Friday, July 30, 2010

Bright Idea

What to do about the mother grizzly bear that attacked three Montana campers this week?

How about we fly her in to Chelsea Clinton's wedding and let her feed?

Three million dollars to shackle, um, pledge yourself to another person? I'm sorry, usually I'm live and let live when it comes to making a spectacle of oneself, but, really. This is insane, not to mention a tad shameful. Not just because Chelsea's parents are SUCH exemplary examples of the institution of marriage themselves, but because in these hard economic times, how wise is it for one of our Demobratic senators to cavalierly fling around that much taxpayer cash on what basically amounts to a bunch of flowers, champagne, and some mullet-headed, crap 80's tribute band?

Not to mention one over-the-top bit of flounce and poofery known as the wedding dress, which if you want to get all feminist ethological about it, can be seen as nothing more than yet another sanctioned commodification of the female form, only this time into a de-sexed, prepubescent bit of gift wrapping nevermindthatitsoscardelarenta and shouldn't Hilary, given her street cred, be offended by that?

I say: stick a bowtie on the grizzly and let her run wild in Rhinebeck.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Move Clip Wednesday: Rom Com Star

Milk River Madman's topic for this week's MCW is: Pick the romantic comedy you would have like to have starred in and why.

We already know I am allergic to traditional romantic comedies, so this is about as close as I can get: Robert Rodriguez's über cool Desperado, staring the smokin' hot Antonio Banderas. Seriously. This man could fry eggs just by looking at them.

This is the opening sequence.

It's also one of my favorite movies because it reminds me of when I first met S.B. He wore his hair this exact length, tied back in the exact same way, and had the exact same amount of fire power. Still does :o)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Culinary SMACKDOWN: Summer Veggies

Due to Eggy's phenomenal win last month, she has been chosen as the hostess with the mostest for this month's culinary contest. Her theme?


I chose:

Tomatoes and Green Chile.

Tomatoes because, yes, I KNOW they're a fruit, but let's face it: they TASTE like a vegetable, look like a vegetable, and smell like a vegetable. Plus, they are the most abundant crop of these here sweltering summer days.

The chile, well, that's native to my part of the world and crops down south around Las Cruces and Hatch are just now being harvested. The chile I used in the pizza recipe below is from last summer, kept safely frozen in Ziplock baggies for use throughout the year, because I won't be doing this for about another month. In some parts of the world, a pizza just isn't a pizza without pepperoni. In my world, it's nearly inconceivable to think of eating one without green chile on top.

The tomatoes in this recipe were sent to me by my father-in-law who lives and gardens in South Louisiana. They arrived along with about seven dozen fresh figs off his prodigious tree, but, alas, even packed well and sent two day air, by the time the figs arrived, they had composted down to a slimy stew appropriate only for the birds. Which gobbled them up greedily, so at least someone was happy. So, le sigh, still no fig tart por Moi. Or Eggy's savory fig bread. The tomatoes, however, were fine. And delicious. I ask you: IS there anything more tasty than a fresh-from-the-garden tomato? I say: no.

When cooking with garden fresh tomatoes, I think simple is best. Like this quick and easy pasta dish:


Serves Four

8 ounces (1/2 pound) spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
Four large ripe, garden fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of fresh spinach, loosely packed
1/2 cup of fresh basil, loosely packed
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
8 ounces of feta, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodles to al dente stage. Strain through colander but do not rinse. Set aside. In same pot you boiled noodles, heat olive oil and saute garlic and tomatoes together until tomatoes are just soft. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add spinach, basil, parsley, and feta. Stir until heated through and spinach is slightly wilted. Add noodles and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Recipe #2: Grilled Pizza

A buddy of ours was up last weekend to train for La Luz (yes, here I go, again) and had the great idea to grill pizzas for one of the evening meals. I've never done it before (we have access to what I consider to be some of the best pizza around about 10 minutes to the east of us), but it's likewise easy and tasty.

Buy about one pound of pizza dough, either pre-made from the store or from your local pizzeria (or if you're really game, make your own), make some sauce (we made traditional red tomato and a white sauce, which is basically a bechamel to which I added a little nutmeg and some cooking sherry).

Roll out a quarter pound of dough for each pizza. Don't worry about getting it perfectly shaped. Rough and rustic is the goal here. Lay the dough out on a flat board or baking sheet and brush olive oil on both sides.

Prepare your grill. Once hot, grill the dough until golden brown on both sides. Then, add your sauce and toppings and grill until cheese begins to melt. If you think your crust is getting too toasty, you can always remove and finish cooking the toppings in the oven.

Toppings used: fresh mozzarella, provolone cheese, tomatoes, pepperoni, olives, grilled onions, peppers, roasted garlic, spinach, fresh basil, and roasted green chile.

And now, head over to Intuitive Eggplant's blog to see who else is up and running in the Smackdown.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Worst Ending

Let me make it clear right here and right now that I am not a fan of romance novels or movies. If a situation contains even one lone molecule's worth of the scent of schmaltz, Fabio's pecs, a distressing damsel, or Meg Ryan's trout pout, it will send me running into the night, never mind the high heels. I may even be screaming. I am, for sure, gagging.

Except. Except. EXCEPT. When it comes to The Way We Were. For some reason this movie, this very one, gets me every time. I think the ending is the worst, because, seriously, they should have stayed together—they should have made it work!—so viewed in that way, it fills the requirements of this week's MCW theme. Viewed another way, of course, the ending is near perfect in the way it clutches at the heart strings and nudges the tear ducts.

Stupid tear ducts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Theme Song

One of my favorite pieces of westerners-behaving-badly-in-the-tropics literature is Christopher Koch's The Year of Living Dangerously.

In 1982, the esteemed Australian director Peter Weir turned the book into an equally great film, starring one of my all-time favorite actresses, Sigourney Weaver, and what used to be one of my favorite actors, Mel Gibson, before he decided to leave his wife of 50 gazillion years for a silicone-inflated Russian gold digger who baited him into fully revealing his bat shit crazy underbelly. Such a shame. Unfortunately, Gibson isn't the only rage-fueled misogynist in Hollyweird. He's just the most recent to get caught on tape. You know how the Catholic church has set up sanctuaries in remote areas around the country to house pedophile priests? We need one of those for men like Gibson.

That aside, what I like best about the movie is Vangelis's theme song. He is probably most well known for his Academy Award-winning theme for Chariots of Fire and the music in Blade Runner, but but I think this is his prettiest and most haunting work. It fits the movie like a glove.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Folk Art Fest

The crowds are always thick and the day always burns hot and bright, but I hardly notice. The scope and quality of the goods on display at the yearly Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival is worth whatever minor headache comes from putting up with the throng. Every year, I am blown away by how many artists from countries whose names we either only hear on the nightly news in association with horror and strife, marginalize as being of little importance, or have never even heard of at all, nonetheless persist in applying themselves to creating objects of beauty.

Silver cuff by Mousssa Albaka (Niger)

Wish I could have afforded it.

Albaka is a towering Tuareg nomad, regal and laconic in his deep purple robes, who produces stunning silver-smithed jewelry from a pencil point place at the edge of the Saharan desert so remote, he could have just as likely arrived here from Mars. I couldn't stop staring at him, he was so fabulous-looking.

Counted cross-stitch pillow by members of a Palestinian collective.

How strange was it to walk into the Afghanistan and Palestinian booths and realize that I had something in common with these artists? Each of us are embroiderers that utilize a counted thread technique, although their work far and away outshines mine. Pillows like the one above were going for around $100, shawls for about $80—a pittance given the time and skill that go into them.

Blue ceramic Rishtan plate, Rustam Usmanov and Damir Usmanov (Uzbekistan)

This photo doesn't even begin to do justice to these ceramics. They are incredibly intricate in their design, flawlessly executed, and so beautiful, they made my fingers itch.

As did these carpets by Fatullo Kendjaev. Who knew? If I ever get rich, fuggedabout the Turks; I'm snagging me a houseful of Uzbekistani carpets.

In fact, I'd have to say the Uzbekis were the stars of the market, excelling in embroidery, carpet weaving, ceramics, jewelry making, painting, and chest-making.

But there were reminders, too, of just how far some of these countries have to go in matters more practical and political than artistic.

When I finally caught up with Elizabeth Savanhu, master of Zimbabwean applique quilts, she greeted me with her usual exuberance and then proceeded to tell me about yet another gut punch to her country. Thanks to irresponsible men who refuse to remain faithful to their wives and a superstitious people who put their faith in witchdoctors instead of western medicine, Zimbabwe is slowly being ravaged by HIV. Out of Elizabeth's nine siblings, six are HIV-positive, and along with her own four children, she is also caring for two HIV-positive children out of the many orphaned in her village. Hanging behind her this year were two huge quilts illustrating the problem, their exuberant colors and cartoon-like composition a stark contrast to the grim reality of the story.

And in the last booth I visited that day, I met Rebecca Lolosoli, who was raised in the Samburu tribe of northern Kenya, which is renowned not only for its colorful bead work, but for the ingrained cycle of violence perpetuated by many of the native men against their women. To combat this abuse, Lolosoli secretly purchased a parcel of land outside her village to serve as a woman-only sanctuary for those escaping physical abuse and seeking economic independence. To support themselves, they utilize their tribe's age-old traditional beading techniques to fashion jewelry and baskets for sale at markets around the world.

I bought the cuff on the left.

And this, too:

"Adam and Eve" repoussé on recycled aluminum, Toyin Folorunso (Nigeria)

Adam and Eve? Of course, I had to have it.

I'm not naive enough to believe that a country as hellish as Nigeria can be saved by its artists, but I am heartened to know that at least the impulse to create is as strong as the impulse to destroy. Maybe one day, it will win out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Visual Haiku: Easy Livin' in Summertime

Summer's blue dawn light
Reveals cougar scat and print
Run to stay alive

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Actress of the 1970's

I worship at the altar of all things 1970's, fashion and film especially, but when I started thinking about my favorite actor or actress of the decade, I was stymied. Faye Dunaway came instantly to mind, but her best films were actually in the late 1960s (Bonnie and Clyde, and The Thomas Crown Affair, which, if you haven't seen, go out and rent—it's one of the most stylish films ever).

Then I hit on it: Jodi Foster. The quintessential 1970s teenager, she was everything me and my girlfriends wanted to be: Beautiful, talented, famous, and whip smart. We drank Jodi Foster films: The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane, Foxes, Freaky Friday, and even the utterly bizarre, flirting-with-the-edge-of-creepy, Bugsy Malone.

Then there was Taxi Driver. Which doesn't need any explanation or introduction. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. I'm not sure any filmmaker could get away today with what Scorsese did then. Or if any other actress could have handled the role of Iris, the 12-year-old prostitute, with such self possession. Foster somehow managed to turn in a performance both disturbing and poignant. Interesting side note: Scorsese originally wanted Melanie Griffith for the part. I think he chose the right girl.

There isn't a decent clip of any of these movies to be had on YouTube. This is about as close as it gets and the quality sucks.

Check out everyone's else's picks over at Milk River Madman's Place.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

At the end of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, as Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence hall, one of Philadelphia's most prominent matrons walked up and asked him:

"Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

Franklin responded,"A republic. If you can keep it."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bird Brained

I am so glad that my snow shoes can be put to some good use in the summer, other than gathering dust.

I have no idea what species of bird this is that has decided to build its condo of twig and vine and . . . shoestring? . . . All I see of them is a frantic blur of brown wing headed for outside whenever I enter the garage, forgetting for a moment that they are there, tending their two tiny eggs, pale blue/green like a child's Easter dress, with a few randomly placed brown freckles at one end.

They are very small. Maybe only twice the size of my thumbnail, if that. I'm always blown away by bird's eggs. So fragile and yet at the same time so smartly, perfectly engineered for their specific purpose. No more, no less.

(Sorry the photo is so lousy, but I didn't want to disturb the nest any further to refocus on another one.)

Now that I know the nest is there and the eggs have been laid, I'm all mother birding myself about what to do about the garage door. Do I leave it open? Do I continue to close it at night like I always have?

S.B. says I should just quit worrying. Maybe the birds built the nest in the garage because they know, in their birdy way, that the humans close it on occasion, thus ensuring that their eggs are safe from predators. Maybe they need the nightly reprieve from parenting to go out and whoop it up with other exhausted birdy parents? At any rate, we should just continue to do what we've always done and the birds will figure it out.

After all, they do tend to choose their nesting locations carefully.

Maybe I should move the dog's water trough, which sits directly underneath the nest, though. Because the last thing Ivan needs is another snack.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Visual Haiku: Patriotism

Thumb sucked and breast bound
does it feel good on your knees?
Pass the pitchfork, please.