I Write a Dumb Blog…

January 23, 2010

I write a dumb blog. The syntax of this statement is purposefully atrocious, but I embrace the grammatical horror with the same warmth that I embrace the concept of this blog itself. You see, even though I may want to be a writer, this blog does exemplify the merits (or even highlight the goals) of that desire. It instead serves a completely different function in my life: I tend to write compulsively, with constant ebb and flow throughout my day of work, emailing friends, or arguing sports, or posting lame observations. And rarely, if ever, is it because I want to tell people things. It is because the mere act is wholly satisfying. There is conversation going on constantly inside my head, one that seems of grave importance, but usually being about nothing more superfluous than surprising aptness of certain films or the lacking qualities of certain people. But if I do not share these things, they are somehow lost. An argument inside my head is nowhere for it to live. It should breath. It should be expressed and crafted. And maybe if it is lucky it should be ever so lucky as to be read by a single eyeball; because inherently the passing thoughts and notions inside one’s head are horribly lonesome things.

It’s not an alien notion. It is why people with absolutely no writing talent blog in various forms and why they share the most menial and useless details of their lives. The motive is not different from the most eloquent thoughts an essays of some of our great writers. When they think, or wonder, or develop a passing material fancy then one simply wants to feel like someone is coming with them. This is not to say this exercise is sad or pathetic, but just ultimately necessary. We tend to chastise those who share every detail of their lives as conversely having “no life” or probably lacking someone to share it with, but I find that to be a false appraisal. I have a wonderful significant other with which I share my life and hope to til the end of our days, but quite honestly, if I were to assault her with the daily pointless musings on “stuff” that pass through my head with alarming regularity, she would have long since obtained, loaded, and fired a shotgun directly into my person. And it would be wholly justified. Our significant others are there to enjoy the wonderful quiet and happy moments of our lives, not to listen to our needless crap, be our punching bags, or let us blow off steam. They are to be cherished. And so I write a dumb blog to bring people through the inherently lonesome and terrifying journey of trying to figure “stuff” out. Which I admit, makes it all the more strange that most of my arguments and theories are wholly declarative in nature. If I was really wondering or entertaining notions my blog would be far more nebulous and obtuse. It often reflects a cocksuredness that is completely absent from my actual mental dialogue. And such is a function of my own limitations.

And they are limited. I truly consider the quality of this blog to be substandard. I often rush out posts with one menial edit simply because it makes no sense spending infinite amounts of time crafting some thoughts that are wholly disposable. Which is not to say the thought or reasoning behind them is invalid, or that I’m not proud of some posts (the feminism one is rambling but I actually thing stands as pretty insightful. It certainly gets the most attention and emails to me). But I wholly assure you that all my best work sits in the litany of unfinished drafts that seem to outnumber the posts I already have on here. Mega Part 2’s that were promised, detailed analysis of tax policies, and the logical fallacies of a sub-standard health care system. It’s all my best work, yet all hopelessly half done and untimely (posts with some perceptive 2008 election coverage anyone?).

But the ultimate point is this: this blog is going to change. It’s going to become even more obtuse and superfluous. But only because I’ve already started, and going to start  another blog which will be far more serious and professional in its aims.

The first blog which has already started is called www.foodilikeandfoodidontlike.wordpress.com and it evaluates food, restaurants, and culinary philosophy with far more seriousness than is often found in there. I hope to make it informative and fun, but wholly admit it’s core audience will be foodies and those with mild food curiosity.

The second blog is going to something else entirely. Devoid of gimmick or pomp, there will be actual, serious journalism comprised of interviews, profiles, and long form non-trivial essays. And I’m determined to make it actually good.

I will continue to post on stuffilike for sure. And I hope it will be entertaining. For example, I’m currently planning a long reoccurring series about sexual icons of yesterday and today and why there has to be a way to talk about them with an apt social and totally-non-sexist context.

So why talk about this? Is it really important to announce a paradigm shift in philosophy for a stupid blog? Well sort of, because this blog is surprisingly popular. Not mega popular “did you hear about it on so and so?” kind of of way, but in the way that I have a decent amount of actual readers who are not my family (or even friends!) and hundreds of people coming in the form of float-in-traffic every day (side-note: the search engine terms people use to find this blog are absolutely fucking hilarious). And I really do appreciate those who take the time to read. I truly do.

So I just wanted to give a heads up. Hope to keep seeing you.

Thanks to all,

Mike

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Like: Kit Kat(s)

September 9, 2009

Why?

Because they’re fucking delicious.

And I don’t feel like I ate a brick after I had one.


Don’t Like: My interaction in the coffee line / Like: My interaction in the elevator

September 1, 2009

So someone wonderfully pointed out that my site is turning into a movie review site. Sorry. I’ve just been seeing lots of movies and they’re on the brain.

So here comes the daily observances of foibles.

This morning I was in line to order a coffee. I do this about once a week, if that. This is what happened:

Me: “Hi can I get a small latte.”

Barista Lady: “What kind of milk?”

Me: “whole.”

BL: [not hearing me] “we have soy, skim, 1%, 2%-”

Me: “whole is fine.”

BL:  “Regular?”

Me: “yeah.”

BL: “you sure?”

Me: “yes.”

BL: [realizing she came off as judgemental] “Sorry. it’s just no one’s ordered regular for weeks. I gotta open a new one.”

… ah life in California.

LATER, IN THE ELEVATOR:

Two girls walk in. They know and talk to each other. One is holding  plastic bowl with a covered top. They put oatmeal in these at the breakfast place downstairs. I just stand to the side.

Girl 1: “Oooh. you got breakfast.”

Girl 2: “yeah”

G1: “What kind of oatmeal?”

G2: “Not oatmeal.”

G1: “Huh?”

G2: “Oh. No. I just crammed this sucker with bacon.”

I laugh out loud… They both look at me.

Me: “That’s awesome.”

[EXEUNT]


Like: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque

April 16, 2009

I had this at work today. It was freaking delicious. For some reason it’s also pretty much the only good soup they make.

Tangent: Why is it that vegetable bisques often are more wholly wonderful that seafood bisques? Because seafood bisques are often so rich that you become sick of the taste about halfway through.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor of a crab or lobster bisque is absolutely delightful… just in mini doses (Thomas Keller knows this… Thomas Keller ENFORCES this). But a vegetable bisque can finish quite nicely. You feel like you’ve eaten a whole meal and not even too full. Often vegetable bisques are healthier too because you need less binding agents to smooth out the soup (seafood ones need a great deal to mute the sharpness of a well-made seafood stock).


Don’t Like: Me this morning, “Man I’ve been eating awful lately, I should totally eat healthy today. [Later]… Ooooh Donuts!”

March 18, 2009

How delcious! It’s not like I bought them or anything. Some one else did, I just ate them. St. Patty’s krispy kreme if you must know! Haha. I just watched someone who said, “GOD I CAN’T EAT A WHOLE DONUT, WHY DID PEOPLE BRING THIS IN?” go up eat five consecutive munchkins over the course of about 15 minutes. Now if you excuse me, I have to go drink some pints of guinness. … I’m kidding, it’s 10 am. OR AM I?


Like: That I Finally Had A Great B.L.T. (and the fallout of tomatoes)

January 29, 2009

It took me awhile, but I got there.

Tomatoes are an interesting thing. There is no food that is perhaps more loved in certain forms: ketchup, tomato sauce, pizza,etc. And more reviled in others: salads, sandwiches, etc. Usually, it’s the same people too. They will put ketchup on their ketchup, but they HAAAAATE tomatoes. Meanwhile, some people (often gardener types) can eat them like a piece of fruit.

I was in the middle.

As a young kid I didn’t like tomatoes in any form, but eventually came around on pizza, ketchup, and tomato sauce in that order. But to this day, I am vehemently against the use of tomatoes in sandwiches and salads… sort of.

Nothing is more inexplicably popular and overused than tomatoes on sandwiches. It’s automatic for some reason “lettuce and tomato” is instant inclusion. Lettuce makes sense. It has great texture. It builds layers and volume. It has nice color. Tomatoes though? Most of the time, it’s just a horrible, horrible idea.  It’s like “Hey! Know what would make this wonderful, crisp, delicous sandwich more interesting? A slimy cold thing stuck in the middle!” Plus tomatoes have a very distinct taste and texture that clashes with just about everything. Seriously, there are a handful of things in which an uncooked tomato can match and contrast flavor with. Otherwise, it can utterly dominate your taste buds. And thusly, I’ve been ordering so many kinds of sandwiches with no tomato my entire life. Salads too.

This isn’t some basic objection. I’ll fucking eat anything (and often do). But the key is that said ingredient has to be used “correctly” (which is subjective), but in other words, used to its best potential. It’s not a hodgepodge. Mustard and horseradish goes great with roastbeef. Pesto goes with chicken. Tuna and celery and cheddar cheese (a holy trinity). This is not rocket science. It’s basic food pretp.

So why the hell do we put non-agreeable tomatoes in everything? Why don’t we use them right? I’ll order a caprese sandwich or salad in a second. Why? Because it’s a perfect flavor combination.

It’s simple really, the tomato HAS to be the star of the sandwhich. It’s just too strong a taste to have it otherwise. Make the tomato the star and have things that compliment it. I’ll find a few restaurant shops that get this right here and there and it’s wonderful. There’s one place that won’t even put them on their club sandwhiches! A godsend I say.

So what if you don’t like tomotoes at all? (aside from obvious sauce and ketchup of course). Well, try to use them a bit better. Rule number 1. tomatoes have to be at least room temperature. The relative coldness of many served tomatoes throws people. They are often cool due to the need for preservation, but still. If that’s too much slice them up and take out the gooey part, so you’re left with the harder cavity. Chop. put in a pan and cook it in butter. You can put it right on pasta, fish, beef, or anything you want. It’s delicious. Just build up your tomato tolerance if you will.

Sandwiches however, are another issue.

Which brings us to the BLT. They are astoundingly popular, but don’t QUITE work with the tomato in post scenarios. Prosciutto and tomatoes are a common combination, but still. It’s just not right.

I’ve been trying to reconcile this problem for a long, long time.

Given: Bacon is the most delicious thing ever (there is no argument. Don’t even try).

Thus, why not a bacon sandwich? I did that for a long time. Bacon, lettuce, and avocado. But still it just felt like something was missing. I used other ingredients but nothing and I mean nothing worked right.

So I forced myself to try BLTs to see if I could come around. After a few false starts, I finally got it.

1) Ditch the avocado. I love avocado, but it’s just slightly distracting enough to actually disrupt the balance you’re trying to create. Mayo and only mayo just works better.

2) Medium amount of lettuce. Skimping takes out the crispness, but too much and sandwich stinks. (never overlettuce your sandwich).

3) this is the big one. The tomatoes MUST be dry. A soggy tomato will ruin the crispness of the bacon and wilt the lettuce. Even remove the gelatin if necessary.

4) Always use sourdough bitches. toasted is perfection. if not avail, a nice ciabatta will do. No rye. no wheat. no white.

My sandwhich guy even on the same page now through some kind of ESP mind meld. This is the one who looks like a latino josh beckett.

Happy BLTing.

Enjoy, bitches.


Love: David Foster Wallace

January 23, 2009

David Foster Wallace is my favorite writer.

I say this with a number of addendum: I discovered DFW criminally late in the proceedings. Why no one turned me onto him in the annals of my education is inexorably beyond me (1). I had heard his name throw around a bit with the popular, yet celebrated modern authors, but sorely lacked any real exposure or criticism. It was not until his recent, sudden, and moderately unexpected suicide in which the articles  about his talents were everywhere that I took any notice. I made a mental note to look into his work and subsequently put one under my stack of books I’m reading on the bedside table.  It was not until I came across a link in a Bill “Sports Guy” Simmons column (2) that I sat there with real honest to goodness DFW text.

It was called “Roger Federer as Religious Experience” I was immediately blown away. In an age of prose full of sweeping grandeur, broad/declarative strokes, snark, irony, and cheating conclusions, here was an honest to god observer. He went on to characterize Federer from the most basic sense, as if the reader has never heard of tennis before.  He supported every declaratory statement; non-fiction as arguement or logic. He approached Federerer from a purely scientific level, analyzing just how astounding his hand-eye coordination skills were on human level.  I went on to devour his non-fiction in a thoroughly rapturous nature: Host a non-judgemental/let-their-actions-speak-louder-than-your-opinion piece on conservative talk radio (and if opinions are drawn, they are logically presented and supported),  Consider the Lobster a piece for gourmet magazine that surprisingly surveys the ethics/hysteria of animal food consumption, and The Weasel Twelve Monkeys and The Shrub a fascinating piece after this recent election where we can look upon the political non-chalance of the late 90s, and the subsequent fall of Mccain, or the post-obama American resurgence. They’re all amazing pieces, full of cunning insight dry sense of humor. I was witnessing the perfect observer.

His essays, meanwhile,  remove a bit of the objectivity and delve into well-reasoned humor and guile.  He tries to convince you Kafka is funny. He commentary on Sept 11 as it unfolds and does so from what will later be redined “middle america” in the Bush era. I was nearly moved to tears by his complete and total evisceration of John Updike. Why? Because I hated Updike for years. Me being rather inarticulate in comparison had failed to really grasp why I felt as such, but I certianly knew he was terribly uninteresting which is odd for a such a good writer dealing with an interesting subject. With DFW, it was all clarified before me;  I was estatitc.

As for his fiction, I find myself currently immersed in Infinite Jest, his stab at the Great American Novel and I’m just as moved by his fiction as I am his non-fiction.

Of course, people can look at his writing and make immediate assumptions: a) too complicated. If “brevity is the soul of wit” he must be a dunce cause DFW can take his time with the best of them. The vast array of footnotes and endnotes are daunting and anybody who likes them must be pretentious! Nothing could be more innaccurate. His use of “notes” are often pitch perfect in their capacity to add depth of commentary. Perhaps we’re so use to reading parentheticals (3) that we consider having to look somewhere else for the added little bit to be a pain in the ass. DFW is also incredibly wordy… as in he uses big words. Nothing is more daunting to American readership because we don’t like when things go over our heads. I know I don’t. But I certianly respect it. I’ve looked up more words in reading DFW than I have ever in my life. And if once again, this is all just a matter of laziness and we don’t like looking up words, then I simply try my best to reason it out. It’s an incredible exercize and one we should do more. Not liking DFW for these reasons is understandable, but in my estimation, a self-lie. There are plenty of reasons not to like a writer. Diffuculty is not acceptible.

Especailly because he’s so damn logical. His work is like mathamatic proofs. Which brings us to the the second to last thing you should know about David Foster Wallace: he is a genuis. As in he got the famous “genuis grant” and has IQ off the fucking charts. As much as “genius” is thrown around now (4) he is definitely one of them. If there was a single writer I could pick who qualifies, it’s him. What’s more than all of that is that he outright inspires me.  He is so dedicated to the legitimacy of his words it makes me less haphazard. He clearly finds a simlar delight in analysis, only he rarely falls into callousness (5). Plus his work helps me with my very shitty punctuation. I had been using semicolons not just wrongly, but pretentiously for years. But the inspiration is the key. Why? I have haven’t been really inspired by a writer since high school (6). I had basically moved to strictly on-topic docu-non-fiction and massive research projects. Now I’m back… And I feel forever indebted to DFW. It’s what informs the superlative “favorite author” in such a short amount of time. His impact is that profound when compared to what has preceeded (7).

The very last thing you should know about DFW is that he killed himself.  It’s just so dreadfully unimportant in the larger scheme. He battled clincal depression for years and for most of his life was on meds. But it does not really reflect on his capacity/legacy/influence/importance as a writer. Sure there are flashes of relevence here and there (8), to deny it would be folly, but there could not be a less important characteristic on display. One could even make an uninformed assumption that his meds helped maintain his even tone. I worry because an artists death often overhangs the nature of their work, often for worse.

But once again, that shouldn’t matter. What matters are the things I have taken away from DFW in such a short amount of time. One thing more than all the others:

This is water. This is water.

David Foster Wallace, you will me more than missed.

Endnotes:

1. Maybe it’s because no one reads.

2. I know.

3. which I use too much… see

4. my favorite overuse of genius being for NFL offensive coordinators*

5. I’m not so lucky.

6. I went my entire collegiate career NOT being inspired by a writer… I was an English minor mind you… yeah… consider it a drought.

7. Unlike my favorite filmmaker, who seems to change yearly/weekly.

8. Specifically, his various comments on suicide(s) over the years.

*which may sound like I don’t think football coaches can be geniuses and I hate it. I love football and do think some coaches are DEFINITE football geniuses. I’m simply commenting on the eagerness of media types to laude that title upon young coordinators without much support or understanding of qualifiers themselves.