Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Curse at the Windstorms

Barenaked Ladies has always been one of my favorite bands (if not my absolute favorite). I think the first CD I ever bought was Stunt, and the rest of the collection soon followed. Catchy tunes, thoughtful lyrics, and talented musicians keep them going. Though they are probably best known for being a colorful, oddball, and quirky band, my favorite songs have always been their most poignant. These songs, with lyrics so painful, and upward swells so big and empty it’s hard not to get lost, have stayed with me, and bring me to the brink every time. It kills me that Steven Page has left the band, and I never got to see them all together in concert. I hear they were amazing.

Take a listen. Embrace your melancholy. These are songs for sad.

“War on Drugs” from Everything to Everyone
Favorite Lyric: “Won’t it be dull when we rid ourselves of all these demons haunting us, to keep us company? Won’t it be odd to be happy like we always thought we’re supposed to feel, but never seem to be?”
”When the very fear that makes you want to die is just the same as what keeps you alive, it’s way more trouble than some suicide is worth.”


“Wrap Your Arms Around Me” from Gordon
Favorite Lyric: “I regret every time I raised my voice, and it wouldn’t be that bright of me to say I had no choice. I can kiss your eyes, your hair, your neck, until we forget.”

“When I Fall” from Born On A Pirate Ship
Favorite Lyric: “Look straight in the mirror – watch it come clearer. I look like a painter, behind all the grease. But painting’s creating, and I’m just erasing. A crystal-clear canvas is my masterpiece.”

“Break Your Heart” from Born On A Pirate Ship
Favorite Lyric: “What’d you think that I was gonna do, try to make you love me as much as I love you? How could you be so low?”

“Call and Answer” from Stunt
Favorite Lyric: “You think I only think about you when we’re both in the same room. I’m only here to witness the remains of love exhumed.”

“Am I The Only One” from Maybe You Should Drive
Favorite Lyric: “And who do you think I am? Who do you think I’ll be without you?”

“You Run Away” from All In Good Time
Favorite Lyric: “I tried, but you tried harder. I lied, but you lied smarter. You made me guess, who was it? I did my best, but it wasn’t enough.”


I could keep going. BNL has so many good songs, it’s hard to stop. But I will. Right now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chili Where My Mouth Is

I am kind of a braggart when it comes to my chili. I think it’s the best chili. Whenever I eat anyone else’s chili, I am always all like “This chili is not as good as the chili I would have made.” Especially if there is macaroni in it. Or other pasta. Don’t do that. Cincinnati is wrong.

Anyway, on Friday (October 19), for the first time in my life, I decided to put my chili where my mouth is – I entered into a chili cook-off hosted by LaLa Gallery, an art gallery in downtown Lafayette. It was a little nerve-wracking because in addition to normal people like me, there were businesses which had chilis entered into the competition. The Black Sparrow and D.T. Kirby’s had chilis entered, and I am pretty sure that the School House of Chili also did, but I am not sure on that one. The Sparrow and Kirby’s are both bar/restaurants in Lafayette that have great food, so I was pretty nervous about my chances.

Anyway, on Thursday I made my chili. Same as always. Nothing special about it – just added a little more spice to amp it up a little bit. I have a container full of assorted dried chili peppers from the garden we used to have in Clayton. They will soon run out, and I don’t know what I will do. For now, though, I grind them up with a coffee grinder and add them to things. Super good.

Powdered pain. Crucial.

On Friday, I took my chili to LaLa around 5:15. The competition started at 6, so I hung out with Mary and Mike for a while at Kirby’s to kill some time. Also to scope out the competition and size up Don Kirby. Get some inside info. Things like that. You know. Don said his chili only got over there around 6:30, so he had some ground to make up. We headed back to LaLa around 6:50 or so – easy, since Kirby’s is right next door. Upon entering, I quickly found out two things. The first was that people were enjoying my chili – the first thing I heard was someone saying “Number 5 was my favorite, put that down”. Number 5 turned out to be mine, so that felt pretty good. The second thing I found out was that my crock pot was acting up, so my chili was barely warm. So, not the best of starts.

Sampling the 9 chilis available, I decided the 4 at my table were my favorites. They included mine, the two chilis from Kirby’s and the Sparrow, and a pulled pork chili which had a nice barbecue flavor, but was pretty greasy.

The chili from Kirby’s (which I only found out was Kirby’s because someone said it was the one that got there late) was good. It was thick, which I like. It had an interesting base, with not as much tomato flavor as mine. It was similar to the chili he puts on his hot dogs, which I love.

The chili from the owner of the Sparrow was kind of strange. He was there, and I commented on it. He said he just kind of made it up as he went. It had a very strong cumin/thyme flavor, which turned some people off, but made me go back for more. It didn’t seem to have any tomato in it. It was mainly beans, chickpeas, and diced chicken. Pretty tasty, but not a traditional chili.

My chili was probably the spiciest in the room. I’ll link to the recipe at the bottom of this post.

The other chilis in the room varied in their type and flavor. There was a white chicken chili, but it was too cheesy – more like a cheese soup. Tasted good though. There was also a vegan pumpkin chili, which wasn’t to my particular tastes, but I give it points for originality. Overall, we were there for about an hour. I had a really good time. I definitely want to do it again.

The pulled pork chili ended up winning. It did taste very good – but it was too greasy for me. Angela, the owner of LaLa, told me I earned the second-most number of votes. Go second place! No prize for it though. I feel good about it – my chili is pretty classic as far as chili goes. Tomatoes, meat, beans, and chili pepper. Recipe and lots of talking about it after the break.


Yes. This.

Okay, so my chili is the best. Let me tell you about it. (I already have, probably.) That link is to a recipe that is slightly out of date, but is for the most part the same as what I’m about to tell you. Redundancy go!

I start with a really hot cast iron pot. Get it hot. Throw some olive oil in there. Yeah. Smells good.

Now toss in a diced onion and a diced green pepper. Also some diced jalapeƱos. Because spice. Let that cook for about ten minutes. Mix it around. Let it get translucent.

Make a hole in the middle of all that goodness in there. Drop in your meat – I like to use about two pounds of lean white turkey – no fat to drain that way. Mix it around, and cover. Leave it covered for a while. Check it every once in a while, keep mixing it up, until all the meat is cooked. White turkey turns white when it’s cooked. it’s weird. You’ll have to get used to it.

(Throughout this whole process, keep adding some spices and things. Mix it in with the meat and stuff. Salt and pepper and whatever else you like. Yannow.)

Once the meat is cooked, add diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a very small amount of tomato paste. It comes in a small can – one of those is fine. Mix that up, add some spices (chili powder, ground chilis, oregano, thyme, etc.), and let it cook for a bit.

Once that’s been going for like 10 or 15 minutes, add in your beans if you like that kind of thing. I use chili beans, kidney beans, black beans, and large butter beans. I love butter beans. so good.

Let that cook for like half an hour at least. On low. Simmer it away. Stir every so often so it doesn’t burn. Add your spices to taste. Add a little bit (JUST A LITTLE BIT) of cinnamon. Let it sit. Let it mix. Let it cook in.

There you go. Serve with whatever you want – I like a little sour cream, corn bread, and cheese. But honestly, it’s good by itself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cast Down

There is one rule, and we do not break it. The sky is clear. Thin. About to pop.

Looking up invites blindness. The sky is clear. Entire worlds move underground. The surface is pitted, scorched. Purified in white-hot light.

“Do not ascend",” they tell us. “You must not rise.” It is ingrained. It is forbidden. It is… impossible. How could we? Where would it happen? Locks on all the gates. What is a ladder?

A child is born. Already blind. The next step. Cave dwelling has its consequences.

Skin pale. Translucent. Blind? Or without capacity for sight? No difference, maybe, to him. A childhood in darkness. A life in darkness. Is that any different, they ask, than anyone else.

Staring, one day. In the center of town. Town? A pit. A huddle. A collection of souls. A town.

Staring up. Gazing at nothing. For weeks. And then? Vanished. Forgotten. A momentary curiosity.

But not completely gone. Climbing. What is a ladder? Gates unlocked after all. The sky is clear.

Staring up. Gazing at nothing. Gazing at everything. Clean cremation. Purified in white-hot light.


And below? “Do not ascend,” they tell us.

“You must not rise.”


A latent legend. Inspired by a song.


look peaches

About a block away from my house there is a peach tree that hangs over the sidewalk. For about two months out of the year, that section of the sidewalk is covered in peaches. Towards the end of that two month span, the sidewalk is also covered in hornets and bees and other bugs that like rotting peaches. After that, the sidewalk is clear and this graffiti means nothing. I guess that also happens beforehand.