31 August 2011

"Community Watch"

Eve sits behind the nursery on an air conditioning unit, smoking her Parliament 100s and thumbing through a magazine.  The weather has been getting progressively colder and the day’s breeze is starting to tear the first golden-brown leaves from their branches and shake the withering rose buds from their bushes. Eve wishes she’d worn something warmer when she notices a mopey old man pacing across the street.  She’d seen him before when she’d started her smoke break – green sweater, khaki trousers, portly and bald – grandfatherly looking, and not at all noticeable. 
Yet here he was again, pacing and watching the nursery.  He makes to cross the road, but balks and resumes his nervous back-and-forth.  This old man makes Eve uneasy, his nervousness somehow rubbing off onto her.  Only last week in Michigan there was something in the news… she puts out her cigarette and heads back around for the door. 
            “Excuse me, miss?  I say, miss!”  Spying her, the old man hurries across the street with labored steps and a nervous smile on his face.  Eve pauses at the door as he approaches, tittering and breathless.  “Hello miss, I’m sure you don’t remember me at all,” and he pauses hopefully a bit as he searches for some bit of recognition in her face.  Finding none, he continues “I had donated some things here a few years ago.  Toys, they were-  I was wondering if I could come in and have a quick look around?”
            “I really don’t think so, sir,” Eve tells him, torn between her duty and a common sense of courtesy.  On the one hand, what could be the harm?  But then on the other, beneath the baggy-saggy exterior and elderly charm might lurk a monster, a potential danger to the children in her charge.  It really isn’t worth the risk, and Eve cannot see how the scenario would end well.  Even if he really was after toys and even if they had been his toys at some point, the nursery couldn’t simply give them back, or even really sell any if he offered to buy them.
“Those toys used to be mine, actually.”  He leans around her and stands on tip-toes as he peers in through the window.  “I mean look, there’s my old Spirograph!  And -oh!- my jump rope and Raggedy Andy and the-  where’s my Etch-a-Sketch gone to?”
“The Etch-a-Sketch?  We used to have one, but I think that was broken a while ago.”
“Oh.  Oh yes, I see.  And the jacks?”
“I’m afraid you need to go, sir.  You really have no business here.”  The old man’s doleful expression is starting to bum her out, and besides it really wasn’t proper for him to be here like this.  Already children are coming to the window to see what’s been going on, while other caregiver Sara steps out with a militant air.
“Is there a problem here?” she asks Eve with a malicious glance toward the old man.  They both try to explain the situation to Sara, Eve in even tones and the old man with a frantic urgency, but she shakes her head sharply.  “No, no, I’m afraid that’s impossible and if you don’t leave these premises immediately I’m going to call the cops.”
            Tearfully the old man tries to push past them, but is soundly rebuffed by a much larger Sara.  “I never had any children, you know!” he shouts at them as he stands at the end of the walk.  “I-” he begins but suddenly breaks off and limps his way down the street again as Sara begins dialing the police on her mobile.  Eve can’t help but feel sorry for him, the loping old man against a backdrop of falling leaves.  Suddenly she wishes she’d worn something warmer and, rubbing her arms for warmth, heads back inside.

"The Throes"

Marianne sits weeping to herself in the corner.  Poor Marianne.  The kids (but they aren’t kids anymore, are they?) are on their way, and Walter struggles against what may well be the last sleep.  The immobile frailty of his limbs, the tinny taste in his mouth, the drug-dimmed bowel pain turned to terrible numbness; unpleasant omens all, in his opinion.
This is it, Walter thinks to himself.  I’m dying, the jig is up, the farm has been cashed, bucket kicked.  He lies helplessly in his uncomfortable hospice cot in the hellishly sanitary mint green room.  An assortment of important looking machines blip softly, rhythmically.  Rubber lifelines and plastic tubes and electric cables connect Walter variously to medications and oxygen, to plasma; to the wall socket like some sort of appliance.
How best to sum up a life? he wonders.  Knowing the time is at hand, what can one really say before stepping off life’s magnificent stage?  How much his wife and kids and friends all meant?  How a lifetime of useless work has been tragically cut short before reaching retirement?  How his only vice ended up being the instrument of his demise?  How is Walter to be remembered at his deathbed?
Therein lies the rub.  Having been a fairly well-read person in his youth, Walter can think back to the wonderful deathbed expressions that make for such fine retelling.  Either these curtains go or I do.  Show my head to the people, it is worth seeing.  Jefferson still survives.  Drink to me.  It’s my turn to take a leap into the darkness.  That sort of thing.
The kids arrive.  Thomas and Bobby and Carol and their wives and husband Walter never particularly cared for.  Carol and Bobby are crying and Thomas might be too were it possible.  Marianne leaves quietly, having been sitting there in her corner most of the morning.  The kids are all talking, at him or to him, it doesn’t make much sense.  Walter’s eyesight is starting to loop in and out and in, and their words are all sounding foreign to his ears.  The tinny taste is terrible but fast fading, and Walter feels as though he is getting immeasurably lighter. 

“Is this death, then?” he thinks he says as he fades out for the last-

           He hopes that those aren’t his final words to his children.  But brightness soon follows, as the room returns.  The kids are all looking at Walter nervously, Bobby with a hand on his shoulder.  He must only have faded out for a moment, and the tinny taste returns with his loathing of the room he lies in. 

“Thought my number was up,” he chuckles weakly, buying for time. 

Sum up a life, package it all up… should he say something political, something soppy, something endearing?  A piece of advice or timeless wisdom?  Should he make something up, a fantastic treasure or the like?  Should he express any regrets?  Walter doesn’t feel any, but perhaps it’s the medication making him all euphoric and indifferent.  Nurse?  Nurse?  Carol is asking if she should fetch a nurse?

“I think I’ll be resplundage,” Walter slurs, thoughts muddling.

And everything again fades out rather suddenly, and a fear grips at his chest.  Ye gods, this is it, sure as a day, ended on a daft note.  And as he tumbles into the dismal blackness he is brought just as quickly back with a jolt; a literal, painful jolt as a mint green clad doctor takes the defibu-whatsits from off Walter’s wheezing, panicked chest.
They’ve got an oxygen mask over his mouth and he knows this is it, third time going down fire for the count and all.  Walter would wrest it off and away if he could but lift his arms, tell them he loves them without being able to remember who they are particularly.  Something, anything.  His lips are moving, he attempts to speak something, anything.  It is Thomas who comes forward and pulls back the death mask from his face.  Sum up a life, a happy life with time running short-

“I’ve eaten a lot of good food,” Walter says feebly, and dies promptly thereafter.

A New Foreboding

"Mind the minors, plea-uzz!"
Hey, fans and folk!  So I was reperusing the blog entries of yesteryear (of earlier this year, mostly) and've concluded some of the stories just aren't acceptable for G-rated audiences.  Just one or two, which means that instead of going through the off-putting process of initiating the blogspot 18-or-older-to-enter splash, I've doodled up a little logo to place at the top of all and any posts that might qualify as being of a somewhat 'seedy' nature.  Not that those come up often, though of course I try not to pull too many punches when it comes to language here and there (as most of y'all readers may well know by now).  This is that logo, and the caption that will accompany it for future reference.  I think it pretty much captures the spirit of the thing, while at the same time not fending people off from finding soup recipes and the like.

30 August 2011

Raising the Price of Tea?

It positively burned my bollocks yesterday to see a headline highlighting fresh complaints that members of Congress aren’t paid enough.  As I was following the link I thought to myself that they better not be newly-elected members of the Tea Party circuit, who so egregiously dickered up this month’s mammoth budget slashings while maintaining the tax loopholes unnecessarily protecting America’s wealthiest.  I suppose it shouldn’t have been such a great surprise to find that three of the article’s four citations came from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), all three indeed recently elected in the 2010 midterms as self-styled Tea Party juniors.
The comments the article cites speak pretty poorly of Southerland in particular; somewhat in Duffy's defense Talking Points Memo shows him to be among Congress' poorest peers, though his family's wealth is still considerably greater than those of his average constituents.  (Although in an act of informational whitewash, Duffy and the GOP attempted to strike all evidence of his comments from the internet.)  It is also important to note that comments made by Ellmers and by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) were both in the context of forgoing their salaries completely in the event of the potential government shutdown earlier this year.
But Steve Southerland, what gall!  Complaining publicly that he ought to return to the private sector, and this after striving his hardest to drive the near-ruin (well... tarnishing might be a less loaded, more accurate phrasing) of America's economic standing, and the decimating of its fiscal obligations and social programming.  I suppose all I can say is "Go, sir!"  Your ilk is not what America needs now, or ever.

26 August 2011

Spamworthy Split Pea Soup

1 hour to prepare; amply serves 2

1 box Streit's split pea soup mix (or similar substance)
4 cups water
1/2 cup Spam, cubed
1/2 onion, 1/2 sweet potato, likewise chopped
pepper, herb d'Provence, 2 cloves garlic, etc
1/2 cup mushroom and 1 tomato, chopped

Begin boiling the water on the stove, as per the Streit's directions.  Once boiling, add the peas, garlic, sweet potatoes, and onion to the pot; cover and simmer on a LO heat.  Set your timer for one hour (total), bearing in mind the various steps during the cooking process.  Viz, add the Spam after thirty minutes; add the mushroom, tomato, and flavourant after forty-five.  At the hour mark the soup should be ready to eat!
Easy, eh?  But no split pea soup would quite be complete without a complimentary carbo to accompany it.  Having neither crackers nor corn meal (for some grade-A cornbread) on hand I've decided to resurrect my Quick-fix Zam Curry Bread.  When the soup is at the half-hour mark add to a bowl:

3/4 or 1 full cup of flour
a dash of salt
an ample dusting of baking powder
a tsp of curry powder and a dusting of chili powder
a dribbling of oil

Mix all this together with a butter knife and add some water from the tap; not a lot, now!  In marginal increments add to and mix the floury mixture until it becomes a nearly doughy (moist but still floury in texture) mixture.  Knead it into a ball with your hands and let it sit in the bowl for ten or fifteen minutes.  Heat up a skillet with a light covering of oil (like a home-infused garlic olive oil, for instance) and pressing the dough ball flat, fry on MED or MED-HI until browned a bit on either end.  Should be about ready as the soup finishes up, perfect for a spicy sop.

And viola!  A meal fit for a soup kitcheny king.

(Compliment with a fragrant glass of ouzo.)

"The Club"

This is a poem done in the villanelle style...  And yes, I'm quite frightfully bored.

Smoking my cig down to the nub
On this warm June afternoon
I’m standing across from the Club

I’ve grown tired of my usual pub
Of playing that same old tune
Smoking my cig down to the nub

So I enviously watch this downtown hub
Where the uptown lads commune
I’m standing across from the Club

I’d someday join but there’s the rub
Barriers lay before me strewn
(Smoking my cig down to the nub)

I’m the sort they’d likely snub
They, my peers might like repugn
(I’m standing across from the Club)

It’s no place for a normal schlub
On I list, stuck with my saloon
Smoking my cig down to the nub
I’m standing across from the Club

"For the Birds"

            “This is your stupidest idea yet,” Binks begins and I can already visualize myself putting the boot in to his whiney keister.  I don’t of course, mates and all and besides which I’ve got to maintain my reserve for the passers by.  There’re a couple of khaki-shorted tourists approaching that look like they might drop a dollar or a cigarette or two.
            “Just shaddap and play,” I respond in low tones, thumping out a sharp little number on the bon-go drum I’ve got tucked between my legs.  I’m thinking Charade meets Ginsburg playing Lucien Carr, fast-tempo and exhilarating.  Binks is trying to keep up, strumming out some cool bass lines and beatboxing a bit of fake trumpet à la Hugh Laurie.
            The tourists pass us by with a wide berth, pausing their conversation – their very breathing – and avoiding eye contact as they do so.  “Help the homeless?  Sirs?  Sirs?”  Not even a look as they sashay to the crosswalk and jay across.  I stop my drumming.  “That was awful,” I’m glaring at Binks, who has likewise stopped off on playing and is sipping from his paper sack.
            “How can it be anything else when you can’t hold a beat?” he shoots back all barby.  “Besides, nobody’s going to believe we’re homeless, even with this milk carton banjo and your pathetic coffee can.”
            “Do you know how long it took me to string that carton?”  And I mean, it did take upwards of fifteen, twenty minutes.  It may not be climbing Everest, but time is money.  “And don’t even start on talking beats.  You’ve got the rhythm of a walrus having to, I dunno… play with its cock or something.”  And we bicker on, comfortable enough in the shaded parkway of the eponymously-named Park Avenue.  It’s a hot day, bordering on the muggy if not for the steady breeze bustling through the trees.
            We pause and take thoughtful sips from our respective sacks, grimacing a tisch over the lukewarmy tang of Hurricane backwash infused with a couple nips of gin.  Clearly the band thing isn’t working out, having spent the majority of the day playing without hardly any payoff.  At one point some fresh-mouthed teenager offered us a dollar to stop.  And a couple passing JWs left us copies of their Watchtower periodical, which eventually got picked up by the breeze and left dismally tossed about in the roadside shrubbery.
            “Maybe you’re right, Binksie.  Bohemian folk music is old hat, dime a dozen and all.  We need a new gig, something unique.”
            “Can’t we go scouring for cans again?  That paid off nicely.”
            I shake my head.  “The can bums,” I remind him, men and women of the street who make their dime filling grimy shopping carts with cans they dive through the bins for.  They’re a mean lot, a sort of informal guild that doesn’t take to tin-poaching lightly.  “That one promised to take my thumbs if he ever saw me near another recyclable.”  A weighty threat, nearly always having a can of some sort in hand.  I try holding the bag with just my palm, nearly dropping it.  I’d probably have to switch to bottles, living sans thumbs.
            “How about palmistry?” I suggest.  “Like, fortune-telling!  I learned how to do it once back in college.  We could set up a bench down by the Pearl…”
            “You can read fortunes?” Binks sneers, and once again I’m thinking about thumping him one.
            “Nobody can read fortunes, you nit.  But any dumb shit can read a palm.  You just have to know which lines mean what, and sort of embellish on from there.  Gimme your hand.”  And I take his resisting arm and spread his hand palm-up on the top of my bongo can.  It’s sort of awful, touching Binks’ clammy mitt, vaguely and quite uncomfortably sexual in a way.  But eventually he quits struggling and I get to looking over the lines.
            “See, now this is your life line, by the thumb.  It’s a shrimpy little thing, meaning you’ve got no joie de vivre, no lust for life.  No head line to speak of… actually, maybe your hands are just too doughy.  Probably bloated from all the drink-”
            “Give me that!” he says irritably, pulling back his arm as I’m having a laugh that’s sort of turning to a disquietingly wet cough fit.  “You don’t know what you’re doing.  Besides, that idea’s dumber even than the folk band.  We might just have to get jobs, Hoff.  I know, I know, don’t look at me like that.  I’m just saying that the checks’ll be drying up soon and money doesn’t just come, you know?”
            “Money doesn’t just come,” I agree, “but who’s going to hire the either of us?  Spotty records, at best.  Scant sobriety, at best.  Ours is destined to be the life of the streets, man.  Of freedom!”  And with a sweeping gesture I point out the trees et al above and around us, we masters of the open spaces.  Feeling inspired, I start to tap out a rhythm dedicated to our Mother Nature, evocative of peace and joy and solidarity and-
            “Stop, stop, stop!” Binks stands abruptly, shaking his head and squeezing the bridge of his nose.  He wrests the can from me and throws it into the grass with a soft tum.  “You have no rhythm, you crazy bastard!  Soon to have no moneyNo placeNo future!  We’re not characters in a goddamn Kafka novel.”
            “Kerouac,” I correct him.
            “Whatever!  It gets cold at night, Hoff man.  And sometimes it rains.  People aren’t birds; they need apartments and rent money and groceries.  They need something fucking soft to sleep on, something that doesn’t smell like piss.  Because they have pots for that, too.”  He begins to walk off down the Park Avenue, arms out and incredulous like the Monopoly tycoon on a tax day.
            “You’ll be back, Binks!” I call after him.  “It’s written in your life line!”  He shouts back something indefinably obscene as he jays at the cross.  Blinking red hands everywhere, it seems.  I lay back in the grass, cradling my head in my hands and admiring the twisted branching limbs of the oaks stretching out above me, wondering if there’s a science to arboreal palmistry.  Some passing mug flicks a quarter at me as he walks.  “Bless you, sir!” I say after him, not deigning to right myself and fetch it.  After all, it’s only a quarter.

23 August 2011

Now is Our Time {to Go Forth and Vomit}

So I saw a recent Levis ad running online.  I’m not even sure where to begin, so simultaneously amused, awed, and irritated was I.  But I’ll start with awe; beautifully shot, a tender panoply of color and effect and subtle razzmatazz.  The contrast of each pants-wearer’s scenario, well woven into the next transition with fire and petals and water and Batman-era colorful tear gas.  And throughout comes the soothing voice of the narrator droning on in the background amid the sounds of waves crashing and upliftingly light music.

Makes for pleasant effect but by the end I was a tisch vexed, “how dare they” and such.  I think my underlying point of contention was their campy use of the rebelliousness of youth to sell clothing, and of their taking what really is a rousing little poem and somewhat cheapening it thereby.  Not that those social offenses are anything new, or those subjects sacrosanct.  But I think it was the young Ewan McGregor wannabe swaggering up defiantly towards the riot line, and the commercial’s trite fluff-and-gloss of rebellion (more specifically, of rioting and civil unrest), their equating this rebellion to a resurgence in punk youth fashion.  Maybe it was poor timing, now that Libya is finally winning its war on Gaddafi.  If more than mere coincidence, it strikes me as a sort of band-wagoning cash-in not unlike recent statements made by current Republican candidates.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Levis.  In point of fact, I only wear Levis (527s) so far as jeans go, which are inevitably the only things I wear on my legs when in public.  Solid.  Dependable.  Well-fit.  Et cetera.  And so far as commercials go, it was easier to watch than some of the new Geico ads or any number of deodorizing spray commercials.  But it begs to ask, who does Levi Strauss & Company want its clientele to rebel against?  So far as the rank and file go, Levi is the establishment, the devil-may-care buy-buy-buy corporate steam engine the Man rides to work every morning. 

I dunno, I’m prolly looking too deeply into it.  Nonetheless, it rubbed me against the grain that something as truly brutal and violent (and real, if you will) as rioting/unrest/civil discord can be passed off as something light and cool to sell a few pairs of slacks.  Smacks distasteful.

22 August 2011

"Mystery of the Untucked Shirttail"

            Binks and I are sitting in at the downtown kinoplex, slurping down two rather large doctored rye Pepsi’s in an attempt to escape the rainy Thursday afternoon.  We’re watching Rise of the Apes, or maybe Final Destination Something.  I’m mostly watching the screen through the darkened lenses of my 3D gimmicks, neither here nor there bogged down by plot.  Just flashes of violence and bursts of sound, ambrosia to the senses.
            Actually, I’m thinking to myself that I’ve gone and stiffened the pop a bit too strongly and am contriving a way to somehow reseparate the two liquids, when there’s a stultifying shout from the back of the theater.  One of those flat “Oh no, they’re dead!” kind of things that really just don’t do for me anymore.  But anyway, there was a shout (“Oh no, they’re deeeaaad!”) and a general uproar as people begin leaving or milling about or venturing towards the three motionless patrons at the back.  After what seems like ages the lights finally kick on and the vest-and-tie-festooned staffers are congregating around the bodies.
            “Yeah, they’re pretty dead looking,” Binks is saying between sips as we slowly rubberneck by.  Very tongue-in-cheek, is Mr. Binks.  But he has a point; three stringy chaps at the back, side by side, grotesque expressions frozen on their faces, heads all lilted to one side or another.  Pretty dead looking.
            “Do you suspect foul play?” I’m asking the fattest, most senior looking staffer.  He just gives me a fuck-off sort of look, and begins sniffing at my drink.  “Someone ought to call the police,” I say to Binks as we shuffle-foot on out into the lobby.  I start to grab at my pockets for the mobile when I realize it’s in the shop.  “Maybe you should call on yours.”
            Binks shakes his head.  “Not on my phone.  I’ve got an interview with the D-H-S coming up and I don’t need to be mixed up with any police.  Anyway, what’s wrong with yours?”
            I’m thinking up a way to explain the shop when some vesty pimply punk touches my arm.  “I’m afraid you guys will have to hold back until the police arrive,” and I’m about to ditch the jumbo gulp and hoof it.  Of course, with murder afoot and all, I suppose it’d be a rash move on my part.  So I stand easily.
            “What, for questioning like?”
            “Yehman.  Would you stand over by the others for a bit?  Until they arrive?”  And he gingerly shoves us over to a corral of irritated, perplexed looking movie patrons standing by the popcorn machine.  What a bunch of whiners, what with their places to go and things to do.  Very me-me-me, missing the forest for the lone pine.  Yet larger things were happening.  For one, the ‘police’ show up almost immediately, suspiciously so.  There are four of them, with three gurneys that they wheel straight off into the theater.  I think ‘police,’ because though they’re all more-or-less lumpy enough and have the blue apparel, there isn’t a badge to be seen between them.  And – yes! – one has his shirttail out, a sign of a rush if there ever was!
            “Do you see that, Binks?”
            “Yeah I told you, they’re dead.”
            “No, not that you half-wit!  I think-” and I lower my voice a bit, aware now that we may be in a dangerous position.  “I think those men are the murderers… did you see the one’s shirttail?  Clearly, they’ve only just put on their disguisesThey’re actually making off with the bodies!”
            I must say, Binks’ face was an irritating pinch throughout the whole explanation, seemingly unable to see the situation for what it is.  “Naw, but-” and he at least lowers his voice a bit as well, “But those are the paramedics.
            “Paramedics!?” I shout, nearly laughing.  “Paramedics, but they’re dead, Binks.  They’re dead!”  And I may have blown our cover completely, as now the small crowd we find ourselves in is beginning to forget their schedules and alibis and are instead watching us intently.  I pull Binks to one side and resume the whisper, “I think some of them might be in on it.  The mafia has a very wide net to cast.
            “Mafia?  Where are you getting all of this?”  And I dare say I see the glimmer of doubt in his eye, perhaps even suspicion.  His game is up.
            “I always knew you were a rat,” I sneer as I take a step back.  “Never getting into trouble, now I begin to see the strings that work the marionette.”
            “But,” and I must have riled him because Binks is starting to stammer, to go on the defensive.  “But you’ve always been the one getting into trouble!”  He’s looking back to his cronies now, possibly for support; nobody steps forward and his guard is down.
            “You’re goddamn right,” I say, seizing the opportunity and taking him roughly by his collar.  My drink may have gotten a bit spilt in the scuffle, but I’m sure I had the murderers' inside man.  I might’ve beaten it out of him, too, if the cock-up police hadn’t arrived to shake things up.  “Confess, damn you!” I'm shouting at him, and one of the officers has me going to ground despite my best struggles.  Being a bit bigger than I am Binks is putting up a more solid fight, despite being a mafioso thug (or maybe because of it).  Even gets a proper punch in before the cowards triple-team him into submission.
            “Thattaboy, Binksie,” I mumble into the shoddy theater lobby carpet as the cuffs come on behind me.  “Work those strings…”

21 August 2011

"Bread Basking"

            So there I stand, shaking my head at the paltry assortment of comestible sadness scantily cladding my cupboards.  Two tins of tomato paste (Hunt’s, not even Contadina), a half-jar of banana peppers, a can and a half of coffee, a bag of dried beans, and two lukewarm cans of Pabst still hooked at the ring.  There’s flour in the counter bin, maybe some sugar.  The fridge might have some mustard and a bottle of pomegranate juice, and most definitely a half-case of Steel Reserve.  I’ve got nothing.  Nothing but coffee and malted beverage, and a stomach that’s beginning to grumble.
            I rummage out a pad from the junk drawer.  From the Mind of Hoff, lovingly printed at the header.  I pull a pen from my pocket and start scrawling like, outpouring a deluge of thoughts and staples and whimsy.  Onions, big meaty yellow sweet and sharp Vidalias, a half dozen at least.  And eggs!  An eighteen pack of AA super-grade eggiweggs, sizzled up in butter with bacon on the side.  Shredded cheddar, sour cream, two-percent milk- scratch that, whole milk, goddamned buttermilk!  Orange juice, Texas Toast, vanilla extract, fakey never-go-bad syrup… and that’s just breakfast!
            I’m having to pull up another sheet:  vine-ripened tomatoes, twenty pounds of spaghetti, butcher-fresh sagey sausage, non-virgin olive oil, machine-rolled Totino snackems, split peas, ham hocks, Progresso soups, chicken wings, Sweet Baby Ray’s, a goddamn ribeye… I’m chuckling to myself, the thought of all this food is making me so happy.  In reality once I get to the store I know what it’ll be; a case of Ramen and another can of coffee, but a man can dare to dream.
            I know there’s a Safeway across the river by the Binks’ but I’m hoping for something closer by, something I need only heft a few blocks for the haul.  I can think of a few bars and like, but I honestly can’t say I’ve ever looked about for grocery stores.  I pull up the Google Earth on the desktop and begin searching.  What luck!  Shopping cart icons everywhere, it seems.  And a Safeway only three or four blocks southeast of me.  With a jump and a skip I’ve got my wallet and my list and I’m headed out the door, wondering as I go whether I should nip off a Steel into a Nalgene for the walk.  Naw, I’m telling myself after a bit of thought.  It doesn’t do to drink when there’s food afoot.  A couple sips and a body loses the hunger, that drive that makes us all human.
            So I’m out the door and into the aggressive hello of the sun’s rays.  It is a bright, obnoxiously beautiful day, balmy and just a bit breezy.  To my liking, so far as sunny days go.  I’m walking east through the neighborhood, a downright bounce in my step as I go.  Thinking about food - Food! - real food, with the heat and grime of real cooking.  Real chopping, real mincing, real preheating and temping and scouring.  Reality, sustenance for the life and mind like.  Only a stone’s throw from growing it all yourself, but I’m not sure yet how to apply for a community plot.  Not quite sure how I’d fit in with the garden set, either.  Trés gentrifique, them.
            But the neighborhood’s pleasantly quiet the day, just another Sunday in Godless Portland.  A time to rest and reflect, to revel in goodliness and peace and such.  A time to grocery shop.  I reach my street and start heading down, noticing an easy chair on the pavement that might do nicely in the apartment.  High backed and cultured, a beigey ‘sitting room’ sort of affair.  First things first, though, and after a few more blocks than I’d expected I’m at the crossroads, mildly perplexed at the rubbled lot before me.  I’m looking to the street signs and yes, this is indeed the proper spot.
            Proper spot too late, apparently.  Safeway gone and relegated to a lot, paving the way for a new strip outlet sometime next spring.  Hum, I’m thinking to myself, wondering where next on my little adventure.  There’s nothing but cafes and shops to my right, so I continue eastward on Hawthorne towards nowhere in particular, sun hovering above me.  Real LBJ, the sun today.  The back of my neck is already starting to get sticky damp, my mouth dry to taste.  Perhaps a Nalgene would’ve been a good call, and I’m wondering if I really need any food at all.  A couple malts, maybe an impromptu soup with the beans and tomato paste…
            Treasonous thoughts, I’m telling myself as I see ahead a sign that reads MARKET across the street.  My hopes aren’t up though; it could just as easily be a sign that says LAUNDROMAT or MOTEL or any other number of shoddy inner-city semi-conveniences.  My guess is that they won’t even have a produce section or cold untinned meat, like the dozens of fucking Plaid Pantries masquerading as grocery stores.  Gas stations without the pumps, more like.
            I cross on over, fears turning to reasonable doubts turning to unlikely hopes to the contrary.  It’s no different than any number of liquor shops, and as I go in I see the chip aisle, the condom section, magazines, and three walls of cooler doors filled with beer and booze and energy drinks.
            “Hey!” the clerk greets me warmly with a pleasant, nondescript sort of accent.  “Wonderful day, no?”  I greet him back; it is, in fact, a wonderful day.  With a heavy tread I saunter the two aisles, looking for any mislaid eighteen-count cartons of eggs, or bacon, or even a bundle of asparagus.  Nothing except for Vienna Sausages and Doritos, and the cold case beckoning me thither with its soft iridescent blue glow.  And after talking to the clerk I suppose I’d feel bad not buying anything.  I peruse the walls, gravitating towards the singles.  With a sigh I grab a giant Fosters and a large Guinness, and a bag of wasabi peas that catches my eye towards the counter.
            “I.D. please?” clerky asks me as he rings my tawdry groceries through.  “These good?” he asks of the peas.
            “Oh yeah, I love’m,” I say.  “Would you happen to know of any grocery stores nearby?” I ask with vain hope.
            “Sorry man, I don’t know.  It’s my first day, you know?”
            “Not a worry, thanks.”  He hands me my bag and card and receipt and I’m back out the door into the soul-crushing sunshine.  It's deleriating, sweltering, demoralizing.
             I'm wondering where I should go from here, and as if to answer my thoughts some white-hatted shite riding shotgun in a passing pickup suddenly shouts out at me, "GO HOME, FAGGOT!!"  So with a shrug I head west.  Homeward bound and less the hungry than for the thirst.

19 August 2011

A 19 August Cuppa Life

So I’m sitting again with the morning cuppa, all strung out after a dozen cover letters and needing an unwind.  Cue the news, my everlasting source of succor, my fortress of turpitude.  Wham!  First thing that strikes my eye:

Apple Faces South Korean Lawsuit – Now I really don’t have anything against Apple, short of a pro-PC sort of prejudice and a striking distaste for hep electronics.  But seeing this story (much like the iPad factory explosion of ages past) makes me all apple-cheeked and heart-warmy.  The tradeoff for all this gadgetry, for all this technological paraphernalia of our day, is essentially our freedom of localized conspicuity.  Of being able to say on a daily basis, “nobody knows I’m here except for my neighbors, my dog, and passersby on the street.”  Of being able to sign up for a service without having your phone number and email address sold off to telemarketers or hacked by cybervandals (because terrorist really is too strong a word).  Et cetera.  I’ve nothing against voluntarily signing oneself up for information-sharing or global tracking (actually, I’m hoping to get into the quake-catcher network sometime), but Apple is finally being hoisted by its own close-system, ask-no-favors petard.  Pending the lawsuit, of course.

US Military Develops ‘Bigger Bang’ Explosive Material – This new advent in pyrotechnic death (or ‘catastrophic kill,’ as the nomenclature goes) has promising potential for anti-missile missilery, more potent bombs (just what our drones need), and explosive bullets, among other exuberances.  And it comes at three or four times the price tag of current munitions!  And conservatives are complaining about SOCIAL SECURITY and the FDA!!  Jesus Christ, but I need another cup of coffee...

This Week’s Immigration News – Including allegations of racism and abuse of loosened probable cause interpretation that borders on the incontinent, and the possible waiving of 300,000 deportations of individuals deemed ‘not a risk’ have both caught my eye and hijacked my musings.  Should they stay or should they go, the irritating game of eating and keeping the cake.  I suppose part of the problem lies in the wide difference of opinions within America’s divide; the difference between reality (both good and bad) and prejudice (both preferential and discriminatory), and the inherent inability to make a decision that sits well with anybody.  Like America’s prison system, or the goddamn budget….  Getting more coffee.

Is the World Facing Fundamental Changes? – More doom and gloom about the finances, so I find myself backtracking and instead find Basketball Brawl: China and Georgetown Make Amends – Makes my heart glad to see fans and athletes closing in for the kill.  From different countries, no less!  I wonder if we could start investing in basketball (or hockey?) rather than HDRM, begin fighting our wars thattaway.  Really though, makes me chuckle.

At the day's end, what more does a body need than a warm bevvy (or five) and the occasional laugh?  Well... maybe A Recap of Former Soviet Republics.

17 August 2011

"Tuesday Most Glourious"

Binks and myself are milling about by the stop 2-6-4-2 on the Hawthorne over-underpass, drinking Old German pounders from the bag.  Exulting life, I suppose, soaking in the resplendence of God’s own day, that most glourious of Tues-days.  The government and church establishment perhaps haven’t officially recognized it as a holiday, our Tuesday, but I rest assured that they someday will.  
How could they not?  Ineffable solar rays, a moocow lowing of the tugs and boats on the river just ahead, scritching birds, droning cars, sweeping breeze!  Truly a day to be out and about and headed downtown to extend one’s snap account.  “Isn’t it great?” I’m shouting to Binks as a bus rolls by.
            “No, I think we missed our bus,” he’s saying dismally, off on a different tangent altogether.
            “Damn your balls, man!  Can’t you see it’s a wonderful day?  Heavens above and beyond,” and I take another surreptitious slurp from my bag, enjoying a lukewarm pizzy mouthful of stale wash as I scope out the number on the disappearing bus.  “Nah, you fool, it’s not ours!  See, we’ve got a few minutes yet before ours comes along.”
            “Right-right, then!” he chimes in, brightening up immediately as he tips and drains his can back.  “Well, I’m dry” he shrugs, tossing bag and can back over the side, into the weedy concertinaed-off lot below.
            “Littering wag,” I’m muttering after him as my eye follows the thing’s descent, impact, and insignificance among forgotten cars and racks of canoes tangled in tall grass.  And suddenly I’m putting it all together, scanning the lightposts above for camera boxes.  “Ye gods, Binks!  We ought to take a canoe,” and already I’ve got my unsteady eye on a shoddy kelly green thing in the corner, built for two and a case and easy enough to lift.  One that nobody’d miss, I’m thinking.
            “What, down the river?  Are there paddles?  What about our food stamps?”
            “Don’t bring me down with details, dammit!  We can use those planks as paddles, the river’ll be our starboard and the breeze our compass!  We can head downtown another day this week.”  And already I’m leading the way down the concrete stairway, Binks tittering on behind me.
            “You’re crazy, Hoff.  Goddamn crazy,” he’s admonishing me, nigh-on complimentary.  “We just take this thing north, to the ocean?  And what then?  How’ll we get back?”
            “Details again, you little squint.  You can’t nitpick inspiration on days like this.”  We’re on the ground now, rubbley litter-strewn stretch of disused earth.  I’m looking about for weaknesses in the fencing, but it’s all razor-tipped and padded off from the general pop, tight and proper.  “Well ass,” I’m cursing at the thing, foiled before we could make good on our venture.  “Maybe there’ll be a bedroll along the river or under an overpass or something.”
            “What, you’ll ruin somebody’s bedroll now?  That’s all some’ve got, you crazy bastard.”
            “Fine, fine,” I’m conceding.  Binks has a point, even if he is a complaining little weed.  “We’ll look for something though.” 
From above comes the hiss of what is most likely our bus.  “Shit, shit!” Binks is shouting angrily, running pell-mell for the staircase.  “Dammit, wait!!”  It’s a funny sight, watching him scramble up those stairs.  Binks can really leg it if he wants, despite being a dumpy cuss.  The bus hisses on though, grunting its way back into traffic towards the bridge.  “I missed it, you shit!” Binks is calling from twenty, thirty feet up.
“Why don’t you throw a can at me?” I’m laughing back at him, still looking about for a way through the wire.  Perhaps I could crawl under and push the canoe over…  “Hey Binks, I’ve got a plan!  Binks!  Binks?”  But he is gone, probably crossing the bridge on foot in a huff.  Shame, really though.  The canoe might take a crack if there isn’t somebody on the other side to catch it.
I leave off toward the esplanade and the river with a shrug.  It is a glorious day, not one to be wasted on scurrilous details.  I tip back my Old German and drain out the very last and plunk it softly into the yard.  These are the gifts one mustn’t prod too roughly in the teeth; this sun, these birds, this traffic thundering onward overhead, completely oblivious to the wonderful world below it.

16 August 2011

Plodding About the Waltz

Now among the most recognizable pieces of music in Western culture, the Blue Danube Waltz (play it as you read on) was only a mild success at its opening performance in 1867. Penned after Austria's devastating loss to the Prussians earlier the year before, the waltz would eventually be seen as the masterpiece of its composer, Johann Strauss (II), and is now prized as one of Austria's iconic themes.

Johann Strauss II
But what is in a waltz? Is it simply a moving piece about a river, or is the Blue Danube a name affixed to nothing more than fine dancing music? 'Certainly not,' as most could say; at the very least the melodic, ebbing notes quite recognizably emulate the movements of a river. But why then the Blue Danube, why the martial undertones and the (at times) compulsorily paced nature of the piece?

More than simply being a waltz or a waltz about a river, I would hazard that Strauss' Blue Danube is about geopolitics and culture. That it is a nation's waltz with itself as the looming question of Hungarian representation approaches, amid a growing and potentially explosive self-awareness of the numerous pan-Slavic ethnicities that comprise Austria's territory.

The piece opens with a meeting of two parties, perhaps of Austria and Hungary, or of it with Modernity or even History. The two parties meet with mild apprehension, even underlying hostility in their subdued introduction. Regardless, the waltz goes on in all pomp and civility, held together with the same grace and finesse as the Danube that binds the polyglot empire.

The waltz is a combination of themes; of culture, of militarism, and of lament. On the one hand, it is a classical piece hearkening back to Austria's rich cultural past. This was after all the nation that had given the world Mozart and Schubert and Rottmayr, Doppler and (albeit soon afterward) Brentano and Freud. It had brought culture and civilization to south-central Europe, and had long been considered a bastion of the West against that which was considered Eastern and 'un-European.'

But times were changing. As a society Strauss' Blue Danube culture was in danger of being torn apart from within, by liberalization and nationalist stirrings. Whereas a century before a Rumanian, a Croat, a Ruthenian, and a Czech could all proudly call themselves 'Austrian,' the Pan-Slavism that developed following the tumultuous times of Napoleon was calling the interests of a German Habsburg dynasty into question. Barely held together by its fraying national culture and an outmoded sense of medieval propriety, out of necessity the Danube becomes the metaphorical tie that binds together this otherwise unnatural amalgam of peoples forced together by a millennium of history.

And what a history it was! Rising in the form of the Holy Roman Empire a thousand years before, the Habsburg dynasty had bested its rival neighbors and forged a relatively mighty empire in Europe's center; it had kept back the dreaded Turk at Vienna's very gates, and defended the interests of the Catholic Church when the continent was embroiled in the upheaval of Reformation.

As the Blue Danube carries itself along, its classical overtures are intermittently jostled along by a jaunty martial step. While recalling past glories and military triumphs, it also echoes the militarism fast rising among Europe's great and fading powers, a foreshadowing of the cataclysmic conflict to come, and one which Austria is seemingly destined to lose. Having outlived its progeny in Holland, Spain, France and Mexico, the Empire would likewise live to see the consolidation of its former German fiefdoms into a newly united, very-much Prussian Germany, now inevitable after the debacle of 1866.

More than just a dance the waltz is a reminisce, a basking in the fading light of an ending age. Fearsome modernity lay ahead, and with it the daunting uncertainty of mechanization, of revolution, of an unprecedented violence and upheaval of a sort the Habsburgs had fatefully risen from. It becomes a sort of hellish revelry in the face of impending doom, shoved on by that self-destructive martial air that carries it inexorably, sorrowfully forward. There lies ahead the empty promise of glory with a heavy appreciation for glory past, but nonetheless the dance is tainted with that unshakable feeling that this may well be the last waltz. Yes, stripped to the last of its majesty all the Austrian Empire has left is to dance, to revel in its rich culture before its abrupt and fantastic end.

This article is actually a repost from the Y! Associated Content site; no worries though, it's all Dan Rudy, from 'Now' to 'end.'

Simply Scones

Nothing says 'good morning' like piping hot dough and a caffeinated beverage.  So unless one is prepared to fry up some fresh doughnuts for some coffee - never the simple task, first thing in the morning - an easy fifteen minutes can be employed making scones for tea.

Makes six.  Requires:

1 cup flour
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tbs butter
1/4+ cup of milk

Preheat yon oven to 425 and add the dry ingredients to a mix bowl.  Drop in the butter and begin pinching it off into the flour, working the butter eventually down to crumbly floury near-homogeny.  Crisco off a baking pan and add the milk to the mixing bowl; knead out to between 3/4-1 inch thickness and tear or cut into six pieces (or make one mega-scone in an effort to impress your neighbors/scare their children/offend the English) and place on the pan.  Before inserting into the oven, dab a little milk onto the scones for color and then place into the oven and time for ten minutes.  Now put your kettle on; all told, you should have a perfect cup o' tea and some fresh scones shortly.  A little bit of butter and/or jam/preserves should top them off nicely.

Also, consider adding dried fruit or honey to the mix; shake things up a bit, eh!

15 August 2011

Bing Slurry Surprise

A delightful little dish I whipped up on the fly this evening; the cherries occurred to me towards the end of cooking, but they really tied the whole meal together.

Makes two servings.

1 cup brown rice, 1 1/2 cups water
1 5.5 oz can sardines in tomato sauce (such as Ligo brand)
1/2 onion, 1/2 tomato, 1/2 cup fresh bing cherries; all chopped
half can of garbanzo beans
a touch of oil, a splash of milk, 2 tbs soy sauce, and a tbs of curry powder
a crumbling of feta


Begin cooking your brown rice, either in a rice steamer or as directed.  Meanwhile heat a skillet/pan/wok/whathaveyou and some oil and begin chopping your onion.  There's no hurry; the rice will take a while to cook.
If you like, open up your tin of sardines and place fish, sauce, and all into a bowl by the sink.  There should typically be three or four fish torsos per can; take the time to split them open with your fingers and remove the spines.  Once done, add your curry powder and splash of milk and set aside for later.
Returning to the now hot pan, begin sauteing the onions on a MED-HI or MED setting.  After five minutes add the garbanzos and begin chopping yon tomato and pitting/chopping the wonderful Bing cherries.  Perhaps do it near a sink; that juice runs freely and stains everything!  Add to the pan and top off with your fish curry, turning the mixture down to a MED or MED-LO setting.  Add your soy sauce and whichever spices sound appropriate (I opted for a bit of black pepper) and nurse your curry as the rice cooks on.
Once the rice is finished and fluffed, platter up and serve under sauce, topping with a crumbling of feta and a cuppa your favorite tea.  And enjoy!  The surprise is how anybody can go without at least two tins of sardines in the pantry!  {A must, in this day and age of ours.}

14 August 2011

Of Gods and Central Planners

So an interesting thought occurred to me as I slurp my morning cuppa, perusing Governor Rick Perry's website as I always do on Sunday mornings.  In the top banner there're blurbs of inspiration and facial likeness splashing across the screen, memorable quotes and so forth.  He keeps them simple:  "Don't spend all the money.  Keep taxes low.  Make regulations fair and predictable.  And stop the frivolous lawsuits that paralyze job creators."  "Getting America back to work starts with laying off our current president."

But the one that really made me sit up and smile this morning went along the lines of:
"It is up to this generation of Americans to take our future back from the grips of central planners who would control our healthcare, spend our treasure, downgrade our future, and micromanage our lives."
It strikes me that there's a wealth of information to be gleaned from this statement.  At first glance I'm scoffing at a man painfully out of touch with 'this generation,' though perhaps the Texan Young Republicans aren't such a hep set themselves...  Perry's use of terms like "central planners" and "treasure" seem taken straight out of McCarthy's* red scare lexicon and biblical parables, respectively.

Even in prayer, the governor has his eye on the presidency.
Particularly though, there's a glowing ire emanating from the statement's tone, a prickling of ego that at first glance seems out of place from such an outspokenly god-fearing man.  'How dare anyone control me,' all the while publicly (and arguably unconstitutionally) throwing himself and the fate of his constituents "in[to] God's hands,**" prayer circles and all.

It's a paradox, the god-and-caesar power shenanigans people play at; on the one hand professing to be in the wholesale throes of the whim of an omnipotently fearsome thing, yet all up in arms that a mere bureaucrat would dare to control what is rightfully God's sort-of-like.

Y'all get the picture, even if I don't really feel the need to paint out every last stroke.  At length I'd contend it's indicative of another political sociopath at work, a potentially opportunistic millionaire shamelessly shirking our social responsibilities while shielding himself and the poor feebs who vote for him by vague obligations to an at most distant superauthority.

A superauthority who clearly hates Texas, heart seemingly still unhardened by Perry's impressive prayer gathering earlier this month.

* On a side rant, fuck the Cold War; our pyrrhic victory forever besmirched the idea of a national health care program. 
** For all my online scouring, I couldn’t find an actual link to cite.  It’s ‘common knowledge,’ apparently.

13 August 2011

And Then Along Comes Perry

For what it's worth, I'm glad longtime Texas governor Rick Perry has thrown his ten-gallon hat into the national ring.  Because now that he's in (and rather popular, according to the most recent polls) Perry's no-nonsense, candid-by-the-grace-of-God approach helps clarify the crossroad America again finds itself at in this upcoming election.

Now call me young and foolish, but the proverbial crossroad I'm referring to looks an awful lot like the one the country found itself at in 2008.  And 2004.  2000.... 1980....  Every election since 1820, and a few before.  In terms of direction, American voters have been grappling for quite a while over the roles of government and the private sector.

More than that, there is the vision of America voters will have to (again, try to) choose next November.  The electoral hiccup of last year's midterms notwithstanding, America had largely voted for Change and Hope (and that sort of thing) in 2008.  People voted for more accessible health care, for a more stable foreign and economic policy, for tightened regulation and market oversight; for bigger government, basically.

Feeling a bit young and foolish after the somewhat dismally slow (and at times, recidivist) executive movements churned out since '08, I nonetheless feel certain that despite the recent upsurge of Tea Partyist activism the majority of Americans remain moderate at the least, and at best are still hoping for something more out of their government.  Getting back to Rick Perry, I'd say as a candidate he epitomizes what America is really voting for or against:  a Christ-makes-White, apple pie, saccharine-neighborly and judiciously vindictive, bootstraps NIMBY amalgam of xenophobia and foreign tax shelters, of marginalized infrastructure and codified indifference.  A Dawn of the Working Poor sort of scape, where wide-o corporations do as they will with the privileges of unjailable people and the circus act of state legislatures, laughable state constitutions, and introverted local politics have free reign to rule the day.

Not quite that maybe, but in no uncertain terms the Tea Party banner is an anti-system movement, the monkeys wrenching up the apparatus (as so wonderfully put by NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow) so to speak.  But no critics can put the message better than candidate Perry himself, who recently promised (among other things) that "I'll work every day to make Washington, DC as inconsequential in your life as I can."  And that's the platform embraced by nearly all of his Republican peers currently vying for the presidency.  In 2012, a Republican vote will very likely be a vote cast for an idyllic non-president running a non-government.  

Serious changes are afoot, rumblings within the Grand Old Party that - if nothing else - will make the choice next November a lot more clearly defined.

Straw Dogs in the Political Manger

So in an admittedly underwhelming bit of news, Michele Bachmann won the first of many symbolic rites of passage for Republican presidential hopefuls, an ever-expanding array of candidates including Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, libertarian pillar Ron Paul, gourmand and restaurateur Herman Cain, and the recently-added Texas governor and Bush sound-alike, Rick Perry.

Bachmann celebrates her hard-won triumph as 
Ames locals prepare their autumnal wicker man.
(photo from http://images.politico.com/global/news/110813_bachmann6_reut_328.jpg
At the risk of chiming in with the rest of the online world, I wonder aloud what's so damned fascinating about today's Iowa straw poll.  Boiling it down, it's essentially been a glad-handing affair involving a dozen thousand of the GOP's staunchest fans, more than half of whom singled out Tea Party frontispiece Bachmann and fringe-politician Ron Paul as their top choice.  Comparing this to national poll ratings, it places this majority of straw poll voters proportionally into a much narrower subgroup of actual, national voters.  Also taking into consideration Bachmann calls Iowa home, it's little wonder she took the victory ('narrowly' at that, says CNN).

Anyway, all I'm saying is that the media romance with Iowa (and yes, New Hampshire) should come to an end.  Not only are the states woefully unreflective of the nation as a voting whole (and relatively unimportant electorally), but using this flawed mechanism to weed out the candidates (adieu, Tim Pawlenty) in this day and age of instant telecommunication is our Old Sarum of the American political edifice.  It's a goddamn bit of misinformation and a colorful one at that, and like all misleading flashes of color it's the thing latently interested people look to first.

11 August 2011

Last Box in the Closet

So I'm all moved in now, have the internet installed and running, and am otherwise settled into my Portland abode.  And what an abode it is!  Spacious apartment, affable roommate, working kitchen... rather comfortable, all told.  Now it comes down to acquainting myself with the neighborhood and familiarizing myself with the city itself.  I've spent Tuesday downtown across the river, a pleasant jaunt filled with sushi bars, beer, and Fred Williamson movies.  A great introduction, but certainly needing a bit of unremitting repeat in future.

Meanwhile, I've got to get a smash-grab on the job search.  Now that I've got internet service it should (ideally) go a bit smoother.  Here's to hoping, eh!

More as it comes.

05 August 2011

Beginning Another End

Portland, Ho!
{Subtextually, the beginning of an urban adventure.}

More as it comes.

03 August 2011


     So a news story has popped up today that caught my interest.  I was on the BBC when I saw it first of course, then followed a link to the FOX story (the first link) so I could link that on my twitter feed and perhaps throw in a witty little slur about FOX viewers' IQ.
     But something prevented me from so doing.  Partly it was the phrasing; I couldn't conscionably poke at a number of people's intelligence (simply for thinking differently than myself) without some sort of facts to back it up.  Enter the Google searches, where rather than finding anything conclusive or even remotely informative I was subjected to forum after forum of nitpicking, various blog entries (with varying grammatical and logical errors), and basically two ideologies pitted against each other in a semi-anonymous, all-out bickering environment.
     So I scrapped the tweet and delved into the warm composty goodness of online viscera, surprised at times by thoughtful answers and helpful links but mostly disappointed (and occasionally amused) by the slew of name-calling, racial bashing, and partisan sniping from either side (though <cough> one side seemed a bit more trigger happy than the other).  Which leads me to my sighing point, that really IQ is hardly a practical measure of worth in any case and that surprisingly few people could really describe what it represents, much less how that effects voting or web browser choice, or even favorite color, religion, etc.
     It's another status symbol, a latter-day cootie of the global schoolyard.  We may as well be reporting on average demographic thetan levels or blood type; either would make a similarly grand gesture at nothingness, sending people who deeply care about those things helter-skelter to change their browsers, clothing, soft drink, et al to the appropriate preference.  Because it's an ego thing, really a matter of preying on self-identity rather than news.

So while I may truly believe the FOX news family is aimed at exploiting and largely viewed by the generally ignorant, fearful, and/or bigoted, I have no hard facts to prove it.  Just gut instinct and a personal prejudice.