Friday, September 28, 2007

Yo Ye Pharoahs, Let us Walk Through this Barren Desert, in Search of Truth and Some Pointy Boots

I'm not going to pussyfoot around here. This fall's supposedly fabulous footwear fashion? Uh, not so much. Which has made me stomp my feet in indignation at the butt ass ugliness of it all. And swear off all purchases in favor of a single, trusty dusty pair of multi-purpose boots that go with everything.

And la, la, la, la, la myself until spring. 'Cause NO amount of sex or candy could persuade me to subject my feet to any of these Fall 2007 "trends."

Butt Ugly Fall Trend #1: Dressing Like A Dude

This according to Fashion Windows: Yes, the powerful woman is back, only this time we don’t have to prove it with shoulder pads. This season a huge trend is the powerful woman, weather [sic] it be biker style or menswear inspired [yikes!] the message is the same. We are woman and we are strong!

Spare Moi.

Nor should I have to feel like a target for Jack the Ripper.
Butt Ugly Fall Trend #2: Brocaded Shoes

Nor like Hell is for Children or Love is a Battlefield.
Butt Ugly Fall Trend #3: The Booties That Just Won't Die

Nor do I want to wear anything named after a beast of burden.
Butt Ugly Fall Trend #4: Mules

Mules are a close second to booties for the Cockroaches of the Shoe World award.

Finally, look, just look at what they've done to my beloved peep toe pump!

Butt Ugly Fall Trend #5: Camouflage

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

She Needs a New Toy to Keep Her Head Expanding

According to recent news reports Angelina Jolie (shown here greatly improving the plight of yet another underprivileged child by gifting her a matching mother/daughter Valentino handbag) is severely depressed by her inability to change things for the better in the Third World.

I know, huh? We all had such high hopes for her, believing she was the answer to ending world hunger, human rights violations, and child slavery, just by wishing it so.

So I guess I understand the shopping therapy tactic.

But for handbags, Party People.

Not for children.

Monday, September 24, 2007

For Three Strange Days

I didn't have to explain.
I didn't have to apologize.
I didn't have to acquiesce.

Instead, I got to be around the best dogs I've ever met, handled by the best owners, trainers, and advocates I've ever met, behave in the best ways I've ever seen dogs behave. I got to speak the language not just of dog, but of justice. Justice for an animal that for some reason cannot be taken on its individual merits and has become instead the repository for all our medieval fears and hatreds and hysteria.

You should have seen us: tattooed and business suited. Black and white. Old and young. Lawyers and stock brokers and artists and welders. Animal control officers and policemen and politicians. A melting pot, that's for sure, and maybe none of us would have gotten along at a dinner party, but for three days, we were united in one clear cut, unequivocal belief: this is America, fer cryin' out loud, and the last time we all checked, we have the right to our property. We have the right to pursue our happiness. And we're doing it responsibly, so leave us the hell alone.

The atmosphere was rareified, indeed.

Because when it all ended, and I was sitting in the airport waiting to go home, forgetting that I was still wearing my "My Best Friend is a Pit Bull" button (we pit bull people, we're all about the bling) and a woman sat down next to me and read it and then said, "Pit bulls ought to be outlawed." and stormed off in a huff, I was reminded all over again of where I really live.

In the really real world, where ignorance and fear creep in on jack-booted feet.

And right now, the only thing I can say in defense is:

Get over it.

Helen Keller with one of her beloved pit bulls.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Feelin' Da Love

Despite the turbulent flight, despite the half hour it took to claim my one itsy bitsy bit o' luggage, despite the two B.A.R.T hours it took to get to my hotel, and despite the plethora of pavement grazing jean skirted hippie chickies wending their way, Whole Foods bags in hand, up and down the streets of Berkely, I am, Party People, feelin' da love BIG TIME for this place.

Because directly to the west of my window from the Claremont Resort and Spa (which is such a weirdly posh place to hold a pit bull conference, I must say) is the City by the Bay. And, if I hadn't been such a total DORK and forgotten my camera, I could show you just how beautiful the sight of it is. Hovering in the mist like that against a sunset so spectacularly gorgeous, I can hardly believe it's real. I mean, aren't we only used to imagery like that in the movies? Facing it in real life, it's like winning the lottery. So there it is, one of the most breathtaking sunsets I've ever seen. And I've seen 'em all over the world, from the Caribbean to Istanbul to my own backyard. But this one, it nearly made me cry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Can Make Me Go to Berkeley But You Can't Make Me Wear Birkenstocks

It's only because there are going to be oodles and oodles of squishable pit bulls there, not to mention a rockin' venue in which to hang my hat for 2.5 days, that I am entering this former bastion of all things hippified. But wearing boots, Party People, boots (I hear it's cold there.)

Oh, and Brooks running shoes. Because one of my favorite things to do when I travel is explore my new environs on foot, albeit it at a lame-o pace of about 11 mph. Oh, but that's right. I'll be at sea level. Bonus! That should be good for bumping me up at least another half second.

Most important of all, of course, will be the fact that I get to spend 2.5 whole days perseverating on my favorite breed o' dawg.

Who bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Will Smile For Treats."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Danger, Will Robinson!

Okay, so last night, sated on the five bazillion crap celebrity magazines kindly sent my way by Doris Rose, hung over from hours and hours and hours of Fashion Television's coverage of New York Fashion Week (and, no, I still will NOT be wearing bubble skirts for spring!), and totally over the fact that the season premier of Prison Break seems to be more same ol', same ol' only somewhere in South 'merica, I finally decided to grow the heck up for one night and watch some "serious" television.

Which turned out to be a huge mistake. When I set out to watch some serious television, Party People, I am seeking edification. The kind of information I can drolly trot out at parties with the sole purpose of stunning friends and relatives with the realization that yes, I simply have waaaaay too much time on my hands. What I do not seek, however, is to have the sweet beejeebus scared out of Moi.

So, like, I've been keeping up with my reading in quantum physics and all, but holy heck, still somehow managed to miss this little nugget of info:

Apparently, scientists have known for years that black holes, far from being rare anomalies in the space/time continuum, are, in fact, as common as Crocs on the feet of the masses at Wal-Mart. And that black holes exist, get this, at the center of every galaxy in the known universe, including our very own home turf, the Milky Way.

And, Party People, these black holes are hungry.

Granted, some are hungry like this:

But others are hungry like THIS:

In other words, ALL black holes have appetites and are munching down on their galaxies.

Question isn't if we'll be consumed. Question is WHEN:

So what am I doing in the meantime?

La, la, la, la, la, la, la.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Spice of Our Lives

You know how some people say, "It feels like home?" Here in New Mexico, we say, "It smells like home."

For about four to six weeks every year, starting around the middle of August until the end of September, the air in New Mexico is filled with the smoky sharp smell of roasting green chile. So much so, in fact, that if you happen to arrive at the Albuquerque International Sunport during late summer/early fall, it's the first smell that hits you as you get off the plane. Not jet fuel. Not the musty smell of too many bodies crammed into too much filtered air space for way too long. The chile smell trumps it all.

That's because this is the time when chile farmers across the state begin harvesting their crop, a staple of New Mexico's economy for over one hundred years and part of our culinary culture for way longer than that. Today, New Mexico is the largest producer of chile in the United States and one of the top in the world. Our farmers are responsible for producing over 60 percent of the chile consumed in the United States, one of which is a variety of cayenne variety shipped primarily to hot sauce makers in Louisiana. Another one-third of our chiles go into making paprika. Over 8,000 acres of chile are harvested each year – that's mucho dinero right there, Party People.

But not only is chile a vital part of our economy, it is also a fruit unique among all other fruits, a vital part of our culture and our blood. New Mexico State University in Las Cruces has an entire research program devoted to its cultivation. It is here in the university's Chile Pepper Breeding Program (the only one of its kind in the world, by the way), that some of the most distinctive New Mexican chiles have reached their fruition: Big Jim, Rio Grande, Sandia. As well as the chile that in 2006 was deemed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest in the world, Bhut Jolokia. To give you an idea of how hot it is, the average jalapeno measures in at about 10,000 Scoville Heat Unites (SHU). Bhut Jolokia measures in at 1,001,304 SHU.

In addition to containing in one pod more vitamin C than an orange, chile also has addictive properties. I've seen what happens when people withdraw from the stuff and I know what it feels like myself. Giving up smoking was easier than living without chile the few times in my life I've had to do so.

(A quick note in case you're wondering about spelling: here in New Mexico we spell chile with an "e." That's the Spanish word for the fruit. In fact, nothing will mark you as an out-of-towner, gringo, or complete moron quicker than spelling it any other way.)

So, anyway, as you can imagine, when the chile's been picked, I'm a roastin' and a stuffin'. Here's how it goes:

1. Hit any local grocery store or street corner – nine times out of ten, someone's roasting there.
2. Pick a bag, any bag. Most run thirty to fifty pounds.
3. Pay your roaster (most bags run between ten and twenty dollars).
4. Wait fifteen to twenty minutes for your chile to roast.

Here's what the chile looks like before it's roasted.

And this is what it looks like afterward.

A note of caution: once your chile is roasted go immediately home. Do not stop anywhere else, not for gasoline, not for a shoe sale at Banana Republic, not for a little old lady crossing the road. The longer that chile remains in your car, the more likely you are to have a Pulp Fiction moment, only not with blood and brains, but with scent. Which will take, like, one bazillion years to air out.

Once home, pull out your box of these:

And these:

You think the smell is sharp? Try what happens when chile hits a hangnail or, God forbid, your eyeball. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR BARE SKIN WITH THIS STUFF. Unless, you know, you're into that kind of thing . . .


Proceed to stuffing your freezer bags. I leave my chiles unpeeled before stuffing, but that's up to you. I find it much easier to peel them once they've been frozen and thawed. Simply hold under a bit of running water and the skin slips right off.

Here's what my kitchen counter looks like when I'm done. A dozen or so small bags for Moi and S.B., three large bags for friends. Let them cool an hour or so, then plunk them into the freezer. To use, defrost overnight in the fridg'.

I do this every year. It's one of the things that connects me irrevocably to home and one of the reasons why I can't leave New Mexico. Yes, I could do as my childhood friend now living in St. Louis does and that's ship it in. But I'd miss the smell greeting me at the airport, the inevitable debate in line at the roasters between those who pitch for Chimayo and those for Hatch, the beauty of the ritual itself, one of the most cherished in the culinary world.

So, yeah, we New Mexicans are pretty over the moon about our chile. We put it on everything. We make door knobs in its shape. We celebrate it with hoity-toity, internationally famous fiestas (which, I must admit, I joyfully attend each year). We've even made an Official State of New Mexico Question out of a common refrain at local New Mexican restaurants: "Red or Green?"

Referring, of course, to your choice of red or green chile sauce. Red, unlike green, is not roasted. It's left to hang on ristras to dry, after which it is reconstituted, mixed with garlic and other spices, and Cuisinart-ed into a smooth sauce.

Moi? I'm mostly a red gal, which I order with rolled enchiladas, in posole, over menudo, and over toast with slabs of cheddar cheese. Green I reserve for mornings over eggs and in an enchilada casserole dish that has been passed down for several generations among the Hispanic families in my hometown. Another option is to order Christmas style, which is both red and green together. But that's way too much of a mucky mess for Moi.

Want to learn more and enjoy some real purdy pictures while doing so? Then please pick up a copy of home girl Carmella Padilla's The Chile Chronicles: Tales of a New Mexico Harvest.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The State of the Arts

Sometimes, all this "art" in New Mexico makes my head ache. So much of our traditional imagery, while admittedly mind-blowing (we're not called the Land of Enchantment for nothing), has nonetheless devolved into cliche. Howling coyotes. Neon-colored oils of sage and chamisa dotted hills. Twee watercolors of hollyhock-lined dirt lanes and adobe walls. This stuff dominates the walls and shelves of galleries from Las Cruces to Taos.

Newcomer artists can't help it, I suppose. There's so much light and space and air and beauty here, such a juxtaposition of three distinct cultures, that if you come from someplace other than here, you must be bursting at the seams to capture it. And if you're an art-lover, bursting at the seams to have it in your environs.

And natives, I suppose, can't help but capitalize on it. Ours has been a carpetbagging state since the dawn of the 17th century when Spain set out to conquer this wild and ancient land with sword in hand and Bible at breast. It's not that those who have far outnumber those who don't, it's that their pocketbooks are much more deep and wide.

Still, it can leave a bad taste in one's mouth. I found out recently that Tom Ford, head designer for Gucci, had purchased 2,000 acres north of Galisteo that had once belonged to my ex-father-in-law, a cattle rancher of humble status and huge heart. It made me feel like some part of that region's fabric had just been stained beyond repair. Regardless of how much I adore Gucci.

So, anyway. It does my heart good when I come across artists of real depth and talent. Who make New Mexico their base, and who create art that doesn't just speak to one's living room sofa, but to one's heart, soul, and gut.

Interestingly enough, I came across them at the New Mexico State Fair. Each year I make it a point to take one day out of my busy week to spend all day at the fair. I love the atmosphere, the exhibits, the food-on-a-stick. It's the only time of year I indulge my passion for cotton candy and fry bread. And I save the best for last: the art exhibits at the Fine Arts Building, the Hispanic Arts Building, and the African-American Pavilion.

Here is who I discovered this year. Seek them out. They're great:

Brandon Maldonado

This one's called "El Diablo Crossing the Rio without Temporary Permit."

Brandon, an Albuquerque homeboy, is only 26 years old.


Kabu currently resides in Grants, New Mexico.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Funnies

Because I'm on a short leash today regarding time.

Mmmmm . . . tastes like chicken:

A species known for its extreme docility, the nurse shark was, apparently and in this instance, pushed way over the edge: "I've had it with these mother flippin' kids on this mother flippin' plane – uh, beach!" It was heard to say after being beaten silly into submission by a paramedic.

Maybe he should spend his time indoors, like this kid: Sure, he's lip-syncing to a Will Ferrell sketch, but it's still the funniest thing I've heard/seen in a while.

Thanks, Doris Rose!

And thanks for coming over yesterday and ministering to Moi's messed up knee. It's feeling much bett-ah and I think I can safely say, in the words of da Pirate, "Meh."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fartleking Around

So, this is what I get for being lazy, for doing my interval workout on the treadmill instead of out in the fresh air where I belong.

While not technically road rash, it sure does look like it. And it hurts like it. I know 'cause I know from road rash. The outside of my left leg still bears the faintly mottled scar of my failed attempt to roller blade my booty into J-Lo shape about five years ago. So, you'd think running would be the absolute safest thing for Moi, right? I mean, how hard is it to put one foot in front of the other. Especially on the treadmill.

It's not entirely my fault, though.

Fergie's "London Bridge" is exceptionally useful for cranking up the speed to a bazillion miles an hour for an effective interval workout. Trouble is, I was too busy singing along with the Dutchess's lament about her shoes that I neglected to pay attention to where I was putting my own.


So I decided to treat this myself. Not so much because I hate doctors, but because it's such a trial just starting the process of going to one. Call the Primary Care Physician. Get an appointment in 5 bazillion light years. See the Primary Care Physician. Have her tsk tsk over my wound. Watch as she considers sending me to a specialist. Roll my eyes as she decides to. Get that appointment in another 5 bazillion light years. Then discover specialist does nothing but prescribe antibiotics and some burn cream. All of which I already have at home thanks to a first aid kit and Ivan, but for which I now have to pay the specialist 12 bazillion dollars.

So, after Googling "road rash treatment," I discovered that the prevailing treatment of choice is not to let the wound dry and then form a scab but instead to keep the injury as moist as possible and covered with a permeable type of bandage along the lines of Tegaderm. Which is like a piece of cellophane that goes over the wound and is meant to act like a scab for the 7-10 days it takes for the burn to heal itself. But according to box warning:

I see several things wrong here.

1. If all you have is a "minor wound," then it doesn't really need treatment, now does it? So the ten bazillion dollars I just spent on four Tegaderm patches? I may as well have flushed it down the toilette.


2. How am I supposed to discern infection from plain ol' OUCH? After all, I fell down – hard! – onto a strip of rubber zooming along at the equivalent of a 6 minute mile. Of course my knee is red! Of course it itches! Of course it's slightly swollen! So I thought some of the yellow gunk that leaked outta there a few hours after putting on the Tegaderm patch was a sign of infection, but oh no. The instruction manual tells me this is perfectly "normal," but if in "doubt," go see a doctor. So I'm now supposed to be an expert on distinguishing one kind of puss from the other?

You gotta hand it to the medical profession. This is quite a racket they got going on. Since no one really knows what contributes to the body's healing process, it's just best you don't try to handle things yourself. Instead, to be safe, empty the shoe fund, and leave it to the professionals.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Because Sometimes Fashion is Waaaaaay too Much Like Math

As some of you may know, we are thick in the middle of one of Moi's favorite times of year: Fashion Week in NYC. This delightful event happens twice a year and is the time when designers the world over are invited to the Big Apple to showcase their spring and fall collections. You know, the clothing that 99.9875 percent of the world's people either:

A. Can't afford


B. Wouldn't be caught dead in if you promised them lots of sex and candy with Justin Timberlake.

Still, as fashion hep cats the globe over keep telling us: "Eets not about reality, dahlink; eets about fantasy."

Uh, yeah. I fantasize I look like this ALL THE TIME:

And before y'all go all, "Well, fashion is ruled by gay men having a big ol' guffaw at our – literal – expense." know this. This outfit was designed by none other than Vera Wang. Vera Wang, Party People. She of the lovely, ethereal, floaty wedding dresses that everyone from God on down wants to wear in their nuptials. So I simply do not know what prompted her to so brutally relieve her Park Avenue penthouse apartment of its drapery and fashion them into dresses that not even maiden aunts would wear if you promised them sex and candy with Sean Connery.

This is what a shiny dress should look like, Party People:

Like you're Wonder Woman and just finished kicking some serious al-qaeda ass and now you're off to cocktail hour at the Four Seasons with Bruce Willis.


Where was I?

Oh, yes. The math thing.

Okay, so I'm not actually in NYC attending this faboo event. Pity, yes, but so it goes. Thankfully, however, I do have Fashion Television in HD, which covers the event pretty much 24/7. And I get additional reportage from the Fug Girls, my bestest cyberspace girlfriends and kindred spirits when it comes to the high waisted pants trend.

So the Fug Girls get to negotiate the tents scouting out Demi Moore and Sean-Whatever-He-Calls-Himself-Now-Combs (because if there's anything that Fashion Week is really all about, it's about celebrity sightings –
you know the .785 percent of folk who actually can afford this stuff), and I get to watch it from the comfort of my sofa munching on Cheetos, sipping Fresca, and wearing frayed yoga pants and a pilling fleece pullover.

And wonder at yet another irony of it all (here's where the math comes in): Here I am, sitting in a room which is rapidly cooling because of the onslaught of fall, but I'm looking at fashions that won't hit the stores until spring. That's a full six months from now!

I'm only just now considering sweaters and boots and scarves. How am I supposed to also juggle the possibilities of next year's flirty skirts and safari-style day dresses? Much less calculate just how much it's all going to cost me once I get there? No wonder these fashion-celebrity-type people are so addled. Not only do their jet setting ways mess with their circadian rhythms, they don't even know what season it is.

Freakin' celebrities.

Well, except for this one:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Revenge of the Nerds

I don't think there's a single one of us who at some point during our childhoods didn't feel bullied or ostracized or inadequate. It's the way of the world and while at times unfortunate, a necessary element I believe in our journey towards adulthood.

For those experiences are not supposed to teach us to lay down and die. They're supposed to teach us stick up for ourselves, figuratively as much as literally, so that we grow up to become people of strength and integrity and compassion. Okay, so some of us grow up to become whiny grump asses, serial killers, and presidents of the United States, but you get my general point.

Like diamonds and steel, those things forged under pressure and fire can become our strongest, most brilliant elements.

Remove the fire and what do you get?

You get Colorado. With my sincerest apologies to Stepherz (who I know had no hand in this), how in the holy heck can this former bastion of the untamed west be on the one hand so breathtakingly wild and on the other so downright lame?

What's next? Banning grades? Outlawing extracurricular sports?

Used to be, you were a nerd, you got revenge by growing up to do something spectacular with your life. Now, you grow up demanding lawyers, guns, and money to get you outta this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bye, Bye Dog

I tried to be a foster mom. And I failed miserably. Not the dogs' fault, by any means. Just things I didn't do correctly, things I didn't anticipate. So Ivan got hurt and a perfectly wonderful dog had to leave this small chunk of paradise and go back to a rescue home that's already splitting at the seams.

To wait and see if someone, somewhere, will give Malibu a chance at the forever home she so rightly deserves.

The fault, really, is Malibu's first home, the one that wanted her killed because of an allergy that required about ten dollars more a month for special food to remedy the problem. Where does it all start to break down – the contract we made a long, long time ago to honor our relationship with dog, the wolf we decided to domesticate for our own ends? We can't just undo that contract.

But I see dogs thrown away every day. Perfectly good dogs, just like this one, this great little four year old pistol with her melty eyes, huge heart, and tenacious grip on life.

Knowing all this, I should have been better prepared to accommodate her nature and Ivan's, so that the fight would never have started in the first place.

Unfortunately, this gal came to me too suddenly, as a desperate emergency. And I, a planner and preparer, had no time to do either. Next time, though. Painful as it was, this lesson has shown me what I need to do.

Not that that matters much to Malibu. Another home failed her. Where does this poor dog go from here?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I Want to be the One Who Walks in the Sun

Happy Labor Day, all.

For a period just this short every year, I mourn.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-- Mary Oliver