Saturday, November 25, 2006

T-day plus 2

I made pie. And cranberry chutney. And broccoli bake. The broccoli bake is like the classic green bean casserole, with the French fried onions and Campbell's soup, only you use broccoli instead of green beans and cream of broccoli soup instead of cream of mushroom soup. The cranberry chutney is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. That's made with shallots, ginger, garlic, sugar, cider vinegar and cranberries. Savory and sweet, and it is great on a turkey sandwich.

The masterpiece was my pie: buttermilk pecan. Two cups of sugar, one cup of buttermilk and one stick of butter (among other things). It is one of the richest, sweetest things I've ever eaten. Good thing I only make it once a year.

The leftovers are almost gone. The weekend is almost over. The season is in full swing now. Blink and you'll miss it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day

It was a bright, warm November day, and I took a walk around the pond. I noticed a lot of empty jackets forgotten on benches; it must have seemed like a good idea when you left the house, but sixty-five degrees is too warm for that micro-fleece knit pullover. This time of year, the sun is always low in the sky, and shadows and glints of light bounce around and keep me squinting and distracted. I can't focus on any one thing for too long, but I never could, even under the best of circumstances.

Saint Martin, according to legend, cut his cloak in half to save a freezing beggar. A period of warm weather on (or near to) his feast day is often called St. Martin's little summer, and it is believed that there always is a spell of warm weather in honor of his kindness. In America, these warm spells are called Indian Summer, in honor of the opportunity they provided for the savage brutes to squeeze in one more attack before the winter settled in for good. Imagine the audacity! Such a crass lack of hospitality. And after we gave them all those blankets to keep them warm.

Today a WAR MEMORIAL was dedicated at the school. WAR MEMORIALS strike me as misleading and contradictory. This one is not very imaginative or subtle: black granite with etched, coarsly photo-screened images of war on one side, stainless steel plaques like over-sized dog tags on the other. Inflexibility and strength. And a too-human tendency to replace memory with an archivist's ledger. Shouldn't the point of every WAR MEMORIAL be a compelling persuasion to never let this happen again, and not some macho promise of immortality? Dulce et decorum est, indeed.

I remember realizing, in a history class I took two years ago, that the anniversary of the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm and Kristallnacht were one day apart. How you remember is just as important as what you remember.

"Fellas, it's been good to know ya."

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'd Rather Be Wrong and Happy...

I will continue to make gloom-and-doom predictions, but at least my mistakes aren’t too difficult to swallow. Regarding my post at the end of September, I stick with my assertion that the Massachusetts Democratic Party didn’t really get behind Deval Patrick: he won this entirely on his own. Or, more correctly, Kerry Healey lost it. She would have had a chance with a low-key campaign that stuck to identifying Patrick as the tax-and-spend liberal he admits he is. Instead she went with tactics more reminiscent of the national GOP and got blown out of the water. Thank goodness.

On the national level, I am also pleasantly surprised. I think this reaffirms the assertion that pundits and political scientists make: high voter turnout is good for the Democrats and bad for the Republicans. You’ll also notice that in the two close Senate races – Montana and Virginia – the (losing) Republican candidates didn’t do too much kicking and screaming or make accusations of voter fraud and improprieties. Because Republicans are mature and statesmen-like losers, right? No, because they know if anyone is going to use any hanky-panky to nudge a close race over the edge it will be them, and not the Democrats! (Okay, settle down, I’m just kidding.)

Also, for the first time since 1994, more state legislatures are in Democratic hands than Republican. This was also the first time since 1994 that all the chambers that switched hands from one party to the other went from Republican to Democrat. This reinforces the notion that what we have seen is a change on the same scale as the Republican Revolution of 1994. Both chambers of the New Hampshire General Court are controlled by Democrats for the first time since 1874. (That’s supposed to be an 8, it’s not a typo.) For the first time since Rutherford B. Hayes was president New Hampshire is a “blue” state. So much for the Libertarians taking over.

So, the ignorant Americans who get all their political information from the TV news think that we are going to either (a) abandon Iraq overnight, turn all their children homosexual and raise the tax rate to 50%, or (b) pull out of Iraq overnight, fund universal health care, and institute 100% public financing of elections. I was surprised that a fellow graduate student reacted to the election results by saying “hold on to your wallets – the Dems are in charge.” People have such over-simplified views of the world, it’s no wonder we can’t have an intelligent debate about anything.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pranksters and Wiseacres

I've been reading Lisa Crystal Carver's Drugs are Nice lately. I mostly read it in bits and pieces when I'm on the can, because I don't have the luxury of spending long periods of time reading for enjoyment. I was aware of Suckdog and GG Allin in the late eighties when I was a nice, polite, shoe-gazing indie rocker. I always thought that any fool could get on stage and take a crap or insult people and pass themselves off as some kind of unique, demented genius. I had some respect for the guts it took, and the originality of it, but I always thought it would be better if it were done with a little more subtlety. Where’s the shock value if everyone shows up expecting you to shit onstage and flail yourself with the mic stand, and that is exactly what you do?

Another person mentioned in Drugs Are Nice is Lisa’s ex, Boyd Rice. He likes to piss people off by using quasi-fascist symbols and spouting social Darwinist ideas. But when you’re that ham-fisted about making people uncomfortable, you only attract people who either misinterpret what you’re doing (e.g. actual white supremacists or fascists who will eventually kick your teeth in once they figure out what you’re up to) or only have a fleeting attachment to being with the most “out” group they can find but will drop out as soon as they find something weirder or more shocking. Holding an opinion because it will make some people mad is no more original than holding an opinion because it will make some people happy.

Sometimes I do wish I was more of a rebel. But I’ve never felt like my life would be better today if I had managed to insult more people in the past. The people I’ve met who “aren’t afraid to say how they feel” and who “don’t hold anything back to protect other people’s feelings” are always the first to get insulted when you tell them to their faces that they aren’t clever because they are brutally honest, they’re just assholes. Not that anyone is going to accuse me of being too nice anytime soon. Maybe too safe, but not too nice.