Well, here you go, I guess…

I’m trying my hardest to not be one of Those Guys, because I hated Those Guys during the prequel era and it’s their fault that I’m not really much of a Star Wars fan anymore, but this is all wrong.  Well, half of it is. The very first shot throws the tone all off, the shakycam sucks, and just like every other nerd on the internet I cannot believe that stupid fire-lightsaber made it past the review board.

(Everybody’s bitching about the crossguards.  Can we talk about the fact that they’ve apparently changed the look of the lightsabers altogether?  And that that’s not okay?)

I really wanted this post to be all rapturous and shit.  I’ve been trying to look forward to this.  This isn’t Star Wars; it’s just a movie.  Oh well.

What I’ve been doing the last couple of days

IMG_2079Lots of schools do food drives this time of year, generally trading a canned food item for some sort of prize, like a dress down day or a homework pass or something like that.  My school is no exception.  The difference is that my school turns around and gives that donated food right back to our own families rather than donating it to a food bank.  We pulled together 54 boxes of donated items in all; I h ave no idea how many items in total but you can get a sense of how many from the picture.  A couple of our employees spent a couple of days sorting everything out and trying to make sure that what was in each of the boxes was roughly equivalent, and on Tuesday a few of us drove to a meat market in Buchanan, Michigan and bought 54 turkeys, one for each of the boxes.

I spent most of yesterday with our librarian, out distributing packages to our families.  We went out in pairs, most teams going to 10 or 12 houses.  The librarian and I had a double run and hit 21.

It was… sobering.  I’ve lived in this town for most of my life and taught in its public schools for the last eight years, and I’ve always known that there were pockets of severe poverty throughout the town– hell, I’ve talked about the effects poverty has on our kids any number of times in any number of venues.  But this was the first time where my job for a day was literally to drive around and find out where my kids live.  Our principal, at one of his houses, was greeted at the door by a man with a  gun in his hand.  The librarian and I didn’t have that, but we did have one house that we didn’t leave food at on account of the place looked like it had been abandoned for years, only to get back to school and discover that, yes, that was the right address and more than one of our students still live there.

I can’t properly describe how bad this place was.  Suffice it to say that my job today was to drive around and deliver donated food to families who are poor enough that they need such assistance.  These people, as you might expect, don’t exactly live in beautiful, well-maintained homes.  Nonetheless, the rest of the houses were mansions compared to this one. There is no way they have electricity or heat.  They didn’t have knobs on the doors, for God’s sake.  The front door was held shut by a padlock.  The librarian looked in a window and said that the place was full of trash.  I got back to school too late to do anything about it, but I’ll be calling DCFS on Monday.  I have to.

Across the street was what looked like a $300,000 house.  Literally exactly across the street.

We got back to school in time to discover that three of our kids were being removed from their father’s home, also by DCFS.  It is absolutely the best decision for everyone involved.

Be thankful for what you have, folks.

Luther Siler Thanksgiving Weekend Sale: LIVE!

(NOTE:  I’m leaving this pinned to the top of the page during the sale.  Scroll down a touch for new posts.)

Starting NOW RIGHT NOW and going until I get bored with it, the following AMAZING DEALS are available to you:

At Amazon:

At Smashwords:

  • The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 is… free.  Still.  And you should really be getting it from Smashwords and not from Amazon, unless you really really want to send me money or you’re not sure how to load files onto your Kindle.  You can download the Kindle version of the file from Smashwords, remember.
  • Skylights has set-your-own pricing.  Which means that you can have it for a penny if you want.  You can have it for nothing if you want.  Or if you’ve been reading me for a long time and you have way more money than you know what to do with you can pay a thousand dollars for it.  I will cheerfully take any percentage of All Your Money, from 0 to 100.  It’s up to you!

I have a brief Thanksgiving post that is planned but not yet written; other than that and a reminder or two of the sale, expect tomorrow to be quiet.  Enjoy your holiday, folks.

In which NAILED IT!

Let’s start with the picture from the recipe, shall we?

1482805_271797289641052_303151807_nAnd here’s the entire recipe.  I found this on Facebook:

Cream Cheese Mints
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
exactly 1/2 teaspoon peppermint or spearmint extract
3 cups powdered sugarBeat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth, add the extract and some of the powdered sugar and mix until combined well. Then add the remaining sugar and mix until well combined.

Shape into 1/2″ balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press flat with a fork and then chill until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks or freeze for up to two months.

 

Lies.  LIES, I tell you!  First of all, you cannot meaningfully do anything to four ounces of cream cheese with a mixer.  Four ounces of cream cheese is a very small amount of cream cheese, folks!  I knew this, but fooled myself into thinking I didn’t, and thus did not immediately double the recipe.  The cream cheese immediately sucked itself into the blades of the mixer and stayed there, mocking me.  Adding the sugar, a cup at a time, didn’t help much, and when I was done I had a lump of cream cheese and sugar maybe the size of a baseball.  Maybe.

I love the verb “shape.”  Does it say how?  Of course not.  I had pictured some sort of rolling with my hands, as I’ve done with a variety of meatballs and my reindeer shit, but it’s cream cheese with sugar in it.  It’s way too goddamn sticky for that.  I considered coating my hands with sugar, like I’d do with flour if I was working with dough, but, y’know, sugar is pretty sticky itself, and I don’t think that would have worked.  I ended up using a melon baller, which did the job OK, I guess, but didn’t produce anything even remotely round.  Press it with a fork?  Fuck you, it sticks to the fork.  

So basically I ended up with a dozen or so cream cheese lumps that I just put on a plate, because the idea that I needed an entire cookie sheet for them was ludicrous– this does not produce very many not-cookie things.  They were horrifying-looking.  I knew they’d be tasty, as I’d sampled them, and it’s not exactly surprising when peppermint, cream cheese and sugar produces something good, but hell if they didn’t look terrible.

So I melted a few dozen chocolate chips and drizzled some chocolate on them too, because to hell with it.

IMG_2077

Nailed. It.

Kids Who Die, by Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.