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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free Yuks

We need more laughter. The world is too much with us all the time now and unless you never read news and never email or talk to anybody you've got serious shit on your head. But there is help. Here then, are some breaks from reality in the form of very funny people.

This is for Adults Only, or for those over 18, anyway.

Dylan Moran, "What It Is" tour:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY0A-15JQ8k

Alan Davies, "Urban Trauma" tour:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJSK3t0gSRY

Robin Williams, "Weapons of Self Destruction" (he donated the proceeds to NZ earthquake victims):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd2IoHbjvTk

Bill Hicks, "Sane Man":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMjNT_dTeB8

Margaret Cho, "I'm the One That I Want":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSVTN9Q_oZM

French & Saunders"Nuns in Rome" skit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEvIdsBpZDQ

Jo Brand Live at the Apollo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHmZd6yVTS8

"Women of the Night no. 4":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FcHnf4HjfY

In The Tardis

It's organizing time here, before the lunch party. But a storage room is a Tardis. You go in there with a plan to move things and make it all a bit more coordinated and end up lost in other places, other times, and it all gets overwhelmingly huge.

This all started with one box of photos. I'm trying to get a package together to mail out. Need to find some things I'd bought last year that got packed in the move and while I'm at it, find some pix to include. Soon I had 3 open boxes all partially emptied, a pile of stuff on the coffee table, a stack of irrelevant things next to me on the sofa and in short, a big mess. Then I became obsessed with finding some dvds I haven't seen since before moving. And somewhere along the line while having a cup of coffee I stopped to read some old letters. Suddenly, half the day is gone. Still haven't found the presents, the pix or the dvds. And now I'm wiped and have to clean this mess up, which means it'll all pretty much go back where it was and nothing is even accomplished.

Today I was supposed to be hanging paintings. Sometimes I'm a real asswipe. Blame the damn Tardis.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the Waterfront

There are at least two sides to everything. Here in the public housing complex (council housing to those outside the US) that I live in, there are two areas of clustered buildings side by side. It's all primarily low-income, disabled and retiree housing. Some years ago this area was declared a flood plain because a large waterway runs through it, though it's never flooded in over 70 years. I know this from an elderly woman, now living here, whose family had a farm here long before public housing came to town. The last time a cellar flooded on this land was in 1938, when a great hurricane swept through destroying many lives and changing the town forever.

In any event, the housing authority here has decided to tear down the buildings in the neighboring area to build a smaller "assisted living" complex. Which means that the 70 or so residents there will soon be tossed out. Living space in this town is all but non-existent and not affordable to those on fixed incomes. Rents here aren't much lower than you'd pay in NYC. The richest folks here are landlords. The working class spends its time making the bucks to pay the rent because frankly most jobs don't pay much here. And so the need for affordable housing is great, causing years of being on waiting lists and a chronic shortage.

There is such a program as "Section 8 Housing" which is where public funding assists those of low-income to pay the remaining portion of market rate rents to private landlords beyond what they're determined able to pay. But Section 8 has been underfunded and the list closed for several years; it seems that the dislocated residents here will be given Section 8 vouchers. At least that's what the scheme is. However, with the recent fire that gutted nearly 60 apartments, the regular demand for housing, the small list of landlords who will accept Section 8 tenants and the limited Accessible apartments for those with disabilities, there just aren't enough available apartments as it is.

So the soon-to-be-evicted are in a hard place. There are allegations of phone-tapping and computer hacking of tenants. The regular fears in being displaced are supplemented by these allegations. We must remember that disabilities include mental as well as physical problems, and the added stress of this situation will likely spark off episodes of whatever existing conditions that those mental illness victims suffer. This is a bad bad scene from any view.

Questions abound. Why not just build a new facility elsewhere rather than tear down perfectly habitable housing? Where are these people supposed to live? Is there a dark motive behind this scheme- to rid the town of some low-income people? For years we've heard the Selectboard (our Council) Chair bemoan that we have "too much low-income housing". Of course, he's not hurting financially- his wife is a major area landlord. The info literature given to the soon-to-be- displaced includes a section about how to move away from the area, with help from the housing authority.

As a new resident, I've tried to stay out of this fracas. I have my own issues to contend with here. But the more I hear, the less I like. There are better ways to accomodate those who need assisted living than to destroy an existing small community. And in the back of my head is the voice of Daniel Ellsberg, quoting Pastor Martin Niemoller when he spoke here:

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We Take All Kindsa Pills that Give Us All Kindsa Thrills...

The one magazine I've subscribed to for most of my life is Rolling Stone. In the 70s, it was because of the music coverage. Nobody, maybe Creem excepted, ever did the music scene like RS. And they regularly ran rock and roll posters, which filled my teenage bedroom walls.

Their format has changed a lot- it's a small glossy now, not the big tabloid newspaper it was. There are a lot of ads and some idiotic tripish commentary under celebrity pix (I wish they'd stop that). But here we are in the 10s and I'm still a subscriber, not for their papparazzi stories but because of their political coverage.

You see, they have a guy named Matt Taibbi. And Matt Taibbi is a journalist like journalists used to be. He reports what he finds, not what he thinks. RS posts his blog here:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog

And they actually have a "culture" section!:
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture

They also run guest columns by peep who think. How refreshing. This last issue has a piece by Al Gore about Climate Change. It's online- for free- here:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-of-denial-20110622

Not that RS is perfect, it's not. I've had some nasty exchanges with their subscription department people over the years. Well, they're Rolling Stone; I expect attitudinal people to work there. It's a yearly ritual to bitch back and forth with them now.

With all that, I'd hate to see it ever go. It's been a constant in my life, even though they dissed Zep and ignored ELP. Nobody's perfect. They're an institution. They're often just fun and frequently amazing. They're never boring.
And there's the classic song by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show that still makes me smile:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of368QdosR0

Ahhh...Beautiful. Long live Rolling Stone.

The Mind Boggles

Things are very bad when the forerunners for the Repos are people like Palin, Romney and Bachmann. What happened to good Republicans? There were a lot, once upon a time. Nowadays you never see that kind- the educated, fully literate, reasoned ones.

My Uncle Bert used to talk to Barry Goldwater on his ham radio. Senator Goldwater (and Uncle Bert) were seasoned Republicans of the old order. People who fact-checked, actually showing intelligence and interest, not just faces solely in quest of power:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/06/michele-bachmann-confuses-john-wayne-gacy-with-the-duke.html

Or looking to further the corporatizing of the US:
http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110627/pl_nm/us_usa_campaign_romney_4

Or trying to be movie stars:
http://beta.news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/sarah-palin-travel-iowa-film-premiere-142808123.html

It's so sad to see the GOP turn into a circus of egomaniacal clowns with nothing to back them up. Uncle Bert would be so disappointed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

July 4th is Coming! Run!

As a Thank You to the many peep who helped me move, and to get a bunch of my favorite humans together, I'm throwing a party after our hometown parade. I love throwing parties.

A lot of the gang will be arriving after having walked and ridden, organized and worked on this annual town wingding. They will be hungry, thirsty and tired. I will be antsy, anxious and fussbudgety. Then we'll all have some beers and food and laugh a lot. Catch up with each other. Crack some jokes. Do nothing but hang out. This is why we have parties.

It's also great for me to do what I love- feed people. Though the days of hosting 2 huge parties a year (St. Pat's and Halloween) are over, I can manage a nice banquet for a dozen or so and it gives me joy to cook the standard dishes everyone likes. Besides the hot dogs, potato, tuna, and mac salads, cole slaw, deviled eggs, baked beans, cheeses, olives, pickles, etc. there are 2 dishes I really love to make- Swedish Meatballs and Riva's Q-Bossy. Both are ingeniously simple and happily feed a crowd. They were offered among last year's Heat Fund Recipes and made some bucks, so it's okay to give them away now. I'll have to come up with new recipes for this year.

Riva's Q-Bossy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
3# commercial kielbasa, cut in 1 1/2" slices
1 c. Heinz ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
12 oz. Dr. Pepper
few dashes hot sauce

This is at least one full day's cooking. Heat up a large stockpot on high and brown off all the kielbasa in it. Turn heat down to medium. Mix the other ingredients in, using 1/2 c. of the Dr. Pepper and reserving the rest, stirring almost constantly for a half hour. If this is not done, Nothing will be completely incorporated and if you won't do it, don't make this recipe.
Cover the pot, turn heat to low, or transfer to a "slow cooker". Heat, covered, 7 hours or more on low, adding more Dr. Pepper as it's looking too thick or gooey. Stir carefully- too much stirring now wrecks the sauce. Hand out spears, stand back..

Swedish Meatballs
*******************************************************************************************
2 lbs. meatloaf mix- beef, pork, any combo of ground meats
1 1/2 - 2 c. unseasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black or cayenne pepper
1 Tblsp. butter
Combine all but butter and mix well until thoroughly smooth. Form meatballs by rolling between palms into 1 1/2 inch balls. In a large fry pan, melt butter on medium high heat and saute meatballs, rolling them around in pan so all sides brown. Remove meatballs from pan with a slotted spoon and set to the side.

Add to fry pan:
1- 12 oz jar apricot or peach preserves
1 1/2 c. weak coffee*
1 beef bouillion cube *
1 1/2 c. water*
*(if you have beef stock, use 1 1/2 c. stock & 1 1/2 c. regular brewed coffee and add salt to taste )
2 splashes worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp gravy master or kitchen bouquet. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.

In a cup, combine
1/2 c. water
2 Tblsp cornstarch
Stir with a whisk until fully dissolved and add to sauce. Turn heat up and bring to a boil, whisking constantly- sauce will thicken.Turn heat to low. If sauce looks too thick, add water to desired thinness. If sauce is too thin, repeat water & cornstarch mix but add by degrees, allowing each addition to cook, until desired thickness. Return meatballs to pan and simmer on low 15- 20 minutes.

Turn off burner & allow to cool. Stir. Cover. Refrigerate overnight. Reheat well and serve over egg noodles or alone as an appetizer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Finals

35 years ago this weekend I walked up an aisle in a Moravian Hall and got my HS diploma. It had been a hectic last week, as a teacher had misplaced my end-term project and I scrambled to replace it, only for it to reappear; we'd sat final exams for the first 3 days of the week, always wretched; and there was tension abounding in my family and home.

One of the finals was a self-evaluation of where you thought you were as a person and how well you thought you knew yourself. It was a tricky thing, but stamped itself indelibly in my head, and somewhere along the line I began taking an annual inventory of myself in June. It's end of the year finals time again.

It seems to me that no matter how well you know yourself, there's always more to reveal. This year I discovered an unpleasant fact: if I'm not happy in a relationship or situation I'll undermine it or otherwise ruin it so I can get out of it. Kind of along the lines of, "If a guy treats you badly he wants you to break up with him," but different. I can think of 2 job situations and at least 2 personal relationships where I did this. I wanted out, saw no other way, and went about getting myself extricated by being a bad person. What a cowardly, crappy way to go! It's tough to own up to it and not a trait I want to keep. But seeing it in myself I also see that others have done it. Again, I ain't unique.

My bad habits pop up when I'm very unhappy. You can't avoid unhappiness, but you can avoid taking it out on yourself. And others.

And finally, I'm seeking to kill my inner martyr. I'm all too willing to suffer "for the sake of others"- repugnant even to type that. And somehow tied into all of the above. I'll fight for others, stand by others, but there's no joy in suffering for others. If it comes to suffering, it's time to exit. And not in a cowardly way.

There are good things, too. I've developed quite a bit more patience and I'm relatively fearless now. I have confidence. I value the people in my life more than ever. It becomes easier to cut losses and know when & where to draw lines. I still have the amazement at beauty and nature and lots of the attributes that that 17 year-old girl had. These are good traits I want to foster better.

So there it is. Another layer of the puff pastry in my head examined. I wonder what next year will bring.

Gotta Let It Go

When words fail, there's John Lennon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dHUfy_YBps

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moCf_pghM-U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqP3wT5lpa4

NY Says Yes to Human Rights

The New York State Senate voted last night to legalize same-sex marriage. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ready to sign the bill, which has already passed the Assembly, and NY will become the largest state in the union to grant same-sex couples the equal rights they deserve.

While terrible things keep happening, we need to celebrate the good stuff. I wish my little brother Seth was alive to see this. I wish a lot of people were. But we are, and should give a yell and a hoot and holler that basic human rights are obtainable no matter what hateful freaks do.

I'm very proud of my native state today. Good job, New York. Can't wait to see what Jon Stewart does with this!

Now, on to destroy the "Defense of Marriage Act"...

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Never Thought I'd See This Again

Way back, back when we wore peasant blouses and peace signs and apple core pendants, there was such a thing introduced called the Equal Rights Amendment. It was 1972. The ERA was meant to close the wage gap between men and women, ensure women had equal rights and eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

The ERA was brought up again in 1978. And again in 1982. In 82 it passed both houses of Congress at last, but when brought to state ratification, only 35 of the 38 states needed were behind it before the bill expired.

As insane as it sounds, women still make 77 cents to the dollar that men make in the same job, close to 40 years on. I've lived this reality all my working life. "It's a man's world," I was told.

Now the ERA has been reintroduced in Congress. Perhaps it's time. I'd like to see my greatniece (and she is great) get a fairer deal than her older women relatives did. I really never thought I'd see it come back. After the shafting the SCOTUS just gave the women Waldemort workers... well, let's just say our SCOTUS SUCKS. And our Congress has been less than inspiring. But maybe, just maybe, it'll make it this time. I'm afraid to hope it will; that audacity fell by the wayside a long time back. What I do hope is that I'm proved wrong.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good Without Gods

Here is one of the best and most thought-provoking arguments for Atheism I've ever heard. The presenter speaks quickly; I had to stop it several times to absorb all the points. I don't agree with every single thing presented, but it's certainly food for deep thought:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7xt5LtgsxQ

Men of Letters...well, books, really...

It's my honor and pleasure to tally up my friends (men, at the moment) who are becoming bona fide authors in the published world.

Wayne Kernochan has had a hell of a life. Quite llterally. From a horrific reform school thru drug addiction, prostitution, crime and recovery, he's seen more bizarrity than most everyone I've ever known. Now he's written it all down. He's got a 3- ebook deal and one in print. See his work, buy his book.
http://www.writersamuseme.com/waynekernochan.htm

Michael Lloyd is putting the final touches on his soon-to-be published massive biography of Eddie Buczynski, Bull of Heaven. Eddie was a driving force in the burgeoning Witchcraft community of the 70s. He founded the Minoan and Welsh Traditions in the U.S. yet remained a virtual unknown in his lifetime. Michael has given eight years of his life to this project, researching and uncovering all the threads that wove Eddie's life and eventual death. I'm proud to say I got to help a little in his project. ;) When there's a publish date set I'll be on here with it in a hot second. This book will be big.

Rory Grant is a new friend, and an old soul. His book, For Auld Lang Syne, Letters From Scotland, has just been made available on Kindle and the tangible book will be out soon. Rory's a fabulous writer and I can't wait to read it when it hits Amazon. Here's his announcement:
http://thescottishscribbler.blogspot.com/2011/06/newsflash.html

There is one more, but I haven't the publish date details yet and it's been a complicated procedure in getting this book to light. When I have a go-ahead I'll fill in more. But it's a bomb that could potentially cause a huge conflagration in religious circles.

I can't even say how proud I am to know these gents and how tickled I am that they've made it. Congratulations, guys. You rock.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shame on US

James Verone has robbed a bank- of one dollar- in order to get medical care. This is a story that could happen, to quote Bush #2, "Only in America!" Mr. Verone was working in a convenience store when his health went downhill fast. With no benefits from his job, denied disability, he planned his crime in order to get the medical care he needs. He hopes for a felony conviction so he'll spend the next few years in jail until he's of full retirement age. Read the story here:
http://www.gastongazette.com/news/bank-58397-richard-hailed.html

Unfortunately, this doesn't surprise me. Ours is the only First World- Superpower country that does not have Universal Healthcare. It's an everyone for themselves, dog eat dog system.

Call me crazy, but I don't think that's how human beings should have to live.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just When I Thought I Couldn't Hate Waldemort Any More Than I Do

Here's a story that'll make you choke on your Lil Debbies:

http://www.alternet.org/story/151303/five_of_the_nastiest_examples_of_wal-mart_evil?akid=7143.295356.UGLRjv&rd=1&t=19

How I Spent the Solstice Moment

Just as I posted, I saw I had incoming email. It was my friend Jim sending me his latest YT video from a boot he got in his mysterious ways. It's ELP playing "Pictures at an Exhibition" at Radio City, February 3, '93. And it's absolute, encompassing beauty. Here it is, for all Prog fans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYHa-0s9VNM

Happy Summer!

It's officially Summer in the Northern parts of the world. Today is the longest day of the year for us and around the world Pagans and non-Pagans are marking the day in diverse celebrations. There's something lovely in marking the continuity of Mother Nature.

While in the states most parties happen on the Solstice day itself, Europeans generally celebrate it on June 24th, or the nearest Friday to it- this year Friday is the 24th. Some call it Midsummer (which I've never quite understood; it's the beginning, isn't it)? Here's an assorted explanation of all this:
http://citizendia.org/Midsummer

And here's some academia from Fraser's The Golden Bough:
http://www.bartleby.com/196/156.html

If you're in NYC on Friday, check this out:
http://www.swedenabroad.com/Page____13256.aspx

Happy Summer.

What He Said

Things have happened that made me too crazily pissed off to blog about them. Luckily, my friend at Auto de Fey has:

http://auto-de-fey.blogspot.com/

Thanks for saving my blood pressure, Stevil.

The Insurance Racket

Insurance is a racket in the US. What else can you call a scheme where you pay a lot of money for "protection", and the racketeers decide what, how much and if they'll pay you for what you've already paid to get?

Back in the day, insurance corporations' deals were fairly straightforward. Your contract insured what you paid to be insured over. Then deregulation came along and insurance corps. could put all sorts of limits, denials and percentages in place. And away they went, inventing all sorts of extenuating circumstances and hurdles to deny payouts. Sound like a scam? It sounds just like racketeering to me.

This is why millions of American families go bankrupt, lose their homes, end up financially wiped out after a serious illness in this country. Medical bills are enormous- a recent 4 day hospital stay of a family member who had no surgery, no high-tech testing nor had anything more than blood tests done and an IV, with a bed and meals included, cost $30,000. And the insurance company they've paid into for nearly 40 years is refusing payment.

Insurance corporations need to be reined in and strictly regulated, or done away with altogether. They are bleeding us to death.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

Now I've done it. In the bargain-finding mania of books on Amazon, I bought 6 books, all of which I can't wait to read, and so started them. These are in addition to the 2 library books I was reading (Brave New World and Oscar Wilde's biography) before the book-buying frenzy.

Never before have I had 8 books going all at once. My record til now was 4. This is a real memory challenge, though it's hard to scramble Lamb: the gospel of Christ's childhood pal Biff with My Booky Wook, or Triumph of the Moon with Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry. But it has led to some marvelous dreams of late.

It is taxing on the eyes. The normal late-night eyestrain has become all-day bleary eyes. Changing reading glasses helps and I have several pairs to switch around but they aren't prescriptive, just dollar-store magnifiers. Uncle Bert expounded on the benefits of stretching the eyes, which involves looking at things far away, but as I've always been far-sighted it doesn't seem to help much. I need longer arms.

It's also time-consuming. Last night I curled up with a book at about 7 and when I checked the clock it was almost midnight. Not getting a lot done in reading mode.

But oh, the joy of reading. There just isn't enough time in a lifetime to read all I want to read. Which is why when I die, I'm going to Cambridge and Oxford and haunt their libraries eternally.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

La Vieille Salope

The saga of neighborly war goes on. Aside from taking down her religious shrine in our hall, all else remains the same. She had her doc write a letter saying she's hearing impaired (I had asked if that was an issue and was told it wasn't); she now has free rein to be as loud as she likes. And I figure, if she can't hear squat, then I'm giving up life in headphones and turning up the volume to drown her assmouth out.

Which works when she's indoors. Every single decent friggin day she's on the porch laying on her litter for at least 4 hours during which her mouth runs at any living thing- bird, bug, cat, chipmunk, anything. She has a geriatric posse who come by to lend Xian fellowship and support in her persecution in the form of caustic gossip. I've taken to shutting my window with as much force and noise as possible when the Weird Sisters start in. I have wild imaginings of sneaking a big bubbling cauldron out there to complete the scene.

But really, after living in the tenements and hovels I've survived, this is just an annoyance. I'll get used to it, or not. It's actually getting to the point of being funny. My luck, I'll eventually grow to like her (a lot of my friends are people I couldn't stand at first) and then she'll croak.

Father's Day

Break out the ties, bottles of Scotch and novelty t-shirts, it's Father's Day. I had a Poppa and a Step-father. Poppa was the Father of my childhood, and my Step-father was the father of my teen and adult years. I never quite got the gist of what being a father was about; Poppa wasn't around a lot after I was seven and by the time Bill came into the picture it was all a mess. Bill tried to straighten out the mess with a very heavy hand, which resulted in our being alienated until just before he died.

Among my older brothers only one stayed through it to raise his son, and he's gone now. This is their first Father's Day without him. My eldest brother was entirely irresponsible for both of his sons, and he died leaving many hard feelings. And my closest brother's ex-wife and son moved far away; he paid child support for all those years, but nobody saw them again. We don't really know where they are. So scratch this generation's fathering skills, for the most part. One out of three ain't good.

In the next gen, my eldest brother's sons are fathers themselves now and seem to have it right. God knows how, as they had so little good modeling from their own father. But their mothers are very strong people. They learned a thing or two about bad parenting from my brother and are avoiding recreating the cycle. It helps that they both have wives that totally rock. They're good guys. They love their kids and would do anything for them. They are Fathers. Even more, they're Daddies.

Happy Father's Day to all the Daddies. You know who you are.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

R.I.P. Big Man

The Scottish Scribbler notified me in a comment below that Clarence Clemons has died.

I'm a bit speechless. This really sucks.

There will be many eulogies, and articles recounting the Big Man's life. I found a good one, just posted on "Oh No They Didn't":
http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/60327838.html

The world has just lost some joy.

Summertime Tunage

Technically it's not Summer til Tuesday but if you judge by weather, it's been Summer here for almost a month. Temps have been up and down but mostly up. Which would be easier to take if the 87'F wasn't accompanied by 80% humidity.

Aside from heat, the other sign of Summer is pop music galore. At the top of Billboard's weekly big ten right now is Adele's "Rollin' in the Deep", the obligatory "we could've had it all" (it's the line that's repeated many times in this song) farewell-to-romance song. Unremarkable, but Adele has some pipes. At #2 sits the Black Eyed Peas' "I Just Can't Get Enough", another hiphop tribute to sex with the usual tired old axioms. Katy Perry's "E.T" is #3, and I'm beginning to think all of Katy's songs are actually one long song being chopped into small bits. She has a lovely voice; it's a shame she's so limited to standard manufactured BS.

In the #4 spot is Bruno Mars with "The Lazy Song", the first summer fun, no school, pre-responsibility hit. It's reggae lite, kinda mindless, very summery. Pitbull, with some help, comes in at #5 with "Give Me Everything", a disco-rap-house blend of sexual desperation which I'm sure is being blasted everywhere in the bars of the Jersey Shore and the outer boroughs of NYC. God help us, at #6 is Britney Spears. You really don't need the song title; it's her again. It doesn't change.

Inexplicably auto-tuned at #7 is J-Lo with Pitbull doing "On the Floor", a refreshingly old school disco hit that I could've heard at The Limelight or The Saint back in the 80s or 90s, sans the frantic rap lines here and there. Summer for the older crowd. Lady Gaga holds the #8 spot with "The Edge of Glory" and the pop diva does what she does best, belt her guts out to a dance beat. Clarence Clemons adds an unusual soulful sound with a wailing sax background. I like this. #9 is another forgettable hiphop-rap number by Lupe Fiasco, "The Show Goes On", though it's nice to hear horns again. And finally, at #10, is a heavily-sampled (aka unoriginal) "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO, completely ignorable, but good background noise for a bar.

So there we have the start of summer songs. I hope it gets better but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pirates!

When life gets crappy or crazy, I go learn something. It's the best distraction if you can't do the usual things to get outta your head. This week for me, it's pirates.

Pirates were an early love for me. I read Treasure Island when I was first learning to read, and my older brothers' handmedown books had lots of pirate stories. Not much fact but lots of adventure. Only in the last few years was I intrigued enough to read some pirate biographies and they're better than fiction.

Maybe I oughta tell you how pirates even came up recently. One of the things I'm involved with is the Windham County Heat Fund. The Heat Fund raises money to buy people fuel energy in emergencies. You can read more about it here:
http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php?story=20101017133558403
People pitch in what they can and throw fundraisers if possible. It can get damn cold around here and being without heat kills. So we raise bucks, and this year I'm working on a "Talk Like a Pirate Day" fundraiser. In going to the original and international Talk Like a Pirate site for help and ideas, I started wondering how much of real women pirates' lives were recorded. Turns out there's a lot of pirate history out there. Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Grace O'Malley, Gunpowder Gertie, Princess Rusla of Norway, Artemesia, Pretty Peg, Madame Ching... my love of pirates was reborn. There's something about saying to hell with everything and living as you please that appeals to me.

There is a wealth of links to all kinds of piracy fun and knowledge at the TLAP website:
http://talklikeapirate.com/links.html#realrec

Make fast the guns, cut free the lines, get the black flag stowed away!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scenes From a Memory

The Bilderbergers have all gone home to continue their quest for world domination, but we have the vacation photos to remember it by:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/jun/15/bilderberg-in-pictures#/?picture=375797433&index=0

I love the next-to-last one.

What Democracy Looks Like

In February, the Egyptian people, sick of Mubarak and his regime of oppression, rose up. This is a "You Are There" kind of account from The Battle of Tahrir Square. There isn't a need to describe it; it's the story of human beings in their brave pursuit of freedom:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Capriluve#p/u/12/St4tk9ZiB40

Love to Clarence Clemons

News comes of Clarence Clemons having had a pretty severe stroke on the 12th. The sax legend has since had 2 brain surgeries and is in stable condition.

Lady Gaga encouraged fans to send in Get Well Clarence vids, and they have responded as only Little Monsters do. She posted a 13- minute result from their clips and it's the biggest, sweetest lovefest for the biggest sweetest man:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMsthqAonoc

Heal up quick, Big Man, we all love you.

Putting Ian to Rest

While watching an old Corrie (Sally & Kevin's wedding in 86) last night, Ian and me and everything that happened all fell into place. He loved me; he lived a double life but couldn't keep it going. He was an addict. He was bipolar and bisexual. He was adopted. We bonded with each others' mothers on a deep level. We really hurt each other. Christ when I think of what I did to that guy. And I do believe now that neither of us ever wanted to hurt each other. We were young, we were partying way too much, we were crazy. We stopped partying and got healthy. We were each getting very successful. Shit happened. Then he died. It's all that simple.

I came across our wedding party photo the other day. Aside from thinking, "Wow, Ian's dead, Seth's dead, Bunny's dead," (which is the first thing I always think, you don't get over things like that), and all of us being so incredibly young, I thought, "What the Hell was I thinking?" Well, I wasn't thinking. I was madly in love. Emphasis on mad. And so was Ian. It's time to forgive ourselves for that. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We were married 7 1/2 years when he died. Legally separated and living apart, and in touch. I'd known him 9 years. The very best years of my life (all 2 of them, but ya know, some people don't get any) were with him. Which makes the Hell worth it somehow.

Finally, all these years later I wonder what would've happened if he'd lived. We were just as miserable and jealous apart as we were together, but we were never that happy with anyone else, either. The last time we hung out alone, we laughed like we had way in the beginning. Nobody made me laugh like Ian did. I wonder if lasting relationships are about just muddling through until you fall in love again. Though I'm still not sure I breed well in captivity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And All Was Joy...

Time to catch up on issues I brought up and have since been (mostly) resolved. My SIL is better than she has been in decades. It's nothing less than a miracle. And I hope it lasts. My nephew has gotten the staples out and though he's sore, he's fine. And eating again. Blogger seems to have a mind of its own. Sometimes I can post comments w/o a hitch, sometimes it's impossible. But I can't get my knickers in a twist about it.

Amazon has been invaluable in helping me replace things I'd lost over the years. And also in getting some things I've always wanted. After passing on the china set I'd had for 14 years and always hated, I scoped and stalked until the dishes I've loved were at a reasonable price, and got them. Can't stop looking at them. This shopping could become an addiction, though. Lovely hardcover books for 4 bucks, including shipping? Danger, danger Will Robinson...

The bitty next door was made to take down her religious shrine in our shared hallway. And the weather's been too miserable for her to sit outside and yell for too long, so it's tolerable. I'm working on ignoring it all and just carrying on.

Writer's block seems to be fading; it was like Churchill's Black Dog there for a day or two, but I took advice and my brain's percolating again. Should be back to normal very soon. And I think Rory's right; there's a storm brewing.

So much of life is getting used to things. Changes can really throw you, but if you relax and stay with what and who you are, it all gets absorbed. May not be easy, or to your liking, but the goal is living until ya croak. With luck, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Don't postpone joy, as the bumper sticker says. And with that platitudinous note I'm gonna go eat off my new china.

Oh Them Bilderbergers!

Today's Guardian takes a fond look at the end of the Bilderberg club's annual clavern. I was especially intrigued by this about Peter Thiel, billionaire:

"Thiel is a good Bilderberger, in that he's an avowed fan of a global single-market, single-currency future. He says "everything that counts as political represents a counterforce to globalization" Perhaps he needled the politicians present with his view that: "as we continue to see the globalization of the world economy, we will come to see government more and more as a reactionary force, as a force that is standing in the way of progress. And we will have to make a very drastic choice."

"Thiel's single-market libertarianism fits snugly with Bilderberg's desire to see national sovereignty melt away and supranational bodies (and corporations) take its place. Thiel is forever celebrating the individual, and the individual's choices. But in a world without government, without politics, there's nothing much standing between his newly empowered individual and the unimpeded transnational corporation."

You can read the whole article at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/jun/13/bilderberg-2011-switzerland

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inside Wolfgang's Vault

Concert promoter Bill Graham (real name Wolodia Grajonca, but his American family called him Wolfgang) collected a dragon's horde of musical history. Much of these treasures are available, for free (!!) at
http://www.wolfgangsvault.com

This week's featured subject is Punk, and who better to start off the bill than The Ramones?
http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/the-ramones/video/sheena-is-a-punk-rocker_-124212634.html

Damn, those days were fun... enjoy, or Fuck Off!
;)

Where Intellectuals Got a Bad Name?

“We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years.” It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” - David Rockefeller, Bilderberg meeting 1991

I think that quote alone speaks volumes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Outside the Wall

Because obsessing about getting on with things usually kickstarts my brain, I determined to figure out what's been causing the wall/writer's block/blank page in my mind. I'm pacing back and forth in my head outside the wall.

At the heart of this is frustration. There are situations that I can't help people out of; situations that for a variety of reasons are beyond my abilities to change or even identify with. Issues that I have no experience in- having no control over your own life; being famous; alienating everyone around you; severe mental illness, all of which are affecting people I care for. And I got nothing to offer them. When people express that they are suffering it triggers the Fixer in me. Which I'm trying hard to kill right now. If I can't fix things, I often become harshly judgmental, something I really hate in myself and am also trying to kill. And so I split in two, the innate Fixer of others and the Person trying to fix myself, and everything comes to a standstill.

There must be a balance one can achieve but damned if I can find it. Patience is not my strong suit. Not having things figured out makes me anxious, which pisses me off. And then I sit and simmer. I used to go get drunk and/or into a fight to blow this kinda shit away, or physically hurt myself, which certainly ain't gonna happen now. Those aren't options anymore. It helps to write, but it doesn't stop the hamster wheel in my head.

Maybe I need laughter. Or really loud music.... I'm gonna try blowing it off.

Writer's Block

Never had it before, don't want it again. This is stumpingly miserable. Normally I can spill things out sitting here. Just noticed it took 8 minutes to write those 3 sentences. In all these years I've never hit it before but suddenly I see what the deal is. Every friggin word is a hurdle, completing a sentence takes forever and it's all questionable in my head. It's even tough to explain. Words just don't come; it's a big effort to string them together. It's like the well is dry. It's different from when the muse isn't around. It's a strange mix of anxiety and blankness. Don't know what to do, or if there's anything to be done. Maybe it just passes.

Well, it's taken nearly a half-hour to say the above. I give up. Christ I hope this goes away.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Head Like a Hole

Any time I think I've got it all figured out I'm lying to myself. Cuz somebody can randomly get in my head and completely black hole everything out. Sometimes that's fine; indeed, sometimes that's just what my head needed, a good vacuuming. And sometimes it's really annoying. Like now.

It's easy to say, "Just don't think about it." But not so easy to maintain. Ever heard the "Don't think about an elephant" deal? Someone says to you, "Today, don't think about an elephant," and damned if throughout the day, elephants don't keep popping into your mind. It's a natural function, like matrixing. And whether you have good mind control or not, it'll happen. Try to get back to where your head was before something came along and blew it all away. You can't undo what's done, you just can't. It's like putting salt in stew, you can't get it out once it's in. But unlike stew it doesn't work to put more stuff in until it's diluted, you just get farther away from what it was you had to begin with.

This is a vague post, cuz I don't want to get into particulars. I'm just hoping that spewing a bit will get it outta my mind enough so I can get back to what I was really thinking about before my head was blackholed.

Damn you, Sarah Palin.

Friday, June 10, 2011

WHO Reports on the Disabled

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization has done a report on the state of the disabled worldwide. And it ain't good.

An article in today's Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun/09/billion-people-disabled-report) cites the discrepancies in how the disabled are treated:

"In developed countries, disabled people are three times more likely to be denied healthcare than other people." That's no surprise to gimps, though it may be to the general population. "Children with disabilities are less likely to start or stay in school than other children, while employment rates are at 44%, compared with 75% for people without disabilities in OECD countries, the report found."

Worldwide, one billion people are disabled, 15% of the entire human family. That number includes both physically and mentally disabled folks- which I've contended are separate issues, as each have very different needs. But taken as a whole, that's a huge number of people. And from my experience, many in developed countries need'nt have become disabled if they'd gotten good, appropriate treatment to begin with.

Here is the WHO's website page, with links to the report, and with translations available:
http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blowin' My Horn

Allergies are really annoying this year. It's been over 90 degrees again. And it sucks to be so congested and hot at the same time. No A/C; I'm trying to avoid buying one, but if this keeps up I might have to, dammit. The "open windows at night, shut them in the morning and pull the shades" deal was working until today. But it's simply unrelentingly hot and humid. We had a huge storm at 5:30 this morning but it's still soup here. My poor nose is getting red from blowing, I keep fighting off a headache. Pain in the ass August-like weather. It's too sticky to unpack and sort... rassafrassacuzzafuddinsarmensant...

But there is escape. Stayed in headphones almost all day, and though I can't write a lot in 'phones, I can draw. And I'm pleased with myself. I think I got it right this time, after 3 tries on the same subject- Greg Lake. Tried an 80s look, hated it. Tried a "Works"-era, couldn't get it right. I've been doing portraits since the 70s (some helped me get through school but I gave away most, and lost my portfolio 2 moves ago) and it can get really anal. There are all kinds of tricky little things- shading the right way, erasing the right places to highlight, and hair (the bane of pencil portrait artists)- and anything can ruin it all. So when a piece works without fuckups, ya get excited. And that's when you put it away and wait until you get somebody else's eyes on it. Which is a weirdo thing in itself, because too many peep will exclaim and say it's great when you know it isn't. So there are only 2 reliable sources in my life. Other artists, who look at something and rarely comment much less compliment (if they go sullen it's good); and Strider, who will look at a piece and suddenly I see what's off. She doesn't have to say anything or even make a noise. It's weird but it's true. Once this goes through the Strider lens, I may even send this to Greg. We'll see. I can probably send it to his agent. When I worked for Bret Adams we were handling fan stuff all the time and passing it on.

Okay, now it's gotten very dark. The trees aren't moving a leaf, but obviously we're getting another storm. Jesus I hope this clears the humidity and cools it off a bit. And takes down the friggin pollen count! Blech and feh on this shit.

Double Bilderberger With Cheese

So the Bilderbergers are convening, this year in Switzerland. Long the subject of conspiracy theories, this year the conference is playing out with media attention. For once. The Bilderberg club is not just where the elite meet to eat.

If somehow you've missed the whole hubbub, here's who the Bilderbergers are (though it's Wiki, it's mostly correct):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group

In 2009 when the club met in Greece, security was harsh, with journalists being harassed and beaten up. But the Swiss security hosts so far seem much jollier and less like a boot on the throat:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/jun/08/bilderberg-2011-a-political-problem

Note the note by Lord John Hope that says, "Everyone recognised that the weakness of a democracy was that its government had to do broadly what the people wanted it to do …" Well, now, isn't that special?

Dunno about you, but the idea of a bunch of very rich, very powerful people sitting around saying things like that kinda puts my bowels in an uproar.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Reads: Audrey Niffenegger's Fiction

Audrey Niffenegger is an original, a rare thing these days. Her fiction is solid, rich and intriguingly inventive. I love writers who present consistent puzzling throughout a story; if you do too, you'll love her work.

The first Niffenegger book I read was Her Fearful Symmetry, a novel about a woman who finds herself a ghost and haunts her old apartment and those she knew and loved in life. It almost defies description as it's such a densely packed story and so entwined there's no way to tell the plotline without giving away too much. Her characters are nearly uncomfortably vivid, portrayed sympathetically and at the same time mercilessly human. Her use of language is beautiful. It's one of the few books I've read that indelibly impressed itself in my mind. As a lifelong horror reader I've become jaded, but Niffenegger goes beyond all standards here. This is literature. A damned good read that will haunt you.

Next I read her The Three Incestuous Sisters, an adult picture book. She illustrates as well as she writes. Sparsely worded, it's more a long poem than a novel, but the art tells the story in a Gorey-esque way. And a bizarre story it is, too. It's not everyone's cup of tea.

Right now I'm reading The Traveler's Wife, her best-known and biggest seller. I'm years behind the rest of the world in discovering Henry and Claire. To my knowledge, nobody's ever created such a book before. A good writer tells a tale; a great writer creates a new reality. Niffenegger is a great writer. Treat yourself to a Niffenegger book. They aren't just stories.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Real Life Killed the Théâtre des Vampires

There was a time in my life when I was addicted to drama. Having grown up with much upheaval and instability, it seemed the norm. Every day was so full of crises that I'd no idea that wasn't the way life was to be lived. The constant strife and battling created a need for it that continued for years. If I wasn't involved in some tsuris I grew quickly bored and sought out a new source of drama. This led to many minor disasters in all areas of my life. I was attracted to men- well, people in general- that fed the need for stimulation. And being by nature somewhat openhearted and wanting to help others, it was a perfect fit. I would grant trust immediately and wait to see if that trust was warranted or betrayed. My addiction to Grand Guignol was complete.

Then in my thirties a series of terrible happenings took the wind out of my sails. The enormous amount of pain from these events made me step back and reevaluate what I'd been doing. And who I'd keep company with in the future. It wasn't a purging nor an overnight change. I'd just simply had enough of trouble for a lifetime and was tired of it. Little by little, I gave up my "projects" that were people- quite arrogant of me to begin with, I think. I did keep myself invested in relationships I had, but with a different viewpoint. No more running to the rescue or rising to the alarm. Life itself was quite stressful, without actively seeking out more.

This became a new standard over many years. I grew more selective of people to whom I'd become attached. I took new friendships more slowly and watched out for my reactions. I gave myself, and others, space to evaluate. Which didn't mean not being there for anyone; I'll still drop everything to help someone in distress. But nowadays I have a better understanding of when that's appropriate, and also of my own limits. Once upon a time I thought I could handle anything. I know that's not true now. We all have our limits, we all can easily get in over our heads, we all have a martyr in us. Martyrs are victims. That's what I refuse to be anymore. If I don't draw the line, nobody will. And so there are boundaries but not walls.

It's a process. But out of it I've gained so much... I really cherish people in my life. There is much joy to be had in the non-combustible. Relative peace leaves room for appreciation. It's easier to laugh when you aren't living others' lives all the time. I've staked the vampires and I don't invite new ones in. Vampires aren't sexy; they just drain your life away. Carry garlic and look for the fangs.

Monday, June 6, 2011

From the Soup Kitchen's Front Line

My friend Plague just emailed me after a volunteer shift at a local soup kitchen. One story made me cry. It's really the story of anyone who's been in a destitute situation, which I have been, but a long time ago. She wrote:


"I know everyone's hard hit, and I'm one of the luckier by far. We served a guy today who broke down and cried. He'd come in after the food was put away, and said that he was hungry in a heartbreaking manner...you could see it broke him to say it. J*** put a huge container of chicken in his hand, I told him that the sauce was very, very good and he should dip rolls into it, giving him a bunch, and the guys ran off to get him drinks and toilet paper and whatever dry goods we had on hand. And he wept. It was one of those moments when the shell of life breaks open and everything is agonizingly clear..I feel oddly melted."


Well, Plague, you're melted because you have a heart. It's an unforgivable shame that this nation of riches that can afford ten years of needless war ignores what's happening in its own streets. We have a large homeless population for a small town. There are few jobs to go around, and less since Waldemort came and a lot of Main Street stores closed. Employers can do anything they want to the workers because of the job scarcity. How many people do you know who've worked for the same company for 3+ years and still make less than ten bucks an hour? I know quite a few here. That's the real deal of living in America. Don't believe the hype.

Album Review: ELP's Works, Vol. 1

Again, I have no objectivity when it comes to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This album came out on St. Patrick's Day, 1977, and I bought it soon as it hit the stores. It had been years since Brain Salad Surgery and we fans were frothing at the mouth for the new release. I hurried home and, naturally, skipped right to Greg Lake's side first- the 2 records were divided into a side for each of the band members and a side where they all played together. Then I played Emo's side, Carl's side, and finally side four. Nearly an hour and half after putting the needle down to hear Greg start off with, "Lend Your Love to Me Tonight", I was wiped. Happily, the way great music wipes you out. This is the only album that took over a whole day of my life, and a day I recall clearly. Which itself is unusual for me in the '70s.

This, however, was not the album old ELP fans were expecting (there go expectations again) and at the time it wasn't well-received, even among my friends. But I was delighted. Here were my guys, all grown up and crafting their art to more refined heights.

"Closer To Believing" is to me, The Song about falling in love- just as "Trilogy" is The Break-up Song. All of the Greg side is a matured Lake/Sinfield series of multiple eargasms. Especially in headphones. Emo is at his peak keyboard skills with his compositon, the 3-movement Piano Concerto No.1. Again, not the synth-Moog monster that fans were looking for; far better than they deserved, I thought then and still do think. This piece alone should establish him among the great keyboard composers of all time. And Carl takes the listener all over the place from the formal pounding of Prokofieff's "Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits" to the funky "L.A. Nights" and a tight rework of "Tank" from Tarkus. Then they all tear into Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man"- since become a classic- and "Pirates", which at the time made me say, "Holy Shit!" as the last BA-bump! sounded. What the Hell is there not to love?

Later that day, celebrating St. Pat's, an argument ensued. I couldn't believe things my friends were saying- it was "the commercial sellout of ELP"- "they let their fans down"-WHAT??!!!! I'm pretty sure I called one guy traitorous and ignorant. Indignance turned to fighting words. Even recalling it my teeth go on edge. We took our music so seriously, and defended our opinions as if the future of the Earth were at stake. Ah, to be 17 again! The night ended with peaked eyebrows and flared nostrils all around. None of us ever brought up "Works Volume 1" again.

So here I sit, over 34 years later, still loving this album and reviewing it on my little blog as a masterpiece. Finally, I get the last word. ;)

Sour Sandwiches

Okay, I gotta get this off my chest. It's eating at me. Our entry in the sandwich contest was made entirely from scratch, with almost all New England-made products, and what wins? A store-bought bagel (baked in Brattleboro- ya mean not even mixed here?) with store-bought chocolate (there are cacao farmers here?) and peanut butter (peanut farms in New England?- not according to my research) that was mixed in VT, and store-bought cream cheese, albeit truly (at last!) made in Vermont.

Here's the story:
http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php/20110606100042225

Give me a long break, as Rufus Boozon used to say. That bagel with a yuppie schmear won't hold up in competition in Australia. I can hear the laughter already.

There. I feel better now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pizza My Heart

The Daily Show rescued my week. I did catch it live on Wednesday, and emailed it to those who needed a laugh. But everyone should get to see this wonderful ode to being a Real Native New Yorker:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/246173/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-me-lovers-pizza-with-crazy-broad#x-4,vclip,1,0

Thanks, Jon, I needed that.

Negating Civilization

Selfishness. Paucity. Cynicism. Self-pity. Ignorance. Greed. Arrogance. Psychopathy. Fear. These are the negative things that are eroding civilization and making life a stressful interaction of being defined by who you hate.

Who you love used to be the yardstick. In my lifetime I've never seen so much sanctioned hatred. Even when Nixon pulled his disgraceful shenanigans and crimes there wasn't much hatred for him; more disgust and disappointment. But hatred, born of fear, is the game of the day. I thought we'd gotten past racism, but no. I have plenty of real and serious criticisms of Obama, but much of what I hear from the media is just hatred. And a lot of the time, that's hatred originating from and cloaked in bigotry. Which again, all comes from fear.

When did we become a country full of fearful people? That's a terrible place to live, a terrible head to carry around. Because fear creates all bad things- kneejerk reactions, belief instead of thought, anxiety and hatred. And violence. Think of the villagers with torches.

And nobody sees the irony of it. Which proves that there's little thought involved. Has anyone realized that by telling everyone else how to live that they're doing exactly what they fear the gummit would do? That by spreading rumors and unfounded fears they're tearing apart the fabric of our nation? These pundits claim to be patriots, but what's patriotic about telling people to go kill a doctor who does abortions? Or creating non-issues like the "War on Christmas"? Or that "Obama will take away your gun"? This is all histrionic, not patriotic. And what really amazes me is that people fall for it and really, to the core, beLIEve!

I truly hope people will begin to think for themselves again, and reason things out instead of just believing what they're told and coming from an emotional point of fear. Because civilization won't survive in an atmosphere of hatred.

P.S. "It is in the shelter of each other that we live"...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJtq6OmD-_Y

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The iBrattleburger

Here is the non-winning filling recipe. I don't have Grotke's roll recipe here, as I haven't asked his permish to use it. Originally it was full of local name brands, which I've omitted.

3 Tblsp Butter
1 large Empire apple
3 large cloves garlic
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tblsp. maple syrup
1 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. cheddar cheese

Prep: Mix the turkey and maple syrup together very well. Let marinate in the fridge for at least a half-hour. Peel, core and cut apple into 1/4" bits. Mince garlic. Grate cheddar.

Cook: In a large fry pan, melt 2 Tblsp butter on medium heat. Add apple and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Let cool. Heat a griddle or fry pan over medium-high heat and add last Tblsp of butter. Form 4 burgers and cook well (about 4 minutes each side) until deep pink disappears. Top with cheddar, cover with lid and turn off heat. With a whisk, add yogurt to browned apple/garlic. Let stand about 3 minutes. Whisk again and...

Assemble sandwich: Slice all buns in half. Form a small hollow in each half. In bottom halves, spoon 1/4 of yogurt/garlic/apple sauce. Top with burger. Eat. Yum.

Update on 6/6: Grotke gave me permission to share his wonderful iBrattleburger Roll Recipe (he's the best baker I've known since Nick Malgieri and he ain't even a pro):

iBrattleburger Rolls (makes 7)
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon Deer Ridge Farm honey
2 cups lukewarm Brattleboro tap water
22 ounces of King Arthur Bread Flour
3.75 ounces King Arthur Whole Wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt

Mixing
In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, add together yeast, honey and water. Stir slightly and let it sit until the top gets foamy with bubbles, about 15 minutes. Measure out flour. Add salt to the flour, then sift it. Mix flour with yeast and let it knead for 7 minutes or so in a mixer.

Rising
Put the kneaded dough ball in an oiled bowl. Cover with a wet dish towel. Let sit in a not-cold place until the dough doubles in size, about two hours.

Dividing/Bench Rest
When the dough has doubled, gently take it out of the bowl and put it on a countertop. Divide it into 170 gram pieces (about 7). Do a quick shaping. Cover with the wet towel again and let rest for 15 minutes or so.

Final Shape/Proofing
Do the final shaping for round mini loaves. Lay each of these tightened, shaped pieces of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and cover again with a wet dish towel. Let these sit and rise one more time... about 45 minutes. You can preheat the oven to 425', and put an empty metal pan (for steam) in the bottom.

Baking
As the oven heats up, boil a couple of cups of water. When the oven is hot, the water is boiled, and the bread has risen*:
1. Score the top of each round. Create the "i" shape by pinching the slash closed at the 2/3 mark.
2. Spray mist (wet down) the tops of each loaf.
3. Put the pans in the oven.
4. Pour the boiling water into the hot pan at the bottom of the oven to cause even more steam, and close the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes (until brown), then remove and cool on racks.
*Variations: top with course salt or seeds before scoring.

Pissing Me Off

Lately I'm knowing how my parents felt in the world of fast-changing rules. Since it looks like I'll never be able to post comments on others' blogs without a gmail account, I created one. Except now I have to log in & out of everything when I change pages. Because Blogger won't accept changing my email from the old to the new. And consequently the bloggers I follow won't recognize who I am when commenting because gmail displays my first name, which thousands of others share. But neither can I comment on others' blogs at all with my regular blogger name. What an incredible pain in the ass.

Also, the competition we entered was poorly done; a lot of info was omitted in instructions to the contestants. Knowing that info would have changed our entry. Which seems to me either sloppy or intentional. I won't be entering next year.

It was tough to get to sleep last night so I took melatonin, which produced vivid dreams. In stressful times I dream of past workplaces. Last night there I was, in a Magickal Childe that wasn't the Magickal Childe, with an enormous warehouse instead of the back room that actually existed. Emily and I were searching for a list that Herman had made before he'd died, and kept finding immaterial but interesting things. Other Childe workers made cameos- Randy, Anthony, Steve, Wayne, Peter, even Linda... but nothing got done and things kept changing. It was as frustrating as it had been in real life. And as life is in general.

So it'll take a while to straighten up my head today.

It's a beautiful day. Time to start it over.

Friday, June 3, 2011

And the Winner is...

Apparently not us. Grotke said he perused the table of final finalists and ours wasn't there. Still no official word, so I'm hopeful we lost. Though it would've been nice to have some extra cheese around.

As we said in NY, "Wait til next year!" And with that, I'm off to bed. It's been a long day.

One Down, One To Go

Just heard from my niece; everything's okay with my nephew and he's in Recovery. Hallelujah and we're all glad that's done. Now he'll just mend. We're all relieved.

On to the sammiches, which has Grotke squirrelly. Four sammies are no big deal. I'm just worried we could win.

On Tenterhooks

Today is about living on edge. My nephew is having major surgery, a job that will take 3 OR hours and a lot of prayers to the god/desses as we wait. When it's over he'll have his life and ability to eat back again. It won't be an immediate recovery; there are steps to it. But soon he'll be better than he has been in years and feasting at The Outback.

In comparison, my nerves over the sandwich competition are nothing.

We aren't a hugely expressive family. I guess that comes from our upbringing. My brother takes stress in silence. I write, but don't talk much about it. We've also been through many deaths, which I think has made us even more reserved. If that's possible.

So I won't be blogging til it's all over. Hopefully that will be with good news.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

THIS IS NOT AMERICA

Cam just sent me this video of an unfuckingbelieveable example of the police state happening in this country:

http://www.alternet.org/news/151128/shocking_video:_americans_arrested_violently_at_the_jefferson_memorial_--_for_dancing_

Jefferson, I hope you haunt these bastards for the rest of their lives.

aaaaaah.... and ruh roh

It's cool. Nice Spring breezes. No need for a fan. Even a bit chilly. The sky is almost a Maxfield Parrish blue and brilliantly white puffy clouds scamper above us. Surprise and hooray my wooden wall clock is running again- I was beginning to think it was a goner. The humid nastiness is over; it's less painy too.

But the storms that made today so luscious you could eat it with a spoon did terrible damage to our friendly neighbor to the south. The state of Massachusetts is a mess. Seven tornadoes (WTF with tornadoes in New England lately?) ripped thru western Mass, destroying a lot and injuring many. I heard one person was killed. This weather is not normal. Not in this area and not at this time of year. Floods, yes, floods we know. When the snow runoff from the mountains heads down and south and meets storms, floods happen. Hurricanes? Sometimes we get a tail-end of one coming up the coast. In the late Summer or early Fall. And they cause floods too. But tornadoes? No. Not in good old New England. We were never part of Tornado Alley. Yesterday there were tornado warnings up the entire east coast and I guess most lucked out. Except for Massachusetts.

While I sit here by an open window enjoying this lovely day post-miserable heat and humidity, the aftermath that same storm brought just a few miles away has made life a Hell for neighbors down there. Somehow it's not so enjoyable.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hail Thor!

We're having a big thunderstorm. This is a summerlike violent one. I'm watching the hail, about 1/2 inch-sized, bounce off everything. Lightning appears like old flashbulbs, the kind that blew up. The thunder claps are sharp and loud and echo around the hills. Love this stuff...and it's cooling off. Aaaah. Thanks Thor. ;)

Inevitably, there go emergency vehicle sirens. Hope nothing major has happened.

The Ultimate New England Sandwich Competition

Well, my pal Grotke and I have made it into the finals of the Ultimate New England Sandwich Competition. We did it for a lark but things have turned serious now.

The judging happens Friday evening. Grand Prize is a trip to Sydney, Australia for an International Sandwich Competition. One of us will have to go if we win, which we weren't counting on doing. But there's a possibility, as there are only 21 finalists that we know of. Which is a scary deal.

My brother and Strider are rooting for us. I have schpilkes.

http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com/sandwich-competition

"Of Course You Realize This Means War"

Strider sent me a printout of Bugs & Homer in a boxing ring (which Stevil had sent me) and that's the caption underneath. Many toon characters avidly look on. That's what it's like right now in my charming new home.

Following the meeting with management, the bitty next door was quiet for 5 days, though yelling a lot inside her apartment. Then she went back to all she'd been doing, including putting a cross back up in "our" hallway. The mgr. asked me to let her know what was up come June and I just did. Now I'm going to meet with the "resident services coordinator" who will then meet with the bitty. This whole deal has my Brooklyn up and I'm fighting the urges to be a Real Class A Asshole. Of which I'm fully capable.

The last straw was having a nightmare (!) about her and a battalion of the other Weird Sisters she gossips with taking over my home. I haven't had a nightmare in so long I can't remember. But if it's worked its way into my subconscious to that point something has to be done. I've tried. Changed my waking hours, lived in headphones, did everything I could. No more. This means war.