Monday, July 31, 2006


This will be a long post, and for foodies only [and for my future reference for when I try this dish again].

I was looking for something to do with all the rabbit livers I've had in my freezer, and stumbled upon this recipe for vincisgrassi, a lasagne dish from the Italian Marches. It was labelled difficult, was full of exotic ingredients like sweetbreads and calf brains, and was mentionned in rave reviews as the star dish for exactly one inn in Wales and one in some Aussie town I'd never heard of.

It was definitely time consuming, though not so difficult. It is also completely decadent and delicious. The r
agù was thick and meaty - not at all like the tomato-heavy sauces that I usually associate with lasagne. The béchamel sauce added a creamy richness. With a little tweaking I can add this to my short list of show-off dishes.

The photo is from Kuidaore in Singapore, who tempted me with a photo but didn't provide a recipe.

First: How I did it. Second: Variations

The Ragù
  • 5 T butter
  • 2oz prosciutto ends [the chunky part], ventreche, pancetta, or other chunky fatty ham/bacon; diced small
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound rabbit livers, cleaned and chopped [recipe called for chicken livers]
  • 1/3 c dry white wine
  • 1 T tomato paste, dissolved in
  • 1/2 c warm stock
  • 1 pound veal shanks, meat diced small, save marrow
  • 2/3 oz dried porcini
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Add butter, prosciutto, onion, garlic, and carrot over medium heat until veggies are browned. Remove from heat, toss onion, carrot, and garlic.
  2. Add meat and fry for one minute.
  3. Add liver and fry for one minute.
  4. Add wine, cook until evaporated
  5. Add marrow, stock and tomato paste, bring to boil, then reduce heat.
  6. Simmer for 60". Add stock if it dries out.
  7. Soak porcini in 1/4 cup hot water for 20"
  8. Add porcini liquid to pan. Chop porcini and add. Cook 30" or more, until meat is tender.
  9. Add 1/2 c warm milk [I forgot this step].
  10. Add spices, season to taste.

Besciamella: the béchamel
  • 2T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 1.5 c warm milk
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  1. Melt butter. Make roux with flour. Add milk 1/4 c at a time. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper.
  2. Remove from heat, and cover until ready.
  1. Butter lasagne pan
  2. Add 3 T béchamel to bottom of pan
  3. Add layer of cooked pasta
  4. Add 3-4 spoons ragù, 3-4 spoons béchamel, layer of pasta
  5. Repeat
  6. Top with béchamel
  7. Let rest up to four hours, for flavors to blend
  8. Cook for 25" in 400 degree oven.
  9. Drizzle 2 T melted butter and 1/2 c parmesan cheese on top. Let rest until set.
  1. Saute 4oz mushrooms in garlic and olive oil, then add 'shrooms to sauce with porcini. This was in the original recipe, but I didn't have mushrooms. I'll do this next time.
  2. In Step 1, add celery stalk, 2-3 cloves, and lots of marjoram.
  3. Original recipe called for sweetbreads and calf brains instead of the meat. Simmer in lemon water for five minutes, drain, and add at the end with the milk. I would try the sweetbreads but I can't get them here.
  4. Other recipes substitute ground veal, pork, and beef for the sweetbreads. I prefer my style; the meat gave it a nice heft.
  5. Use 3# grated tomatoes instead of tomato paste. I'll do this next time, but with less tomatoes.
  6. Make a side sauce by frying 2# beef bones, 12oz pork bones, and 8oz lamb bones in 8oz cured but not rendered lard. When brown, add 3# grated tomatoes. Simmer for 2 hours. Toss bones, and add sauce to meat. I"ll try this next time also.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Finished the Fire Buffer plans for work today, which felt good. In a nutshell, it offers people a way to recreate native dryland forests in the islands in the form of creating fire buffers. If the plans survive the public meetings and DLNR review and the Board and the legislature - and if they work like I want them to - we whould have a great new way to promote community stewardship of lands in the Conservation District.

It'll be my first law i Hawai`i! [although technically they'll be an Adminstrative Rule, and today I'm not just a bill and I'm not sitting on capitol hill, and I know I'll be a subsection of HAR Section13-5 some day - at least I hope and pray that I will].

Chez Moi: R. moves out tonight or tomorrow. Not sure where. I felt a pang of guilt and deleted some of my more incriminating posts.

I went for a walk in the rain this evening. Mostly because I must act out on every cliche that crosses my mind. It wasn't even much of a rain. It was more of a thick warm tropical mist, the last dissipating remnants of the Hurricane.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Naming of Things

History continue to repeat itself.


borderline personality disorder.

From the DSM-IV

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

7. chronic feelings of emptiness

8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

The essential feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (Criterion 1). The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behavior. These individuals are very sensitive to environmental circumstances. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans (e.g. sudden despair in reaction to a clinician’s announcing the end of the hour; panic of fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment). They may believe that this "abandonment" implies they are "bad." These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Their frantic efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviors, which are described separately in Criterion 5.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder have a pattern of unstable and intense relationships (Criterion 2). They may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not "there" enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will "be there" in return to meet their own needs on demand. These individuals are prone to sudden and dramatic shifts in their view of others, who may alternately be seen as beneficent supports or as cruelly punitive. Such shifts often reflect disillusionment with a caregiver who nurturing qualities had been idealized or whose rejection or abandonment is expected.

There may be an identity disturbance characterized by markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self (Criterion 3). There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image, characterized by shifting goals, values, and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values, and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of a needy supplicant for help to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment. Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with this disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of meaningful relationship, nurturing and support. These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or school situations.

Individuals with this disorder display impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (Criterion 4). They may gamble, spend money irresponsibly, binge eat, abuse substances, engage in unsafe sex, or drive recklessly. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder display recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior (Criterion 5). Completed suicide occurs in 8%-10% of such individuals, and self-mutilative acts (e.g., cutting or burning) and suicide threats and attempts are very common. Recurrent suicidality is often the reason that these individuals present for help. These self-destructive acts are usually precipitated by threats of separation or rejection or by expectations that they assume increased responsibility. Self-mutilation may occur during dissociative experiences and often brings relief by reaffirming the ability to feel or by expiating the individual’s sense of being evil.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may display affective instability that is due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days) (Criterion 6). The basic dysphoric mood of those with Borderline Personality Disorder is often disrupted by periods of anger, panic, or despair and is rarely relieved by periods of well-being or satisfaction. These episodes may reflect the individual’s extreme reactivity troubled by chronic feelings of emptiness (Criterion 7). Easily bored, they may constantly seek something to do. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently express inappropriate, intense anger or have difficulty controlling their anger (Criterion 8). They may display extreme sarcasm, enduring bitterness, or verbal outbursts. The anger is often elicited when a caregiver or lover is seen as neglectful, withholding, uncaring, or abandoning. Such expressions of anger are often followed by shame and guilt and contribute to the feeling they have of being evil. During periods of extreme stress, transient paranoid ideation or dissociative symptoms (e.g., depersonalization) may occur (Criterion 9), but these are generally of insufficient severity or duration to warrant an additional diagnosis. These episodes occur most frequently in response to a real or imagined abandonment. Symptoms tend to be transient, lasting minutes or hours. The real or perceived return of the caregiver’s nurturance may result in a remission of symptoms.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Daniel's Demise & A Jazz Mystery

The papers had screaming headlines about the Storm Barelling Down on Hawai`i, and our Civil Defense team was told to be on alert ... but this morning Daniel dissipated with barely a whimper. It's not even a tropical depression anymore, but just a mass of low-lying humid air.

Too bad. A tropical storm would've made a nice metaphor to cap my week. A wet mass of humid air doesn't have the same ring to it, thought it's probably a more apt metaphor.

The boy is back on the couch. Says it'll be a week. He's still packing. Says he can't stay anywhere he's not liked or wanted. And I flash back to three years ago when I heard the warnings about the drama with this one, and I remember laughing and thinking that no one pulls that kind of drama on me, because I wasn't the kind to put up with it.

Silly arrogant me. So now I'm fighting the impulse to reconcile and make peace for the final week. I've set my mood to light bitch. Anything else and he'll backslide.

Meanwhile, in cyber world: I've been bidding on a few items on ebay: some hard to find DVD's, and a canvas reproduction of The School of Athens. If it's nice I want to pick up a repro of Guernica too.

I got most of the DVD's I wanted: Bertolucci's 5.5 hour Marxist take on the rise of fascism in Italy, 1900; Zhang Yimou's Chinese epic, Red Sorghum; and Ken Loach's take on the Spanish Civil War, Land and Freedom. A fourth, Cédric Klapisch's follow up to L`Auberge Espagnole, Russian Dolls, is still too pricey. Two others are impossible to find: Jean Genet's 1950 art/porno Un Chant d'Amour and Bruce Weber's homage to his favorite things [including the lesbian jazz singer & forgotten rat-packer Francis Faye] Chop Suey.

And then there's Weber's documentary on jazz artist Chet Baker, Let's Get Lost. I've bid for it three times. Three times I have been mysteriously outbid in the final minutes. This would make the great start of a thriller: someone, or something, is buying up all the copies of this movie. Something out there does not want this movie seen ...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Parmesan Chicken

In spite of all the recent drama, I still have to eat. I've stumbled upon a couple of fun looking food blogs, and found this recipe for parmesan chicken on Simply Recipes. It was easy and fast to make, and was great for dinner. It was even better for snacks - I've been munching on my little parmesan nuggets for the past couple days.

This is the recipe direct from the blog. The only changes I made were to use fresh herbs from the garden in place of the dry ones [and Elise, if you're reading this, I never follow recipes very closely; this might be the closest I've ever come - so I'll be looking forward to trying your other recipes!]

1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 pound), melted
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into pieces no larger than 2x2 inches

1 Preheat oven to 450°F.

2 In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter. In another bowl mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Dip chicken pieces into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat.

3 Place coated chicken pieces on to a 9x13 baking dish. Try to leave a little room between each piece. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Note that the chicken will get much more browned on the bottom side than on the top.

Serves 4-6.


The first storm of the season just entered Hawaiian waters. Honolulu only has a 12% chance of being hit by Daniel over the weekend, but I got the Civil Defense call to prepare.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lot 2338

Just came back from Hilo, where I had to facilitate a contested case [more or less like an administrative court case] for work. One of the intervenors had put out an Action Alert! calling for surfers and `opihi pickers and fishermen and native Hawaiians and everyone else to come out and oppose the project. It was a bit misleading, as today was today was for administrative procedures, not public testimony.

So I got on the plane ready to face the mob. I've seen 'em riled up, and I've seen how even innocent meetings get side tracked by passionate asides. People got so hysterical at the first bicycle transit meeting that I went to that they were claiming that bicyclists were a threat to the safety of their children, Hawaiian sovereignty, and their basic way of life. And I write that without an ounce of exaggeration.

I was ready for battle, both dreading it and kind of excited. But the crowd that turned out was soft spoken, rational, and at times quite moving. I need to remain neutral on the case, so I can't go into detail [or my personal thoughts on the issues], but it looks like part of the case will be decided based on the significance of a mysterious Lot 2338. The outside world knows it as a koa, or fishermen's shrine. It came out in testimony that it might be the burial site of Kauwe, an old ali`i. It's unclear why Kauwe would have been buried there, and the speakers said that the story was private, and not for outsiders to know. They did want it known that development would spoil the mana. And some hinted that there was even more, something buried in the walls that they can't or won't speak of.

Living in the city it's easy to forget that, in the countryside, the old traditions are still strong.

On the homefront: a mystery. I came home to find hints of Roy [fine], and his toiletries back in the cupboard, and his luggage back in the laundry room. I'm not sure what's going on. I told him he needed to go to AA and set a date to move out. He chose to leave that night, saying goodbye in a note. Now I don't know if he's here or somewhere else. Part of me is relieved - I want to know that he's safe [though why wasn't he working?]. And part annoyed - I already grieved twice. I suppose I'll find out soon enough what's going on.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


It's almost a year to the week and the days are repeating themselves in the same form. Wandering through Waikiki, not wanting to talk to anyone but desperate for contact. I must have the same look of vulnerability, because the predators were out in force last night. And I've lived this Sunday evening once before, in the tail end of a different July. Cleaning the house, packing, and trying to navigate my way through a minefield of memories. Each object is a trigger, and everything I pack is a new betrayal. And I look through our history and know that the good times won't be repeated, and won't be built upon.

I mourned all this once, and didn't expect to repeat it all. I thought this time the parting would be easy. He'd get a job, get on his feet, I'd help him move, we'd move forward with a friendship. I tried. He tried. But the liquor is still in control.

Little Things

My apologies to anyone who reads this. It's gonna be weapy poor me shit for a few days. I mean, we broke up a year ago & were just roommates the past 1o months. Still, it feels like a bad break up, and blogging beats calling friends with sob stories.

The rest of this post was rambling bullshit & I'm taking it down.


And so he moved out. Now it's just me, four cats, and lots of fish.

I wimped out when the morning came. He was packing, but had no where to go. And in the end I couldn't do it. I couldn't make someone homeless. I was still to angry to say much, but I stayed cool long enough to talk to him about his drinking. It was an intervention of one.

He'll get help, don't worry about how, but refuses AA. He's lost jobs, friends, and me, and he's one step away from being homeless. I guess that's still not the bottom.

I hung out with MJ on Lewers tonight. One of the local street people came up, all smiling and happy. He had two full bottles in a brown paper bag. He pointed to his shopping cart, where he had close to a full pizza he got from the dumpster, and most of a pack of smokes. He started laughing at his luck. We wished him a good night.

It didn't seem right to maintain a bad mood in light of that. But there's a sadness here that will take awhile to kick. We did this almost exactly a week ago. Evil drunk words from him, a closed heart from me, & he packed his bags and was gone.

This time I'm not letting him move back in.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Enabler

And here we go again. My plan tonight was to meet R. at Indigo's after work, have a birthday drink with him, crash early, and wake up at 5am for a video shoot at Fort Ruger.

Instead I'm at home, chain smoking [after a week totally free of nicotine] & still shaking from the fight. Met R. at Indigo's. He was already drunk. He spilled part of his drink on the waitress, called her a bitch, and then started to explain to her what her problem was.

And I snapped. I knew the day would come, and too bad it was on his birthday. I read him in front of the bar, and announced I would not drink with him unless he learned to behave in public.

He went nuclear. The fight went out into the park and continued down Hotel Street. I got called every name in the book, and then some. Who the fuck do you think you are? he asked. And I told him. I'm the guy who's been taking care of you the past year. So he let me know: I'm a stereotypical faggot. All he wanted to do is love me, and all I care about is money, parties, and dick. I'm a sexual predator. I'm all ego. I ruined his birthday. I'll be alone the rest of my life. And in case I didn't get the message, my voice mail is full of similar messages.

I told him to set a date, and move out. I still don't have the heart to throw him out on the streets tonight, although I desperately want my life back. I was hoping he'd get a job, stabilize, & save up some money before this day came. I actually feel guilty. In my head I know that my friends are right: I'm enabling, and he will do the bare minimum to keep me from throwing him out. It's been going on since I let him move back in, "until you get back on your feet," last September. I'm tired of being the cold bitch pushing him to get a job and quit drinking - but empathy hasn't worked. Intellectually I know this is what I have to do. But my heart still feels sick about it all.

It's past midnight. I left him in Chinatown, drunk and angry and with no money. I doubt he'll come home tonight. He never comes home anyway once he starts drinking. I have no idea what the weekend will bring.

I saved the messages. It'll help to keep the anger burning, and to resist the impulse I'll have to forgive come Sunday. You can quit the Church, but Catholicism digs in deep and stays there.

I can't recall how many hundreds of people I counseled who were in this same situation. I would have never guessed that one day the person on the other end of the line would be me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Baqiya ib hayatkum… Akhir il ahzan

From Riverbend's blog this morning:

It promises to be a long summer. We're almost at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by. It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere.

The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.

The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen.

At nearly 2 pm, we received some terrible news. We lost a good friend in the killings. T. was a 26-year-old civil engineer who worked with a group of friends in a consultancy bureau in Jadriya. The last time I saw him was a week ago. He had stopped by the house to tell us his sister was engaged and he'd brought along with him pictures of latest project he was working on- a half-collapsed school building outside of Baghdad.

He usually left the house at 7 am to avoid the morning traffic jams and the heat. Yesterday, he decided to stay at home because he'd promised his mother he would bring Abu Kamal by the house to fix the generator which had suddenly died on them the night before. His parents say that T. was making his way out of the area on foot when the attack occurred and he got two bullets to the head. His brother could only identify him by the blood-stained t-shirt he was wearing.

People are staying in their homes in the area and no one dares enter it so the wakes for the people who were massacred haven't begun yet. I haven't seen his family yet and I'm not sure I have the courage or the energy to give condolences. I feel like I've given the traditional words of condolences a thousand times these last few months, "Baqiya ib hayatkum… Akhir il ahzan…" or "May this be the last of your sorrows." Except they are empty words because even as we say them, we know that in today's Iraq any sorrow- no matter how great- will not be the last.

There was also an attack yesterday on Ghazaliya though we haven't heard what the casualties are. People are saying it's Sadr's militia, the Mahdi army, behind the killings. The news the world hears about Iraq and the situation in the country itself are wholly different. People are being driven out of their homes and areas by force and killed in the streets, and the Americans, Iranians and the Puppets talk of national conferences and progress.

It's like Baghdad is no longer one city, it's a dozen different smaller cities each infected with its own form of violence. It's gotten so that I dread sleeping because the morning always brings so much bad news. The television shows the images and the radio stations broadcast it. The newspapers show images of corpses and angry words jump out at you from their pages, "civil war… death… killing… bombing… rape…"

Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

In the news they're estimating her age to be around 24, but Iraqis from the area say she was only 14. Fourteen. Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter. Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation' - your troops have made you proud today. I don't believe the troops should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an 'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped, probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.

It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

Buses, planes and taxis leaving the country for Syria and Jordan are booked solid until the end of the summer. People are picking up and leaving en masse and most of them are planning to remain outside of the country. Life here has become unbearable because it's no longer a 'life' like people live abroad. It's simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in one piece and coping with the loss of loved ones and friends- friends like T.

It's difficult to believe T. is really gone… I was checking my email today and I saw three unopened emails from him in my inbox. For one wild, heart-stopping moment I thought he was alive. T. was alive and it was all some horrific mistake! I let myself ride the wave of giddy disbelief for a few precious seconds before I came crashing down as my eyes caught the date on the emails- he had sent them the night before he was killed. One email was a collection of jokes, the other was an assortment of cat pictures, and the third was a poem in Arabic about Iraq under American occupation. He had highlighted a few lines describing the beauty of Baghdad in spite of the war… And while I always thought Baghdad was one of the more marvelous cities in the world, I'm finding it very difficult this moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of T. and so many other innocents…

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed 'hors de combat' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

too scared to Google

I was on earlier, and decided to see who else had listed Saline - my hometown - in their profile. I was shocked when hundreds of entries popped up. And then confused, when I realized that most all were leather types. And then I completely lost the plot when 'Saline' was listed in their interests column. As in Profile Name: bootmaster. Interests: piercing, sounding, fisting, catheters, electro, pumping, and saline.

I don't know what the hell it is, and I'm not about to google it on a work computer. Judging from the context, I'm pretty sure it's hard-core and disturbing. I'll call Madame Lim and see what she says.

Morning Bitchfest

My favorite scene from John Sayles' Lone Star takes place half-way through the movie. Cliff [a white guy], is talking about the family of his girlfriend [a black woman]:

Mickey: Are they gonna be okay with you being a white guy?

Cliff: According to her they'll be happy that I'm a man. Apparently they think any woman over 30 who isn't married is a lesbian.

Mickey: Yeah, its always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice.

In Jerusalem, ministers, rabbis, and clerics have joined together to demand that the government stop World Pride
. American rabbi Yehuda Levin flew to Jerusalem to warn that there could be violence if the parade continues. Fliers are being distributed putting a $4500 bounty on every queer killed. It doesn't say much for monotheism that the first issue to unite these people since the days of Abraham is hate, not love.

Yeah, I'm feeling cynical this morning. North Korea is playing games with nuclear weapons, terrorists are bombing civilians world-wide with impunity, the US Executive branch keeps trying to overturn the Constitution, the seas are turning acidic and the ice sheets are melting, Iraq is lapsing into civil war ... and yet the Pope's big speech last week was about stopping queers from marrying in Spain, the President's big press conference revolved around taking the Japanese Prime Minister to Graceland, and the big feature on the morning news was Interior Design Using the Zodiac.

Maybe it's this that put me over the edge this morning - seeing the photos again of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being executed in Iran for being lovers. July 19 is the first anniversary of their deaths. I never cared for all the breast-beating over Matthew Shepherd's death. It was a tragedy, but the false martyrdom-by-proxy and celebration of victimhood by the activists turned me off. Iran's execution children chills me to the bone.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tacos de Lengua

A few years ago I tried tacos de lengua - cow's tongue tacos - for the first time, and it was surprisingly good. I'd never thought about making them myself, but the last time I put in an order with D`Artagnan tongue was on sale, and I figured ... why not.

I was thinking that I would get some prepared meat, sliced nice and thin and just waiting for me to spice it up. Nope. They sent me the whole damn tongue - a giant monster of a thing that scared the bejeesus of me when I opened the box.

I didn't know what the hell to do with it, and the only recipes I could find were horribly vague ... along the lines of boil tongue until soft, peel the skin, slice and serve. It wasn't enough.

I went on Tribe & asked around for recipes. I got some great stories about how D's grandmother used to serve tongue on cold Saskatchewan mornings ... but no specific recipes that really improved upon the original. And a few people asked why I was bothering, why I just didn't grill a chicken like normal folks.

So, why tongue [and snails and rabbit livers and wild boar bacon & all the other exotic meats I keep ordering]?

I would never eat any of the 'gross' cuts when I was a kid. I would throw a tantrum if my mom tried to serve us any innards. And then I lived overseas for a bit, and one day I was asked to kill a pig for a feast. Literally. It was here's the bat kid, and there's the pig.

And that changes things. It changes your relationship to meat. Either you go veggie, or you realize that respect for the animal & the life you took demands that you do not waste a thing. And suddenly I was doing things that would have sickened me a year earlier ... draining a pig's blood for soup, boiling the head for the meats near the cheek, rendering the fat for lard, cleaning the intestines for chittlins, and so on.

So food tastes different now. And now that I'm back in the states I find I still want some of the non-traditional meats - both for the flavor, and for the feeling that I'm re-connecting with something lost.

So that's why tongue.

And for the benefit of anyone Googling tacos de lengua recipes - here's my version. It was touch and go for awhile, and half-way through I was sure that I had completely mucked it all up. In the end the tacos turned out amazing. Better than anything I've had in the states, actually - go figure. Maybe I lucked out and had good tongue. Maybe fresh tongue is better? Who knows.

MC's Tacos de Lengua

1. Remove tongue from package. Marvel at its complexity. Empathize with cow. Resist urge to "lick" the cat with it. Rinse under cold water.

2. Bring salted water to boil. I seasoned the pot with a bit of onion, chile, carrot, peppers, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add tongue, reduce heat, and simmer for three hours.

3. Remove tongue & let cool. I usually save stocks, but this one had much too strong of a smell to be useful. Toss it.

4. The "recipe" said to skin the tongue, which sounds self-explanatory. It isn't. There was an outer covering that felt like sandpaper. I removed that. There was an inner layer of very thin gristle which didn't peel off. I didn't know what to do, but since I couldn't get it off cleanly I left it on.

5. Slice the main part of the tongue. Surprisingly, it's very soft - like a firm bologna. It was easy to cut into pastrami-thin slices.

6. And now the part that confused me: what to do with the back of the tongue? There was a big hunk of dark red meat and fat and gristle that covered the back bottom half. The instructions said to clean the fat and remove the small bones, but I couldn't tell what was fat and what was meat. It was all marbled and jumbled up. Eventually I gave up & declared it all junk. Fed it to the cats.

7. Stare at bowl of sliced tongue. Think Damn. Now what?

8. Mince and fry one clove garlic, a touch of onion, and a touch of jalapeno. Add tongue, season, and stir fry until no longer pink.

9. Throw some corn tortillas on the fire. When they're done fill 'em up with tongue, tomatillo salsa, and a few tomato chunks.

Eating tongue by itself might be a challenge, but they were great in tacos. The meat is soft - you can cut it with a fork - and the flavor has a subtle gaminess to it. I'd do it again as a treat, but probably not as a regular dish.

The meat does pick up a lot of oil, though. I fried the slices in a few Tbs of olive oil, and could've probably only used a few drops.

I wish I had pics.

News to me

From Sunday's New York Times article Ten Days That Changed the World:

MARCH 2, 1955: Almost a Heroine

When a brave young African-American woman was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, local and national civil rights leaders rallied to her cause. Claudette Colvin, 15, seemed poised to become an icon of the struggle against segregation. But then, shortly after her March 2 arrest, she became pregnant. The movement's leaders decided that an unwed teenage mother would not make a suitable symbol, so they pursued a legal case with another volunteer: Rosa Parks.

That switch, says the historian Douglas Brinkley, created a delay that allowed Martin Luther King to emerge as a leader. He most likely would not have led the bus boycott if it had occurred in the spring instead of the following winter. "He might have ended up as just another Montgomery preacher," Professor Brinkley says.