I had a great time in High Point, North Carolina last weekend with my friends and fans (if they’re one and the same, are they “frans” or “fends”?) at StellarCon, a show that’s been going on for more than thirty years(!).
During the StellarCon Artists vs. Authors Pictionary challenge I learned a few new words, like “larping” and “ent” (I thought they’d misspelled “ant”). For folks like me who apparently don’t get out enough, “larping” is “live action role playing.” An “ent” is one of those tree guys from “Lord of the Rings” (I call them “tree guys”).
Thanks to the kind loan of an umbrella, I wandered and found a cool little Mexican eatery about half a mile from the hotel. Walking into Taco Corner (on South Main Street) was like going back in time to a little East Los Angeles combo market/carneceria (butcher)/taco joint. The carne asada alambres I had for dinner was so good that I came back for breakfast the next day. I asked if they made a favorite traditional Mexican breakfast I love, chilaquiles, that wasn’t listed on their menu. My server’s eyes lit up; she disappeared briefly into the kitchen and came out asking me if I’d like my chilaquiles with steak (carne asada) or with eggs. I chose eggs.
OK: Chilaquiles (pronounced CHEE-lah-KEE-lace). This is a popular breakfast in Mexican homes (Mexico has the best breakfast foods in the world) because it involves the use of leftovers. The main ingredient is leftover tortillas from the night before which are cut and fried into crispy tortilla chips, then used to line a casserole dish. More leftovers (like last night’s carne asada cut-into-bits) are added. Chilaquiles typically consists of tortilla chips, eggs, shredded chicken, spicy peppers, onions, queso fresca (Mexican white cheese; the not-quite-as-good-but-easier-to-find Monterey Jack will substitute in a pinch), thick, heavy cream and some green tomatillo salsa. If there is time, it is baked. If not (like in the place I was in), the ingredients are piled on top of the tortilla chips and then heated (at least enough so that the cheese melts, nacho style).
Taco Corner delivered a big, heaping plate of fabulous made-from-scratch chilaquiles. I was in heaven — a great way to start the day!
My rusty Spanish got a workout there; that’s all I spoke (and all that was spoken to me) while inside Taco Corner. The folks there were very patient. It felt good.
If you get a chance, don’t miss StellarCon. Nice people, very organized — and Taco Corner is down the street!
The Other Object of My Affection: I finally got to a theater to see Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick’s beautiful 3-D stop motion fantasy “Coraline.” I wanted to see this film in a movie theater and I wanted to see it in 3-D before it disappeared. I am so happy I did. “Coraline” is a cinematic visual buffet — with the bonus of having a wonderful Gaiman story to boot! In the film’s first minutes I began to glow. I leaned over and whispered to my wife, “I just LOVE stop motion animation!”
Especially when it is as meticulous and as visually dazzling and stunningly inventive as Selick’s work. I delighted in every throwaway detail as I tried to notice and absorb every square inch of the screen. The rewards were constant and the 3-D was incredibly well-used. The tunnel tube to Coraline’s Other Parents positively engulfs you in 3-D. Seeing this film in a theater and in 3-D is worth every penny. Even in this economy, it’s money extremely well spent. See it before it disappears! Don’t wait for DVD!
If this were 1970 I’d go back right away and see it on acid or ‘shrooms; if only to see that fabulous garden again while tripping! The delicate, intriguing and mysterious score by Bruno Coulais and They Might Be Giants perfectly complements the visuals.
Selick’s previous films include “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I liked “Coraline” even better than those two visual gems.
SAN DIEGO AREA FRIENDS, FAMILY & FANS: There’s a big William Stout – Prehistoric Life Murals book signing this Saturday after my lecture (which begins at noon). A free sketch in every murals book purchased!
VALLEY FRIENDS, FAMILY & FANS: I’m doing it all again (except for the lecture) the next day (Sunday) in Burbank at Dark Delicacies. See the Appearances section of my website for details.
I hope to see you at one (or both) of these events!