Monday, July 30, 2007

Sure Signs of American Decline

1. We aren't prepared for a disaster in a medium-sized city that is a national treasure.

2. The allegedly macho Texans in Washington cower in fear at the prospect of showing determination, toughness, and good old American ingenuity in confronting global climate change, massive wetlands loss, and the past failures of the Army Corps of Engineers.

3. At least as important: we can't even make a good Superman movie anymore. I'm a geek, a sucker for superhero movies, so when I got "Superman Returns" from Netflix, I was ready for a good time. Boy, was I wrong. It's easily the worst superhero movie I've ever seen, and one of the two or three worst movies I've EVER seen. Oh, my. Horrible. Rotten. Disgusting.

Thing is, it could've been okay. Some interesting plot elements, cool visuals, and nice use of the old music. But the principal actors are complete duds, and the story just gets lost. And then it takes itself WAAYYY too seriously. And it violates a fundamental Superman rule, because now he seems to be able to move a whole island made of Kryptonite, whereas one cantaloupe-sized rock used to throw him for a loop.

We're doomed. We can't even follow the basic rules of Superman plot creation. Cheesh.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday, 4:58 p.m.

1. I haven't run in SIX days, the internets know it thanks to my run-o-meter, and no one has made fun of me yet. I thought sure Saintseester would say something.

2. In the Harry Potter madness on Magazine Street last Friday, I got to talk to Nameless Tim. We are already plotting black and gold mayhem in Indianapolis.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Saints Alive!

1. Life is good. The T-P has broken out of its annual mid-summer dearth of Saints news to place the Saints on the cover now that training camp has started (and the Librarian has the best name for the beginning of camp. Can't wait to see what his prediction for the season is this year.)

2. Berto and I lost Nana this past week, but it's been an uplifting process for all of us in many ways. I should note that this is the first Saints season ever during which Nana will not be telling Berto and me, "The SAINTS? Why do you throw your money away?" I have a feeling, though, that secretly she was glad we were spending resources on something that involved camaraderie, food, and drink. And she loved hearing about our adventures on bikes through various neighborhoods and around various taverns. If nothing else, Nana is now rooting for a Black and Gold Super Bowl because it means more bike rides and taverns for all of us.

3. We have been celebrating Nana all week; one way we have been doing so is by sharing her recipe for Gumbo Z'Herbes, which was a New Year's tradition for our family (it's much more interesting than plain boiled cabbage--although there's nothing wrong with cabbage, either). Anyway, here (for all the internets to see), is one great recipe:

Gumbo Z’Herbes

6 or 8 bunches fresh spinach or 6 or 8 packs frozen (or some of each)
1 bunch of mustard greens
1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of turnip greens
Greens from 1 bunch of carrots (Tops)
Greens from 1 bunch of beets (Tops)
Outer leaves of lettuce – use romaine or endive or other
Outer leaves of cabbage
Leaves from top of celery
Leaves from top of radishes
Leaves from 1 bunch of broccoli
1 lb. of fresh hot sausage
1 lb. of ham seasoning or smoked sausage
2 or 3 big onions -- chopped
1 or 2 sweet peppers – chopped
2 or 3 bay leaves
A few tablespoons flour
Gumbo file
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste
Cooked rice

1. Wash the greens thoroughly. Take out the stems or tough midribs. Put the greens in a big pot with water to cover and bring to boil. When it boils, turn fire down to medium and let cook for about 15 or 20 minutes – uncovered.

2. While the greens are simmering, cook the hot sausage (in small bite-size chunks) and diced ham or smoke sausage in a large heavy skillet. When cooked, remove the meat and put on a plate. Drain off some of the grease, then add the onions and peppers. Cook until the onions and peppers are soft.

3. After the greens have cooked down, use a strainer to drain them, but retain the water (the stock) that the greens have been cooking in. Chop up the greens, either by running them briefly through a food processor or doing it by hand. Add the greens back to the large pot, and stir in the cooked onions, peppers, meat, bay leaves, and seasonings. Get the mixture nice and hot.

4. Add in stock until the texture is gumbo-like. Simmer for at least an hour. If the gumbo gets too thick, add in some more of the stock. To get the consistency that you like, mix some flour with water in a separate bowl, then add some of this paste to the gumbo. You can also add gumbo file to get the desired texture. As the gumbo cooks with the flour, you may want to add salt, pepper, or hot sauce. Be careful; the hot sausage will also add plenty of spice as well.

5. Serve in large soup bowls over rice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Huh?

Leslie Eaton of the New York Times has absolutely no idea what she's talking about. No. Idea. At. All.

How can she write something like this?
Of all the factors blocking the economic revival of New Orleans, the shattered health care system may be the most important — and perhaps the most intractable.
We have the following:

1. A failed and only haltingly improving flood protection system.
2. A failed system of property insurance--government flood insurance that runs out of money, private insureres who know how to collect premiums but who run away from paying out claims.
3. A federal government that is content to sit on the side awaiting "plans" and "local initiative" while a substantial region disappears. (What would've happened if FDR waited for local initiative when the Tennessee Valley didn't have electricty?)
4. A state government packed with pikers from the north who couldn't care less about us "papists and queers" down south.
5. A local government that doesn't want to tell anybody "no," including murderous criminals.
6. A housing market that is reflective of the national housing market, e.g. one that seems designed to reward construction of useless condos and to penalize taking a risk on up-and-comers in the economy. But here, it's different, because we need housing so that we can repopulate.

All of this is going, but Ms. Eaton says that it's the health care system that's holding us back.

Look, I've been at the emergency room with a teenaged son and an elderly grandmother. Was it a pain? Yes. Was it a model for the nation? No. But is that the MAIN problem holding the recovery back? Not even close.

I'm losing patience with the particulars of the New York Times's coverage. I am grateful that they keep writing stories about us, but I'm sick of how wrong they get it so often.

UPDATE: By the way, although the article exaggerates the health care issue to the exclusion of other issues, it does point out some other information that is useful.

1. President Bush and his hacks (and that is what they are--Texas cronies no smarter or more competent that our disgusting president) don't care about sick people in a manmade disaster area. They want us to use federal money to buy private health insurance for poor people, but there is only about half of the money necessary to do the job. Dr. Fred Cerise--our secretary of health and hospitals, a good man who is being hosed by the feds--has enough integrity to say so, too. MY QUESTION, which is really Michael Moore's question: Why do we need the middle man? Why use federal money to pay private insurers to cover about half of the people who need insurance? Why not just pay the doctors and nurses, not the marketing people at United Healthcare? I'll bet we could cover a lot more people that way.

2. I have to stop now. My heart is racing and I'm nauseous due to the stress of thinking about arrogant NY Times reporters and lazy Bush hacks. Wouldn't want to have to go to a NOLA emergency room, would I?

National Geographic: It's Not Just Pictures

I read the NG article on NOLA, but I didn't look at the picture gallery. Thanks to Blake for pointing the latter out, because it led me to these quotes:

“Every time I think of leaving,” he says, “I bump into somebody I know.”
AND
“My pain has made me stronger.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hey, Oyster, I Think You're On To Something!

Did you see this correction in today's T-P? I'm not making this up:
Vitter comments misstated: A story in Friday's editions wrongly said that U.S. Sen. David Vitter had described as incorrect stories in The Times-Picayune linking him to a New Orleans brothel. Vitter in fact said "those New Orleans stories in recent reporting" were not true. He did not specify what stories he was talking about.
Oyster is the man. Or the bivalve. Or whatever.

Vitter is not the man.

This T-P correction is Vitter's version of "it depends on what the defintion of 'is' is."

ADDITION: Here's the original T-P story to which this correction apparently refers. Here's the damning language that Vitter's people felt the need to correct:
In an appearance Monday in Metairie with his wife, Wendy, Vitter said stories in The Times-Picayune and other news organizations linking him to a New Orleans brothel in the 1990s "are not true."

World Class Thinking

From yet another stolen link. Thanks to Ray for spotting this National Geographic article. I'm a little less sanguine than Ray is about the spirit and details of the article. I think it fails to really push on the critical question: where is the national (specifically, the governmental) resolve when a portion of "American" territory is under grave threat? NG ought to blister the American president and the American congressional leadership, but it really doesn't.

Anyway, that's not why I'm linking to the article. It does have the virtue of including the voices of Torbjörn Törnqvist and Oliver Houck, a couple of Tulane professors (Go, Green Wave!).

Here's Törnqvist:
He envisions a new urban landscape perfectly adapted to climate change, with restored wetlands, high-tech floodgates similar to those in the Netherlands, and a cleaner, greener, denser city. The entire pre-Katrina population, he contends, could live quite comfortably in the parts of the city that did not flood, transforming warehouses and blighted districts into new walkable, sustainable neighborhoods on the high ground."The situation here is a huge opportunity for the city and the nation," says Törnqvist, who says he can't imagine Holland turning its back on Amsterdam, or Italy giving up on Venice. "If we walk away, we'll miss a fantastic opportunity to learn things that will be useful in Miami, or Boston, or New York in 50 years."

Here's Houck:
"There are people who will fight to the death to stay here because it's such a damned joy to live here."

Those words encapsulate precisely what I'm about. This is why I toss a few posts a week on this silly blog. This the spirit we have and/or need.

Why did I have to read this in National Geographic? Why are these guys not in the T-P every day, or in front of the City Council. Or ON the City Council?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stolen Links

1. Here's one from Blake and Ashley: the new AbsolutNewOrleans. (Clio Kids: Don't click on that link. You have to be 21.)

2. The new Saints site is up. Nice look, but it needs more content, like the cool video archives that the old one had. One thing: check out this shirt. That's not really what we're chanting when we do the Whodat thing, is it? (That's not what I chant.)

3. This clip from Robot Chicken makes me laaaauuugh.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cool! More Wall Space for Foreign Pictures of Jesus!

They're building two new courtrooms in St. Tammany Parish.

What will it be this time?

Armenian Jesus?

Chinese Jesus?

Peruvian Jesus?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Reggie Represented, etc.

1. The Saints won ESPN's "Best Moment" Award at the Espy's, and Reggie Bush said all the right things. Basically, he said, "We are not OK." Thanks to Number 25.

2. I'll be seeing Number 34 this week at my place of employment. I had the chance to speak to him by phone a couple of weeks ago. He seems like a great guy, and I predict a breakout year for him this year.

3. I did the Clio family's dry-erase calendar for July-August (it helps to do that when you have two jobs and four young Clios). When I got to August, good things starting turning up--such as, say, FREAKIN' SAINTS GAMES!!!! Yes! The Saints play 3 games (yes, meaningless ones) in 13 days in early August. We're almost there, people.

4. I have booked and paid for the professional conference that will place me (coincidentally, I'm sure) in Indianapolis, Indiana, from September 5 to September 7. Also, there is also a professional football game there on September 6. Please help me lobby Berto to visit his corporate HQ during that same time period. Perhaps other bloggers can arrange to be there too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Moment of Silence . . .

for Lady Bird Johnson. When Betsy struck New Orleans, her husband was competent, actually gave a damn, "got it," visited, and followed up.

Can We Get a Little Dignity with Our Smut?

Look, I'm sort of amused about our Republican Senator's exploits, but what I'm really disgusted about is his views on immigration and a lot of other things (including what he says is the Most Important Issue of Our Time: stopping gay people from getting married--you know, that's more important than failing levees and disappearing wetlands).

However, WWL is pushing the envelope with this interview. Do we really need to see an interview with the Canal Street Madam LAYING DOWN?? ON A BED??? WITH HER, UM, ASSETS ON DISPLAY??

Yes, we get it. She ran a brothel. Beds were an important piece of equipment in her small business.

Thanks, WWL.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where Does Oyster Begin?

Who among us didn't pick up the T-P this morning, look at the headline, and think, "Oyster's not going to know where to begin on this one."

For Oyster, today is like the day for Berto when the Saints drafted Reggie Bush, or for Ashley when Sonnier dropped his plan for a restaurant on Henry Clay.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Question

You have to have seen (or at least get the reference) to the film "Soylent Green" in order to answer this question.

Okay, the Republican approach to healthcare and retirement reaches its logical conclusion: by (let's say) 2020, there are too many unproductive and sick Americans who were just too dumb and immoral to take advantage of self-evidently brilliant GOP ideas like health savings accounts and individual retirement accounts. Thus, it's mandatory euthanasia for anyone too sick or too old to be considered a viable redblooded, car-driving Christian American.

It's your turn to snuff it for the good of the Productive Americans. You are led into the theater for your final chance at sensory pleasure. You can choose a set of scenes or a film to view silently, plus one song.

Which scenery do you choose? Which song do you choose?

Good night.

Waiting in New Orleans (1 Letter) - New York Times

Waiting in New Orleans (1 Letter) - New York Times

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Bush Way vs. The Smart, Easy Scots Way

The Bush way to deal with terrorism is to declare a "War" and to invade and occupy a country of marginal significance in the ins and outs of Islamic fundamentalism. That's the hard way. The dumb way. The miserable way.

The Scots way to deal with terrorism is to have a baggage handler on a smoke break kick some serious terrorist ass.

John Smeaton: "You're nae hitting the polis, mate, there's nae chance," he told interviewers. "Glasgow doesnae accept this; if you come tae Glasgow, we'll set about ye."

I like the Scots way better. It's more to-the-point and much more cost-effective.

Owing to my ethnic heritage, my coloration, and my junior semester of college at Edinburgh University, there is a serious place in my heart for those people. And after seeing "Sicko," the idea of a move there is not out of the question. I'm disgusted with insurance companies. Yes, that disgusted.

You can go to johnsmeaton.com and pledge a pint for the man. He's up to 1,200 pints now. (That's enough for about one quarter's worth of Saints football in the Dome for a certain row in section 635 with which I'm familiar.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's 116 degrees in Vegas. It's 103 in Boise, where in the past they've had 31 degree weather in June and -25 degree weather in December.

But WE'RE the stupid people for living where we live? Maybe the Army Corps should promise Vegas that they can keep the temperature at or below 90 degrees . . .

Thursday, July 05, 2007

iMr. Clio

So today I engaged in indulgence (perhaps of a healthy sort) by purchasing at lunchtime an iPod Nano and the Nike running shoes plus chip that allows one to track one's workout on the Nano.

I charged the Nano up while I was at work, headed home for dinner, then went to the 7:30 show of "Sicko" at Canal Place. The movie was sheer enjoyment for me, even with Dr. Mrs. Clio saying "I've been saying this stuff for a long time" through much of the film (she loved it too, as did Clio III, at 12 years old).

Anyway, I came home and went for a 10 p.m. run with my new indulgence. Oh wow. Is this setup cool! And you can upload automatically to a Nike website that charts your pace for you and everything. I'm hooked.

Anyway, my new technoindulgence, plus the movie, led me to this vision on my run. When the Republican healthcare "plan" takes full effect, which I expect any day now, we will all end up as Soylent Green. The one good thing about this scenario is that just before we are turned into food, we get to see a nice film and hear great music. And this is where my vision comes in.

When it's my turn to become food for my fellow human beings, they will be showing a long, slow-motion Saints highlight film in the theater, and one of the songs playing will be "Soldier Girl" by the Polyphonic Spree.

This is what watching a movie about our barbaric healthcare "system" and then running with technology did to me.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

1. It's been awhile since I posted, and with Mr. Mel working long hours to modernize communications in our fair country, I guess it's up to me.

2. I have become acquainted with a hardworking journalist in NOLA. This person informs me that Da Mayor is openly talking about his near future: either running for governor (it's a pride thing) or just quitting and moving to Dallas, which is where his wife and kids are. Apparently, if you want to know why he doesn't seem to be very responsive or even around much, it's because he spends a lot of time in Dallas.

3. I was telling some friends yesterday that when I lived in Missouri (for me, Misery) for three years, one thing I noticed was that the Fourth of July felt like a real holiday there. I felt the magic; it felt like America there and that I was among Americans.

Fourth of July here in NOLA feels a little like a pretend game we play, just to go along with the crowd. It's nice and all--I'm headed to Kenner shortly to spend some nice time with family, large amounts of smoked meat, and the smell of chlorine and Coppertone (I really do like that combo)--but it still feels a little like a foreign imposition. Hell, St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day feel more like real holidays here than does the Fourth of July. Am I weird? Or do others feel that too?

4. Still and all, I'm proud of many things about our country. When we get it right, our plain-spokenness, our celebration of individual flourishing, our respect for the different (yes, I know we screw that up a lot, but in the end, we are becoming more respectful and diverse as a nation, not less), and our history of great people like Thomas Jefferson, Emma Goldman, Martin Luther King, Walker Percy, and Deuce McAllister--all of this should make us proud.

Happy Fourth of July.

Hope I see you at the fireworks on the River tonight.

UPDATE: Cool Emma Goldman observation:

Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the
others.

The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that from early infancy the mind of the child is provided with blood-curdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition.

An army and navy represent the people's toys.