Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scabbing for Cookies

I have always believed that if you are one of the truly lucky ones, there will come a time in your life where you discover that which you were meant to do, that which you do so much better than all others. There occasionally comes that sublimely rare moment when a Tiger Woods picks up a golf club, a Michael Jordan picks up a basketball, or a Brian Lamb picks up a Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. So you can imagine my happy excitement when I felt that I too had discovered that which I was meant to do.

As the lag between posts on this blog clearly proves, if there is any task that I feel that I can truly throw my back into, and do as well as almost anyone on this planet, it is the act of not writing. So when I first heard of a so called “writers strike” I honestly thought that my time had come. It suddenly occurred to me that there are few things for which I have so much innate flair for as I do for “not-writing.” And now I was being told that my secret talents could be put to the greater good. My not-writing would become a devastating tactical Strike upon our corporate overlords. I figured I would not-write my ass off, nonstop, day and night, until corporate America could no longer stand the weight of my boot upon its throat.

And there I was this week, quite satisfied with how aggressively I’ve been tea-bagging "The Man" these past few months, when Christi unfortunately broke the bad news to me. What she tells me is that I don’t actually belong to the WGA.

Hmmm. Apparently, as she explains it, there is actually a guild of some sort that writers join. For whatever reason, I imagine perhaps a screw-up with the postal service or a problem with my cell phone, I never actually got an invitation to this clique. Christi also goes on to point out that, in my case, a doubling of my DVD residuals will not actually come out to all that much. So much for “being of use.”

On the bright side, what that means is that I am free to write again and just in time since I’ve decided to try using this space for something I usually abhor, two way communications.

I read somewhere that one of the strategies for growing a blog’s readership is to actively court and respond to reader’s comments. Now, I realize that this might make sense for a less narcissistic writer. However, what originally attracted me to this whole idea of keeping a blog in the first place wasn’t the new media ability to have actual interaction with a readership. Rather it was just the idea of being able to blah, blah, blah about myself in a public forum, for free, and without necessarily having to be interesting.

Why then did I enable the anonymous comments feature on this blog? Well, in all honesty I actually enjoy reading and erasing spam comments. It’s been interesting to watch them evolve in sophistication. Just yesterday I got a spam comment that actually found the phrase “Take me to the river” from an earlier post of mine and cut out a Wikipedia entry on Al Green that had the same phrase, and then posted the entry into my comments section, with their web address at the bottom and a link to "sportsbook" thrown in randomly. I was so impressed I actually left it up for the time being if you want to see the latest in spam-tech.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am exaggerating somewhat. I do enjoy getting nonspam comments as well. I’m just not a big fan of interacting with other people when I can avoid it. Getting comments is kind of like getting phone messages and emails, in that people sometimes expect you to return the interaction. While this is by no means unreasonable, it is annoying nonetheless.

And also, more often than not, what happens when people make a comment is that for some reason it suddenly becomes about them. It’s all: I think that you’re brilliant Mike” and “I can sense the powerful virility of your loins” the stuff that they think and that they feel. By no means did I start this blog so that other people could talk about themselves.

(Now obviously I know that you have interesting things to say and if it was just you, I would have plenty of time to respond to and consider anything you might have to say. But you and I know very well that not everyone has as many well thought out things to say as you do. Once again, as it has so often been the case in your life, other people are ruining it for you.)

Nonetheless, putting my aversion to social interaction aside for a moment, I am actually requesting help in the form of your comments and suggestions if you have any. I am hopeful that one of the more creative amongst the half dozens of people who read this blog might be able to help me come up with ideas for Christmas cookies.

For quite a few years Christi’s family in Dallas has invited Christi and I to share Christmas with them. Traditionally, Traci, Christi’s Uber-Mom sister in law, bakes up Christmas cookies that we all get to decorate. Naturally there are only so many times you can decorate a tiny fir tree or a rotund old guy in a red suit and still have it be interesting. So over the years we have tried to expand the design possibilities at least a tiny bit.

The first year was really primitive. Maybe an occasionally angry snowman or some peapods (Christi loves English peas).

The second year was still sloppy but at least I tried to work more within a theme, counterfeiting holiday money.

Two years ago at the height of bird flu mania I figured the best thing I could get for Christi’s nephews and niece would be some fine Tamiflu antiviral cookies.

And then last year I decided to honor various members of the Bush administration who are no longer with us. (Due to my almost photo realistic craftsmanship, who the cookies represent should be obvious. Nonetheless, I’ll label them at the end of this post just in case you have trouble figuring out who is who.)

And then this year I figured I’d try something different. I decided I would open up the floor to see if anyone out there had any thoughts. So, if you’ve always had a remarkable concept for a holiday cookie that you desperately want someone else to steal and pass off as their own, now’s your chance.

Of course, there are a number of things that I’m looking for in a design. Naturally we’re looking for topical originality. But I also need simplicity in execution. If you have a brilliant idea but it would involve me having to recreate Picasso’s Guernica, in icing, on a dozen cookies, that is probably going to be more annoying than it’s worth.

While it doesn’t have to be directly holiday related, at the very least it has to be age appropriate. If appreciation of your idea is going to involve me having to try and explain to a nine year old what exactly balloon fetishes are, or Picasso’s Guernica for that matter, I’m going to have to pass.

And finally, you will get bonus points if you can work within the confines of standard cookie cutter shapes, triangular trees, stars, reindeer and whatnot. This is not a prerequisite, but if it saves me the trouble of carving custom shapes in the dough and therefore plays to my laziness it will be appreciated.

So far, I think the Tamiflu cookies were the best received. It was a simple design that didn’t take much explaining and seemed like fun to eat. (I understand that the color of the capsule is wrong but I had supply problems. I think Camille hogged up all the yellow to make stars or something like that. Through the pain of experience I’ve learned that sometimes fighting an 8 year old over frosting is more trouble than it’s worth.)

The Bush cabinet cookies were not shunned, but they weren't gobbled up with the same enthusiasm as the Tamiflu cookies. As it turned out no one seemed quite as excited to eat an almond iced John Bolton cookie as I had hoped, except for Bella of course, their angelic if somewhat slobbery 900 pound Mastiff, who jumped up on the table and ate the entire administration when no one was looking.

And now, this year, I'm putting it in your hands. So if anyone has any topical and easily reproduced design ideas, I would love to hear them. Of course, if your design is chosen you will not be mailed any finished cookies, and in fact you won’t really get much of anything out of it except the satisfaction that I feel when my life is made easier. However, if the dog doesn’t get to them first I’ll post a picture up here and the kids will of course thank you. And by thanking you I actually mean me, since they don’t really know you very well.

(In case you needed help with the Bush cabinet cookies, moving counter clockwise from the upper right hand corner you quite obviously have cookies to commemorate ex-US Representative to the U.N. John Bolton, ex-White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, ex-Secretary of Defense Donald “Rummy” Rumsfield, ex-director of FEMA Michael “Brownie” Brown, and of course ex –Secretary of State Colin "The Colon" Powell.)


Carrie said...

What, no Thanksgiving post? What are we -- chopped liver? Maybe you could have an "appetizing" theme for your cookies -- lox, whitefish, sable...delish!

Can't wait to see you guys, cf

Matt said...


I've always enjoyed making cookies in the shape of states with my family. If you google around online, you can get the cookie cutters, but it's just as fun to try and carve them yourself and have people guess if it's Idaho or Kentucky.


Mike May said...

States would be a lot of fun but I don't know if I could stand the embarrassment of someone looking at my cookie and not realizing that it was supposed to be in the shape of West Carolina (I'm not so good with the geography).

Anonymous said...

Why are there no pictures of Terrance or Barry? Or cookies of Terrance or Barry? Or cookies of Buddha?

rob g. said...

three thoughts:

1. clocks set to different times

2. sushi plate. white cookies with pink frosting.

3. pianos