Sunday, August 30, 2009

What video killed, Interwebs revived!

As long as I have some form of internet access, at some point, for some amount of time in Russia, I'll be ok - because The Sandbox does podcasts! Yes. Now my inner indietude shall never fade and wither and die.

I just recalled when V. and I went down to visit North Carolina over spring break. In the car (I think we were on our way out to get ice cream) and listening to the college station. We're back to the talk from the music and the DJ goes, "Welcome back, my name's Alex and-- I mean. My name's DJ A-Rod. Forget anything else you have just heard."

I am, however, ripshit about this picture (stolen gratuitously from wfnx's website) of Fletcher with two of The Killers:

Three guesses on which is Brandon, and the first two don't count. So much happiness! The Sandbox and Killers all together! Exclamation point!

Oh well. They shall have a happy September 4th, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

G.B.C: A History

I've been in the kitchen for a couple hours today, cooking pasta (my specialty -- read as -- "the one thing I feel truly comfortable cooking") and bagel chips. I've come to feel a little domesticated, like a poor, defenseless hedgehog, scooped off of the forest floor and dumped, precariously, into the precocious young hands of a three-year-old with an early propensity for arson and the uncanny ability to interject with sexually-charged, but otherwise entirely innocuous, comments:
"Now, what was the name of that dish, it had such a pleasant taste and aroma..."
"The balls! The balls, mommy!"
"They're right over there, hon. It might have been a quiche of some sort..."
I'm not entirely sure why, even in my own imagination, I have to be a hedgehog. I'd much rather be something more accordant to my true nature. Loveable, affable. Incendiary wit. (I love that turn of phrase.) I picture myself to be a nice Irish Setter.
which I've been for many the year
and I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer
Maybe a Border Collie. Anyway, I digress.

The point is I've got to thinking about the finer things in life; finer things
Besides having sex with men, the Finer Things Club is the gayest thing I do.
--Oscar, The Office
--that is, finer things, such as Gourmet Bachelor Chow.

As with all Good Things™ (among which I number the Buddha, Michel Foucault, vodka, and the $5 burrito at Dos Amigos) the origins of bachelor chow are foggy, impenetrable to the modern eye. Whispers of its presence echoed throughout society, but such may have been naught but temporal ripples, resounding from the first fateful day that I saw it - that is, when it existed in any way truly important to the world of man - on a cartoon billboard on the TV show Futurama.

Flash forward to this spring, when Wer (who is, as always, of Wer&Wif fame) cooked up his version of Bachelor Chow, which I can only describe using the component parts that I remember: baked beans, canned chicken, sharp cheddar cheese. There were still other things he chose to toss into the mix, but I've blocked them out of my memory.

I took a taste - for who doesn't, seeing a bowl of viscous liquid that looks and smells like a sewage treatment plant, desire to taste it? Or one of my favorite quotes of human history, oft-repeated:
Ugh, this is disgusting, try it!
I chewed Wer's recipe for Bachelor Chow for a moment.

I swallowed...and at that point I nearly threw up everything I had eaten that day. It was the flavor profile of Sex Black Panther cologne.

So when the first GBC entry hit this blog, I had in mind a feature that would not inspire retching, or dry-heaving by the tree near my work, or normal person vomiting...but would rather be a pride for the ages. I had in mind a venture that would be, truly, gourmet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School - No Scarlet Trains for Me

The little ones return to school; I gear up for my own travels.
It's quiet now.
The universe is standing still.
Not too long at all, now.

I feel ambiguous towards this picture. I find it creepy, on the one hand. On the other I wish Elsa's frame was a little sharper, to contrast the fuzz of the background. I do like how my sunglasses look like a wand in her hands.

August 8, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Night, Street, Drugstore, Light

Wer&Wif and I, like so many have reported attempting to do before us, set out to drink all the beer and wine in Portsmouth. Not whole-heartedly, but we did want to have a good time, and none of us had work in the morning.

Rather than go into a tedious and likely-to-be boresome play-by-play, and knowing how much You People™ like pictures, here's a graph of the night.

Figure 1: The Quest for Consumption
Consider yourselves lucky I didn't also take a map of downtown Portsmouth, render it into a Lord-of-the-Rings script, and mark our path on that. I was tempted to. GIVE ME THE RING, FRODO.

A few words to be said of our venture (because I find the fragmentary form, though I haven't pursued it to its logical and foggy-minded extreme, more indicative of the night):

POCO'S drove us out because, according to their music, their preferred clientele was born between 1972-1977, already dying of skin cancer, and still appreciated the fine and intricate melodies of The Thong Song. I wish I was joking. Of strange, the-Universe-still-smiles-upon-this-venture importance, the one song that three of us could actually stand (and a far cry from the mid-1990s, middle school dance tunes around it):
Take these broken wings
And learn to fly again
Heh heh. I'll accept that personally and graciously, universe. <3 Icarus.

To describe The Black Trumpet I think Kurt Vonnegut said it best: "It was beautiful, and they shared." Lots of cheese, some olives, some wine. I may have coveted some of the paintings on the wall, but thankfully 1986 laws have not yet come into full effect, and thought-crime is not quite yet real-crime.

Two words for TJ's. "Sayam Summah." I just wanted to see what it was like in there because I had seen it so often from the outside but never gone in before. Like Pandora before me... I was so intimidated by the atmosphere and denizens that I put on a Boston accent in the ordering of my beer, not wanting anyone to know I can actually pronounce word-final r's, thank you very much.

As for the Coat, I have just this to say: Who thought that giving inebriated people sharp and pointy weapons was a good idea? Darts in a bar is like some mildly-accepted, half-hearted form of Darwinian social control.

Returning to the question of Universe-smiling-upon-this-venture-itude, and returning likewise to the statue of young Mr. Hovey, killed in action in the Philippines at the turn of the century -- when I went on a walk through Prescott Park the next day, a task of which we had spoken but in doing we failed, I saw, in Hovey's fountain, a single white seagull feather.

I make things more symbolic and exciting than they need to be.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And we all float on -- swallowed in the sea

(I'm not sure which song reference I prefer more. Golden nerd!pentagrams for those who guess the two bands.)

I've made it out to three of the four past high tides at Prescott Park; I love that first momentary glance at the raised sea waters, one's body saying, "Wait, wait a second. Should I go into fight or flight before I drown? Oh no, I'm ok."

I got down by the dock, where there was only one boat - I had walked to the park just after the noontime rains had abated - and was sorely tempted to go dip my feet in the ocean waters. But I don't know what proper etiquette there is. Are only boat owners and their guests allowed past the dockmaster when s/he's on duty? Because I may or may not have (depending on the answer to the previous question) walked down the gangplank last night, when there was no master on duty (the gate was open...)

I chose not to. I got to thinking about being a boat owner, though, so that I could pay the fee and chill out on the waters. I believe one can possess alcohol on one's boat, as well, as long as one does not drink and drive. How nice it might be: sit out on one's own property, rocked by Our Lord Who Art in Water (riffing off of Steinbeck), listening to the concert in the park. What kind of boat might I be able to purchase?

Obviously there are a host of obstacles between me and purchasing my first nautical vehicle. The cheapest and coolest solution my mind threw forward, however, still has me laughing twelve hours later. A one-panel cartoon: me, standing before the dockmaster, money in my hand and an alligator floating device around my waist, saying: "But, sir, this is my boat!"

I would have included that actual cartoon if I could have drawn it. (Believe me. I tried.)

I walked further on and, beyond the first pier, where the monument to urban sunsets stands, I decided that I wanted to put my feet in the ocean, and I was going to. I piled my shoes and socks with my bag, at the entrance to that second pier. A little girl stood in Crocs at the water's edge, her father urging her to come back to get lunch and then go swim at home. I walked down the rocks, across the small sandbar, scaring, unintentionally, the little girl, and waded into the water.

The girl ran back to her father. I watched her, and caught a bemused glance towards me from one of two women out on a stroll. I looked out at the shipyard. The sun warmed my back. A couple necked out on the pier. The seagulls seemed oddly regal amidst their addle-brained pigeon peers.

A very long-winded explanation of a brief episode in my life; a very abnormal image, a small wonder the two women stared. I don't care. I've made it into a symbol of that sentiment I so often reiterate at work: "Whatevah. I do what I want."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to Intro to Drawing

Two-point perspective at 2 am.

What I like most about this is how Dos is still open that late. Just earlier that night, heading over to the Toast, I had tried to call Portsmouth "the City that Never Sleeps," but had to settle with "the City that n-well, that goes to bed early, but still provides some fun stuff to do."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Then You Walk Under a Streetlight

I went down to the harbor tonight, past the orange-lit statue to a fallen Navy officer in the Philippines, past the homeless person staring out at the water from his bench, past the waves lapping at the rocks along the shore. The bridge was going up just as I reached the end of the pier; a fisherman far away from me lifted his line.

The water was high, besides the tide, already swelled from the tropical storm, perhaps, the weather advisories: "Stay out of the water through this weekend!" (And perversely I now desire nothing greater than to sit on the beach at Rye or Great Island and watch these -- allegedly -- 25 foot waves come in.) Light fog and shipyard lights, a tugboat underneath Memorial. A lobster trap on the water.

I really must stop taking myself out on romantic dates; at the very least, I need to have a camera with me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Legalese, Extended

I didn't want to feel trapped by a post in legalese. Legalese, to me, is an apology-in-advance, and I don't want to apologize for what I herein write; I like to think that there's a lot of editing that goes in to the drafting process of any post (although there isn't always). However, I signed a contract that I would make this post, and so I shall. (Speaking of which, I'm in the market for a Faustian contract with the man who makes the Totentanz go round. I hear he enjoys the company of writers and composers; as do I.)

I nevertheless refuse to use the name of anything, as doing so will bring search engines upon my door (the opposite of what the contract wishes me to have happen):

There is a grant in the world that I may or may not have received such as to spend a year in Moscow conducting independent academic research. If ever I were to make a comment about any aspect of life, never would that comment reflect the views of those who may or may not have provided me a grant; most certainly it would never constitute an official US policy on a matter.

As could tell anyone who actually read what I had to say on matters.

Keep me posted about the Totentanz. The man is tall, usually described to have mix-matched eyes; and it's the cloven hooves that will likely give him away.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy is He who Taketh the Little Ones...

It's my half-birthday today, and the full, one year birthday of one of my nieces. Happy Birthday, Elsa! I think it's oddly fortuitous that our birthdays fall exactly half a year away from one another.

Anyway. All of my nieces and nephews are ridiculously cool; I've never met a crop of kids so cunning, precocious, sometimes rapacious...intelligent and all-in-all awesome.

I wrote this poem on the plane ride back from visiting my sister over spring break.


What agency may I grant you?
Beyond your coos and grunts,
What light shines through the perfect blue
Impish gleams of delight,
Of precognitive genius fortitude?

Whose choice is it to “come hang out now”?
And soon to fall asleep?
To sob at Hunger’s grasping hands?
To chuckle with self-admiration
When a felled teddy has risen from the dead
At Your most holy touch?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gourmet Bachelor Chow

Two dry ounces of dill is a deceptive descriptor for the huge amount of spice one acquires. One must then flavor nearly everything one cooks with said spice so as to utilize the fresh ingredient before its passing.
I controls the spice. I controls the universe

Salad greens, snow pea pod, sprouts, and dill; pan-seared chicken (in a whole wheat cereal crust) on spaghetti (sauce with dill and other spices)

July 12, 2009

A new feature! And - - Birds.

I present to you a new feature: Nerd Alert™.

As is now readily apparent to everyone, there are times when I present myself - in the words of my sister, Galinda, and Scientist Joe, husband - as "severely intelligent." Now one might have more forewarning.

I've never known the difference between crows and ravens. This has even come up in Russian class, I remember - because apparently the only difference between them in the Russian language is that "raven" - ворон - is masculine and "crow" - ворона - is feminine. voron/vorona. Male and female equivalents of each other.

I thought it was just poetic and that the Russians had married off two black birds without the birds knowing.

BUT OH NO! The world makes sense once more. One sees -- I think I might be able to get away with "you see" in that context, so we'll try again. YOU SEE

"Crow" denotes any member of the Corvus genus (family Corvidae, order Passeriformes, class Aves), as well as naming some specific members of that genus;

and "Raven" is an umbrella term for some species within that genus. And ravens are usually bigger.

Oh - and the technical term for a group of either is "murder." My mind is all a-whirl with the quadruple entendres: look! a murder of birds! The ravens' murder! That's the most prolific murder of crows I've ever seen! Exclamation point!

Friday, August 14, 2009

What is out beyond the pale

Two nieces and three nephews all have birthdays coming up in the next couple of months. I would have held off on using this picture until it was Lauren's turn for the spotlight (in September) but it is too sunny and summery to let it fall victim to autumn hues.

August 9, 2008

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's like what I wanted to do! Except actually done.

The leader of Amuhrica came to town this week to talk about his health-care plan (which is not to be confused with 1930s euthanasia programs; I think some individuals have gotten them confused.) Much as I try to stand by Foucault's philosophy that one should study history in spite of politics, and much as I want everyone to speak their opinion...I love this guy.

I was, myself, thinking of going to PHS and holding up a sign to the effect of "These countries actually are Socialist," because I think many individuals are confused when they say state health-care would turn us into Soviet Russia. Canada? Denmark? France? Britain? Question mark?

Related - Wer of Wer&Wif infamy told me about this poorly-researched allusion yesterday. (The article has links to both the original editorial and to Hawking's response.) I didn't believe him at first -- but now I think I need to work on drawing a "remove foot from mouth" diagram for distribution to the collected United States.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gourmet Bachelor Fruit

The long-anticipated (I'm sure of it) return of Gourmet Bachelor Chow™!

From 4th of July weekend.

It makes me feel like I should be a fake psychic for the Santa Barbara police department.
Someday I hope I can achieve something I desire without becoming instantly disillusioned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Beer Commercial

I check your blog almost every day, and I gotta tell you, I don't understand anything you put up there. Put up some pictures, would you?
     -My brother, Bob "The Builder" Oppold
I'm happy to oblige, but I must be stingy; it's now come up multiple times that I must have photos if I can demand that anyone read the blog. I find myself now diversifying my portfolio, if you will. Perhaps in the near future I can negotiate some kind of fiduciary gain out of it.

In Bob's honor, here's a picture of him unwittingly posing as a model for Red Hook.

August 9, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Waxen wings are making a comeback.

Or so one might say. Rest your eyes upon this image of xkcd fame -- thanks to Wif of Wer&Wif for sending it my way.

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Woolf's "To the Lighthouse"

At that season those who had gone down to pace the beach and ask of the sea and sky what message they reported or what vision they affirmed had to consider among the usual tokens of divine bounty--the sunset on the sea, the pallor of dawn, the moon rising, fishing-boats against the moon, and children pelting each other with handfuls of grass, something out of harmony with this jocundity, this serenity. There was the silent apparition of an ashen-coloured ship for instance, come, gone; there was a purplish stain upon the bland surface of the sea as if something had boiled and bled, invisibly, beneath.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How exciting it is to me to see such chain of events as:

Clinton in "impromptu visit to N. Korea, which I read before work today;

The Successful release of US prisoners, which I just read now.

There is hope. There is an America that can prize our own brand of freedom without relying on dubious methods of espionage (Our Father, who art in Nature, please forgive us our trespasses in Guatemala) and outright war (those in the Middle East) but instead depends on the art of linguistic subterfuge and political maneuvering. Those I can accept without the burden of communal guilt.

In other news, happy birthday (for another minute) to the Mr. President, himself.

Does it count as deja vu for dreams?

I can swear that I've never been to Long Beach, Maine, and I can almost equally assuredly avow that I've never seen this --

in a photoalbum or book, but I know I've dreamt of this lighthouse. From just out to see of the angle represented in the picture, as well. If only I could remember the rest of the dream...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Even I can't pull off that kind of snooty intellectualism

When I was waiting for my flight to DC last week in Logan, I texted my friend, Wounded at Broken Elbow. We hadn't seen each other since we broke sushi-bread together at the beginning of the summer. "I'm sitting in the airport. Reminded of our epic flight back from Russia, almost exactly a year ago."

She texted me back that she's going to vacation in the Middle East before she heads out west for school. I don't know if she has no fear of being labeled a terrorist (I just have no faith in security after hearing stories about my uncle getting stopped for a full search, while his two toddlers are allowed to run unchecked through the terminal) but I suppose different strokes...

We met up last Wednesday for some grub and chug, Wounded, her boyfriend, J.S. Eliot, and me. Perhaps in honor of their vacation, we went to Cava. It was highly enjoyable, and the food was delicious. I just wish I understood what the eff I was doing there; I ordered a sashimi that's not actually on their online menu, and had no idea what wine I should pair it with without getting mocked for breaking The Rules™. I settled on an unoaked chardonnay because I think I heard somewhere that fish and white wines go together.

Wounded ordered mezze, a smorgasbord (minus the meat, plus the chickpeas) of hummus, cheese, tabbouleh, baba ghanoujh, etc. Unfortunately, some guy at the bar was screaming at the top of his lungs at his friends while she was ordering, so the waitress thought she said "mussels," not "mezze."

Oh well. I got a free mussel. The rest we gave to the waitstaff; we figured they get to look at delicious food all day, and it's only on mess-ups they can nibble. We've all been there. Plus both Wounded and Eliot are vegetarians.

Then we sped over to TPR for a more relaxed atmosphere. Although one* must admit - it's good to have friends with whom one can feel welcome to hit up a swank place like Cava, not know how at all to act properly, and come out alive, flushed, passing from one topic to another in smooth and seemless continental logic of conversation.

*by which I mean "I." I want to bring "one" back.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Moments of doubt

I had cleaned and locked up the outside tables tonight. Sweeping up the wet cigarette butts and ice cream wrappers. A woman leaves Ri Ra, [Asian, school girl outfit - "walking cliché," I thought] squats by one of the trees, and spits. And then her mouth continues to contort.

I keep sweeping but watch her dry heave. Should I ask her if she's ok? Should I go inside and get help/backup? What to do? The trash pulls me towards the Ri Ra doors, away from her.

A woman walks over. "Are you okay?"

Schoolgirl, [immediately straightening, not the slightest slur to her voice]: Oh, I'm great! Yeah, thanks, totally fine.

Woman [with obvious doubt]: Are you sure?

Schoolgirl: Yeah, yeah! Thanks. Have a great night!

At that moment Schoolgirl's friends leave the restaurant. "How'd you get out here so fast?"

And now she is presumably hale and hearty, or will be as soon as she finishes rehydrating.

And what of me [objectively; in the mind of that woman; in my own mind]? In The Good Person of Sichuan, I obviously play Vysotsky's character, not the titular role.