Archive for June, 2012

Bodies were discovered on the 1st and 15th every month. Dependable as darkness. Father was happy as it gave him an excuse to clean out the car. He enjoyed cleaning. He cleaned under the watchful eye of our android neighbor, who talked a great river of hope and bullshit. The neighbor continued in that fashion until he and his wife and children, whom we never saw but were legendary in the general way of android spawn, we saw them only as stars on television, moved away. That under darkness too. Everything happened as or under darkness.

Love and Wok

Posted: June 20, 2012 in cooking, marriage
Tags: ,

Marriage has two purposes: to join two souls in perfect union and to stock a kitchen with kick-ass gear. My best man and his wife, for instance, bought us a wok. I tell you that I love this wok. Add it to my list of loves.

Last night, I used the wok to prepare bowls of orange chicken. I didn’t need the wok, exactly. You can use a sauté pan if you like. But the wok is mighty. It demands faith and regular use. Lately, I’ve begun several new relationships.

Like many non-white American dishes, orange chicken might seem fancy or beyond your skill level. Honestly, though, it just requires patience, organization, and timing. Try to remember that a shit version of orange chicken is served at Panda Express. If that fool can do it for minimum wage, you can too.

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons of orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup of soy sauce

1/6 cup of water (This depends on your taste. You might want more water to cut the soy flavor. If so, watch out how much sauce you actually add to the chicken, because you don’t want the meal to be too saucy.)

Tablespoon of red pepper flakes

Tablespoon of chopped or minced garlic

Green onion to taste

Tablespoon of honey

½ tablespoon of ginger

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan. Cook at medium temperature. Slowly stir in other ingredients. When they mix (liquids will have blended together), turn heat to medium-high. When sauce boils remove from stove.

For the chicken

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bell pepper (You could use half a green and half a red, too. If you want to go super veggie, add another half a yellow pepper), roughly diced

1/3 onion, roughly diced

1 tablespoon black pepper*

1 teaspoon coriander

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 cut-up chicken breasts

Flour

Coat the chicken in flour and spices. Cook pepper and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium heat. Set aside. Cook chicken halfway through, then set aside. Wipe excess flour from wok. Add second tablespoon of oil and combine chicken, veggies, and sauce. Turn heat to low. Sauce will reduce and chicken will cook through. Serve over rice. Duh.

*Note the absence of salt, though just about every recipe you’ve ever read called for salt. Dude, salt is a fine preservative and heart-clogger. It is not necessary to add salt to every meal, especially not a meal that includes soy sauce. Try the dish without salt. If you need salt to enjoy it, you have the discriminating taste of a raccoon.

RE: Greek tragedy. Somewhere along the way you’ve heard terms like catharsis and deus ex machina. You know tears must come in buckets. You’ve read something about the roots of man-boy relations in ancient Greece and wondered about the secret roots of NAMBLA and how you’re going to react if something less than American happens on stage. Maybe these things come to mind when you imagine Greek tragedy. Or not. Maybe I’m just projecting my funky ignorant associations onto you.

Sorry.

Last Friday, the Wife took me to see a production of Euripides’s The Trojan Women. I didn’t expect any man-boy love, exactly, but I have recently read some Greek tragedies, including Euripedes’s The Bacchae, and what is clear is that although our culture owes a great deal to the ancient Greeks, we are at least as different from them as Jews like myself are from the ancient Israelites.

In Shakespearean tragedies, a basically likeable dude starts on high and ends bloody on the floor, the last of many bloody dead. We know how they’ll end, but they at least begin with hope. The tragedy is that hope is inevitably squashed under a patient mean thumb. Greek tragedies go from black to deeper black. Few of us are prepared for it. The Wife sure wasn’t. By the time Astyanax was sentenced to a splat from on high, she was chuckling to save her sanity, or she felt it was melodrama.

I think she felt what a lot of the audience felt: this was too much. By the end, when the Trojan women were marched to their separate ships and and lives of slavery far from Troy, they felt wrung dry.

You won’t be surprised to learn I felt differently. In fact, I walked out all smiles, and it wasn’t just because the Wife had taken me out for an evening of culture rare in Jacksonville. Some folks, a small set, are wired for the real darkness. Like, dig this.

Even though they chart black maps of awesome, Loss will never be popular, precisely because the maps are pure black. Most of us mostly want entertainment to be a sweet escape from these rough times. We are culturally programmed to want that, which explains every sorry shit band you and I love. Yeah, I include myself. You think I’ve escaped Poison and Whitesnake? I still listen to Whitesnake. I can see the awesomeness of Greek plays and Loss, but only in limited doses.

Listen: escape is not release.

We understand catharsis–in our brains. That’s not where the real thing is found.

*Despite what any or all of this post may suggest, I am happier now than I have ever been.

ooh, la laThose who bash ceremonies on general principle are like people who bash modern art on general principle. That is, they lack the ability to make critical aesthetic distinctions. Some ceremonies, like the Oscars, involve cheap madeover automatons accepting awards and activating tear machines. Some wedding ceremonies, to be more particular, are social events at which no emotional connection between bride or groom is necessary, though a simulation of it must be captured in photographs. The wedding ceremony itself, though, can be beautiful, particularly if the ceremony is obvious backdrop.

Beauty lies not in the order of ceremony or any of the individual rituals contained therein, but in the human departures from order and ritual. These departures suggest the individual and human. Memory makes use of this material and no other, to particularize the ceremony and make it great.

A full congregation might hear the bride tell her parents they’re stepping on her dress. They might see the kiddo ring bearer offer the rings as soon as he finishes his walk down the aisle. Shared memories particularize a ceremony.

More individual memories intensify the beauty, particularly for the skeptical observer. Consider the groom for whom the ceremony’s an afterthought, who said, for instance, that “It’ll be a relief when this is all over” and “I don’t know what the big deal is. We’re practically married already.” But when his bride stands before him dressed and made up and happy before him, his knees alone might buckle, and though others might tear up, his tears carry the extra weights of desire and need.

Delighted to link to poems published in Firestorm.  Oh, you want to know about getting married?  More on that coming up.