fishy wishy

Um... Hi.

 So.. er.. who is still on here?

I actually posted on here more than I thought over the last year... though nothing in like... 8 months. 

Thinking about coming back... at least a bit. Maybe having a private(ish) space rather than the noise and chatter of Facebook/Twitter.

Something less public, less watched...

... more me.

So *waves* how are you all?
live in colour

Writer's Block: Dinner's on me

If you had to serve a meal to an ambassador from another country that symbolized your country's culture, what would you choose? Do you think s/he would love it as much as you do?

My country - England, or Great Britain if you so wish - is oft-maligned for it's food; especially in the USA. Much like its dentistry (which is much worse in the US) I've no real idea why - it has world class chefs and restaurants, a fantastic amount of fusion inspired cuisine, and a lot of food lovers. Hell - cookery programs are some of the most popular ones on TV! England even had one of the first cookbooks (the Forme Of Cury in the 14th century - not the first, but pretty close)!

But symbolized my countries culture? That's a rather hard and abstract thing to do. I certainly couldn't do it for the US (for California, probably - something with Mexican roots, a dash of Asian flavour, but made with an eye to French preparations, served with some southern BBQ sides, would probably do it). The US is too diverse a place to be summed up in one meal - it's states are large and varied in culture, so unless you can have a 50 course meal.. that's probably not going to happen.

But what about England?

Well it suffers from a similar problem. What the counties of old did, and now the broader modern groupings of areas do as well, is much the same as the state system in the US. It used to be that these were specific areas that were long to travel over; they had their own traditions and cultures; they grew up differently and slightly disconnected from each other. This is something that the US had for a while, but much less so. The UK has had differing cultural identities in different areas for over 2000 years! The US as we know it today really has only been around in a vague form since the Mexico Cession of 1848 - 160 years! And it's been interconnected with fast land travel for almost as long (1860's).

So if I can barely do it for one slice of the US - without resorting to pathetic stereotypes like Burgers & Fries - a country that is less than 1/10th as old and has had it's culture simmering for much less time - how can I do it for England?

Actually there are some helpers there - we've had a lot longer in the UK for the common threads of our country to bind and join. It's a lot more mature in many ways; it's also a LOT more dense (1/6 of the US population in an area smaller than the state of Georgia) so there is much more sharing and interconnection of those common threads and cultures. So much so that some things that are considered "English" wouldn't be seen elsewhere in the country, but are still held up as that by other areas.

So how would I do it?

Well I'd first avoid any particular dish that was created as part the post-war food that probably got us the bad reputation: food designed to be made from scraps and leftovers that a working-class populace had to make last while there was rationing. However this creativity and scrappy aspect would be nice to include.

I'd want to feature shellfish or fresh fish somewhere - England has always had a strong fishing industry, and the shell-fish pickers of mussels, cockles, winkles, and all the many varied beasts that frequent the river plains and sea beds are some of the tastiest you'll find. I'd probably not included the scary Thames Eels though - Jellied Eels may be a cockney dish, but they are also mostly gross, sorry.

I'd want to pay homage to our farming roots - strong cattle and pig farming roots are through a lot of England, as well as wheat & vegatables. The "meat and two veg" dinner, served with gravy, is a wonderful example of a traditional farming dish template that would give farmers the strength they need to do their work.

I'd want to include a shout out to our more modern cultural infusions - Indian specifically - that have infused our cultural psyche to the point where an Indian inspired dish that was made in Birmingham is now considered not only the most popular dish in Britain, but an ambassador for Indian food around the world (that dish? Chicken Tikka Massala - usually prepared wrong in the US I might add).

I'd want to include reference to our chocolates - something that is world class, and our very particular preparations are world famous, but also our puddings - unlike the gloopy american namesakes our puddings are more solid and are usually baked, boiled, or steamed; containing flour, eggs, or suet.

So.. what dishes would I use to do this? That's a tough one, and the following is just off the top of my head. I'd love for you to suggest ideas to me.

A vegetable medley, with carrots,  parsnips, garlic, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, and marrow for a subtle spicy flavor. Served in a buttery basil infused broth.

A cheese course, served with a good light Ale, featuring a selection of English cheeses. Cheddar, Wenslydale (perhaps a Cranberry one), Buxton Blue, Stilton, Cornish Yarg, & a good Sommerset Brie would all make an appearance, as would a Woolsery Goat Cheese to keep it being a clean sweep for the cows. English grapes on the side as a palette cleanser.

Maldon Mussels, steamed and then lightly cooked with coconut milk, ginger, green chilies, & a mix of spices. A glass of white English Wine (from Kent or Dorset most likely) would make a good drink with this.

Braised Pork - slow cooked in milk - with garlic, sage, and juniper. Served with a baked broad beans, carrots, and parsnips, and accompanied by a selection of mustards. 

A steamed fruit pudding, no cloves, served with a rich chocolate sauce and brandy cream. Served with Rum.

Sounds good to me - what do you think?
Rorschach Watchmen

Don't you just love folk songs?

There was an old farmer, who sat on a rock,
Stroking his whiskers and shaking his
fist at some boys who were sat by his ricks
with their feet spread out and their hands on their
Marbles and play-things and at half past four
Along came a lady who looked like a
pretty young creature and who sat on the grass,
She pulled up her dress and showed them her
ruffles and laces and also her Duck,
Said she'd discovered a new way to
Bring up the children so they would not spit
while her boys in the stables were shoveling
refuse and rubbish from yesterdays hunt,
while the girl in the meadow was rubbing her
eyes at the fellow down by the dock
He looked like a man with a sizable
home in the country and a big fence out front,
when he asked her politely she showed him her
little pet dog who was subject to fits,
and then she did let him grab hold of her
small tender hand with a movement so quick,
she then bent on over and sucked on his
candy - so tasty - made of butter-scotch
so then he spread whipped-cream all over her
cookies that she gave him for fixing her walls
she invited him upstairs and played with his
puppy and she sang it this song.

And if you think it is dirty, well you're fucking well wrong.
fishy wishy

Ferryman: Part 1.5

"It's cold here," the pale girl said, "I don't like it much."

I looked at her, wrapped in her light shawl and summer-dress in the middle of November. She wasn't exactly dressed for the season, but then that wasn't exactly surprising.

"Frankly I'm shocked you can even feel it," I responded, focusing on the road ahead of me again. It was dark outside and the boat of a car I'd managed to hot-wire drove like a two-ton brick on lego wheels.

"Yeah, well," she turned away to look of out the cars window at the shadows of trees in the forest "being dead is weird like that. But I guess you'd know a little about that."

She was right, sort of, I just wish I couldn't see the car seat through her while she said it. The ruddy scar on my chest itched, but that was probably in my head. One thing though she wasn't right on, at least not as far as I was concerned.

"I'm not dead," taking a hand off the steering wheel I thumped my chest in mock bravado. "Flesh and blood. 100 percent man-meat, thank-you!"
"Hah!" She laughed hollowly, but when she turned she was smiling; albeit not entirely kindly. "Well then what exactly are you? You're not alive, not with that hole in your chest anyhow."

Oh yeah, that. I wasn't going to get into that right now, I wasn't sure what I could say about it anyhow.

"Wish I knew sweet-cheeks, but right now all I know is that last week I was drifting through town, met a girl - who seem like she was fun. Now I have a hole where my heart was and a sassy dead girl in my passenger seat."

My week is just getting weirder.

[fast fiction snippet - continuing the story of the character in this short story from over 5 years ago! ]
fishy wishy

2009 In Review

Well... this year was very extreme in many ways, but mostly was a solid patter of negativity with a few high points. I would detail everything, but that would be v.long and rambinling.

However (totally stolen from various people) here is also a quick 2009 recap questionare...

What did you do this year that you'd never done before?
Hmm... several things really.
  • met Dan Aykroyd
  • met the Mythbusters
  • went to Disneyland
  • saw Peaches live
  • had a heavy metal music star hang out at my BBQ
  • played a live game of Texas Hold'em Poker
  • built a Proton Pack
  • nearly got kicked out of the country (yay.. to the nearly)
  • went to LA.
Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Sort of. My main one was to lose weight and take better care of myself. This went up and down through the year as various shite happened, and depression is a bitch on your goals. But overall - I'm lighter now than I was, have more muscle, and have fewer shitty t-shirts... so I call that progress.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but my sister is preggers again if that counts.

Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

What countries did you visit?
Just the US this year.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?
I'd like to feel more financially secure, and still be working at the same company. I don't think that is too much to ask frankly.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Staying vaguely sane and not breaking down more. Frankly, though there have been some very good parts, 2009 has been an emotionally shitty year.

What was your biggest failure?
Not filing the correct paperwork for immigration (ok, so I didn't know I had to file it, but that isn't the point). No contest.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Some back issues, and a bunch of stuff related to stress that brought me low, nothing major however - just a lot of small, debilitating, stuff.

What was the best thing you bought?
For myself... my new electric guitar. Though I've not done much with it, I do plan to over the next year. For someone else? Probably Mario Kart Wii for Miriam (though obviously I play it too). She loves it so :)

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Miriam - for her marathon. 

Where did most of your money go?
Bills! Legal, Immigration, medical - they all took a large chunk but mostly just things like rent, food, and such. Plus being laid off twice in the year didn't help with that.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Very little. However my birthday was really awesome because I saw BB King and went to Disneyland. Certainly was v.excited about that.

What song will always remind you of the year?
Not sure about song, but Peaches album I Feel Cream will certainly remind me of this year.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
About the same. Would have liked to be happier.

Thinner or fatter?
Thinner, about 20lbs thinner.

Richer or poorer?
Poorer, but mostly because of the legal stuff happening late Nov/Dec. Would have been around the same otherwise.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hung out with my friends, made more friends. Created more stuff.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wasted time.

What was your favourite TV program?
Lost, though I just saw Jeykll and that was GREAT.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't generally waste my time on hating people, so no.

What was the best book you read?
I read so little this year, not something I wish I had done, so that' a tough one. Probably one of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories I read this year.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Miriam got me Joe Bonamassa's album You & Me and it's fantastic, he would certainly count for me. Really fantastic. Also Electric Tickle Machine completely rocked me so much when they played a webcast at my office building that I got their stunning CD. So... them too.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Tough one. Can't pick really. One of the following I guess: Avatar, Watchmen, Zombieland, District 9...  
I actually wouldn't include Star Trek, it was great though. I hated Inglorious Basterds though, easily the worst film of the year. 
District 9 was probably one of the best, I would tie it with Watchmen though.

What did you do on your birthday?
Met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland! haha! Also saw the fireworks there and ate at the Blue Bayou in the PotC ride! A great weekend too.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Button-up Shirts: Not just for work.

What kept you sane?
At times, Miriam, at other times... remembering that nothing is THAT big of a deal.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
hmm. I honestly don't know. Alyssa Milano has been both sexy and an awesomely compassionate person all year on Twitter, so I vote for her.

Who did you miss?
Friends from the UK.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.
Life will kick you in the nuts... hard... and it really doesn't give a crap about when is good for you. The real test is how you deal with it.