Saturday, January 31, 2009

m.o.i.: self-portrait with 25 random things

Some things whirl around the web with the rapidity of the Concorde and then disappear with the same fanfare as transatlantic flights by said bird. YouTube mash-ups of Put a Ring On It, recipes for what to do with 2 lbs of bacon and 2 lbs of sausage, and 25 random things. Web versions of a chain letter and just as easy to ignore. Typically m.o.i's first impulse, as with any movie deemed a blockbuster, is to ignore them. But here's another thought. That collectively, such exercises get to the heart of who we really are, much better than any survey questions designed by professionals to carefully elicit our thoughts and feelings. It's a the-sum-is-greater-than-the-whole-of-the-parts is greater than the sum of the all the parts approach. Certainly these methods are inherently contrived, but are they completely flawed? From a pure science standpoint, as experiments they aren't carefully controlled, but tell me one method that doesn't bias the final result in at least some small manner.

OK. Fiction. However true it may be, fiction is but a small part of the human stamp. No one could ever argue that everything people say about themselves is entirely without contrivance and that includes the best fiction. Although, as a rule, it's generally still truer than reality and a lot more interesting.
m.o.i.: 24 random things

1. I once pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
2. Have accidentally set fire to three houses of which I was a resident. No one was hurt and they were all extinguished before the fire department was needed. For this reason I do not smoke.
3. Have been attacked by a swarm of bees on three separate occasions. I still enjoy honey.
4. Once, I led a successful boycott of businesses based upon the principle, Ketchup in bottles! And not in packets! For this I was invited to visit with the principle, labeled a trouble-maker, and had my transcripts reviewed.
5. Once, through the use of well-placed carbon copies, I stopped the closing of a children’s day-care center. For this I was invited to visit with the Dean of Academic Affairs, labeled a trouble-maker, and had my transcripts reviewed.
6. Once, I sunk a battleship using only small explosives.
7. I once accidentally lassoed a Shriner from a midget car during a parade without harming either the Shriner or innocent by-standers.
8. Once I spent three days in a swamp trying to find an Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Alas, the Lord God bird was not sighted, but evidence of woodpecker researcher nesting boxes was abundant. I also uncovered the existence of a secret woodpecker society that included Mike Huckabee, then Governor of Arkansas, among its members.
9. I once changed the spam filter of the office bully to prevent him from receiving emails from THE BOSS, then was lucky enough to hear the BOSS shout at him a few weeks later, “Look, I don’t know what your problem is, but if you don’t shape up, you’re outta here!”
10. Once, during a business meeting, I taught someone how to have ‘text-message’ sex.
11. I once burned an American flag after hearing my friend preach from the pulpit about the Apostle Paul.
12. Once, I discovered my neighbor’s body lying in a state of rigor mortis. And I have seen the life slowly slip, very slowly slip away, from more than one friend.
13. I tried to convince a roomful of scientists that it was in their best interests to believe in UFOs.
14. I once golf-leafed a copy of the original (vol.1, no. 1) postcyberpunk comic, Transmetropolitan, and sent it to a magistrate who had stood in judgment of me.
15. Once, I was saved, fell into a trance, spoke in tongues, and handled venomous snakes.
16. I once drove a car off a cliff just to see what would happen. I did not wear my seatbelt, nor were any drugs or alcohol involved. No one was hurt.
17. The only time I ever rode a skateboard I dislocated my ankle and broke it in 2 places. The subsequent rehabilitation, which lasted nearly a year, and involved for a time, a full-leg cast, turned out to be boon for hitchhiking.
18. I once sang with Sheryl Crow, defeated a former PGA champion (Payne Stewart) in a golf match, and dated a Miss America contestant.
19. I once proved to the band, The Accelerators, that their founder and lead singer, Bruce Willis, was a wanker with a little dick.
20. I began my professional career in a dumpster buried in the middle of corn field.
21. And then later, much to the amusement of my friends and colleagues, when I was interviewed on Morning Edition, they got my name wrong. Not my last name, my first.
22. Once I was dying of a brain tumor, but sadly, it turned out only to be a case of mild depression. It was during that period that I was able to convince a cab driver that Trex, my Rare West Tibetan Mountain Dog, was a seeing-eye dog.
23. I once traded pink slips (a 1960 Dodge 440 for a 1940 Chevy pickup) at a garage sale. Straight up.
24. Once while playing backgammon in a discothèque in Memphis I managed to lose ALL but $5 using a back-game gambit then had to bicycle 100 miles through NE Arkansas in the middle of August to get home.
25. I once dropped to the ground and gave 50.

Friday, January 30, 2009

hallejuah for maria kalman

Children's book author and artist Maria Kalman's illustrated op-ed piece in the NY Times is the best thing you'll read about the Obama inauguration. Glorious and inspirational.

maria kalman on the obama inauguration

he's not gay!

but he is confused.

most things right

"I didn't do anything wrong and have done most things right." Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The former governor is one of the best arguments for affordable health-care for all Americans I've ever seen.

"He asked me for another cup of coffee, he obviously forgot I was a Congressman" Former Governor Rod Blagojevich speaking about Sen. John Warner, who, mistaking the then freshman Congressman for a staffer, asked the Congressman for a cup of coffee, not once, but twice in a matter of two weeks. "I didn't tell him I wasn't a Congressman, instead I went and asked him how do you take it, and he said black."

The deposed governor asked, "how can you throw a Governor out of office?" The answer is 59 to 0.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

problems are rearing their ugly head

H.R. 1. Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Nancy Pelosi, this resolution passed 244 to 188. It's now headed to the Senate. There was one abstention. There were no (as in zero) votes by Republicans in support of this bill. And that spells trouble, which rhymes with T, and stands for fools. On both sides.

The Republicans, who if you remember, sponsored the first bailout bill since it originated from the White House, have decided to co-op democracy from the start of the Obama administration. They are signalling that they intend to blame everything on the Democrats, which before it's over, will also likely include the war in Iraq. There's plenty of blame to go around but we need some cooperation here folks. Just a little.

And the Democrats, who are now in charge, couldn't muster a single vote from the other side of the aisle? Not one? Come on, how does this exemplify the spirit of non-partisanship. Congress has in large part, ceased to function except under partisan rules. Blame who you will, if it doesn't change, our bicmameral legislative body will end up where the banking industry is headed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

it's not a comeback!

It was a training ride.

Lance finished 29th in the Tour Down Under. He was never a factor; got a little face time for the sponsor (Astana*) in a breakaway on Day 4, but mostly he coasted in the peleton and avoided crashes.

*Technically Lance rides for the Astana Team. Astana, for those who might not know, is the capital of Kazakhstan. Why would Armstrong ride for a team who purpose is to redevelop Russian dominance in the sport of cycling? Several reasons, foremost of which is that Astana has the best Director Sportif, Johann Bruneel in the business.

Bruneel, who has captained all of Lance's Tour de France victories, plus Alberto Contador's Tour win, always has a fleet of capable domestiques to support his best riders. Plus, Astana has the best team of riders in the world; three great riders, with Armstrong probably the 3rd best among them. Contador also bagged the Giro D'Italia and Vuelta a España within 12 months which makes him a mini-god in the pro-circuit. Levi Leipheimer, who played second fiddle to Armstrong for a couple of years, is the number 2 Astana rider. Look for Leipheimer to make a repeat victory in the upcoming Tour of California as Lance continues to work his way back into racing form. So, long point, in reality, Lance, as always, rides for himself. The American press will give short shrift to Team Astana and instead focus on the dude in the yellow bracelet. Lance's real team is Livestrong.

Steephill offer all the Aussie spin @:
it's not an aussie comeback

funkhouser gets funky again

Mayor Mark Funkhouser delivered his state of the city address on Sunday at All Souls Unitarian Church once again reaffirming his undying devotion for his wife Gloria, his willingness to be smart with the money, and proposing that 'televised' meetings with council members be televised. Ummm...m.o.i thinks we already have weekly televised meetings with the mayor and council; they are known as the legislative session and can be viewed on Channel 2 or your desktop.

This address echoed similar tones from last year's address. His Mayorship suggested that in the past he had let others set the tone of the conversation and that - no longer! he's going to fight back and work to drive the conversation -- which in reality, in our city-manager form of government -- is the job of the mayor. To lead the city.

There is some validity in the mayor's assessment of folks crying foul when in fact they are fowl. Plenty of knuckleheads have been quick to bash the mayor without listening first. But the Mayor should be taking the blame, as the leader, and then insuring that the city moves forward on the proper agenda. The problem, has, is, and continues to be that the public and probably more importantly at this point, the City Council, doesn't perceive the Mayor as being conciliatory. And calling the dogs on the carpet in the state-of-the-city addresss doesn't help. In reality, it just reaffirms that he's not that conciliatory and ready to move on to bigger issues, i.e. the business of the city.

Stubbornness can be a virtue, until one becomes intractable, then it's a liability. It's easy to be stubborn when you're racking up political victories, except the last major political victory the Mayor scored was his election. That was 2 years ago. The Mayor complained bitterly that the previous mayor never listened to its constituents and the funny thing about this Mayor, is that he's in danger of becoming his own worse enemy. If the Mayor really wants to get jiggy wid' it, he needs to do more than wear an orange tie.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eroll Morris, director of the Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War, offers a look back into the Bush Presidency through the eyes of photographers who covered Bush 43's term in office. Compelling, humorous, and insightful. Take a look before you forget the guy.

bush 43 through the years

Image: J. Scott Applewhite

Sunday, January 25, 2009

cornel west opens fire on assembled guests

"The condition of truth is to allow the voice of the suffering to speak."-Cornel West, Inaugural Martin Luther King Keynote Address, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Cornel West invoked a long history of activists in a stirring speech Friday in Kansas City. West, whose engaging speaking style is a smash-up of Frederick Douglas, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rev. King AND Rev. Wright, with liberal doses of Spike Lee, Sarah Vaugh, Curtis Mayfield, Chris Rock, Socrates and Shakespeare thrown in, enthralled, embraced, and threatened the assembled crowd to remember that our legacy is rooted TOGETHER, that we are joined by a common love, and that we should "never confuse charity with justice". It was, as someone near remarked, a giving speech. To say that the brother got soul is to underestimate the man, to minimize his influence and the power of eloquent discourse. Oh, the brother got soul alright. He got soul. But his message was a rap to all God's children.

Echoing the cries that the enslaved have forever shouted, "What does it mean to be human?" West reminded everyone that those who have lived through catastrophic times as a people have done so with dignity rather than terrorism. They never gave up. They never lost their humanity. And the best amongst them, of which their are legions, never looked back on the racists, but instead turned their mirror to the martyrs who fought against them, looked ahead to those who worked to ennoble human dignity, spirit, and who shout the blues to the rooftop guards and to ever hill and dale.

Professor West tore at the corporate, sanitized version of King soundbites that are thrown around on King day. Aphorisms that quickly recede in the shadows of young men and women whose living-wage job prospects are primarily to serve an imperialistic army. No. Rise up! cast off the chains of indignity and injustice and embrace humanity rather than run a sword through it.

Kings message against the war was recently brought home to me on a flyer tacked on the door a service station in Jefferson City, MO. The sign read "Do you want $50,000 to go to college?" It then went on in great detail about a job that would pay:
*your college tuition
*give you $50,000 for college living expenses
*provide free health care benefits
*life insurance
*pay raises if married (and for each child born)

The catch, of course, is that you have to join the Army. This is where the money for student loans and heath-care programs for children has gone in the era of Reaganomics. It's getting to the point where the only way one can afford to go to college is to join the military and keep fighting imperialistic wars of oppression. Wars for the few, the mighty, and the entitled. Until we remove our jingoist intentions we can never bring peace and justice to the world.

Electing a black man to be President will not end racism in America. It's a step that may help America finally confront its long legacy of racial injustice but it won't end it. There is optimism to be found in the notion that Obama entered the office on a carpet of praise from all legions of the globe while Cheney slowly wheeled himself into hellish obscurity and Bush helicoptered off to a bramble thicket.

If King were alive today, he would most assuredly be moved by Obama's election. A victory has surely been gained. It's also just as likely that after praising Obama, King would be quick to remind us that we have much work to do. Millions of children are still in poverty. Millions still have no jobs, no place to live, no health care, and little hope for a future. King would remind Obama when the phone rings at 3 am in the White House it is likely to be a plea from the poor asking, "when will the sun rise on all of America?"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

house (white) party

Obamaites. Still can't come down from the big event? Party like Biggie O to the sounds of DJ Z-trip. Free downloads courtesy of Check it @: dj z-trip obama mix

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

supreme court reconsiders

Chief Justice John Roberts wasted no time in challenging Biggie O to do-over. Roberts re-administered the oath of office to Pres. Obama this evening and in a nod to all faiths and his promise of inclusivity, Obama's hand rested on the Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

bush to 43, uhh, can I have a do-over?

Former El Presidento Bush looks out the window and the 2 million people gathered on the mall to watch his successor and realizes, "umm...maybe I did fuck up a bit."

in with the new

I can't ever rememeber when people gathered to watch a Presidential inaguration ceremony. This event was sponsored by the Jackson Co. Democractic Party at Coach's Bar and Grill in Kansas City, MO. Full house. People cheered and people weep.

m.o.i: join the party

Your opportunity to enter the political backroom.

join the party, 2009, m.o.i.,found and appropriated objects on a cigar. limited edition of 75.

Monday, January 19, 2009

say your goodbyes

A little pre-inagural fun being had at a neighborhood in downtown DC. Residents throwing shoes at an inflatable W.

Photo: Evan Elliott

visual reviews of aural entertainment

Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Day Celebration, Kansas City Art Institute, Jan. 19th, 2009; attendance, ~250

live to see the day

I keep hearing folks say they never thought they'd live the day to see a black man be president. Not in their lifetime. I don't understand this. It's as though they never really believed the speeches, the music, or the possibility. Here are but a few examples of words that spoke to a different day, and upon hearing them, one came to believe.

When the thunder of opression roars and crackles, I'll be there
When those who would be free are wearing shackles, I'll be there
For the day is gonna come when they'll throw away their chains
Lift their heads and raise their arms for the struggle that remains
And let me tell you
Let me tell you
Let me tell you
Let me tell you, I'll be there-
--Phil Ochs, I'll Be There
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.--Dr. ML King, Beyond Vietnam, 4 April 1967, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Riverside Church, New York City
And then later in the same speech, King said,
We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
For every scar on a wall
There's a hole in someone's heart
Where a loved one's memory lives

In the flash of this moment
You're the best of what we are --
Don't let them stop you now
--Bruce Cockburn, Nigaragua
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you're missin' y'all
Swingin' while I'm singin'
Givin' whatcha gettin'
Knowin' what I know
While the Black bands sweatin'
And the rhythm rhymes rollin'
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power
--Public Enemy, Fight the Power

Saturday, January 17, 2009

lance armstrong, outback edition

Sunday, Lance Armstrong begins in earnest his attempt to prove to the world that he's always been clean by racing in the Tour Down Under, the first Pro-Tour race of the season. Fact of the matter is this. You can't take away his seven Le Tour titles-they're in the books. That road been ridden down before and although many of the mighty (Flance aka Floyd Landis, Alexander Vinokourov, Michael Rasmussen, and a host of others) fell off the bike, Lancestrong was always able to stay upright and steer past the allegations.

And this time, he'll have to be clean, since he's signed onto a rigorous anti-doping testing program. And since everyone else will also be clean, and he's still a great cyclist and appears to be in good form, he'll make a good showing. Astana is sending a phalanx of capable riders to help out with the comeback. One thing about these short (1 week) stage events is that there aren't many opportunities for riders to put a whole lot of separation between themselves and the rest of the peleton. The mountains aren't high enough and there aren't enough of them to completely destroy the peleton such as what happens in the Grand Tours. The flat stages are mostly left to the sprinters who shine in mass field sprints. Lance could potentially win a sprint in a breakaway, but he perfers to watch the field sprints from the safety of the peleton. With no time trial and no big mountain stage in the Down Under, it means few opportunities for Armstrong to excel.

Elite athletes, much like politicians before a primary, like to play down comeback expectations. They love to say things like we're only hoping to finish, we're aren't expecting to win, etc. They seem to want to do all this to make any victory, high-placed showing, or stage win (if they happen) seem all that more improbable. Expect Lance to do well, don't expect him to win or even capture a stage. This race is for sprinters. But he'll do well enough to turn next months Tour of California into a media frenzy for yellow bracelets, comeback kids, and American heroes. Ultimately, Down Under and Tour of California aren't races that matter to Lance, except to promote his comeback and causes. And no, Lancestrong's race-that-matters-most is not the Race for the Cure, despite what he might say. The only race that's ever really mattered to Lance is the biggest prize of all - the one that finishes with laps around the Champs Elyesee. His comeback will be designed to win that race, and that race only.

Versus is offering daily wrap-ups of the event on the tube and the web. will likely find some streaming video (or at least audio) to whet the appetites of the truly cycling crazed. For a more local perspective on the race, check out aussie abc.
More at:
daily coverage on cycling fans
aussie abc cycling coverage

Friday, January 16, 2009

secret with the money

Mayor Mark Funkhouser continues to perplex the mind and flex his lack of political savvy. After receiving next year's budget from city manager Wayne Cauthen, the Funk, formerly known as Mr. Transparency-in-Government, decided it was in the best interest of the city to keep the budget a secret from both his constituents and his colleagues on the City Council. One must surmise that the mayor believes that by locking himself in a log cabin in the woods and channeling the ghost of Abe Lincoln during the inauguration of Biggie O, the most perfect solution will rise from the ashes of his failings. Given that Mark was an auditor in a former life, it is quite possible that some very novel solutions will waft up along with the wood smoke and find their way into the very drafty office on the 23rd floor. However, the good mayor continually forgets that no matter the solutions to which he may arise, it takes a vote of the council to pass the budget. And his secrecy in the matter only serves to continue to piss off the council and more importantly the public, at whose discretion, every one serves. Has the recent spate of cold, cloudy weather darkened the mayor's mood and clouded his judgement, and if so, can someone please buy the man a grow-up light? That said, none of it is an excuse for being secret with the money.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the precautionary principle

Some brief notes to the incoming Obama administration.

Forget pursuing the Bushites for crimes against humanity. At least during your first term. There's too much to do, trying Bush/Cheney et al. for war crimes will just waste needed political capital. You'll need to be able to muster all the support you can just to even come close to solving our ever deepening economic strife. Besides, in four years, more and more of those involved will have come forth (as they did this week) with self-incriminating evidence of wrong doing. Let them bring the darkest secrets to light first and then hold them accountable to the rule of law. Which brings us to the next agenda item.

Tim Geithner must not be the Treasury Secretary. Allowing Geithner to proceed sends the message that if you cheat, and then lie, and then lie repeatedly, it's OK - if you're a politician; the rest of America can take a fall. Sorry, President-elect Obama, we just lived through 8 years of this kind of bullshit and we don't need your endorsement of the same. Mr. Geithner paid (or in this case didn't) his money and now he should take his choice (or rather be denied it).

Hillary Clinton will have a hard time solving the Middle East conflict. Her experience indicates that she waffles to the Jewish tune, like most American politicians, and thus a solution won't be forthcoming. The Jews, once victims of internment camps, seem to have forgotten how growing up in a concentration camp tends to seal one's mind into an intractable wasteland of bitterness and hatred. The downside of this for America is just how far-reaching this conflict extends into our own country and adds to our inability to solve our own problems. The Israelis are the ones who could likely send the Middle East into the precursor of WWWIII. What would Jesus/Abraham/Mohammad do then?

We also hope the memebers of the Obama administration have read Dexter Filkins, The Forever War, or if they prefer fiction, Sterling Lawrence's, Montengegro. Because if they haven't, this new administration just might believe that it's possible to transfer 30,000 troops from Iraq into Afghanistan and win the hearts and minds of tribal Afghanis.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a stroll down pennsylvania avenue

The 4-hour season premiere of 24 had just ended when the Chief Executive declared a state of emergency for the incoming Obama administration inauguration ceremonies. With the exception of forcing the Obamas to rent a hotel room in the city they'll soon own, Bush has gone to great lengths to court the incoming President, likely because Bush knows that his legacy can be helped if Obama doesn't spend his first 100 days in office lamenting on how bad things have become and expend early political capital on trying Bushites for crimes against humanity.

It likely the threats against Obama and his family have been many and a few wackos have probably had real intent to harm. Many pray for the families safety and fear the worse might just be around the corner. Each day the headlines are scanned with elation marred with a bit of uncertainty. Some days I'm almost afraid to look.

The problem is that presidents, not just this president-elect, continue to be shielded farther and farther from the public they serve. This distance just builds during their tenure. Instead they are constantly surrounded by advisers, bodyguards, and the security-vetted elite. The interests of the People, for whom the President must swear allegiance to uphold, are then marginalized, pushed behind the barricades, and each face regarded as a potential threat. This prevents an open and transparent government of, and by the people, and leads to a culture of royalty. Even the most well-intentioned and grounded President can't escape this security-bubble because the secret service won't let them. The balance of power shifts slowly away from the electorate to the safety of the back room and the country suffers ill because of it.

One of the best things Obama could do is to insist, as Carter did, to walk down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and shake hangs with the people during his journey to the White House. (During his second inagural parade, Pres. Bush and the First Lady, briefly stepped from the motorcade to show America that the country was "safe from the terrorists" but the phlanx of secret service agents had grown considerably larger since the Carter days). The police state might not like it, but Obama was elected rather than appointed. We hope for a country where every man, woman, and child - be they black, white, brown or the President, feels safe enough to walk down the street unfettered from fear.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

get your hot chocolate on

Unlike Christopher Elbow, we don't charge $4 dollars a mug and we publish the recipe. The key, as always, are fine ingredients. Here's what you'll need.

Freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee, suggest Broadway Coffee Sumatra Mandheling.
1/2 and 1/2, suggest Shatto Farms.
Giradeli Ground Chocolate.
Lindt Dark Chocolate w/ Chilis.
Dash of fresh vanilla.
Twist of orange rind.
Crystallized ginger, soft peppermints, or homemade marshmallows (recipe to follow).

To begin. Grind your coffee for French press. Boil some water in a teapot. If your concerned about calories, you'll probably want to make chamomile tea. This hot cacao isn't something you'd drink everyday.

Use heavy mugs (your favorite) for this because it's special. For each cup of hot chocolate you'll need 1 tablespoon of ground chocolate and 2 squares (approx. 25 g. or about 1 oz.) of chocolate. Stir the ground chocolate into the 1/2 and 1/2 and then slowly heat over a very gentle flame. Add the chocolate and continue stirring to melt the chocolate. Do not boil. Add a dash of vanilla.

Once your water reaches the proper temperature for making coffee, pour it into the french press and let it steep for 5 minutes. Pour the melted chocolate mixture to fill about a third of the cup, then add coffee to the remaining. Stir to incorporate. Garnish with orange twist, candied ginger, peppermints, or marshmallows. Serve fireside.

Note: OK, given your income level you can go up with the ingredients (i.e. use a better chocolate) or you can go down a notch (i.e. use milk and hersey's cocoa. But using freshly, ground and perfectly roasted coffee is key here. Over-roasted coffees will overwhelm the chocolate flavors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

bush explains everything to white house press corps

"sometimes you misunderestimate me." President Bush addressing the White House Press Corps for the last time, Monday, January 12th, 2009.

God Bless him, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

moi lands a golden ticket

OK. So, I get this letter in the mail. An over-sized letter. From
(written in calligraphy) The Presidential Inauguration Committee. On the outside it says, "Handle with care." No. It can't be. Can it?

I carefully cut open the envelope to reveal an invitation, printed on heavy, cream-colored cardstock, with the gold-embossed seal of the Inauguration of the President and Vice-President. Suitable for framing. Holy shit! Is this my lucky day? Is this really a golden ticket? I examine it.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee requests the honor of your presence to attend and participate in the inauguration of Barack H. (ed. note: H, for Hussein) Obama as President of the United States of America and Joseph R. (ed. note: R, for Richard) Biden, Jr. as Vice-President of the President of the United States of America on Tuesday, the twentieth of January two thousand and nine in the City of Washington.
OMFG! Not only do they want me to come, they want me to participate. I am important. A player.

There's a letter attached. Only when I reach the 2nd paragraph do I find the catch. "This commemorative invitation invites your presence at any of the public events..." That takes a minute to sink in...I don't really need an invitation to attend the public events...but the thought was nice...just for a moment, that I might be important and lucky enough to go to the inauguration.

There's another brochure in the envelope. I look at it and then realize it's just a marketing gimmick to get me to buy things. They are trying to sell me inauguration branded merchandise. A blanket with the official inauguration seal (only $150 US dollars), a coffee cup ($20), a champagne flute (set of 2, $30). Any, all of it, can be mine. I feel a little let down.

In the almost year since I first gave my eddress to the Obamaites, I've received hundreds of requests for money. And by giving a little, this seems only to have solicited even more requests. The day of the election, I received a request for a donation and then the day after the election another one.

Once Barack officially takes the oath of office,he can't sell his image to make money; he can't benefit financially from the office of the President, that would be against the law. If he could, we might be able to buy ourselves out of the recession. Others though, can and will profit from his image. Perhaps Shepard Fairey can sell enough Barack branded stuff to lift the entire economy up and out of recession? Time will tell.

Maybe I can sell new money? Let's start the bidding right now. Who'll give $5. Five dollars! Now 10, gimme 10. Let's hear it for 10. I get $5 bills, put Barack's image on them and sell them for $10. Double my money. I could make a fortune!
official key ring of the 2009 inaguration

Thursday, January 8, 2009

venison cornbread with mono-ha cornbread

Some of what your parents told was wrong, misinformed, or perhaps even self-centered. Remember?

They said, "don't play with your food!"

But what they may have meant to say was, "don't throw your food; especially not at your siblings". Throwing food tended to leave stains on the walls and whelps on your hind end. However, food should be more than mere sustenance, so being playful with it can help you enjoy it.

In that vein, and in the spirit of mid-winter, why not play with chili? A friend granted us some venison so that was the start. We also found some lovely Purple Prairie barley in the pantry so instead of the typical beans as counterpoint for our chili, we decided the nutty flavor of barley would work well against the venison. And lastly, in doing a little reading on the history of soul food we have been making cornbread, in part, because it's so inexpensive to make. So why not combine all these elements?

Initially the food of slaves, soul food went mainstream during the black pride movement of the 60's. Many of the dishes we think of as soul food, such as fried chicken and biscuits, were celebratory meals. The weren't meant to be consumed daily. Meat was rare and the staple protein during the week was cornbread. Soul food restaurants began to offer what had once been meals to gorge on, daily, and in the process began to inadvertently kill people. In the words of some critics at the time, notably Dick Gregory, glorifying soul food didn't make sense. Soul food, in Gregory's mind, was all about killing black folk-twice. A cuisine born of slavery and then glorified into daily use where it again enslaved folks with heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity, and strokes.

Primarily because poverty knows few bounds soul food long ago crossed the racial divide and many dishes became southern staple - for blacks and whites. As with any other heavy food, moderation is the key to enjoying soul food.

And to free ourselves from this legacy, we decided to incorporate some conceptual Japanese sculptural approaches into our cooking and lift ourselves up a bit.

Venison and purple barley chili with mono-ha cornbread.

First cook the barley. Use vegetable stock to flavor the barley as it cooks; it must be cooked separately from the venison since it takes much longer to cook. Cooking barley is a bit like cooking wild rice because it takes twice as long and twice as much liquid as you initially imagine; usually an hour or more to get the grains to pop. You can cook the barley the day before if you want and refrigerate.

For the venison chili. Saute an onion in olive oil in a heavy skillet until translucent. Add the ground venison and brown.

The next step is crucial to improving the health of this dish. You want to remove as much of the fat from the meat as possible. Here's a good way to do it. As soon as the meat has cooked throughout, add 1/2 bottle of premium ale or lager to the pan to solubilize the fats. Cook over medium-high heat to reduce the liquid by one-half. This will also add a little flavor and then immediately drain the meat (while hot) in fine mesh stainless strainer. Once the meat is cooked and de-fatted, return it to the pan and then add 1 can of diced tomatoes (this helps the meat from now getting dry) and also at this point add 3 cloves of minced garlic and your favorite chili flavorings (i.e. cumin, paprika, pepper, a little salt). If you like spicy chili then add the pepper of your liking depending upon how much heat you want: poblano for mild, jalepeno for hot, habanero for very spicy. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Now combine the cooked barley with the venison mixture to finish the chili. Serve with sculpted cornbread and fresh, or steamed, julienned carrots that have been flavored with a dash of sesame oil and ginger.

Lower image: Nobuo Sekine, Phase Mother Earth, 1968, photographer unknown.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

anarchists for the anti-christ

Atheists of the world unite. The author Richard Dawkins in front a bus in London.

Image: Akira Seumori, Associated Press
More at:
ny times story by sarah lyall

chemistry lesson

Check out this work. It's an interesting mix of art and science.
Visual programming by Aaron Koblin
Dynamics programming by Aaron Meyers
Directed by Blip Boutique
Editing and visual effects by Roger Scott
sic: Interpol - Rest My Chemistry

Upper still: from Visualizing Amersterdam, Aaron Koblin
More at:
visualizing global warming

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

warrior ant press: 2009 food trends

Not long ago moi's spawn turned me onto this restaurant in Chicago, Alinea, that is so pretentious they've even hired a fashion consultant to dress the kitchen staff. Now the food looks pretty incredible and the web site shows lots of images of cutting edge cuisine, but there are a couple of things that seem to be missing. Women in the kitchen. Stain's on the chef's aprons. The food looks like a mirage but the prices are more like billboards. Fine dining perhaps if you're a one-percenter or have just sold an Illinois Senate seat for a tidy sum, but a little beyond the means of the majority of ants. However, it did get us to thinking, what will cuisine look like in the post-apocalyptic Bush garden?

So today, given the state of the economy, warrior ant press, suggests some food trends you might want to be on the lookout for in 2009.

Gruel. Served with fallen apples. Waste not, want not!

Soul food mash-ups. Examples. Deep-fried free-range cornish hens with balsamic-drizzled collard greens and ginger biscuits. Spicy crab cakes on a concassé of beets, sweet potatoes, and turnips.

Invasive species. For example. Asian Carp en papillote with kudzu sprouts and garlic mustard.

Moonshine martinis.

Yard birds. The original free-range bird; hey, don't be ashamed, it was good enough for your granny.

Stealing chickens. Lure your neighbor's chickens onto your property in time for Sunday dinner. (All things considered, be sure to offer prayers).

2009 will also be the year of lawn-fed beef, deep-fried foam, and smoked air with essence of truffles.

chicago's most pretentious restaurant
soul food from africa to america

Monday, January 5, 2009

m.o.i.: new money--the cure for what ails you

They're going to try to say, 'Well, you know, he's got a funny name, and he doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five-dollar bills.' --President-elect Barack Obama addressing a crowd in Union, MO, July 30th, 2008.

new money,m.o.i., Found objects on paper, demoninations may vary, 2008.

other resources:
John McCain for President web ad, Seal, June 27, 2008

2008 political ads

Saturday, January 3, 2009

warrior ant press: 2009 resolutions

m.o.i believes in resolutions, just not on New Year's Eve. We like to wait a few days, or weeks before coming clean with ours, but we do think commitment, however fleeting, to be a good exercise to undertake. So here are our 2009 resolutions:

Be strong. We actually started this one about 3 weeks before the New Year. It's a strength and conditioning program designed to insure we make it downriver for the 4th annual MR340.

Swim 50 miles. Walk 500 miles. Kayak/canoe 750 miles. Bike 1,000 miles. Lift 1.5 million pounds. [see resolution no.1]

More focused screen time. That means fewer ambling rambles down the lonely Internet path of nonexistence and, it may, mean fewer posts this year, but hopefully it means smarter posts.

More efficient sleeping. However implausible, it sounds worthy.

Fewer weeds, more vegetables. Last year, for the 1st time in more than 30 years, we didn't grow any vegetables (not counting herbs), instead devoting all our energy to flowers. Growing flowers is still a cause worthy of our attention (see The Flower Project) and we will continue to do this, but there's nothing like fresh spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes from the garden.

Kill something and eat it. Besides the vegetables.

Look sharp. At times.

Friday, January 2, 2009

mission accomplished: the impeachment of George W. Bush

mission accomplished: the impeachment of George W. Bush; plastic, duct tape, silicon, found and appropriated objects, 2008, 24" by 30", m.o.i., 2008.

[note: m.o.i. isn't convinced this piece is finished; seems like there need to be more dead civilians, soldiers, and firefighters falling from the sky.]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

grinder's drops the ball

Stretch Rumaner enjoys playing with his ball.

rattle and hum: visual reviews of aural entertainment

rattle and hum (U2 cover band): visual reviews of aural entertainment

Free New Year's Eve concert, KC Live; attendance, ~2000

other reviews in the series:
m.o.i.: the wilders @ davey's uptown
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