Thursday, November 11, 2010

Violet Ibis Amusement Of Fire: Drapery Hot Flaming!

This is the story of my second-to-the-top Worst Date Ever. Number 1 is here.

Now, many of my dates have had bad moments, but this date was bizarre from beginning to end, which is why it earns the second place ribbon. So..... (extensive preamble follows)


My senior year in High School my parents decided to allow me to have a social life*. My new friends-to-be were selected from the offspring of my mothers' religious buddies, a rather shallow and murky pool at the best of times.

Our outings were...charming, I guess you'd have to say. It was sort of like the 50's...we would attend evening 'Youth in Christ' meetings and then all go out in a big heap to McDonalds or something and sit around with our huge bibles stuffed with tracts, talking about the Lord and sipping pop. One memorable evening found the ten of us seated in a greasy banquette at Lani Louis' while the boys chugged Pepsi and then treated the other patrons to a belching contest, which is what passed for 'pushing the social envelope' among this crowd. Maybe the adjective I'm looking for is 'sad'.

My Mom had decided that I was going to be best friends with one girl in particular, and this girls' mother was consulted and had agreed. T's mother described her daughter, the eldest of eight children, as being mature enough to be able to keep an eye on me and steer me in the right direction, and firm enough in her walk with the Lord to be able to resist any temptations I might throw in her path. (T recounted this end of the phone call to me and we were both almost too appalled to laugh about it. Almost)

T's mother was a very sincere and sweet lady, but she had no memories whatsoever of what being a normal teenager was like**. As soon as T and I were out of the driveway the fuckity-fuck-fuck started flying and we lit up a smoke. Then we hit a gas station, slapped on a couple of layers of makeup in the restroom, and headed out to see if we could get served alcohol somewhere.

One night T stopped off at a house and picked up two boys. Surprise! It was one of those 'guess what?' double dates. Her chosen was a nondescript young man with a sprinkling of violently red acne. His version of 'hello' was to step into the car, slide across the seat and attach himself to her mouth like a lamprey.

My date was a total Red Shirt. His name didn't even appear in the credits...all I remember about him was that he was male and somewhat taller than me. He said nothing. He just took my hand in his, covered it with his other hand, and spent pretty much the rest of the evening patting it gently from time to time. This was better than having a lamprey attached to my face, and as lampreys tend to run in schools I was content to let things remain on this lower rung of the piscine 'affectionate display' scale.

T and her date smooched and slurped pretty much constantly from that point on. Me and the Red Shirt sat in the back seat and looked out opposite windows. How we managed not to end up dead in a ditch still amazes me. Still, I wasn't complaining; I was out of the house. So it was that we spent what seemed like the next 10 hours driving aimlessly around Clackamas County, no radio, no conversation, just the constant slurp blat splat blurble of Lamprey Boy attempting to hickey T's face into a meaty goo so he could suction it into his tooth-rimmed maw.

Somewhere in the outskirts of Oregon City Lamprey Boy broke suction and said "Hey, turn here. I know a guy who lives up the street. He'll probably let us party at his place."

That was how I met Jay.

We walked into an apartment filled with overweight armchairs, a cabbagey smell, hobnail glass and crocheted doilies. It looked like it had been decorated by someones' grandmother, probably because it had. Jay's grandma. Jay had been living there taking care of grandma during her last days and had simply failed to move out once she'd gone on to that big Bingo hall in the sky. His only personal addition to the decor from that point on had been to take his deceased grandmothers' lipstick and write 'affirmations' all over the walls. "You are a worthwhile person" "You matter" "Life is good" and other things like that. A huge mirror dominated one wall directly across from the couch, framed in roccoco gilt, and this was completely covered in happy mottoes, a little sparkly place with a crown on top drawn right in the middle where our boy Jay could admire himself.

Anywho, I could see at once where the evening was headed so I pleaded cigarettes, and with that Lamprey Boy took his overactive salivary glands, T and Red Shirt into the back bedroom and shut the door. Jay seemed to take this in stride. "Would you like to sit down?" he said.

Jay and I perched on his couch and made distracted, awkward small talk for the next hour while I chain smoked and angled around trying to frame my face in the bare spot on the mirror. While we sat there and the silences grew longer, someone obviously sent by God chose that moment to set a series of dumpster fires up and down the block. We opened up the window and leaned out to watch the firetrucks and police cars caroming up and down the street randomly while flames and smoke roiled up from the alleyways. The evening had taken a distinct turn for the better, I decided. It certainly was less creepy than trying not to hear what was going on in the back bedroom...and distracted me from dwelling on the fact that I still had what was bound to be an extremely awkward ride home ahead of me.

(Now we're coming to the date part. Hang on.)

A week later the phone rings and who should be on the other end but Jay, sweet talking my mother, asking her for permission to take me out.

What, as they say, the FUCK.

T, as it turned out, had given him my phone number. And since T was approved by God and my mother, that, it seemed, was good enough. Sight unseen, permission was given, and just like that, I was going out on a date. What I thought about it was obviously immaterial, but after a moments' reflection I figured, as I did a lot in those days, what the fuck. It got me out of the house.

Saturday night Jay showed up at the door with his thinning mullet, Michael Caine glasses, and a friendly expression. He wore a yellow percale shirt with a tie and neatly pressed slacks. He looked so...nondescript. My mother was simply thrilled! I was completely bemused. He lead me out to his car.

It was his grandmothers car.

It was a Rambler.

This is the first and only time I have ever been in a Rambler. I am here to tell you that riding in a Rambler is a completely average experience, crocheted doiley on the rear package tray notwithstanding. It becomes less average when the driver begins giggling and veering randomly across four lanes of heavy traffic on 82nd Boulevard like a small motorboat piloted by a drunk. During this time Jay taught me how to let the slipstream coming from the wing window suck the ash off the end of a cigarette, and told me that he was 35. Being 17 and thus kind of an idiot, I had no problem with that. He smiled over at me. "Anyway, I thought we'd go see a play," he said. "A live theatre performance up at Lewis and Clarke College. Is that ok?"

I was thrilled! "Why sure, thats fine!" I replied.

.........It was 'Equus'.

An hour later I was seated in a small auditorium filled with middle aged people in tweed and hand-woven fabrics, not ten feet away from a naked kid smacking himself with a wire coathanger, a makeshift snaffle bit in his mouth, followed shortly thereafter by a naked kid riding another naked kid wearing a horse head sculpture made of rebar, which happened just before the part where the naked kid has sex with a naked girl and then the naked kid jumps up and runs around screaming and blinds a bunch of other naked horse head things with a pointy thing. I was fascinated, but mainly I was trying not to imagine why this 35 year old man had taken a 17-year-old girl to see a naked play about horse-blinding.

After the play was over he announced that we were going to go visit a friend of his and the whole bunch of us were going swimming.

What he failed to tell me was that this friend of his did not own a pool.

And was female.

And had three kids.

And five pythons, one anaconda the size of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, and one rattlesnake. And lived in an extremely bad part of town.

It turned out that this woman had not been expecting him, which added a whole new level of awkward to the evening. She stood there in the doorway, completely surprised and obviously more than a little dismayed to see us on her front step at 11 pm, looking from him to me and him to me again, her frown deepening. "God, Jay, are you kidding?" she finally said.

She was even more surprised when he asked her if the group of us could go swimming. "You mean, at my work? I'm......not sure that would be such a good idea right now," she explained uncomfortably. "It's a full moon."

"Oh," said Jay, nodding.

I didn't get it.

"She's head nurse up at the psych ward at O of U hospital," Jay explained. "So she has the keys to the therapy pool."

We all looked at each other.

It only occurs to me now that I should have wondered under what circumstances he had originally made this womans' acquaintance. What I did wonder was why on earth anyone would think "Hey! What a great idea! It's nearly midnight; I'll just invite myself and my retardedly underage date here over to a psych nurses' house in the middle of deepest, darkest Albina and ask that she jeopardize her career by sneaking all of us into the county charity hospital so we can go swimming in a pool full of nutty people whiz!"

I went outside onto the porch and had a smoke. I had several as I watched the lowriders thump past, smoke lazing out of the windows. Fortunately it was a lovely night. As far as I could tell. One clue was the distinct absence of light. There was a lot of it. I reached inside and flipped on the porchlight. The lady of the house leaped over and turned it back off. Through the thin crack of the rapidly closing door the lady of the house told me that if she left on the porch light and let me stand there under it looking white I'd probably get shot.

Gosh. Thanks.

I figured 'Oh well' and went around to the side of her house to take a leak.

So there I was with my skirt clutched in a bunch before me, bare ass hanging in the breeze, taking an alfresco piss between two houses in the middle of a slum...still, I had the trees, I had the grass, the night sky, and sweet music in the distance (Bootsy Starr 'Dr. Funkenstein' as I recall) which all combined to make this the most romantic part of my evening.

When I came back inside, she and my date were missing. I went straight to the bedroom door and listened. Bob Marley was playing on the stereo. She was giggling.

This was not as dismaying as you might imagine.

I wandered around the room and looked at the snakes. I found a butter tub full of crickets and dumped some in with the rattlesnake. I watched it capture and eat the crickets. It was interesting. I dumped the rest of the crickets out behind her couch (crickets-the perpetually chirping gift that keeps on giving). One of her kids woke up and I got him a glass of milk. He let me watch him feed a white mouse to the anaconda. That was interesting too. About 45 minutes later I knocked on the door of the bedroom and announced that I had to be home by 1:am. My dishevelled date emerged and we went home.

Inevetably, INEVITABLY, Jay called me a couple of days later.

My mother could NOT understand why I refused to come to the phone.


*Little did they know!

**T's mother had entered a convent at 17 and was back out at 23. Ten years later she had eight children. I kind of expect that her version of 'happy teenage memories' involved saying seven decades of the rosary while kneeling on uncooked rice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blue Monkey Battles Seven Dog!

I've been on a weather kick lately.

I live in an interesting kind of microclimate here. I am in a long, flat level valley running ne to sw in a little town which is almost surrounded by mountains, only not...oh shit I'll just draw it:

OK. So this terrain makes for some really interesting weather formations. My picture taking skills blow or I'd post some pictures I've taken; they kind of lose their impact when all you see is a strange blur in the distance and I have to explain "See, that huge cloud is a thunderhead and that thing hanging down from it is a verga formation filled with locusts, see, and it's like raining from three different cloud levels, but the wind is bending it into an 'S' shape, or a W, only you can't make that out, and those blurs are meteorites so yeah, Vancouver is on fire out of frame there to the left, and that building there is just about to explode because some lightning struck it right after I took this."

Anyway, my question is this: What's the wildest, weirdest weather phenomenon you've ever seen? And/or experienced?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bleeding Doughnut Take Daring Leap Of Fly!

I have a pah. It's spelled 'pie' but I like to say 'pah'. So anyway I have one.

I have a pah because I bought the wrong kind of yogurt. I went to buy plain whole milk unpasteurized Guernsey yogurt but I got vanilla instead. Both yogurt containers have a picture of a cow on them and I only looked as far as the cow picture.

I wanted to make Greek yogurt. I used to make this waaaay back when the same product was called 'yogurt cheese' and only hippies made it. I used to use it in place of mayonnaise. I used to make my own yogurt too. This is because I don't watch a lot of television and I don't play a lot of video games and I'm beginning to think I should start.

So I made the Greek yogurt, only when I went to drink off the whey (which I like; plus, if you fart a lot this will totally cure it. Someone please buy me a Gameboy.) it was totally sweet plus it tasted like vanilla. I drank it anyway and it was good. But that still left me with a pound sized lump of sweet vanilla flavored Greek yogurt about the size of a grapefruit. I had no idea what the fuck I was going to do with that. It sat in my refrigerator. I thought about it.

Two days later it was still there so I decided to make pah.

A yogurt pah.

When it was done I made a little heart on top of it with some Hershey's chocolate syrup but the top of the pah was still warm so it spread out. Now it looks like the floor of a tavern where loggers hang out; plus there is a bug on it.

It is a a fruit fly. It is 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Why are fruit flies dying on my pah?


All ingredients at room temperature:
1 pound of whole milk Greek yogurt made out of vanilla yogurt, well drained and firm
1 package of plain cream cheese
1 tbl vanilla extract
1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
4 eggs
Whup all these together until they are completely shiny and smooth.

-1 graham cracker crust in the aluminum pan like how you buy at the grocery store in the freezer case

Bake the crust for 15 minutes on 350. Cool to room temp.

Dump the filling into the crust.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Make a heart design on top with some Hershey's chocolate syrup using your ass.

Pick off dead bug. Or just sink it and smooth over the place with a wet spoon.



I have no idea why this is Greek or whats supposed to be so Greek about it. It looks nothing like any Greeks of my acquaintance.

Utensils you will need:
One fine mesh strainer or some cheesecloth doubled over which you will have left over from making laudanum

One bowl to catch the whey

-Dump the yogurt from its container into the a. cheesecloth and hang this in a bundle over the bowl overnight. b. strainer, put this over the bowl and leave it overnight.

-Drink off the whey to keep you from farting so much.

What is left in the a. cheesecloth b. strainer is Greek yogurt. If you leave it go longer in the a. cheesecloth b. strainer, you will have yogurt cheese. It's good to cook with. I really don't care what you use it for.

If you don't ever fart and you're standing there looking at the bowlful of whey going 'ew there's no way in hell I'm going to drink that shit' you could make Kimchee instead.


KIMCHEE (makes about 16 oz)

One head of NAPA cabbage. Has to be Napa cabbage. You will think 'Holy crap this is a lot of cabbage' but have faith.

One bunch scallions (about five or six scallions)

brine (very salty water which you make yourself using KOSHER salt and water. Add enough salt to the water until it tastes oceany. That being said, do not use sea salt or worse yet, sal gris that some old broad in France scraped off the beach and is full of seagull crap and dried shrimp buttholes; use PLAIN KOSHER SALT. It's simply a better, cleaner product.)

fish sauce, sparingly...its salty and rather assertively flavored
Mild chili powder
toasted sesame oil
fresh ginger
1/3 cup whey off live culture yogurt, plain

-Wash your vegetables very, very thoroughly. Core and cut up the Napa cabbage into bite sized pieces. Take the root end off the scallions and pitch, rough chop the rest. Put the chopped veggies in enough brine to cover them. Wash them around in the brine with a spoon and then put a plate on top of it to keep the veggies submerged.

-Leave overnight.

-Drain the veggies and pat them dry with a towel, or put them in a salad spinner. Reserve about a cup of the brine. Taste it for saltiness; you might want to add a little plain water to make it palatable.

In a blender or Cuisinart, mix together the spice ingredients. I used about 1/3 cup chili powder, half a head of garlic, about three tbls of ginger (peeled and grated) and then the fish sauce and sesame oil to taste. You know I also used hot chili powder but I went into this assuming you were kind of a weenie so I neglected to mention that in the ingredient list.

With a spoon or your hands, blend the vegetables, the whey and the spice mix, coating every surface. It will smell SO DELICIOUS!

Put the whole shebang into a very clean glass jar or crock. Tap it on the counter to get it to settle and bring the air bubbles out of it. Now, top up with the brine. Fasten the lid on but not too tightly. Now place this into a plastic bag and fasten that shut. What's going to happen is that this whole mixture will begin to ferment, which is exactly what you want, and it will need to be able to spill out a bit. The bag is to prevent a mess.

Store this in a cool, dark place. Check it every day, morning and evening. In about two or three days it will begin to ferment and you'll have a mess, but the bag will have caught it. Clean up the jar, tip out some of the juice if you need to, then fasten the lid down but don't reef on it. Now put it into another clean bag, fasten the top and put it in the refrigerator.

Keep on checking it. If you need to, change the bag and clean up the jar. This is all perfectly fine; it doesn't mean the kimchee is spoiled. But yeah, since this is fermenting, it might leak again. Then again, it might not. I don't know. That's the fun of cooking. Sometimes everything goes according to plan, and sometimes things explode and you end up with a bagfull of broken glass and cabbage and crap in your refrigerator.

This will keep for about 30 years. You can dip out a little whenever you want and eat it on rice, or your dog, or even put it on a hamburger. It is supposed to be one of the top five healthiest things you can eat. No kidding.

You'll still have a lot of whey left. My advice to you is to drink it because you really do fart a lot more than you think you do.