blarg?

I make a pretty good hamburger, and somebody a while back said “Mike, this is a really good hamburger”, at which time I revealed my method, which I am going to pass on to you now. You need medium ground beef, because lean don’t taste no good. You need garlic, some chives, some sea salt and an egg.

In truth, there are two tricks. Trick number one is to mince up the garlic and sautee it in butter for a little while on a low to medium heat, until it’s just starting to brown. Throw that, butter and all, into a mixing bowl, along with the meat, the chopped up chives, a good dose (careful!) of salt and the egg, for consistency.

Mix, make patties, barbecue. Not difficult, but the next part requires discipline: do not ever press the patties down when they’re on the grill. This keeps the juices inside the burger, and makes them taste about a zillion times better. Flip once, rotate once per side to get those nice cross-hatch marks, but do not press down.

That is all. As you were, thank you.

If somebody with a lisp has a stroke and can’t dance anymore, have they had an aneurhythm?

Update: May also denote seizures caused by overexposure to Annie Lennox.

So, immediately after I wrote that last entry, I went back to bed and had a wierd dream about how I had a this little tinkling bell lodged in my head, under the skin near the top of my skull, and that it rang whenever I moved, so I had to take it out myself with my pocketknife and pliers because nobody else believed it was there, and the ringing was driving me nuts. I woke up just as I was looking up at the top of my head in the mirror, pliers in hand and about to make the cut.

The explanation of a deeper meaning of this is now left as an exercise for the reader.

In the vaguest of terms, a friend of mine has relationship trouble; I’m not going to say who, obviously, and I’m even going to play the Pronoun Game (crafty!) but I’m still going to talk about it a little, because they needed somebody to talk to, and as a result I now have something to say.

The process is, of course, well understood: we sat down over coffee and they talked and I listened and then I talked and they listened, and in a trite, whiffle-ball world I would have found the Magic Words that make people feel a little better about these things, they’d sniffle a bit and realize that Things Aren’t That Bad, and that I Can Get On With My Life, and so forth. But I’ve talked to a lot of people about a lot of relationships, and you know what? That shit never happens, because those words don’t exist.

But you know what does exist, and happens a lot? Bad, bad advice. The conversation turns, as it often does, to What Other People Think, and as always I’m impressed by the unbelievably self-absorbed, cripplingly bad advice that people will give their friends right at the moment that good advice is needed the most.

So, still vague, let’s postulate here your ANSI standard Relationship That Doesn’t Work Out. The person you’re talking with still feels broken up about it, and you want to, I dunno, do something, because this is your friend who’s hurting in front of you here and you want to make that stop. What to say?

ATTEMPT 1:

You say: “You should just get over them”,
You hear: “Yeah, I know, but it’s difficult.”
They’re thinking: “Gee, thanks. Really? Fuck, I would never have thought of that on my own. Is that all I need to do?”

ATTEMPT 2:

You say: “You need to get on with your life.”
You hear: “Yeah, I know. I just…”
They’re thinking: “That’s just what I need right now, a friend who talks like a Hallmark card.”

ATTEMPT 3:

You say: “You deserve someone better than them.”
You hear: “I…”
They’re thinking: “Fuck you.”

“If I were you, I’d…” You’re not. It’s one thing to give somebody advice that you think will help them; it’s another thing entirely to just tell them what you wished you’d do if, or had done when, you found yourself in their position. Confuse the two, and you may as well be telling someone wheelchair-bound that jogging helps clear your head; the former is somebody trying be helpful, and the latter comes from someone too self-absorbed to be helpful to anyone.

If you’re really lucky, you’ve got friends who aren’t anything like you. So when they need your advice, don’t give them something that works for you; try and give them something that will work for them and not something that sounds like “Doctor Phil’s Bullet Points to a Better Life”. Seriously.

I accidentally listened to Lowell Green, a local AM Radio host, for a few minutes on the way into work today. Boy, what a mistake that was.

Green was talking about the recent “controversy” about our new Governor General, that she once might have been, gasp!, a separatist. His argument, such as it is, was awesome: “Constitutional scholars agree that you should not bar people from holding important public positions because of their political beliefs. Several scholars agree with this position. They’re dead wrong! I mean, come on!”

Not an exact quote, but not a misrepresentation. That was the substance of his argument: it is OK to bar people from with certain political beliefs from holding certain public offices because, I mean, come on.

I think I am actually stupider having listened to him than I was when I got into that cab.

I was somebody who Didn’t Have A Television for some time, but sadly I generally passed up the opportunities I had to be a smug jerk about it. But let me tell you, currently flipping channels as I am, one thing: Holy crap, there’s a lot of baseball on television. I’d have thought that advances in entertainment science would have obviated the need for it by now, baseball being just about the worst sport imaginable for television, but I guess not. It would be like watching soccer, if they were only allowed to run every ten minutes.

Can anyone tell me what makes this sport not only watchable, but watchable by huge groups of loyal fans? I’m hoping that the answer isn’t “alcohol”, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

A pretty surprising thing came out of the U.S. Supreme court recently, the Kelo ruling, which basically states that citizen’s property can be seized by the government, and then turned over to private hands for development. From the article;

“Tuesday’s 5-4 ruling found that local officials can use their “eminent domain” power to condemn homes in a working-class neighborhood for private development in hopes of boosting tax revenue and improving the local economy.”

Like many things that make it to the Supreme Court, there’s the larger legal and moral principles at stake, but there’s also the lives of the plaintiffs who are directly involved in the losing decision.

Wonder how they’re doing? Well, wonder no longer: They’re getting raped.

Apropos of nothing, can anybody point me to a time when eminent domain was used to seize ownership of a predominantly white neighborhood?

Update: My dear friends to the south, it’s not just you.

If you’re the right age, you’ll probably remember those G.I. Joe cartoon vignettes after the main part of the show, where some teenager starts to do something dumb, and one of the Joes walks by and tells him not to do that because they might get hurt or because the jaywalkers of today are Destro’s bunk-mates of tomorrow, or something. Saving us from Cobra Commander’s dark plans for world domination and from chasing the ball into the street, all in a day’s work. Yo, Joe!

Well, sort of. For some reason, I have vague memories of something changing during the Reagan administration, even though I was barely formed at the time. It seems to me that the first few of those things that I saw early on were all pretty lightweight stuff, like “don’t be a bully”, or “always wear a lifejacket”, and once you knew that, well, “knowing is half the battle.” By the end of that show’s run, though, it was a little more severe; “don’t pimp out your sister for liquor”, or “Don’t get into the van, no matter how much candy you’re offered.” “Don’t show the girls Little Serpentor”, that kind of thing.

I wondered once upon a time how much of that stuff the government, the DEA in particular, either bought or coerced from the show’s creators. I never really found a satisfactory answer to that, though I assume that the answer is “most or all of it”. The only reason that I bring it up is that just last night, watching on of the various CSI: Wherever shows, the topic of the dialog turned to The Short, Unhappy Life Of The Drug Dealer, in which they went over his Lack Of Friends, his Poor Living Conditions, his Inevitable Fate and so forth.

And it was so, so contrived. And so awkward. It had all the smooth expository flow a shard of glass hidden in a milkshake. It had nothing to do with anything, not the story, not the characters, nothing except “Dealer lifestyle bad, mmmkay?”

There is no possible way that this could have been written by somebody who actually writes scripts, no matter how awful the CSI stuff is; this was tinkertoy dialogue, bought in a kit and hastily assembled into something that might appear from a distance to be an actual conversation. Government-sanctioned drama; God, it was awful. I mean, sure, Think Of The Children, but don’t think so little of that you’d foist this kind transparent bullshit off on them, would you please? Just an ounce of respect, a dash of dignity? Maybe parents should be, you know, the actual parents around here, and the media shouldn’t be bed with the government? I’m just sayin’, here.

But anyway, now I know, which at some point somewhere will presumably be half the battle.

Awesome.

“The Freedom Walk is free and open to anyone who registers. Registration closes at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. There will be no on-site registrations the day of the event.”

Freedom is on the march!

Update: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tossed; they have, at most, the right not to be subjected to gross physical abuse.

I now own a bread maker. Domestic, yes! But it turns out that by following the instructions and pushing the buttons, you can put those things we’ve all seen lying around in other people’s kitchens and not really understood into it, and after a while… bread!

Or, possibly, doom!

Flush with the success of my first and thus far only loaf of bread, I ventured into unknown territory and attempted a herbed bread. Bread, you see, with herbs. We have herbs here. We a garden full of things that, I was reliably informed, are herbs. So I went to get some. Basil, I though. Basil! That’s a herb! Possibly, depending on your pronunciation, an herb! It works either way, you see!

So immediately, because it’s dark and I’m stupid, I picked a couple of leaves of the thing that’s right next to the basil, God knows what it is, brought them inside, chopped them up and put them in the bread maker. It’s cooking right now. Could be anything. Might be a bold new culinary adventure, might be my mortal destiny rising there, crust encrusted, waiting.

So tomorrow, I’m going to make a sandwich out of my impending fate, and see what happens.

Ominous!

Arlene has informed me that I am under no circumstances allowed to pick mushrooms.

Update: Safe for now! The recipe has failed, somehow collapsing into concavity in the final hour of baking. The manual describes this as “cratered loaf”, which sounds to me like just about the worst gastric condition imaginable, but is in fact a well-understood bread-machine phenomenon. I live to bake again; more news as my drunken stumbling towards my inept, pedestrian fate warrant.