Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IM IN UR WASTELAND BURYING UR DEAD

It's the LOLCat Waste Land. Go. Read.

shakespeare rag is smartness.
im in teh street, walkens.
im in ur schedule,
measuring out ur life in teh coffee spoonz.

(Thanks again, Jet!)

Progress Report

If I hadn't turned off my cable, I would no doubt be regaling you with my opinions on The Next Iron Chef America, which seems like a tougher, less contrived Top Chef. No less a personage than Michael Ruhlman is a judge. Also unlike TC, several of the contestants are people I've heard of. It looks like a really cool show.

But you know what? I don't care. I don't regret one little bit that I'm missing this heroic contest, even if Bourdain is writing about it on Ruhlman's blog. I'm not tempted at all to get my cable hooked up again.

I'm playing a lot of music and reading more. What TV I do watch consists of making my way through Rome on DVD. I'm feeling no anxiety whatsoever that I'm missing anything, least of all the stellar offerings of the Food Network. Other, more delightful things are expanding to take the place in my life of the hours I might have spent on on my sofa, slackjawed and bathed in electrons. I think I may be cured.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Memory Lane

Man. What a blast it is to find this.


These videos are from the last performance by Pylon, one of the Greatest Bands Of All Time, at the Mad Hatter in Athens, Ga. December 1, 1983. I'm there in the audience somewhere. Tall skinny guy, all in black, hair in Billy Idol spikes.

I'd seen them one time a couple of years before at the Piedmont Arts Festival in Atlanta, and I thought they were the worst thing I'd ever seen. I'm glad my perspective changed in time for me to see them this one last time. This stuff is absolutely brilliant.


They broke up because they didn't want to deal with the business side of being a band. At this point they had been opening for U2 on their first US tour. It was too much like work.

Vanessa worked at the Kinko's I used when I was in grad school. It was always surprising to me to hear her normal, gently southern speaking voice. Totally at odds with the menacing, rasping wild woman she was onstage. I love that she always performed in frilly little dresses and peasant blouses. I don't know if she was intentionally trying to fuck around with people's ideas of femininity. I kind of think not. It just happened that way.


They've regrouped a couple of times since then, even going so far as to put out another album in 1990. I just got a note that they're reissuing their first album, Gyrate, which is the best news I've heard in a while. Guess what we'll be listening to on our way down to Roanoke, Tes?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Extremely garlicky baked eggplant and penne

This is a slightly altered recipe from Deborah Madison's The Savory Way. It's one of the nicest things you can do with eggplant, and satisfies any craving for mac & cheese you may have. Like mac & cheese, it's also a wonderful thing to eat the next day, fried in butter. Which is what I'm having for lunch as I type this.

There's a lot to do, but it's all pretty easy.

0. Cut your eggplant (one big one or two small ones) into 1/4" dice. Do the salt-and-drain treatment if you're afraid your eggplant might be bitter. I never do this. I'll take the risk of bitter eggplant over the certainty of oversalting any day.

1. The sauce. Separate, peel, and chop half a head's worth of garlic cloves. Say six or seven cloves. Seven. No, make it eight. Combine the garlic with a half-teaspoon of salt in a mortar and use the pestle to bash it into a paste. Combine the garlic paste with two cups of milk. Set aside.

2. Make a roux with three tbsp. butter and two tbsp. flour. Cook two or three minutes, then whisk in the milk-and-garlic mixture and a big pinch of grated nutmeg. Add three thyme branches and a handful of chopped fresh basil. (Lacking fresh herbs, I substituted 2 tsp. herbes de Provence. The nutmeg, though, is essential.) Bring this to a simmer, cover, and let it cook on low heat for half an hour (stirring it occasionally) while you cook the pasta and the eggplant. The smell while this stuff is cooking will be indescribably glorious.

3. Bring a big pot of salty water to a boil, cook 8 oz. of penne in it, drain the penne and rinse it in cold water, and set aside. (The original recipe calls for rigatoni, but I like the texture of the penne better; the rigatoni gets too mushy for my taste.)

4. At the same time, brown your eggplant in olive oil. Do it in batches so it browns and doesn't steam. Set aside.

5. Grate a cup of parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano.

6. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a 3- or 4-qt baking dish.

7. When the sauce is done, mix half the cheese into it. Mix the eggplant, the pasta, two-thirds of the sauce, and a good dose of black pepper together in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 or so minutes before digging in.

(And thanks, Lori, for the beautiful eggplant.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Knife Skills with Hung

I'm doing a lot of hey-check-this-link-out posts lately, which is kind of a lame way of blogging. But what the hell. Check this out. It's an excellent little knife skills demo by my man Hung Huynh, fresh from kicking ass on Top Chef. Unfortunately it's another of those annoying videos that I can't embed.

"Next, I'm going to demo the Chinese cleaver ... This is a knife that almost killed people on the show. BWAAAH-HAHAHAHA!"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fish, barrels, and my inner 12-year-old mix

  • By now you may already have seen this recipe, an apparent favorite of Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig. Basically you take a potato, an Idaho potato of course, and bore a hole through the middle, end to end. Then (this is the good part) you take a frankfurter and ease it gently, yet with loving firmness, into the hole. Then you bake the whole thing and eat it.

    Really, nothing more needs to be said, does it? You just can't make stuff like this up.

  • The tragic death of Reverend Gary Aldridge, a graduate of Liberty University and a onetime associate of the late Jerry Falwell, is of course nothing to laugh at, no matter what the circumstances. Really, you'd have to be a truly sick, sick person to find the humor in this. Har. Chortle. Snort.

    (That link is marginally NSFW, as if you hadn't guessed.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virtual Chevron Protest today

Call or fax Chevron between 4 and 6 pm eastern time today to ask them to change their relationship with the military government in Myanmar. This site has all the details. Also read this call for sanctions from the Burmese government in exile.

Monday, October 8, 2007

This is at least as good as the Temperance Fountain

Hey, everybody, head over to this site and cast your vote on where in DC they should build the Great Big Butt Plug Tower of Invincibility! I picked Orren and Childress Streets NE where the Trinidad Playground is now, 627 H Street NW where they just knocked down the China Doll restaurant, and the Tidal Basin (they could build it on pontoons and float it).

According to the website, "The Tower of Invincibility will fulfill the highest ideals of America as expressed by our nation's founders and by other great heroes of our country—freedom, sovereignty and peace ... The Tower of Invincibility honors the mighty power of Natural Law, which now can be harnessed through cutting-edge technologies of consciousness to prevent problems and conflict and to raise our nation to invincibility-—an invincible power that cannot be challenged by anyone."

Isn't it thrilling?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Breakfast

Nothing special here. It just looked so beautiful on the plate that I thought I'd share.


That's the last of my most recent batch of sausage, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, a sliced Green Zebra tomato (thanks, Lori!), and eggs scrambled with jalapeƱo, red onion, cilantro, and sharp cheddar. Coffee not pictured. Yeah.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Weaning Myself off the Glass Teat, continued

I hadn't realized how addicted I was.

You know the scene in The Good Thief where Nick Nolte decides to break his heroin addiction so he can pull off the big heist, so he has Nutsa Kukhianidze handcuff him to his bed and feed him ice cream while he toughs out his withdrawal? And while he's in his delirium she's climbing on top of him in her bra and panties, trying to taunt him, but he's too out of it to notice or care? That's what last night was like. Except I wasn't handcuffed to the bed, and I didn't have any ice cream, and Nutsa Kukhianidze was nowhere in sight, and if she had been, I probably would have noticed.

Ok, it wasn't anything like that.

But it was rough! Just knowing that I couldn't plonk down on the sofa and check out of my brain. It's not like there's anything interesting on on Friday nights, anyway. Pathetic.

Today is a little better, but still. My god. No more Seinfeld reruns. No more Law and Order SVU marathons. No more of those damned Monday nights when the SciFi Channel runs endless back-to-back episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. No more Good Eats, No Reservations, The Shield, or Iron Chef America.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?

I probably will have to reconnect when Battlestar Galactica starts up again next year. I know my limits.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Cutting the cord

Well, I had to wait till Top Chef was over before I did it (go Hung go!), but the important thing is that I did do it. I just now canceled my cable television account. I can't describe to you the enormous rush of freedom this gives me.

For me, nothing but reading, playing music, watching the odd DVD, and interacting with my fellow human beings now. This also means I can move the damned squawkbox out of its central location in my living room (which wasn't my choice! It's where the cable comes out of the floor) and turn that room into a more pleasant space to hang out in.

This changes everything. Wahoo!

Update.
In Hung's honor I've changed my tagline. I got a little choked up watching the finale last night. Which means it's probably a good thing for me to go off TV.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ruts and Henry

Ok, let's get my little fascist moment off the top of the blog. I went with Lori and Majda to see Henry Rollins at the Birchmere Tuesday night. He was brilliant. He stood onstage and talked for three hours without a break, and people still went "Aw" when he said he was winding down. Along with many other rambling, interweaving, hilarious stories, he told about being invited to perform with the Ruts last July at a benefit concert for their guitarist Paul Fox, who has lung cancer. The Ruts, you understand, were one of the greatest UK punk bands back in the day. Their music holds a special place in the hearts of for those of us who are of a Certain Age. Henry is a great big, drooling, clumsy, falling-all-over-himself fan.

Here's the first song from that show. This is what a happy guy looks like.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Meta Post: Comments

I encourage everybody who visits here to post comments. I like hearing from you, and it's comforting to know I'm not just shooting my rants and recipes out into empty space.

HOWEVER.

Posting comments under someone else's name is a sure-fire way to piss me off. Do NOT do this. It constitutes an abuse of this space, it's disrespectful, and it puts me in an awkward position vis a vis the person whose identity you're stealing. This behavior is NOT COOL. Such comments will be deleted. Chronic offenders will be hunted down and have this policy explained to them in ways they will find very unpleasant.

I hope we're clear on this. Carry on.