Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lenny and Curtis' Search For Meaning: The Thrilling Conclusion!!!!!

When last we met the Baby Jesus was searching the countryside for Pinks lost pig, Calliou, assisted by a crack team of infant crime fighters!

Mr. Swithers, owner of the haunted amusement part, came under brief suspicion but was ultimately rejected for being 'too sexy'.

Mu Tai Dongs establishment came in for a surprise raid

And though the menu featured pork, it was either fresh or salty...and Caillou was known to be a perfect gentleman at all times.
The search continued on.

Slowly and horribly, like a giant neck-wen the approximate size and shape of an obese toddler, a dark suspicion began to take form.....


All the evidence gathered thus far pointed in that direction

...and that direction was someplace off to the right.

Now it remained merely a question of which alien, and for what purpose?

The Vietnamese Cacti-Women of Regulus 3 were known to be performing hybridization experiments involving pigs and lighthouses

The Tall Persons of the Greater Magellanic Cloud were known to abduct and cache small smelly creatures in the hollow trunks of large trees

And the Technologically Retarded Hippies of Saturns' 4th moon occasionally took a farm animal and put it in a basket and then flew around in their interstellar biplanes with it for no good reason that anyone would figure out.

In an effort to locate our purloined porcine pal, the most sophisticated technological listening devices known to man were turned toward the stars!

Suddenly a white streak tore across the heavens in a blinding flash....!


YES, Caillou...wayward bacon bit in a sea of stars, sorely missed and dearly beloved, had come back, but only for a brief time. As he hovered overhead he delivered a message of comfort to the friends and family he had left behind on Earths' distant shore.

There comes a time in a young pigs life when the urge to migrate becomes too strong to resist. Calliou had finally given in and answered the call that seemed to sound in his blood like a siren, one of the whoopy types that go oooooOOWWEEEEOOOOOOOooooo and not the nee-ner nee-ner ones or the ones that go WHOOPWHOOPWHOOPWHOOP like that.

Yes, he had returned to his point of origin on the dark side of the moon seek a mate.

To fall in love.

To start a family.

And with that he zoomed off into the heavens again

Leaving us all just a little bit older...sadder...and wiser.

Now wasn't that a nice ending for little Caillou? Yes! Yes, it was!
Because you know and I know all too well could have been A LOT worse.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Teal Worm: Regulating Become The Final Blue Lake Bean!

I was looking out the window this morning at my obnoxious willows, remembering how just the night before I'd had to knock them back again, and not looking forward to having to rake up and break down the leafy mess today, either. That was when the thought crossed my mind that the Elves of Middle Earth-particularly the ones living in Lorien-must have spent 3/4 of their doomed yet beautiful lives raking leaves. Seriously. When they weren't wafting around in their designer sneakers reflecting on how much better than everyone else in Middle Earth they were, they must have been dealing with some fairly serious compost issues.

Frankly, it'd serve them right. The elves had a really annoying attitude. Every time someone needed help they had to bitch and plead and coax and flatter up the stupid elves until they'd deign to lend a hand, but oh hell yes if the ELVES said 'Jump' you better ask 'how high'. So I like to think of Galadriels husband out grousing and sweating, riding the lawn mower around the Naith. Of course I like to think of Galadriel crouched up on her flet beaning passers-by with water balloons too. I would have.

Still, someone must have been doing the landscaping. Lorien and Rivendell seemed pretty well maintained. The Mirkwood elves were just a disgrace, though. Their woods were all dusty and infested full of cobwebs and sticks and pine cones and deer crap all over the place. Then some random shadow of evil comes along and and blots out the sun and all the animals turn black and the water turns into Lunesta; hell, they don't care. Why should they? They've a bunch of alcoholics. They don't drink water. They've got a castle full of wine. They only go outside at night to have bonfire keggers so they could care less about some lingering shadows.* It never occurs to them to sneak out of frame and do a little landscape maintenance like the other elves (because it wouldn't do to be seen actually sullying ones hands, of course. They're ELVES.)

Anyone that does yard work in Middle Earth seems to get treated like a high-functioning tard, though. Farmer Maggot ends up with the entire Nazgul coterie tearassing through his magic mushrooms and nobody even offers to hold a damn box lunch social for the man afterward. And forget poor Samwise Gamgee. Sam gets totally shafted. He puts up with Frodo's increasingly useless ass halfway across the continent, risks his life numerous times, and in the end what does he get? Jingly Jack Snot is what he gets. "Oh, yes, well, ahem....I mean, of course you did manage the entire expedition, tote luggage, cook all the meals, go hungry, fight monsters, and finally carry Frodo AND THE RING up the side of Mt. Doom just so he could punk out at the last moment, but, um....see...that doesn't count, exactly. No, Frodo was the designated RingBearer. HE gets to sail off to Club Med. You were just the kitchen bitch."

What he did get, was he got to see the last of Frodo, which I'll bet was more than a small relief. After all that whining and complaining and fainting and staggering around muttering about giant eyeballs and being a useless pain in the ass, once he's finally back home Frodo basically sits there like a bowl of cold oatmeal and plays that 'Ah me, I am a broken, broken man' shit for all it's worth. It's a beautiful day, but he's all huddled up next to the fire with the blinds drawn sipping weak tea and milk and please flump up my pillow and would you mind picking up my newspaper it fell on the floor there. Meanwhile Sam's outside pulling Frodos' weeds and mowing Frodos' lawn and you notice how there's never any mention of him drawing a paycheck for any of this either. You know Sam was thinking "Holy shit, get over yourself already. Is it really that bad? You're the best connected Hobbit in history; I mean geeze, hit up Gandalf for some magic powder or something. Seriously."

And the older I get the more this bothers me. For some reason it seemed perfectly reasonable when I was a kid; well, Sam was a devoted servant, right? So naturally he was satisfied with a pat on the head. Now that I'm older I can see what a fantasy of the entitled classes this crap actually was. What I would really like to see is someone write "The Further Adventures of Samwise Gamgee: The Quest For Back Pay". Or maybe "Samwise Opens a John Deere Dealership In Laurelindorian and Refuses To Accept Credit" because you totally know the elves would try and pay him off with fruit and magic vials and shit. But Sam would say "Cram it up your beautiful doomed ass, bucko."

Lengthy digression:
As long as I'm on the subject, what the hell was up with Tom Bombadil? Yes, I read the Silmarillion, I know all that. But I mean, what was he on? One minute he's being all intense and cryptic and acting like an asshole, and the next hes Mr. Rogers on acid, dipshitting around all over the landscape like he's forgotten to take his Ritalin.
This was possibly the stupidest, most annoying character in the entire Trilogy. I may be the only person alive who thinks this too. Everyone else just loved him. I thought he was a mental case.

Everyone with a little unexplainable 'extra income' back in the early 70's invested in a tavern and named it T. Bombadils** and they were always, invariably, without fail, PURE HIPPIE SUCK. I swear to God there must have been a hundred Tom Bombadil-themed taverns all over Portland and they were all draped in asparagus fern and barn board and served lousy sandwiches on whole wheat bread that had too many alfalfa sprouts on them. They all sold Red Hook beer and Heineken and Guinness and nobody ever drank it. One place up around 20th and Burnside even went so far as to have lovely murals with 'Fayre Ladie Goldeberrie' and 'Thom Bombadil' yeeeech it is to cringe. You'd expect a place like that to be full of lovely flower children, but you'd be wrong. Nobody but secretaries ever went to these places and they all died slow, lingering deaths. The places, not the secretaries.
*The Mirkwoodians had a really shitty-ass attitude in general, though. You say a dragon is attacking? Sucks to be you, huh. Oh wait, its attacking our WINE SOURCE? Well why didn't you say so Holmes? Hand me my trebuchet-oh wait, giant diamond? You'll have to excuse us for a second while we go chase down that shit.

*Or something totally 'offbeat corporate wacky' like Clinkerbunker, Buggerasshole and Frinks, or Mr. Boppies Electric Turtle Prison Ltd. or some shit like that. Again, always full of secretaries, these places. Portland was a really strange, sad place in the early 70's.

Monday, July 07, 2008

OK, enough of that.: UPDATED

Instead, here is a brief treatise on the fried oyster.

I am fortunate enough to live nearby the source of the most prized oysters in the world. I happen to like oysters anyway, but I can tell you that I had no idea what an oyster could be until I first ate one of these little miracles .

Raw, they are otherworldly. Unbelievable. Sweet, clean, meaty, light; a hundred shifting, changing flavors move across your tongue. If you've ever had a really good wine you know the kind of flavor experience I mean; it turns and flashes like a coin dropped in a pool of water. It leaves a faint memory of itself behind that begs for yet another taste. Yes, they really are that good. I have eaten 30 0f them at a sitting. They are so amazing and delicious that they leave me close to tears. Seriously. Tears.

The Chuckanut Bay (Rock Creek to you gourmets) oyster lives in the shallow, rich, muddy margin where fresh and salt water meet, at the base of Chuckanut Mountain on Puget Sound. The area is one of the most clean, beautiful, otherworldly environments you can imagine; pristine, temperate, green.

The oyster is not outwardly beautiful, of course, in its rugged shell, nor is it easily had once raked from its bed of clay and stones. It runs small. It hardly seems worth the effort, in fact. But once the creature is removed from its shell it is as tender and mild as a foggy day, grey and moist and pearly.

It is the lamb of the oyster nation. Where other oysters reek of conjugal excess or tidal wrack, the Chuckanut Bay oyster only hints at love, salt and sea. You taste fresh water, sashimi-sweet fish, warm milk, Douglas fir, salt, granite, grass dried in the sun.

The flesh is like soft bread in the mouth.

Of course, all this is simply a matter of selecting a good oyster and making sure that the shortest possible time elapses between ocean and plate. Cooked, the oyster is another matter entirely.

It takes a lot of restraint and discipline to cook an oyster correctly. Unfortunately, far too many cooks treat it like just another protein, and that is the reason that people who do not like oysters don't like them. Too much heat destroys an oyster. It becomes a rank, rubbery, wretched mess. The stomach swells and the contents become bitter and musky and taint the entire creature. The muscle parts weep and turn into strips of rubber. All this happens in an instant.

A properly cooked oyster is not dark. It should not be swollen fat and round in the middle. It should not be smoking hot. It should not be buried under a hard brown shell of fried starch, nor should it be lost in a gummy mass of greasy batter.

A properly cooked oyster should just be....set. The flesh should merely be somewhat firmer than when it was raw, and of a uniformly lighter color throughout. It should be oval and flattish. All it wants is a light breading; and by this I mean a fast toss through some plain white bread crumbs mixed with a little cornstarch-no water, no batter, no egg. Then onto a lightly oiled surface that is not smoking hot, but one which has just passed being too hot to lay ones' hand on. It should spend mere seconds to a side; front, back and then front again, and then onto the plate where the heat of the cooking will continue to set the flesh.

Thats it. It takes just about as long to read about as it does to cook.

A run of the mill oyster benefits from proper treatment, of course, but a Rock Creek oyster becomes something completely new. It still greets you with a multitude of changing flavors but they have all blended more closely, become something milder and deeper. This is an oyster that you can eat with enthusiasm without worrying that you'll be moved to tears (at least if you're a big dork like I am.)

I had a couple of these this afternoon for lunch, in a nice, light foccacia sandwich. Some aioli and some mixed greens accompanied them, and that was all that they needed. It was like biting into a delicious cloud.

Every now and then you eat something that is perfect. Today I did. I came into that place with a bad attitude. What I received was a blessing.

It made my life better.
This is the place we went to for the wonderful sandwich:

Mambo Italiano in Old Fairhaven.

The website needs to be updated; the place has been redesigned and the ambience is a lot more sophisticated.
The food is excellent without being overdone. The service is very professional, without being fawning or condescending. Far from being chi-chi or annoying or trendy (like many places in Fairhaven), it is simply a pleasant, adult place to have a grown-up meal of excellently prepared food.

not a real cheerful one. might want to skip it.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are all delicious and lovely and I lust after you all to varying degrees in my secret heart, but lately I just aint feeling the blogging vibe. The reason for this is that my father in law has been declining in health steadily and my rage and impatience with this whole process is eclipsing everything else.

I wish he'd hurry up and die.

I swear to God, this makes me feel like the most evil human being on the face of the earth, too. He's not a stupid man and I know he guesses why I don't spend very much time hanging around him lately. But there it is. Everyone involved knows that he isn't going to get better and everyone involved-him most of all, probably-is sick and tired of the whole hopeless interminable process. I am not feeling the compassion any more; what I feel is anger and impatience and aversion, frankly. None of which are just. It's not like he's doing this on purpose, right? It's just happening. I'm so tired of the constant, constant SUCK factor. I don't want to be fucking bothered with it any more. And I know how shitty and low that is of me to feel yet thats how I feel anyway. Probably because its easier than pity and regret and helplessness, which is also what I feel...and hate feeling.

This is tearing my husband up. This is going to have a permanent effect on him. Not only the process, but dealing with all the unacknowledged issues that he has with his dad..yeah, this shit is aging him. And I'm really hating it. I'm really wanting to have our lives back. I'm tired of this man dying for the last fucking two years.

How's that for perfectly selfish?

I have my own issues involved here too. The people who adopted me were less than thrilled with my chronic illness and finally decided to treat it as thought it were all imaginary on my part; they stopped taking me to the doctor for it. Just stopped. The story I was supposed to believe was that they thought that I was just making myself sick to get attention...and that they were doing this whole big tough love thing, right? They would 'toughen me up' by 'not giving in' to my 'spoiled behavior'. The hard, evil truth of the matter was they simply wanted to be shut of it, and me. Fuck it. We're done with you and your annoying problem. Thats something I finally had to come to terms with about a year ago, and it was no treat making myself face that either. Kind of a relief, but still, knowing that your family would really like you to be dead because they're sick of your problems sucks pretty bad, too.

Now here I am, and I feel the same exact way about my poor father in law.

It's true. I'm so done with him and his annoying, lingering death. Die already. Just get it over with and die. Quit being helpless and sad and depressing and just DIE.

Would I deny him medical care? Hell no; every time he has the least little issue we all jump and see that he's got the right thing happening. We've marshalled our resources like an invading army. The medical community fear us. And he's being treated really, really well as a consequence.

So he can continue to die slowly.

I'm so tired of caring. I really am. It scares me to death to see him lose everything by slow, agonizing degrees...everything except his mind. No, that he retains. Perfect awareness. Yes, he gets a front row seat to this. It's like watching someone disappear beneath quicksand. You don't 'cheer someone up' out of this shit. I can't even take him out for a drive any more because his system is so delicate.

I want someone to come into his room with a really bad cold, like the Angel of Death.

Not me, though. I could never do something like 'help him over'. Like go in myself with a bad cold. But here's the deal... on the one hand, I've thought about it every time I've gotten one. And on the other hand, I simply cannot do it. It isn't in me....and yet I am happy with a cowardly kind of relief that when I do have a cold, because it means that I CAN'T go take care of him.

Thats the whole deal right there in a nutshell. It's a perfect self-cancelling equation and it fucking persists and persists and persists. And at the very center of it all is a man that I've really come to love. Yeah, its just excellent.

So. How was your day?