Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The evolving thoughts of a mugging victim

I am not excited that it is starting to get dark earlier. This is partly because I like a long day, partly because I know early dusk comes with cold weather in tow, but this year there is a new reason also - my nerves. We're both pretty shaken up today, and it's not a super fun time. There's been a couple of David Fisher moments, passing kids on bikes in Uptown today after being startled by a woman right behind us yelling at her kid. Pulling off the freeway at about 8 tonight at a dark intersection with Cedar Avenue and seeing a panhandler, a drunk, and endless shadows. Mostly throughout the day I'm okay, but I hate this new fear. I hate that I have it, I hate that my wife has it (more profoundly I think, and I'm convinced that it would be much more difficult to watch a beating than to take one, especially when the victim is your spouse), and I hate how often we have to be reminded of it. We must have driven past "the scene of the crime" about 3 times today. In another part of town I totally missed a stop sign, and of course I'm scanning every kid's face who dares to show it in our neighborhood today.

But I got a call from my principal this evening, and a guy at the Y was really nice about getting me a new card for free, and we didn't get too hurt, and people in poverty have to worry about this shit all the time. It could be so much worse. It really could.

Thanks to those loyal readers who deposited their sympathies in the comments drawer. Despite this most impersonal of formats, it was nice to know there are decent people out there. Most days that's hard enough to remember, what with all the idiots.

BUTTERNUTS!

This recipe comes courtesy of one of my favorite little cookbooks, The New Vegan by Lorna Sass:

This combination was inspired by the popular street food of Trinidad and Jamaica. In my version, chunks of tempeh are quickly marinated with typical jerk spices and then baked. The dense, zesty cubes are dotted on top of meltingly soft, curried calabaza--a large West Indian pumpkin that [no one's ever seen but apparently] is sold in wedges in many Hispanic markets. (You can substitute butternut squash.) The combination is quite filling, so you probably won't need a grain accompaniment.

I've organized the recipe for maximum efficiency, so you'll be preparing the curried pumpkin while the tempeh is marinating. If it's more convenient, you can marinate the tempeh overnight.

JERK SPICED TEMPEH
8 ounces tempeh (soy or three-grain)
3 tablespoons japanese soy sauce (shoyu or tamari)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus oil for preparing the pan
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium vidalia, walla walla, or other sweet onion (about six ounces), peeled and cut into eighths
pickapeppa, tabasco, or other hot sauce

WEST INDIAN PUMPKIN
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1/2 to 1 cup unseasoned tomato juice or water
3 to 4 tablespoons marinade (reserved from jerk-spiced tempeh)
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds caribbean pumpkin (calabaza) or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

01 With a fork, deeply prick the tempeh about 20 times on each side. Cut into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

02 In a blender, combine the soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, thyme, allspice, pepper, salt, and onion. Puree until very smooth, about 1 minute. Add hot sauce to taste. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade.

03 Pour half the remaining marinade into a storage container. Add the diced tempeh. Pour the rest of the marinade on top. Cover, then shake gently to coat the tempeh evenly. Set aside for 15 minutes.

04 While the tempeh is marinating, prepare the curried pumpkin: Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook the onion and green pepper over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 cup tomato juice, 3 tablespoons of the reserved tempeh marinade, and the smaller amounts of curry, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Stir in the pumpkin. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. During this time, adjust the seasoning by adding more marinade and spices if you wish. Add more tomato juice or water if the sauce becomes too thick.

05 While the pumpkin is cooking, preheat the oven to 425. Brush a large nonstick baking sheet or roasting pan with oil (if not nonstick, line with oiled foil). Spread the marinated tempeh in the pan in one layer. (It's okay if some of the unabsorbed marinade ends up in the pan.) Bake until the color deepens and the top of each piece feels fairly dry and is no longer sticky to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes, as it will dry out.)

06 To serve, spoon the curried pumpkin onto dinner plates and set the jerk-spiced tempeh on top.

OTHER IDEAS
Instead of using hot sauce, flavor the tempeh with 1/4 to 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo, a condiment made of smoked jalapenos in a seasoned tomato sauce (available in Hispanic groceries and gourmet shops).

WEST INDIAN "ROTI" WRAPS
Place chunks of pumpin and tempeh just below the center of a large flour tortilla. Fold the bottom of the tortilla over the filling. Fold over the sides and then the top to create a packet. Reheat in the microwave [No!! Get rid of it! It probably won't kill you, but you need the counterspace, dude.] if necessary. It's best to serve these on plates with knives and forks, as they're messy to eat.

WEST INDIAN "PIZZA"
Place warm flour tortilla on each plate and spoon the pumpkin and tempeh on top.

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I've never tried these last two options, but I'm not sure I agree that a flour tortilla would be the best accompaniment to this meal, and I am sure that I do believe that to be the loosest approximation of pizza I've ever heard of. I've also never tried that chipotle idea, but I think that's only because I never read the notes at the end of recipes (I should)...it sounds fantastic.

You should be warned that you'll probably cry during and after the brave little onion's trip to the blender. That's some potent stuff.

Finally, I sort of freaked out about the microwave suggestion. Look, I use microwaves at work to heat up my lunch, but I hate it and it took me a long time to come around. I don't want to be one of these apocalyptic conspiracy types, but I do harbor a latent suspicion of microwaves (though I'm oddly okay with cell phones after a brief Luddite phase) and feel they should be used as a last resort. You really don't need one in your home kitchen, I promise. There are so many other gizmos and gadgets that could be enjoying the real estate in your kitchen. If you need ideas, let me know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

gettin' mugged on a tuesday night...

Well, you know what they say, two fer tuesdays, so maybe that's why I got punched twice in the same spot after getting mugged by not one but two fifteen year old fuckers on bikes this evening. In case you hadn't guessed, this post will lack recipes, restaurant reviews, or even the most cursory reference to tempeh.

My wife and I decided to abandon our statistics homework in favor of a late walk to the library (Hosmer, for those Minneapolitans among us who might be keeping track at home), to return this fantastic CD called "Dub Chill Out", featuring the music of one Lee "Scratch" Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and others. On the way their, three kids on bikes rode past and let me know that "she" (my wife, presumably), "has a nice ass". Since I already knew about it, I didn't feel the need to respond, but my wife was quick with the "shut the fuck up", and I was impressed. Even after the kid said, "fuck you, bitch," it really seemed desperate, like he was caught with his pants down, and we rejoiced in our victory, all the while making sure they weren't waiting for us down the street.

And they weren't. We returned the CD and headed for home. It's a nice fall night in the Twin Cities, and so lots of kids are out on bikes. I work at a high school for at-risk youth, so I already know that living "in the thirties" puts us smack dab in Blood territory, so I try not to fuck around with the young set if I can help it. Right before we turned the corner to our street (our block, no less), we noticed some other kids on bikes behind us. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure they weren't the same ones from before, and they weren't, so I think it's safe to say that we both breathed a sigh of relief. One kid asked for a lighter "Hey...hey! Do you got a lighter?", and since we didn't, we told him so, even apologizing for not being able to help out. Turns out he was just sizing me up. We turned on to our block, even playing it safe and crossing kiddy-corner to our side of the street to put some space between us and the young ruffians. No matter. It wasn't long before I here, "hey, I'm coming on your left," and just as I was debating about whether or not I should offer that I usually make a point to ride in the street so that I don't have to announce my whereabouts to pedestrians, which quickly became a moot point when I took a hard fist to the jaw. NIce. That kid kept riding, I guess I went down on one knee and held my face, and the other little fuck rode up on us. "What, are you going to hit me now, too?" No reply, so I repeated myself, you know, just in case (who knows why they do what they do in these situations...for example, why did my wife say "bitch, leave us alone"?). He then said he had a gun and asked his friend whether or not he should "pull it out" (the innuendo isn't lost on me, even in my current state).

Now, here's what I know, or at least think I probably know, about people who carry guns. Probably if they have a gun to pull, they pull it, instead of threatening to pull it or talking to their friend about the pros and cons of pulling it. But you really never know, and even if they're fifteen, there's two of them, and you don't know how to fight at all, and you don't mind telling the internet that, at this point, you're scared shitless.

So I just asked the kid what he wanted, pointing out that we didn't do anything to them, you know, again, just in case they were, as they say, "soft as cake". Having already been punched, I should have taken this as an indication that they were, in fact, hard.

The kid said he wanted my money and that I should empty my pockets. I threw my wallet down, he told me again to empty my pockets, and I fingered the key for the car we just spent $14,000 on in April, left it in my pocket, and explained that my wallet was all I have and would they just take it and leave us alone?

They did, but not before the first kid delivered an identical punch to the same spot in my jaw (thankfully, because that's less of my face that's fucked up, I have a fat face, and my nose, eyes, and glasses were spared), this time knocking me on my ass.

We ran the half block home and called the cops, completely demoralized and with a newfound fear of our neighborhood. We love our neighborhood, and love going on walks at night. We're pretty cool with our landlords, so tomorrow we're going to call them and explain about how we need to buy a dog so that we can feel safe in the neighborhood, offering whatever deposit or blood oath they might require. I'm tempted to link to this amazing nearly deaf American Stafford something-or-other, but then I'd hate to have to blame my audience for stealing it out from under a mugging victim if we aren't able to get it, so just sit tight and I'll keep you posted.

I'm okay, just disappointed more than anything. I wonder if we should have ran, or called out, or attempted to fight back, and mostly I'm so grateful they left my wife alone and that I didn't get hurt more. Just a little bit of swelling, and I'm taking tomorrow off. What's more is that I'm totally mindful that if these kids keep fucking up, eventually they'll end up at the high school I work at, and I know where there's some little rooms where they can get the personal attention their behavior requires. This from someone who generally identifies with pacifism. I guess that's where generally becomes a pretty damn important word.

But let's face it, I'm all talk, and everybody knows I'm not going to hurt anyone. I feel guilty clapping fruitflies to death. I guess all I can do is get this dog and work out more.

So learn what you can from this, I guess. I hate to think everyone has to be afraid, but please do be smart, and be safe, because it's a horrible feeling, I can promise you that.

Those squash recipes will come tomorrow, I promise. Thanks for allowing this diversion from the topic.

Monday, September 26, 2005

JOHN ROBERTS IS NOT VEGAN

That' s right, motherfuckers. Now is not the time to sit idly by while your elected officials confirm the lifetime appointment that's been doled out to this barbarian. Contact your senators and congresspeople. Sure, Roberts will pretend to be a pro-life ideologue, but The Surly Vegan has recently learned that not only is this masquerade as a narrow right-wing dolt a complete and utter sham, but when Roberts is not wearing the robe he enjoys feasting on human embryos!

Well, maybe that isn't quite true, but the man isn't vegan, I promise. And is that really the kind of person we want as Cheif Justice on our Supreme Court? (This is the part where you let out a resounding "No!")

Also, the President has recently been adimant about the reconstruction of New Orleans, which, need I remind you, is bad news for shellfish everywhere. Where's Vegan Reich* when you need them?

*The author would like to make known that despite a long battle with straight edge and other reactionary strains of moralism and self-righteousness, he never fell prey to hardline, and never listened to Vegan Reich, Green Rage, Raid, and only really listened to Earth Crisis once or twice in passing. The author would further like to stress that, while it is a shame that our elected officials likely eat animals, he understands that, at present, the political climate in this country is not such that voting and/or contacting elected officials on the basis of personal dietary choice is anything but a sarcastic blog topic. Don't be stupid. Finally, any opposition to the reconstruction of New Orleans harbored by the author is purely offered from an engineering standpoint, and again, has nothing to do with the fact that, save for an Italian restaurant or two, it's hard as hell to get a vegan meal in the French Quarter.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

THE SURLY VEGAN WELCOMES YOUR COMMENTS

We've covered some important topics this weekend, from gummi bears to condoms, and I just wanted to reiterate that your input is always welcome. Maybe I got something wrong, maybe there is a sex shop or a vegan gummi bear factory in your town that you want to let the world know about...please feel free to comment below the posts or e-mail thesurlyvegan@gmail.com. Thanks for your comments.

condoms and casein - vegans do it casein free (that way nothing melts)

Yes, friends, I really am that lewd. But my tactlessness aside, this is an important issue that often goes overlooked. 'Mainstream' American latex condoms, as it turns out, contain casein, a milk protein*. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps there is an industry superstition regarding caseine and disease/pregnancy prevention. Being an industry outsider, I really have no idea. Maybe the casein makes the latex more pliable.

What I do know, however, is that as a vegan, you can wrap it up and stay true to your ethics. You just have to do a little legwork (hee hee). There is a company in the U.K. called Condomi (I think maybe it rhymes with condoning) that makes vegan condoms. They can be ordered at BritishCondoms.Com, who will then ship them across the pond to the Kyoto-protocol hating, war-mongering, vegan-sex-obstructing U.S. of A.

But maybe you think it makes you a certain kind of person, ordering sex products through the mail, on the internet no less. And maybe it does, but I promise that your prophylactics will not arrive in a package marked "PERV."

If you're still not convinced, there is still hope for you, provided you live in the Midwest and that your squeamishness is limited to receiving condoms in the mail and in no way prevents you from setting foot inside of a sex shop.

Here in Minneapolis, just two doors down from the dorkiest bar in town, is the Smitten Kitten. It's a great feminist, woman-owned shop with the friendliest staff in the world. They do a great job of normalizing the sex shop experience for nervous gigglers like me and mine. If their website and my memory are accurate, however, the only vegan condoms they sell are Durex polyurethane jobbers, which are also European, and cost $6.00 for a 3-pack, so please be sure you're having good (and infrequent?) sex before you graduate to these. What they do have, however, are 18 products that show up when searching "vegan" on their site, from organic lubes to the more adventurous harnesses and floggers and the like.

Early To Bed is a sex shop in Chicago that is owned and operated by Searah (from Sex Lady Searah fame a la Punk Planet magazine). Early to Bed has vegan friendly options on their website here, here, and here. I think that Early to Bed came first, and like Smitten Kitten is a very comfortable place to shop for all of your bedroom needs (duvet covers notwithstanding).

Certainly these aren't the only two sleaze-free sex shops in all the world, but they are the only two with which I have any experience, so I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending any others. If recommending these two, however, means that you no longer need to abstain from sexual activity for fear that the vegan police might come after you, well, it's been worth it. Have fun, be safe, and for God's sake, stay away from the casein.

*casein is commonly found in certain non-vegan varieties of soy cheese, easily identified by their meltiness. when dining out, if soy cheese is an option, it's always a good idea to ask whether their soy cheese contains casein.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

clarifications

it was pointed out by my wife that my last post (vegan gummi bears, see below), didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. fair enough, it was late, and she was asleep on the couch and as such unavailable for comments and critiques before i posted. as for me, i was equally exhausted by what has been a long week or two.

so. allow me to explain.

below is a picture of vegan gummi bears. perhaps what i should have written was something along the lines of:

"here is a picture of some vegan gummi bears. on their own these taste okay, but if one is expecting a substitute for the goodness of the original, gelatin-containing gummi treats, one will be sorely disappointed. what's the deal here, anyway? is gelatin really necessary to produce the gummi goodness we all remember from childhood? is it really impossible to produce a quality vegetarian (let alone vegan) gummi treat? surely someone is pulling a fast one on us, and i, for one, will continue to check the labels on the originals in the hopes that i will catch them sleeping, that they will relent, that gummi treats will once again be ours to enjoy."

hopefully that makes more sense. don't even get me started on skittles and starburst, or the k-gelatin (not vegan) in junior mints.

Friday, September 23, 2005

not nearly as good as the real thing.

The image “http://life.calumet.purdue.edu/studentveg/images/product%20pictures/vegan%20gummi%20bears.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

this blog, thus far, has lacked pictures, so i thought this might be a good talking point. file under: where we went wrong. sure, they're good. but if good cut it I wouldn't always be checking labels on real Gummi Bears...just in case.

dereliction of duty

On the odd chance that anyone is paying attention, perhaps sitting in a room (the kind you rent by the week) under a bare light bulb hopped up on crystal meth and alternately spitting teeth and reading random blogs, allow me to apologize for the long absence in posts.

That was a long sentence.

I have excuses, brilliant ones, all of them, all about working full time and being a full-time college student and the pitfalls of being too dumb to refuse a side-job as a painter (my back has been in pain for the better part of a week from bending over to redip my roller), but I'm not sure excuses are really what anyone is seeking out of life. Shit, for some, dry ground would do.

So let's move on, shall we, in the great American spirit of reconstruction and collective effort? That's a spirit that occasionally lapses, at times fatally, but if a brilliant speechwriter and a second chance are applied in the nick of time the prognosis can be virtually reversed.

Somehow this blog has gotten all surliness and no veganism. That must be Texas and Louisiana exerting their influence northward. Well, in case you need something to eat while that happens, something to munch on, perhaps, while you watch the hurricane coverage, I have good news...

Despite an earlier post on this very blog (Monday, August 1st, 2005), it turns out that the good people at Health is Wealth Foods got smart and eliminated the offending egg albumen from their yummy junk food products, and even have a "vegan products" section on their website (see previous link), although I wonder if this was always there and I didn't bother to sleuth quite as hard.

I guess the lesson to be learned here, aside from the obvious lesson - egg albumen does not equal food, is that maybe letter-writing campaigns really do pay off sometimes. Maybe the man is listening, because maybe the man is some kind of 1960's throwback hippy sometimes. I don't know. I do know, however, that I wrote some big thing about not eating junkfood when I found out about the offensive ingredient, but really, I'm human too, and as such am prone to eating garbage here and there (sometimes literally, sometimes not), and so am willing to say the following:

I salute you, Health is Wealth, for making junkfood yummy, affordable, and vegan once again.

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Gardeners: How are your squashes? My butternuts (what?!) are ready...stay tuned for autumnal recipes, now that the season is offical and all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

if this dude reviews one more restaurant...

Okay, so I admit it, this thing has started to get a little monotonous. Like anyone cares what restaurant I ate at when and what I thought. And even though you were all nice enough not to complain (perhaps because you're imaginary?), I thought maybe a moratorium on reviews was in order. I've been promising some recipes for quiite some time, so here's a good seasonal dish for all you tomato growers. It comes to us courtesy of the Voluptuous Vegan cookbook.

"PASTA WITH FRESH SHIITAKES, TOMATOES, AND BASIL

"This is a simple and flavorful pasta that celebrates the fresh, ripe tomato. Fresh tomatoes are warmed through and mixed with cooked pasta and basil. I [remember, this is Myra Kornfeld talking, not yours truly. My comments follow the recipe] like to use short pasta such as fusilli. Sometimes I mix spinach pasta with whole wheat for a subtle variety of color and flavor.

"The shiitake mushrooms transform amazingly when you cook them until they shrivel. They become chewy and crispy and are a great compliment to the pasta.

"This is a pasta that can easily be made for company. Cook the pasta in advance and toss it in a bit of olive oil, so that the pasta pieces will not stick together. Have all the other ingredients ready to go, including the basil chiffonade. The sauce only takes five minutes to cook, so heat it through at the last minute, right before eating.

INGREDIENTS:

"1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms [see my comments below]
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shoyu
Salt
8 ounces pasta such as penne or fusilli
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup basil chiffonade (see page 15) [but since you can't do that, just sit tight]

PROCEDURE:

"*Preheat oven to 375. Remove the stems from the shittake mushrooms and discard them or save them for stock. Thinly slice the caps. In a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of the oil and the shoyu. Spread on a parchment-covered baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have shrunk and become crispy. Set aside for garnish.

"*In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until it is barely al dente. Drain. If you are holding the pasta for a while before serving, toss it at this point with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together or drying out.

"*Warm the 1/2 cup of oil in a large pot or skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until the oil is shimmering and the garlic just barely starts to color. Add the diced tomatoes and stir until they are hot. Add the drained pasta and basil, and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pasta is warmed through. Season with salt (make sure you taste here to determine how much you need) and pepper. Serve immediately."


This dish is great, but I can almost promise you that it will taste like ass if you combine spinach and whole wheat pasta. Regular pasta is not bad for you, and trying to sneak all that health food shit into a dish that doesn't need to be tinkered with (much) is like wiping your ass with your crush's phone number. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. But do use short pasta, like bow-tie or penne or something. She's right about that.

I use dry shiitakes, which can easily be reconstituted by adding them to a bowl of water that you heated in a teapot on the stove. I let them soak in that for at least 10 minutes (usually more like twenty). I find that it helps to put a plate over the top of the bowl, as the smell is incredibly overwhelming. Then later you've got some stock, so just go ahead and throw those stems in the composter. Dried shiitakes can be purchased pretty cheaply at most larger Asian markets, and they keep for a super long time and reconstitute beautifully. Trust me.

The only thing is that they're good chewy, so I would say check them more like every seven to eight minutes, and you absolutely must stir them, or all your hard stem-removing thin-slicing work will have been for naught. For naught!

As a final word regarding the shiitakes, I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead of shoyu last time (out of necessity, it was the only thing I had), and it was great. Bragg's is way better for you, too, low in sodium, high in protein-building goodness.

If you're super lazy or busy or whatever, canned tomatoes work (you know by now I'm going to recommend Muir Glen), but I can't emphasize enough how much better fresh tomatoes taste than even Muir Glen's. You should be warned that seeding a tomato is a pain in the ass, but it's the weekend...what the hell else were you going to do?

The oil. You don't need a half cup, unless you're on some insane weight gain diet or something. For the rest of us, a third to a quarter cup will do.

Finally, a note about the chiffonade. Stack up a bunch of basil leaves that are roughly the same size. Roll them tightly like a joint, and cut into thin strips. See? Pretty, no? And don't worry, it's not a science, no one will know if you mess this up. It's all aesthetic. And while I'm letting you off the hook with the shiitakes and tomatoes, you absolutely cannot get by making this dish without fresh basil. If you do, you deserve what you get. You might as well be eating whole wheat pasta.

Monday, September 05, 2005

post-tour faux-creme de la creme

Having traveled across the Western states and documenting it in a shoddy, self-congratulatory fashion, I feel as though I should wrap things up and move on. I'll be quick.

SURLY VEGAN SUMMER TOUR 2005 BEST OF...


BEST CHEESECAKE/DESSERTS: watercourse foods, Denver, Colorado

BEST ALL-VEGAN RESTAURANT: Real Food Daily (RFD), West Hollywood, California
BEST INGREDIENTS: RFD

BEST COFFEE: McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe, Omaha, Nebraska

BEST VEGAN BREAKFAST: Follow Your Heart Foods, Canoga Park, California
WORST VEGAN BREAKFAST: Millie's Coffee Shop, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California

BEST RESTAURANT NAME: Vegan Glory, Los Angeles, California (sadly we didn't make it into this one)

BIGGEST LET-DOWNS: Pokez, San Diego, California; Kung Pao Bistro, West Hollywood California. We'd visited these both before last time around, and while the food wasn't bad or anything like that on this visit, perhaps we'd hyped these places up a little bit more than we should have.

MOST ANNOYING MORMONS: State of Utah

BEST CHINESE FOOD: Hong Kong Kitchen, Hemet, California

NICEST COFFEE SHOP WORKERS: Blue Nile Cafe, Long Beach, California

NICEST CITY: Denver, Colorado

Okay. That's all. Nobody really cares anyway, right? Recipes forthcoming.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

fuck time warner; apologies, apologies; har mar superstar = me?

well. it's been a while. and while i offer apologies all around on behalf of yours truly, it really isn't my fault. upon returning from vacation we discovered that our internet was down. we called time warner, did everything they suggested, and even went to their office to swap out our modem. nothing. so we made an appointment for a technician to come out. and another and another. finally, after four no-shows and a lot of sitting near the doorbell and the telephone, i almost shit myself when a technician actually did come out and tinker with the line, divulging, in the process, some of the more sinister practices of his fellow techs ("yeah, if they see "please call" on a work order, they're pretty much not going to call, unless it's a number they know you won't be at").

so we finally have internet access again, and, after being dicked around by countless supervisors and call center jockeys, i have a good mind to report the whole lot of 'em to the better business bureau and the state attorney general, in much more professional language than that elucidated here, in the vain hope that something might actually get done about it. if nothing else, i think i can cuss and scream my way into free internet service for the remainder of 2005.

as it stands, i can't switch services, as time warner seems to enjoy a monopoly in this region for high speed cable internet access.

before this whole debacle, i made a promise to reveal the identity of a certain vegan rockstar, and while i'm sure they exist (no doubt PETA can point the way for you), i need to come clean about something. in so doing, however, i can make another promise, that accompanying my confession is an amusing anecdote worth sticking around for. really, i promise.

so we were in long beach, staying with my mother-in-law after seeing har mar superstar takin' back charge at the knitting factory in hollywood. we played her some select cuts from the har mar canon, then appealed to his website in an attempt to better explain the enigma that is sean tillman's latest incarnation. having pacified her with my wife's laptop, we continued to go about the business of making breakfast. she explored the site with the all the zeal of a gold-hungry conquistador in peru, but, as it turns out, is not very computer savvy.

she told us as we were packing up our things that, on har mar's website, she had found a section that offered restaurant reviews, vegan recipes, and the like. "he even reviewed that place in canoga park and said that a vegan omelette really is possible." damn, i thought, that's cool, i'll have to send him a link to the surly vegan...

now, you probably know where this is going, but i was road-weary, tired, and, since i'm admitting so much already, sort of giddy at the possibility of befriending (perhaps impressing?) the handler. but, as it turns out, i'm not so bright. probably i'm not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids or something like that. my mother-in-law, i'm afraid, has no such excuse. she'd haplessly clicked on the bookmark on my wife's menu bar marked, you guessed it, "the surly vegan." so in fact i am the celebrity vegan in question, destined to meet mr. tillman once every few years in a parking lot or a club as a friend of a friend, myself in the role of totally forgettable blogger dork.