Thursday, January 31, 2008

LOST: a new season

I really cannot remember ever getting to terribly excited about the new season of a television program. LOST is an exception as it is an exceptionally written show.
Both my wife and I had merely thought it to be some faddish hit until being enlightened by a reliable source that compared the program as sort of a modern version of the old British series called The Prisoner.
While that description strikes me as a bit of a stretch, the advice at least got us to start watching it via DVD episodes of the first couple of seasons until we became caught up with the story. Or perhaps I should rephrase that as being caught up within the story.
There was a rather bizarre (surprise, surprise) review of events that had taken place so far that aired last night. This presentation was clever in that it came with subtitles explaining some of the more subtle nuances that exist within certain scenes.
One such hard-to-notice little slice of humor was the name of the funeral home that Jack visits in last season’s finale which turns out to be fast forward spelled backwards. Even funnier was that when crossing the street, he accidentally steps in front of a car that has to slam on its brakes. A slangish, “Careful, Jack!” eminates from the car window. That would have been nothing more than mindless filler had the guy crossing the street not been named Jack.We are also not told who is in the coffin within the funeral home, just that nobody showed up for the service.
Actually, the Star Telegram has a pretty decent recap of events up until now in today’s issue. It includes a short profile of the characters as well.
On a final note, one thing interesting as well as entertaining about the writing on this show is that there is no guarantee on any given episode which character might be killed off. There have indeed been some surprises.
As mentioned earlier, previous episodes are available on DVD for those wanting to become acquainted with the story thus far. There is definitely far more than meets the eye as far as plot goes than a simple story of plane crash victims stranded on an island.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

dallas cowboys: a straw to grasp

My poet friend lit another cigarette and looked at me in a thoughtful manner between wispy rings of smoke. He then moved his queen to a position that would prove to be the final move in one our several soul-searching hangover remedy games of chess. Check-mate. No hope left.
Putting the pieces away, I could not help but relate to the situation the Dallas Cowboys had put themselves in after that embarrassing loss a mere couple of weeks ago. All hope lost as the clock ticked down. 13 – 3 down the proverbial drain. They may as well have had the same record as the 1 - 15 Miami Dolphins.
The nice thing about football, one has to admit, is that at the end of a game, no matter who wins or loses, the earth will still rotate in the same direction as it orbits the same sun. Still, what could have been did not happen. As my poet friend often reminds me, should and is are two separate entities.
He did make an interesting comment regarding what should be the Cowboys’ frame of mind at the moment. “They should, as should their fans, root like mad for the New York Giants to win.
“I’m not one to embark upon clichés, but what happened happened and it’s all water under the bridge and it’s no good to cry over spilled milk and there’s no sense in flogging a dead horse. This may sound like grasping at straws, but there is a straw to wrap their fingers around here. If nothing else, a viable excuse. Think about it.”
I thought about it. He was right in his logic, as he can sometimes be. The Cowboy’s players, coaches and fans really should be pulling in the Giant’s favor.
The Patriots should win. All signs point that way, but again, should and is, etc.
Bill Belichick has put master QB Tom Brady in charge of a fire-breathing, defense-demolishing, dragon. A well oiled machine of a dragon at that.
Tom Coughlin has entrusted the reigns of his workhorse of a team to Eli Manning. Yes, Eli, not the other one who will be sitting and watching just like the rest of us. They do indeed have a mean front four on defense, but that group is backed up by a fairly banged-up secondary.
Then again, what if they manage to pull it off? Does anybody remember the press actually feeling sorry for Muhammad Ali for having to face the sledgehammer fists of George Foreman? Does anyone remember who won that fight? And let’s face it, if the football world collided with the music industry, the Patriots would be to Barry Manilow as the Giants would be to the Ramones. Who’s the tougher dog there? No Michael Vick pun intended there.
But I digress. Back to the Cowboys and why they should be hoping for Meadowland mayhem.
Wade Phillips, in particular, should be crossing his fingers on this one. He could hold a conference in which he apologizes for stating that the better team lost in that bitter tasting playoff game at – at Texas Stadium no less. The team with heart was the appropriate check-mate server.
What better straw to grasp than the sinking-on-the same-ship theory? Hey, it was not just the team from Dallas that was humbled. Every other team in the NFL can watch the ticker tape parade through the streets of New York just like us. Right?
Whatever happens will happen, but in three weeks it will all be water under the bridge and why cry over spilled milk? Go ahead and grasp at straws. The one perfect straw that might wreck an otherwise perfect season for New England could prove to be a beacon of sorts for better days to come in Big D.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

salsa verde (green picante sauce)

This is a recipe that we posted a year or so ago and was recently requested. Here you go:

salsa verde de bodega train

1 lb fresh tomatillos (the little green tomatoes)
¼ small white onion
2 med cloves fresh garlic
juice from ½ lime
2 or 3 serrano peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
a fistful (enough to fill your palm) of fresh cilantro

Remove husks and rinse tomatillos thoroughly. Quarter them for easier blending. Yes, you will need a blender for this stuff. Puree until smooth, but still slightly chunky. Chop onion and add to puree. Squeeze in lime juice and add garlic. Put in 2 serrano peppers and puree again until mixture is smooth. Taste for hotness. Add another Serrano if deemed necessary. Last, add the cilantro and blend until the leaves look more like specks. This really makes the color of the salsa stand out. Hey, aesthetics are important, not to mention the added flavor the cilantro brings to the mix.
A pinch of salt can be added if so desired. Also, a ½ teaspoon olive oil with a ¼ teaspoon vinegar can add to the life of the salsa, but it never lasts long enough around here to worry about. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Roy Cushman: A Smile File

Roy Cushman, a kind soul who will be missed by all who know and love him, died Saturday, December 22nd, 2007.
That is the beginning line of his obituary. Roy will truly be missed. He is one of those rare people absolutely liked by all. One has to marvel at his unique sense of interaction with fellow humans as well as canines and as far as I know, any other creature roaming the planet fortunate enough to cross paths with him.
It probably goes without saying that most people having ever associated with Roy have fond memories concerning both his wit and friendliness. Ask anyone who ever met the guy and the first words out of their mouth will be, “He’s funny.” He really was one of the funnier people around. He also happened to be an accomplished artist ( He did a fantastic watercolor of me and good buddy Rocco taken from a photo outside the door of Zero’s on closing night.) as well as an avid cyclist.
Roy had a knack for being able to balance a life of work, recreation, time with family, time with friends and time with self as well as time for making new friends. Again, a unique interaction.
I have referred recently to his sense of humor as being slightly twisted, but more accurate terms might be esoteric or just plain Royish.
One example, and I have quoted this statement to friends over the years. The FW Cats had recently performed in Nacogdoches (this being in the early 80s) and the temperature out there must have been in the teens.
The band stayed at a lady’s house in the country and all of us were shivering throughout the night. I explained the scenario to Roy by saying, “ Man, Roy. It was freezing in there and I was under at least six blankets.” Roy looked at me with a straight face and said, “Hey pal, nobody MADE you get under all those blankets.”
Then again, on the twisted side, any body who has ever been on the receiving end of the gag shock box disguised as a dinner-to-go at Fred’s Café can thank Roy V. Cushman for that joyous jolt.
The sweet side would always turn out around Christmas, when he would don a Santa Suit and make rounds to all the houses of his friends that had children. Oddly, just knowing Roy with his mannerisms and high pitched voice, he came across as a pretty convincing Santa. To us adults, he was just Roy in a Santa suit, but to the kids, he was the real deal.
Mexico. Roy showed up to visit Beth and I in San Miguel de Allende a few years back. He stumbled off the bus with a ridiculously gargantuan bulk of luggage and tray of bottled water that would probably last anybody a few months in the Sahara. “For some reason, guys, I’ve just never learned to travel light.” We all had a good laugh about that and he checked himself into the first apartment we showed him.
He moved about a week later into a place on the opposite end of town, but had found the new place through some of his new friends. I swear, I had only introduced him to about two people.
Bear in mind that my wife and I had lived there for several years. Within two weeks, and I am not exaggerating, Roy had more acquaintances than either one of us.
“Hey Roy, you ever seen that lady that dresses her chihuahua in the same outfit as she wears? Bizarre.”
“Hey, Dave. They really are nice people once you get to know them. They’ve invited me to dinner sometime soon.”
He also, due to being neighbors with them, befriended a group of college students down there that quickly started referring to him as “Uncle Roy” as he somehow got the point across to them that not all middle aged people are uncool.
On the other hand, he could be funny without the intention of being so. One night, at a watering hole in San Miguel, Roy kept ordering drinks for me, or himself or Beth. He would speak loudly and with confidence to the bartender –“Basura!”
Basura, translated, means garbage. When I asked him why he kept saying that, he blinked and asked, “That’s not the way you say thank you?”
Another non-intentional moment of funniness occurred at the Alborada, which is a fireworks display that begins at exactly 4:00 AM and lasts for an hour. Fireworks are shot over, around and into the crowd. We explained this to Roy as he stayed up with us all night before heading into town to witness the event.
Just after 4:00, when the show was kicking into gear, Roy turned to me and said, “Dave? They don’t really shoot the rockets into the cro..” Blam! A bottle rocket the size of a small shampoo bottle blew up against his back. At that point, we were all deaf and he lobbied by means of gesturing that perhaps we should move under a nearby awning.
As far as being kind to canines goes, there are all sorts of stray dogs running about day and night in San Miguel. I remember many times meeting Roy at the town square and seeing him with a baggy in hand full of dog treats. There would seemingly always be some scraggly mutt that he would be feeding and telling it what a good dog it was.
Anyway, so as not to go on rambling too long, that Mexico trip was one of the last times I really spent any time with Roy. There are obviously many other stories and perhaps they can be told at another time.
Just before boarding the bus that would take him back stateside, he thanked us for “everything.” He thanked us? Hey, I think it’s probably the other way around if not at the very least mutual. Adios, Roy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dallas Cowboys (the staggered swagger)

The day begins. Candles are lighted and incense is burning. Cold beer at my side. All the media, local and otherwise, spell out the horrid details all about the derailing of the Dallas Cowboys at the merciless hands of the New York Giants.
How could this have happened? Superior talent should trump naïve enthusiasm – right?
Fingers will be pointed in many directions. Patrick Crayton dropped the ball (literally) when trying to live up to his talk. Tony Romo looked oh so so-so under pressure. That leads to the offensive line’s woes. Needless to say, the defense was thinking about resting up in the locker room while Mr. Eli took it to them in the form of a perfect scoring drive just before the half.
How could this have happened? Coach Phillips assured us all that everything was alright. A 13 – 3 season cannot be a lie.
Perplexed, I phoned my poet friend to get his take on the situation. While seemingly a tad irritated by the early morning call and claiming not to be much of a football fan, he did manage to apply some perspective.
“Look. Think in terms of music. Think about live rock’n’roll bands. A good band can put on a decent show in front of two or three hundred people. A really good band can put forth the same energy for a crowd of three people. “
He then excused himself from the phone as he was apparently preparing breakfast tacos for some friends visiting from New York. It had something to do with a bet he had made concerning the game.
Anyway, I considered his comments for the better part of the morning and decided he was right, even if in a round about way. His logic transfers us from the most recent and terrible defeat to a couple of weeks ago.
The Washington Redskins were foe of the day and the talk shows were full of football pundits debating the logic of resting starters for a so-called meaningless game, or going all out for the win. A win would have meant a franchise record in that category.
The Cowboys, we were told by many, had nothing to play for. They had already secured the division title, a bye week and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Why not take it easy?
Now, the Giants were sort of in the same situation, although not quite as lofty. While they had made the playoffs, their games would be on the road. Still, their final game, against the mighty Patriots no less, did not mean anything as far as their post season aspirations were concerned.
They came out and played every able body as if this were the last game in which they would ever participate. To their credit, so did the Patriots, who were and still are, as of this writing, undefeated. What resulted was an entertaining game within the lexicon of what lesser teams would consider meaningless.
Okay. That brings us right back around to the Cowboys.
They cared not whether or not they won the game against Washington and it showed in an ugly way. Injured players are excused in this instance, but why not treat the game as though it matters. There are fans who pay ridiculous amounts of their earned money to see a contest rather than a yawnfest.
To play a game as though it does not matter is a slap in the face to whatever integrity any sport lays claim. The playoff game loss to the Giants is merely a reflection of what it takes to not be a championship caliber team.
The boys from Dallas were clearly dreaming of next week. Why the sudden conservative play calling? Could it have come from fear of a team that was truly hungry and appropriately aggressive?
Until the Dallas Cowboys learn to treat each game as though it were a championship, next week will always be an ever vanishing mirage.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

daytime tv

Well, sitting around useless with a broken foot that is seemingly in no hurry to heal, one would think that I would be at this screen blogging constantly, writing short stories (my favorite ), or preparing queries to send off. I have been working on a couple of tunes, but even that at more than just a leisurely pace.
One excuse is that it is hard to keep a leg propped while typing. At least it is for me.
Ah, but one culprit easily blamed here is the curse of, does it even need to be mentioned? – Daytime TV. Ughh.
It started innocently enough. Having already read the paper, I was really in no hurry to do anything else, so the remote somehow made its way into my hand and the clicking began.
Now, this is not such a problem on weekends as one can stare mindlessly at football hours on end. As you are well aware, millions of people do this without even having the excuse of an injury.
During the week can be a different story. Immediately ruling out any of the ridiculous soaps, I began the other mindless venture of surfing channels. Not having watched any daytime TV in years, this would if nothing else, prove to be an education of sorts.
There is a positive side. Both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have early showings starting at 10:00. I skip The 700 Club.
The Oxygen channel has an array of listings, often incorrect. Bad Girls Club seems to get the most airplay and is worth watching for ten minutes or so just to see how low the good taste quotient has become. This thing usually runs several times a day, sometimes back to back. Not only are these girls not bad, but simply brats, as far as party people go, I’m talking pure lightweights here.
Then there are the judge shows. One features celebrities as jurors. At least that’s what it looks like they are doing. I have not watched enough of it to figure it out. Other judge shows are probably typical of small claims courts. I’ll give decent grades to both Judge Mathis and Maria Lopez. The latter recently referred to a plainiff as not having the brains that God gave a billy goat. One has to chuckle.
Finally, there is a show that can easily suck you in if you’re not careful called Snapped. This is a reality based show based on various murders and the ways in which police detectives solve them. The stories, more often than not, surround a mistress or a greedy wife out after a husbands wealth.
If nothing else, one is exposed to the fact that it is not easy to commit a high profile murder. Then again, it is. It’s just hard to do it without getting caught. I’ll avoid making any Cullen Davis remarks.
That’s it for daytime adventure today. I’ll keep you posted if anything changes.