My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dinner with the Proles

The other night started off as an evening of great calamity: Sebastian hurt himself, causing everyone to forget about the pot on the stove, which promptly went up in smoke, forcing all of us to flee the house, still dressed from the formal gala earlier in the evening. So out to dinner we went, reeking of burned rice and wearing our Sunday best, heavily accessorized with facial woes. In the car minutes later, and after the all too familiar argument of, “Anything is fine.. ..except that,” we decided to find the biggest dive in Anderson that was still suitable for a two-year-old on a busy night. A few minutes of Garmin searching and wasted gas later, we were walked into the overflowing dining room at a local CiCi’s Pizza.

Now I am by no means the classiest person in town. I forget table manners, have a body that constantly accumulates construction and automotive repair damage and my social mistakes would cause Emily Post to publicly shit herself (classy, I know). But through it all, I think that I probably maintain a slightly above average level of refinement. That being said, upon entering into CiCi’s I realized that we, sadly, would clearly skew the regular clienteles previously established level of decorum by quite a margin.

The only open table in the restaurant was next to an infant, alone and crying, in her car seat. Her face was covered in marinara sauce and, by the accumulation of tears, both of her parents had been gone for more than a couple of minutes. Eventually her mother returned, dropped a cheese stick into her lap and went off to refill glasses. The crying persisted and I had to hold Kela back from going over to sooth the ignored child.

We took turns collecting our pizza and drinks, and once we sat down we immediately realized that the table adjacent to us contained nothing but children under the age of twelve. Listing in on their conversation we soon found that their parents had dropped them off and gone to dinner at another restaurant. Their meal had been paid for and they were given ten dollars to play games until their parents came to get them. They were having a discussion as to whether or not they would spend the money on games or split it up for later use. After several minutes of heated argument, they agreed that they would spend half of their money on arcade games and half on Rockstar Energy Drinks at the Dollar General located in the same shopping center.

On the other side of our table was a family with a dad sporting a bandage from a fresh neck tattoo, his wife, a very large woman sans one desperately needed bra, and three young children emblazoned with ads for G-Force the movie, WWE Raw and Coors Light. I’m not sure where you even find a Coors Light shirt in 2T, but I’m guessing that it’s somewhere that you shouldn’t take a two-year old. They sat quietly, not looking at each other, inhaling pizza by the stack and only occasionally looking up to see if the dessert bar had been restocked.

The entire restaurant seemed to be populated with similar groups. Things outside of what we would have considered normal, but in this environment, was typical. I know that social norms vary from class to class, and even with classes, and within each subset are clearly defined rules and mores, equally punished and rewarded for adherence, but it was extremely interesting to experience those differences first hand. No matter the food, location or socioeconomic status, a meal is a time for sharing and coming together. Sometimes that is a dinner at home with the family and sometimes it’s bad pizza surrounded by unfamiliar stories.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Entry for August 25, 2010

The ignorant can never be truly blissful because fear sells better than peace.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fig Spice Cake with Fig Cream Cheese Icing

Fig Spice Cake

1 lb fresh figs, stemmed
1/2 vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp double-acting baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

All ingredients should be at room temperature when starting.

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare cake rounds by lining with parchment and spraying with Pam for baking.

In heavy pan, melt 1 tbsp butter. Halve figs and pan fry on medium until fragrant. Move to food processor, process to liquid and allow to return to room temperature.

Combine eggs, sugar, butter, yogurt and figs into small bowl and mix well.

In a larger bowl combine cake flour, double-acting baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda.

In several batches and using your largest spatula, fold the contents of the wet ingredients into the dry bowl until mixed well. Use large folding turns and try not to over mix. Allow to rest in pans for five minutes.

Bake for about 45 minutes, checking regularly for doneness.

Remove from pans and allow to cool thoroughly before icing.

Fig Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese
1 lb box + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp soft butter
6oz figs, chopped fine or blended, but still chunky
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Let stand for at least ten minutes and then ice cake.

* Cake best when covered and stored in a refrigerator.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Your Sport Bores Me

I’ve tried for years to get into watching sports. Professional and college football, baseball, basketball, boxing and soccer, but I can’t. I enjoy being with a group, grabbing a couple beers, eating fried foods and rallying around a shared experience, but I just don’t care about the game itself. For a while I thought that there was something wrong with me. I went to a myriad of live games and even tried following a couple of teams. A couple of years ago I even let a friend talk me into a fantasy football league to see if that could spark any interest. In the end, I just couldn’t be bothered.

This last week a friend of mine invited me to a strip club as part of a bachelor party and, much to my surprise, I had the same “Meh” reaction that I would have had if he had invited me to mind-numbingly boring NASCAR race. As much fun as the party portion would be, I could care less about the rallying point for the event itself. So after a couple of pints at the pub, I think that I’ve figured out the reason for my disinterest: I’m not really involved in any way. When I played sports I was physically invested in the game itself. My performance could directly alter the outcome. Whereas, when I’m watching sports or half-naked dancing women, I am in no way involved in what is actually happening and I have no chance ever getting to take part in what I’m watching. Sure, what I’m watching can be an amusing distraction, but I believe too deeply that life is not a spectator sport. So I just sit there, watching, and wonder when it’s my turn to go in and play. And when I realize that it isn’t going to happen, I lose interest and want to move on.

Now there are occasions where the game itself is actually so big that it is a rallying point, but when those happen more than a couple times a year, they really lose their impact. Other than on those special occasions, the distraction of the game is just that. Besides, we’re all adults who are perfectly capable of throwing a party without needing an excuse. Watch, I’ll prove my point:

Friend: The game is on, the BBQ is lit, beers cold and bunch of people are coming over. You in?
You: Yeah, be there in a few.

Friend: The BBQ is lit, beers cold and bunch of people are coming over. You in?
You: Yeah, be there in a few.

See? It’s the same thing, except that, instead of drinking beers, eating junk foods and making jokes with a group of friends, you have to pretend that the reason that you’re there is to see some boring game – and I just don’t want to have to pretend to give a shit anymore. So please don’t stop inviting me to these parties, but please don’t ask me to care who wins.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Phone Groan

I have a friend, we’ll call him Michael, because that’s his name, who has a Droid phone. I mention this not because I feel that he needs recognition for his purchasing power, but because I needed a new phone and after experimenting with several other friends phones, found his to be the best. Moreover, the new version, the Droid X, had just hit the market.

But let me back up for a moment. My previous phone, which was the most durable, long-lasting, dependable phone that I’ve ever owned, finally decided that it had a good life and died on me. I originally paid $20 for this phone and it did everything from the basic phone features, to double as my iPod after my iPod bit the dust. It was a good phone, but it was a piece of technology and thus doomed from the start.

So into the local Verizon store I went to get the new hotness, which I hoped would not only last me as long as my previous phone, but would also giving me options that that my old phone lacked. I spent the next hour playing with every phone in the place, only to come to the conclusion that indeed the new Droid X was by far the best phone in the store.

So up to the counter I went, sure, confident and fully prepared to commit the next several years to being dependent on this one device. The young girl walked over, smiled and asked me what she could help me with. I explained that my previous phone had lived a good life, but it was time to move on. She agreed and we went about the business of ordering my final choice. And that is where things went bad.

So there I was, ready to shell out the $200 for a phone and she hit me with the first bit of bad news. If I wanted the new Droid X, I would need to pay an additional $30 a month for a data package. That was in addition to $45 a month fee for regular service, unlimited texting and plenty of minutes. But being the math wizard that I am, I quickly calculated that the new hotness was going to cost me about $1200 for one year of use.

But that is when I took a step back and rethought the phone. The Droid X was nice, but Kela’s new i5, blu-ray, 500GB, Windows 7 laptop was half of that price and does twice as much. I liked the Droid X, but $1200 is a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean even after paying for drinks. For the same price as a year with the Droid X I could have paid someone else to finish the concrete stucco work on the outside of the house.

I now have a nice low-end Samsung Alias 2, which does everything that my old phone did, except a little faster. I just couldn’t justify $1200 a year for what is little more than a toy. But maybe I’m looking at this wrong. Maybe I’m supposed to just buy these things because they are the new hotness. Maybe I’m extremely uncool for analyzing this more monetarily than socially. Maybe I’m a dork for even writing all of this down, but hey, you’re the one who sat there and read it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

To Have and Have Not

Having lived just long enough to have gained the appreciation the art of complaining, I would like to have a minute of your time to bitch about having to listen to certain individual’s overuse of the word “have.” Given there are certain situations in which said word is needed, rarely should that ever be in place of a verb. It is nothing more than sheer grammatical laziness or a conversational nightmare. Listening to some continually use it in place of a millions of more suitable action words is mind numbingly insulting and makes me want to beat them senseless with a college thesaurus.

So in the spirit of conciliatory, non-bludgeoning, peace I would like to offer the following corrections to a few simple sentences so that we can all treat each other with a bit more linguistic civility:

Lazy: I’m having breakfast.
Better: I’m eating breakfast.

Lazy: I have a new phone.
Better: I just purchased/received a new phone.

Lazy: Have a seat.
Better: Please take a seat.

Lazy: I have had enough of this.
Better: No, you haven’t.

Now let’s all bask in the glory of simple, honest language that conveys a message without resorting to unnecessary substitutions.

Feel free to now have at me.