Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a resolution for you

Although the tendency is there, we've decided not to wax poetic about change, hope, and the noisy slippage of one calendar day to the next. We'll leave that to the revelers bent on over-consumption of, among other things, adjectives. No instead we offer this gem from a Chick-fil-A owner (located in the Coolsprings Mall, suburban Nashville) and gleaned from one of our favorite shows,This American Life.

There is nothing so fundamentally wrong with our economy that you can't afford a chicken sandwich.

So get to it.

We'll get to our 2009 resolutions on another day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

operating with the healing power of laughter

The WB-my favorite channel. Here's a new webisode. Sorta like Gray's Anatomy, except set in a children's hospital and without the network censors. Give it a laugh.

note: there is a brief 10 second spot you'll have to sit through, and even though m.o.i. does not officially endorse products (other than his own or that of the all-seeing Warrior Ant Press) you might consider some tonic in your hair. Looks a little dry.

Monday, December 29, 2008

warrior ant press: winter books

When the weather outside is frightful, here are some books we're reading we've read and you might want to as well.

All Known Metal Bands, ed. by Dan Nelson: McSweeney's, 2008. I gave this one to an upstart co-worker. "Finally," he said, "a book worthy of my coffee table!" This book is easier on the ears than venturing into dark clubs and even darker basements to hear the likes of Absythium, Circle of Pestilence, Chemo Therapy, Enfilade, Erotikill, Explosive Diarrihea, Fatal Disaster, Fear is Not Faith, Kumshot Diesel, Masturbathor, Ringworm, Pustulated, Wisdom of the Leech, and Worse than Birth.

Night of the Gun: One Journalist's search to uncover the darkest story of his life-his own, David Carr: 2008. This is the book that Oprah wished James Frey had written. Because Carr's book is more honest, it'll never sell as many copies as Frey's, but Carr, who, has lived a charmed and, at times, hellish life, proves that one can be a complete knucklehead and eventually find their way in the world. It works because most of us live our own version of a charmed and hellish life and all have a few obstacles in the way-many placed there by our own hapless guile. One of the best arguments for treatment over incarceration ever written.

Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament: 2008. Even folks who don't like to read the bible can enjoy the pictures in this one. When was the last time you saw a photo of John Lennon, Pricess Dianna, or Arnold Schwarzenegger used to illustrate a biblical passage?

A People's History of American Empire, Howard Zinn, Mike Konopack, and Paul Ruhle: Metropolitan Books, 2008.

Follow up your biblical passages with some real world examples of American hegemony. This is a graphic novel remake of the Howard Zinn classic. Turn off CNN and read this one to your children if you want them to grow up a be good citizens.

The God of Animals, Aryn Kyle, Scribner, 2007. Set on a Colorado horse ranch where puberty runs headlong into love lost and love gained, cowboying wrestles with class struggle, and family dsyfunction embraces sisterhood this novel does for raising show horses what Edgar Sawtelle did for dog training.

In Defense of Food: an Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan: The Penguin Press, 2008. Forget those blowhards on the food channel. Read this book and you'll be cooking.

The English Major, Jim Harrison: Grove Press, 2008.
Harrison writes with the kind of prose and nuanced understanding of the West that folks like Rick Bass could only hope to write. If you enjoy the landscape, and wish to explore our place in it, you need more Harrison in your life.

The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall: Canongate, 2007.
You loved the movie, now read the book. Oh wait, different book, different movie. But this one might even be better. It's certainly more original.

Downtown Owl, Chuck Klosterman: Simon and Schuster, 2008.
This is Klosterman's first novel. One suspects that after he's written several more, he might become proficient at fiction. It's an easy read, but the characters, when they should be living their own lives, fall into Klosterspeak all too freqeuently.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.You thought you were special, gifted even. Pulled yourself up from your bootstraps to make a name for yourself in this world didja? Well maybe that and a lot of help from others who don't get the credit. Here Gladwell explores the who, what, and where of the credit. Turns out its simple enough. All you need is ambition, drive, luck, and 10,000 hours of practice.

The Green Bible: Harpers, 2008. If God created the Heavens and Earth wouldn't that make him an environmentalist? One would hope, but for some reason it's taken a couple thousand years for the Christians to figure this out. The answer, apparently, is green ink.

Friday, December 26, 2008

prepare thyself: dylan mortimer @ leedy-voulkos gallery

Let me ask you. Have you ever held a position in an argument past the point of comfort? Have you ever defended a way of life you were on the verge of exhausting? Have you ever given service to a creed you no longer utterly believed? Have you ever told a girl that you loved her and felt the faint nausea of eroding conviction? I have. That's an interesting moment.--John Patrick Shanley1
Why doth the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?--Palsms 2:12
I've always had an uneasy relationship to art. It's true. At a cocktail party in a gallery not long ago, Mary Anne, sexy New York-hardened Mary Anne, found herself trapped in the corner with me. It wasn't intentional. We found ourselves looking at one another hoping for something to say. She was dressed in black, I in fleece; we could have left it at that. But her friend/partner? had gone to fetch a refill and the mutual friend that introduced us had shuffled away to close a deal. Before we could part gracefully, a moment needed to pass. We looked at one another, took a pull at our drinks, just the situation that can lead to over-compensation. And then Mary Anne did something surprising. She reached out, grabbed my elbow, pulled me close enough so that I could smell her, looked into my eyes, and then with the measured cadence and practiced profundity of an analyst asked, "and what is your relationship to art?"

I almost dropped my drink on her shoe. Where to start? Should I tell her I'm a maker? A collector? A lover? All, any of these answers, would demand more explication. Did I have a worldly answer in me? How to respond appropriately? I sensed that Mary Anne had a more definitive view of this world-of-art than I did. She's a painter. I know that. I know her work. Her gallerists. Plural. And at least one of them on the coast. Me? She doesn't have a clue about me. We've met three or four times over the years and she's yet to remember my name, or even recognize that we've met before. I'm flumoxxed. She might as well have asked, "and what is your relationship to Jesus?" I don't know.

"I have a personal relationship with art."

"How nice. And how is that working out?"

A canape tray--poached salmon on toast points with habanero jelly--passes. The liquor and perfume are going to my head so I grab two from the tray. "Great. It's great. It's going great. Have you tried these? They're spicy and wonderful."

"Can you excuse me for just a moment?"


I look around the room and realize my personal relationship with art is somewhat impersonal, if not downright quixotic. I will not be getting laid tonight. Soon I find myself standing before a row of abstract, black-and-white silk prints. Visually concise. Formally interesting. But Jesus!, weren't these same works shown last year, except in red? I look at the price. $2500 apiece and a red dot next to three of the four works. The artist is smiling, and I am slowly counting is time to move on.

I walk outside. The night is clear, but bitter cold. I look up at the sky. In the country, this time of the year, before the moonrise, the sky would be lit up, as my grandfather used to say, "with half the answers to the universe. The rest you'll have to find on your own." But from the parking lot of an art gallery in the middle of the city everything is obscured. What's up there? What's inside? Anything worth a second look? Jesus. I haven't a clue.


Ask Dylan Mortimer a question and the answers come at you like quick jabs. His head bobs like a welterweight. Perhaps it's the personal juggle of faith, family, and art that makes him restless. Not many attempt that trilogy. He won't, can't, or will not stay still for a photograph. "It's not about me" he says of the work and maybe that's why all my images of him are blurred at the edges.

I have never heard, nor ever expect to hear, Dylan say, "I'm just a vessel. I just stand back and the ideas come into me." If anything, he's more likely to be found wrestling ideas to the ground in the sweat lodge of his mind, hoping to find a means and a way and to drag art, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the public temple. It's a crowded lot, this temple, some might even say cluttered. If the righteous were to bear witness some space might be cleared, lots of it in fact, but being neither righteous nor a Templar, that is not my call.

But there are those who are. Righteous.

And in a world where, in his words, contemporary art either treats religion as an abstraction or with complete cynicism, Dylan Mortimer's art seeks to balance his (and our) relationship to God on the scale of belief and doubt. Altogether, most of us would surely prefer not to be weighed on said scale of justice, lest we discover our rich diet to be gouty.

We want the belief...the certainty, even the humility, but the doubt, the toil and the trouble, are perplexing...and a bit of work. And we're busy. Lord knows that we are busy.

But if what lords us, if what anoints this day to be any different from(or even the same as) the day before, then for this day to hold any promise beyond the mediocre, then mustn't this day also hold the potential for failure? Surely it must. There are lessons aplenty in failure, but Big Fun? Hardly. Regardless of what the suburban, liberation theologist Rob Bell might lead you to believe, failure is not Big Fun3. Afterwards, you may find the humor and the pathos in your shortcomings but in the throes of your downfall, you cannot see them. And everything worth a second look (in the art world that usually amounts to any amount of viewing time beyond four seconds) has a struggle attached to it.


I ask a lot of questions. My daughter as well. Once, during a celebratory meal in a two-star restaurant we asked so many questions of the server, "why are the appetizers so small and the entrees so large?"; "what's with the English walnuts in that sauce, wouldn't Black ones make more sense?" that the chef de cuisine followed us to the car to ask if we were critics. "No. We're just chatty and enjoy fine food."

On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped to view William Pope L.'s exhibit, What Does your Democracy Look Like? Forty feet of our nation's flag slowly being obliterated by Hollywood special-effect fans in a public monument build on the back of the Great Depression. One could stand next to this flag, in the glare of airport landing lights, and hear our history being rent and bear witness to the destruction. What is the sound of art flapping in the wind?

Immediately, I withdrew my camera to document the experience. Within seconds, one of the two 24-hour security guards hired by the gallery demanded that I stop, demanded that I delete the images.

"This is a public space; that is my flag," I protested.

"Delete them, or I'll have to confiscate your camera," the beefy man threatened. And I, unsure of myself, and not wanting to end a birthday celebration in a brawl, or worse, in jail, relented.

"What does your democracy look like?" my daughter asked aloud.

"This. It looks like this," the guard replied emphatically.

There is no Gucci I can buy
There is no Louis Vuitton to put on
There is no YSL that they could sell
To get my heart out of this hell
And my mind out of this jail--Kanye West4
We find a way. Somehow. A way. A path opens up and we walk down it. Is it the right one? The one less traveled? Regrets, we've all had a few.

There's a path, a Via Doloros, through Ble$$ed, Dylan's show at Leedy-Voulkos Gallery. It's a red carpet walk that begins with Jesus, crying tears of diamonds rhinestones and ends at the foot of the cross. Along the way one can cruise past a blinking arcade of riches that includes saints on spinner wheels, panels of yeomen, bag-ladies, and hip-hoppers any of who might be saints. But they might just as well be crazy bitches with an attitude. We forget that before they became venerated, many saints were frequently the forgotten, marginalized, neglected members of society - the ones you might turn away from at the bus stop. The ones, if, and only if, you were having a blessed day, you might stop along the edge of the road and offer them help.


We do not know who anyone is. Not really. Mary Anne, the server, the chef, or the security guard. They do not see us; we do not see them. The connection, if there is one, between our disparate souls can be bridged. Art. God. Jesus. The Virgin Mary. Money. Fame. Fortune. We can put our marker down on any one of these and roll with it till the die is cast. Everyone has some skin in the game but who's got bank? Is your money on faith, doubt, or do you wish to cash your chips and wait to play another day?
It does not matter! I am happy about it--just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right or motives. --Paul and Timothy, letter to the Phillipians.5
But how do you sell something that's already been sold? People do it all the time. Some argue, the more you see something, the easier it is to close the deal. Black and white abstract print, or a red and white one? Different, or the same thing?

Purity never goes out of style, but what is pure? Unless you are but a babe, it's unlikely to be your soul. Ideas? Intent? The Bible, that perennial bestseller, tops the lists every year. It's a wonder it doesn't have its own list on the New York Times: Best Selling Bibles. Number one, for the 750th week straight week, the Revised King James Edition.

But this year two new versions may be climbing the charts. One is a glossy work in magazine format with striking photo-illustrations including those of: His Holiness the Dali Lami, Princess Diana, John Lennon, Che Guevara, Al Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, swimming polar bears, and self-immolating anti-war protesters.5 It's a bible for the waiting room, the check-out stand, the multi-taskers yearning to be set free.

Another edition of note, one that, according to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, can't be found in the top 50 selling Bibles for October 2008, is the Green Bible 6. You've seen the embossed, red-letter editions, now try the green one. If God created the heavens and the earth, wouldn't that make Him an environmentalist? And why, after a couple thousand years of theology, has this idea suddenly taken root?

Perhaps, as Dylan likes to say, it's all in the translation. We see what we want to see, when we are ready to see it. First glance, it may be nothing. Second glance, who knows, you might fall in love--forever, or just a day. And here, in Ble$$ed, Dylan offers a new place in which to get lost. The map, if there is one to be found, will have to come from within.

1Preface to Doubt, a parable, 2005, John Patrick Shanley, Theater Communications Group Inc., New York, NY.

2The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 1958, King James version, William Collins Sons and Company, London.

3Rob Bell, Nooma 001, Rain, [Accessed December 2008 at URL]

4Kanye West, 2008, Pinocchio, Def Jam/Rockafella Records.

5Bible Illuminated, The Book, New Testament, 2008, Forlaget Illuminated Sweden AB, .

6The Green Bible, 2008, New Revised Standard Edition, Harper Collins Publishers.
Ble$$ed, New work by Dylan Mortimer, Leedy Voulkos Gallery. 7 November 2008 through 20 December 2008.

dylan mortimer art
dylan mortimer sermons
leedy-voulkos art gallery

other m.o.i. art reviews:
m.o.i.: marcie miller gross @ review studio
m.o.i.: art in the loop: laura deangelis' celestial flyways

Thursday, December 25, 2008

turn up the heet mob

Shout out to the spawn for bringing this to moi's attention.

This one goes out to everyone on their way to grandma's house in the woods.

christmas at barack's house

OK. I won't be @ Barack's house for Xmas. But I did a card from Michelle. All right, it was only an e-card, but I certainly never got one from Laura Barbara Bush. One wonders if the Obama's will be able to dispense with the million dollars or so we spend on White House Christmas cards every year and just send out e-greeeting? Hallmark would not be happy. But what's the saying, times are tough.

One of my favorite things about roast turkey is the cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is one of the easiest things in the world to make, although I jazzed mine up a bit this year after reading a friend's, one who lives in Maine, recipe. Her sauce is made with organic cranberries and maple syrup, lot's of maple syrup, to the point where an individual serving cost something like $4. I don't like cranberry sauce that much to buy a gallon of maple syrup and reduce it and I don't make it Maine very often where the price might be more reasonable, but there are 2 new secret ingredients in my sauce. You'll never guess.

Christmas @ Barack's Cranberry Sauce.

1 package of cranberries.
1 cup of turbinado sugar.
2 cups of port wine (it must be drinkable).
1/2 cup of Alaskan spruce tip syrup (in memory of our vanquished foe).
1/4 cup dried tart michigan cherries.
1/4 vanilla bean split.
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon.
juice of the orange and lemon.

Soak the cherries and the vanilla bean in the port wine overnight. Then place the cranberries, sugar, and citrus juices in a non-reactive pot, cover and cook until the berries pop. Turn the heat down to a simmer, add the cherries, port wine, vanilla bean, and zest. Simmer until thick like jelly (will coat the back of a wooden spoon). Pack in Obama jars or glass dishes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

snowmen against global warning

Snow Globes, those Holiday nick-knacks that bring out the child in us all, have been feeling the effects of increased global temperatures, and are pissed! Some have apparently gone over to the dark side. A variant, produced by Hallmark has even begun to set house fires. Be forewarned.

snow globes gone bad

week of soups: day 7

week of soups: day 7--fkc that. Order pizza!

My favorite pie is from the Whole Foods at 91st and Metcalf. They have a wood-fired oven, bakers who know how to prep the dough, and a whole store full of fresh, flavorful, organic ingredients. It's a bit of a drive to LaLa Land, but when I find myself out there, with money to burn and groceries to buy, I grab a couple of slices. One of favorites is the spinach and roasted garlic. YumYum.

Second favorite would be Pizza Bella. Although they are serving more a flatbread with novel ingredients than a true pizza. One of my favorites is the leek and pancetta with chevre.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

week of soups--day 6: tomato, pepper, and mushroom

week of soups--day 6: tomato, pepper, and mushroom

Don't know about you, but we're getting tired of soups. So let's finish out easy.
Add some of the duxelles to the tomato and pepper base. Heat and serve. I like to add home-made croutons to the dish (for crunch!) but you could do any number of things to liven this soup up. i.e. a dollop of chevre would do the trick.

Monday, December 22, 2008

week of soups--day 5: tomato,red pepper, and salmon

week of soups--day 5: tomato,red pepper, and salmon

Since we already have our soup base (day 4) this one will be a breeze.

What you'll need for each serving. Approximately 3-4 ounce serving of fresh wild salmon. Forget the farm-raised stuff. It lacks flavor and color. And forget the salmon if it doesn't look fresh. I've noticed that a lot of fish mongers are keeping fish past it's prime in the case, just to make the case look full and to hold down inventory. Don't be afraid to tell the butcher that you want that one, yeah that one, 3rd from the back, and can you cut it half? A good shop will oblige you what you want. You could float lesser quality, less flavorful fish (like talapia) in this soup but only for the added protein. The soup would largely overwhelm the mild flavor of a whitefish. But if the salmon looks like it might kill you, then substitute. Please substitute.

Heat the tomato and red pepper soup base gently. Place the salmon pieces in an oiled (olive oil!) glass baking pan. Drizzle some oil on the top of the fish and then sprinkle the salmon pieces with paprika, sea salt, and a small amount of black pepper. Bake @ 325°F for ~15 minutes or until 130° F. Remove from the oven. Let stand for a few minutes. Then ladle the hot soup in the bowls and place on the salmon pieces in the center. If you do this right, the salmon will finish in the bowl, retaining its flake and moistness.

I love the red-orange color of this dish and the nutty flavor of the salmon against the spicy sweet and slighly acid taste of the soup.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

week of soups--day 4: spicy tomato and roasted red pepper

week of soups--day 4: spicy tomato and roasted red pepper

OK. This isn't exactly the time of the year for tomatoes but there are some decent hydroponics out there. But they won't have that mid-summer flavor so the best only thing to do is cook with them. Plus it's nice sometimes to bring a little bit of summer into your kitchen when the weather outside is frosty.

6 medium paste-type or a dozen Roma tomatoes, skinned and diced.
3-4 large carrots, diced.
1 medium onion, diced.
1 cup chopped celery.
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and chopped.
1 chile (or habanero!) pepper, diced finely.
5-6 cloves of peeled garlic.
1 cup of vegetable stock.
Salt, pepper to taste.

This will take a little bit of time (not nearly as much as the day 1 stock) but once finished, you'll have the base for soups 4 thru 6.

To skin the tomatoes. Core them and slice an X through the bottom skin. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for ~1 minutes until the skin splits and then remove and drop in ice water. The skins should slip off easily at this point. Dice the tomatoes coarsely.

Saute the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil in a heavy bottom stock pot until tender. Add the tomatoes, cover and bring to a boil. Then add the peppers, garlic, and vegetable stock and simmer for 1/2 or so until the carrots are tender. The zip in this soup comes from the hot pepper and garlic. Adjust these spices to your flavor profile. Adding the garlic at the end also retains more of the heat of the garlic. If you saute the garlic on the front end, you'll have a much milder flavor in the finished soup. Likewise with the hot pepper. Retain the veins and seeds for heat and remove these for a more moderate flavor.

Process the cooked soup in a blender or food processor. Serve hot with croutons or hearty bread.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

week of soups: day 3 (duxelles)

Duxelles are essentially a paste of mushrooms. I make then when I can find some high quality mushrooms at a good price. These were made with several pounds of smaller portabellas that were on sale as a loss leader.

2 lbs of portabella mushrooms, cleaned, dry, and chopped.
1 small onion, diced.
1/2 leek, finely minced.
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced.
Salt, pepper.
1/4 cup olive oil.
2 T. butter.
1/4 fine quality wine (red or white).
2 T. balsamic vinegar.
6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the onions; saute until translucent. Then add the leeks and when wilted, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Stir to brown and then cover so that the liquid in the mushrooms is released. After about 10 minutes remove the lid to allow the juices to evaporate. When most of this liquid has evaporated, add the wine and the garlic, and reduce again for approximately 10 minutes. When most of this liquid has evaporated, add the balsamic vinegar and the tarragon. Cover briefly and then uncover and stir until all of the excess liquid has been reduced. Pack in clean glass jars, cover, cool, and refrigerate.

Use to flavor soups, sauces, sides, and entrees.

week of soups--day 3: cream of mushroom soup

day 3: cream of mushroom soup
Still easy. This will be ready in 20 minutes.

In a heavy pan add 2 cups of heavy cream. (OK. All you skim milk freaks can do whatever you want here, but it's moderation that's the key my friends). Moderation. And a high quality, locally produced heavy cream won't hurt you once in a while. So get to it.

Now reduce the cream by half. Use a heavy pan with high sides so the when enough it first foams it won't over top onto the stove. Then cut the heat to a simmer while it reduces, stirring occasionally. Then add 3 cups of consomme and 1 cup of duxelles (mushroom paste-recipe follows). Stir. Boost the flavors with a dash of tarragon. And serve. With toast.

Friday, December 19, 2008

week of soups--day 2: oxtail soup

day 2: oxtail soup

OK. Now it gets real easy.
Remove the cooked oxtail from the refrigerator and let warm on the stove while your reheating the consomme.
Pull the meat from the oxtails. There isn't a lot, but remember, we're in a recession. There's plenty enough to get by.

Now you can do the same thing you did the day before with the spinach, and the watercress. Except add the oxtail. It's already cooked. Add the piping hot consomme on top. And serve. With crackers. And cheese if you wish. Viola! Dinner in 15-minutes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

week of soups--day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress

We're going to make the day 1 soup and prep for the day 2 soup at the same time.

For the consomme. See either your favorite cookbook or a previous post. What you want is a hearty, robust beef stock that is full of flavor which is then clarified. It begins with some important ingredients.

Bones. Ask the butcher for stock bones. You'll need a couple of pounds. Don't use stew meat, use bones.

Oxtail.For the day 2 soup, but you're also going to use it flavor the stock.

Vegetables. To include at a minimum, 1 large or 2 medium onions, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 stalk of celery, 3-4 large carrots, and tomatoes (or paste).

To prepare the stock. Brush a roasting pan lightly with olive oil. Halve the onions and place spilt side down in the pan along with the bones (2 lbs) and oxtail pieces (1/2 pound). Add the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in a hot oven (~425-450°F) for approximately 30 minutes until the bones are brown and the vegetables tender.

Once the stock ingredients have browned pull them from the oven and place immediately in a large heavy-duty stock pan. Cover with cold water. Important! De-glaze the roasting pan and place the juices in the stock pot. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, simmer, simmer very gently overnight.

First thing next morning. Remove from heat and let cool until you can handle safely. Hand towels and shoes can prevent permanent injury when handling hot stocks. Cover your arms with the towels and your feet with the shoes.

While the stock cools, strain out the large pieces and place them in a sieve over another large pot. Pull out the oxtail pieces and set aside for the next days soup. Strain the stock through a very fine strainer taking care to extract the liquid held in the vegetables. The back of a ladle works great for this.

Now at this point you can refrigerate the stock if you wish. The fat in the stock will rise and once chilled, you can easily skim the fat off and discard.

Now for the hard part. Turn the stock into consomme. For this you'll need a raft. A raft is a mixture of lean ground beef, egg whites, and mirepoix. It's absolutely essential that you have acid (i.e. tomatoes) in the mirepoix or it won't set properly. No tomatoes? Add a dash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

You may want to consult a reference cookbook such as: Cook's Illustrated, The Professional Chef, or any number of French gastronomy books on how to use a raft to clear the stock.

The basic premise is this. For a gallon of stock, you'll need a pound of lean ground beef, 5 egg whites, and 2-3 cups of diced mirepoix (this is how you get rid of those scraps and end pieces of vegetables in the bin that have bugging you). Mix them together and place in the cold stock. Slowly heat the stock while stirring the pot. At around 120°F, the proteins in the egg whites will begin to coagulate. Important!Stop stirring at the is point. As the temperature increases to a simmer, the raft will come together and when it does, the impurities in the stock will coalesce around them. Slowly left the stock simmer for about an hour to extract the flavors from the mirepoix, but do not left it boil vigorously. Pierce the raft to left steam out and hold it intact.

After an hour, pull the stock from the heat and let cool some before straining. To make a completely clear consomme you will likely have to strain the stock twice - unless you are a master with the raft. Strain first through a fine sieve to remove the large pieces and the raft. Then strain through cheesecloth or tea towel to clarify.

Once finished the stock should be clear and free of oil. Whew! That was a lot of work, but the THINGS you can do with this are out-of-this world. The fun is just beginning. And not to mention how this can be used as a base for flavoring soups. Place the stock back on the burner and reduce by 1/3.

day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress

Place 1/4 cup of washed baby spinach and 1/4 cup of fresh watercress in each large soup bowl. Bring the consomme to a boil and immediately ladle over the greens. The heat will wilt the greens. Serve with hearty bread, fresh apples or pears, and citrus on the side.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

a week of soups

Soup is good. Especially this time of year when the weather's not-so-great and you need to warm your bones after being outdoors. And soup can be easy. Here is a weeks worth of soups from 3 basic ingredients: consomme (clarified stock), duxelles (a mushroom paste), and a soup base made from tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Make any of these three soup bases on the weekend or your day off and then use them during the week when you want to have fresh, hot, and tasty soup. All of the bases will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. The duxelles will keep for several weeks.

One thing to note about all three of these bases, and this is especially telling in a tight economy, is that your guiding principle should be to extract as much of the flavor from the ingredients as possible. And with a few tricks, you can jazz any of these bases to your own particular interests.

The weekly soup line-up.Recipes to follow.

day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress

day 2: oxtail soup

day 3: cream of portabella mushroom

day 4: spicy tomato and roasted pepper

day 5: salmon, tomato, and roasted pepper

day 6: tomato, roasted red pepper and portabella

day 7: pizza!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

nutty knitter knits ninth-story knick-knack

Robyn Love, an artist and knitter, apparently fed up with cold showers, recently took it upon herself to knit a cozy hat, in the shape of a pencil, for the water tower on top of her apartment. Her neighbors, and the knitting shop that sold her the 30 miles of yarn needed to cover the tank, thanked her.

Image: Keh for NY Daily News

Monday, December 15, 2008

us national cyclocross championships

The finals of the US National Cyclocross Championships were held Sunday in Kansas City. On a frigid, windy afternoon when winds dipped into the single digits,Ryan Trebon soloed away from the field midway through the men's elite category to capture the stars and bars jersey. And Katie Compton, crushed the field, on the way to a 5-peat in the U.S.National Cyclocross Championship.

For some reason, cyclocross attracts legions of x-dressing fans.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

m.o.i.: change cola®

New from m.o.i. @ Warrior Ant Press. And just in time for the Holidays, a 3-pack of CHANGE Cola®. It will change the way you think about soft drinks.
Potential uses: Drink it! Hang it on the tree. Riotous street protests.

Change Cola® 3-pack, m.o.i., 2008, Vinyl on cola; wool and cotton fiber; found and appropriated objects.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When Mark Funkhouser was elected mayor of Kansas City a friend remarked with no apparent bias, "it'll either be great...or a total disaster." The captain is on the verge of going down with the ship.

It was a given that Mark would make rookie mistakes; everyone is allowed some screw-ups before they get it right. But we're now more than 18 months into this term, the mistakes keep piling up, and the relevations become more startling by the day. Many of the Mayor's closest aides and advisors have gone to the lifeboats, telling survival stories with a megaphone. Citizens are on the verge, for a second time, of organizing a recall election, which would do the city no favors.

Let's be honest, it hasn't all been bad to date. Today there is more transparency at city hall than ever before. Now the Mayor can't take credit for all of this, but for some he can. Citizens can find out the details of almost any city business via their computer: committee meetings, legislative sessions, contract documents. It's pretty much all on line. Now it helps to have some familiarity with a computer and how a city operates, but it's pretty easy to get around and find out how the city conducts its business. And the way the Mayor conducts business, public access television is a lot more interesting.

The latest revelations about how the mayor and his wife were doing business at city hall came this week, from Mark's former publicist and campaign advisor, Joe Miller. Miller was formerly an editor for the Pitch, an alternative weekly, and had deep ties to much of the community, especially with a younger demographic that helped Mark successfully carry his reform ticket to victory. Miller made some savvy moves during the election, not the least of which was embracing the internet and the Funk was largely elected on a grassroots swell. His quirky, outsider ways earned him kudos from many in the art world. Since then, many who heartily supported the mayor, have been scratching their heads after an endless series of boneheads maneuvers.

Downtown redevelopment, leveraged heavily by the former Mayor Barnes and its current City Manager Wayne Cauthen, has at its heart the Power and Light District. Racism has been so blatant in the district that the local nickname for the place is the Power and White District, or, if you prefer, the White Power District. Let's see, young urban blacks aren't welcome in downtown, in Crown City, on the Plaza, or in Briar Cliff, Zona Rosa, and the Ward Parkway shopping centers; in short, wherever white folks gather, black folks aren't allowed. That's been the city's legacy for years and it still continues.

Mark isn't a racist, he has done some things to try and promote economic development in impoverished neighborhoods. He campaigned that increasing minority jobs and providing living wages was a solid crime-prevention measure. But he hasn't been able to deliver. The reality is that Kansas City is on track for a record number of murders this year (much of it black-on-black crime), the city is losing jobs by the buckets, and the general public thinks he's a hick (which they equate with racism) because his wife liked to use the word 'mammy' a lot around the office. You can call lots of folks "mammy", except the paid minority staff.

Mayor Funkhouser also promised to listen to the voters and when they said, you've made a mistake, that he would listen, and then make the changes. He hasn't done that. He didn't do in the Francis Semler case which cost the city the National Council of La Raza convention and an opportunity to host not one, but both Presidential candidates, who spoke at the re-located venue, San Diego. We lost big bucks on that one. And a national stage for a week, things the city can ill afford to lose.

Mark has consistently sucked up to council members (in public) after doing things like pulling their committee chairs out from underneath them and then consistently turned around and done things that make a rational person scratch their head and go huh? Example. Instead of going to individual council members and working through a deal on a settlement to mammygate, Mark springs a settlement on the council during a legislative session indicating that he has settled his side of the suit and that the city should accept the plaintiffs settlement notion to the tune of $175,000 (down from $300,000) dollars. The council refuses but not before taking the opportunity to publicly bash the mayor and says they'll study the matter. Then Mark sends out a press release, slamming the plaintiff as a thief and liar, which results in her attorney backing out of the settlement and jacking up the price of the settlement to $800,000.

A City that Works. That was the campaign promise. And the city still works--in places--it's just that Mayor Funkhouser can take little credit for it at this stage of the game. The Mayor's political skills have been embarrassing to watch. Embarrassing. Having lost the public opinion battle within the city, the Mayor and his wife have gone above them, taking the story national. It's a good plan on one level, but ignores the real stakeholders, citizens of Kansas City. The courts may very well throw out the city ordinance that bans his wife from volunteering. So Mark could still win the battle but he's losing the war were it counts. And OK, so Mark loves and supports his wife Gloria. That's great. That's wonderful. Like anyone, Gloria has some fine qualities but being a great wife does not qualify one to be a great a political advisor.

the wilders: visual reviews of aural entertainment

The Wilders.
A Hillbilly Riot @ Davey's Uptown, Kansas City, Mo; Thursday, December 10, 2008. Attendance ~100

With the Rural Grit All-Stars.

other reviews in the series:
m.o.i.: wee snuff
m.o.i.: jametone (j. ashley miller)
m.o.i.: eldar at jardines
m.o.i.: matisyahu @ grinders sculpture park
m.o.i.: eldar @ cccc
m.o.i.: elvis costello and the attractions
m.o.i.: the police
m.o.i.: the swell season
m.o.i.: anne-sophie mutter
m.o.i.: pat metheny trio
m.o.i.: mars volta and isabel bayrakdarian

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

transparency test for

We get to find out soon whether or not the Barack Administration (that feels a little weird writing) will be as transparent as the site would lead one to believe. After the fiasco with Gov. Rod Blagojevich caught on tape suggesting "Fuck that, this Senate seat (Barack's) is worth a lot of money and all they (Barack's people) are offering is 'thanks', well fuck that."

The soon-to-no-longer-be-Illinois Governor is likely to get his own hosing in the very near future. Blagthebitch has nothing to offer in a plea deal. That's the problem with getting caught red-handed on tape. Prosecutors already have the Governor and his chief of staff, so short of a passel of Chicago crime bosses, the Governor has little to offer a prosecutor. The best Gov. Rod can hope for is that, in exchange for a guilty plea, and saving the government a lot of money in trial fees, he can shave off a few years of his sentence. Prosecutors dream about EXAMPLES like Blagojevich. Funny irony. Blagojevich losing his career so someone else will gets theirs.

And you thought Larry Craig was dumb. Lucky for Craig, Blagthebitch came along so Larry didn't have to spend another night being the punch line on comedy shows. Craig is still trying to explain his "I want to wash your sock" line to the courts but just yesterday, another judge smiled, dismissed his motion to have his guilty plea vacated, and said, enough of this bathroom humor.

But back to Obama. Barack claims to have no knowledge of the Blagojevich mess and why would he? We don't expect he has. However, Obama advisor, David Axelrod, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, claimed that the Governor and Barack had talked. Now folks on the right are calling for correspondence between the transition team and the Governor to be made public.

I say bare the facts Obama. Get everything in the public record. Silence the right wingers and show your administration will be good and decent. And if members of your transition team are dirty, move quickly to publicly fire them. The current administration (the Bushites) would never comply with such a request for documents even though Bush repeatedly said if anyone in my administration has even a hint of impropriety, they would be forced to step down. That never happened.

Now Obama can make good on a promise, one that people believed in, and that was to have a more transparent government. If the Obama camp does not provide these records, it won't mean (regardless of what the right will say) that they have anything to hide, but it will mean that things in Washington don't change that easily.

Did you really believe they did? It's up to the people to make it happen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

shoveling coal: is it good for the kids?

John Shiffman and John Sullivan report Sunday in The Philadelphia Inquirer piece, "Smoke and Mirrors: The Subversion of the EPA" on the pervasive, devil grip that Bush Administration has used to choke the life out of the agency charged with protecting our environment. EPA Chief Administrator and Cheney lap-dog, Steven Johnson, has actively participated in his agency's decline, overseeing budget declines of more than 25 percent during his term and cutting funds for such "market-driven" programs as sewer repairs.

The most disturbing part of the piece wasn't that Chief Administrator Johnson held prayer meetings in his government office (we don't a have a problem with the prayers, just don't think holding them in government offices is the right place) was a program called CHEERS. CHEERS tested the toxic effects of pesticides on children, i.e. why use mice when there's all these kids with nothing to do?.

One of the new human tests was the Children's Health Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS). Funded with $2 million from the chemical industry, CHEERS proposed to record the effects of household pesticides on low-income children in Florida. EPA gave participating families $970, a video camera to record exposure, and a CHEERS T-shirt, calendar and baby bib. EPA scientists would collect urine samples and the children would wear a watch-size sensor one week each month.
It's not clear why we need to tell the US EPA that this is immoral but apparently we do.

We would not have been surprised to learn that those same children were forced to shovel coal into clean-burning plants, their tuppence garnished by the Dept. of Education, and the funds used to buy books and bibles for their schools.

The Bush Administration has 40 days left to destroy our planet and they plan on using every hour of the day in order to accomplish this mission.

inquiring minds on the bush's epa

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

holly holly holly! it's the world's largest lesbian craft festival

Today, during an annual trip to purchase winter Holiday gifts, we discovered that the Creative Candle Factory outlet was no longer open for business. Instead, one can purchase these same candles from various retailers, such as Pryde's Olde Westport, or at the online shop. While I was happy to note that the company is still in business, the downside is that we've likely been priced out of the market for tapered beeswax candles. The great thing about the Creative Candle factory outlet, besides that you could see them dipping candles, was that one could buy beautiful, hand-dipped, tapered beeswax candles - at a fraction of the retail cost. It was a great place for wedding, holiday, and housewarming gifts.

The outlet sold candle seconds, although one would generally have to be a more discriminating shopper than moi to see the flaws. It was great because you could fill your house with enough candles to burn through the longest winter night. One could also buy boxes of votives for luminaries and breath second life into the hundreds of luminary bags left after the Coleman Highlands Christmas eve display. Creative Candles was a fun place to shop and I hate to see it go.

I suppose one could trot over to Pryde's Olde Westport (which is fun, local, BUT expensive) and buy retail, but haven't you heard? Times are tough.

We may be able to find some replacement candles at the World's Largest Lesbian Craft Festival but they certainly won't be the quality of the beeswax ones at Creative Candle. They'll likely be over-scented soy candles. One can sometimes find very interesting and affordable gifts at the World's Largest Lesbian Craft Festival. One can certainly find Venus de Willendorf (scented with bergamont and ylang) soaps for that special someone. If you haven't yet been scented and rubbed by an overweight woman with pendulous breasts, then you need to get down on the Venus.

It's a bit sad the WLLC Festival has moved, since, by serendipity, moi has lived but a stone's throw from where the event has been held and now I'll have to drive the car. Year's ago it was held at a church in my neighborhood and we always found it charming that the church had found a new way of serving the community by hosting a large gathering of pagans so that folks could buy Christmas presents.

World's Largest Lesbian Craft Festival
Brush Creek Community Center
3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64101
Dec. 5-6, 2008

Directions: 71 Hwy to Cleaver II Blvd
(change from Brush Creek Rd.)
From the North turn left
From the South turn right
Follow signs Brush Creek Community Center

Thursday, December 4, 2008

when life gives you hedge apples

OK. You're feeling down. A little blue. Listening to Iris Dement sing "My Life" no longer works to bring you out of the doldrums. What to do? Try this my little hedge apple, it's guaranteed to work.

Every day, at lunch, kick a hedge apple around a two-mile loop of gravel. A futile, yet fulfilling trek, the act has a quiet beauty to it. An iridescent mass of green pulp rolling slowly along against the grey limestone chaff. And the stroll has definite moments of decision - should one dribble gently to hold the mass intact (an act of mercy?) or quickly blow the orb apart with aplomb and swift kicks. The hedge apple leaves a sticky trail of goo, evidence that you have been there, but the trace is temporary and disappears with little trace in the afternoon sun. This leaves tomorrow open for another shot at completing the circle or your life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

dark days

Dudes and dudettes,

Apparently the country is in a recession - and has been for a whole year! Who knew? And you just thought your socks had holes in them. But don't fret, it took the government a whole year to determine that the economy sucks maybe it'll take you that long to discover you're now broke. Here's to onion soup. And a stimulus package.

Monday, December 1, 2008

more wintery mix is on the way

Holy smokes! or should I say holy deep-fried turkey. I managed to survive my mid-South Thanksgiving without bringing up politics but I did leave a few presents under the tree wrapped in old Obama posters with "America. Love it or leave it!" word balloons written on them. That should get folks riled up and ready-to-go. The losers can argue about what went wrong with McGruff the Crime Dog since I could really care less; it's been 8 years since we've been able to gloat so why not do a little of it? The good vibes may not last long after the first 100 days.

Besides the deep-fried turkey (which wasn't as good as the oven-baked one and this is definitely something you don't want to do at home [may we suggest the Eagles Club?]) we waded through a plethora of casseroles, bar-b-que sandwiches, and rich desserts. I even made a pumpkin pie--with scratch pie crust--and it wasn't bad for a total on-the-fly, made-from-memory effort. We promise that for the next pie the filling will also be from scratch.

One thing about leaving Kansas City for a few days around Thanksgiving. If it's 60° F and sunny when you leave, it'll be 25° F and snowing when you return. I think the meteorologists call it a wintry mix. But it's good to be back home, even if it means having to scrape ice and snow from my car windows.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

keeping the standard

Do you know your turkey farmer? Better than Sarah Palin knows hers? If not, you might to reconsider your bird this Thanksgiving.

Get to know Frank Reese jr., standard, or heritage, turkey farmer at Good Sheperd Turkey Ranch.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

palin set to endorse line of turkey processing equipment

Sarah Palin, in an attempt to pay off some campaign debts, replace her aging wardrobe, and earn extra Christmas money, has signed a deal to endorse a line of turkey processing equipment for the homemaker who doesn't yet have everything.

Said Palin, "Ya know. Here in this great state, where we're used to doing pretty much everything ourselves, without the help of the government, the outsiders, who like to tell everyone how to do things, well...we just have to do it ourselves, ya know, to get by, to feed our families and to do the peoples we're used to this kind of stuff."

The equipment includes a 4-cone drainer - perfect for the multi-tasking homemaker who wants to collect the blood of victims as well as a machine that sucks the feathers from a turkey and immediately stuffs them into pillows. "Pillows. Now that's a good Christmas present. Everyone likes a good pillow. Everyone in my family is getting new pillows for Christmas" said the former candidate.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

alien invansion

True story of liquid paranoia. It begins early on Monday morning.

Breakfast dishes are put away. Lunch is made and packed. Trash to the curb. Ahhh..that second cup of coffee sure is good. The dog is walked. Now time to pay the MAN his due. Out to the car and READY FOR ANOTHER WEEK. Wow, is that frost on the windshield? Winters is truly just around the corner. Whoa! That rear tire looks low. Kick it. Damn! Prod it. Damn it! It's flat. Bummer. Good thing it's early. I still have time to change it and get to work on time.

Rummage around in the trunk (but first have to remove all the paddles, life jackets, and miscellaneous summer fun debris) so I can get to the spare. Looks brand new. Like it's never been used. Find the fancy, very tiny jack, find the fancy, very tiny place to put the jack. Now for the lug nuts. Arghhh. Arghhh. Jeez, those are tight. Good thing I have the 2 lb sledge handy. Wham. Wham. Piece of cake. Loosen lugs nuts.

Jack up car. Remove lug nuts. Pull off tire, ahh. No wonder it's flat. It has a screw in it. Put on brand new temporary spare but notice that it seems a little shy of being full. Lower car. Watch spare got completely flat. Damn. OK. What next? Call in roadside assistance? In front of my house? With 2 flat tires? What good is that going to do? I can just see me asking the tow-truck driver where to go shopping for a new tire. "You know, I heard Firestone was having a big sale, let's try that first."

OK. What next. Take the tire to the repair store, my only plan. It's still early. Who can I harass for a ride at this hour. My neighbor. Cars still in the drive. OK. Fanagle a ride to the tire repair store with the neighbor. Drop off the tire. 30 minutes to fix a flat with no one in the waiting room? OK. Take a deep breath; it's still early. The neighbor has to go to work. So I ride back home with her. Call another friend. He's going to midtown in 30 minutes so, great, he can pick me up at the tire shop and I don't have to play Opie and roll it home.

Walk back to the tire store. The last block I pick my way through the gauntlet of homeless people who are beginning their day's work. Go inside. The tire, after a $22! patch is ready. Now to wait for my ride.

Go sit in the waiting room. No one there. TV's on; morning paper in an empty chair. Sit down, quickly riffle through the sports section. Some dude shuffles out of a side door. At first I thought he was a homeless person. He's moving real slow, like he's medicated-heavily. Perhaps this is his spot where he kills the morning. Paper. Coffee. Heat. TV. Not a bad deal compared to a bridge. But his clothes are new. Everything. Even his shoes are new. Maybe he's not homeless, but he does look ill. He sits in the chair next to me and kinda groans. Damn. I really need to get to work.

After about 5 minutes the shopkeeper comes over, looks down, and says gruffly to the man, "let me clean that up."

I can't see what he's talking about, but the shopkeeper goes and gets a mop, and then says, in an irritated voice, like this man is relative, or daily problem, "move your feet and let me clean that up".

The man moves his feet and then I see the weirdest looking substance on the floor. I have no idea what it is. It yellow-orange. A puddle the size of a dinner plate. Too orange and much too thick to be pee. Too smooth to be vomit. What is it? It forms a puddle underneath the man's chair. It's completely uniform in color, no chunks. It freaks me out. There's another puddle and dribbles next to the large puddle. Oh my god! What is that! The plague? Alien blood? My stomach churns. Jeez. I really need to get to work.

Just then my right drives into the lot. Thank God! I grab my tire on the way out, throw in the bed of the pick up and climb in.

"Dude!" My friend says laughing, "how your morning?"

"I think I just got the plague from an alien. Man. And I thought work was tough."

Three days later I have a fever, chills, and a runny nose. I haven't died yet. But I do feel awfully strange.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

answers! answers! we want answers!

First the good news.

The answer, it turns out is 20. OK, 19 if you want to get really technical since a friend bummed one. All it takes is one pack of cigarettes to get hooked on nicotine.

Starting down tobacco road is relatively simple and it's, like the ad suggests, pretty smooth. Just start a routine. Anything. Keep it simple. Simple is best.

After you get everything done you need to do in the morning, have that cig and then head to work. Wow. This has been a pretty stressful morning, I think I'll take a walk and smoke a cig. Cool. Man. I feel better and now I can think straight. Made it through another day and just to relax I'll think I'll smoke one. Slowly. Oh yeah! That's sweet as a peach. Going out late tonight, feeling a little tired, I think I have myself a smoke.

Nothing to it. If you're only smoking 2-3 a day, a pack will last a week, week-and-a-half. But that's how you ease into it. Nice and slow. But now, NOW! it's decision time. Keep it going? Or stop right now. I know I can quit. Just one more.

But no. There. I've given it up. I feel better already. One reason I started smoking was so I could give it up. Now I've done both. Had the habit and kicked it clean. No more frantic moments trying to find a light.

Smoking cigarettes is a little like smoking weed - except cigarettes are legal. But oddly, cigarettes don't feel legal. Not anymore. Perhaps knowing 3 people who have died from smoking-induced lung cancer had something to do with this guilty feeling I always had when lighting up. Smoking was definitely a guilty pleasure, and it had its pleasures. But I don't think I'll miss the habit, unless one counts those pangs of remorse every morning and night.

Now, for what some of you might consider to be the bad news.

Instead of cigarettes, I'm going to take up cigar smoking. I've found this great new brand. Cuban seeds, hand-rolled, and as enticing as a room full of promises...but more on that later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

cure for what ails you

I found two good cures for staying up till 4 am and still being productive the next day.

ONE. Don't drink any alcohol. None. Amazing. There's a huge difference in staying up till 4 drinking and just staying up till 4 listening to Mars Volta and talking with your neighbor. Scenario one, you fell like shit the next day. Scenario two, you're tired but nothing a good hearty protein-rich breakfast followed by a brisk walk in the sun won't repair.

TWO. The breakfast (but not before 11 am).
Make a paste of dijon mustard, minced garlic, rosemary, fresh-cracked pepper, salt, and a splash of half-and-half. Smear the paste completely over a pork tenderloin; then wrap the tenderloin completely in roasted red peppers and then in foil. You'll need to oil the foil with just a wee bit of olive oil. Bake @ 350F for ~20-25 minutes until 140 degrees. Remove, let stand for 10-15 minutes.
Fry up some very fresh, local eggs until the yolks just begin to firm around the edges. Thinly slice the pork tenderloin and place on egg white portion of the eggs. Pop the yolks, add a splash of Tabasco or tomatilla sauce. Serve with tortillas, coffee, and juice on the side.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ACORN squashed soup

Yes we can. More from the November is Squashed Month Series whereby we celebrate autumn, and the decline and fall of the Republican Party.

ACORN Squashed Soup

1 medium acorn squash.
1 medium sweet onion.
1 clove garlic.
2 sprigs fresh rosemary.
1 medium red pepper, roasted and skinned.
2-3 cups vegetable (can substitute chicken) stock.
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half.
salt, pepper, hot sauce, and rosemary to taste.
Suggested garnishes. Roasted red pepper silvers, pumpkin seeds, and crumbled chevre.

Cooking time. ~1 hour total. Feeds 6-8 liberals.

Split the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Peel the onion, split in half, and place each onion half in the hollow section of the squash. Place squash, skin side up in a shallow baking dish. Pierce the skin repeatedly with a sharp knife, cover the bottom of the dish with a small amount of water (for steaming), add several sprigs of rosemary, and the garlic clove (unpeeled) to the pan. Cover and bake for ~1 hour until the squash is very tender. When the squash is tender you should be able to smell the galic and rosemary. Set aside to cool a bit before proceeding the next step.

Use the hour while the squash is baking to engage in progressive act ivies that will insure that the likes of war criminals like Dick "the Dick" Cheney never hold public office again. ACORN Squashed Soup is a value meal. Therefore, why not use the money that you might have spent eating out and instead, make a contribution to ACORN or

To finish the soup takes about 30 minutes. Scoop the squash into a large (8-qt) sauce pan. Add the cooked onion, and the red pepper, and squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan. Add 3 cups stock, 1 cup cream (or half-and-half), and cook until the flavors meld. About 15 minutes. You can turn up the heat and reduce the liquid for a thicker soup if so inclined.

Once the flavors have melded, remove from the heat and puree in a blender, vitamix, or food processor. Caution! This soup gets really hot and is thick enough to scald you severely if you let it fly out of the processor. Use a towel to cover your hands. Once blended, adjust the flavors; this a good point to add Tabasco or other hot sauce for zip.

Serve with hearty artisan bread or whole wheat crackers. Crumble some chevre (or feta or creme fraiche) on the top and you've got something that'll give you the energy to kick a conservatives ass.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

smoke break! moi makes good on a promise

I guess I'll take a walk tonight I know that I can't sleep
And I won't go too bad at all I'll just lay there and weep
Instead I'll make our favorite spot that's what I think I'll do
I've got those smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee blues
Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee all night long
Wondering how the love so right could suddenly go wrong
I'd grab the next bus out of town but I've got to be near you
I've got those smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee blues--Jean Sheperd, Cigarette and Coffee Blues

Before the year is out and I have to make a new set of resolutions that I might not be able to keep, I thought it important to try and make good on one of this years. Resolutions. So I've taken up smoking. This may come as a shock those who know me because unlike other substances, I've never smoked cigarettes. Don't fancy them. Never have.

I lived with smokers growing up and hated the smell and the smoke and the brown boogers. Tried to smoke once when I was 14. Couldn't hack the taste. Smoking bans in bars in restaurants? I voted for them all because one of the costs of listening to live music shouldn't be smelling like an astray. But I wanted to make a resolution I could keep this year so why not take up smoking. Plus, I figure I can always quit ( or can I?) Besides, there are more opportunities for smoking in the midwest than snorkeling.

Now to make the resolution more interesting and challenging, I've decided to turn it into an art project. The premise of the project is HOW MANY CIGARETTES CAN I SMOKE and NOT become addicted. Does anyone know the point at which one becomes uncontrollably addicted to a substance that might kill you? Probably not. Erst while, how to explain the many crack addicts and alcoholics dodging about in corners and back alleys?

Smoking a half-a-pack of cigarettes over a couple of weeks probably won't do it so I gather I'm still safely away from the edge. Getting nearly addicted to cigarettes won't be pretty; it smells, it's expensive, but worse of all, it can lead to lung cancer. But then again, so can oil painting if done in a small studio. I'm imagine this project to be a cross between a Tom Waits song, a Jim Jarmusch movie, and a T.S. Elliot poem. Murky, dangerous, and full of intrigue. But that's only if it works out.

On the down side it could lead to high blood pressure, holes in the carpet, or stage IV carcinoma; but art is about control. Then there's the cost. A pack of primo (let's do it with panache!) cigs goes for more than $5. About the cost of a tube of paint, but granted a lot less than an ounce of weed, a bottle of fine scotch, or a heroin habit, but still if one were to go in all the way, a cig habit could add up with time. Not to mention the potential ill health effects. But art is full of sacrifices that we are prepared to make. In the end I may not have my health, but at least I have a health plan.

But there are bigger problems with me smoking. Foremost is that I don't know how to smoke so there's that to learn. Perhaps smoking is like painting, one can take a lifetime to learn how to do it well. Additionally, this decision could shorten my life, but then again, what's the saying?, "so could crossing the street". And does crossing the street while smoking double your chances at death? Let's hope not since I'm a serial jaywalker. None of this we know, so let's that call that some of the edges of the work. We've always liked to work around the edges. I do know we have only one life to lead so we might as well enjoy a smoke break now and then.

Upper Image: youngurban via the world wide web.

Friday, November 14, 2008

comments are no longer being accepted

You can read the online version of the paper at new york times special edition

What was so great about this art prank, definitely one of the best in the history of art-pranking, was the extent to which the gag was carried. Not only did they spoof the hard copy of the paper, they also spoofed the online edition, and they spoofed the videos that the Times produces.

the yes men

Thursday, November 13, 2008

back-room politics and the new world order

The Washington Post is reporting that Vice-President elect Joe Biden will be meeting with outgoing VP, Dick "the Dick" Cheney this afternoon at the Cheney's residence. I just hope the good senator has the sense to make certain that Cheney wears a condom.

the GOP dies so that sarah palin can live

As one of the rising stars of the soon-to-be defunct version of the Grand Ole Party, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is scheduled to deliver a eulogy to the RNC at the National Republican Governors Conference today in Miami. At the conclusion of Palins' remarks, Governor's, spouses, and invited guests can take in a number of activities, including:

2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES (All Conference Attendees)
Guests will enjoy a leisurely cruise on the waters of the Atlantic.

The Professional Beauty Association will offer an afternoon of pampering to include manicures, pedicures, neck and shoulder massages. Participants will also learn about new products and beauty secrets.

The Art Deco District is America's only 20th Century historic district listed in the US National Register of Historic Places. A certified guide will lead guests on a ninety-minute walking tour to include the late, Gianni Versace's villa on Ocean Drive and historic hotels. Guests will observe the outside design elements and lobbies along with secluded courtyards. The tour will conclude at the Oriente in the Cordoza Hotel with the restaurant’s signature cocktail.
Sadly, we had to make none up of these activities. You'll note, if you check out the Republican Governor's Conference website, there are no scheduled sessions on the economy, global climate change, or environmental issues.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

winning the battle, losing the war

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser continues to baffle the pundits, the council, and the public. Last week, he filed a lawsuit against the city asking a Jackson County judge to overturn a portion a recent city ordinance that banned family members from serving as volunteers for city staff. The ban doesn't prevent the family members from occassionally volunteering for city staff, just from volunteering ad infinitum with the city.

The ad infinitum part was the problem with the mayor's wife, Gloria Squitiro, who was seen by many as holding the symbolic key-to-the-city and anyone who wanted through the door, had to first get past her. That the mayor and his wife couldn't see that the public resented this setup is hard to understand given his pre-election statements proclaiming "once elected, if the public calls out my errors, I will listen and respond". How many ways must one say, this isn't what we (the public) voted for when we elected you, before you begin to understand? The public has been screaming over this issue for a year now and the mayor still doesn't get the fact that he LOST this political battle. It's time to move on with the agenda of the city and the people.

In many ways, the mayor is correct. We really don't need laws that are written to address one person, one family. But more importantly the mayor is dead wrong on the political issue, which in this instance happens to be larger than the law. The council and the people (at whose discretion the mayor serves) have overwhelmingly spoken. There is no inherent aspect of being Mayor of Kansas City that allows one to have their spouse as the office gatekeeper. And this is a huge problem for the mayor and the city because publically he's getting beat up one side and down the other and still, still, he refuses to relent. This is a politcal loss being taken by the mayor as a personal one, and if the mayor wants to lead, he needs to get on with the job of leading. Intractability isn't a leadership quality.

Politically, it hard to imagine a politician who's been more adept at shooting himself in the foot. In this latest pot-shot, the mayor has lost most of his toes on his right foot and seems to be wobbling at the helm and in danger of falling over on his head. By filing this suit, the mayor continues to keep this black-eye issue in the news where it only serve to continue to diminish his ability to work with the council, the citizens, and the media. But more importantly, it prevents the mayor from showing true leadership. That really is the mayor's job, not to run the city (the city manager does that) but to lead the city forward.

Case in point. Light rail. This was an issue the mayor decided to lead on, and it went down to overwhelming defeat. Why? In Part, because people don't think the mayor responds to their needs, so why should they listen to him? It is hard to lead when you continue to alienate. Yes, the ordinance was, in part, politically motivated, but understanding when you've lost the battle and moving forward is where agile politicians shine battle. The mayor continues to be awkward and awkwardness is not helping the city in a tough time.

Remember the slogan? A CITY THAT WORKS. A good slogan, but the problem here, is that this isn't working. Get over it. Move on up. And get back to work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

runs good; needs work

Things are likely to get worse before they get better. Millions of Americans, especially the most disenfranchised among us, children, the unemployed, and the elderly, are likely to suffer even more in the wake of the deepening economic crisis. Generally, they have little if any cushion to protect them and what cushion exists, is in danger.

It's not just the country as a whole that is ailing financially; a number of states are projecting huge deficits for the current fiscal year. Unprecedented ones. California, 11 billion dollar shortfall; New York, 2 billion dollars. And next year's budgets look even bleaker than the current ones. The solution for states is frequently narrow. In Missouri, for example, 90 percent of state revenues go to 3 programs: education, prisons, and health-care. In a Republican controlled legislature, one adverse to raising taxes and reducing prisons, it pretty much leaves education and health-care to take the brunt of the cuts.

Cities are seeing the fallout as well. The City of New York is looking at a 2 billion shortfall over the next 2 years. Kansas City recently announced that an additional 300 million in cuts could be needed this fiscal year (on top of previous cuts) as revenues continue to fall below projections.

In light of these troubles, the Obama transition team must begin to order the business of the upcoming administration. The economy? Global climate change? Dependence on foreign oil? Growing Russian hegemony? What should be addressed first?

It's still the economy, stupid. It's what brought the O-man to the office and if we can right it fairly quickly, we can more easily solve the other issues. Closely tied to any economic fix is the health of the auto industry. But if renewed growth in the auto industry isn't greener, and much greener than past growth, we'll have squandered a huge opportunity. The new administration must require quick and forceful changes in production models and increased mileage-standards. We must quickly move to very efficient automobiles. This helps to reduce greenhouse gases, create jobs, and move the country away from dependence on the our elixir of death known as oil.

The US economy is still one of the most robust economies in the world. We have an opportunity in the near term to once again lead the world but we must insist that the people's way, and not the lobbyist way, paves the road ahead.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

you've earned that puppy

Having you been using the words unprecedented, historical, and ground-breaking a lot this week? Stop. I'm pretty sure that this won't be the first vice-President to take the train to work.

Puppies. Puppies. Puppies. There's nothing like that new puppy smell. It's even better than the new car smell. And a lot less toxic. But face it. Puppies are a lot of work. And they demand lot's of attention. The puppy can't be part of the family if you don't do your job as well. Feed the puppy. Water the puppy. Love the puppy.

In Arkansas they call puppies 'hounds.' Earlier this week, voters in Arkansas, by a 57% margin of approval, enacted the Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban. It makes it illegal for any individual cohabiting outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors. We've known for quite some time that they don't like gay people in Arkansas but apparently they also don't like kids that much. Fifty-eight percent is about the same level of support that Arkansans gave to John McCain. I'd say the state is pretty out-of-touch with the rest of the nation. Seems like it might be time for some White-Housing training.