Tuesday, March 11, 2014
And I don't just grill in the summer. I grill all year round. Shoot, I'd grill every day if I could. Because to me, the closest thing you come to sitting around the primal fire pondering the magic of fire and charred meat is the modern day gas grill.
It helps that grilling time is also a time I usually enjoy a glass of brandy as well. But it is part of the warming ritual, because I often grill on my deck at night when it is raining, snowing or just plain cold. I flip on the overhead electric heater, fire up the grill, line up the meat and sit back to reflect. Sometimes I'll tune in my starred music list from Spotify (which lately consists of some pretty haunting melodies done in a kind of fusion blue grass style).
It doesn't really matter what I'm grilling. Though I prefer slow cooking meats so I have more time to reflect. I don't use timers when I grill. I think the same body clock that wakes me up every morning without an alarm clock kicks in. So I automatically know when its time to turn the meat or shift it to get a nice diamond grill mark on it.
I'm not one of those purist freaks who turns their nose down at gas when they grill. I have no desire to deal with charcoal. A flame is a flame. And I'd rather have one that is pretty automatic than one I have to coax out of a brick with lighter fluid. It is the flame that my moth is drawn to, not the fuel.
I usually get a bit melancholy when I grill. Not maudlin, mind you. Just pleasantly sad. Maybe it's the blue grass music. Or maybe it's brandy. Regardless, it's a time when the ghosts come out and the memories gather for a reunion. I reflect on many things when I grill. It is kind of a timeless time.
No one really taught me to grill. Oh, I remember watching my father pull out the barbecue and fire up charcoal to burn burgers or cheap steaks. But he didn't relish the act the way I do. He was just cooking meat. I am getting my cosmic grill on. I am one with the smoke and the sizzling fat. I embrace the blast of heat as I lift the lid and I merge with the marinade and the steam that rises as it drips into the flame.
But most of all I just sit and think as the meat evolves into a meal. My father never had that luxury. He only grilled in the summer as screaming kids ran around him throwing baseballs or splashing on the Slip and Slide. I get to sit on my deck year long and ponder as the water in the stream below our house trickles by and the cars on the adjacent street stream along.
Sometimes, on a rare clear night in the Pacific Northwest, I gaze at stars while I reflect on my life and my gas grill. I reflect on the programs I see on the History Channel while I work out and marvel that, despite all of our hopes to save the planet (and mankind), it will all be for naught a few hundred million years down the line when the sun super nova's and fries everything on the planet before imploding or exploding. That will be one major grilling event I unfortunately (or fortunately) won't be around for.
It puts everything into perspective. Life is like one big gas grill, and no matter how you plan things, the propane tank eventually runs out of gas (and too often when the stores are closed and you are just half way through grilling some chicken).
Just a thought.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I was in New Orleans last week during the first week of Mardi Gras. It has been one of those things that I always wanted to do. Oh, I've been to New Orleans several times, just never during Mardi Gras. The last time I was there was the March before Katrina. I was pleased to find that pretty much nothing has changed in the French Quarter in the nine years since I was there before.
But enough about the past. I can now say that I have truly experienced not one but at least six Mardi Gras parades. And I've got to admit that, despite the crowds and the waiting and the inclement weather, it was pretty darned fun.
And I caught my share of beads and doubloons. And all I had to do was stand there and wave my arms. Despite what many people think, you don't have to flash to get beads (except on Bourbon Street). You do need to pay attention though. I swear the people on the floats throw unopened bags of beads at the heads of people looking the other way.
It is an odd ritual. As is the ritual of coffee and beignets at the Cafe Du Monde. You do it because everyone says you need to. And the French Market really doesn't have anything French in it. You can buy lots of alligator heads, beads (like you need to buy them) and t-shirts with things written on them like, "I have the body of a god...unfortunately it is Buddah."
Don't eat at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville unless you really like non-stop videos of Parrot Heads. The food isn't anything to text home about. Try Mother's if you want genuine New Orleans food. Because apparently genuine New Orleans food has to be served cafeteria style in a dive with tables and chairs from the 1950s (which seems to be the last time they were cleaned as well). And it all has to be served up in one big congealed mass. The Rain Man would definitely have not enjoyed eating at Mother's. The bread pudding was to die for, however.
Bourbon Street was as skanky as I remember it. The most memorable thing I heard while walking along Bourbon Street one night was a drunk girl standing under a balcony looking up at some frat boys. She slurred out to one of them, "You look real cute. Can I come up there and kiss you."
Despite its sometimes tacky, shabby and seedy side, I still love New Orleans. There is no more interesting or charming city nor a place with an atmosphere of mystery that you can slice with a Ginsu knife. You just have to overlook the voodoo dolls and cheap Mardi Gras masks that are all made in China to truly appreciate it.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Monday, February 03, 2014
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that, after 38 years, the Seahawks have finally won a Super Bowl! Back in 2006 I had to watch Pittsburgh (aided by some pretty bad officials) pluck that Lombardi trophy out of our grasp. But now it comes to roost in a city most of the country doesn't even know exists.
I was actually quite calm as I watched the game. There was this strange sense of peace that I rarely get watching a Seahawks game. It used to be that the Seahawks could be up 43-8 with two minutes left in the game and you still knew they could lose it. But that was the old Seahawks. These are the new Seahawks. Most of them were probably in high school the last time the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl.
Now don't get me wrong, I really am proud of the Seahawks. I've been a fan for years and used to have season tickets until we had kids and it wasn't practical. But I have never been one of these people that so closely identify with a sports team that I feel responsible if they win or lose. Maybe it goes back to my feelings in high school about jocks. But I never used terms like "We won" after a game. After all, it was the players that won, not the people watching them.
Seattle does indeed have 12th man fever. And I heard a great deal of talk about how much the fans played a role in the success of the team. But I don't know how much of that is rhetoric or reality. I don't deny there is a mental aspect to the game that can be affected by the energy of a crowd. But in reality, at the end of the day, the people on the field win or lose a game.
Regardless, go Hawks!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
As the astronomers watched imploding stars and exploding nebula, they also postured that we, humans, earth and everything were made up from the same elements as the stars and therefore they had discovered the source of everything.
After the 3-D movie my daughter asked me several times whether we were made out of stars. I tried explaining that we weren't literally made out of stars, just the same elemental building blocks. But it came out pretty lame and frankly, I like the idea that we are made out of stars. So we went to a laser jukebox show and the star discussion took second fiddle to Pink Floyd.
I have thought a great deal about the light of dead stars since then. It reminded me of camping out under the stars when I was a kid staring at the Milky Way and marveling at how vast it was and how ridiculous it seemed, even to my 10-year old mind, that with all those stars and the likely planets that orbited them, we were the only life in the universe. Yet, even if there was life, it was all so far away, we could never encounter it.
You don't see stars much in the city. Thomas Edison is to blame for that. Perhaps that is why I don't ponder them as much as I did when I was a boy. It is impossible not to turn your face upward when faced with a sky of stars, dead or not. It is heaven, after all.
I'm sure the creationists are gnashing their right wing teeth at the concept that everything stems from a series of star factory nebula at the edge of the universe billions of miles away belching out energy that percolates for a few million years and then turns into a star. And if you believe that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, the universe is essentially a cosmic compost bin, recycling the energy from dying stars and using it to create new ones.
So perhaps the human propensity to want to believe in a god or creator and a heaven is based on the collective subconscious knowledge that our world and our species came from that compost bin in the sky.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I believe new years are like new cars. They lose much of their value once you drive them off the lot. But there doesn't seem to be a definitive moment when it is no longer a new year and just the year. I presume they become the old year once a new year begins.
No one seems to wish you a, "Happy Old Year." I bet Hallmark would make a card for Happy Old Year if they though there was some money in them.
But I digress.
At my age it is just another year anyway. And I am long past making resolutions. A year, after all, is just an artificial measure of time based on how long it takes the earth to travel around the sun. The fact that the earth revolves at all should be miracle enough without trying to tack on losing weight or being nice onto it.
I can't say that the old year was significantly good or bad (even though it had the bad ju-ju of the number 13 in it). I didn't really accomplish much in it. I didn't even put up Christmas lights on the roof (though I did manage to put up the Elvis tree).
I took it down right after the new year crawled in. I suppose I should have left it up until Elvis' birthday tomorrow. But I have this thing about holiday decorations once Christmas is over. For me the season to be jolly ends December 26 and shouldn't be spoken of until early December of the following year.
I also can't stand dirty dishes piled up in the sink.
But I digress again.
I can definitively say that I do not resolve to write in my blog every day. There have a been a few blogs I've subscribed to where the author's sometimes seem to post hourly if not daily. This is not blogging, it is brain farting. It is like people constantly talking because they can't stand silence (or thinking). No one's life is so interesting that they have something to write about every day. People who write in their blog every day seriously need to get a life. Then they can justify blogging about it every day.
Speaking of trees, I got a six-month membership to Ancestry.com as a Christmas gift. So I have renewed by search for my roots that I had begun eight or nine years ago and put on hold after having children. But I promise not to post about it unless I unearth something really juicy like me being the 15th cousin removed from George Washington's uncle's wife's sister-in law on his mother's side.
It promises to be quite a year.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
If you follow my blog (and I recommend that you leave at least a car's length between us if you do) than you know I have a special place in my heart for Harold Camping, the pompous ass evangelist who wrongly predicted the end of the world in 1994 and twice in 2011. And though I don't like to speak ill of the dead, I will make an exception for Harold. Because Harold, aged 92, died yesterday and finally met his maker.
And I hope his maker said something like, "Harold, you got some explaining to do" as he or she dope slapped Harold's spirit for having the audacity to predict the rapture wrongly three separate times. And I hope he is greeted by the souls of the poor suckers who gave away their life savings in anticipation of the end of the world and took their own lives in despair when it never happened.
I've got to hope there is some karmic retribution for people like Harold Camping. And I hope his last words when he realized he was dying were, "Boy was I wrong."
Goodbye Harold. Don't let the rapture hit you on the way out.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
"I know nothing, I hear nothing, I see nothing." --Sergeant Schultz, Hogan HeroesKnowing that you know nothing is attributed to Socrates by Plato, but no one seems to know if that is true or not. Which kind of confirms the premise that no one knows anything. So does the Internet and Fox News.
It is one of the ironies of aging (along with hair growth in random places) that experience finally teaches you that you know nothing. I have, in fact, become an expert at knowing nothing. I can now state with confidence when asked most questions that I haven't got a clue. I take comfort now in my lack of knowing. When someone asks me for directions, I can respond, "I don't know," instead of pointing and gesturing and conjecturing and sending the person off to god knows where because I don't want to admit to not knowing.
It amazes me how much is actually written with great conviction by people who really don't know that they know nothing. Most major (and minor) magazines are chock full of articles written by people trained to write about things they know nothing about. Prevention Magazine is a perfect example. It is chock full of articles about losing weight or improving your health without doing anything. But I challenge anyone to read any of the articles and glean a single, concrete piece of useful or valid information out of them. Because the authors, who know nothing, are writing the articles after interviewing people who think they know something when in reality they know nothing (most doctors fall into this category). So we end up with an authoritative article about nothing.
How do I know this? Because I have a Journalism degree and was trained to write about nothing in an objective and authoritative fashion when printed newspapers still existed and people still believed that, if it was in print, it had to be true. Of course print Journalism has all but been replaced by digital Journalism. And everyone thinks that if it is on the Internet, it has to be true. But they know nothing but don't know they know nothing. I, on the other hand know that I know nothing and that most, if not all things on the Internet are brain farts.
So what is so important about knowing that you know nothing? I think it has to do with not being able to pour water into a full glass or some other philosophical gibberish like that. Because if you think you know something, you aren't open to the concept that the something you think you know isn't the right something or the only something. But if you know nothing and something comes along, you are at least open to consider it even though it is most likely nothing. Because there is nothing like it.
How can I write so much about nothing, you ask? There is nothing to it. I had nothing to write about.