tagged in hilariously uncomfortable ways). The phone rings, he answers it and learns that MOM is at the shelter. He springs into full alert and radios GRU and the MINIONS.

General screeching of tires and traffic shenanigans, until GRU and the GIRLS pull up at the shelter and dash inside, where they discover MOM safe and sound and having a good time with her new friends. They are introduced, and it slowly dawns on them where they are and who these people are.

EDITH and MARGO come up to GRU, distressed: None of these kids are going to have any Christmas. GRU is likewise upset [and maybe something happens here…]

Suddenly the MINIONS burst into the shelter, squealing and bringing all the presents they’ve spent the day shopping for. GRU and the GIRLS and MOM all look at each other and make the unspoken decision. They turn to the families and shout, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Party time as the children receive gifts from the MINIONS and unwrap them. Pizza is delivered (we see GRU paying for it). Merriment abounds.

Segue into the low energy of a party winding down. One of the MINIONS begins to sing “Silent Night,” and soon he is joined by MOM. A chorus of MINIONS takes over as she goes to GRU and tells him she is proud of him, etc.

AGNES and the GIRLS come over to GRU. AGNES tells GRU she wants to go home.

Home.

They all realize what that means in this context. They all are trying to think of a way to help, but MARGO quietly says, “There’s nothing we can really do, is there?”

GRU is forced to admit that they cannot solve the problem themselves. EDITH is angry; there must be something they can DO!

Wait, GRU says slowly, I think I may have an idea…

[CUT TO LIVE ACTION STEVE CARRELL, JULIE ANDREWS, maybe some animated MINIONS]

They make a pitch for homeless action groups [TBD] and promote the CD as a means for the audience to contribute to these groups…

[BACK TO ANIMATION]

GRU, MOM, and GIRLS are walking in the front door of home, to the unfinished decorations. NEFARIOUS greets them with hot chocolate, and they decorate the tree together. GRU is suddenly stricken that he has given away all the GIRLS’ Christmas presents, but they tell him they’ve already had Christmas.

Not to worry, though, KEVIN comes in with three presents, one for each of the GIRLS, and they declare them the best Christmas they’ve ever had.

Swell gemütlichkeit, begin to roll credits. NEFARIOUS tells MOM he has a way to keep her from getting lost again, if she will just step over here out of camera range — we hear the distinctive thnk of the tagging machine and her scream.

FINIS

—————

[1] That’s her name. Even after three movies, GRU’S MOM’s official name is GRU’S MOM.

Greece, Day 2: Part 2

The view from our hotel room:

We reconvened at 6:30 — it being far too hot to be out and about before then — and after some comedy trying to round up enough taxis to get us all to the main square (the bus having the rest of the day off), we set off on a walking tour of the main shopping district.

Not a lot of shopping going on, since it was Sunday and almost all the stores are closed. There were a few international brands open on Sunday, but this is generally disapproved of.

In one of the crossroads, there was this distinctive sculpture. I’m not sure that this was what Elfi was referring to when she talked about a statue/shrine to Hermes being the indicator of a place of commerce, but I will leave it here with no comment.

Every now and then there would be a small church or monastery. This one was sunken below street level as the city was built up around it.

The interior has not been restored.

There were street clowns. They were not exciting.

The cathedral of Athens, built for the coronation of their first king in the 1820s.

Lots of people hanging about, many small children — in a city of 5 million, most of whom live in apartments, public spaces are alive with activity.

Next to the cathedral, a tiny Byzantine church, the Church of Theotokos Gorgoepikoos and Ayios Eleytherios. Just so you know.

From everywhere, the Acropolis.

Kitties! They were sunning themselves and completely uncaring of the humans around them. The one in the center was old and feeble looking and it hurt my heart. However, it appeared as if all the feral cats were regularly fed by the neighborhood; we saw many meals put out for them.

After our walking tour, Efi left us to our own devices, with instructions on where to go to get a taxi back to the hotel. We ended up at Drunk Sinatra based on its cocktail reputation.

The food was okay, just pizza, but the cocktails were as advertised.

To start, I had The Risk and my Lovely First Wife had the Call Me (unpictured). But the best was the One Night Stand:

I had two. I will be attempting to replicate this one at home since I have all the ingredients.

It is worth noting that Athenians dine very late; we started at 8:30, and by 9:30 the place began hopping. When we left at 10:30, the area was packed.

We only got a little astray in heading back to find a taxi, but we prevailed. And so to bed.

Useful Kitchen Stuff

A couple of months ago, a friend on Facebook asked for advice on upping their kitchen game. I failed to respond, because my brain immediately went into overdrive. I did make a note in my to-do list, but we all know how that goes.[1]

Today, though, I am stuck at Southtowne Chevrolet while they figure out why my 2012 Equinox is making weird little beoop noises and claiming that the engine is overheating, so I might as well get this one off my list. Here are my suggestions for bumping up your efficiency and overall coolness in making your meals.

I’m going to presume that you already have decent knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. I also presume you have a few whisks, a ladle or two, all the basic stuff.

Here’s more.

First up: a grapefruit spoon. You may already have one of these as part of your flatware set, but if not, go to your nearest kitchen outlet and buy one. It’s the easiest way to de-seed tomatoes, peppers, etc.

Prep bowls. You may think these are just trendy affectations, but your life will change if you start using them. I have a set of smaller glass ones, but you may also find slightly larger ones useful. These are especially good if you don’t have counter space; you can do all your chopping and measuring and set your materials aside without having to keep shoving the bits around your chopping board.

You may already have a chopper/scoop, but if not, it’s dead useful for corralling all that stuff you chopped up to put in your prep  bowls.

If you ever have to roll out dough, then go to Home Depot and Michael’s and buy yourself some pieces of wood or metal. I have 1/8″ strips of aluminum, 1/4″ strips of lath, and pieces of craft wood that are 1/2″ x 3/4″. With my flat rolling pin, all I have to do is set these down on either side of my dough and roll away. Pro tip: They’re also handy for slicing bread like focaccia by sliding your bread knife along your guides and for rolling out hamburgers. Use freezer paper to keep the meat from contaminating your wooden roller.

(I know you can buy rolling pins with interchangeable disks that do the same thing, but those arrived on the scene after I figured out this solution.)

Silicone mats are ubiquitous these days, but when I first bought ours we were trendsetters, I tell you. Very useful for cookies. I just recently bought the copper ones to use on the grill. Very nice.

Tiny spatulas and whisks are more useful than you might think.

You can find wooden tongs in a lot of places, and they’re great at retrieving toast or muffins from the toaster. I also have more than a few wooden spatulas for sautéing and shoving stuff around in the pan.

I found this long-handled spoon/fork thing at some chi-chi kitchen store (in Greenville, SC, I think) and I thought I would use it at burns for dining, but it has proven to be ace at scooping out the last of the mayonnaise.

This last one is fairly niche, but if you need it, you’ll know. These long tweezers are for cocktailologists to smugly retrieve cocktail cherries or other garnishes from their jars and plop them in your craft cocktail, probably with a flourish. But I have found that they are also excellent for manipulating food items in your fryer: I have begun frying my own tortilla chips and these are primo for stirring and keeping apart the little buggers as they frolic in the oil, and for retrieving any items that have finished before the rest of their cohort.

—————

[1] Cras melior est and all that.

Empty calendars, feelings about that

This morning, my to-do app presented me with today’s tasks, and one of them was to “email TCOs of the past two burns” — which means that I needed to open up the placement databases for Alchemy 2018 and Alchemy 2019 and send an email to the Theme Camp Organizers to let them know that registration for placement at Alchemy 2020 would soon be upon them.

Of course, that’s moot, because the burn is canceled —all burns are canceled — for 2020, so that depressed me.

But then my eye fell on a notebook on my shelf that I truly couldn’t remember being there; it was full of morning pages that I had started writing in September of 2013, right after I was retired from GHP by the vindictive Governor Nathan Deal (whose actual target was Dr. John Barge, Supt. of the DOE). All my pain and grief were there for me to revisit (along with some positive things like the cross country trip and the composition of Five Easier Pieces).

And there on one of the last pages I bothered to write (12/2/13) was this:

For some reason, I began thinking about Burning Man and what my cadre might have to offer.
Here’s the image that came to me:
Three Old Men — loin cloths — gas masks — large walking sticks — single file — in sync — slow motion dance with the walking sticks.

Well.

When I went back to my to-do list, suddenly the placement task was not so depressing, because unlike GHP, the burn will be back in my life. This is only temporary.

A parable

The people came to a wise man and asked, “Tell us, who is good?”

The wise man said:

There were three men, each of whom was building a fire.

The first man has enough wood to build his fire, plus enough to keep it going until bedtime. His fire starts slowly, but soon it is crackling merrily. He is sure to be warm.

Sometimes the flame is high and hot; other times it flickers and is warm. The man makes adjustments as needed, moving logs and adding more to keep the fire going.

He knows that eventually it will be bedtime — should he add an other log to keep it warm, or should he let it die down? He knows there is an end to the fire and to the evening.

The second man has a very large woodpile, enough for months of fires. He uses lighter fluid to start his fire — his father gave him that — so his fire starts explosively, high and hot, and he expects it to stay that way.

He adds logs to the fire constantly, piling on even when the logs beneath have barely started to burn. He will always have more logs.

The third man, alas, has only two or three logs and not very much to start his fire with —some twigs, perhaps some cardboard. His fire starts slowly, oh so slowly, and it never becomes what you would call high or hot. In any case, it will not burn for very long.

The wise man turned to the people and asked — “Which of these men is good?”

Please hold…

DATELINE 7/3/19: There will be a short pause of about a day in the thrilling tale of our travels to the Grand Canyon: we were on the road both yesterday and today on day trips here and yon.

Your regular amusement will resume tomorrow. Probably.

Life’s small pleasures

A simple task in my to-do app: Call Medicare. This is my prompt to call Anthem/Blue Cross to double-check on my Medicare coverage, which kicked in on May 1.

Why? Because I continue to receive mailings from Anthem asking me to sign up for Medicare coverage as well as mailings confirming my coverage. I want to know exactly what I am signed up for, especially whether I’m signed up for Part D, which covers prescriptions.

No, I’m not explaining Medicare coverage to you. You have to go through that dark period all on your own.

So I call the number on the latest flyer I got. The first thing I did was to ask the nice lady to turn up the volume on her mic, because I couldn’t hear her—and no, it wasn’t because I was old.

I explained what I needed. She said I should talk to Medicare. I asked why, if I needed to talk to Medicare, was I holding an Anthem/Blue Cross coverage card in my hand that said they were handling my Medicare Preferred (PPO) coverage?

Fine, she said; she’d connect me with the PPO customer service. Please hold.

Dee dee deet: the number you are trying to call is not available from your calling zone. (WTH?)

Hang up.

Call again.

This time it’s a young man who understands what I’m asking. He offers to hook me up with the correct people. I ask for the number just in case. He gives it to me.

This time the transfer works, and I get another young man. We’ll call him Nathan.

Nathan understands what I’m asking about, so he asks for my Member ID number. I give it to him.

He can’t find me in the database. I give him my name, birthdate, and the Member ID again.

Nathan says he needs to look in another database. Nathan says he needs to transfer me to someone who can actually answer my question. Please hold.

I hold.

I order those nifty Celtic cloak pins for 3 Old Men to use when the ambient temperature is a little chilly during our rituals.

I order more copies of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Tao te ching to give as graduation presents.

Nathan comes back on, and they’re having a fire. (I can hear the alarm.) He’ll have to call me back. I wish him luck.

And scene.

New Cocktail: the Hot & Sour

This is a beauty: the Hot & Sour

The Hot & Sour

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
  • 1.75 oz Oleo Saccharum sour mix
  • 2 dashes Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Dandelion & Burdock Bitters

Shake with ice, pour into cocktail glass, garnish with lemon peel.

Very very nice.


Oleo Saccharum Sour Mix

There are multiple versions of this recipe online. This is the one I’ve settled on, but you can do all lemons, or any variety of orange instead of grapefruit.

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 large lemon
  • .4–.5 cup sugar
  • .5 cup lemon juice

Peel the grapefruit and the lemon. Place the peels in a medium bowl; add the sugar.  Muddle the peels with the sugar about a minute.

Leave for 4–6 hours.  The oils from the peels will puddle at the bottom of the bowl.

Add the lemon juice and stir to dissolve all the sugar.

Strain into a container. Refrigerate and enjoy!

In other news…

I’m double-posting here, because that’s what us self-marketers do.

From Lichtenbergianism.com:

It’s almost here! On Friday, November 17, you will be able to give me money via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other venues!

In return, of course, you will be receive your very own copy of Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, first edition!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

As a special promotional deal, anyone who buys the book from Amazon on launch day will receive a couple of bonus gifts. From me, you will receive an autographed Official Lichtenbergianism Precepts Bookmark and an invitation to join the Lichtenbergianism: Doing the Work group on Facebook, where you will have access to my advice and guidance on any of your ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS.

Also, several of my friends are offering freebies of their own: things like chapters from one of their books and other goodies.  You’ll have the opportunity to request one of these.  (A page listing these goodies is forthcoming.)

How do you avail yourself of this treasure trove?

  1. Buy the book on Friday, November 17, on Amazon.
  2. Email your purchase receipt or a screenshot of same to dale@Lichtenbergianism.com.
  3. I’ll send you a link to the form to claim your bonus items. Easy!

This is so exciting! Start spreading the news.