Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ein braungebrannter Gaucho mit schwarzbraunem Haar

Karamba, Karacho, ein Whisky!
Karamba, Karacho, ein Gin!
Verflucht, Sacramento, Dolores,
Und alles ist wieder hin!

So yeah, I'll be in der Hauptstadt of our great state all day Friday. Excitement.

Aber kein Gin.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fugue on a Theme of Responsibility

73-Year-Old HIV+ Texas Lay Chaplain Arrested for Needle Exchanges

Yet one more story convincing me that parts of this country are incredibly backward:
SAN ANTONIO -- Bill Day doesn't fancy himself an outlaw -- and with his Mr. Rogers demeanor, he definitely doesn't look the part. But soon the 73-year-old lay chaplain could spend up to a year in jail for breaking a law that he considers immoral.

Day hands out clean needles to drug addicts on some of the seediest streets in this south Texas city. He does it because he's convinced that it reduces human suffering by curtailing the spread of HIV, a view that has been supported by medical research for more than a decade.

However, Day's actions are illegal in Texas -- the only state that has not started a needle-exchange program of some kind. So when a San Antonio police officer spotted him swapping syringes with prostitutes and junkies this month, he was arrested on drug paraphernalia charges.

"This is a moral imperative," said Day, whose nonprofit group, the Bexar Area Harm Reduction Coalition, gets funding from his church. "I come from a family of altruistic people. My mother made clothes for the poor during the Depression. My father never turned down a hobo. I have to keep doing what I think is right."

Day also has a personal reason for wanting to stop others from contracting AIDS: He has the disease. Sick and weary a decade ago, he called an ambulance, thinking he was suffering from pneumonia. At the hospital, he was informed that he had full-blown AIDS -- and about two weeks to live. He fiercely fought on and overcame the odds, but not before his once-athletic frame had shrunk to 120 pounds.

"I don't want anyone else to go through that," Day said as he stood on San Antonio's west side next to a vacant lot strewn with used needles. He said his AIDS, which he did not contract through drug use, has been stabilized for six years.

I'm encouraged that there are people out there like Day putting themselves on the line to help people and to combat this kind of nonsense thinking that the righteous politicos of Texas seem to keep generating inside their thick skulls.
Neel Lane, a high-powered San Antonio lawyer who agreed to defend Day for free after learning about his case through their church, St. Mark's Episcopal, said it was time for the Lone Star State to admit it was behind the times.

"When you're the only state that doesn't have [a needle-exchange program], you're either the 2% smartest or 2% dumbest in the country," Lane said.

You've got that right.

Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot

I already mentioned a couple of months ago that I enjoyed the Julie Taymor Beatles-based musical film Across the Universe. I ended up buying the soundtrack around Christmas because I liked the music so much, and for some reason I've been especially drawn to that version of Happiness is a Warm Gun and my memories of the way the scene was filmed in the movie. I think Taymor really came up with some clever scenes for her Vietnam War-themed film, including one with a little cameo of Salma Hayek at her sex-kitten best. So, here it is for your potential enjoyment:

I remember listening many times to my Mom's mothballed copy of "The White Album" when I was in high school, but at the time, Happiness... was one of the many songs I used to skip over on that album because it was too hard edged for me or something. I tended to play over and over the more melody-driven tracks like Blackbird, Julia, Martha My Dear, and Rocky Racoon (which is probably one of my top five favorite Beatles songs).

I think I'm long overdue to add The White Album -- not to mention other Beatles essentials -- to my music collection.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's a Rainy, Rainy Wednesday

Don't read too far into this, folks. I've been holding onto this image for months, and today seems as good a day as any to finally post it.

The UU church has the most consistently entertaining signboard in town. I attended a service there once, just to check things out (not to mention a very sad memorial of someone who was like a mother to me). I wouldn't mind being a UU; I just don't have the fortitude to do anything that consistently.

This is where a therapist might prompt, "Say more about that...," but maybe I'll save that for another time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

UCSB Hillary Clinton Clusterfuck

Well, let's just say that my chance to see Hillary Clinton -- mere steps from my office cubicle door -- didn't turn out to be the walk in the park I thought it would be. I arrived to find a huge crowd of students and other assorted local yokels, zigzagging around a slipshod police-caution tape maze in the dirt outside one of the campus gymnasiums.

I was met at around 4:45pm by my friend The Bon-Vivant, and it all seemed festive and very "up with people" for the first hour or so. Then, the sun sank beyond the horizon, people started getting cranky and ever-so-slightly rude (in the ever-so-slight way that only Californians -- and perhaps Southerners -- can), the caution tape proved how flimsy it really was, and before we knew it, by 6:00pm, those of us far back in what had started as a "line" were in kind of an amorphous, Clinton-lovin' mashup. I blame the temporary incompetence of the UC Police, CSOs, or whatever other well-oiled bureaucratic units were responsible for coordinating logistics for this hootenanny. When it was obvious by about 5:00pm that there were a good 1500 people lined up for a venue that would only hold 1000-1200 max, someone should have gently told any newcomers that they'd already surpassed capacity and that they should probably not bother joining the roiling mass of humanity.

The only upside? To paraphrase Lerner & Lowe: Thank Heavens for little college-aged boys.

By 6:30, we decided to call it a Noble Effort, but let the heartier souls in the crowd remain to either get inside or get trampled. Hill-woman was scheduled to speak at 6:45, so we assumed the place was already packed to the rafters, and thus some kind of disappointment-soothing supper was now in order.

We listened to Hillary's speech and Q&A while munching pizza and sipping syrah in The Bon-Vivant's cozy kitchen, practically huddled around a radio in what I (having a fit of nostalgia for an era I never lived in) envisioned as a very circa-1940 FDR-evoking moment. That's utter, overblown hogwash, of course, but it was MY fantasy, so shaddup, all you eyerollers!

In the end, I was inspired, while also being reminded of what a minefield the whole business of political speechifying is nowadays. How do you tiptoe around a question like the following from a Latina undergraduate: "What do you think about the idea of amnesty for the 12-to-14-million undocumented immigrants in this country?" I'd have probably answered, "Well, mija, let's put it this way: I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. Next question?!"

Anyway, Hillary was my woman even before last night. And even though I didn't get to bask at close range in her sensibly-pantsuited aura, the way I had hoped to, she's still my candidate, and I'm aboutthisclose to clicking on the volunteer registration button at

See further coverage from the campus paper here:
-Clinton Coverage: Delay, Rumors, Disorder Frustrate 3,600 Attendees
-Clinton Addresses Crowd at Pavilion Gym

Oh, one final thing: How motherfucking pissed off do you think I was to learn that some bunglicking miscreant actually got one of the precious seats in the audience last night in order to use it as an opportunity to unfurl his juvenile "How's Monica?" banner for his pencildicked fifteen seconds of fame? Waste product!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Short Stack, Side of Bacon, Hold the Locusts

As they say, "You learn something new every day."

Well, if Wikipedia is to be believed (and you believers know who you are), yesterday I expanded my knowledge of kashrut dietary law a little bit:
Most vegetables, particularly leafy vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, parsley, dill, etc.), must be thoroughly checked for insect infestation (see link below for video instruction on proper checking procedure from the OU). The consumption of insects involves between three and six violations of Torah law; so, according to Jewish Law, it is a greater sin than the consumption of pork.
While most insects are considered to be forbidden by Kosher dietary laws, four varieties of locust are nonetheless considered by some to be permissible.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled, unclean meal...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vayikra, Shmayikra...

Saturday, January 12
Bacon-wrapped Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Demiglace

Gays Approach Forty

Text exchange [slightly paraphrased] on Friday night:

Are you finishing a power cocktail hour hosted by La Flim Flam for her crack team?

- Watching BBC adaptations of Agatha Christie on DVD, actually. My friends are either poor & ill or dating some dago named Agostino. I hate everybody!

Lawd! Then crack open that 2nd bottle of TJ's Cabernet and go on with your bad (or is that S.A.D.) self!

- Oh believe me; glass #2 of Forestville Malbec is dregs. And you?

Finishing coq leftovers with merlot, reading about PBS Austenfest in LA Times, then either finishing a book or watching a dvd...

- We. Are. Old.

Embrace the (zaftig) spinster within, bitch! I loves me mine!

- Yes, but what about disco? Wild orgies with addled boys?

"...nostalgic for a past I never had," as Eddie Socket would say. Drink up, Jim!

- Yeah, yeah. There was one hotel group thing back in the paleolithicpaleolithic I feel sure.

Well now we're in the postpostlithic, so please to enjoy the Hercule Poirot.

- Yeah

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

This is Not a Baby Blog

It's not a food blog, either, but I think I needed to post something new to spice things up a bit. Haven't you gotten tired of looking at me and my cute nephew?

Anyway, it was "Coq au Vin Monday" at Chez Joe last night. I'm blaming Julie Powell's entertaining-but-light-as-a-dacquoise book, Julie & Julia, a story of Powell's year of attempting to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Recommended, especially for foodies.

Verdict on the Coq au Vin?: A big, fat, resounding MEH.

It may look good, and smelled fantastic, but in the end, it was chicken in carrot/mushroom gravy with potatoes (not the most tender, delectable chicken I've ever cooked, either). Maybe it was my technique. Maybe it's the fact that I've been feeling a little peaked the past couple of days and I had almost no appetite when I was trying to down the dish last night.

Moral of the story?: Sometimes, chicken in gravy is just chicken in gravy, even if you dress it up with bacon fat and sweet cream butter and give it some hifalutin, quasi-sexy French name.

Oh, and as for "Cock with Wine"? No appetite for that either. I really want nothing more than to go home and crawl back into bed right now. Alone.