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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Things To Do Before I Croak #1

For the past few years I've been watching vids from the various ComicCons. While my scope of the superhero realm is limited (hey, there just weren't that many of them when I was a kid) I'm developing a warm attachment to superheroes at this age.

Batman and Superman were my faves when I was a kid. But there are whole galaxies of supertypes now, with powers undreamed of in the 50s and 60s. And there are a bunch more women. The women of my gen were spinoffs of the men= Batgirl, Supergirl, etc. We had more female villains than heroes in the olden times. In the post WW2 era, good guys were white and bad guys came in assorted other colors. The intelligent were often bad guys, or good guys that went bad. Geeks had not taken the mantle of pride and power they now sport.

But watching this year's ComicCon has given me an almost faith-based initiative: I wanna go, I wanna dress up in costume, I wanna leave the humdrum world behind for a few days and enjoy myself in an alternate reality.

What really perked me up and sealed the deal was this vid my Allyson sent me:

These are my people. I have found my tribe.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


This was an unbearably hot week. A propane tank at a hardware store here blew its top, sxaring the Hell outta a few people and calling out the FD. 102' and just shy of that mark for four days, with the sun frying front yards and withering gardens, we melted. My 36 year old AC has been running at full throttle for weeks and only today brought the temp in here down to a frigid 78. I can't wait to move.

Oscar Grant's murderer was found guilty of 2nd degree Involuntary Manslaughter. He'll get his IF he does time.

The insanity of the Teabaggers goes on unchecked. The only conspiracy I put stock in is the dumbing down of America. People are terrifyingly gullible and fearful these days. And unbelievably selfish. All are marks of the uneducated.

Otherwise, I'm happy to just be able to sleep again. Things are as usual, which isn't bad in the big picture. I'm well aware of all I have, and how much I'm blessed. I'm blessed with a lot.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ringo is Seventy! Happy Birthday!

Ringo was and will always be My Beatle. He's not everyone's fave Fab, but I've loved him since I was 4 (according to my Mom) when they landed in NY and all Hell broke loose. Girls met them at the airport carrying bleach and threatening to drink it unless they met The Beatles. Fans chased their cars- or what they thought were their cars- all over the city. You couldn't hear their music over the screaming on Ed Sullivan. Ah, the memories.

And Ringo is 70 years old today.
Happy Birthday, Ringo.

It don't come easy,
You know it don't come easy.
It don't come easy,
You know it don't come easy.
Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
You don't have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.
Forget about the past and all your sorrows,
The future won't last,
It will soon be over tomorrow.
I don't ask for much, i only want your trust,
And you know it don't come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it just ain't easy.
Open up your heart, let's come together,
Use a little love
And we will make it work out better.
Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
You don't have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.
Peace, remember peace is how we make it,
Here within your reach
If you're big enough to take it.
I don't ask for much, i only want your trust,
And you know it don't come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it don't come easy.

(lyrics copyright Richard Starkey)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Epic Cooking Disasters

A conversation with my friend Kathleen brought memories of my worst-ever cooking accomplishments.

Since we were an "everybody works" family, I was the household cook from the time I was 11 until my mom stopped working when I was 16. Since my mom was a truly terrible cook, expectations were low when I began slinging the hash. Thankfully, the almost inedible was the usual fare and so there were few gripes or hard feelings expressed when I "discovered" how sausage was made or the icing stuck to one's teeth like Gorilla Glue.

Fanny Farmer was my first cooking instructor. Written for home cooks and very clearly explained, I somehow failed regularly to achieve anything near the illustrations or descriptions given. Much of my knowledge of how things cooked or what they looked like when served was from my mom's example and I seemed to be succeeding at making the beige, gray and army green dishes she'd put out all my life. But that's not what the cookbooks showed. There was also a huge discrepancy in cooking times. My mom put everything on the stove and in the oven at the same time and everything cooked for an hour or two- canned vegetables, potatoes and roasts all went on and all were out at once. But the cookbook said things cooked at all different times. I wrestled with this notion for several months. I'd never seen cooked meat any colors but blackish brown or gray before. Meat was a dry, leathery substance! Why do these pictures make it all look juicy and reddish pink? Hamburgers baked for an hour at 350'- what's this heresy of putting them in a pan on a burner? And gravy? You made that by scraping all the black stuff off of the bottom under the meat and adding watery cornstarch. Who puts spices and salt in it? What were spices anyway? Something foreigners used! We have salt and black pepper on the table and if that's not enough, tough shit.

Looking back, it's hard to believe we survived my cooking. The afore-mentioned sausages were hamburger patties I made with Thanksgiving stuffing mix by chance and baked til they were hockey pucks. The icing was for a 1st anniversary cake for my mom and stepdad, a boiled icing that hardened in the pot with the spoon stuck fast in it, which Mom threw out altogether with the flat single-layer salty brick of a cake I'd made from scratch (I cried over that). There was the baked cod, still in its box shape from the freezer and dehydrated to a crisp; the gluey mashed potatoes you had to scrape off the fork with your teeth; the chicken breasts that looked like those beak toning things in birdcages; egg noodles that disintegrated to paste when I stirred butter into them; the watery, mushy corn on the cob; the parchment paper-like roasted onions; the round steak that you had to chew for ten minutes; the pot roasts that fell to strings like shoelaces. And so it all went on our dining room table, the parade of Minute rice dishes being a novelty.

At some point my stepdad brought home dried herbs and spices and I got creative. Now everything was way overcooked but had flavors. Not good flavors, but flavors nonetheless. I began experimenting. Chicken with nutmeg and oregano. Meat loaf with cinnamon and mint. If my cooking couldn't match Fanny Farmer's, it would be original.

Then something happened that changed my life. I watched The Galloping Gourmet and The French Chef and became addicted. My dad bought me The French Chef Cookbook for Christmas (I still have that stained & beaten up copy). Since I'd already been cooking badly but fearlessly, it wasn't hard to pick up how to cook really well. My mom was pissy and critical at first, but nobody can bitch over good food for long. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So if cooking is not your forte, take heart. Keep doing it. Be fearless. If I did it, anyone can.

A Grand Week

This past week, a change came in the course of things. Good things happened for and around me. Since I think it's just as if not more important to cite these things, here they are:

The Deerfield Valley Cares folks granted me enough money to cover my power until the LIHEAP comes back.

The local Affordable Housing people gave me hope that it may not be long before I can move to a better, safer apartment.

Medicaid paid for my Medicare portion, meaning I won't be taking the financial hit after all and can pay my rent as usual.

My friend Christian Avard's interview with Gail Dines was picked up in several online columnists' commentary.

PAYT was voted down by a 2 to 1 margin.

My friend's neck surgery is healing and she is getting better. Slowly.

My old pal Jono came back into my life and he's doing well.

Nobody in my circle of friends and family had bad news, for once. At least nothing that hit us personally or so badlythat it can't be rebuilt. That in itself is a miracle.

So really, in the words of the late Mrs. Burke, "It was a grand week."
I'm going to leave it at that.

Happy Independence Day! May your hot dogs not be on the recall list!