Thursday, June 28, 2007

Survival Guide for the Solitary Homosexual

From Chapter One:

For a simple meal when one doesn't feel like going to all the effort to make a vol-au-vent or pot-au-feu (which in any case are unseasonably wintry or autumnal dishes), a classic homemade shrimp bisque is an excellent alternative, especially on a warm weekend evening as one awaits the advent of Midsummer.

Warning: one should take care to not set the bungalow ablaze when flambéing the crustacean shells with brandy.

[June 16]

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Golden Years

Now that I am pretty much officially elderly, I thought I'd cement my status by writing letters to newspaper editors, expounding on my disapproving views on a variety of things.

Well, last Sunday, I managed to end up in print in the "Calendar" section (essentially Arts & Leisure) of the Los Angeles Times:

THE piece on the director of the "Hostel" films, Eli Roth, was eye-opening to say the least. Trying to defend this gore as a generational and "artistic" response to the politics of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is reductive and irresponsible, with a skewed perspective on cause and effect. Roth's psychiatrist father may dismiss criticism for accompanying the young Eli to horror films as "bourgeois," but I have a different take: A parent who would allow an 8-year-old to watch "Alien" is a borderline psychopath and is also very likely to raise one.
Santa Barbara

It's nice to see that a few other readers agreed with my disapproving point of view:

I find any promotion of a guy like Eli Roth despicable. You can put all the window dressing you want on what he does; you can call it "gorn" or whatever you want. What it is, is pure mental illness. Roth is a metaphysically degenerate, psychologically retarded guy who is producing dehumanizing torture films. Kids see commercials for these movies at 8 and 9 at night, and some will see this article. This kind of exposure normalizes what is inherently sick and sadistic. We all, with everything we do and don't do, with everything we say and don't say, genuinely affect the world we live in. Roth can be as glib as he wants about what he does, but it's having a genuinely negative effect on the world.
Westlake Village

EVEN at his tender age, Eli Roth has perhaps been living in the world of "pretend" just a little too long. It is terribly sad when a person is so disconnected from the damaging effects of his work that he can make the comment (without a touch of irony) that "nothing really scares" him anymore. How much more obvious can the effect of his work be?

Why don't Roth and the other "masters of horror" spend their valuable time doing something to truly confront the political conditions that make it acceptable to torture prisoners and carve up women? I'll tell you why — because there's no horse ranch in Iceland, no mansion on Malibu Beach, resulting from that work. In the end, there is one rationale only — profit.

I now return you to your more productive, young, non-elderly lives.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I shall not travel down this path too far this week, otherwise, I will be forced to again to start dwelling on the ritual beauty of seppuku.

Some recent advice from Carolyn Hax's column:
"Credit scores are numeric character witnesses. People who knowingly assume more debt than they can repay are thieves.."
Oh boy.

Paradise Cafe: June 5

Timelier still...

After a stroll through the downtown farmer's market, had dinner with J on Tuesday night, taking advantage of the Paradise's 24th Anniversary celebration. It's always been one of my favorite spots, especially to take out-of-town guests. As always, the appetizer of oak-grilled mussels with basil vinaigrette was the best part of the meal.

Oh, and two really strong margaritas definitely put me at about my limit, especially for a Tuesday night.

"Big Dog" Parade: June 2

A little timelier.

One of Santa Barbara's summer events (there seems to be something weekly) that didn't take up too much time on a Saturday morning. I think I enjoyed the sign in this contingent that read "Bark Obama."

Monday, June 04, 2007

I Madonnari: May 27

Not so promptly posted... [Festival Info link]

With Some Fava Beans & A Nice Chianti...

I had a freakish dream sometime last week in which I needed an "emergency" liver transplant. I got like two days' notice, and the dream was transpiring on the Sunday evening prior to an early Monday morning appointment in the operating room.

I think the scariest thing was talking to the dream doctor (not my real-life doctor) about the fact that, "of course there are no guarantees, and it's possible we might lose you while you're under anæsthesia." I realized by having that dream how much the concepts of general anæsthesia (yes, I like spelling it with the ligature) and major surgery freak me out.

I have no idea why I would have had this dream. Do we ever know why? I do, from time to time, think about the condition of my liver, since one of the meds I'm on does affect one of the liver enzymes, and I'm often curious how alcohol consumption of any kind might play into that (not that my alcohol consumption is particularly high or anything). I guess it is a nagging worry that one of these meds or the other might be having some kind of detrimental long-term effect on one of my internal organs or another. But, hey! It beats being dead yesterday, right?! Woo hoo!

Then again, maybe my liver obsession was subconsciously related to the fact that I cooked up some fava beans from the farmers' market a couple weekends ago (in a tomato-onion sauce, over tortelloni, if you must know).

Friday, June 01, 2007

This Disgusts Me

I try to cultivate compassion, even for those for whom I have an initial impulse to label complete assholes.

Sometimes, it just doesn't work... but I continue to think that this really is the primary challenge presented for me and many others during our lives here on earth.

Case in point, an article this morning about some complete jackass who runs a publishing company formed to combat the so-called liberal monopoly on children's books.

Scholastic will be coming out in September with "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," a 176-page call to action aimed at children ages 8 and up. World Ahead will counter with its own book intended to debunk global warming and discourage environmental activism.

Kicking back in his Torrance office on a recent afternoon, under a giant poster of Ronald Reagan, Jackson glanced at a news release touting the Scholastic book. The cover illustration shows a child sitting cross-legged in the grass, cradling Earth.

"It's just so — so — what's the word?" marketing director Judy Abarbanel asked.

"Nauseating," Jackson suggested.

CHILDREN, he complained, are bombarded with tree-hugger propaganda: SUVs are bad. ExxonMobil is worse. Polar bears are drowning. The planet needs saving, and fast.

Jackson's response: Stop stressing.

He doesn't buy the international scientific consensus that human activity — chiefly the burning of fossil fuels — is causing the planet to warm. President Bush on Thursday tempered his hesitation on the issue, urging global curbs on pollutants.

Jackson, however, remains a skeptic; he maintains that any government solution would be worse than the problem. So he gets alarmed at the thought of children petitioning Congress to ban Hummers.

What. The. Fuck.? Seriously, this gets me so fucking angry and depressed at the same time that I don't know what to do other than shake my head.

Actually, part of me is smugly satisfied pretty much knowing that conservative ideology is (at varying rates of speed) dying out and being supplanted by more liberal ethics across the board. The average 18-24 year old has a vastly different worldview than the average 64-72 year old, and the only thing dickwads like Mr. Jackson can do about it is try to stick their fingers in the metaphorical dike! Within thirty years we will have more widespread same-sex marriage and so forth. I'm not so sanguine about where we'll be in terms of economic equality (I'm afraid more like Brazil or South Africa, with the haves all locked safely in their high-security gated compounds, while shantytowns spring up on the fringes of Jamaica Bay and South Los Angeles).

But still, Mr. Jackson and his ilk are on the losing side of history, in my opinion. Sorry, buddy, but your kids' generation is more than likely going to be more liberal than you are, on the whole. Faggots, and radical vegans, and animal activists are going to have a place at the table, and your pathetic cottage industry can only make incremental inroads in slowing their progress.

Still, I fucking hate this country sometimes and really feel that I don't belong here and wish desperately to be able to live somewhere in the EU. I don't want to be surrounded by people like this. I find it hard to reconcile the idea that "we should all be able to find common ground somewhere" even with those on the other side of the political fence. The problem is, in my heart, I really can't find common ground with people who are this disgusting and hateful. And I know they're as disgusted with "people like me" (whatever that means). So, no, most of the time I don't think it's possible to "understand" and have compassion for people who are extreme conservatives. The only way for me to even live among them is for us all to be silent on issues that we believe in, but there's no way I could "rationally discuss" our differences. I guess that makes me sad on some level, but mostly just makes me feel hopeless and disgusted that there is so much hate out there with which we're supposed to "make nice and get along."

The ridiculous article ends with these gems:

Fretwell's book — "The Sky's Not Falling! Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming!" — will be released in September. That will put it on bookshelves at about the same time as the Scholastic book, which is co-written by Laurie David, a liberal activist and the producer of Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Jackson plans an initial run of no more than 10,000 copies, about his financial break-even point. But he's hoping the book will catch the eye of a conservative talk-show host — Sean Hannity, maybe, or Rush Limbaugh — "and we'll sell out in the blink of an eye," he said.

If "The Sky's Not Falling!" takes off, Jackson hopes to launch a line of nonfiction books for children presenting a conservative take on other topics. In the meantime, he's overseeing final edits for "Joey Gonzalez, Great American," a bilingual story about a third-grader whose teacher tells him his last name is a sign that he's less capable.

"It's a little bit harder for minorities to learn," the teacher tells him. "Don't worry, Joey…. There's a special way to help minorities get ahead. It's called affirmative action."

Joey stands up to the teacher, telling her that his ancestors, Spanish explorers, "didn't come all the way over here to be minorities." They didn't need special help, and he doesn't either: "Great Americans don't cheat."

Jackson doesn't have children, but he suspects plenty of parents share his values. One day, he'd like to offer them a whole conservative library so they can put aside the picture books about socialist fish and gay penguins and snuggle up with a bedtime story about the right to bear arms.