Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

22 October, 2006


The Dulcinea and I went to see PROG last Monday at the High Noon Saloon. And now, because of her emotional reaction to their performance of "And You and I" by Yes, I find myself listening to it quite a bit lately. I even heard her singing a line from it this morning as she was bringing some dishes into the kitchen. That girl and her Yes, I tells ya.

I didn't go camping this weekend. The Polack was waiting to hear on a job at the Wisconsin Club on Friday afternoon and the fate of our trip hung in the balance. Well, he never got back to me so the trip got 86'd. While I was disappointed, I did try to make the most of my weekend, a 3-day one at that. I spent most of it with The Dulcinea basking in her refulgence and feeding our carnal forge. I spent precious little time here at home but I did finish writing my piece on Madison & passenger rail. Unfortunately, my bedroom still stands a mess. But you know how it is – needs must when the devil drives.

On the plus side, it's been a fun month. A couple weekends ago, my mom paid a visit. We did quite a bit together but I neglected to bring my camera for any of it. We went to the Eplegaarden, an apple orchard a bit south of town. It was a beautiful day and nice to catch what was probably the last of the good weather before autumn turned cold and rainy. Just as I turned to hit the trail into the orchard with my bag in hand, I found Mel standing before me. She, Dogger, and Miss Regan were there with a group of kids from Regan's daycare. They'd arrived a couple hours earlier and were preparing for the checking out the pumpkins before heading out. Regan ran up to me so I picked her up and she started telling me about all the apples she had seen. It's hard to believe that she's almost 3. Mel had a stroke when she was less than a year old so there were some days of despair for both her and Regan. Facing the prospect that Regan would grow up without a mommy was incredibly sad. Now, however, she's a bouncy, happy girl with a mom and a dad.

My mother and I also went to see The Illusionist. I liked it quite a bit, though the ending was a just a touch hackneyed. I was and still am ambivalent about Edward Norton's performance. On one hand, he was too restrained and I wish he had more presence to really grab me. On the other, his rather minimalist acting suited his character as someone hiding a secret. We also made a trip to the Arboretum and walked the fields and trails. It had been years since I'd been so it was nice to return and walk off some of my post-prandial lethargy. Another destination of ours was Mount Horeb to catch their Harvest Festival. Again, it was a gorgeous, sunny day and finding a parking spot proved a lot easier than I had thought. Walking down Main Street, my mom said that she'd love to have a funnel cake. Not two seconds later I spied the cart advertising just that. But first there was lunch at the Blue Sky Café. I know it's probably a tourist destination but the food is tasty there, they have a great chocolate malt, and, much to my mom's delight, they serve phosphates. It was cherry for her that day. After taking her first sip, she told me how she used to hang out with her friends at soda shops when she was a kid. Downing phosphates, she'd descend into a sugar-fueled schoolgirl frenzy of giggling and laughing. Her story reminded me of an ice cream parlor that my family went to when I was a very young kid growing up in Chicago. I think it was called The Buffalo and it was on Irving Park a couple storefronts west of Pulaski. (Or was it still Crawford back then?) Malts, shakes, sodas, phosphates…mmm…

After lunch, we stepped outside and got ourselves a funnel cake. Being the dork that I am, I informed my mom that funnel cakes are probably the only food at Renaissance Faires that are actually of the period. (Turkeys had not yet made their way across the Atlantic to Europe.) Back in the day, they were called "cryspes". If you're interested, here is a recipe from the 15th century. With our hands all sticky and greasy, we then headed to the Mustard Museum. I grabbed a couple jars of mustard but was disappointed to find that they no longer carried Toad Sweat, a dessert hot sauce. The Dulcinea had bought some of the lemon vanilla variety and I loved it. Wandering back into the street, we found that Chef Sabi of The Casbah restaurant here in Madison was taping an episode of his TV show Cooking the Casbah. With him were a trio of men standing to one side waiting their turns. One of them looked familiar and it turned out he was Kirby Nelson, the brewmaster from Capital. The other guys were Tom Porter from Lake Louie Brewing and the brewmaster from the Grumpy Troll Brwepub in Mount Horeb, whose name I forget. But it was a good German name! A PA then took the wrapping off of a plate of cheese and sausage and the trio proceeded to discuss their fall seasonals and how they go along with the comestibles which just sat there begging to be eaten. That's Wisconsin for ya. I was very pleased when they gave out free samples. Not only of cheese and sausage, but of their beers as well. After the taping, my mom and I took a long walk down the Military Ridge State Trail which runs through Mount Horeb. It was just too nice of a day to pass it up and my mom just loves walking.

The next weekend I jumped in my car with Charles and we headed to Paddock Lake for HendalCon '06 at the home of my friend Terry. James followed us in his car as he was on-call that weekend. We were the first ones there, although it didn't take too long for folks from Chicago to start appearing. Ted and Don drove up together and brought a fair amount of beer with them. Along with the case I had brought, we had enough.

All good Wisconsin beer: Point, Leinenkugel's, New Glarus, Sprecher, Lake Louie, and Furthermore. In fact, that weekend was my first encounter with the beers of Furthermore, specifically, their Knot Stock, a pale ale with black pepper. I am really keen on drinking it at a meal that doesn't consist of pretzels. The pepper flavor is there in the background from the start but, for me at least, it builds as I drink more of it. The result is a nice tingle on my tongue.

While Terry and a couple of the other guys there are really into miniatures, we didn't play any. When I say that Terry is into miniatures, I mean that he's got around 10 tabletops in his basement expressly for playing them. He drove to Minneapolis to get one of them as it's a special top with a removable bit that allows folks to use real mud to build terrain. And by "real mud" I mean the 4 buckets of the stuff from the Mississippi River that were piled up next to his washer. I'd also hoped for a game of Call of Cthulhu but the CoC players there have been playing a lot lately and were in need of a break. They've been play testing an adventure written by some guy with a PhD in New York that is modeled after Moby Dick. I've seen a copy of it and it is about 5 inches thick – just a monster. Outside smoking, Ted told me that his character has now become this Colonel Kurtz figure and is returning to an island to set up his own personal empire. My other disappointment was that my brother, Andrew, and Glenn were unable to make it as I was really looking forward to seeing them again. Despite this, we had a blast. We began with a game of Circvs Maximvs, a chariot racing game, and it was all downhill from there.

Terry is a huge Jethro Tull fan and, when we arrived, he had Tull playing. He must have a large carousel because he had all four CDs of one of their box sets queued and then added another of their albums. This scenario did not cease until we went to bed at 3:30 or 4 on Sunday morning. 14 hours of Tull! What else did we play? Nuclear War, Settlers of Catan, The Great Space Race, Slapshot, and 1 or 2 others. James, Charles, and I were familiar with The Great Space Race so it was fun to introduce everyone else to it and they loved it as well. The black hole came out in the second round and really made a mess of things. Slapshot was a highlight of the night for multiple reasons. It is an old hockey game, probably from the late 1970s and it showed in some of the cards.

It's unlikely that a company could get away with gay stereotyping like this today. This aside, it's a remarkably simple and fun game. Matches are played like War where each player flips a card over and the highest card wins. The semi-finals of the playoffs between Ted and Paul had us rolling with laughter. Those two almost fell out of their seats with Paul nearly hyperventilating. On Sunday morning, Ted ventured out and brought back breakfast. We picked up the basement and settled into a game of Puerto Rico. It was close but I pulled off the victory – my first ever – and completely flummoxed Charles with my strategy. A great way to end a great weekend. After breakfast, I went into the basement and found Don and Charles chatting away. Although I had only walked into the middle of the conversation, I was drafter by Charles to drive us to the Con of the North in February. Don attends and, from the bits I overheard, there's some good Call of Cthulhu action to be had. So it looks like I've got some mid-winter plans.
|| Palmer, 6:48 PM


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