Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Interview - The Streisand Effect in Motion.

How do you make a picture go from 'not watch' to 'must see'?  Give it global attention.  It's called the Streisand Effect.  Years ago when Barbara Streisand called attention to how Google maps had included her house, she tried in vain to have the information removed from public view.
Sony Pictures (C) 2014

The Streisand Effect is now officially defined as a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information having the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely via the Internet.   

I never planned on seeing "The Interview".  I am not into the stoner buddy movies.  However, it's like being compelled to watch what people thought was worth threatening others over.  This was it?  It was like watching the antics of high school boys who obsess over the usual things of their lives, drugs, sex, success and how to be more successful, get laid the most and then doing it the "American" way.  Weave that in with CIA intrigue, a Leader that people are afraid of because of his access to nuclear weapons laced with emotional daddy issues.  A fantasy assasination plot with bitten off fingers.  I think none of these are really spoilers for the movie, because it's much like "Christmas Vacation", where you know every time you see it; the cat still gets torched and people still laugh.  It's absurd.

In the movie, you see the battle of censorship to have the removal of mythology of the leader.  Absurd myths, such as, President Kim Jong-Un doesn't have an anus.  It's this over-the-top nature that this movie takes that quite possibly is viewed as a personal attack of laughter.  We are laughing at the situation, the means, Sony pictures, fear, nukes, the CIA, the North Korean hackers and ourselves.  I never had any plans of watching this movie.  Yet, thoughout this movie, all I could think of was how "The Marriage of Figaro", a comedy, written by Pierre Beaumarchais helped to fire up the French Revolution.  

It's a dangerous movie in North Korea, because they could see their leader is not a God.  They could see that all they are led into is just 'honey-dicking'.  Because words still hold power and that is why they weren't laughing with the world.  So, why was the movie pulled from theaters?  Quite possibly for one reason.  Perhaps they believe their own caricature of  North Korea's Kim Jong-Un.  If they believed he was as unstable as their fictions version, maybe they were being socially responsible by pulling the movie from theaters, but at the same time, they are validating the insanity of Kim Jong-Un.  

For the west, who is incredibly used to the satirization of EVERYTHING, where there is nothing sacred, and not used to remaining silent, it's a culture shock.  When we don't like something, we joke about it.  Create movies that blow up our governments.  We don't view it as profane.  With our imaginations, we create new worlds to escape from in 120 minute segments.  Dreaming for a moment that the world is either worse or better.  

Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw said, "When you tell people the truth, you have better make them laugh, or they will kill you."  

We were laughing so hard that we couldn't hear the silence of North Korea.  In a world where everything is a form of propaganda for profit or power, not even a comedy is overlooked.  Now that the "Interview" is released into the world, what impact might this have on the people of North Korea?   Perhaps that is the next act in this play.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to Sony Pictures, President Obama, President Kim Jong-Un, Seth Rogan and Pierre Beaumarchais.  I wonder, what is the real revolution?  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice or The Longest Night

 All I do know is I don't have to eat the elephant in one sitting. It's one bite at a time.  
I always remind myself that praise and criticism are the same coin.  
A lot of good has come this year.  Another 5-Star review, a lot of lobster and today, the shortest day of the year, received word that I have been accepted into a very fine externship (not internship) in Grinnell.

How many people say you can't do certain things at certain ages?  I once saw a flash of an old movie, where the young man had stated he was a failure at 20.  Why?  What an insane way to view a life.  When a person measures their life by the standards of others, is that wise?  We may live to be 100.  We may only live to be 20.  That isn't the point.  Those are YOUR years, live them well.

I was sad about it being cooked.  

I don't feel very good reading this...kind of stomach churning.
Ah...better now.
Why make a fruit tart when you can make a savory one.

"Not Quite" Head Cheese.  
So as we, broke bread together, ate curries, drank beers and contemplated our futures...
The Motley Crew of Badasses - My Friends
I thought to myself, what a wonderful year it has been.  I wouldn't have had it at all if I would have said to myself, "I am too...(insert disqualifying statement)."  I can't think of how many conversations I had with various young people who were concerned with either being too young or too old.  Let me just say, that while you are ALIVE is the time that is just right.  When did we start putting a time limit on what we can do with our lives?  It's a distracting thought that seems to come up as I continue to do many things with my life.  It's a happy day.  I keep learning that I know nothing.  The more I learn, the more I don't know.  It's hard to be arrogant when you know nothing.  
So, as I began, I will end with...
 All I do know is I don't have to eat the elephant in one sitting. It's one bite at a time.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lago Tacos in Uptown

Lago Tacos in Uptown is located at the former Heidi's, where Chef Stuart Woodman once served up an amazing menu and it flamed out in complete chaos.  This was a bittersweet visit for me, since I actually love the Heidi's menu more, but I wanted to give Lago Tacos a chance.  I sat at the bar, where it is peppered with big screen TVs, happy hour menus and a traditional toast (out of their book of toasts) at sunset, tequila sunset shot glasses are sent around the house.  It complements the house margarita I am drinking, and I am on foot, so I feel safe enough to indulge.
Fried Avocado with Jalapeño Ranch
I decided my meal in advance, but look over the menu for about 5 minutes.  For the appetizer, I have never had deep fried Avocados.  The batter is light, almost like a tempura.  The seasoning is great and there is a great balance of heat and the acidity of the ranch dressing.  This works.  This would be a great appetizer to share, a bit much for one person to consume.

Grilled Chicken Lago Taco served doubled up on Corn Tortillas with Refried Pinto Beans
From their extensive menu of tacos and burritos, I went a little more traditional and had wanted some heat.  I didn't understand why they felt they needed to double up on the tortillas, I tasted more corn than chicken with the first one.    After that appetizer, there was no way to finish this.  I like the presentation, but I think they could have gone with a hard shell.  A doubled up soft shell, without anything in between the tortillas seemed a bit of a carb overload.  You walk away feeling bloated. Underwhelmed.
White Chocolate Banana Quesadilla With Caramel sauce, Cinnamon Ice Cream
This is the sole dessert on the menu.  The White Chocolate Banana Quesadilla with caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream.  Presentation is nice, but delivery is not.  How do you normally eat a quesadilla?  You either pick it up with your hands or you use a knife and fork.  Utensil provided, a spoon.  That caramel sauce is sticky.  As soon as you bite into it, the bananas slide around and not to mention, the white chocolate sauce is dripping.  You are best served by opening up the quesadilla and taking the bananas and mixing it with the cinnamon ice cream.  The ice cream was assertive and smooth.  There wasn't a grainy texture, so if this is an in-house concoction, extremely well-made.

So for me, the appetizer works, but would request a half-order.  The tacos didn't work for me, but I would probably order one of their salads instead.  The dessert, well, I love the ice cream and the bananas had a nice flavor.  So I would order without the cumbersome tortilla.  They could restyle this as a banana split and I would love it.  I get what they were going for, but unless they bring out a finger bowl, it is honestly too messy to deal with.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Car Karma and Climate Change Warnings

There is the myth of the one owner car.  You know, the one with incredibly low mileage in spite of its age.  We have heard of this legend, scoffed at it and the truth is, whenever buying a used car, many people are afraid.  True, there are internet tools out there to report on title history, because well, people are not always forthcoming when selling a vehicle or even worse, they may not have a clue on how to maintain a vehicle.

I have not driven since 2008.  That is 42 dog years.  There has been a certain amount of freedom I have enjoyed by not driving, but the reality is, I do finally have a need for a vehicle.  So I turned to Craigslist and was considering a vehicle from a friend of a friend...but timing wasn't right, etc.  I was going through my options, reading over everything, when suddenly a new ad was posted for a 1999 VW Jetta, with relatively low miles for its age.

Joan Jetta when reconditioning is complete.

I called, I went, I purchased.  I have already named her, Joan Jetta.  I insured her, registered her and began going through the reconditioning phase.  The actual truth was Joan Jetta was not a one-owner vehicle, but she was close to being one.  The vehicle was transferred from one family member to another and I decided to run a VIN history report, which can be done on number sites.  The title was clean.  No hail, no water damage, no accidents and no odometer roll backs...which made me decide, that in concert with the low mileage this was the vehicle to recondition.

When you run your list of pros and cons, as I ran mine, was the condition of the body was excellent.  Minor rust, good bones, and a solid engine.  I budgeted a target amount for reconditioning her.  I weighed out not having to pay a high sales tax for vehicle registering, no car payment, lower insurance costs and researched existing Jettas, same year and found a lot of them were still on the road, had upwards of 300K on engines and read over maintenance issues and recommendations.  So I decided then and there "Joan" was going to be worth the investment.

So, starting from the inside out, you take care of all of the fluids.  replace the timing belt and other drive belts, hoses, spark plugs, distributor cap, ignition wires, oil change, coolant flush, engine flush and it becomes apparent that this girl has got a lot of life left in her.  Her battery was changed out and she already had a new exhaust system and new brakes, so she's in pretty good shape for a teen-ager.

I am going to be honest, I had missed driving, but today, I heard about the new Climate Warnings issued by the UN.  "Invest NOW or change will be irreversible." I had just rejoined the millions of drivers on the road and tried to soothe myself by stating that at least it wasn't a gas guzzler and that I was doing my part by reconditioning her.  However, what it made me want to ask was what if there was a way to hybridize this vehicle?  Since she is getting reconditioned, why not make the existing vehicle greener and not contribute to the waste cycle we seem to have with our vehicle cycle in the USA.  That is a huge waste problem right there, but there is change, with more owners holding on to their cars longer with the average vehicle age being 11.4 years old (

As a renewed driver on the road, what could I do to minimize my impact?  There are some obvious things I can do, like minimize by drive time and whenever I am in the city, I use public transportation.  It's when I have to go out to the 'burbs, I need to drive.  Car Karma, is one way to look at how to minimize a negative impact and turn it into a positive one.  There is use and then there is abuse and disuse.  As this journey continues, hopefully we can look at ways for transformation of what we have instead of just trying to sell each other new stuff to replace our old stuff.  If we are going to even begin to take climate change seriously, the impact to our food supply, the impact to our environment and all of the steps that this global society needs to take will have to be voluntary for us to thrive.

It's not really about whether or not anyone believes in climate change...we all have seen the ill-effects of pollution.  We are poisoning ourselves, corporately and individually by chasing after little bits of paper, to live.  What if chasing after those little bits of paper was what was killing us?  Just a thought...that perhaps we could really be smarter than a pigeon in B. F. Skinner's box.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Death Sentence - A Preview

When I first viewed the art, associated with this film in 2007, it rendered me speechless. At the time I worked with survivors who had lost their military spouses. Many of them had an emotional nakedness about them, often feeling like they were lost in the world without their partners. 2007 had been a particularly hard year for me. It was a year of multiple losses for me, so I did not share the view that others had expressed. Where others saw objectification, I saw vulnerability that made me feel the coldness of a world at war. I thought about our national history. At the time of the first world war, many families were left without any sort of safety net. There was little in the way of death benefits. There was no such thing as "SGLI" or "Survivor's Benefits". During this time, they truly were left to their own devices to survive. Women were not known to serve during the first World War, and often were left destitute. 

The artist, Philip Brooker, started this project after reading a series of letters, the last letters home by servicemen who were often at the front of the war, where real horror visited daily.  In that era, men came face to face in conflict. Not at all like the remote warfare that is practiced in our age. This film, aptly reminds us of the real violence of war, no matter where they are fought. It's been seven years since I have seen this series in person, and I still come away with that feeling of being deeply moved by my perception of his work. After nearly a decade of work, it's evolved into this project. This is just a preview that I have been graced with and the privilege of sharing it with you now.  For more information about the artist, Philip Brooker, please visit

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Hammer and Sickle in Uptown Minneapolis

In the midst of Apple's release of the iPhone 6 (and plus) this weekend, I happened to get caught in a downpour along Lagoon in Uptown that forced my way into another realm.  A little Russian hideaway that I have fallen in love with.  However, this is not the Cold War Russian faire with bread lines and MIGs.  This is the post-Berlin War era, despite the bathroom poster calling for wealth redistribution through capitalism via gift card purchases (though that would be a gift much appreciated after looking over this menu).  The winds of change, after all, had blown me into this venue and I decided it was time to warm up with an Irish coffee, for medicinal purposes.

When is the right time for caviar?  It's a luxury, true enough, but if you go through life telling yourself what you can never have, you will never have it.  The Hammer and Sickle makes this adventure achievable for many.  From domestic roes to true caviar (from Sturgeon), the market price will vary depending on what you select.  If you already know what you like, you can order a single caviar and have it presented with the traditional accompaniments.  However, this is caviar that is dressed to the 9s.

The only thing that didn't make any sense to me was the huge clove of pickled garlic that was served as a garnish.  That was the only item that I sent back to the kitchen.  Everything else was a straight 9 out of 10 for me.

The dill infusion vodka is also a must.  The wait staff went through an incredible list of choices of in-house infusions, and I was very happy with her recommendation.  Incredibly smooth, no queen olives needed.

Up next, one of their small plates, the Kobe beef sliders.  In a word,  SUCCULENT.  Lardons of bacon, farm cheese, micro greens, and their own crafted ketchup.  Just about everything served is made in house.

You do get what you pay for here, great service and great food.

So if you are ever in Uptown, want something a little different from your normal routine, live a little.  The Hammer and Sickle is a must.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Object Displacement

 Lost or abandoned items always feel as though there is a story associated with them.  A random pair of sunglasses, on top of a dustbin, a glove without its mate on top of a snow drift.  Things that we seem to drop along the way and never realize they are missing until we go looking for them or feel that void.  At the time, I wondered why I noticed these items and photographed them.  It's the physical representation of emotion or an intuitive moment perhaps.  I use imagery a lot, so forgive me as I indulge myself.
At times, there are things that happen to us that are not a result of any action we have taken.  At times there are events that happen in life that are the consequences of action or inaction, the results of our decisions.  A lost mitten doesn't seem like it would have any action except for the owner to get a new pair.  The sock that goes missing in a dryer, resulting in a drawer full of mateless socks.  We laugh about such things, these little things because we see them all of the time.

As I walked on, I wondered if in a strange way it was an unconscious form of self-sabotage.  My thoughts tend to want to explore the things we ignore on a daily basis.  We edit out these things because of the lack of importance.  We ignore what we see all of the time and walk by, blinded.  So I started a little game of details.  Random little details on my walks, that I would note and it has had a surprising effect.  It made me aware of subtle changes that happen continuously.  Instead of noticing change in accumulated moments, you can see it happening constantly, becoming more aware of your environment, seasons, surroundings and a form of subtle energy that we are blind to.

We forget how we are like this oasis of life in a 'space desert'.  We often get caught up in our life games created here that we forget about everything around us.  Intellectually, we acknowledge where we are, see pictures from around the globe, but our limits, well, not everyone has the ability or time to explore.

How does displaced objects relate to all of this mental masturbation?  Actually, it relates to my own blindness and for me, highlights where I may have a lack in my perceptive ability.  Things are not always what they seem to be.  Like the quote from Hesse.  I am trying to see beyond seeing.  To see more and to see less at the same time.  Sometimes a cigar is not a cigar and at other times it is.  The difference is knowing and the beginning of wisdom.  Then again, I am getting older and I tend to remember riddles.

And then I take a deep breath.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Before I Die...Chalkboard Wishes

 In front of an old Victorian House, near the corner of 24th and Lyndale Avenue, in Uptown Minneapolis, stands a chalkboard with the words, "Before I Die".  A piece of chalk and a series of blanks is all that is required for the public to respond with their public declarations.  Anonymously, I picked up the chalk and decided to write over a wish that had been faded out by the sun and the rain.
Some of the responses appear to be simple, like falling in love.  However, as we get older, perhaps we find that we either didn't make time for love or we realize that we had it, but were so damn busy with the things that other people said were so damn important.  The lucky ones, have their priorities straight.
 Others are dreams that require action, to either acquire or do something.  Some dreams require action from another, "becoming a grandmother" was a good example.
 Other dreams were more abstract, with changing definitions, such as being happy or successful.  Others had dreams of public recognition while others had more simple dreams, like being away from the city and being in a log cabin in the woods.  We don't want the same things, but what we all share is that knowledge that we don't have forever.
This morning, I saw a man with a quote from E.E. Cummings on his shirt.  "It takes great courage to grow up and become who you really are."  Before I die I want to...hmm, perhaps, I don't want to want.  Perhaps I will already have been so I will be ready to die and will not be afraid to close my eyes when I do go.  I think I am comforted by the thought that we are not here, in this form, forever.  We are always changing and who I am today may only be a glimmer of who I am tomorrow.  The same should be thought of every single person that is encountered during this journey, and what a journey it is.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The 100 Foot Journey - It's Worth It to Cross the Street

@2014 Dreamworks and Harpo

There aren't too many movies without violence, profanity or gratuitous nudity.  There are even fewer movies that tell a story with crisp dialogue.  Shot in France and India with diverse languages without subtitles,  this is the pure art of telling a story.  Through Le Cordon Bleu, I had the honor of an advance screening of The 100 Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri.   The goal of art is to touch you, from a place you can draw off of your own experiences.  For those who haven't read the book, you might have fresh eyes looking at this movie, where there are few surprises, and you have a story arc of tragedy and triumph.  It IS a "feel good" movie, with another illustration about following your dreams, but also defining your own success and following your heart.  

For those of you who read the book, I don't think you will be disappointed as this work translated well to the screen.  The rhythm of the dialogue was completely natural, the silent reactions involved the audience.  The audience got what they wanted to see, transformation of characters, the clash of cultures as one family emigrates from one nation to another as we grow more culturally diverse wherever we are.  

Personally, I loved how it reminded me of my travels abroad, so my nostalgia was sweetened.  This movie opens on 8 August, so foodies will love seeing the displays of technique and plating.  If you are in the culinary world, perhaps it might remind you that the kitchen is a real place of magic.  I am very fortunate to be in school, learning from some incredibly talented chefs that do speak to me about the heart and soul of the kitchen.  The very act of creation is something I never get tired of.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer in Minneapolis or Food Trucks and Baseball

 People don't like staying indoors when its summertime in Minnesota.  Lou Holtz once described Minnesotans as the land of "Blonde hair and Blue Ears" when he coached at the University of Minnesota.  Our winters are particularly vicious and our summers can be just a touch humid, mosiquito populated and have that touch of pine in the air.  In the cities, there has been a sort of resurgence in the streets.  You feel this hope that better days are not just here, but there will be more of them.  Fears have been pushed aside, and as I wander around, it's just so carefree feeling.  People get in the habit of business and consuming.  There are so many festivals that happen during the summer, that it can be hard to keep track of what is going on, when.  A few weeks ago, there was a food truck festival, and since the food truck season is rather short here, they were out in full force, trying to be as distinctive as possible in design and public offerings.
 Business was brisk, lines were long and some of the more adventurous eaters were going for every and anything they could get.  Some of them, well, I just couldn't marry up their concept with my sense of taste and my imagination.  I couldn't visualize how a 'Donut Burger' would taste.  I recalled how a burger would taste, how I preferred it and tried to will a donut mashup and it made my stomach churn just thinking about it. I would have rather had some pan fried termites, sautéed in a garlic oil and sea salt.  So I was rather surprised to see anyone ponying up to sacrifice their greenbacks for a taste of the bizarre.
 The other day, I had gone to the Mall of America, en route to some where else, but still kind of look at this mecca of capitalism to see people still chasing a good time.  It's a bit excessive to me, but not so many were walking around with huge shopping bags and still many spots were open for leasing.  In a way, the Mall of America has done much to shut down a lot of the malls that once did spry business in Minnesota.  We had a "-dale" at every corner of the city.  They were the places to go to people watch in the winters when we would get so full of cabin fever that we couldn't stand it anymore.  Malls were the places to check everyone out and to see what was the fashion of the moment.  The last mall I went to was occupied at maybe 50%.  I thought that meant we were buying less, but with the latest numbers, Minnesota is down to about a 4 percent unemployment rate.  Most of the business being created within the state is coming from companies who no longer think it's cheaper to make things in China anymore.
 In Downtown Minneapolis, we were getting ready to show off out city, the All-Star Week was hosted in my humble city. The all new "Target" field really did kind of impress me.  I still held my childhood memories of the old Metropolitan Stadium, watching Rod Carew play at my first baseball game.  It was live, not on television and we beat the Oakland A's.  Now the Mall of America is built over baseball history and our football history as well.  Things change.  The game was moved downtown into a shared dome, which was demolished this year to make way for a new stadium for the Vikings.  I don't recall if some corporate entity has purchased naming rights.
 The inside of the stadium was being spruced up, with everything being washed down.  Our little part of baseball history being sold to the national audience.  Right now the adding machines are rolling, trying to figure out how much of a profit was being made, or if something would come out of this for future events.  I kind of lost my love of the game.  It was a slow death, but maybe the game had changed to such a point that filled my mouth full of bile when I went into the merchandising store.  People will spend with their hearts and not their minds.  The mark-up on the Merchandise was crazy.  All of the product was made abroad, with China being a primary manufacturer.  With all of the hype about our food being locally sourced, we have a long way to go.

Our Downtown is beautiful, with high vacancy rates, but strangely it has grown, changed and evolved since my childhood, when the Foshay tower used to be the tallest building on our skyline.  The IDS tower opened in 1972, as a sort of Monolith that ushered in a new era, a modern era.  Other buildings have come to join in to create a skyline and skyway system so you could traverse the city without ever going outside.  But we love the outdoors and nature and perhaps that's why we don't have that many cities here in Minnesota.  We like that small town feel, where every neighborhood is like a village and our villages all link up to make our urban sprawl look somehow manageable.  It's still home, and though I feel the urge to get out there in the world, to go abroad and walk in dusty streets, sit in nondescript cafes and just feel the pulse of a far away place, I'll stay put for a while.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Street Philosophers

 I know I have lapsed in posting something for a touch, but familiarity does breed contempt, or so it's said.  One has to step away in order to be missed.  I have to say that I have enjoyed actually experiencing life again, away from social media and being completely invisible again.  My own observations, are my own and it's really not that important to be heard.  Often, the first jaded impressions are miles away from the truth and are contaminated by opinions that have influenced others.  So how does one have an uncontaminated view of the world?

Today I had a random conversation with an anonymous stranger who said, "I left Facebook for 6 months and I felt so much freedom.  It was like I got my life back."  I didn't ask why she went back on, but considered a key remark, "I was so happy."  We are in an age of self promotion, tweeting, texting, posting and to a lesser extent, even blogging all about the me, myself, and I...the importance of self and obsess over
what seems to be 'important'.  Eleanor Roosevelt is often cited for this quote,   "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people."   Lately, I have been wondering about our world getting so focused on the 'self'.  This 'self-importance' that seems to be all about what we can get, what we can do and who we can have in our lives.   So lately, I have just tuned out the drama of social media of all types and put my ear to the ground.

Sitting out on the street, drinking a libation or two and minding my own business, sort of, with intrusions of conversations that would wander past.  Was Eleanor Roosevelt right or would I hear street philosophers cut through the white noise or garbled thought?

Uptown Minneapolis is a road show of avatars.  You see the flash of fashion plates, the indie goth, the 1980 Yuppies, Sid and Nancy punkers, Illustrated men and women, your transitional people, trangenders, fettish people, bikers, desperate housewives, afraid of dying mid-life crisis guy with daughter/girlfriend, visiting UK tourists and then there's me.  The native who returns home to see that Uptown Minneapolis is still the same, stuck in the 1980s and somehow is viewed as 'cutting edge'.   This is why we are the inspiration for "Portlandia'.

Uptown is uptight when it comes to being Politically Correct and incredibly sensitive about offending anyone.  You can find the uptight conservative Harley guy with leather and chains that hugs his M-16 at night sitting next to a guy named "Sue" who used to be a gal with black light tattoos and gages and piercings to ward off personal contact from anyone.  The strange and bizarre is glorified with a latte and a vegan lettuce wrap from a sustainable farm to table food truck that is powered by solar energy.

Politics are discussed in hush tones, though it's really no secret that the city is Democratic and the state is Republican.  It's kind of dysfunctional, because there is a kind of 'us vs. them' mentality though no one really knows who is 'us' and who is 'them'.  Like I said, I am invisible here.  I wasn't abroad, or at least when I was in Asia, I tried to be invisible, but was forced to accept the fact that I was going to stick out no matter where I went.  It was a good exercise in self acceptance.  Here, it's too easy to get comfortable with not being 'anything special'.

So as I sat back I listened to the ramblings of others.  A lot of people talked about people in a very, "I'm better than..." sort of way.  It's quite possible that's why reality television has dominated our lives.  We can't believe they are famous and we can't believe we are talking about them and aren't we so much better than them.  We turn our noses up at them and they cash their checks for being our freak show.

When I went abroad, one thing that amazed me was that due to our television industry, I became aware that I shattered the minds of many because of the image of America that is blasted all over the world.  "You're not fat, lazy, uneducated, chasing money or (insert favorite stereo-type here of a white middle-aged former military woman,  who is divorced with hispanic last name and graying hair)."  When we bust up an image that is assigned due to our lack of time (we aren't going to know everyone in the world).  We profile people each and every day and we often rely on the views of others to give us a snapshot of how it is.

We only get the backside of the world, the Cliff notes version of our existence is not about knowing the world at all, but trying to survive in this world by playing a game to collect as much monopoly money to pay for our place at the table.  Kind of crazy, isn't it?

So, in my small minded way, I have discussed people, events, ideas and myself, because the world is composed of all of it.  I am not justifying anything.   I am not defending our condition.  I am not even saying that Eleanor Roosevelt is wrong or right.  We are human and we discuss what we see, what we don't see and what we would like to see.  We are still little children that are learning the difference between our wants and needs.  We die and a new generation goes through it all again and so on it continues until one day we get it.  Hopefully the stuff we don't need doesn't get passed on to future generations and the ideas we do need makes it into the future.  Perhaps that is what Eleanor Roosevelt meant for us to glean from this remark, however, she never said this quote.  It's one of our great myths.  The earliest citation is quoted as an unknown sage.  Whenever there is an 'unknown sage' or street philosopher, it's a reminder that wisdom or common sense doesn't need an author, it just needs to be practiced.

So whatever is written about, places, ideas, people, good food or's all related.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Does Life Imitate Art or Does Art Imitate Life?

"I Don't Love You"
My mother hated flowers
Garden Flowers
 Too often we ignore what surrounds us, perhaps because when you see something everyday, it becomes the ordinary and we edit it out.  We grow blind to the flowers that somehow power through the asphalt of life.  Or maybe I am jaded and cynical.  I don't think so and then there are moments when I see something, like a commuter going ballistic, as though something pushed them over a fragile edge that the rest of us didn't see.  I witnessed a woman scream at a bus driver over disabled seats and even though another passenger offered her a seat, she went on a tirade that seemed totally out of context.  "I am going to sue you if I fall down. I am going to complain.  I am going to write every paper in this country, because that's what I do."  And that folks is how we alienate every single person in the world, with a flash of all consuming anger.  What if she for a moment stopped and listened?  She kept trying to get a single person to consent to her opinion.  She kept trying to hear someone say she was right,  "This is going to be fun," she hissed like a snake, waiting to strike.  No one played her game.  This self-important woman, with her luggage, probably fresh from the airport was expecting the world to cater to her.  Immediately the headphones came out and people started either tuning her out or engaging themselves with private conversations.  No one fed the troll on the bus.  Seeing that no one was paying attention to her anymore, she melted into the seat that was offered to her.  Her stand lasted a better part of 3 minutes.  She sniped periodically, but she didn't even receive eye contact from fellow passengers.  It's important to know what are real battles and which ones are solely ego-driven.  So if by chance, the newspapers receives a letter of complaint about a bus with disengaged seats, I would simply reply to her, "Jesus loves you" or "Have a Nice Day".  We have bigger issues in the world to change, rather than to be disgruntled with seats that were disabled by a manufacturer for safety reasons.  All the bus driver wants to do is to drive the route.
Abandoned Books

True Gemini - Herschael DeJong

I don't write book reviews.  I don't write press releases and I am not doing either one of those on this temperate Saturday, where instead of a sunny day, the clouds shine overhead.  The skies have all of the appeal of a lead balloon.  In other words, the perfect day to read a book.  I finally opened the book that my long lost brother sent to me.  I haven't seen him since he was seven-years-old and I honestly don't know that I want or need to see him again.  Forgive me, but that sounds cold and unfeeling.  It's not cold and unfeeling, but rather because I feel way too much and I have no desire for either one of us to awaken memories that are best forgiven and forgotten.  I don't want to remember our childhood, and though I have faced it to the best of my ability and dealt with the adults that were in charge at that time, the person I cannot see is the one who was victimized the most.

For those of you who have been through war, it's kind of a form of survivor's guilt.  It's hard to explain, but, the reality is, it's like reliving a living hell all over again.  After I wrote, "An Appearance of Glass", I had self published it because I had no desire to promote it and I wanted to use my pain in a positive way.   It was a release.  I shared it with my brother and  he wrote the introduction and with his permission, I included it in the work.  From a safe distance, we view each other and really only know only the faintest outline of each other's lives.   My brother has come out with his own book and had hoped that our sister would write the third part, which she has no desire to complete that work, quite possibly for the same reason I can't see my brother again.  Our pain thresholds are all different.  I don't hate him, but my wounds are very deep and it would be inappropriate to open them again.

Regarding his work, I am not going to say that this is a work of art.  I am not also going to say it's horrible.  It's a rendering, that reminds me of medicine.  The kind of medicine that is part of an individual's healing process to let others know that it's possible to go forward.  It's a survivor's account that gave a person permission to go forward with his life, but I have to be honest, it angers me.  I cannot say why.  I feel there has been no resolution and parts that lack personal ownership until much later on.  I do hope, sincerely hope, that this man does take ownership for his life at long last,  and begins to thrive in ways that he only dreamed of.

This may appear to be too personal to post.  The response is a mirror reflection of the work rendered. The work was very personal.  The response, proportional in manner since my name was cited.  My recommendation for the public to read it or not carries no weight.  People will do as they will and wonder what the hell this was all about for a micro-second of their lives and move on.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Asian Culinary Dreams

Walk with me...

Shrimp Wontons 3-ways

This week we explored a region of the world where the bulk of the world population resides. The ancient world were the Peking Man was said to originate 300,000 B.C.E.  In my humble opinion, we will never really know until we figure out a more precise way to measure time, but after living in China for a year out of my life, it has a feel that is far older than many places I have been on earth and are a very diverse nation.  Our Western problem is too much television and not enough exploring the world with the right mindset.  That also can be said for our lack of food experimentation.   So it was a pleasure to learn to make a variety of foods in countries I have been to in the past.  In some ways, I see other touches that have been elevated, in other ways it made me feel an incredible urge to pack my suitcases and go back to the cooks abroad where I would eat at their food stands and watch them work with incredible speed and care.  

Pork Egg Rolls with scallions and cilantro
 These are a couple of dishes we made this week.
A Taste of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia 

Sushi Sampler
 Just a note on sushi.  The first ingredient a westerner thinks about when the word 'sushi' is said, most probably is fish.  Sushi, is not sushi without proper vinegared  (to be seasoned with) rice.  The rinsing and drying process is crucial to rice preparation so that the right amount of starch is in your rice.  The same mixture of water used to season the finished rice is used for forming your sushi.  We learned a lot about the apprenticeship process in Japan.  7 years for rice, 10 years for filleting various saltwater fishes.  It takes a lifetime to master sushi, so I do not expect that I will master it after 1 class.  It's a high art and after working with various techniques, styles and my sushi knives, I have an idea what those sushi practitioners must go through, a lot of rejection until one day their head chef approves.  The persistence in never quitting their practice is a prerequisite if anyone desires to create some stunning dishes.  I have mastered nothing, but I think I have the rice down.  That is a great start.