Erase Una Vez en el Oeste

Madhouse Manor

Today is the anniversary of a couple of iconic events from the Wild West:  One of the first, if not the first, actual middle-of-the-street quick-draw gunfighter duels,  and the first train robbery by the Younger-James gang (not the first train robbery of the Old West, though — the Reno brothers beat Cole and Frank to the draw, as it were).


The duel was between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt on 21 July 1865 in Springfield, Missouri.   The quarrel between the men was over (possibly) unpaid gambling debts and (perhaps) over the affections of one or more young ladies.   The most proximate cause, however, seems to have been Tutt parading around town wearing Wild Bill’s gold watch (which Tutt had either stolen, or was holding as collateral for one of the aforesaid gambling debts).

They really did square off in the middle of the street, and at a range of…

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The Magic Contest

Reblogged from Jim Macdonald’s blog:

Madhouse Manor

The results of the first annual Granite State Magicians’ New England Magic Contest, held last Sunday in Peabody, MA:

  • In first place, Jude Giordano of Agawam, MA.
  • In second place, Tristan James of Kingston, RI
  • In third place, Brad Beady of Hartford, CT.

Congratulations to all our contestants!

No one died, no one stabbed themselves in the hand, and no one is in jail. Therefore, success!

In Other News:

A couple of photos of handsome young me busking at Farmers’ Markets:

My schedule

  • Saturday: Lancaster, NH.  9:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • Sunday: Littleton, NH. 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday: Berlin, NH. 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Thursday: Gorham, NH. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Friday: North Stratford, NH. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Illusionist Jim Macdonald busking at the Lancaster Farmers' Market. At the Lancaster Farmers’ Market

Photo from the North Woods Weekly

Jim Macdonald, Illusionist, busking at the Littleton, NH, Farmers' Market At the Littleton NH Farmers’ Market

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Peeve Plus

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Today’s peeve, because I haven’t been peevish for a while:

Listen up, people.  The phrase you’re aiming for isn’t “make due.”  It’s “make do.”

I know that homonyms are tricky, and “do” and “due” are homonyms in some dialects of English.†  (My own native dialect isn’t one of them; the vowel sounds are different enough that I’m not likely to confuse the two.  On the other hand, if I don’t specify either a fountain pen or a safety pin, a listener with no context to help out won’t know which one I’m talking about.)

Still, that’s no excuse for not getting it right in your prose. It’s the sort of mistake that puts off discriminating readers, and you don’t want to do that.

And now the “plus” part of this post, or, I discover a tasty new thing to do with cabbage.

The thing is, I like cabbage.  I once – no lie – cut a class when I was an undergrad, purely because the college cafeteria that fed my dorm was going to be serving braised cabbage that day, and I wanted to get there when the dining hall opened so that I could have it fresh instead of after it had been sitting on a steam table for an hour and a half.  (The class was Eighteenth Century English Lit, and Edward Young’s Night-Thoughts – the work assigned for that session – simply couldn’t compete.  The eighteenth century was a great time for English prose, but for poetry, not so much, at least not until the Romantics came along.)

Anyhow, I like cabbage, but after steaming it, and braising it with kielbasa, and chopping it up and putting it into slaw, I thought I’d run out of ways to cook it.  Then I read online about roasted cabbage, and I said to myself, Self, you need to try this one.

It’s one of those dead simple recipes:  Take a head of cabbage, a cutting board, and a nice heavy knife.  Slice the cabbage longitudinally into one-inch thick slices – cabbage steaks, if you will – leaving in the core.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F.

Then take a sheet pan and line it with tinfoil (another lovely word – tinfoil hasn’t been made of tin since the middle of the last century).  Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the bottom of the pan.  Put the cabbage slices on the sheet pan in a single layer, and brush them with more olive oil.  Then sprinkle the slices with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt.

Put the sheet pan in the oven, and cook the cabbage for 40 minutes, turning them over carefully at the 20-minute mark.

Serve as a vegetable with grilled sausage or whatever pleases you.


†Everybody speaks a dialect of some sort.  It’s just that some dialects are more privileged than others, and get to be called “Standard.”

Food and Drink in the North Country

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Things you can have if you travel up this way.  Possibly #1 in an ongoing series, depending upon how much I get out of this house before winter comes back around.  (The Starks of Winterfell could have a summer home up here, I suspect, and nobody would even notice because they’d fit right in.  “Winter is coming.”  “Ayup.  Got your wood in yet?”)

Anyhow.  Here’s a photo of that pHtea Jim Macdonald blogged about in his post about the Vermont RennFaire:

PhTea

That’s white tea, chamomile tea, and yerba mate in the photo; the black tea had already been consumed by me the night before.

And here is breakfast at the North Country Family Restaurant in Groveton, New Hampshire, where they make their own corned beef hash.  (As does any diner in northern New England with a shred of self-respect.)

Hash and Eggs at the NorthCountry Restaurant

That’s two eggs sunny-side up over corned beef hash, with homemade toast and a side of hash browns.  (Well, up here they call them hash browns.  As a transplanted Texan, I feel obliged to point out that they are actually country fries, because proper hash browns are shredded, not cubed.  Nomenclature aside, though, they’re done well, and come with or without onions at the diner’s preference.)

The other breakfast, in the background, is a fried egg sandwich made with French toast.  I have it on good authority that it tastes just fine.

Over on My Co-Author’s Blog

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There’s a guest post by another magician.

Jim’s posting a lot about stage magic these days, which isn’t surprising; he was learning to be a magician even before he started learning to be a writer.

It’s all entertainment, in the end, and bringing the mystery.  Art in the blood, Watson. . . .

A Bit of Amusement

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(God knows, we need it.)

If you were raised in (or have ever lived for an extended time in) the South, this is hilarious:

“Tennessee Williams with Air Conditioning”

(I read an article somewhere once† that attributed the rise of the modern South to the invention of air conditioning, which made it possible for people in that region to actually work from 9 to 5 in the summertime without turning into puddles of economically unproductive sweat. The writer of the article, as I recall, seemed to vaguely resent this.)


generic all purpose citation, bookworms, for the use of

Vermont RenFaire

Reblogged from Jim Macdonald’s blog.

Madhouse Manor

So … I spent the weekend doing magic at the Vermont RenFaire in Stowe.

I had a good time, despite rain, sun, wind, and … rain.  I met some wonderful people, some great performers, and had some good munchies.

I’m definitely planning to find out if the Vermont Steampunk Expo needs a magician.

For me, the absolute high point was meeting a young man named Ben who had recently (recently, as of June 2nd of this year) created a tea company.  Not just any tea, pHtea, iced tea in a variety of flavors that is pH balanced between 7.35 and 7.45 to match the pH of a human body so it doesn’t knock your acid/base balance out of whack.  It’s sweetened with Vermont honey (rather than refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup), and is totally great.  Ben was pouring samples for everyone who walked by, and everyone was…

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Peeve of a Summer’s Day

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The air is thick with humidity and allergens, and I am peevish.

Listen to me, O People, when I say unto you, the phrase is not “mother load”, it is “mother lode.”

The term comes from mining, specifically gold and silver mining, where it refers to a principle vein or group of veins of ore.  The Mother Lode, in the United States, is an area of hard-rock gold deposits in California’s Sierra Nevada, running through a zone 120 miles long and in some places almost 4 miles wide.  (It was, unsurprisingly, discovered during the California Gold Rush.)

A mother lode of something, then, is an abundant source or principle supply of that thing.  The “mother” part comes from the use of “mother” to refer to a source or origin:  “Mother of pearl” refers to the substance known as nacre, with which a mollusk encases the bit of irritant which forms the center of a pearl; “mother of vinegar” is the naturally-occurring bacterial culture which, when added to wine or other substances, causes them to ferment into vinegar; and “mother” or “mother dough” is a term sometimes used in baking to refer to a naturally-cultivated yeast starter.

And the “lode” part?  That’s from the Old English lād, meaning “a way” or “a course” – usually a watercourse of some sort.  So a lode is a way or course that ore runs through, like water runs in a stream.