I’ll take truly bizarre plants for $400, Alex

First, a photo of the back garden area, aka the privet hedge garden:

That does not look like much, but the echinacea, borage, and Joe Pye weed will by this time next year have colonized the area.  It will be a riot of blossoms and butterflies.

You may, if you are a long-time reader, remember the Dill Plant That Ate Newnan (RIP). Pfft.  That plant was a piker compared to the Cardoon That Couldn’t Be Stopped.

The acanthus-looking leaf there is the cardoon plant one year ago after arriving from the Growers Exchange.

Here it is in its second year of life.  And it has a secret.  Yesterday I peered into the rising central stalk and…

The thistles have arrived!  Yes, they are cousins to artichokes (which are themselves thistles); one cooks and eats them basically the same way.  I counted six on their way, and I bet there are more.

Stay tuned.

 

I can’t even

Remember how Bill Clinton was always referred to as a “draft dodger”?

Or how we all slagged Barack Obama for not saluting a Marine when getting off the helicopter?[1]

Or how none of us liberals “support” the “troops”?[2]

Hold that thought, because it’s time to play yet another round of IOKIYAR!

The Current Occupant was inspired recently to personally pin a Purple Heart medal onto Army SFC Alvaro Barrientos, where he congratulated the young man, whose leg had been amputated, telling him it was “tremendous.”  Just tremendous, not yooge?  But I digress.

The Current Occupant’s brain, from my observations, seems to be pretty binary: A/NOT A.  There is no B, and Cthulhu help the rest of the alphabet.  He sees winning and not winning.  The young man won a Purple Heart.  He was to be congratulated for winning.  Simple.

The idea that perhaps the young man would rather have his leg than the ribbon, that there might be more layers to this man’s experience, that perhaps other words might better express the Commander in Chief’s appreciation for a citizen’s service/sacrifice, never entered the Current Occupant’s brain.

So “Congratulations!… Tremendous!” it is.

Now imagine, if you will, if Barack Obama had handed a Purple Heart to a wounded soldier—let’s say, for the fun of it, a white boy from North Carolina—as if he were getting the immunity idol instead of being voted off the island.[3]  Imagine how Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly or god help us Michelle Malkin would have reacted.  Imagine the huffing and puffing on the Sunday circus shows from Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham or John McCain.

How do you think the rightwing Wurlitzer is reacting to this tone-deaf gaffe?

  1. crickets
  2. crickets
  3. crickets
  4. dead crickets
  5. all of the above

Take all the time you need.

—————

[1] Which, as a civilian, the President is not supposed to do.  Reagan, that Great Pretender, was the first to pull that stunt.

[2] Limited to bumper stickers, yellow ribbons, and yelling at hippies.  Funding veterans healthcare or GI Bill not included.  Prosthetics sold separately.

[3] Imagery used deliberately.

Garden update

You will recall that we left the front garden a little bare, though tilled:

Finally the big order from The Growers Exchange arrived, Friday afternoon.  This was a bit problematic, since once one unboxes these plants, one is supposed to let them sit out of direct sun for a day or two before planting them, but no longer than four days.  The problem was that 1) on Sunday I had to go to Duluth for the State STAR Student selection process, not getting home until Tuesday; and 2) it was going to rain on Sunday in any case.

I like Growers Exchange; they’re good people, and they have interesting plants.  But I ordered these plants in December and they were supposed to be here mid-March.  That worked for me because starting in late April I was going to be pretty much unavailable till June: the aforesaid State STAR Student process, followed by Euphoria build weekend — packing for Euphoria — Euphoria — unpack — pack for the Danube — cruise up the Danube for a week or so, past our beloved homeland of Hofvonstein — unpack from the Danube — pack for To The Moon burn — To The Moon.  On June 6 I expected to come up for air.

However, the plants arrived.  I unboxed them, sat them under the work table, watered them, and told them they had 24 hours to acclimate.

Late Saturday, when the sun was on the other side of the house, I popped those puppies into the earth:

There was also the privet hedge area, but I didn’t get a photo of that.  Maybe Tuesday when I get home…

New cocktail: Brad’s Bebida

So, the other day my badly-behaved friend Jobie sent me this image:

Dear reader, I was scandalized.[1]

Anyway, Jobie said that there should be a cocktail created especially to employ these tawny, vaguely Latino youth.  (Why Jobie is interested in full employment for tawny Latino youth, I am not prepared to speculate.[2])

My first reaction was to laugh gently at my friend’s humor and go about my business, but then I noticed a curious detail:

These tawny Latino youth have the whitest white boy names emblazoned on their asses.

Well, who could resist that?[3]

This one came together rather immediately, flashing into my imagination as a gift from the gods.[4]

Brad’s Bebida

  • 1.5 oz gentle tequila (I used Casamigos Reposado; their silver might be even better)
  • .75 oz vanilla vodka (VANILLA VODKA, BRAD!)
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • 2-3 dashes 18•21 Japanese Chile & Lime Bitters
  • honey sea salt, dosed with sriracha salt
  • lime wedge

Rim the glass with the salt.  Shake the other stuff with ice, pour.  Garnish with lime wedge.

It’s pretty tasty, although I think I’m going to try it again with an actual vanilla liqueur instead of vanilla vodka (VANILLA VODKA, BRAD!), either Navan or Tuaca.  In which case maybe I’ll rename it the Classy Brad.

Stay tuned for updates.

—————

[1] I was not scandalized.  Especially since the day before I had sent him an escalating series of double-entendre photos of children’s toys while on a jaunt through Five Below, which I seem to have deleted from my phone, quel dommage.

[2] Speculations welcome in comments.

[3] Comment from Jobie in 3… 2… 1…

[4] Apollo probably, although his penchant was for more lissome boys.

A realization

Recently, the Library of Congress published a beautiful book, The Card Catalog: books, cards, and literary treasures.  Because I am a catalog card porn junkie, I immediately bought it—pre-ordered it, in fact—and devoured it when it came in.

It is lovely: the Walt Whitman catalog card you see across the bottom of the cover is actually a paper wraparound, and it has an honest-to-Melvil-Dewey library card checkout pocket in front!  It is full of images of fascinating books and their catalog cards throughout, and is beautifully laid out on quality paper.

I wish I could say it was the sheer physical experience I’d always dreamed of, but alas, the book is a bit of a dud in bed.  It starts at the dawn of recorded history with Sumerians and their cuneiform tablets, and there was a lot about Melvil Dewey’s empire building I didn’t know, and the impact of the LOC’s cataloging efforts on public/school/university libraries across the nation is not underestimated, but let’s face it: the world of librarians and their cataloging preferences isn’t exactly Silicon Valley.  My biggest complaint about the book, though, was not its lack of sexiness, but its failure to cater to us catalog card porn junkies in any way.

As I said, it is chock full of pictures of famous books and their catalog cards—overfull in fact.  Three-quarters of the book is taken up with these allurements, and yet they are presented without comment or context.  Were these books special acquisitions?  Do they represent one of the phases of the development of the catalog?  What is their place in American lit/publishing?

More: many of the cards have handwritten annotations on them, and most of those seem to be librarian code for something.  WHAT IS THAT CODE, KENNETH? CATALOG CARD PORN JUNKIES SEEK GRATIFICATION!!  This book left me unsatisfied, about as blue as the penciled-in cross on the handwritten card for Moby-DickWhat does it mean??

However, that’s not what I’m writing about today.  On p. 118, in the chapter about the LOC’s card service, which printed and sold catalog cards for every book published to any library—mine included—there was this sentence: “The card service lasted nearly a century, with the last cards produced and distributed in 1997.”

1997.  I was there, I thought.  In fact, I thought, that was the year I moved from East Coweta High School to Newnan Crossing Elementary School.  And that was the year that the LOC stopped making their cards.  Huh, I thought.

And then I realized: that was the year I was offered the job of assistant program director for instruction of the Governor’s Honors Program.  I was given the chance to structure and mold the life-changing experience to 700 gifted/talented high school students every summer, which I did through the summer of 2009, followed by a three-summer stint as the actual director of GHP.

And 1997 was 20 years ago.

Time is a wormhole.

New Cocktail: Who’s Your Bunny?

As you no doubt will recall, last Easter I was called upon to come up with a signature cocktail for our traditional Easter luncheon with friends, the result of which was the suspiciously tasty Jellybeanitini.

This year, on Saturday, I got the cryptic text message that I was to bring a cocktail called “Who’s Your Bunny?”  Well, all right then.

I figured I had two options: silly and sweet like the Jellybeanitini, or dark and mysterious.  I bought both chocolate caramel bunnies and Peeps as garnish for either eventuality.  But by the time I finished my rounds at Kroger, I was pretty sure it was going to be the latter, and in the end I used neither candy.

If I were a real blogger, I’d have photos of every step in the process, but I’m not and so I don’t.  I don’t even really have a good photo of the drink itself, and it’s too early in the morning to make one.  Although—and hear me out here—it occurs to me that I could pour one and not drink it.  Crazy talk, I know, but sometimes it’s radical thinking like this that moves humankind forward.

Hold on, I’ll be right back.

—————

That was difficult, but I have prevailed.  And now…

Who’s Your Bunny

  • dipping chocolate (I used Ghirardelli’s dark)
  • chocolate sea salt
  • 1.5 oz brandy
  • .75 oz blood orange juice
  • .75 oz Amaro di Angostura
  • .5 oz creme de cacao
  • .25 oz Chambord
  • 2-3 dashes chocolate bitters

Melt the chocolate, then dip the rim of the glass into it.  Immediately dip a quarter of the rim in the sea salt.

If you’re feeling frisky, go download a Playboy bunny tattoo design and create a fabulous garnish by piping the melted chocolate into that iconic shape.  After it hardens, brush more melted chocolate onto the tips of the ear and where the eye should be; sprinkle with sea salt.  (When you’re piping the shape, extend it downward into two prongs, then glue it onto the glass with piped chocolate.)

Shake the other ingredients with ice, pour and serve.

The rabbit garnish is not really necessary and actually gets in the way of drinking it, so feel free to go with the simple elegance of the rimmed glass.

The drink is kind of sweet with bitter undertones, and the chocolate/chambord flavors lurk just in the background.

I’ve saved the photo for last, because this was outrageous.

Yes, that’s a disposable plastic wine glass. Sue me.  Here’s close-up of the bunny:

Pro tip: to transport these things safely, use painter’s tape to tape them to a tray.

Some choose darkness

We all live in bubbles—it’s more comfy in here, isn’t it?

But some choose to live in some pretty dark bubbles.   On a whim just now, wondering what the conservative side of the world thought about Sean Spicer’s disastrous press conference where he idiotically compared Assad to Hitler (who didn’t even use chemical weapons, you guys), I went to the Fox News website and typed in Sean Spicer Holocaust.

This is what I got:

Zero results.

Here’s what Google gave me:

Not a fair comparison, you say?  Google is an aggregate search?  Fine. Here’s CNN:

No, it’s not because CNN is “liberal.”  CNN is a news outlet, and Sean Spicer’s astounding gaffe was news.

Fox “News” chose deliberately not to tell its audience that this thing happened.  Fox viewers have no idea that the Republican Administration’s press secretary said that

“I think a couple things. You look — we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had a — someone who is despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

and that it went downhill from there.  (For a truly hysterical, laugh-so-that-you-might-not-cry summary of the debacle, see as always Wonkette’s take.)

A study done several years ago showed that people who watched only Fox News were less knowledgeable about current events than those who watched no news at all.  Even taking into account that correlation is not causation — people that blindered would seek a narrow worldview anyway — it’s still a reason why your rightwing relative thinks you’re an insane libtard.  Whenever you shower them with facts, their innate fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in: you’re a snotty, pointy-headed intellectual without any common sense.

It’s a pretty thick, dark bubble to be in.

Signs & Portents

Last night, my lovely first wife and I finally got around to watching Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, and it was pretty much everything everyone said it would be.  But since we were having to stream it via VH1 we had to watch the ads, which is not our wont.

Most of the ads were what you might expect: Axe products, that kind of bro stuff.  But late in the show, there was an ad (which I cannot find online) which floored me.

It was—in style and in content—a campaign ad.  For the Current Republican Administration.

It led with “jobs added in the first month,” which even the most rabid Trumpista cannot think the CRA accomplished (especially given its stunning incompetence in almost every area).  Other stuff, similarly pitched.  I wish I had taken notes, because I can’t remember now.  My jaw was on the floor the entire time.

I thought it was by some organization called makeamericagreatagain.com or something, but here’s a hoot of a thing: if you click on that link, it doesn’t go at all where you think it will go.  makeamericagreat.com just leads to a single page.  greatamericapac.com is a PAC, but doesn’t have the ad on its site.

Anyway, it ended by encouraging us to keep up the pressure so that we could “finish the job.”  It was a campaign ad for people who already won the election.

Is this where we are now?  Is this who we are now?  Our government—We The People—is one big reality show.  With ads, selling us styrofoam opinions and urging us to watch Must See GOP.  The Real White House Staffers.  Survivor: American Cabinet.

I wondered if the ad were part of the White House communications push to subvert American opinion during the run-up to the 100th day mark.  (As always, Wonkette’s take on the story is a delight.)  But since the ad was from a PAC, that would mean the CRA was coordinating with a PAC.  IS THAT EVEN LEGAL, KENNETH?  Actually, I don’t know.  Is it?

Stay classy, America.

(We’re doomed.)

Garden!

You know how it is.  The front garden is getting ratty-looking and as a gift for Christmas you give your Lovely  First Wife a complete revamp of the area.

And then you get an email from The Growers Exchange offering 25% off an order for native cultivars, and then you see some interesting-looking herbs that you’ve only read about, and suddenly you’re looking at 50+ plants to get into the ground.

On Saturday I spent all day ripping out the zoysia grass from the planting areas where it had invaded, and then getting most of the plants into the ground.  (Half of them haven’t been shipped yet.)

That was oddly satisfying, plunging the blue-handled “weasel” contraption into the soil and wrenching it around so that the grass and weeds were loosened, then ripping them out.  I ended up with a huge pile of detritus on the curb.  A good gardener wouldn’t allow it to get that bad, of course.

So much grass.

And weeds (although most of the greenery above is actually surviving annuals).

Actually planting the plants takes no time at all of course.

Oooh, clean!

So what all did I plant?

Out front:

In the herb garden:

In the side garden, joining the monster cardoon:

Then there’s the area where we had the privet hedge/wisteria removed.  It’s ugly, and so I’ve decided to plant hardy, equally invasive flowers/herbs.

I’ll keep you posted as things develop.  In another year, we should be awash in herbs and flowers.  If I can remember what everything is for, I could become a regular apothecary.

That’s not how it works

The other day I found myself behind a very large, black pickup truck.  It had all the accoutrements—if one may use the term—one expects from the male of that species, and it was being driven as one might expect it to be driven, i.e., without regard for others.

Plastered across the driver’s side of the back window was this:

::sigh::

This is big bad, no?  We know that the driver has big hairy balls, as indicated by his embrace of the death cult.  He has no reservations about killing.  He will shoot evil-doers.  He will shoot you.

You know what’s coming, right?  You can guess what occupied the center of the rear window, can’t you?

Yep.

I’ve written about this before, 10 years ago, and my point is the same: this is not what the man meant.

When I was a kid, all those mega-movies coming out of Hollywood based on such novels as Ben-Hur or The Robe all portrayed early Christians as practically feeding themselves to the lions.  They were meek.  They offered themselves as sacrifices, as martyrs.  They went to their gruesome (offscreen) deaths with beatific calmness, certain they were going to join Christ in eternal bliss.

It was a good thing, we were told, by both Hollywood and Sunday School, to recognize one’s wormly status and to embrace it.  He was despised and rejected of men; He hid not His face from shame and spitting.  We were to follow His example, were we not? Something something other cheek.

So where does this ultramacho bullshit come from?

We all know the answer: it’s conservative white men for whom everything is about dominance.  Period.  There is nothing in their attitude that is congruent with what they say their religion is; but it is as if they feel they have “perfected” Christ’s message by taking it to some kind of “next level.”[1] They are more than you in every way: more manlier, more Christianier, certainly more kick-buttier.

I’m not the only one who has noticed.  Here’s a good read from a Christian author.  And of course my favorite liberal evangelical blogger, Slacktivist.

Needless to say, I have no solution.  I know it would take a true Road to Damascus moment for the scales to fall from these men’s eyes, and I’m not in charge of those.  If I had any advice for them, though, it would be, “Mean, prideful, and poisoned is no way to go through life, son.”

For funsies, here are two images I found in a Google search for “Christian truck decals man”:

Oy.

—————

[1] Spoiler alert: They’re wrong.