I know this has not been the most interesting month in terms of my limited blog entries, but the month of November has been FAR too interesting for me. With the holiday this week and a December 1 deadline bearing down for our submission to the Wisconsin Film Fest, I just wanted to make it clear that I haven't abandoned this blog, I haven't stopped responding to emails and I haven't fallen off the face of the planet.
I'm just concentrating every fiber of my being on an amped up work schedule, the final push to polish this project we've been working on for three (or four, I can't even remember any more) years and keeping myself in semi-healthy, functional non-homicidal order.
I've pushed a lot of side projects... well... even further to the side this past month to concentrate on Your Signs. Tim, the project's mastermind, and Aaron, our editor, have let it consume their lives, but it's looking and sounding better than I could ever have imagined it would prior to the editing process. We're all looking forward to having them back in the real world.
So I'm going to disappear from the blogosphere for the next week. There's no hope I as a producer and sound designer can match the effort they've put in at this point, but I'm going to do everything I can to support them in this, their hour of need. You can follow sporadic progress updates from Tim on his Myspace page. The blog posts are clearly a little harried and caffeine fueled, but then again, so is Tim these days.
Also, I'll leave you with an exerpt from the column I wrote when I worked for the paper. Know that it would make my life about eighteen times simpler to skip Thanksgiving with the family this year, but it's time that I value too much. I'll skimp on sleep instead.
Giving Thanks For Great Cooks in the Family
A lot of my peers, both college undergraduates and recent graduates, dread this time of year.
For students, Thanksgiving serves as that lonely island of complacency shining hopefully between the pre-turkey midterm rush and the last push toward finals in December. Many recent graduates, on the other hand, approach the family-oriented holiday apprehensive of the uncomfortable questioning they surely will have to face at the dinner table: "Who do you like in the presidential race?" and "When are you going to get a job?" and "What, exactly, did you major in?"
That's not me, however, and not just because I'm already gainfully employed. I love Thanksgiving, and I love being with my family on Thanksgiving.
Now here's where your typical holiday newspaper column would delve into a hot chocolate-fueled tug-at-your-heartstrings soliloquy about how the holiday season brings out feelings of gratitude, puts life in perspective and helps people appreciate the good things they have. But I'm going to be perfectly frank.
I come for the food, and it just so happens that the family I give thanks with every Thanksgiving is comprised, largely, of kitchen prodigies.
My parents agreed to host my dad's side of the family for Thanksgiving this year, but I will be trekking up north to visit my mom's parents tonight and Sunday. Not only does that make me a good grandson, but it means I'll have sampled the culinary prowess of both sides of the family this Thanksgiving weekend.
Now my aptly-named Grandma Cook is 81 years old, and I told her when I asked to come visit this weekend that I did not want to be a bother and would be insisting on taking her and Grandpa out to eat at some point. But I have a feeling I could show up at their house completely unannounced and she would greet me with a plate of cookies.
I don't know how she does it, but it's like she's magic, and all I can do is bask in her wizardry. Luckily, the Weis side of the family is similarly gifted.
Thanksgiving with the Weises is a process that begins weeks in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday itself. My mom spearheads the whole project, working with all the organizational aptitude of a four-star general to coordinate the movement of vast quantities of mashed potatoes, string beans and gravy to arrive in a precise, timely formation on the dining room table.
Mom prepares a good deal of the oh-so-vital side dishes herself, including loaves of her infamous cranberry bread. The cranberry bread is so deeply and emotionally equated with the holidays in my mind that I check Mom's oven before I check the calendar to see if it's Thanksgiving or Christmas.
My dad and grandpa, on the other hand, lead the charge on Thanksgiving's most crucial front, the preparation of the bird. As a child, I watched them baste turkeys, I watched them grill turkeys, I watched them roast and glaze and fry turkeys, and the results have been stunning each time.
But the remarkable part is that they manage to prepare the turkey so masterfully solely in the intervals between quarters of Thanksgiving Day football. It's a skill I can only hope is inherently genetic.
And then there is Grandma Weis, my very own matron saint of flaky baked goods. This loving woman has, for 22 years, spoiled me and ruined me with her pies, to the point that someday, if I find a woman to marry, it will be with the caveat that I never will be able to say in all honesty her baking is "the best I've ever had."
Grandma Weis rolls out her full arsenal of pies for Thanksgiving Day, but the no-brainer response for which to choose has always been her apple pie. It is, in a word, "aaaawwwwgh."
"Aaaawwwwgh," by the way, is pronounced properly by letting your head loll, rolling your eyes back into your head and drooling copiously.
So yes, I went into Thanksgiving Day after a brief day-long fast with the express intent of gorging myself silly on platefuls of amazing food until I'm flat on my back in the dining room, groaning as the beagle licks food off my face. It's a plan that allows little time for rumination, and it's not until the day after Thanksgiving that I really have a chance to weigh what's important about the holiday.
Still giddy from the tryptophan, I can be honestly grateful for the good things in life. I really am blessed, in that I have a loving, supportive, healthy family I get to spend time with.
And every last one of them can cook up a storm.