a short digression about…

With one or two small exceptions, I’ve come to notice that this diary really doesn’t discuss my sex life. On one level, I know that this is because I know that Fiancee S. and her good friend C. both read this diary regularly. On another, however, I have been lately wondering if this reticence to discuss sexual matters indicates a broader emotional reserve towards sex… and that I haven’t been emotionally open to issues surrounding sex as I could be.

As a contrast, I offer the following anecdote about M., a woman I met in the late ’90’s. M. was (and as far as I know, still is) a strongly sexual person, a woman who absolutley adored sex in all its forms with both men and women. She recounted to me how, after breaking up with her boyfriend of over a year, J., that she had the following conversation with her mother:
mother: J. called last night. He sounds like he misses you.
M.: Oh. I don’t care.
mother: Don’t you want to get back together with him?
M.: No. Every guy I’ve slept with since we broke up has been MUCH better in bed than he was.
Suffice to say, M. was no shrinking violet when it came to expressing herself in any aspect related to sex.

(I was not one of the men she was referring to. Though my reaction to her was an attraction so immediate that it must have been pheromonal, she took one look at me and decided against it. Given that I was in the middle of dissertation hell and its attendant depression, that left me in a bit of a tailspin. I took her frankness about sex and other matter as an expression of emotional (or at least intellectual) intimacy… that we could not be more physically intimate left me wondering if something was wrong with me. The answer is another entry, I think.)

There has always been part of me that wants to so openly embrace my sexuality the way that M. did. I know that there is a fine line between expressiveness and garish compulsion… and I do not wish to cross it. I don’t consider myself to be prudish, but, there is a fire, a relish that I saw in M. and still see in some of the other diaries I read here that makes me wonder if I am missing something. Or maybe it’s just that the grass always looks greener over there. I don’t know.

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more dream excerpts

Vivid dreams continue to manifest this week. Some excerpts:

On Tuesday morning I was dreaming about spending money to buy a ’66 Chevy Impala (of which my father approved) and being escorted over an walking obstacle course by Harry Belafonte… only to be told that the experience cost me either $7000 or $10000 depending on whether or not Ipaid a deposit… I spent the rest of the dream worrying about where I could get the money and if I could put it on my credit card.

This morning, I dreamt that I was escorting my father around the department where I went to graduate school. The goal in these meanderings was to get to a conference room where I was supposed to re-give my Advancement talk (part of the qualification for degree candidacy at that institution.) When asked by various faculty why I was doing this years after the fact, my response was that not enough people attended the first time and that it seemed shame that more people didn’t know about what I was talking about. When I gave the talk, it seemed to go well. In fact, even my father commented afterward that it very well received. Of course, the truly interesting thing about the dream is that several of the rooms I walked through have since been renovated out of existence… or at least substantially modified.

At least I haven’t been dreaming about Thunderbirds Are GO. I saw that this week. While the model work is AWESOME (even by today’s standards), the thought of dreaming about the Supermarionation Tracy family makes my stomach churn.

a call to arms, of sorts

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the state of liberal ideology and policy in this country. I’m rather concerned. I’m not yet convinced that this country is going to attempt to re-corset women (or at least re-girdle them), but, I think that the moral and political center of this country is looking back to the 1950’s with just a little too much love of late.

I begin to fear that too much of what passes for liberalism in this country today has simply become crass. I can recall reading an article (I believe it was on Salon.com) not that long ago about how Howard Stern can be thought of as a poster boy for liberalism in this country. Howard Stern? Pulleaaze. I can’t pay attention to Howard Stern long enough to get past all the bisexual porn actresses and wannabees that he parades past a microphone to discuss their orgasms. Yes, he can be thought of in the Lenny Bruce-esque mold of challenging the boundaries of public speech… but I think we’ve gotten about as far as we need to go in terms of hearing words like “fuck” and “ass play” in American media.

I think we need to dig a little deeper than that and change a few minds. Let us make no mistake that minds need to be changed. Almost thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter endorsed the idea of legalizing marajuana in the 1976 presidential campaign. Would a Presidential candidate be able to say that now? I don’t think so… because political and social conservatives in this country have been very successful in characterizing the use of drugs as an enemy that must be defeated, not as a social problem that must be solved. Forty years ago, conservativism in this country was associated with institutional violence towards blacks, the marginalization of women, and the perpetuation of an arms race with the Soviet Union that cost American capital and blood. Now, it represents a return to “family values”, a “restoration of American moral purpose”, and a “sense of courage and might”. I think a high sense of moral purpose and courage is something that all Americans, liberal and conservative wish to embrace… but the conservatives have been able to put a better analogue in place to Lenin’s “work, bread, peace” slogan that inspired a revolution. Liberals and liberalism are seen as being weak and immoral, or at least, morally dubious.

I think that liberals are neither weak, nor immoral. I think that liberalism embraces the best parts of the Judeo-Christian ethic — at least I learned from the Bible that Jesus was willing to talk to pretty much anybody and look for good in all kinds of people, even those despised by the Jewish population at large: Romans, Samaritans, lepers, and tax collectors. Did Jesus demand that these people fundamentally change who they are before he would consider them to be people? No. Would Ralph Reed say the same today about AIDs victims, gays, and people from the Middle East? I sometimes wonder.

So I think that liberals need to get out there and show the community at large what they’re really about. I think they need to be less concerned about Britney wearing a thong, and little more concerned about where and how their 13 year old daughters are hoping to follow her example. They need to be active in their communities, and display moral force… for fair wages, for decent housing, for aid for the poor, and to back that up with the resolution to reach into their wallets and help pay for it all. Middle America needs learn once again that a liberal is not an opportunistic creature, lacking moral backbone… and not one purely dedicated to corrupting American values.

So… I have a piece of homework for myself for the coming 12 months. I need to get more involved in the community, even if in just a small way. I don’t know if it will be getting more involved in the Church community I belong to… or maybe working with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for the poor… but, my assignment for myself is to be more of a little bit more of a moral force in my community. I’ll have to see where I can get in 12 months.

I’ve seen too many people in the last 10 years run away from problems, and be liberals only when it is easy to do so. Minds need to be changed, and that’s often hard. If a lot of people can do just a little bit to change someone’s mind about something… then it’s a whole lot easier.

St. Patrick’s Day resolutions

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, that most Irish-American of saints feast days, and, since I believe myself to be of both Scotch-Irish and famine Irish descent, I have a few resolutions for myself for St. Patrick’s Day this year:

  • I promise to only have black and tans using Guiness and Harp, not Guiness and Bass.
  • I promise to warmly meditate on that pinnacle of nostalgic Irish American film making “The Quiet Man” starring the great Swedish actors John Wayne (born Marion Michael Morrison), Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, and Victor McLaglen.
  • I promise to be warm and cordial to all “Irishmen for a day” including Ngo Nguyen, Uhuru Nkoye, Srinivas Krishnapalamurthy and Kim Jong Soon.
  • I promise not to hit fat, drunk men with beer guts who wear leprechaun hats and bright green shirts that say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”
  • I promise not to wear a kelly green leisure suit, ever.
  • I promise to listen to The Chieftains at least once today.
  • I promise to learn to dance the “Siege of Ennis” one of these years.
  • I promise to consider the profound question of whether proper corned beef should be boiled, broiled, or braised.
  • I promise to not pass out naked on the hood of someone’s car with a shamrock drawn on my back side with a green permanent marker.
  • I promise to wonder if McDonald’s still sells “Shamrock Shakes” in March, and wonder when I last saw them advertised.
  • I promise that I will not even attempt to speak the Gael talk today… even if I do have a drink.
  • I promise not to treat St. Patrick’s Day as “amateur drinkers night”.

*sigh* If only others did the same.

Oh Siddhartha!

Melvin and Myron Stein of East Syosset are pleased to announce the landmark premiere production of Andrew Lloyd Weber-Grill’s new smash musical:

Oh Siddhartha!

Yes, Oh Siddhartha! Follow the trials and tribulations of wacky young Prince Siddhartha Gautama on his way to become that savior to millions, the Buddha Sakyamuni!

Featuring a cavalcade of new Andrew Lloyd Weber-Grill songs, like I Wanna Know (Where The Bowl Floats):


I wanna know

Which way the bowl floats

I wanna do

What the bowl does

I wanna know

Which way the bowl floats

I need to know!

I need to know!

and the rollicking hit theme song Oh Siddhartha!:

Where joy and pain are one

Oh Siddhartha!

Water lilies in the sun

On Siddhartha!

Siddhartha, our Savior, the WAAYYYY!

Plus, the beautiful new love song The Four Noble Truths (Mean ‘I Love You’).

The reviews are in! Oh Siddhartha is a certifiable smash:“Positively Enlightening!” – Arhat Magazine “I laughed so hard, my head fell off!” – Mahayana Monthly “So like the Buddha, I was ready to kill it” – Tibetan Herald-Piciyune

Come and see Oh Siddhartha! today!

a culinary lab report

My father has this tradition of sending out a monthly “newsletter” to his far flung friends and relatives. Invariably, this newsletter concentrates on what has happened and where he has travelled, but, it also concentrates on exactly what he ate during his travels. Here’s a sample of one of his letters from September of last year (with the names changed to protect the innocent):

On the 6th, we drove up to W.G. on Lake S. with C. & F. to have dinner at theRestaurant V. at the G. Winery. We sat out on the deck, and it was like the heurigen in Vienna, where you sit out among the vines. We got there too late to do any wine tasting, but the sommelier let us taste a Gewurtztraminer and a Merlot, before we “settled” on a couple of blends that he recommended, the Signature, a white, and the Meritage, a red. They have a new chef, and he seems to be trying to make an impression with unusual items. He had frog legs as an appetizer, but we settled on a terrine which had buffalo meat. I had the sword skewer, which had; lamb, pork sausage, buffalo, ostrich, and several other unidentifiable items (roadkill?). The caeser salads did NOT have any “caeser” in them. We drove back down C. & F.’s for some pinochle.

The foodie quality of these newsletters has become something of a good-hearted joke among some members of the family — including Fiancee S.

At the risk of sounding too much like my father (and getting a gentle ribbing from Fiancee S.), I humbly offer the following entry.

As I mentioned in my entry last Friday, I’ve been having a jones to roast a chicken for a little while now. I finally got around to doing it on Saturday, and purchased a whole 4.5 lb “Rocky Junior” fryer/roaster that afternoon. I combed over about half a dozen recipes for roast chicken, taken from a variety of sources: my memory of a recipe I saw in a TV lecture given at the Culinary Institute of America, Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here For The Food, the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, a beat up 1972 edition of The Joy of Cooking, a copy of The Frugal Gourmet, plus about 2 or 3 other cookbooks Fiancee S. and I inherited from her mother, whose names escape me right now.

Any way, all the recipes turned out to be basically the same:

  • season the inside and the outside of the the bird with spices of your choice, and
  • cook the bird in a 350-375 degree oven at about 20 minutes per pound.

I chose to vary things a bit. Instead of using a rack with my roasting pan, I chose to rest the Rocky Junior on a bed of vegetables (red potatoes, carrots, onions, whole, peeled garlic cloves, and celery) sprinkled with olive oil, fresh ground sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and chopped fresh oregano and rosemary. I seasoned the outside of the bird with the same sea salt-pepper-oregano-rosemary-oil mixture, and stuffed the cavity of the bird with fresh italian parsley. I put a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven to promote an even temperature, and let the bird cook for just over 1.5 hours.

Once it was cooked, I deglazed the roasting pan on top of the stove using some leftover beef stock and some Full Sail beer (that was WAY past its freshness date), plus a splattering of white wine (some Penfold’s Australian Chardonnay). I made a roux to thinken the sauce, but didn’t prepare enough of it to fully thicken the liquid. I added some cornstarch to finish the thickening… have to remember to make more roux next time. Oh yes, I seasoned the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Overall, this yielded an excellent first effort. The vegetables were delicious. The chicken was very moist and juicy, and quite flavorful when consumed with the seasoned skin. It might have needed another 15 minutes or so in the oven, I don’t know. It also could have used some seasoning on the inside to help spread some of that good oregano/rosemary flavor around during cooking. The gravy was good, but I think needed a little better seasoning.

in my next life, I want to be a svengali

If I ever pursue another career, I think I want to become a svengali to a tragically hip rock band.

To do this, I need to start working on finding the following list of items:

  • Develop a AI-based expert system to that takes the lyrics of old songs by The Cure, Joy Divison, Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, The Smiths, Sisters of Mercy, and Morrissey and combines them into new, beautiful lyrics for songs.
  • Find a beautiful young pale blonde kid with a dark side who can sing like Thom Yorke, play guitar, and wear black lipstick. Hopefully he will be reasonably fluent in French and German.
  • Find a pair of Asain twins who look and dress like Ling Bai (as Myca) in the movie The Crow and who can both play bass. As an added bit of showmanship, they will both play the same bass part during live shows and the feed to the speakers will randomly switch between them.
  • Find a sweaty, 300 pound British drummer nicknamed “Moose” who will be called “der Elch” in the CD liner notes.
  • Find the remainder of the band, which will consist of 3-5 keyboard players. One keyboard will consist entirely of samples of the noises of coitus taken from porn movies. This keyboard will be known as “the Orgasmitron”.

I have already found a name for this band that pays tribute to their post-modern roots: Sous Erasure. Their first CD will be entitled “Derrida-Go-Go”.

I figure that if I put this band together, ride herd on them, use the AI to claim all the lyrical royalties, and keep them on the road for about 200-250 days a year… I should be able to do quite well before someone dies from a heart attack, gets thrown in jail on a drug or gun conviction, or finds Jesus while in rehab.