Archive for the 'Random' Category

Ol’ George, still counting eggs

Three eggs.

Heavy rain in the night. Today cold & cloudy, with heavy showers & violent wind.

When George Orwell was writing his diaries 70 years ago, I bet he didn’t think his eggs would be so fascinating. He’s averaging about 2 a day so far. If he waits 3 days for 6 eggs he could make a decent Spanish tortilla for 2.

Give this scammer a book deal!

So I’m looking for a short term sublet in Paris on craigslist, and of the many seemingly legitimate responses I get, comes the following (the end is the best part):

It is a great pleasure that to you are interested in my Place.Thanks for your email and it is my gladness to hearing you I am a Single Christain Father, With no kid, My Wife, Pass by Last 4 Month (got dead). Due to the Fatal Accident we Had she got Dead, and I got Dislocation on my Legs and Hand, My name is Pastor Rev Wilson Long The Owner of the 2 bedroom home and its Continue reading ‘Give this scammer a book deal!’

Altos de Tamaron – good wine for the low budget wino

Altos de Tamaron is a vino tinto that hails from the Spanish region of Ribera del Duero, where extreme weather provides excellent conditions for viticulture. In fact, the label of this low-budget wonder states, “Made with grapes matured under extreme conditions, between the heat of the day and the coldness of the night, ‘Fire and Ice’ to provide this wine with an exceptional quality.”

I am no fine wine connoisseur, but I have done my share of boozing on a budget, so follow me if you can relate to the experience of tippling tetrabrick Don Simon, or of chugging Carlo Rossi. Until a couple of years ago Sangre de Toro — a Riojan Catalan wine — was my semi-cheapo wine of choice. But retailers savvy to the cheap-wine-loving masses in Spain have upped the price, and now Sangre de Toro sadly costs 5 euros and up.*

Altos de Tamaron comes from the less fashionable region of Ribera del Duero, but it is of an excellent quality. Until a week ago, it cost only €2.99 at Consum (a very aptly named supermarket chain in Barcelona). Now Consum is charging €3.29, perhaps because they have caught on to the Altos de Tamaron phenomenon.

It has nice suave initial attack — unlike those vastly inferior tetrabrick wines which have to be chilled before drinking (unless you are really drunk to begin with). I think I tasted a certain earthy quality one day; my girlfriend noted a certain fruitiness; another day I noticed a certain nuttiness — so, as you can see, it probably depends on the meal you are accompanying it with. I would say it’s a straightforward and friendly wine that adapts to the company it keeps. I found it goes well with rotisserie chicken, mustard-glazed pork chops, and hamburgers. It has an easy tannic grip, and won’t overwhelm your fine palate. In all, a great wine for lower middle class winos who are lucky enough to be in Spain, where even the cheap wine is good.

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* UPDATE: I just got back from Consum and it now costs €4.05. At this price I would say it beats out Altos as the best low budget wine.

Bad Sex

Extracts from some of the books shortlisted for this year’s Bad Sex award:

He’s a madman, she thought as he made love to her again. Oh my God, after twenty years of being the most rational Bolshevik woman in Moscow, this goblin has driven me crazy!

He eased out of her again, showing himself.

‘Look!’ he whispered as she did. Was this really her? There he was between her legs again, doing the most absurd, lovely things to places behind her knees, the muscle at the very top of her thighs, her ears, the middle of her back. But the kissing, just the kissing, was heavenly […] He made her forget she was a Communist.

(via metafilter)

Because I back up my sarcastic critiques with examples of what I think is good writing, I give you Riding the Super Buick, a chapter from my novel, The Bedroom Revolutionary. There is a sex scene in there somewhere, from what I remember. Enjoy.

The Rise of the Mutts

This article in the Times UK reminded me of the big step forward that Barack Obama being elected president of the United States symbolizes. As anyone who heard his speech last Tuesday night knows, he promised to get his daughters a puppy to take with them to the White House. He said, when asked about what breed they would take, that they would consider a shelter-dog, and that “a lot of shelter-dogs are mutts like me”.

It’s amazing to me that miscegenation laws — legislation that prohibits interracial marriages — existed in 16 states in the United States well into the latter half of the 20th century. We still have a tendency to identify any mixed race child — when one parent is white — with the minority, almost as if the minority blood tainted the white blood. Of course, only the most hardcore inbred racists would openly espouse such views, but I think even amid the jubilation of Obama being elected “the first African American president”, a lot of people overlooked the fact that he was mixed race, with a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas. Obama has stated over and over the importance of his mixed race heritage in shaping his world view.

The fact that a guy with a decidedly un-Anglo name like Barack Hussein Obama was elected president of the United States is fantastic. It means so much to me personally, as a person of mixed race, with an un-Anglo-sounding name. I’m a mutt too, with Swiss-German-Italian-Vietnamese blood, and I grew up in America. But, unlike Obama, whose mix with the dominant African gene makes him appear “more black” to most people, I have a weird mix that actually makes me look Latino. I grew up with people thinking I was Mexican, Brazilian, Columbian, Arabic, you name it — but mostly they thought I was Mexican. Growing up in California you are surrounded by Mexican culture, so this was inevitable for someone who looked like me. I never got offended, but it always reinforced my gut feeling that I was different, that I didn’t have a place anywhere. But there are certain advantages to this Zelig-like existence.

I used to valet park cars, for example, and the vatos driving their lowriders would only park with me because I was folk —they obviously thought I was Mexican and could handle their cars. It was pretty damn cool to drive those lowriders around! Being a weird mix also allows me to blend-in in a lot of places. One time in Budapest, of all places, I was stopped on the street and asked for directions in Hungarian; and here in Spain, people take it for granted that I am from here. I’ve had conversations with people who, upon finding out that I am not from here, were convinced that I was from somewhere in South America. When I told them no, I’m American, they looked at me as if I was some kind of Uncle Tom denying his true roots. I just let them think that, because I am really tired of explaining my life story to people. I have even worked with Americans who had a hard time believing that I really was American, and not Spanish.

The most dubious honor of all, though, is when I fill out census forms. When asked for your race, the options are usually Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, and, best of all, Other. Since I can’t pick two, which would do justice to both of my parents, and because I can’t completely identify with either of the broad rubrics of Caucasian and Asian, I always pick Other. My entire life can, in a way, be defined by my choice of picking Other. I could never identify with anything else.

Obama is a mutt, and so am I. This is really about the rise of the mutts. We shelter-dogs haven’t been adequately represented in this crazy world that fetishizes purebreds. Purebreds aren’t better, and sometimes they can get snappy. Just look at Barney, Bush’s Scottish Terrier, who cruelly snapped at a reporter and drew blood the day after Obama’s election.

It made me wonder. Could Barney’s shockingly un-presidential behavior really be symbolic of the end of purebred fetishizers? Could it be their last lashing out?