Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Take the Banned Book Challenge

Pelham Library is issuing a Banned Book Challenge to all. Simply put, commit to read a certain number of books between February 26 (yesterday) and June 30, 2007. For clarification, Pelham Library does not ban books, but has provided a list of books that have been banned in other places. You are free to choose any books that have been banned anywhere, whether listed or not.

This is a healthy thing for our minds. Let's all meet the challenge. I'm personally committing to 20 books. Look for reports in the months to come!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Scorsese gets his due

Yeah, that's right, my man Marty took home the little bald statue for his outstanding work as a director in The Departed. Anybody got a problem with that? No, I didn't think so. Actually, even the other directors who were nominated didn't seem to have a problem with it. That movie kicked ass, and Scorsese has been given the shaft for years.

Bonus points go to whomever had Best Director presented by Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. Obviously they did it because they knew Scorsese would win, but I also enjoyed the little moment in which George Lucas pointed out that he was the only guy up there who hadn't won an Oscar for Best Director. Yeah, that's because your movies suck now, George. Also, because you can't move on beyond the Star Wars saga. And you just keep selling differently tweaked versions of the same movies over and over and over, which you've been doing for at least twenty years.

I seem to remember that last year, the Oscars had a newish category, Best Comedy or Musical. What happened to that? Oh, wait, that was the Golden Globes. How exactly do comedies and musicals get lumped into the same category? Do we just laugh at musicals because they're unnatural? I nominate Godspell for a posthumous Golden Globe. You have to love Young Jack Bristow as the Jesus Clown.

In case any of you are trying to e-mail me, Yahoo Mail is giving me a problem today. So if you don't get a reply, it's not because I don't love you.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"And now, a word from the president"

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Getting voted into the White House
Everything looking good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down
Like lettin' a big drug shipment through
And send 'em to the poor communities
So we can bust you know who
The Voters of the world keep supportin' me
And I promise to take you very far
Other leaders better not upset me
Or I'll send a million troops to die at war
To all you Republicans that helped me win
I'd sincerely like to thank ya
'Cause now I got the world swinging from my nuts
And Damn it feels good to be a gangsta

--Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta, Geto Boys,

This song was first popular when I was in junior high, maybe high school. I remember my cousins and I thought of the last verse as the comments that a black man from the ghetto might make if he were elected president. (Oh hush, there were lots of songs to that effect back then, including one that suggested painting the White House black.)

What we didn't understand, what I just didn't think about until today, is that those lyrics were meant to describe President Bush Sr. In fact, I'd say they do a superior job of describing President Bush Jr.

America's government is supposed to be a system of checks and balances. In theory, Congress is supposed to represent the Will of the People. The president can't just declare war of his own accord; Congress has to vote on it. And Congress did indeed vote to approve the US invasion of Iraq.

But why haven't they voted to pull our troops out?
I know it was right to hunt down Saddam Hussein; the man was deliberately hurting his own people. But what good are we doing there now? The Iraqi people don't want us there anymore. And, try as he might, Bush can't just install democracy somewhere.

The American people are calling for Bush to bring our boys home. Even the Republican citizens are getting sick of this crap. With so many constituents screaming to bring the troops home, why isn't Congress doing it? Does the will of the people not actually mean anything?

(I think we know the answer to that. The will of the people only means something at election time.)

I'm probably oversimplifying this. Obama and H. Clinton are duking it out right now over who has the better plan to withdraw troops. How much do you want to bet that when it comes to a vote, it's split along party lines, rather than based on what the constituents have asked for?

In the meantime, President Bush is planning to recall 40,000 troops back to active duty. I'm talking about people who already served four or five years of active duty and have returned to civilian life. Yes, it's true, that's part of the contract when you swear in: the committment to return to active duty if it becomes necessary. But please, explain to me, why is it necessary?

Who does our President answer to? He's not answering to me or my congresswoman. He's just doing what he wants, sending our people to die for someone else's country. All the hell he raised about the U.N. not forcing Hussein to answer for his actions, but is Bush being made to answer for his own? The world really is hanging from his nuts.

In Case of Emergency

Here's something you need to know if you're living with very old people:

They don't know that they're supposed to call 9-1-1 immediately in a medical emergency.

I'm probably overgeneralizing. Maybe it's just MY grandparents, because they grew up as migrant farm workers with very little formal education. Maybe it's generational (no phones when they were kids, no 911 when they were raising kids), maybe it's because when they were young only rich people could call medics to come to the house, maybe it's just that they're senile.

Just please, explain this to them, and not just once in a while, I mean weekly: if there's a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. Don't try and revive the person yourself, don't wait a while and see if he gets better, don't half-assedly attempt to wake up someone else in the house, don't call the neighbors or the relatives and ask THEM to call an ambulance. Grandma, if something is wrong, don't wait. Call 911, and do it fast.

Grandpa will never be the same. His arm is dead, his leg is partly paralyzed, his face is stuck, he falls asleep for fifteen minutes and thinks a whole day has passed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Late night with Chef Sleepless

At night I can't sleep
I toss and turn
Candlesticks in the dark
Visions of bodies bein' burned
Four walls closin' in getting bigger
I'm paranoid, sleepin' with my finger on the trigger

--Mind Playing Tricks on Me, Geto Boys

That's right, it's nearly 3 AM and I can't sleep, thank you so much Excedrin Migraine with extra caffeine. However, since my paranoia is not nearly so bad as that of Scarface, Willie D, or Bushwick Bill, I don't actually have a gun in my hand right now. Which is fortunate, because how else would I be able to type for you? My two readers get a post.

Today, folks, you get a recipe. Since the weather is warming up (in my part of the country, anyway), here's a dish that's easy to make, requires no oven use, and tastes good served cold.

Tuna and White Bean Salad
(Stay with me, this really is good.)

Drain 2 cans of tuna packed in water. Drain and rinse one 14 oz. can white kidney beans (also called cannellini or alubias) and 2 tbsp. capers; add these to tuna. Core and dice 4 Roma tomatoes (a.k.a. pear tomatoes) and add to tuna. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup lemon juice. Drizzle with 2-3 tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 cup roughly chopped parsley or cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Toss. Serve on toasted bread OR serve on green salad OR toss with cold pasta.

Yeah, I know, there are lots of sour ingredients. Look at it as an incentive to drink more water, which you need to do anyway in this heat.

(Seriously, that Excedrin killed my headache within ten minutes. But I'm UP.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where's the beef (from)?

Did you ever wonder why any fish, shrimp, lobster, etc. that you eat is called seafood, but beef and pork are NOT called landfood? Nor are chicken, duck, goose, or turkey called skyfood?

Obviously, you're saying, we don't need a term like "landfood" because it's already obvious where cows and pigs come from, and anyone ordering pork or beef just tells you what kind of meat they want. And why should we say "skyfood" when fowl and white meat are already acceptable dining terms?

Okay, I'm with you on the skyfood-is-fowl thing, even though ostrich meat is served in steaks. But why should landfood not be put to use? Sure, we could just say "red meat," but the Council for the Promotion of Pork (or whoever) is doing all they can to convince us that pork is The Other White Meat (even though it's not). I like to know where my meat comes from.

You're crazy. Landfood is unnecessary. If you want steak, you go to a steakhouse, not a "landfood restaurant." Landfood could mean anything from venison to veal.

So by that logic, restaurants should specialize in types of seafood. This one serves only fish, that one serves only squid, the other serves only shellfish...

No! No! No! No restaurant could be THAT specialized and still stay in business. Just like steakhouses serve chicken, seafood restaurants serve all kinds of animals from the sea.

Yeah, about that. How exactly do fish caught in lakes and rivers qualify as "sea" food?

Because they're fish!

But not from the sea. They're not even from a salt-water bog. They come from fresh water.

But they're fish. Maybe it's a misnomer in some cases, but seafood is just a general term for fish and shrimp and other animals that come from the water.

So how do we classify alligator meat? It's born on land, but spends a significant amount of time in the water. It has four legs, but it swims.

That can be called red meat.

But that isn't a description of where it comes from. Besides, it's not red, really. Every time I order it, it looks white, and it tastes like fowl. Even if pork looks like white meat but isn't, it still doesn't TASTE like white meat.

Fine! It's white meat!

But do we order it at a seafood restaurant, or a landfood restaurant (excuse me, I mean "steakhouse").

We order it at... um... Cajun restaurants!

First of all, Cajuns aren't the only ones who serve alligator. I used to buy my gator meat served in a gyro (which is Greek). Second, Cajun is a distinction of PEOPLE and their CHOSEN METHOD OF FOOD PREPARATION. It is not a classification of animal type or it's natural habitat.

Fine. It's swampfood. Are you happy?

So does that mean crawfish are swampfood instead of seafood?


I'm just saying, why can gators be swampfood but cows can't be landfood?


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who's your old man?

The English language, especially where it concerns American expressions, always finds a way to throw me off just a little.

If a male refers to someone as "my old man," he is talking about his father.

If a woman refers to someone as "my old man," she is talking about her boyfriend or husband.

If a man refers to someone as "my old lady," he means his girlfriend or wife.

A woman never refers to anyone as "my old lady," or at least no straight women do that I know of. I wonder if a lesbian says it, does she mean her girlfriend or her mother?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Why I've finally switched to the new version

You know what sucks? When you carefully type out a very long post, ruminating on a topic in detail, making a passionate argument for your case, and then the whole thing disappears when you click on the spell-check button.

Kiss my butt, old version of Blogger.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Growth

Today I finally found a store that sells lavender plants (other than the Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science). I was so excited, I bought eight pots.

Now I just have to find room to plant them all. Oh, except for one pot, which goes to Grandma.

I also found an unusual species of tomato called Mr. Stripey. I'm not sure what it'll taste like, but I hope I can grow it.

When I told Bizarro Dad about what I bought, he said, "Is it planting time already?" When I assured him that it was, he said something about cold weather. "But honey," I said, "you turned on the air conditioner today."

Yes, that's right, spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, the leaves are slowly budding on the trees, and the breeze from my air conditioner signals the start of growing season.