Saturday, November 04, 2006

how to acheive world peace

....Serve this Brown Gravy.

"Nations", ya say, "Nations, yer gross. All we ever get outta you is potty legends and exploding road kill...well, dammit, we're sick of it, ya hear? Sick of it!'
Well fine. Don't get all in a bunch for heavens' sake.
Here's a recipe. Actually, it's a recipe and a tutorial! Lucky you!

Read the entire recipe before you start...remember, I have a strange brain. And in using this recipe, please bear in mind that these are not exact measurements. I repeat: THESE ARE NOT EXACT MEASUREMENTS. It 's more important to use the exact ingredients than it is to measure them with scientific accuracy. Have all your tools accounted for and set out beforehand, including little plates or bowls to hold the 'aside' portions. Ideally ingredients should be at room temperature.

1/2 cup dry, fine, white breadcrumbs. May be sourdough, french, egg, potato or wonder. Not whole wheat EVER. No sweet breads, no highly spiced or herbed breads, no rye, just plain white damn bread.
...brown these in a teflon pan over med-hi heat, turning with a plastic spoon or spatula, until they are a yellow golden brown, set aside on a saucer to cool. Put the teflon pan away because you will not be using it again.

4 cups brown stock, unsalted, to which may be added any drippings and

cast juices from one beef, vennison or pork roast, DEGREASED.
...combine. pour off 1 cup or so of this mixture into a jar with a tightly fitting lid and set aside.

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch-if it's a rainy day you may add a little more
1/4 cup milk, room temp

2 ribs celery, with leaves
1 carrot
(or 1/2 if you have big carrots or don't like the sweetness that carrot imparts)
1/2 cup chopped onion, med. dice for purposes of measuring. More or less to taste.
...combine these three items and chop fine in cuisinart, set aside

(optional..crimini mushrooms, coarse dice. These cook down to about one third their initial size and cast a lot of juice in the process which may be poured off into the stock with no effect on its subsequent thickening. To your taste and bite with these.)

plain vegetable oil for sauteeing. not olive oil, not any other type of oil like canola, safflower, corn etc. just plain VEGETABLE OIL. NOT MARGARINE. NOT BUTTER.

plain beer, like Miller. nothing flavored, fancy or extra dark needed here. crack a can and enjoy it while you cook; you'll only be using a two-count pour of it.

white zinfandel or any 'blush' crap wine, for deglazing

1. Take the cooled breadcrumbs, the cornstarch, and the milk and add them to the 1 cup of stock in the jar. Place the lid on and shake until the contents are mixed throughly and there are no big chunks or dry places, and set aside. Return and shake this mixture throughout the rest of the gravy making process so that the contents don't settle to the bottom and turn into a brick. This slurry mixture may be made in the morning and set aside to soak, and be shaken occasionally, until it's time for dinner. The longer the crumbs have to rehydrate and cast their flavor the better .

2. Place the remaining stock and juice combination into a saucepan and heat to low.

3. In a large saute pan, (bare steel or well-seasoned cast iron works well, but not calphalon because it's bullshit and definately NOT teflon because you're trying to develop a fond here) add a little vegetable oil and the chopped vegetables (not the mushrooms, though, if you are using them). DO NOT crowd the pan. Saute and turn. When the vegetables have become golden, add a small amount of the beer(a slosh, in technical terms). It will foam up briefly and then subside. Do not panic. When the contents of the pan have returned to the volume they were before the addition of the beer (in other words, reduced) pour the contents into the warm stock. DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN.
( optional step-now add the mushrooms and a little more oil. Pour whatever juice they cast into the stock. When the mushrooms are dark and beginning to brown a little, pour into stock. As above, DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN.)

4. Replace pan on fire. When the bottom begins to sizzle, pour in a little (a slosh) of the wine so that the pan bubbles and foams up. Using a spoon or hard spatula, scrape and stir the bottom of the pan until all the crud on the bottom is lifted and mixed into the wine. Continue to stir. Use your nose, now, and smell the steam. When it no longer has that sharp 'booze' smell, dump the contents into the stock. NOW you scrape the pan.

5. Raise the heat on the stock. When the surface shimmers, shake the contents of the slurry jar and then stir them into the hot stock. An ideal tool for this is a flat bottomed spring style whisk, NOT a balloon whisk. Do not whisk, just stir constantly. Do not flail. Do not panic. The stock will turn murky; this is fine.
Your sauce should begin to 'kick' momentarily. Small dark blobby pieces like clouds will rise to the surface of the stock. Now you should begin to pay careful attention to getting the entire bottom of the pot stirred. Figure eights all over, right down on the bottom of the pan. Now the thickening will commence and you will feel the new resistance increasing as you stir.
During this portion of our show the contents of the pan will begin a small boil. As long as you are attentively stirring the bottom of the pan and you are not meeting any resistance or speed bumps there you are fine. The instant you begin to feel resistance, take the pan off the fire and set it on a cool burner. Continue stirring as before until the bubbles stop rising. (at this point you can go back and forth to the burner if you feel the mixture needs the extra high cooking.) In a few more moments, stop stirring. Take off the fire. Let this sit over the oven vent for the rest of your meals cooking time, and stir it again before you serve it. You may also strain it, or run an immersion blender through it if you like a smooth gravy. NOW taste it for salt and add as needed!

It am good!

Sometimes gravy just flat doesn't gravy; it refuses to thicken. The reasons for this include cursing by Gypsies, so go look it up elsewhere if you're interested. But how do you fix it?
Take the pan filled with the failed gravy off the fire. Fill up the sink with cold water and set the pan in it, as deep as possible with out overflowing, and stir very briskly. Now is a good time to use that balloon whisk. What you're trying to do is to lower the temperature quickly. Stand there and do this for three minutes or even longer, until you can stick your finger in the liquid without getting burned.
Now spoon off about a half-cup of the liquid into the jar, and drizzle in a little cold milk to further reduce the temp to warm, not cold. To this add a teaspoon of cornstarch and a teaspoon of white flour, cap and shake well.
Return the pan to the fire, and this time raise the heat slowly, stirring, until you have a simmer. The top of the fluid should be moving but not bubbling. Get out your trusty spring whisk and pour the shaken contents of the jar slowly into the liquid, stirring steadily.(It helps to count off a waltz time side, then the other, figure eights, 123, 123, 123) That done, reach over and raise the temperature once again to high, continuing to stir as before, making sure you get the bottom of the pan but not whisking or whipping. When the sauce kicks, it will do so quite suddenly. Do not panic, just keep stirring in waltz time, covering the entire bottom of the pan. When you start to feel resistance on the floor of the pan, take it off the fire, do not return it, and keep stirring until the liquid remains at a constant thickness and the increasing has stopped.
Yay! You are a gravy hero!
How do you fix gravy that has solidified into a hard mass? Drizzle in warm water form the tap and stir. When the desired consistancy is reached, test for salt and adjust seasoning.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

meat meat meat meat

The first job I ever found all by my little lonesome was at a fast food joint called Arby's. I was living in my first apartment with the Dishrag. As the only reliable source of income, I clung to this job like a barnacle despite the ensuing horror. Besides, I knew I'd been lucky to get it in the first place. I'd been hired not because I had experience, not because I had a nice personality, but quite frankly because I had big tits.
They got exactly what they paid for, too. After one night on the counters, during which I gave a guy 15 dollars in change for a two dollar purchase made with a five dollar bill, I was relegated to the sandwich board.

The 'Seventies may have been the era of disco elsewhere, but I recall them as a time of scuzzy polyester clothes, dopesmoke and poverty. Our state economy was gasping it's last. The Japanese were buying up moribund businesses right and left; anyone who wanted to pay bills had to dance to their tune. The tune playing was 'Japanese Management Technique'. And oh my God, if you ever want for an example of cultural misapplication, then picture trying to force the children of the pioneers into the role of identical happy worker ants.

In a corporate environment it must have been exasperating; but in a minimum wage environment it was just grotesque. This was FAST FOOD. Our manager was a crying drunk. The assistant manager was a chainsmoking slutbag who used to ash her smokes in the coleslaw tub. Our crew was made up of high school students, poverty-stricken young marrieds and the marginally employable.
Manditory morale building seminars?
Let me see if I understand this...You want me to give up my evenings to attend 'manditory morale building seminars' until 10:00 at night? I won't be compensated, there will be no child care, but there will be singing? And cake? And we'll split up into teams and do cheers? 'Night Crew, Night Crew, we're number ONE! We're the ones who'll get it done!'

Listen, fucker, I have bills to pay. I don't own a car; you don't pay me enough to own a car. I ride the bus an hour each way just to get here. You have me down for split shifts; I get no damn sleep as it is, this is a minimum wage job with no benefits.
I am an adult with A LIFE.
Oh fuck yeah, they did. And if you didn't participate, you got fired.

Now this was bad enough. But working day to day at Arby's on top of all that had a lunatic charm all it's own.

Arbys was new at the time and was struggling to find an image. It opened with the full-on hearty cowboy thing. This didn't fly too well in a town populated by folks who had moved there to escape from cowboys and were doing everything short of building a palisade to distance themselves from everything beefy, hearty and cowboylike. Somehow Arby's got the message and backed off on that, but the lobby remained distinctly 'chuckwagony' It was very weird to see a group of Pakistani standing there waiting for their sandwiches, surrounded by saddles, longhorn mounts and wagonwheels.

Arby's pride and joy were it's big, beefy sandwiches, meat meat meat sliced from 100% pure beef roasts cooked fresh daily in their beefy hearty convection ovens on site. By cowboys. (Or at least quasi-cowboys. Oh fine; people in chequered neckerchiefs.)
The description and the reality were two different things, however. What you got was a hamburger bun with a bunch of hot deli slices mashed onto it, and then you proceeded to a condiment bar and added things like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup...and a very unfortunately named, whitish, translucentish substance known as Arby's 'Horsey Sauce'.
Do NOT go there.*

....let's say it together, shall we?
What. The. Fuck.

....So it wasn't really a burger and it wasn't really a deli sandwich, and you were supposed to put ketchup on it.
People who had seen the advertisement on television ended up milling in the lobby with a brightly wrapped sandwich on a plastic tray, searching for an answer. It was tragic.

In a desparate bid to remain open a salad bar was installed, but you had to police it to keep people from making the honest assumption that it was there to build sandwiches from... probably aided in this mistaken impression by the fact that there were NO DRESSINGS OFFERED. Regular customers learned a Pavlovian fear of the salad bar** and refused to buy salads, and the salad, consumed by grief, rejected and alone, withered and turned brown and limp and looked the very picture of appetizing, being the first thing you greeted right through the door.

There is no other way to put this: The Arby's beef roast was a thing of crawling horror in it's raw state.
Pay, attention, children.
Remember the movie Soylent Green? No, now stay with me. The kicker was that dead people were hauled off to a central location where they were dumped into giant vats filled with a digestive fluid that broke them down into a sort of undifferentiated slish from which nutritious Soylent Green was made.***
Arby's roasts used emergency room discards.

No, ha ha! Oh, ha, to my joking is laugh!

No, Arby's roasts only looked like they were made from emergency room discards. What they were made from were the chunks of meat trimmed from premium cuts to pretty them up. Honestly, it started out as good stuff. But then they would soak these trims in a papain solution, and they would begin to....get...kinda....soft.
And kinda....greyish...on the outside.
The meat chunks which had started out as discrete entities became an intertwined mass, which was then drained like a cheese. Spices - the industry term for chemical colorants, a truly frightening list of preservatives and SALT up the wazoo - were injected, and the whole mass was forced into collagen tubes, which were in turn forced into heavy visquine and vaccuum sealed.
The roast you unwrapped weighed in at about 30 pounds, although I don't recall exactly. Once freed from its' casings it would lie there on the board and....creak.
I swear to God.
Black-red chunks of raw beef bulged from a cocoon of grey foam; interlaced with loooooooong strands of partially digested tissue# ...the whole weeping a thick, clear liquid that smelled of kerosene.
Cree ee eeak.
The roast went into convection ovens and came out transformed. What was once something that looked as though it had shot out of Cthulhu's asshole was now a deceptively normal looking roast of beef.
Smelled great, too.

Other meats were served as well...turkey, chicken, ham and roast pork, as I recall. All produced by the same process, all fascinatingly disgusting in their uncooked state. Each roast went onto an electric slicer and whipped back and forth in a blur of juice and protein sawdust as the slices were cut away, thin enough to see newsprint through. The stub ends were loaded into a bustub, and at the end of the evening they were bundled together tightly, loaded onto the slicer and cut up. Then back into the tub. Two huge plastic jugs of barbecue sauce were stirred in and the contents left to marinate overnight. The next day this was heated in the oven and sold in scoops as barbecue sandwiches. Good ones.

Now, barbecue is a pretty primordial affair and generally the less you know about it the better, but that sauce....oh my God, that sauce. I do not know what was in it, but almost as soon as I bent over the tub to mix the ice-cold shit into the sliced meat my eyes would burn, my sinuses would swell shut and my pyloric would start to flutter and shimmy. Just remembering it makes my mouth fill up with spit and my tongue cringe. It smelled perfectly fine, though. Regular ordinary barbecue sauce-smell.
Once it was baked, like I said, it was delicious.

It being the 'Seventies, our uniforms were ugly enough to make small children cry and were made of plastic. Plastic clothing is always a good choice for people who work around open flames as it melts into a hard candy shell that protects the body's tissues from unsightly charring as they cook. Plastic clothing is washable, and although no actual soil is ever extracted by washing plastic clothing, it is washable. You can dump a gallon of dishwasher solution onto it and run it through the Hobart, you can beat it against the hard stony heads of Republican party members, you can dry clean it and you can wash it with solutions used to DEGREASE ENGINES, but the shit simply will not come clean. But it is washable.
That's why everyone always smelled like sour tallow whenever they were in uniform. As a consequence we Arby's galley slaves were very big on perfume and aftershave. Sadly, this only compounded the fonkay behind the counter during a rush.

The first time I was ever flashed was at Arby's. I was mopping the floor around 2: a.m. when a bum knocked on the glass door. When I looked up, there was his tiny shriveled weenie hanging out of the zipper hole of his pants. He was doing a little dance, too, grinning and bobbing, pointing to it delightedly with both hands as though I might miss out on the whole purpose of this performance without the extra visual cue.
Everyone laughed at me. Ha, ha ha, you got flashed.
They called the cops, grudgingly, and the cops thought it was pretty funny too, ha ha ha, gave the premises a quick once over and drove off.
I, on the other hand, had to ride my bicycle home. Alone. By myself.
Three miles.
At 2:30 am.

I quit. Ha ha ha!

*it was tasty sauce, as long as you didn't actually see it. the mental picture was inescapeable.
** the grouchy broad with the big tits and the meat slicer would bean them with rolled up balls of foil from behind the pop machine. death from above.
*** gosh, I hope I didn't ruin the ending for anyone.

#science experiment time!
(You spent night shift getting stoned in the walk-in!! so instead of thawing the wrapped roast in a sink full of hot water overnight, you unwrapped the roast , threw it into the bottom of the sink and dumped several hotel pans full of stale water from off the steam table over it, and left it over night.)

take one uncooked Arby's roast at room temperature. place in large, deep sink full of hot tap water. leave overnight. the next morning, skim the foam, which should come away from the surface of the water in solid, styrofoam-like chunks, and describe what's floating in the water.
OO! OO! I know! pick me!
Ok. You remember Cousin It, right? Little hairy lump? Imagine if, like cousin It got married? To another It? A girl one? And she got pregnant? But since they're Its, shes, like, going to have a whole litter instead of just one, right? But cousin It doesn't have a job, so Mrs. It has to get an abortion?

um, yeah.

Brown Gila Monster The Vengeance Car Is Fast!

I get to have the Goonybird overnight tonight! Yay!

I'm sorry, but really now - is there anything better than grandchildren?
This is how I wanted to be able to love my daughter when she was this age...just to play and enjoy her presence, not to be the mommy police and spoil the fun with 'no no!'
It does not hurt that my Goonybird is the most beautiful, sunny, intelligent child in the known universe.
I look at this kid and I feel pure satisfaction and pure, unconditional love. He's like finding money! Or receiving unexpected good news!
It never grows old. I marvel at his perfect little feet and hands and the little rosebud mouth and I feel the same way as I did when I first met him, when he was quiet and blue and covered in ook and opening his eyes and looking around like a space traveler.

He wrote his name on the bathtub last night with his soap crayons. Two years old, folks!!! Needless to say this bathtub has taken on the status of an international shrine in my eyes. (His mother took pictures so don't start with me.)

When I pick him up at daycare he spots me and his eyes light up. His whole face lights up. He runs to me with his arms wide shouting 'Grandma!'
It knocks me out, folks.

I keep trying to remind myself that in no time at all he'll be a sniggering, zitty adolescent boy.
I will probably feel the exact same helpless, sappy adoration I do now. Aw look, he just set that abandoned car on fire! That's grandmas' boy! Hey, let's go shoot rats out at the dump this weekend! Grandma will show you how to fire the sawed-off!

I wish we had trick-or -treat pictures of him, but it was below freezing Halloween night so he went out as a 'sensibly dressed person'. The cuteness would have been blinding. Cuteness sensors all over the globe would have registered 7.62. Citizens would have been evacuated from street level buildings where the cuteness rays were the highest. That's what happened last year. Really. The Japanese were pissed.
He's growing up so fast, dammit. I've got to get busy with the sewing machine for next Halloween. In a couple more years, he won't make a very convincing Holy Infant of Prague.

Monday, October 30, 2006

one for the printers and two for the road.

Having successfully avoided abduction and incarceration in some noisome tidal cell during his country's latest political upheaval, Tim Footmanhas managed to deliver the finished manuscript of his book on RADIOHEAD to the printers!
Dear Jesus, I would be absolutely trippin my tits off.
Can you imagine? Getting published?
Order it HERE, NOW..
Do it. I'm going to. It's HERE.
If you read Cultural Snow you know it'll be good. And if you don't read Footman, quit being lame. Go read him. Use your head for something more than a hatrack. Geeze.

TWO FOR THE ROAD, Jane and Michael Stern

I have been reading the Sterns ever since the beginning. While they always turn out something entertaining and well written, they've also tended to be real heavy on the 'arch'. Plenty of that East Coasty 'Ew, how rustic' tone that everyone from Tom Wolfe to Howard Stern thinks they have some kind of right to cop regarding the rest of America. I could go off on a rant here about how the United States does not in fact terminate at the western borders of the Thirteen Original, but I will not. This latest book by the Sterns is damned good, and I'd rather talk about that.

'Two For The Road' is an overview of their years as self-designated traveling food critics. It is a genuinely remarkeable tale, too, reminiscent of the best adventure writing... how two urban naifs, armed with nothing but rumor, instinct and the gargantuan appetites of bull hippopotami, traversed America in search of their next meal.

The chapters are bracketed with recipes, and these recipes are generally nothing to exclaim over. They're the only weak part of the whole. I suspect they may have been the idea of the editors, though (because after all that's trendy and all the cool intellectual but whimsical books are doing it. I swear, ever since that Like Water For Chocolate* book everything has just gone to hell.)

Despite a few forgivable and non-toxic lapses, the Sterns have finally managed to get ever themselves and do their subject, American food, without apology.
That sound you hear is not stampeding buffalo, by the way, it's all the foodie dipshits running for their Pepto Bismol. Everyone KNOWS there is nothing worth eating and paying for outside the city limits of New York, right? and only two places there, and they're French. Right? Right?

You cannot accuse the Sterns of being dilletantes, that's for damn sure. They have been doing this for years. They not only eat and enjoy, they pass through doors even I would fear to pass. They get shitfaced drunk at the Let-er-Buck in word as to whether Jane adds her brassiere to the collection that moulders in the rafters, though. They order from roach coaches and dine in the back of semi trailers. They guzzle red beer. They eat steamed cheeseburgers, scrapple, tripe and red velvet cake. They dine off paper plates and drink from plastic cups. They fearlessly order mystery croquettes, hot turkey sandwiches and macaroni salad, and eat jello full of
things that should not ever, ever be found in jello. They do fried food. Boiled food. Food from boxes and cans. Wild game. Home preserves. And they manage to do so without having to drop constant snide little bon mots or laughing up their sleeves for a change.

What makes this book so worthwhile is that this is a pair of people who know and love their subject, who have well-educated palates and who share a poison pen they aren't in any way afraid to use. Anyone who has read their excellent articles in Gourmet magazine knows this. In Two For The Road they take the courageous and unheard-of step, finally, FINALLY, of taking fried chicken and mashed potatoes as seriously as they take haute cuisine. With the playing field level, they go after each dish and make it prove itself. And it works, and I think they deserve a damn medal.

After all these years, they've got it right. They've finally taken their subject more seriously than they take themselves.

* the only book I've read that was both worthwhile and had good recipes was Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flag, although the recipe of the title is an acquired taste at best.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gold Wolf Howls In Hell

This is Mr. Grumpy Punkie! Say hi to the kids Mr. Grumpy Punkie!
Now go HERE, and read this post
(Sunday, October 29, 2006 My Son Has Outdone Himself Once Again )
and find out how a pumpkin should REALLY be done. And join me in welcoming the newest member of the FlatButt Nation, Burning Buffalo Chaos!!!!

Well. Now It's time to write the dreaded Halloween Spooky Post you've all been waiting for and I'm a little reluctant to do it. But here goes.

Yes it really happened. And thats the first and last time I'll ever say that here.

I have had lots of bizarre things happen to me in my life...some of them perpetrated by the living and some of them perpetrated by the living in ways I didn't quite understand at the time. I strongly suspect this story falls into the latter case. At the time I was so frightened it didn't all hit me at once but kept rolling over me in waves for weeks afterwards. At the time, I thought it was proof of Satan.

My mother, up until the time of her conversion experience, was a deeply superstitious person. She was a believer in spirits and Spiritualism, communication with the dead, angels, demons, posession and ghosts. When an item would turn up missing in our house, once everyone had been found guilty and then dismissed through lack of evidence she would head for the hall closet and pull out her Ouija board to ask the spirits for assistance. This was standard procedure for years.

From the time I was old enough to sit still, about four, I was often the second set of knees under the board and the second set of fingertips on the planchette. I recall her using the thing by herself, too, seated in a chair next to my bed while I settled down for a nap. And this never seemed odd to anyone, not even to me, not for years. It worked.
And thats something to remember here. Bear that in mind.
It worked.
Lost items were found. Forgotton names were revealed. It was used to find lost keys, jewelry, paperwork, gravesites (we were the caretakers of our town's Pioneer Cemetary and records were sketchy) waterlines, etc. In fact it succeeded on the waterline location issue where the city and a dowser we'd called in had failed.

My mother was convinced that I had either a gift of 'sight' or at least attracted unseen helpers gifted with same. In any event I grew up believing that an unseen world with purposes of it's own surrounded me, rearranging small items around the house, making the cats stop and stare at nothing and generally dicking with our heads, and that I was attracting them.

By the time I was eleven or twelve the weird was running full bore. My mother taught herself to compose astrological charts. I had been given a set of Tarot cards-her old ones. 'Fate' magazines littered the basement and front room, Edgar Cayces' collected works were in the bookshelves, Jeanne Dixon was a household word and Yuri Gellar was taken at face value. Oh, we never missed Yuri. And each time he appeared my mother would send me into the kitchen and dining room during the commercial breaks to check and see the clocks were still running and the silverwear wasn't jumping around inside the drawers. In fact he got the blame when her watch stopped running and she wondered whether or not she should call the Mike Douglas Show and tell them about it. I suspect she may have, and I think she wanted Gellar to pay for it to be repaired.

Oh yes.

One evening we had company and the subject of the Ouija board came up. Everyone was all for it, until the thing actually came out of the box and then they chickened out. My mom came and got me, and I was happy enough to join her. Everyone gathered around us and we set up, chairs facing, knees touching and the board resting on our laps, fingertips barely contacting the planchette. My mother was very particular about all this.... your fingertips had to be arched high and over, like a pianist, so that only the barest dot of skin actually contacted the surface. Nobody could talk. Nobody could laugh. Nobody could interrupt and the television had to be turned off.

I don't remember what the questions were. Stuff like 'name everyone here' and what's your name' and 'when did you die' and shit. The questions never mattered much because the whole point of the experience was watching the planchette glide around the board, A, B, C...Yes, No....and this time was similar. And as soon as I touched the thing it set off around the board in long, slow arcs and away we went. Our company was absolutely fascinated.

The initial glee and amusement wore off instantly when the planchette began moving faster. It started spelling out words so quickly that our designated scribe had trouble keeping up. The whole company started calling out the letters. Everyone was gathered closely around watching.
The damn thing would not stop. It circled around and around the board, stopping over letters just long enough for the group to call them out to the scribe.
It started to be a chore to keep my fingers on the planchette. My mom realized this at the same time and we glanced up at each other in surprise a couple times. Her touch was so light you could hear her fingernails chattering lightly on the plastic. Finally I had to lean over the board and follow the movement with my arms in motion just to maintain contact.
The group was still calling out the letters and the scribe was frowning at her notepad. She started to act concerned, then irritated and then put the notepad down. 'It's a bunch of dirty words', she said, only half amused.
My mother took her fingers off her side of the planchette and settled back in her chair. My fingers were still on the thing, and I was still concentrating on keeping up. The planchette kept racing around, pulling me after it.
And then suddenly it shot sideways off the board, across the room, and hit the fireplace like a bullet.
And then scream. Everyone jumped back, my mother stood up, knocked her chair over backwards, and there I sat with the board still on my knees gaping at the fireplace with my hands still poised midair. Everyone was jumping out of the way and yipping and milling. 'Why'd you do that for!' shouted my my mom.
'She didn't!' replied several guests. 'I didn't', I added. 'It did it itself!'
The notepad was being passed around and when it reached my mom she laughed, tore the page off and threw it away, with me clamoring after her to show it to me.
The Ouija Board got burned.

To this day I look back on that and time still hasn't changed my perspective or my understanding of the event. And I really want that to happen, y'all; I mean, I want a rational explaination for what I remember clear as a bell. I was barely, barely touching the planchette when the thing thing shot away sideways-horizontally-like a whipcrack. It shot across the room like an arrow for twenty five feet, hit the fireplace in the next room with a crack and rebounded off it. I felt it take off. I was looking at it when it took off. My mother, my aunt and uncle, and a woman named Meta were looking too, and my father and another man were present in the living room and complained loudly when the thing hit the fireplace near them. The lights were on, I for one wasn't in an altered chemical state and...there you go.

Oh yes. Happy Halloween!