Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Funny Fantasy and Silly Scifi

French food (that was sort of Italianish.)

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 21•16

Back between my last big breakup and when I met Hubby, I watched this unlikely romance. (Kevin Kline as a scuzzy French thief with a pornstache?  How is that romantic?) But something about the plot spoke to me and it became my favorite romantic comedy.

Meg Ryan is Kate, a woman engaged to Charlie the Doctor.  Because she’s afraid to fly, hates the French and dosen’t want to mess up her application for Canadian citizenship, she refuses to go to France with Charlie.  But before he goes, she confesses to him that she’s built up a nest egg big enough to buy a house with.

Charlie the Doctor gets scared that his whole life is now planned out and dumps neurotic Kate for Juliet the French goddesse (Dr. Charlie says it’s French for goddess).

Kate jumps a plane, meets Luc the thief, accidentally helps him smuggle diamonds and gets her luggage, money and papers stolen. As you do.  This leads to her having her paperwork for Canadian citizenship rejected. Since the official at the American Embassy gets into a snit because Kate was trying to immigrate and won’t issue her a new passport, Kate is now without country.

In order to get close to Kate and get the diamonds back, Luc offers to help her win Doctor Charlie back. I’m sure you can guess the end.

I don’t typically love romantic comedies.  But this one resonated with me.  Probably because it was a right place, right time kind of thing. It’s about a girl who breaks up with the guy she thinks she’s supposed to be with and along the way finds the guy she’s really supposed to be with.  There is great banter, Meg Ryan is quirky, Kevin Kline is gloriously sarcastic.

And there is this:

Luc: Why are you chasing after him after what he’s done to you? 

Kate: Because I love him! And I’m afraid that if he doesn’t come back that I’ll… it’ll hurt so much that I’ll just shrivel up and I’ll never be able to love anyone ever again. 

Luc: You say that now, but… after a time, you would forget. First, you would forget his chin, and then his nose, and after a while, you would struggle to remember the exact color of his eyes, and one day you wake up and, pfft, he’s gone: his voice, his smell, his face. He will have left you. And then you can begin again.


What can I say about what that meant to me in that time and place? The idea of being able to leave the past behind and begin again?  The idea that someday it would get better?

And it did.

So if I have to choose a romantic comedy for Date Night that is not My Big Fat Greek Wedding (last month’s date night, that I forgot to blog a about) French Kiss is my favorite.

I planned to write about the food, but I guess my own introspection about the movie was more important.

Here are the recipes I used:

Easy Pie Crust

Sundried Tomato Pesto Quiche

Creme Brûlée 

Would You Rather Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Or Groundhog Day?

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 21•16

The James Bond date night was such a success, that Hubby ran to the gift box on February first to retrieve his gift. For February, I could have gone with a romantic date and not been out of line.  There are a huge number of romantic comedies out there, and we have our favorites. 

But why?  Everyone else on the planet is doing romantic couple-y things in February. Instead, I opted for something different.

Now, there are a lot of holidays in February.  So I had a lot of options:

Lincoln’s or Washington’s Birthday, President’s day –  There are a ton of really good presidential themed movies, tv shows and documentaries that hubby and I love.  The recent Lincoln movie, the less recent John Adams documentary, even the tv show Turn. Heck, for fun I could have chosen National Treasure.  But I decided to have a whole lot of fun, and chose the other well-known holiday:

Groundhog Day

Hubby and I both love the Bill Murray movie.  That movie is probably the reason many other people think fondly of the holiday, too.

In the movie, Bill Murray’s character repeats the same day over and over again (estimates range from 10-30 years worth of days) until he experiences enough character growth that he has a truly perfect day, and breaks the cycle. 

He spends part of many of those days in the local diner, pigging out on breakfast, because he no longer has to worry about calories or cholesterol. 

So for our second dinner and a movie date, we had breakfast for dinner.

Again, Hubby wanted to tweak the menu.  (It’s his gift, so sure.). Ever since we had banana pancakes with coconut syrup on our honeymoon, he’s loved them.  To the point that I found a recipe to make the syrup myself.  And he wanted to add blueberry muffins. Again a favorite.

And because I wanted something for myself, cinnamon rolls from a can. 

So if you want a good coconut syrup recipe, I recommend  this one here.

And this banana pancake recipe, which makes great regular pancakes if you leave out the banana. 

Since dinner was so kid-friendly, we involved the kids in the food (but sent them to bed before the movie).

 

Let’s Talk About the Bad Fairy

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 11•16

  I’m listening to my kids read Sleeping Beauty (or listening to their book read to them, since technically they are 4 and 1 1/2. But eh. Semantics. Whatevs.). It strikes me as very short sighted that the bad fairy is the one you forget to invite to a baby shower. 

Forget a good fairy, what’s she going to do?  Not give your kid “lips that shame the red, red rose?”  But the bad fairy gets forgotten, and it’s death by spinning wheel.  

Then again, what kind of present would an invited bad fairy give to a baby? Could you imagine that baby shower?  There are all the good and bad fairies standing around making awkward conversation, then it comes time to give out the gifts and the good fairies are handing out beauty, goodness, singing ability, little furry animal friends.  And just for giggles the bad fairy might hand out brains, independence and and the ability to spot logical fallacies in any arguement.  You know, things no medieval monarch wants in his daughter of marriageable age.

So maybe it’s not so short sighted that they left the bad fairy off the guest list.  Maybe they hoped she just wouldn’t hear about it and show up.

Then again, maybe she wasn’t a bad fairy.  Maybe she was just a normal fairy until she started handing out curses and other gifts that the king and queen clearly didn’t register for and can’t return to Buy Buy Baby. 

I mean, it’s very easy to say she is a bad fairy after the fact.  Just look at her behavior! Handing out curses.  Clearly she must’ve been a bad fairy all along. 

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To Dine!

Written By: Tracy - Feb• 06•16

My husband is one of those guys who is picky, discerning (whenever I point this out, he always points out that he married me, so being choosy isn’t a bad thing). 

So Christmas is always a nightmare challenging.  What do you get for someone who is very selective in his wants, and could pretty much buy whatever his heart’s desire (within reason, he’s not yet getting a Breitling).

But there are a couple ways I can’t go wrong:

1. He likes the buildup to opening the gift (sometimes more than the actual gift.)

2. He likes to watch moves. 

3. He likes good food. 

This year I planned a gift that sits right in the middle of that venn diagram. I planned 12 dinner and a movie dates. 

Remember the old TBS show dinner and a movie? Where the hosts cooked a themed dinner around the movie they played? This is something like that. 

So for our January date, I planned for us to watch Thunderball. (James bond date night in January is a bit of a theme for us.  The year after daughter was born, we dressed to the nines, got PF Chang takeout, ate it on the wedding china  and watched Casino Royale. last year was Dr. No.)

So this time around, the parameters were 1. Extravagant food (in the books, James Bond likes caviar, eggs and champaign at breakfast). 2. British theme.  The challenge being that hubby is not a drinker.  So the traditional martini, shaken, not stirred is out. 

Fauxtini.jpgMartinis weren’t a problem.  I made a reasonable facsimile of a dirty martini with sparkling soda water, cocktail olives and olive juice. Served in martini glasses for effect.  Hubby ate the olives and left the drink.  Oh well, they can’t all be winners. 

When I think of British food, I think of fish and chips, or Harry Potter’s treacle tart. (Whatever treacle is. In Alice in Wonderland, there is mention of a treacle well, and in the Discworld books, there is Treacle Mine Road.  I think Brit Lit is not a good source for answers to my treacle based questions. ) And something called Beef Wellington.  Which sounds British.  It shares a name with my favorite gardening boots, so it must be ok. 

So Beef Wellington. And custard tart.  Which is really just the egg custard pie like my grandma used to make.  Easy easy peasy  lemon squeezy.

 The menus set, I wrapped the gift. 

Hubby opened his January present, and immediately requested a menu change.  He’s had my grandma’s egg custard pie, and isn’t a fan.  So we switched to his favorite dessert: creme Brûlée.  Cest la vie! 

Oven_wellingtons.jpgI didn’t quite realize how complicated Beef Wellington is.  You take a piece of tenderloin, roll it in a mix of chopped mushrooms and onions, and then wrap that in prosciutto and wrap it in puff pastry.  Then you try to bake it so that the meat cooks just enough and the pastry neither burns, nor gets soggy from the meat juices. 

Gordon Ramsey likes this dish.  In fact, he verbally guts lesser chefs for messing it up.

So, yeah.  There’s that. 

And because I can’t do things halfway, I also decided to make my own puff pastry. 

Wellington.jpgSo after a week’s worth of research (cook all the moisture out of the mushroom mix, wrap the package in phyllo dough to make a moisture barrier between the puff pastry and the meat. Bake according to internal temperature, not time) and three days of preparation (puff pastry isn’t hard, just long and involved), I pulled the whole thing together.

If you are interested, here is the recipe I used for Beef Wellington 

And just for fun, Gordon Ramsay losing his temper over a beef Wellington on Hell’s Kitchen

Et Voila: 



 

 

 

My ConDFW schedule

Written By: Tracy - Feb• 01•16

I’ll be at ConDFW the weekend of February 12-14.  This is the first convention that I’ve done in a long time independently of my publisher.  So I’m learning how to convention anew. 

This year my panels are all on Saturday.  My  schedule is as follows:

Noon:

Creating your Fantasy Hero (programming 2. Madison). 

How do you build the perfect hero for your fantasy world. 

2:00:

reading alongside Melanie Fletcher 2:00 (Adams)

5:00:

Where do heroes go to die? (Programming 3. Hamilton (the musical?)

How do you write old heroes?

6:00

Autographs along with Scott A. Cupp
Since my programming schedule is light the year, I may have more time to be out and about to say hello and talk to folks.  At any rate, I look forward to Seeing everyone. 

I Hit A Milestone and No One Told Me

Written By: Tracy - Aug• 05•15

This weekend I attended GlichCon along with Brad and Sue Sinor.  I collaborated with Brad on four stories in the 1632 universe. 

Brad let me know that one of our stories was in the collected hardcover Grantville Gazettes VII that were released about a month ago.

So, my first hardcover.  I guess I need to be on some kind of newsgroup, because I never got the memo. 

But cool! 

  

Weekend at the Movies

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 28•15

So this is going around:

Looks like I’m teaming up with a raptor trainer, Ant Man and Super Why. (Thanks to watching TV with a three year old.)  I think I might just live. 

I spent this weekend with Hubby at a business conference.  Because the kids weren’t with us, we slept a lot and we watched Ant Man and Jurassic World

I liked both movies, but to everyone’s surprise, I think I liked Jurassic World more.  I’ll review each, then go into why below.  So: spoilers ahoy! 

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Ant Man

I’m genuinely glad that this movie was good, and that it seems to be doing well.  I think partially because Marvel has been doing so well at the movies, the nay-sayers have been getting really nasty and really just want to see a marvel super hero movie fail.  

I always like to see nay sayers proven wrong. (No one seems to remember this, but a lot of folks called Firefly crap when it was on Fox.  This is why we can’t have nice things.)

Because of all the trouble with production, this one was an easy target to make digs at.  But, judging by things I’ve read about the movie, the change in director added things that I liked. (Haley Atwell’s Appearance as Peggy Carter, and the fact that some of the actors, like Evangeline Lilly were able to have input that expanded their parts.)

I really feel Marvel movies succeed to greater or lesser extent based on what they are trying to accomplish.  Captain America worked for me because it was trying to be a WWII movie. Also, I feel they succeed when the stories are smaller.  Iron man and Iron man III work best because it’s Tony Stark sciences the heck out of things, whereas Iron Man II is getting things set up for Avengers, and also here is Black Widow and Nick Fury again some more and also Tony Stark sciences a little and drinks a lot and eats donuts and there is a plot somewhere if you squint, we think.

(Avengers: Age of Ultron had some of the same problems.  It was trying to set up Thor: Ragnarok and the Infinity War. Plus I felt like Joss was trying to be too clever with us by giving us Clint Barton’s I have a family now, so I must die in the third act red herring family. And also what was up with the out of left field Hulk/Widow plot? And what ever happened to widow’s previous plot about having red in her ledger?  I feel like there was a black widow movie somewhere out there this is all built on, only it got swallowed by a black hole and no one remembers it.  But I digress.)

Ant Man is a heist movie. There have been a couple of really good heist movies in the past few years (Inception being the biggest), but I think the genre hasn’t been overdone.  It’s not stale or tired.  

You would think that the main character’s abilities to shrink and control ants would make the heist more simple, but that’s not the case.  The story has organic challenges and it’s tackled in a fun way. 

But I didn’t love Ant Man as much as I wanted to. (And I wanted to love it as much as I loved Guardians of the Galaxy).  It took me a while to figure out why, but I think I finally got it.  It’s that I predicted the entire third act.  

Being a writer, I have a bad habit of guessing where a story might be headed based on just knowing the craft of writing and how I would write a similar story.  But this is different.  

What happened was that based on one scene in the trailers, I guessed where the climax of the story would be, what the stakes were, who would be involved, and how they would resolve the plot.  Instead of having fun with the story, I kept wondering when X would happen.  

Bottom line is that I liked the movie.  I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. 

Jurassic World

I didn’t expect to like Jurassic World as much as I did.  But I liked this movie more than Ant Man.  

The summer before I started my senior year of High School, I spent a week with family in Tulsa.  One of my cousins and I went to see Jurassic Park.  And then I read the book, just to be completely fangirly.  Jurassic World captured the feel of the original movie better than any of the other sequels. 

For starters, there is an actual park.  The second and third movies don’t even take place on the same island as the first. And what a park!  People who have been to Disney or Universal Studio’s themed islands will feel a sense of familiarity. 

There are plenty of nods to the first park, such as the Mr. DNA mascot who gave us the info dump in the first movie.

The script has had 10 years to go through rewrites and development hell, and the result is something geared to please long-time fans. Several characters seem to be inversions of characters from the first movie.  You have the raptor trainer as opposed to the big game hunter from the first movie who wanted to kill all the raptors because they were too dangerous, the guy in the control room who stays at his post and loves the dinos instead of the guy who shuts everything down and starts all the problems, etc. 

There are messages about family and commercialization, but the plot as always revolves around man’s crippling hubris.  The park needs a new attraction, because visitors are losing interest in common dinosaurs. (An interesting parallel given that Jurassic Park kicked off the CGI boom, and now it takes more and more to impress us). 

Rather than try to make updated dinosaurs that match what science thinks dinos look like now, the park genetically engineers a new hybrid dino that isn’t based on any known species.  It’s DNA is made based on a t-Rex and other things the scientists won’t disclose. Predictably, it breaks out. Bcause dinosaurs in Jurassic Park/World could get into Harvard, while people are stoopid. 

As usual, there are kids menaced by the dinos and the adults go out to save them.  I’ve always liked that in The Jurassic movies the kids save themselves (even if how they do it this time stretches credibility).

And speaking of credibility: I wasn’t actually bothered by the heroine wearing heels through the whole thing, like a lot of folks.  Here’s a tip from a country girl who cleans up nice: you can avoid sinking in mud, and run in heels if you walk on the balls of your feet. It’s not practical, but neither is barefoot 

When the movie was over, I had to scratch my head.  Because essentially we’re left in the situation that was midpoint for most of the other movies.  Dangerous dinos are loose, and a lot of people have nowhere to run from them.  But just because the big threat is eliminated, everyone seems fine.  I’m going to assume that park security an handle things from here and not think about it too hard. 

So in conclusion: stupid people getting eaten. Two thumbs up. 

 

And the trailers:  

  • There seem to be a lot of based on a true story movies coming out. And a lot of them, I’ve heard of before.  I’m a walking true-to-life spoiler. 
  • I’m squeeing over Star Wars
  • Fantastic Four looks like it might be good.  I know a lot of folks are predicting that it will be terrible.  But I’m rooting for it based on that alone. 
  • Matt Damon used science as a verb.  
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Papa Wayne.  I may have to watch Superbat: Starring Everybody And Me just for that. 

 

A nice review

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 27•15

Sherri Dean made me aware that The Wonderful Blog of Oz has been reviewing each short story from I Should Have Stayed in Oz Yard Dog Press’s Wizard of Oz themed anthology. 

The website seems to cover all media related to the OZ books. 

They posted a review to my short story, East of the Sun, West of the Moon on June 7.  

If you ever go to one convention, let it be SoonerCon

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 23•15

The last weekend of June, I was honored to be a guest at SoonerCon.  I say honored, because over the past few years, I’ve seen it grow from an enjoyable literary and gaming convention to a convention that manages to bridge the gap between old fandom and new without making anyone feel left out.  The result is one of the best times I have all year. 

Within minutes of walking through the door, I spotted a check-in booth with good signs.  I hadn’t even opened my mouth when the director of programming, Aislinn Burrows pointed at me and told her minions: “this is Tracy Morris.  Get her guest packet.”  

I’m small fish.  That right there?  Made me feel important.  Caring for other people! Treating them like people! Great job!

(I had a similar experience at Fencon once.  Which is why I love Fencon)

The whole convention is under the wing of longtime con runner Kimber Chessmore.  She knows what she is doing, and is making the effort to train up the next generation.  And it shows. 

I took lots of photos, and had a great time.  I meant to have a detailed con report, but it’s been more than a week, and details are starting to get mentally sketchy.  Needless to say, Soonercon is a keeper. 

I’ll be attending Glichcon first week of August.  This convention is practically right in my backyard, and growing.  Hope to see you there.  

More People Die From Hippos Than Shark Attacks

Written By: Tracy - Jul• 14•15

Now that Little Miss is old enough to play board games, Hubby and I thought about buying some of the classic games we liked when we were kids.

Just one problem. Since we were kids, the games have been updated.

Take Hungry Hungry Hippos, for instance. It used to be a simple game of eating all the milk glass marbles you could with your hippo before the other players could with their hippo. And the board was all one piece.

Now the game comes in pieces, the hippos tear up and the weird plastic marbles get stuck in the neck. (Thanks China)

And the rules seem to be that you want to eat a yellow marble? Or maybe you want to eat the red marbles? IDK

Hubby and I avoided all this by buying a classic Hippo game on EBay.

Little Miss is so excited to play. She’s already staked out the pink hippo for her own. Because like every little girl (who wasn’t me) she likes paaaaank. 

So now that we have the classic game, we just have to find marbles for it.  

And get Little Miss to stop walking around the house saying “we lost our marbles.”

And get hubby to forgive me for teaching her to say “we lost our marbles.” 

eta: 14mm Chinese checkers marbles work just fine in old Hungry Hungry Hippos games.  We’re in business now.