Sunday, December 26, 2004

Nattering Radio

"Nattering nabobs of negativism."

William Saffire (whose name is an anagram of "a slim, frail wife") apparently wrote this, and Spiro Agnew (whose name is an anagram of "grow a penis") apparently said it. Agnew was vice-president to Richard Nixon; they were two peas in the most politically corrupt pod we've seen (at least until the second Bush administration). Saffire is a hired gun who writes, among other things, speeches for politicians. In that capacity it's safe to assume that genuine, heart-felt sentiments will be rare. No one has ever won an election by spilling his own guts; evisceration is only something you do to your oponents, which is where Saffire and his fellow eunuchs come in. They write what they're told to write, what needs to be written in order to further the agenda of those who sign the checks. Money talks and bullshit is what they're paid to write.

In a recent interview, Terry Gross spoke with Richard Viguerie, "the funding father of the conservative movement," and at one point he said that the reason liberal talk-radio is not as successful as conservative is that the liberal kind can't sell advertising. This guy should know; he is all about raising money. So what does that tell us?

Personally, I hate advertising. I go out of my way to find my information and entertainment ad-free. I don't even mind paying to avoid being subjected to what I see as the most hideous form of expression human beings have ever conceived, worse even than disco. I could spend paragraphs listing all the things that make advertising horrible, but I won't. Suffice to say that I believe an affinity for or even a broad tolerance of advertising would in the least sense be a character flaw, and in the worst case, a sign of a seriously sub-par intellect. You'd really have to be a dunce to enjoy that crap.

So, obviously, I'm not part of conservative talk radio's target demographic. I've never eaten at Ruth's Chris Steak House and if I ever do, it won't be because Rush Limbaugh smacked his lips or made yummy noises while reading the ad copy he was handed. I like NPR among other reasons because it never shoves nattering commercials down my throat. I listen to it often, but I also seek data from a variety of sources to inform myself, which is why I occasionaly read the output from guys like Saffire and O'Reilly, even though it's difficult.

I guess my point is that I'm really smart because I go out of my way to educate myself, and if you listen to conservative talk radio, particularly if you do so exclusively, you must be an idiot incapable of thinking for yourself and far too willing to let people with hidden agendas spew crap into your life. Maybe you should consider suicide.

Politics at the Dinner Table

Had a little moment at the dinner table just now. The future brother-in-law and sister-in-law got my hackles up by expressing some support for George W. At one point, "He was CEO of his own company..." I explained that he ran it into the ground, managed to sell his stock just before it tanked, and was never somehow investigated by the SEC. She actually relpied, "That's because he's smart." Great. I asked that some of his accomplishments be stated. That's probably what elicited the CEO comment. After I shot that down the only thing left for them to do was attack Kerry.

It's sad when the candidate you support has so little going for him that when asked to list his accomplishments all you can do is flick boogers at his opponent, particularly when it's an already-defeated opponent.

I don't like Kerry much better than Bush, but at least he served. I don't think he'd have made a great president, and I didn't vote for him. I'm amazed at how he got shot down, though. He was a horrible candidate in many of the same ways George is, but he actually went to Vietnam. I understand he was in that part of Vietnam where actual bullets were being fired from actual guns causing many actual wounds and even a few actual deaths. Who shot who is, perhaps, not crystal clear, but he was there. That much is. George, on the other hand, actually was not. Thanks to all sorts of strings being pulled, he got a cushy job in the National Guard where they taught him how to fly an airplane and stuff. At some point he wandered off to Alabama to help some family friends in some political capacity. He has never allowed anyone to see the records of his time at the National Guard, that was the point Dan Rather's blunder so unfortunately smoke-screened: we still don't know for sure whether George is guilty of criminal conduct in regards to his National Guard service. He could very well be a deserter. Hmm... I wonder if those stalwart pillars of justice, The Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth, could again come to the rescue of inquiring minds everywhere and fill in the blanks for us on George? Swiftly? That'd be great.

Of course, this is all bullshit anyway. The conflict between Republicans and Democrats is itself a smokescreen. Michale Moore and Rush Limbaugh probably hang out together at the same fat farm, get their prescriptions written by the same doctors, maybe even hire the same undocumented workers to clean their toilets. The crap that spews from their over-paid orifices isn't worth the paper they wipe with.

The corruption in our government is endemic. As long as money remains the driving force in politics, how can we ever expect it to change?

When my grandfather was my age, he was able to support his entire family on a modest income. He got some lucky breaks, but he was a hard-worker and he did well, brought himself up from nothing and led a comfortable life. The son of Irish immigrants, he passed away on March 17th, 2003 at the age of 78. How's that for the Luck of the Irish?

The amount of money necessary to buy a house or two and raise a family has risen more than the wage of the middle class worker has, a lot more. Maybe what this means is that, in traditional American fashion, we need to rise to the new challenge and kick ass just that much harder. What I worry this means is that the middle class is dying out. A country's strength comes from its middle class. The upper class is mostly a bunch of useless, over-educated, empty-headed shit-for-brains who have nothing to contribute and can only waste resources. The lower class isn't supposed to exist, I think, but they're the ones picking our tomatoes and standing down on the corner waiting for someone in a truck to come by and hire them, a few bucks for hard labor.

Señor Mañuel Labor is a huge component of our population right now. I don't have the numbers, but it doesn't take a Federal Task Force to figure out, not when you can see for yourself several dozen guys standing on multiple street corners in nearly every town in California, Oregon, Arizona and other states besides. No matter what side of that issue you stand on, whether you think they are leaching our resources and bringing us down, or hiring them to clean your house or weed your garden, or both (you fuckin' hypocrite), you must realize that these people are mostly working for less than the minimum wage. The more of them there are, the larger the lower class becomes, and as long as they're undocumented this remains a secret faction, a ticking time-bomb. One day a break point will be reached when their numbers rise to become a significant percentage of the population and what happens then may not be good. Maybe it'll be great. I don't know. But historically speaking, when the lower classes balloon up bad things happen.

We can continue to call ourselves democrats or republicans and then yell about how the other guys suck, blah blah blah, until we're blue in the face. But both parties are guilty of the same crimes and have been for a very long time (Tammany and Tweed, anyone?). Until we rip the plutocratic and oligarchical elements out of our political system, none of us will be able to digest our dinner peacefully.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Sleep

"I only know that while I sleep I have no fear, nor hope, nor trouble, nor glory. God bless the inventor of sleep, the cloak that covers all man's thoughts, the food that cures all hunger, the water that quenches all thirst, the fire that warms the cold, the cold that cools heat; the common coin, in short, that can purchase all things, the balancing weight that levels the shepherd with the king and the simple with the wise. There's only one bad thing about sleep, as I have heard say, and that is that it looks like death; for there's but little difference between a sleeping man and a dead one."

Sancho Panza
from Don Quixote by Cervantes

Third Eye

For so long I believed they would eventually go away. People told me they would. Popular notion said they would. I believed. I was patient.

The ads are all aimed at young people. Indeed, the very presence of the spots implies immaturity, as if one cannot be an adult without a clear complexion. Stridex, Clearasil, Oxy Clean Medicated Pads, grown ups are never used to sell these products, only kids. The plain implication, the unavoidable inference is that this malady only afflicts the young, and therefore once one has grown sufficiently one will never have to deal with a zit ever again. One day a switch will be thrown and the strings of christmas tree pimples will disappear, just like that. That's the message.

It's bullshit, of course. They never go away. I sweat less on average; I have much better hygiene; and honestly I do have fewer than I did when I was in highschool, but they still plague me in a profound way.

The ones that pop up right next to a nostril, in that crevice of flesh where oil concentrates in the protected valley between cheek and nose, those are usually painful. Sometimes they'll actually sprout just inside the nostril, making it nearly impossible to pick a booger without sending lightning bolts of pain through one's face. The side of the nose can be painfull, as can the cheek and the chin. But the forehead presents special opportunities for the ambitious pimple.

Anywhere on the forehead is a drag since it's so obvious, like a blinking marquee advertising an action-packed thriller of adolescent frustration. But for ultimate effect the placement has to be dead-center, right between the eyes. Cyclops. The all-seeing third eye. That's the beauty. You get one of these babies and you can scare small children and tiny animals. All day long fun.

The effect on members of the opposite sex is also notable, but not always like you'd expect. Certainly, even if she's studying Homer and your name happens to be Odysseus, this will not likely help your chances of scoring, but if you already have a girlfriend (or wife) the presence of a big juicy zit (particularly if it's on your back) will fire her up. You tell me if I'm wrong, but it becomes irresistible and must be popped. Your discomfort will be far from her mind as she squeezes and pressures that little blister until it squirts its payload like vanilla cream with a little cherry sauce. Again, this may not actually help you score, but some strange satisfaction on her part will be evident nonetheless.

It could be worse, I know. Some guys and gals get it real bad, and there's no joke about that. It really sucks. The occasional pimple I get is really no big deal and I'm thankful for the relatively zit-free complexion I've got. Just do me one favor: look me in the eye when you talk to me.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bummed About Larry

It's hard to believe it was that long ago. I'm trying to do the math in my tiny, addled brain and I'm stumbling, partly because I find simple arithmetic challenging, and partly because I'm trying to deny how old I must be for this to be true. 2004 minus 1987 is 17? Seventeen years ago? I must have been playing on my 8088. That fuckin' thing didn't even have a hard-drive. Damn. I'm old.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards came on 5 1/4" floppy disks and delivered its graphic splendor in 16 colors or less. I played it. It was fun. The game was basically a text adventure with graphics. Navigation was accomplished by entering text commands: knock on door, open window, put on condom, that sort of thing.

The second LSL game utilized the brand new VGA graphics. It was pretty much the same thing but with slightly better images. You still never really saw anything, no titty, no booty, no clam, but it was still fun. So were the next two games. I'm pretty sure I played them all.

Recently, the LSL games have been resurrected with Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. And it's horrible. Al Lowe was the man behind the original games but he didn't have anything to do with this one. It's sort of like Brittany's Dance Party only with slightly more boobies bouncing in bikini tops. No puzzles, no characters worth remembering, no plot. I rented it for the PS2 and played it for about ten minutes. Hitting the directional arrows to a beat is not my idea of a good time, even if there's a possibility of seeing some titty, which I don't think there actually was. I saw a PC version of the game called Uncut and Uncensored that advertises itself as having all the nudity and sex scenes left in. That one apparently has some titty, but free porn is way too plentiful for me to be willing to drop $40 on a lame rip-off of a classic game just to see the titties. And I'm a little creeped-out by the thought of the sex scenes. It just doesn't seem right. Some things are better left to the imagination.

Poor Larry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The neo-cons love you, Denny.

I listened to Richard Perle on NPR this morning. It was pretty funny. I think most people don't realize what a whiny little bitch Perle is because of his smug, condescending demeanor. But if you ignore the arrogant tone and just listen to his words it's not so hard to imagine the chubby kid who wore glasses and always told you about how important his dad was and would tell on you and stuff. I listened for about 40 minutes and heard Mr. Perle say things like, "You have no evidence." and "I think you need to be really careful about using the word 'lie.'" When referenced comments were presented he would say, "I am not familiar with the document to which you refer." When callers were upset about our country's naked aggression and complete disregard for law and justice, Perle would say, "See? That's why it's impossible to have a discourse with the liberal mindset." I think it's very disingenuous to insist on evidence when your plan to invade another country relied solely on lies to sell itself to the people of America and the world (though, far fewer outside the U.S. actually fell for the lies). I like evidence, but I'm not sitting smugly at home doing phone interviews while thousands sacrifice their lives and limbs to carry out my ill-thought plans for a New American Century, simultaneously talking down my nose and out the side of my mouth. And this talk of ruthless dictators is further disingenuity: why should we be concerned about taking one down while we've propped up so many? Even Saddam at one time shook hands and shared dinner with Donald Rumsfeld. Plenty more besides are roaming even now. (I wonder: if Pinochet falls hard enough, will Kissinger be implicated as well?)

He had a flunky with him whose name I can't recall now, a professor of some sort, author of papers and such, sounded a little gay. This fellow at one point said that he was flattered to be called a neo-con. Later he made a statement that seemed to imply that neo-cons were just a figment of liberal imaginations, raving lunatics to the one. Clearly, raving lunatics rule the day.

It's about the oil. We all must be able to see that. I know it's comforting to believe that our president is a good man and that he really does care about all the death and disfigurement that is occurring on his watch, even as I write this, but the evidence clearly shows that that is not true.

George W. Bush was an unremarkable student who was floated by his exceptionally well-connected parents through prestigious schools, into the military, into a career, and finally into public office. He has nothing to be proud of in his personal history, no accomplishments to speak of. The college years? What was his grade point average? The National Guard? Did he even show up? Do you know the difference between going AWOL and deserting? His business career? Ran his company into the ground but managed to sell his stock just before it tanked. Normally that sort of thing would be investigated by the SEC, but not if your parents are well-connected, like George's are. Seriously, the guy is a big loser. I feel very strongly that people who support him swallow massive doses of denial every day for breakfast, or studiously avoid doing any research at all. Well, some people support him for good reasons (I use the term "good" loosely), but those are the small group of insanely rich people to whom the Bush Presidency owes its success. Without their money and support the massive propaganda machines such as Fox News and the Washington Times couldn't exist, and if they didn't exist no one could have been tricked into believing that Saddam posed a threat to anyone other than the Kurds. Did you know that the Washington Times is owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon? Did you know that he bleeds something like $10,000,000 a year to keep that paper running, and that its only reason for existing is to spew poorly written propaganda for the administration? Moonies. Yeah, that's right. George and all the rest of them owe that raving lunatic big time. Money talks, my friend. Even if you are bat-shit nuts, a large enough pile of money will win you friends in high places, George W. Bush for instance.

The petroleum is killing us. This is something else we all must be able to see. It's bad. Simple as that. The combustion engine is a horrible design that produces too much pollution, wastes too much fuel, and delivers too little power. That may be hard to see when you feel the vibrating rush of a V8 hemi growling down the highway, but just stop and look at the cost of gas and the mileage vehicles get. It's pathetic. We can do better, a lot better. But it will be hard.

We're addicted to oil. The Saudi Arabian theocracy has so much money invested in our economy that if they were to pull out right now, if we were to suddenly stop buying super-tankers full of oil, the United States would plunge into ruin. Oh sure, the environment would benefit, but we'd become a third-world country overnight. Quitting the oil will be painful, extremely painful, but continuing to be a junky sucks, and it will ruin us. Addicts always quit, either by force of will or force of death. Which path will we take? Already, we see the price of oil has spiked considerably, not just the cost at the pump, but now we pay with human lives. How do you feel about that? Next time you're at the pump, imagine that it's human blood you're injecting. Feel good? Like it? Yeah, baby, unleaded premium O positive. Good to the last drop. Hey look! I think that was cousin Denny I just pumped into my Hummer! Thanks Denny! If you hadn't died in Mosul last week, I couldn't go 4-wheeling tonight. You the man, Denny. You the man.

Tofu Corn Casserole










Bare in mind: all of these measurements are approximate. I never actually measure anything, just put in what seems right, taste, move on. You can always add more. :-)



Ingredients for the tofu mixture:

1 big block of firm tofu

Personally, I like Wildwood and Wildwood sells tofu in two sizes. One is roughly square, the other more like a rectangle or brick which is twice the size of the square. Go for the brick. If you can’t find Wildwood Tofu, just get a big block of whatever is the firmest.

1 big onion

Chop it up real tiny-like. Keep a good cross‑draft going over the cutting board or use a food processor to keep from crying like a little girl.

2 jalapeno peppers

Chop them up real tiny-like. Maybe get a glove for your left hand. Otherwise be real careful you don’t stick your finger in your eye later, cuz that will suck if you do. If you're a big sissy, you can throw away the seeds. That will make it less hot, but why would you want to do that?

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

Get the ones that come in a jar drowning in olive oil and chop them up real tiny-like.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Use good olive oil. The tofu is totally reliant on the other ingredients for flavor and this is one of, if not, the most important.

1/2 a bag or so of shredded sharp cheddar

Life is too short to use mild cheddar.

1 teaspoon curry paste

The curry paste will need to be diluted so that it can mix. It would like to be diluted with milk, but this recipe ain’t got no milk in it so use olive oil and be aggressive.

1/4 cup good red wine

2 cans Green Giant Niblets


Ingredients for the cornmeal mixture:

2 cups corn meal

I am really hazy on this part. Was it 2 cups or was it 1 cup? Was the ratio to water 1:1 or 1:2? I can’t remember. You figure it out. Just remember: mush. That’s what you want. Also, don't stop stiring while it's heating.

2 cups water

See above.

1 tablespoon hot sauce

Tapatío, Cholula, Crystal or Tobasco, your choice.

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1/2 teaspoon cumin


1 tablespoon butter
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Step 1. Fix the Tofu
Take the big block of firm tofu and dice it. Personally, I don’t find the cube an appetizing shape. So once the tofu has been diced, I like to mix it up on the cutting board into a pile and then chop it a bit, randomly changing it into irregular shapes and sizes that are, I think, a little more food-like in appearance. Don’t get carried away, though.

Step 2. Compress the Tofu
Now put the diced and chopped tofu into a bowl with the finely chopped jalapeno peppers, finely chopped onion, finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, olive oil, and curry paste. Mix this up nice and then press it down tight in the bowl. Cover it with Saran wrap and put it in the fridge overnight.

Step 3. Fry the Tofu
Now take it out and brown it in a frying pan over high heat. Fry a small enough amount at a time as will allow you to get good color in as short a period of time as possible. If you put too much of the tofu mixture into the pan at once it will just bubble and cook, and that’s not what you want. If you do this right a layer of brown goodness will form on the bottom of the pan. De-glaze this with some good red wine and add to the mixture.

Step 4. Make the Casserole
Combine and mix the corn, the cheese, and the tofu mixture and then pour it into the casserole.

Step 5. The Cornmeal Layer
Boil the cornmeal, butter, cumin, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper in water until it reaches the consistency of mush, stirring constantly. Pour this over the tofu/corn mixture like a blanket of yummy corn goodness. You can give it some texture if you want. I like to chop at it with a fork so that it has a rough texture that will brown nicely. But do what you want. Also, sprinkle a little more paprika and/or cayenne over the top just to give it a little color.

Step 6. Bake it, then Broil it
Bake 375o 30 minutes.
Broil for ten minutes or until a little brown on top.
There’s nothin here that really needs to be cooked so once it’s hot enough inside to serve, broiling browns it quick. And then it’s ready for the table. Yum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

testing

one, two, three...