Wednesday, May 14, 2008

String Theory

Hello. My name is Mojopo and I am math-phobic. I see numbers and equations and break out in a cold sweat. My brain switches to Damaged Mode if I have to perform simple arithmetic in my head. I frequently and inadvertently jumble up numbers people say out loud (like phone numbers or dollar amounts) because as soon as someone says a number my brain is scared that it might have to do math. Math class is where I skated the edges of imminent doom and scholastic mayhem. In spite of this deficit of mine, I am positively intrigued by String Theory.

String Theory, as you may know, is a Theory Of Everything (T.O.E.). It kills me to know that one sort of theory can explain all known forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear). String Theory seems to indicate that there are ten or eleven more dimensions we are not aware of. Can you imagine? It's not easy.

I love the quest. There is no "wow" big enough to express the awesomeness of a search dedicated to explaining the vibrations of daydreams and Kansas tornadoes, in an effort to find a common thread between the two. In String Theory, everything is somehow tethered to everything else. Most important to me, String Theory is impossible to write on a blackboard and therefore, romance and vision are not compromised by jarring fractions and rude physics. I love the dimension we're in. Here is where we still have room for magic.

Don't Start None, Won't Be None: A satircal treatise about the merits of pacifism

Please don't kill anyone today. The world out there is full of meat cleavers and people who hate college students, therefore I must ask you to tread carefully.

For anyone who is contemplating an act of violence, please defecate on something instead. Poop in a washing machine at a coin operated laundromat. That's rude - can you live with rude instead of homicide?

If you must kill someone, at least have the class do it slowly by feeding them bacon and heavy whipping cream daily. Encourage that person to take up smoking. Introduce them to crystal meth.

Check out THOSE results!

What will you do instead of murder? If you absolutely must cause harm to someone, here are some suggestions:

1. Throw a pie.

2. Enroll enemy combatants into a mail-order music club.

3. Have a sexual relationship with your enemy. Move in.

Surely you can bring some order to this chaotic world? Please, if at all possible, do not smack anyone. Thank you, and have a happy day!

How To Make A Republican Spontaneously Combust

Yesterday I had the opportunity (delightful) to make a Republican pop a vein in his forehead. In all fairness, he started it and I felt obliged to finish. It felt good; it was the right thing to do. Some of you reading this post might be Democrats who could use an edge when speaking with disgruntled Republicans this election year. I want to help you. I'm going to give you some tips on how to stimulate myocardial infarctions as needed.

It doesn't matter which of the Democrats you're voting for, but if you really want to enrage a Republican it is good to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton. Republicans hate her the most, and so you would stand a better chance of making people stroke-out by mentioning her name. The downside is that people might also want to punch you in the face. That's OK, too. You can sue people for physical injuries and get paid.

Providing factual information is a sure fire way to invite an endless, nonsensical argument from our Republican friends. Save the facts for the people who want them. Right wing fanatics do not want facts and will defend their right to be willfully ignorant, getting you to nowhere and fast. Save your energy for something that truly matters like a romantic relationship, vacuuming the floor or participating in a helpful walk-a-thon.

Remember, it's about making the other person stutter or stunning them into a life threatening rage. If anyone asks you why you're voting for a Democrat, try these explanations:

I am voting for a Democrat because...

... I'm in it for revenge.
... lapel pins are for sissies.
... Oprah will do amazing work on the Supreme Court.
... women are smarter and better leaders. Even Jesus had to listen to his Mama.
... I'm tired of all the closeted gays, sexual deviants, drug addicts, criminals, and Christian hypocrites in the Republican party doing embarrassing things.

Don't you love all of those links?

If anyone tries to assure you that Republicans can win this year, the best answer is, "Yes, and then Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny will throw an Inauguration Day kegger with The Tooth Fairy." The only way Republicans can win, bar unforeseen disaster, is if The Great Pumpkin delivers a hundred zillion barrels of crude oil on Halloween and sets up a November surprise. More or less, the presidential election is all but in the bag for Democrats.

As you can see, it's not hard to debate with Republicans. Simply remind yourself that we are talking about right wing fanatics - people who voted for Bush. These are not people accustomed to critical thinking, who spend a portion of the day sober. I know you can prevail. Have at it, America!

Fat Lady & Debbie

A woman of tremendous size moved into a small house across the street from my parents as spring was turning into summer in 1975. My mother baked a berry pie and took it over to this woman after she moved in, to welcome her to the neighborhood. I tagged along because that is what children do – they follow people everywhere. I had every reason to believe that the new lady on the block could be as spectacularly weird as the lady down the street who wore a blue winter coat all summer long and stored a million Kotex boxes on her front patio. Turns out, my instincts were right. Our new neighbor was out of her mind.

Our new neighbor met my mother at the door. “Who are you?” she said. She was wearing an immense black bra and a giant red beehive hairdo at the time. Just a bra and a hairdo. No underwear, no shoes, and no robe. In her left hand, she had a long leather bullwhip. In spite of this, my mother never missed a beat and said, “Welcome to Althea Street. I baked you a pie.”

- -

My Southern mother was the neighborhood’s one-woman welcoming committee. Even when a large bottomless woman met her at the door with a bullwhip in her hand, my mother never misplaced her manners. “Mom, why does that lady have a whip?” I asked. My mother said nothing, but she did move back a step or two.

The woman looked suspicious but she seemed disarmed by my mother’s kind offering. She stepped outside her screen door, took the pie and said her name was Linda, but that everyone called her Fat Lady. My Mom asked, “Should I call you Linda or Fat Lady? I’m Ruby. People just call me Ruby.” My mother smiled tightly and started backing away, pulling me with her. Fat Lady called out, “Hey! You should meet Debbie. Debbie, come here!”

A puny man with a beak for a nose emerged from behind the dark screen door. “That’s my boyfriend, Debbie. Ruby baked us PIES, Debbie. We’re gonna like HER!” He shook his head and smiled, and I noticed he had red welts all over his body. “Mom, “ I said, “that guy looks beat up.” My mother shushed me, and said that we had to be going. From that day forward, we tried very hard to stay out of Fat Lady's way.

- -

The world is painted in vibrant colors when one is a child. When I trace the edges of my memory the colors leap out at me, they remind me of what I have seen in a tiny town on the edge of big, blue Lake Ontario. Looking back, it’s no wonder I couldn’t wait to wake up every day when I was a kid, to look out the window while I ate my toast.

I remember that Fat Lady moved away in September, only a few months after she and Debbie moved in. Something about a check kiting scheme and prison. Debbie went to jail himself a short time later, because he got drunk and went on a crazy Peeping Tom spree. It all went to hell when Debbie was caught rummaging through Mrs. McAvoy's drawers. She attacked Debbie with her hands, took him down to the floor and took a bite out of his ankle. He got away and ran to hide on our porch. No one knows why our porch seemed like a logical hideout for Debbie, but there he was. Thankfully, Mrs. McAvoy had called the police earlier, and so the police were able to track Debbie around Olcott Beach by the trail of ankle blood that led to our door.

- -

Fat Lady gave my sister her bullwhip before she left for prison that fall. She also squared away her outstanding bill for newspaper deliveries with my sister, the neighborhood papergirl, by throwing Debbie against the side of their house. When he was down and dazed, Fat Lady took his wallet, emptied it and handed a wad of crumbled bills to my sister. We said thank-you and ran away.

Our sleepy little neighborhood never quite adapted to these people and we talked about them for years. What makes this oddity endure in my mind were the colors these people came with – the black bra, the fiery hair and the purple welts on a pale little man. Punctuating this memorable impression is the sound of a bullwhip echoing off the side of avocado colored vinyl siding, across my mother’s flower garden and through our window screens.

Recipe: Steak and Poblano Pepper Wraps

I found a recipe for a steak wrap in the Chicago Tribune months ago. When I tested it out, it went well the first time and then I promptly lost the recipe. Now I improvise. This may be an original recipe, considering the liberties I’ve taken with the original.

Steak And Poblano Pepper Wraps With Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 - 20 minutes

1 lb. Spencer Steak or Strip Steak, trimmed of fat
2 Poblano Peppers (roasted and diced)
1/2 tube Goat Cheese
1/2 pkg. Of Neufchatel Cheese (or Cream Cheese)
4 chopped green onions
1/2 chopped red onion
Cilantro, minced
Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, to taste

Avocado (halved, scored and squirted with lemon or lime juice)
2 chopped tomatoes
Shredded Romaine lettuce
Hot Sauce or salsa
1 sm. can sweet corn, drained and patted dry
Muenster cheese for garnish, grated
Roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
Sliced black olives
Wraps (plain or sun dried tomato is OK)
Olive Oil for cooking

I like spicy food. If you do not, only buy one Poblano instead of two.

Roasting The Poblanos
Find two really dark green Poblano peppers. Line a baking pan with foil and brush the peppers with olive oil. Broil these until the skin starts to pull away and turn crispy brown. Remove them from the oven, let them cool and peel off the skin. Carefully remove the stem and seeds and dice. If you rub your eyes while you skin these babies, it will hurt – be careful.

The Filling
Mix the cheeses while the peppers are roasting. Fold in the of onions, cilantro, the remaining spices (salt and pepper to taste). Set this aside in the fridge, to let the flavors get to know each other. Now it’s time to cook the steak. It takes ten to twenty minutes, tops.

Cooking The Steak
Sprinkle the steak with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I hate to drop names, but it’s the finest Creole Seasoning I’ve found. It’s very salty, so be careful. I can usually find this at my grocery store for about $7, and it lasts for months. You can broil the steaks to your liking or pan-fry them. Your choice. Here is how to test doneness:

When you press your index finger knuckle into the meat and it feels like the tip of your nose, that means it’s rare - medium rare. The more cushion-y the steak feels, the more rare it is. If the steak feels more like your chin, it is towards being well done. See how that works? Nose. Chin. Easy to remember.

Putting Everything Togther
Slice your steak(s) into strips. Lay out your wraps. Spread two tablespoons of the cheese mixture on the wraps and top with strips of steak. Add the corn, olives, roasted red peppers and shredded Muenster cheese. Garnish with lettuce, tomato and avocado.

Final Comments
Ten thumbs up. Everything about this wrap works. Enjoy!

Parky's: Where Hot Dogs Go To Die

Parky's Hot Dogs
329 Harlem Ave
Forest Park, IL 60130-1607
Phone: (708) 366-3090

Looking for the best hot dog in America? I know exactly where not to go. Parky's Hot Dogs provides the worst hot dogs in Chicago, in the history of ever. This hot dog has left me with more than ennui but less than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Further, I am not well and I believe it is their fault.

It could have been the almost-warmed (yet raw) hot dog that causes me so much discomfort. Maybe it was the French Fries? I bet those things were really good the first time they were cooked. The fries Parky's serves to the public have been cooked to the point of despair and contempt, the end result of oil-burning a French Fry in effigy. Why would someone do that to a harmless potato? What kind of criminal mind cooked up this evil plot?

Parky's is a place one could purchase lunch for their enemies. Our government could destroy Al-Qaeda if we could just get them to eat Parky's food. We could equip ginormous American bombers with Parky’s hot dogs and and end the war immediately. All will crumble in Parky's wake.

I’m going to call Homeland Security on Monday morning and ask them to send Parky’s to Iraq so that our soldiers can come home. Anything for peace, man. Anything.