Painting With Shotguns XXXIII

Today’s Painting With Shotguns features lots of little updates. They are the equivalent of birdshot arriving not en masse, but separately — little BB’s punching holes in your brain-slab. Sidenote about birdshot? Whenever I think of birdshot, I think of eating pheasant or geese. Always with the “careful chewing, lest you crunch down hard on a little steel ball, thus shattering one of your molars.”


Here it is.

The steel spray of itty-bitty updates.

My Moms, Yo

Too Cool For School Thanks everybody for the kind wishes regarding my mother. She went to the hospital on Sunday, which was of course holy shit terrifying, and she’s got a whole host of little problems that are making her life hell, but none of them come with a ticking clock, and the one good thing is that they did the array of tests (X-Ray, ct-scan, ultrasound) and found nothing concerning. My motto going in was, “It’s always cancer,” because in the past, it’s always been cancer. Dad thinks he has a hernia? Cancer. Aunt thinks she has hip or leg problems? Cancer. Other aunt? Grandmother? Friends? Cancer, all around, a tall frosty glass of tumor juice. So, this was not cancer, and for that, we are all relieved.

Aphids Can Choke On Tiny Penises And Die

Fat Little Assholes Aphids are little dirty plant-fuckers.

Seriously. One day, plants look good. Next day, leaves are curling inward, and the aphids are everywhere.

Oh, and how do they get everywhere?

Ants. Little dirty aphid-farming ants. The ants bring the eggs and the baby aphids to the best parts of the plant. They’re like taxi-cabs. They bring the aphids to the juicy stems, the aphids drink, and then the ants milk the aphids. It’s a lovely piece of ecology, I just want it happening on someone else’s plant.

I have green aphids in the rear, and black aphids up front.

That is not a sexual reference.

I asked the Human Google (aka Twitter), and got back some good answers, but also some conflicting answers. I’m thinking of just going and seeing if I can’t buy a fistful of ladybugs or lacewings somewhere around here locally, as I hear having ones sent to you is not the best way to get the bugs (they don’t always arrive hungry). I’ve tried the “soap + water” thing and that never works. Can’t blast the aphids off with a hose. (Also: not a sexual reference.) I haven’t tried insecticidal soap. Last year, I did a highly toxic genocidal chemical in a bottle that attaches to the hose — that worked, that worked well. It also killed like, every other bug in a five mile radius, and also demands that I wash my clothes after because it’s the same thing Saddam used to kill the Kuwaitis, I think.

So, my preference is not to go using some highly volatile bioweapon.

Am now taking final solicitations for advice.

The Alton Brown Not-A-Diet

Kona Kampachi at Sansei I’ve slowly been working my way toward the very loosely defined “Alton Brown Eating Plan” (not a diet). That plan, found here, comes from his episode “Live And Let Diet,” and is responsible for his 50 lb. weight loss.

Mostly, it’s a pretty good plan, and I think very doable. Best thing about it is that it still leaves room for me to eat most of the things I want to eat, while keeping out the things I already don’t want to eat (soda, processed foods, diet anything).

A few tricky bits, though, far as I can see.

Daily leafy greens, not that tricky, since the world is home to a mighty host of leafy greens.

Broccoli and sweet potatoes three times a week? A little specific. I’d like to think that “broccoli or asparagus or cabbage/brussel sprouts/cauliflower” would be good. And sweet potatoes — yeah, they’re yummy and all, but I don’t want to eat them three times a week. This is where his “eating plan” starts to close in on a “fad diet.” So. Foodheads. What represent good “broccoli” replacements since, while I love the stuff, I don’t want to eat it three times a week? Farmer’s market demands I buy what’s fresh, and soon, I will go back to buying only from farmer’s markets.

Then comes the conundrum of “oily fish.”

I tried his one recipe for sardines on toast, and it was… good? But the sardines are still pretty goddamn fishy. Not “briny,” but “fishy.” Maybe I’m eating the wrong sardines? I also have a tin of anchovies I have yet to crack. What else constitutes oily fish? Tuna looks good if it’s fresh. Salmon, too, I can do, because I love both tuna and salmon — salmon raw or smoked rather than cooked. I tried mackerel sushi once and about threw up all over myself — not a pleasant eating experience, though that may have just been the sushi joint. I do like eel sushi, though, but apparently it’s rarely fresh? I dunno. Help a brother out.

Give me some oily fish advice. Anything you got.

The Wire The Wire The Wire Eeeee! The Wire!

We are now watching the third season of The Wire.

Holy hell. Shit just got real.

This season’s been incredible. The first two seasons? A little slow to start. Actually, the second season is slower than the first — kind of crawls into the light very slowly in this strange deviation from the streets (it moves to the docks) with a whole new host of characters. It’s a necessary deviation for the entire story, and once it gets moving, it’s goddamn incredible.

But, you gotta believe:

Third season doesn’t dick around. It jumps like a rat with a thumbtack in its ass.

Almost done the season now, but I should ask: anybody want me to go back to Weekly Wire “school’s in session” posts? The last one didn’t seem to do so well, and further, some seemed to want to use it as a referendum on quality rather than an examination of quality (thou shalt not slag The Wire or thou shalt get my boot to your trachea!), so I kind of stopped doing it — but, if there’s a round call to bring it back, I’ll do so. And we can all take a look at the things that work or don’t work in given scenes.

Men At Work

Drawing in Circles Work progresses. Actually, work does more than progress this week — work is kicking my ass up and down the block.

That’s good, though.

Got a heavy development gig with fast turnaround.

Got some light word count for a new, unannounced RPG.

I’m rounding the bend on this Alpha Omega assignment, about which I’m excited. (Though, because it’s a new system — and a complex one, at that — the word count at times was like pulling teeth from an angry dog.)

The HiM script continues to get tiny nibble-changes (bite bite bite), a tweak here, a twist there, but it all adds up to the same: the script has jumped up to the next level and the whole process is now bolting like a horse out of the barn. We’ve also gotten comments back from some of our advisors, including this most excellent gentleman right here, and the comments have been great. Very exciting stuff, and I look forward to updating you with more robust news when the time is proper.

Oh, and speaking of script stuff — I get a lot of people coming here by searching for Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab, and I see now that the deadline is up-and-coming for the summer session. First, we are not taking our project to the Director’s Lab, much as we’d like to, because we don’t qualify. Second, if you’re looking for good advice, hey, I don’t have any. Write a good script, I guess? Doesn’t need to be perfect, but its potential should be very clear. We turned in a script I never thought would make it to the lab, but it did, so — anything goes. Just put your heart in it, but even more, put your craft in it. Also: bribes. Suitcase full of money. You can send those right to me. I’ll handle the transaction.

Okay, no, fine, don’t send me money. I don’t have squat to do with it. Dang.

Greasy Sausage Links For Your Mind Tongue

I am reading Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero. It’s a popping good time. I don’t know Maberry, but he’s local, and he can write a damn fun horror-adventure.

Speaking of awesome writers: Jeff Vandermeer actually stopped by this loverly site yesterday, which is awesome. I am in awe of the man’s talent, and must contain my most fannish urges when someone of his caliber pops his head in. If you love me, and you love great writing, go buy Finch.

Speak-a-awesome-writers — if you head on to Robert McCammon’s site you’ll find a book trailer for Mister Slaughter, and the most-excellent news that Wolf’s Hour is getting a new edition with a fresh Michael Gallatin novella. My giddy excitement will not be contained.

The annual “wife + alcohol + Flickr = a birthday miracle!” pictures are coming in. I dunno why it is, but most of the images of my wife on Flickr are of her with alcohol. She’s not actually an alcoholic or anything. You can find many “drunken wife” shots in this Flickr set.

Lots of hot fresh novel excerpts coming from Team Decker, by the way. Steve Weddle. Dan O’Shea. John Hornor. [Edit: Can’t find his chapter anymore. Instead, I placate you with THIS MAP. Mmm. Mappy apocalyptic goodness.] Chris Holm. I’d post a chapter from mine, but I’m not sure I’m supposed to. Do you even want that from me? You probably don’t. I don’t blame you.

Oh, speaking of DMLA: Seth Harwood’s got a new project, and you should check it out. Young Junius, baby. Go, look, love.

JA Konrath: Newbie’s Guide To Publishing. Do it.

And that is all, my little squirrels.


  • Wait… ants harvest aphids? I thought farming was one of the things that set us apart from the beasts! If even ants can do it then where do we fit in the universe?

    This is quite unsettling.

  • How have we not talked about me being a Master Gardener? I like went to school for that shit. Aphids: Satan’s chancre. As soon as you have new growth, they show up, and they’re born pregnant. One of the easiest ways to get them is to use insecticidal soap – it won’t hurt your animals, is non-toxic, etc. You have to use it first thing in the morning, so you don’t spray the bees/ladybugs (it won’t kill them, just makes them fuck off to other places.)

    You can buy it, or you can save a bundle and make your own with old school soap made with animal fats. (Like Fels-Naptha soap, shave a chip off, stick it in a spray bottle and fill with warm water. Shake to dissolve, boom, you just saved 5 bones.)

    Spray the plant to the point where the liquid is dripping off the leaves, make sure to get the undersides, too, aphids like to bug out there. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

    If you have them on your tomatoes, you can go seriously low-tech and lay aluminum foil on the ground under the plants, shiny side up, and that pisses them off and in the Texas sun, kills them, muah ah ah.

    If you release ladybugs… know that only 1 – 5% will stick around. And ONLY release them at night, or they’ll all fly off. They’ve been snoozing in hibernation, you wake them up, and half of them are trying to figure out what combination of Jello Shot they had last night to cause them to end up in a box with a bunch of other bugs in Pennysyltucky.

    Also, VERY HAPPY to hear your mom is cancer free and feeling better. That’s some scary stuff, man, glad to hear she’s doing much better.

  • Thanks for the mention. And I think people would welcome your fiction. I’ve enjoyed getting quick looks at other writers’ WiPs. Usually makes me want to buy the book. Blurbs are great. Recommendations are great. Professionally designed cover art is great. But seeing the chapters, I mean getting in there and reading the first couple of chapters, that’s what makes me pull the wad of singles from the junk drawer and head to my local independently owned and environmentally friendly bookstore.

    • @Steve:

      It’s definitely good stuff on your end. On everybody’s end, actually. I might chat with Stacia, see if there’s any value right now in popping a chapter or two up for gits and shiggles.

      — c.

  • I’m mistress of your face! I failed to mention that you should use the spray every 3 days for the first week of new growth, then just use as needed, maybe once a week. If you really douche those fuckers with the soap, though, you probably won’t need to worry about things after the first week.

    (And don’t you know that those old ladies with their fancy roses in the MG program loved me and my mouth? Lol.) I fit in like Mexican immigrant in Arizona.

  • Aphid advice – rip out the rear and burn down the front. Then replace with garden gnomes. Aphids and gnomes do not get along. Or so I hear.

    Sweet potatoes = carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, artichokes, celery root and rutabaga.

    Mackerel sushi will make you throw up no matter where you get it. It’s not the restaurant, it’s the fish.

    • @Becky:

      Will now avoid all mackerel sushi in the future. 🙂

      Sweet potatoes — closest there nutritionally is carrots, which then is odd that AB includes both carrots and sweet potatoes. Huh.

      Aphids — excellent. I will now raze and destroy all green life around our homes and replace with artificial fairy beings. LET THE WAR BEGIN.

      — c.

  • Alton Brown is awesome, I’m a big fan.

    For the broccoli thing, I pretty much just substitute anything else in the cabbage family, especially red cabbage. Broccoli sprouts and shredded broccoli go well in wraps/sandwiches.

    The fish thing is tough for me, because Liz hates the smell of fish. I’ve been taking fish oil supplements (at night, after way too many mornings of burping sardine) which helps relieve the pressure — and they were recommended for my cholesterol anyway. So, salmon’s oily, mackerel’s oily, sardines are oily. Tuna’s oily, I guess, but only some parts? I dunno. I’m a fan of sardines and kippers, but I can’t stand the bones — I buy the tins of filleted sardines, then usually have them over rice with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sriracha, a little sesame oil, and maybe some nuked frozen peas. The cats love me when I make this.
    Trout’s also an oily fish, which is good because pan-fried trout is damn tasty. Just a dusting of flour and cornmeal and a squeeze of lemon, really. (I like it with green beans and slivered almonds)

    I do have processed food from time to time, contrary to the good Mr. Brown’s suggestions: I found a company called Tasty Bite that prepackages Indian food in pouches like astronauts use. For what it is, it’s damned good, and it’s not loaded down with crap. I get those for lunches at the office.

    Of everything, though, I’ve gotten by far the most gain (loss?) out of two basic things: No sweet drinks at all (no sugar in my coffee, no soda, no Vitamin Water, no diet anything), which over the last year has radically recalibrated my sense of what’s sweet. And smaller portions, which usually involves deliberately not finishing a meal. (That’s hard. I spent my whole childhood being told to “clean my plate”. Parental instruction on cleaning house, saving money, working hard, religion? None of that stuck. Eating like a vacuum cleaner? That stuck. WTF) That plus a bit more exercise has helped me lose 30 lbs over the last year. Oh, and my tapeworm. I call him ‘Tapey’.

    • @John:

      I’m largely in the same boat with a lot of this.

      I haven’t lost 30 lbs, though. Dang. I do feel a helluva lot healthier. And once I go back to “Farmer’s Market Eating” (aka FRESH TABLE EXPERIMENT), I’m confident I’ll start to drop some pounds again.

      I take fish oil pills — but, I hear that the chemicals in those might be troublesome.

      Sardines, I never had problems with the bones. Am I buying the wrong sardines? These I just mashed up on toast.

      Processed food — I avoid it generally, but I always look at the ingredients list. If I recognize the ingredients as being “food,” I’m okay to buy.

      Good tip on trout. Thanks!

      — c.

  • I cannot help you with aphids.

    Oily fish: Remember anchovy is a key ingredient of the caesar salad, my friend. The problem with oily fish, though, is the mercury, which I guess as a dude you don’t need to worry as much about? You might find this helpful:

    Especially cross-refenced with something like this:

    For broccoli, substitute any cruciferous vegetable and you’re good. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc. I highly recommend broccolini if you can find it. That’s some delicious vegetable matter, yo.

    Sweet potatoes are related to carrots, but also beets, winter squash and pumpkin. Unfortunately this doesn’t help much when you’re eating seasonally, and I think summer squash has a completely different nutritional profile. Boo.

    In general, if you eat a wide variety of colors of vegetable every day, you should be totally fine. Don’t sweat X servings of this and Y servings of that per week.

    Man, I can’t wait until my CSA starts.

  • Thanks for the plug. BTW, I cleared the online novel idea with The Mistress of Crime Fiction prior to starting, and she was cool with it. So if you wanna join the show and tell party . . .

  • My diet tips:
    Drink water. Drink craploads of water. As a note, getting water instead of soda when eating out generally knocks two bucks off your bill.
    Eat salad. You don’t like vegetables? I don’t care. Suck it up and eat the salad. Just be very careful about the salad dressing. And, you can eat what you want for dinner, so long as it has a salad with it. Just getting the salad will not only be good for you, it will start to change what your body thinks is tasty.
    Don’t eat after 8pm. It’s freaky the difference this makes. I don’t stick to it as often as I should.
    Eat smaller portions more often. I have the same unfortunate hoover mentality towards eating that @John mentioned. If I deliberately avoid getting meals, and just have snacks instead, I find that I’m often just as satisfied. You should still have one solid meal a day, but while you are losing weight you can replace the other two with something like 5 snack-size portions.

    And the big one? Fiber. Live it, love it. Yeah, I thought it was for old people, too. Maybe it is, and I’m just old people now, I don’t know. I got suckered into one of those “body cleansing” vitamin packs a while back. I’m pretty sure the pills didn’t do crap for me. But holy god what a difference the fiber made. I felt like my whole colon was cleaned out and tidied up by Merry Maids. And I was stunned at how much of my general crappy feeling and low energy had to do with the fact that my gut was basically unhappy.

    Now I take Citrucel daily. And I’m a huge fan of the Fiber One stuff. I discovered that I actually really like bran muffins. (Kind of weird, as I hated them when I was younger.) I also eat multigrain stuff whenever the option is there. My whole body just feels better.

    Doing all this stuff has helped me drop 40 lbs in a little over a year. And that’s with being really super slack-assed about exercise.

    Oh, and I have a theory about fad diets. They all work on the same basic principle: Think about what you are putting in your mouth. Whether it’s low-carb, low-fat, counting points, or avoiding processed food doesn’t really matter. Just making you stop and consider what is in that tasty treat before you pop it in your pie hole is often enough to make you put it back down. When you can get the ego to get on top of the id, that is often enough to fix your bad habits all by itself.

    • @Josh:

      Re, THE WIRE, find season one, disc one, and start watching. Don’t stop until you reach the end of Season Five, I’m guessing. (As noted, we’re only on S3.)

      — c.

  • If nothing else works on the aphids, maybe you can borrow the Culinary Warfare intelligence from India. No aphid stands a chance against a weaponized ghost chili pepper!!!

    I’d insert an amazing photo here to illustrate my point, but sadly I don’t have one. (Damn you and your busy schedule which doesn’t allow you the time to pander to my ridiculous requests!)

    P.S. I’m so glad to hear your mother is recovering. 🙂

  • I asked my dad about your aphid issue. He’ll get back to me with some crazy hippy voodoo soon that should help. (He grew organic before it was cool. Like… in the seventies.)

    I was puzzled about the yams/sweet potatoes for a while. I was trying to think what about it mattered, when I was reminded of the Brewer’s Diet they rec. for pregnant women. It specifically talks about orange and yellow fleshed veggies because they have a high level of vitimn A. I can’t read Alton’s mind, but I wonder if that’s the real reason for the yams. (Actually, there’s some interesting correlation between Alton’s plan and the Brewer Diet. …Connection, I think so.)

  • So, I lost 70 lbs in 2008 and the main thing I’ve learned is that eating for health and eating for weight loss can be two completely different things.

    During my weight loss year I was very strict about how many calories I ate (1500-1600). Honestly, weight loss is about calories in vs. calories out. Period. So, yeah, I drank diet sodas and ate lots of sugar-free crap. I lost weight.

    Now, I eat MUCH healthier. But, I’ve stopped losing weight. Granted, I’ve maintained my weight loss for 2 years, but many healthy superfoods are really calorie dense. So even with my much healthier diet the pounds will not drop unless I watch those calories again.

    Easy example:
    Diet Soda = 0 calories (Not healthy, but won’t make you fat)
    Nuts = lots of calories (Healthy, but too many will make you fat)


    Really, I could go on and on about this topic, but… ya know… Find what works for you, dude.

  • I know we discussed vinegar and liquors last night re: sardines, but this is a kind of extension in a new direction.

    Throw together a vinaigrette the night before you want to do this. Be creative, use some vinegar you’d like to taste directly. Balsamic might be a little abrasive. I’d go sesame, but I’m a dork for sesame. Drain your sardines completely. Toss your vinaigrette in there, right in the can. Let it sit overnight. I would probably put the can in a plastic bag or something.

    Make a salad. Do your dirty work. I advise using egg and cheese to top it, particularly if you’re thinking healthy. Add your sardines. Put the dressing on top. Vio-fucking-la.

    Again, we come to a situation where the acid helps with the fishy taste. Not only that, but the oil will pull a lot of those fishy flavors out, diffusing them a little. Since you’re using a different oil than they’re packaged in, it’ll get all osmosis on your ass. While the fishy taste exists, it’s diluted and spread over the salad lightly.

    • Damn, you all say good things.

      @David — yum. I didn’t know you could get sesame vinegar. Hurrrm.

      @Michelle — well, for me this is less about losing weight and more about eating better, but for me, eating better has led to losing weight. Plus, there’s that whole theory that diet soda (or diet anything) can increase your cravings.

      @Filamena: Diggit on the sweet potatoes. I just figured — he’s got Vitamin A covered with the “daily carrot intake.”

      @Gina: I am now convinced that you are obsessed with the weaponized ghost chili, and you will be forcibly medicated by terribleminds staff and sent to a “mind-clearing” center in Nevada. You will not be released until you tithe the terribleminds church all your worldly goods. Please to enjoy!

      — c.

  • Commenting with Shotguns!

    First, glad your mom is cancer-free. Cancer’s rude mister. Glad she’s not having it.

    I liked the Wire posts. Though, I still believe that you increased Wire watching and broke Netflix for yourself. Had any lag or losses since the last post? Bet not. Case rested.

    If the ants are farmers why not kill the ants and spread chalk dust (any hardware store has refills for chalk lines) around the plants to ward off new ones?

    That fine gentleman agent also has a movie in pre-production called “Water for Elephants” I remembered Sara Gruen (writer) from my Nanowrimo days. It was a ‘Wrimo book.

    I will not eat sweet potatoes, though I love Alton. To bring this comment full circle, you could just get cancer, as that looks more like what happened to AB, though I loathe to wish that on either of you.


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