Saturday, September 30, 2006

The smell of leather, exhaust and smoked meats

There are an estimated 300,000 bikers in town this weekend for the annual Bikes, Blues and BBQ festival. People like to start complaining about it weeks in advance. Sure, a lot of the bikers are ridiculous, middle-aged white people with too little hair and too much gut, covered in leather and preening over themselves (not a generalization. I've been an amateur biker ethnographer for years), and those bikes with the straight pipes go all fucking night long and the dogs in my neighborhood howl miserably and it takes a million years to get from one side of town to the other. But I think this weekend is just awesome.

The circus comes to town.


I mean, where else will you see Mullets for Jesus...
and poodles in Harley Davidson gear in the same place?
Oh, and if you had a birthday in the past week, I'll make pesto for you with the last of my basil. Put in your order now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For Lori

No...REALLY?

Too much testosterone kills brain cells
I couldn't resist.

Since Angie wasn't available tonight, this is who we watched Project Runway with:

His name is Gunther. He's a couch hog.

It was an all-around "eh" night. No big surprises on the runway. I didn't have time to cook so it was Amy's spinach pizza for dinner.

Please!



I made this last year. I think I gave it to Sunshine for her birthday.

1993

1993 was the year I was supposed to have graduated high school. In March I moved into my own apartment, a decision my mother and I mutually and eagerly agreed to. I had shared cramped quarters with at least four other people my whole life. My bedroom alone seemed cavernous. Worried about making the $250 monthly rent on my part-time prep cook salary, I took on a roommate. She was six years older and had been severely mentally, emotionally and sexually abused as a child. She compulsively exercised and cleaned (the sink was expected to be wiped down with a towel after each use), routinely seduced boys under the age of 18 and was prone to 4am crying jags. She purposely hid my Sade tapes, but she did get me listening to The Specials. My heart went out to her but I was 18 and had my own shit I hadn't even begun to work on.

I can’t really say why I stopped going to school. It happened gradually, class by class until I tried to only go to my AP Lit class. I was reading more than I could remember. I started to care more about staying in bed and reading than going to school. I stopped answering my door when my ride would come in the morning. I rode my bike everywhere. I had a lanky, balding Humbert Humbert for a next-door neighbor. He wanted to paint my toenails. I wanted him (and everyone else) to just leave me the fuck alone. My lit teacher jogged by one afternoon, a month or so since it had become clear I'd given up, and saw me sitting barefoot outside Restaurant On The Corner. He said “So that’s it?” and all I could say was “Yeah. I guess so.” He didn’t ask for his copies of Wise Blood and One Hundred Years of Solitude back. I still have them.

It was the summer of Radiohead’s “Creep” and Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes.” I stayed out all hours. I made out with my friends. I slept with a friend’s younger brother. I got drunk and hitchhiked with sketchy characters. By the end of summer I was nearly out of my head. I figured if I wasn’t going to college like all my friends, I would at least have an adventure.

I went on a road trip out West as the third wheel. Please, please, if you learn ANYTHING from reading this stupid blog, please promise me you will never ever go on a road trip with a passive aggressive couple. It will suck all the excitement and fun from the whole experience. In ways, though, ours was the perfectly clichéd road trip....breathtaking vistas, camping in the rain and snow, car trouble, screaming fights on the side of the road.

I got back to Arkansas the week that it snowed before Halloween. At a party I met my daughter’s father and was pregnant by New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thoughts on: The L Word

I've slowly been watching the first season of The L Word and it's pretty fun in that "these people do not exist in reality, at least not all together as friends" type of way. But I don't know, I'm not an upwardly-mobile, sexy, white, femme lesbian in Los Angeles so maybe I'm totally wrong. I've always thought Jennifer Beals is an underrated actress. I don't understand a system where someone like Demi Moore becomes so big and Jennifer Beals stays under the radar. Her eyes alone can convey at least four different emotions at once. Oooh, looks like someone has a little crush.....too bad her character seems stuck on being the "bad husband." Pam Grier is really good too. She plays Beals's sister and so far seems to be underused. That could change, of course...it IS only the first season. The storylines are just soap-y enough to make me want to keep watching.

My favorite character to hate is Jenny. GOD! How many women like her have I met in my life? Those pale, artsy girls who bat their big eyes, tremble their lips and manipulate whomever they feel like, based purely on whim and "gaining experience." I have always wondered why people are dumb enough to fall for that shit. Well the jig is up. Look out, you waifish mind-fuckers - I'm on to you!

This one is especially ripoff-y, oh well

Monday, September 25, 2006

100% Pure Adrenaline!

One of the funniest scenes in Sleep With Me is Quintin Tarantino’s cameo as a party guest obsessed with the gay undertones in Top Gun. And while Top Gun is a very gay movie, I think maybe, just maybe, Point Break is gayer. Lori, will you back me up on this? I had the (dis)pleasure of watching it again yesterday afternoon waiting for my clothes to dry. We watched it mostly because we couldn't stand the claustrophobia induced from the buried alive scene in Kill Bill.

Point Break celebrates roguish, bonding hypermasculinity with Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi as the tanned and highlighted zen ringleader looking to initiate Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves). Surfing (gayness) is much more than an ACT - it’s a LIFESTYLE, man. Even Johnny Utah’s love interest is the androgynous Tyler (Lori Petty). And when the “straight” life is represented by Gary Busey it's no wonder Keanu follows his heart (it's not a CHOICE, okay, people?). Most unintentionally hilarious scene in a film made entirely of unintentionally hilarious scenes? It's the first skydiving scene. Bodhi doesn’t just jump from the plane, he executes the perfect pike dive. He takes the time to do some ballet in the air....it would be beautiful if it weren’t so fucking funny


Hmmm...Notice any similarities here?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weekend at Home

Reading:
Kitchen Sink - I got the print edition. I like it. I would like to submit.
The Other Boleyn Girl - Angie loaned it to me. Soapy retelling of the Henry VIII saga. Lots of historical details, very much in the "heaving bosom" genre, whether it knows it or not.
The NW Arkansas crime reports - Sept. 20 9 p. m. A student in Pomfret Hall reported an acquaintance sprayed Febreze while she was using her laptop until it damaged the computer screen.

Listening to:
Boozoo Bajou - Juke Joint II..this one is interesting. Some very good remixes, some not so good.
Dr. Dog - Takers and Leavers....Kate let me copy this. God, I love those harmonies.
The Zombies - "Tell Her No"

Watching:
Intimacy - emotionless, desperate, anonymous sex between two damaged people in drab London. It's the feelgood movie of 2001!
My Life Without Me - Dear god...seriously, now. Why am I doing this to myself? Sarah Polley is a great actress but this is a Lifetime movie all dressed down in maudlin "indie"-ness. Awful, awful, awful. Not even Mark Ruffalo could save it.
Weeds - The bloom is off the rose. This show has been stinking the past few weeks. Where are the moments like the one last season where she was watching the video of her husband? Now it's so farcical it's beyond relateability.

Making:
Blueberry lemon corn muffins.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"send me dead flowers every morning"

First day of Autumn breakfast.
Frozen flaxseed waffle (hearty, chewy, tasty), clover honey, Fuji apples & English Breakfast tea. Drizzly, gray. A good day to sit, unbathed, covered in cat hair, and listen to Nick Cave.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Afternoon

If you so much as mouth the words "text wrap" to me, I will stab you.

Today in Misogyny

All from today's front page of CNN.com

Mother of 3 dragged to death, perpetrator most likely her partner


Lou Diamond Phillips charged with domestic battery

Photo slideshow of the wives and girlfriends of Ryder Cup participants (are we REALLY still doing this "woman behind the man" bullshit?)

I'm reminded of that oft-quoted Native American parable in which the grandfather tells the young boy that there are two wolves constantly at battle within him, one of pettiness, greed, anger and jealousy and the other of peace, benevolence, love and kindness. The boy asks which wolf will win and the grandfather says "The one you feed." The big fucking problem I have with the media is the wolf it chooses to feed.

Goldilocks Reviews Cooking Magazines

I’ve had a subscription to Bon Appetít, off and on, for about ten years now. I really think it’s the best food/recipe magazine out there.

Gourmet
is just a tad too snooty and complicated; it's for people who not only are gastronomes (nothing wrong with that) but WANT YOU TO KNOW IT TOO. Sure, I would find these incredible recipes, but they might take me three days to make and require all sorts of gadgets and techniques. I'm intimidated and sometimes just plain grossed out by the recipes (foie gras stuffed dates, anyone?). It’s an unrealistic magazine for someone like me - way more fantasy than reality.

I have a big soft spot for Cook’s Illustrated. It feels homey and instructional, like a great-aunt who lectures you on the proper way to do every single thing but has such vast knowledge that you can’t help but respect her. Cook’s Illustrated recipes are usually quintessential, which is great if you ever want to make The Perfect Pork Loin or something, but there’s not much variation and rarely do they feature the kind of ethnic fusion food I lean towards. Another thing I need in a cooking magazine is eye candy, well-photographed food and settings. The educational sketches in Cook’s Illustrated just don’t do it for me. It’s an extremely pragmatic publication and I like a little fantasy.

When I flip through Bon Appetít, on the other hand, I find myself wanting to make everything, go to every recommended restaurant, travel to every featured locale. I get inspired. So until I find something better, it’s just right.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Apologies

Sorry, all four of you who read this regularly, that I didn't write anything today. Mama said there'd be days like this.

In lieu of any writing, I'll just leave you with this picture of William Petersen who, I'm told, stars on CSI, a show I've never seen because I don't like gruesome stuff. I can't stop staring at him. His eyes are hypnotizing me and not in a good way. Does he look really odd to anyone else? Molded of plastic? Like he should be on Days of Our Lives instead?

Ephemera

Taken five minutes ago.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dinner plans

Whatever will I do when this Project Runway season is over? I so look forward to Wednesday nights with Angela (and not just because the wine is always perfect). Maybe we'll have to switch it to Tuesdays with Nip/Tuck? Can't really watch that with an 11 year-old though.

Tonight we're making greek-style lamb and eggplant lasagne. I can't wait to see which wine she chooses for it.

I predict tonight to be Uli's last night, unfortunately....The Neck drives me crazy but he's got innovative ideas. She just can't seem to do anything but those same damn flowy, hippy dresses.

Guest Blogger

Since I will never say it any better, I'll just turn it over to Dorothy Parker:

Frustration
If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;
Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.
But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell.

Unfortunate Coincidence
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.


Theory
Into love, and out again,
Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen ---
Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
All the words were ever said;
Could it be, when I was young,
Some one dropped me on my head?

Symptom Recital
I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the simplest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick. I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore:
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men.
I'm due to fall in love again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lesser of Two Evils

I really feel for the people of Virginia this election year. In the senatorial race you've got the Democrat, Jim Webb, misogynist, vs. Republican incumbent George Allen, racist (and if he's racist you can bet your ass he's sexist as well). Here is a video clip of their appalling appearance on Meet the Press. It's from Salon so you may have to watch a short ad first...but I promise, the resulting fury will make it worthwhile. Yay for democracy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Was a Teenage Poseur

My old Honda gave its final death rattle last week. Luckily I can drive my dad’s nearly-as-old Acura, the owner of this morning’s Flashdance sunroof. It is so much more fun to drive a 6-cylinder....the power! The pick-up! It’s like going from dial-up to broadband. You can’t imagine ever going back. And why would you want to?

In addition to myriad other quirks that come with driving a 17 yr old car, there is the tease of having a CD player that doesn’t work but a tape player that does. Until I can get the tape-mp3 converter doo-dad, I’ve been listening to my old cassettes. It’s notable that I even have my old tapes, considering how much shit I’ve thrown away over the years. I only had cassettes until sometime in the early 90s, so these tapes are from a very specific time frame.....the 80s, mostly. Talk about an express train to memory lane.

My favorite tape to play in the car right now is the Dogs in Space soundtrack. I first saw this movie when I was in high school and lived briefly in Vermont. I thought the movie rental selection in Bennington was SO SOPHISTICATED compared to my hometown. My friend Leigh and I decided we were going to have a “punk movie night” which is funny because although I had a nose ring (oh yeah), I was still from a very small town in Arkansas and was about as punk as a girl who only wanted to listen to depressed, synthesized dance music like The Cure and New Order could get. I wanted to look punk, not be punk, so as a primer we rented Sid and Nancy, Suburbia and Dogs in Space. I barely remember the plot of Dogs in Space (something about a Bowie concert and squatters and the requisite drug-overdose) but the music stuck with me. It was still synthesized, but darker, harder. It was my first exposure to Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and Gang of Four, who then led me to The Stooges, New York Dolls, Velvet Underground, Television, etc.

Two years later I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico on my spring break. And there, browsing in a record store, I found the soundtrack in a “10 for $10" bin. Apparently the soundtrack was never released on CD so it’s possible I might have a collector’s item on my hands. I don't think I could part with it, though. I'd be afraid of losing some of my, you know, cred.

Monday Exemplified

I woke up at 3:30am and didn't get back to sleep until 6am, spending the time writing painful emails. I get up at 6:30. It's raining. We're running late. I am driving a car with a leaky sunroof. It gushes water all over me, Flashdance-style, the entire drive to school, during which I had to stop at EVERY SINGLE of the 11 traffic lights. I get to work, sopping wet, only to discover the coffee maker is BROKEN.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Best Weekend in a LongTime


Okra at the farmers' market


Black Bean Salad


Sisters. Yay!


Dr. Dog, being awesome.


Lush lush rain.


Cream puff shells, waiting to be filled with bittersweet chocolate mousse and consumed by a group of particularly quality women.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cheese of the Day

Mahon.

The hunk I got yesterday is on the dry and hard side, but still sliceable. Its flavor is strong, salty and very informed by the smell of the rind which is powerful but the taste is mellower, like the ocean. I grated it on top of focaccia I’d drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with strips of fresh basil and rosemary. Oh and thin slices of tomato....like a pizza but not. More like Pure Essence of Pizza. I thought it was tasty. It took longer to convince my daughter, but she came around. I’m prying open her palette and it’s working but in frustratingly slow increments. She loves sushi finally. I think of what I was fed when I was her age: sourkraut on cold brown rice, miso soup made slimy with huge chunks of sauteed onions, Waldorf salad (even typing those words stirs up nausea), burnt millet, all of it prepared with no regard for flavor whatsoever. We want our kids to have it better, right? I still have quite a bit of Mahon left. Now I need to get some olive and sherry and I’m good to go. I’m almost done with Spanish cheeses, though. Not that they’re not delicious, I am just ready for something new.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

All Music Thursday

There’s a feature in The Onion called Random Rules. I wanna play. Here are the first ten songs to pop up on random on iTunes...no shame, no skipping to the next one. If need be, I’ll defend my choices.

1. I’m Your Man - Leonard Cohen
No need to justify or explain. Just a really fucking good song.

2. I Know What Boys Like - The Waitresses
HAHA! Only on #2 and I’m already bitten on the ass. This is a good one to play at parties.

3. This Modern Love - Bloc Party
Am I cool enough now?

4. I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good - Nina Simone
Ouch. These lyrics are truer than ever now. Quick, change it.

5. Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye - Leonard Cohen
ARE YOU TRYING TO TORTURE ME? iTunes, you’ve got a sick sense of humor.

6. Lost Cause - Beck
I’m now holding the blade to my wrists. Please, give me a reason not to.

7. Spottieottiedopaliscious - Outkast
THANK YOU. Love the horns.

8. Reptile - The Church
The Church! Acute memories of 8th grade pain and anguish rush in with the first chords of this song. I’ve not changed all that much.

9. What It Feels Like For a Girl - Madonna
Damn...once in a while she still gets it totally right. The best song from Music.

10. Reason To Believe - Michael Penn & Aimee Mann
A cover of the Bruce Springsteen song. Not as good as the original but still lovely.

"I can't get next to you. I'm alone again"

Sweet Relief! I finally solved a musical mystery that's been plaguing me for years. My old friend Eli made a CD for my birthday back in 2000. Being a guy, he neglected to include a track listing. I kept playing this one song over and over and I had to know who did it. Eli couldn't remember because he has something like 10,000 songs accumulated on his computer. I would play it for friends, the kind of people who know the most obscure British invasion band or punk trio out of Abilene, Texas but they too were stumped. On a whim this morning I plugged just the right combination of lyrics into Google and there, on a Japanese bulletin board, in between computer-translation gibberish, I found the answer. I can rest in peace now.

The song? "Cry" by Mark Ramos Nishita, a frequent collaborator with the Beastie Boys. Now I want the whole album.

Track listings, people - they only take a few minutes.....WELL WORTH IT.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reviews

I finally made that cake I mentioned the other day. Something about Project Runway Night makes me want to attempt complex recipes, like I'm trying to impress the hardened Nina Garcia. I don't think I ground the pistachios enough because they have a definite texture in the cake. The flavor is DELICIOUS...the richness of the pistachios in a light spongy cake (no butter and barely any flour), concentrated orange in the syrup and chopped in the filling, sweet late summer strawberries. My daughter wasn't crazy about the barely-detectable grittiness of the ricotta in the icing but I thought it added yet more complexity to the flavor. As you can clearly see, cake decorating isn't a strength of mine but who cares; it was so yummy. I wanted a light dinner due to the heavines of dessert so I seared tilapia fillets, steamed summer squash, made garlic couscous and a salad with fresh herbs and a simple olive oil/garlic/honey/lime juice dressing.

The rest of this only pertains to those of you who are likewise obsessed with Project Runway. Ugh. Why on earth did they have to bring back two of the whiniest, weirdest and least talented designers? I guess it makes for good television? Whatever...pee-yew...Vincent and Angela's designs sucked! They were auf wiedersehen for a reason, people. I thought Uli was a goner but she'll hang on for one more week; she's getting tiresome anyway. My daughter wants me to somehow email Kayne (this is a true story) because she loves him and wants him to know that he was her favorite. Goodbye, sweet Kayne. I'll see you in the winner's circle....of a beauty pageant.
Sigh. This season hasn't been as much fun to watch because the strongest three were made very clear weeks ago. I knew they'd keep Jeffrey around because he's a lightning rod personality that people love to hate...he's innovative in his designs but they're usually...well, plain UGLY. I like Laura's sensibility but her style is just too stiff or something. Michael is the golden boy; just about everything he's done has appeared effortlessly chic and flattering. He should win.

Franzen Envy

I’m reading a really good book – The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen. I was given his novel, The Corrections, the week after September 11 and was so grateful to have a really good, long, painfully funny story to escape to when I was nodding off from CNN overdoses. It was the book I had to buy three times after loaning it out to (foisting it upon) flaky friends. I was so excited that he'd written a new book that I bought it brand new, hardcover. The Discomfort Zone is a memoir, not an autobiography, so it's not tedious. Instead of learning about Franzen’s entire life, we get snapshots of specific events or phases, filtered through the panoramic lens of adulthood. I recognized parts of the book from essays he’d written for The New Yorker and was happy to see them expanded here. Franzen is gifted in characterization and he’s no less gifted when he is the character. He was exactly the sort of strange kid I would have made fun of when I was 12 but felt empathy for and befriended by the time I was 15, recognizing him as a fellow oddball and brilliant observer of human behavior.


Perhaps needless to say, I am insanely jealous of his skills as a writer. Lo and behold, this morning I found an essay his girlfriend wrote about feeling jealous of his talent and success. Her piece is about much more than that, though. I think she expresses, very well, what a lot of women feel but are afraid to discuss with regards to envy. Amongst men, envy is accepted as part of the competitive arena, a necessary evil on the path to success. Women are supposed to be the cooperative, bonding, nurturing sex. We put the needs of the group above the needs of the self. So what do we do, then, when that want begins to corrode our insides? I don’t know. I’m still accepting the fact that I am capable of being one jealous bitch. I push it down and pretend I'm not aware of it, like when my parents were in their nudist phase. Kathryn Chetkovich’s method is to acknowledge it and get back to her own work. Franzen has quite an advantage with this book, following the success of The Corrections. I wonder how she's dealing with it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sorry, Marx

Religion is hardly an opiate anymore....this is not a world of relaxed, foggy-headed blind believers. Oh no, instead religion has become the crystal meth of the masses, making them shifty-eyed, distrustful and manic, grinding their teeth to powder in anticipation of MORE. But not to worry, we still have plenty of other opiates: purchasing power, media, celebrity gossip, anti-depressants, cultural relativism, denial, credit, technology, -philias and -phobias, just to name a few.

And just try to avoid numbing yourself. Then you're an exposed bundle of nerves and frustration and disgust and disbelief, despondent because this is the world in which we choose to live.

Now I have to take my coffee, sit out back and think of everything for which I am grateful.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

And On That Note

Nothing complements a good feminist rant about women's bodies like strawberry-orange ricotta cake with pistachios. I'm in the mood to bake and I have Grand Marnier I need to use up.

But first, Soccer Mom time.

"Real Women Declare Triumph"

An Australian swimsuit designer used size 8-12 models in her runway show and raised a big ruckus down under.

Here are pictures from the show.

Okay I have few problems with this. For one, I think it's just plain erroneous to describe women sized 8-12 as "real" as though women who are medically underweight and suffering with eating disorders or OCD exercisers or are even, god forbid, naturally skinny aren't "real." Every body type is real. And the rest of headline, too. "Declare Triumph?" Is it really a war? "Real" women versus an increasingly impossible ideal? We just need more female designers. Of course that's not always the answer.

I think it's great that a designer put larger-sized women on the runway....but did you SEE those women? Are Australian sizes different from the U.S.? Because, uh, I could count every model's ribs. And people were horrified by this display? I'M HORRIFIED AT THEIR HORROR. I guess people don't want to see "reality" on the runway. They want to see the fantasies of mostly gay men. Yes, I have issues with the fashion industry even though I also love it. I would agree with feminist theory that the female body is used as a symbol for a society's values. I think we work out our own issues using celebrity bodies. People seem to be particularly obsessed with Nicole Richie, Lindsey Lohan and Calista Flockhart's figures, for example. All of this as we, as a country, get fatter and fatter. If we obsess over other people's bodies we don't have to pay attention to our own. Pass me the polluted, hormone-injected, genetically-modified, imported, weeks-old plate!

I have problems with everything.

Thoughts On: Television (and more)

I’m kind of obsessed with television lately. It's funny to me, though, because I’ve always had a strange relationship with tv. You see, ours was a hippy house. We didn’t have a television until the summer of 1984. Until then my only exposure was at my grandmother’s house (preferable to spend all weekend so I could catch both Saturday morning cartoons AND Love Boat/Fantasy Island on Saturday nights) or friends’, although most of my friends also had hippy parents or lived too far out in the country to get anything other than PBS. That summer I was nine and had planned weeks in advance to spend as much time at my grandmother’s as possible watching the Los Angeles Olympics. What I DIDN’T plan on, however, was the following.

Picture this:
It’s dusk. My sisters and I are running around the yard, probably thrilled that it’s finally cool enough to be outside. We’re chasing each other and certainly not watching the ground or else we would have seen the copperhead coming towards the house. Suddenly my memory goes black and white! I feel a sharp, quick, extreme pain next to my Achilles tendon and look down to see only two red dots of blood on my ankle and an orange snake slithering away. My mother said she heard an unearthly scream. I was convinced I was dying. I think it was just the idea that I’d been bitten by a snake that ignited my most dramatic tendencies. I insisted on being carried into the living room and laid on the floor. My mother stood over me, brandishing a paring knife, telling me to CALM DOWN because now she’s going to CUT ME OPEN AND SUCK OUT THE VENOM. It’s true. My sister Kate was a toddler and had no idea that I was dying on the floor. She bounced on my head, clapped her hands and laughed at me, thinking we'd all staged it for her amusement. No one was taking this seriously enough. A SNAKE had just bitten ME. I clung to life. My mother abandoned the knife idea because I wouldn’t hold still enough for her to cut into tender flesh that was now pulsating with snake venom. I should also mention here that my mother was extremely anti-medical establishment at the time. There was no way I was going to the hospital. Maaaybe if my leg started to turn gangrenous, but otherwise I knew I was in for a strict macrobiotic diet and lots of poultices.
Over the next few days I packed my swollen leg with green clay and did alternating hot/cold foot baths and had to be carried to the bathroom. It hurt to move. Most upsetting of all, though, was knowing I was missing the greatest international sports championship that occurs every four years (I hadn’t yet discovered the World Cup). Out of pure sympathy (or guilt), my mother allowed my grandparents to bring over a 13" black and white portable television. When I moved the rabbit ears just right I could make out the grainy figures of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. It was the Olympics of Mary Lou Retton’s perfect 10 vault. And I saw the whole thing, my hard, swollen, purple leg propped up on a pillow and a bowl of miso soup at my side.
Of course it was just a slippery slope after that. You always crave what you were denied in childhood. A color tv, then bigger and bigger. Higher and higher tiers of cable! I slid all the way down to full digital cable with the premium channels. That was back in ‘02. It was a rough year.

I'm thinking about cable again but it scares me; I don't know if I trust myself with it. I might start forfeiting sleep just so I can watch C-SPAN at 3am (where they hide all the good stuff). And there's all the fucking ADS (unless I got TiVo....hmmmm). That's what I hate the most - the commercials! I’m sensitive to advertising. So I love DVDs, which means I’m always watching shows a season or more behind. I have yet to get into Lost or Grey’s Anatomy or Deadwood, but don’t worry because I will, if I have time. I just discovered Weeds. It’s about 90% incredible and 10% stupid. The acting is really good and the storylines are usually hilarious and intriguing. I have some issues with the racial stereotypes and some of the more outlandish plot developments, but hey...it’s meant to be a subversive comedy. Oh, and Weeds uses kid actors who act like real kids....that's nearly impossible to find.

Any recommendations for my next obsession?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thoughts On: Mustaches

I gotta say, I'm a fan. With a few caveats.*

On the right man a mustache can be so hot. On the wrong man....just....no. We United Statesians love a healthy, big, bushy almost-but-not-quite out of control thatch of hair, extending past the top lip. Wild and unpredictable, like the untamed West. Is there anything more virile? That’s not obscene? These are the mustaches of REAL MEN.





And look at (arguably) our two biggest enemies of the past century: clipped, orderly, meticulously maintained hedgerows of hair. Boo! Hiss! Beware the manscaping.




* Geraldo Rivera, Josef Stalin, Hulk Hogan, Joel Siegel, Dr. Phil...and that's just off the top of my head.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cheese of the Day

Drunken Goat. Another Spanish cheese. This one is creamier and a little milder than the manchego.

I've got a big pot of spicy tomato/vegetable soup on the stove. I'll melt the Drunken Goat on garlic wheat bread to serve with it. No wine to pair with it tonight (I had more than enough last night) but it would go well with a hearty red.

Real Headline

"Southern Women Breaking Up With Bush"

Dude...we never even went out, thereby denying me the pleasure of breaking up. Ugh. So typical.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Southern Comfort

Yesterday was one of those days that just rained shit on me all day long. I felt like a weeble-wobble. I should have known to expect it because my astrologyzone horoscope told me it would be difficult. That’s right. I think transubstantiation is ridiculous but I believe that the position of the stars and the planets affect my state of mind. That’s how I roll.

But today’s a new day, one day closer to the weekend! And there’s Project Runway tonight!

Last night, in a feeble attempt to cheer myself up, I made our family’s version of comfort food: brown beans, turnip greens and skillet cornbread. The brown beans are easy...just soak and then cook on low for hours with garlic, cumin and onion. Turnip greens are steamed then doused with hot pepper vinegar. The cornbread recipe is one I’ve adapted from watching my grandmother and great-aunts make it forever. First I put the cast-iron skillet in the oven to get really hot. In a bowl I mix yellow cornmeal, salt, baking soda and just a tiny bit of wheat flour (I don’t really know amounts; I eyeball it). Then I add buttermilk and stir. I add some butter to the hot skillet and let it melt then add the mix and bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes. When I take it out it has that buttery crisp crust. Slice the cornbread while it’s steaming and spread more butter inside. Okay maybe I cheered up just a little.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cheese of the Day

Manchego. God, that’s fun to say. MaaahhnnnCHAAYYgoh! It’s the perfect flavor and the perfect consistency. I’ve been eating it today with black sesame crackers and strawberries. It sounds weird but it’s what was in the kitchen. I’d really like to make an appetizer of little bread rounds topped with a tapanade of spanish olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and then thin slivers of manchego, toasted until the cheese melts. Or a sandwich of grilled vegetables (zucchini, onion, tomato, portobello mushroom) and manchego on rosemary focaccia. Is rioja the popular choice for manchego? Because I think I’d prefer a spicy zinfandel, at least with these dishes. I’m not so great with food/wine pairing. I’m the same way with playing pool. Any success I may have is only the result of pure luck and not a single degree of skill. So tell me...what would you make with manchego cheese and which wine would you serve with it?

Back to Work!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thoughts On: Entourage

I don’t really know why I started watching Entourage. I’d heard about it and was mildly curious. The first season really turned me off. The guys were all so.....guy-ish, not at all what I want to be watching. Watching Entourage made me feel like I’d gotten stuck in an extended Axe body spray or Bacardi Silver commercial...all tricked out cars, high fives, loud music and fake boobs. That’s not how you impress me, Marky Mark. I’d heard this show described as “Sex and the City for men” which is just so wrong. The guys on Entourage don’t have a single interesting or even funny take on modern male/female relationships. It embraces the “boys will be boys” philosophy that enrages and depresses me.

But I kept watching....like a testosterone-infected train wreck. There was really only one reason I kept coming back: Jeremy Piven. His character, agent Ari Gold, is far and away the best part of the show. He’s bi-polar, abusive, manic, hilarious, persuasive and I couldn’t wait for the plot to leave the perpetually stoned and boring dudes and get back to him.

The best episode of the series so far is the penultimate one of the second season. The guys think Mandy Moore is cheating on Vince so they stalk her (giving Johnny Drama his funniest lines ever: “Too many times, Turtle. Too many times.”) meanwhile Ari is trying to outsmart his boss before he gets fired from the agency. The second best thing on the show is Ari’s assistant, Lloyd. It’s great to see a funny, sweet and totally un-fey gay character. His speech to Ari near the end actually made me forget that this is a ridiculous, masturbatory, self-referential television show. Too bad the 3rd season hasn’t been able to live up to the standards of that episode. I am hoping for more Barbara Miller-Ari Gold interaction and for Johnny Drama to come out of the closet (or else all that foreshadowing is just a big tease).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Items Found In My Mother's Pantry


This is something called Essiac. It's supposed to cure cancer. It should be noted that my mother has never had cancer.



I don't know if Willard Water is ingestible or not but it IS in the pantry.



What, exactly, is Fo-Ti Ho-Shou-Wu? It's a polygonum multiflorum, duh!



Don't those fillets look appetizing?

Field Trip

I bet you can’t guess where I was at 7:30 this morning.

I went to church.

I hadn’t been inside a church except for weddings or funerals in probably 15 or more years. My grandmother was widowed in January and has been going to an Episcopal church because my grandfather was Episcopalian. My mother usually goes with her but she’s out of town so I said I’d go in her place. I could tell my grandmother was really happy I offered because she didn’t even try to protest or say “You really don’t have to.” Then she tested her ground and told me she wanted to attend the earliest service. So while the streets were still deserted (everyone home sleeping off their Razorback hangover) we went to church.

I wasn’t raised religious and have only in the past year or so started to think about having a spiritual life. I’ve been to Episcopalian services before so I knew to expect lots of kneeling and ritual, but I was curious and happy to do something with and for my grandmother.


The church itself is a beautiful building. The main hall is all dark creaky wood and stained glass, so it felt very European. I spaced out and pretended we were wayward travelers who happened across this quaint chalet somewhere in the Alps. Then the standing and kneeling started so I had to start paying closer attention. The service itself was relatively short and, surprisingly, interesting. The rector had a voice like Garrison Keillor’s and I could tell he knew how to spin a good yarn. He talked about inclusive spirituality that includes all religions. He mentioned the mid-term elections and the importance of politicians being religious in the sense of taking care of the weakest in our society with a sly undertone that let us know he disapproved of our current leadership. That delighted me. Like Garrison Keillor he had a way of settling on a word just long enough to draw out all the meanings.

The most difficult ritual for me to understand in both the Anglican and Catholic churches is transubstantiation. But I did go up and take communion with my grandmother. I don’t know....a little wafer and a sip of wine? Body and blood? And you’re supposed to believe it literally? But whatever...does that make me a traitor of some sort? Because I took communion but think it’s bullshit?

I won't regularly attend services. I love my own Sunday rituals of complicated coffee and This American Life and the paper too much. But I’d certainly be the church pinch hitter again.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

How Bout Them Hogs?

My town has more than doubled in size this weekend. Why, you ask? Well because it’s the first Hog game of the season, stupid! That’s right...the Razorbacks are playing USC tonight. The angry wild pig flags are flapping on every shiny SUV, the chili is bubbling, beer chilling and the bets are placed. Razorback Red is out in full force. Oh we sure do love our Hogs. Yes sir, and we had us the largest damn teevee you ever did see in a stadium until Texas had to come along and build a bigger one. Typical.

There’s also an arts festival this weekend. The fact that these two events are happening at the same time has sparked some really interesting conversations lately, as many people feel they must choose between a football game and art shows. This is a southern college town so football is a religion, requiring the same blind faith. Art? In Arkansas? Art here is more likely to be on the craft-y side than the Piss Christ side. It’s not like Hogs fans are avoiding art because it might be unpleasant or challenging. It’s just that, you know, art will always be there but there are only so many games in a season.

But not everyone will go to the Game. There are plenty of arts patrons. This is a college town so a few people here know what's what. Unfortunately, though, the richest arts patrons will be at Razorback Stadium. So the artists will do what the artists do: serve boxed wine to each other and work out barters for their favorite pieces.

I doubt I need to explain which event I’ll be attending. I don't really get the point of spectator sports, except for the Olympics and World Cup soccer. I love those. There’s something about an international championship that gets me all excited. It’s also the only time you’ll catch me unabashedly patriotic. I don’t really care about sports otherwise and I’ve never understood why people get so INTO it. It’s a game someone else is playing. Now If I’m playing a game you better fucking believe I'll want to win but if it’s someone else then who cares?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Just Imagine

how different our lives would be if he had been elected (oh wait....he was):

Money Quote:
Al Gore on why he decided to take part in MTV's Video Music Awards: "I actually was not intending to be here tonight, but then MTV explained that Justin Timberlake was bringing sexy back."

See?? A sublime sense of humor. Something I appreciate in a leader.