Saturday, February 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by mazen kerbaj.
this is by the wonderful Mazen Kerbaj Every time I see this one it stops me with its truth, its sorrow. take a moment and drink it in. this is truly us.

mazen thoughtfully translates the writing for us

- mom why the war happened in lebanon?
- and how did it start?
- and when did it end?
- mom, will the war end for real one day?

- my dear children i do not understand... which war are you talking about?

What Sports Car Are You?

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

A Love Story In Three Pictures

I received this in an email from a Cubano friend who plays wicked timbales and still thinks fondly of Fidel. We disagree on the wonderfulness of Fidel, but his timbales will make you forget his politics and move your hips involuntarily in ways that mimic extremely gratifying sex. That's my kind of drummer folks.

(we meet, the dance begins, shy glances across the table become knowing and carniverous looks)

(we touch in public, only we can taste the bite and sting from the spice of knowing that what we do is wrong)

(at last, under oath, the awful truth is told)

Big Brass Blog

Friday, February 09, 2007

Suns vs. Hawks Tonight

If it wasn't for the fact that I'm meeting Sharon at the arena this is a game I would normally pass on. I would tell my son, or the Pool Girls that the tix are up for grabs and see if there's a better game on League Pass. Which, by the way, for a basketball fan, is a great thing. Most of the feeds they have are lightly censored, if at all. So far, my favorite League Pass moment this year was from a Nuggets game. Alan Iverson was standing near Dick Bavetta when Carmello got face raked and gave up the ball. Alan asked the ref "Did you see that shit?" Bavetta in his best early Alzhiemer's delivery said "What?" Whereupon Iverson said "Then what you lookin' at?"

On the advice of many of you, and the advice of my daughter Medskoolgirl, I am keeping a very open mind on where things might go from here. In a way, I'm kind of glad that the game isn't going to be all that fantastic. That way I won't get grouchy if she keeps putting up distractions.

The main thing is that this will be the fifth gorgeous young woman I've shown up to a game with this year. Never mind that two of them were my totally committed couple gay Pool Girls, and the other two were my daughter and her roomie from Medskool. What the other folks in my section don't know will only enhance my reputation as a Dude.

Friday's Random Ten

If it's Friday, it must be time to check what's on the top of the old iPod.

O'Carolan's Concerto - - moi
Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel - - - Merle Travis
Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight - - - Oak Ridge Boys
No Lonesome Tune - - - Townes Van Zandt
Reason To Believe - - Tim Hardin
54-46 (That's My Number) - - - Toots and the Maytalls
Mozart's Horn Concerto in F #3 - - Barry Tuckwell
Dunmore Lassies - - Chieftains with Ry Cooder
Pass The Dutchie - - Musical Youth
Hard Time on the Killing Floor - - Chris Thomas King


Biko - - - Sweet Honey in the Rock

what ya'll listenin' too?


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Practical Factors

It came out today that John Edwards is keeping Melissa McEwan (the witty, semi-profane, and elegant writer who is the main force behind Shakespeare's Sister) and Amanda Marcotte who blogs at Pandagon.

He had them issue apologies for the offense their writings might have caused. Okie Dokie by me. What's important to me is that today, a Democrat did not cave. He didn't really come out swinging, but he didn't run and he didn't bow to the pressure. I really think that there is a decent streak in Edwards that is something real about the man.

In my post about the racist nature of the attack and how easy it is to expose these folks for who they are and what their agenda really is I described the coming election cycle as "a face to face knife fight." One of my older friends who lurks this blog, but calls me instead of commenting (yeah, I'm talking about you Bird!) pointed out to me that when I use a knife fight as a metaphor it has meaning beyond what most folks can imagine.

In between combat tours of Viet Nam, while recovering from some wounds received in my first tour I was tagged with instructing folks who hadn't gone into combat yet in some of the finer points of "hand to hand" techniques. These included how to use a knife.

I would start by first disabusing them of any romance or illusions of style that they might have had from watching tripe in the movies or T.V.

I would tell them that in the jungle, out in the boonies, it wasn't about the Jets and the Sharks with switchblades. There wasn't any choreography or dancing. It was about taking one of the most brutal ways to do damage on another human being and going through with it.

Usually I would warn them against ever throwing their knife. That's another thing that only works in the movies. If you throw your knife in real combat all you accomplish is to anger your opponent by inflicting a painful wound that really won't cause much more harm beyond the pain, and, You. Just. Gave. Him. Your. Knife. Dumbass.

Then I would tell them that there were only two valid reasons for being in a knife fight. First, the task requires absolute silence. Which, technically isn't a fight at all. It involves sneaking up behind the target, pulling their head back while creating leverage in the small of their back with a knee or your hip and jamming your blade down behind their ribcage and stirring the blade around like it was a pitcher of martinis. If this is done perfectly it takes a long time for the person to really die. Blood gets everywhere, they usually lose control of their bowels and bladder. Most of the time the blood makes your hand slip on the knife and you end up cutting the hell out of your hand. That's the best case scenario.

The second reason to be in a knife fight is that you can't find a single other goddamn thing to fight with. I mean, really, get a stick, pick up a big-ass rock. I would rather fight with a baseball bat or an entrenching tool than a knife. If it must come down to a knife fight, this is how it is done.

(at this point I would usually roll up the sleeve on my right arm so that they could see the crisscrossing of scars on the outside of my forearm. today they just are places that don't tan along with the rest of my skin, but back then they were purple and livid.)

Using your dominant hand you hold the knife with its main edge facing up. Grab the knife handle like you would grab a tennis racket. Point the knife at your opponent. Start stabbing straight in and up going for the area under their chin and above their adam's apple. Do that over and over, twisting the blade right before impact. Use your off arm to parry the strokes of their blade. Don't fake or pretend to strike, don't dance around, don't do anything but go straight in. You'll have to take your cuts and keep stabbing away. Over and over. It's not pretty. It's not romantic. You'll be bleeding and winded after a few minutes of this but suck it up and keep at it. You only have to hit this stoke once and you'll live. Cut and bleeding, but you'll live.

That's the kind of combat I'm referring to when I talk about a knife fight. That's what I'm ready for when they come again.

I'm glad Edwards didn't cave. I'm glad Melissa still has her job. Donohue and his idiot followers would never help Edwards get elected if he did a little dance at their children's birthday parties while singing "I'm a Little Teapot" dressed in a Bo-Peep outfit.

Melissa and Amanda will work their asses off for him. Bloggers and the rest of us unruly mob have every chance to have an impact on this cycle.

You ready for the knife fights troops?



We Haven't Come All That Far, Have We?

Yesterday I was doing a drive by on the computer, checking the news, killing some time waiting for a producer to fax me some rewrites. I saw this at Shake's Place. She had just gotten a dream job as a netroots coodinator for John Edwards campaign. After a long period of unemployment just about any job is welcome, but, for Melissa to be able to land a job she was so perfectly qualified to do for a candidate she supports in her big heart was serendipity. Perfect.

Then the trolls come out. For the record, let me say that I am not impressed at the way the campaign has handled this. There is far, far worse down the road in this process. The culture warriors and the religious conservatives are running scared. They see all their hopes and dreams blowing up and burning in Iraq. They see their brightest lights having to be "cured" of their homosexuality. They see their dreams of power being dashed. They are desperate. Sun Tsu (5 b.c.e.) in the oft misquoted Art of War spends quite a while on the delicacy of dealing with a desperate enemy. He warns against full out assaults, he counsels the wisdom of always leaving an avenue of escape, he puts forward the wisdom of sometimes not fighting at all, because Men will fight the hardest from an indefensible position. Less philosophical but also true and germain was Clint Eastwood's title character in The Outlaw Josey Wales. "Sometimes it all looks lost, if that happens you gotta dig deep inside and just get pure mad dog mean." That's where the opposition is. They will be trying everything they can think of to disrupt the process of electing somebody who actually isn't insane and blatantly corrupt and willing to follow their dictates on what god wants us all to do. In short, they're nuts people.

In the comment thread of Paul the Spud's piece cited above I noticed the trolls coming out. I saw one, in particular, that was ripe for a little nudge. Sometimes, that's all it takes for them to reveal themselves in all their rampant batshit looney venom. The troll in question was posting under the name "whitebuffalo." I know nothing about this person. I've never seen them post anything before. Here's what I did know, just from the name. It was the "white" that was important to him.

The Souix and other plains nations have a very sacred figure called "White Buffalo Woman." There is no comperable Christian deity or parrallel. White Buffalo Woman brought the sacred pipe to the people. No Native American who respects himself, his culture or the cultures of other nations would do something as trivial as blog under that name. It was very obvious that what was important to this person was the "white."

So, being the brat that I am, I nudged away. I wrote:
oh and i almost forgot, blow me whitebuffalo. as an apache to see a fuckwad like you typing away under the name of something sacred, well, fuck the virgin mary running, it's offensive.

And, just like I knew it would, the shit started to fly. Someone else began to post under the name "Geronimo Was a Pussy." I was counseled to "not get my wigwam in an uproar." I was invited to "smokey peace pipe."

The funniest part was that one of them actually thought I was one of them, and in on the joke.

The racism we face in this society, the separation along lines as stupid as skin color is still here, and clearly drawn. It won't be pretended away or ignored into nonexistence. It only takes a nudge, a little poke here or point of the finger there and out they come in all of their foaming at the mouth glory.

To those who rose to my defense in that thread. I thank you. You showed your colors as clearly as the assholes did theirs. I will be very proud to stand beside all of you in the coming fight. Make no mistake about it, this election is going to be a face to face knife fight. It's gonna get ugly ya'll. Remember though, we can be in beauty even when there's ugliness all around. In the words of the Apache prayer of the dawn

Y'o-sen, bihil hishash aaii diji jooni

(god, may i walk today in beauty)


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Making Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is a wonderfull thing to have home made. The stuff in a jar is alright, probably won't kill you if you keep it refrigerated and tightly capped. The fresh, just whipped up stuff, to be used right there, with that recipe is the best.

This is what we mean at El Rancho Harpo when we're talking mayonnaise. The pinches of dry mustard and tarragon are purely optional and are there because I like them. Feel free to discard them if you wish. Basil is another common herb to toss in a pinch with.

You can make this just fine in the blender or the food processor. I use the whisk because I somehow have the idea that there is a consistency difference. I have no scientific basis to form this opinion. I have nothing but my own quirky sense of how things are.

As with any basic recipe in this one the ingredients are paramount. The eggs I use come from a neighbor who has chickens strolling around her back yard. They are of many varieties with a slanting toward the classic Rhode Island Red. They chase bugs and cats and small dogs. They are happy critters. My neighbor tries to be diligent about egg gathering but, from time to time, there will be a fertilized egg in the batch. There's nothing wrong with that, there's just a tiny mote of blood in the yolk. I will use them for omlettes or many other recipes, but if you're talking a hollandaise or mayonnaise if there's a fertilized egg I just use another. I keep my eggs on the counter at room temperature, for baking and sauces they work a lot better. If you have your eggs in the fridge take them out before making your sauce.


1 cup (8 fluid ounces) olive oil (i use garden variety plain label olive oil)
1 egg yolk (i don't care what you do with the white we don't need it here)
1 lemon (if your lemons are not fresh and beautiful white whine vinegar will substitute nicely)
pinches of kosher salt, white pepper, dried tarragon, dry mustard (Coleman's is the best) and a tiny pinch of lemon zest from the lemon you use

In a stainless steel or ceramic bowl (non-reactive is the key here my friends) whisk the egg yolk until it becomes light yellow and slightly smooth. Juice the lemon and add two tablespoons of the juice along with the dry ingredients and whisk to blend it all nicely.

Now comes the voodoo part. SLOWLY, SLLOOOWWWWLY, little tiny bit by little tiny bit add in the olive oil while whisking away all the time. This is a great time to have a kid or somebody hanging around the kitchen handy to help. If you don't have that I suggest having built a little berm of dish towels on the counter to hold the bowl steady while you whisk with one hand and add in the olive oil with the other. This should start to ribbon very quickly and that is the sign that the emulsion process is happening. If you haven't gotten past stirring a puddle by the time 1/4 cup of the oil is used, start over. You can increase the speed of the olive oil introduction to a very thin stream at this point, but never, ever, for any reason, should you Rush. This. Step. Just. Don't.

You can adjust the thickness of the mayonnaise by adding a teaspoon of water or lemon juice to thin (a little more lemon makes it delightfully tangy). Once you are out of oil feel free to adjust the seasonings to your very own taste. After all, that's the best part of making something as basic and common as a mayonnaise yourself. You get something that is exactly the way you like it.

It also opens whole new worlds when you are talking about things like potato, tuna, or Waldorf salads. Let us not forget what a mayonnaise this noble can bring to something like an artichoke.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Fat Lady Sings Has a Great Open Letter to Obama

Right here

It's very good. It made me confess that I had a friend who does t-shirts make me one that says "If you kill Obama we will blow shit up."

Which, because I trusted my memory is a faulty quotation from John Rogers fine blog Kung Fu Monkey - Lunch Discussion #145: The Crazification Factor

In Rogers' better style it says


Either way it's a noble sentiment and both of those posts are excellent reads.

p.s. now I know what to wear when I go to the Sun's game with Sharon!


Oh Sharon (What Do You Do To These Men?)

I really was planning to call and find out how she did on the next phase of the contestant search but then she called me first.

She was in the afternoon group on Saturday. She didn't pass the fifty question test. She did go however, she got that far.

Her life is more complicated than I had imagined though. It seems that the asshole she was with is not only her boss, he's married to someone else.

I am nobody's poster child for the institution of marraige. As a matter of fact, my very own mother calls me "her weed in the garden of matrimony." I have no moral high ground to take with Sharon's boyfriend when it comes to infidelity. I have transgressed way too many times myself. She's also only 28. I have a daughter who is 32 and another who is 23. I have needle tracks and gunshot scars that are older than 28.

We talked for about an hour. I just told her that nothing about her personal life is any of my business unless she chooses to tell me something first and follows that by asking me what I think.

She told, she asked, and I said "If what you have is something that is OK with you then go ahead. The fact that you're bringing it up leads me to believe otherwise. That being the case, I can't counsel you to break it off, he's your boss, that could turn disasterous. I've been divorced four times and the closest thing I have to a continuing relationship is with a woman who works as an escort in Palm Springs. I'm not the guy you should ask about how to find a long term, committed relationship. You could find a therapist and see if that helps. One of my neighbors is a psychologist and she might be able to help you find your way through all of this. If what you want is a friend that will listen to you without judging you, I think I can do that. You'd probably get along better with my twenty four year old daughter though. Next time she's up for a visit you two can meet. She's way more together than I am. I ask her for advice all the time. You can come out and go riding anytime you want. Just from a casual glance, I'm sure that you can do better than you're doing and that you deserve to have someone who is devoted to you alone. I'm a good bet for listening, Sun's games, backstage passes to concerts, and chocolate truffles."

We're meeting at the arena for the next home game. I'm bringing her a box of truffles. If nothing else she gets chocolate. That's more than she's getting now.

BlogRoll Change

The sidebar has been updated again. It now has Mimus Pauly (of skippy fame) and his fine group effort Mockingbird's Medley

where Rez Dog, Bad Tux and other fine writers contribute.

I was scrolling through the listing and I was reminded that Molly Ivins is no longer writing for earthly publication. Mimus gets her slot.