Thursday, February 23, 2006

Four Wet Dreams

Neil Patrick HarrisI hardly ever remember my dreams. I’ve don't know if this is a blessing or a curse – when I do remember them they are often entertaining; on the other hand part of the time, so very not. Most of the time, they are non-linear, elliptical, nonsensical. Forgettable. Every now and then, however, they can be a little poetic. Discarding the less-said-the-better, afraid-to-go-back-to-sleep ones, here’s a few that I was still thinking about in the shower the next morning, culled from the last year or so. I do try to write them down when I have memorable ones – it’s rare enough to be kind of fun. Coincidentally, they all involve water. Oh, you were hoping for the other kind of wet dream?

A fragmented dream

I. I seem to be on a strange Island, a mysteriously engaging cross of Ireland (where I've been) and Jamaica (where I've never). The isolation my visiting friends feel is killing, though I love it here, and I want to make them dinner so they'll feel better - unfortunately, the market has nothing I need.

II. My friend Cy and I hijack a jeep, and go in search of the witches' cabin - they own a specialty foods store in the village which is closed for the season, but perhaps they'll have something hidden away at home. We'll steal it if they do. We're driving the jeep into the witches' living room - it's a normal sized, even cozy living room so furnishings seem to be rushing at us too fast, we'll crash! Yet we slip safely past - past the stone table and between the potted ferns and doily-covered furniture, when we're discovered. They're jovial about it, but I can feel the menace. They offer what's in the oven, apparently large frog's heads on a cookie sheet. They're they size of fists, vivid green, and damp and blistered from the heat like roasted fruit. They stew in crusting puddles of black liquid. The reddish eyes stare blankly. Cy is amenable, but I'm repulsed. We thank them, but leave empty handed.

III. I'm back in the city, in the lobby of a building - I recognize the interior as a campus building, but it isn't that building, it just looks like it. It's spacious - like the underside of a sports arena - the ceiling slopes upward. A couple of slouchily attractive boys loiter, lost in their own thoughts. I and the boys have been here awhile, we can't get a cab to save the shoe leather and so we wait. I'm thirsty and irritable, and there's no sex to be had with the boys. The ATM in the corner seems to pose a solution, but I can't think what it is.

A political dream

We had to go to Washington DC for a music festival, and arriving at the city, it had changed some – I did not remember the tall blocky buildings we drove between in the blue darkness. L’Enfant’s amazing maze soon had us completely lost and we found our way to the waterfront, which was very much like something in San Francisco or Seattle rather than DC.

Down this very tall staircase, several doors open off on the sides, and in one is some sort of salon/nightclub where hairdressers and hairdresser-wannabees strike poses and damage follicles. Across the way is a somewhat grungy restaurant, with a striking attraction, an old school bus that you can dine in, and which is lowered into the waters of the bay while you’re aboard. We’re onboard, and undersea, and mostly there’s not much to see, just murky greenish water.

Oh, and that big ass alligator sitting about 20 feet away. By big ass, I mean, big enough to eat half the bus with one bite. But he’s movin’ slow, and doesn’t seem to be hungry. There’s an aroma of danger though, and we’re moving calmly and quietly in the bus so as to not appear appetizing.

Eventually we arrive at David’s where we’re spending the night – we reached him on the phone and he came and got us and led us back through the twisty streets, past the enormous block-size faceless buildings of the capitol. His neighborhood is self-conciously cute and pedestrian oriented – almost like a vacation village. Snotty yuppies wander about – it’s night but quite light, and apparently earlier than it was when we were at the waterfront. He puts us up, and we relax watching TV; turns out the big news story is that the grungy restaurant is dumping industrial waste in the bay, hence the big alligator. Also, they’ve managed to toxify a local poodle, and the giant savage thing is menacing the salonsters. It’s good for a laugh.

In the morning, my companion has already left, so I set out to explore, knowing that I’ll be lost very rapidly. I find some quaint shops in the tacky little village, claiming to sell patriotic curiosities. The guy inside has some godawful hats, which appear to have been knitted from cheap orange-brown jute, like stocking caps, but with long rat-like tails. He claims they’re authentic revolutionary wear, but have never been worn. This he avers while standing on one and grinding it into the slushy mud with his boot. He picks it up, brushes it off, and hands it to me for inspection. It’s so obviously made 10 minutes ago, but I say nothing since his general clientele seems pretty reprehensible and I have no sympathy if they’re stupid enough to buy one.

He also has some books, and I start to browse, knowing my companion would be appreciative of a good find. He notes the book I’m holding and says “now that’s a fine revolutionary publication, dates from 1776!” I’m looking at the flyleaf which is clearly dated 1928, and I’m completely annoyed by his endless lies. I’m ready to leave, but he won’t stop talking. I’m at the door, but I can’t see the way that I came, or where I should go next. He keeps blathering on, and every word is a lie. Fortunately, I wake up.

A dream with four walls

I dreamed I was a building, and not a particularly good building, if you take my meaning. Carlotta was outside, giving the clientele some sort of guidance as to where they should go, and not very good guidance, if you take my meaning. As in the suburban husband slummin' for the first time does not need to be directed to the room full of cranked up loser boys waiting for their gang-bang. But he finds the "entertainment room" instead, lucky for him, cause Carlotta's a bitch, and wants you all dead.

The entertainment is bizarre; there's a bed in the corner, with a pretty severe water leak over it, so water keeps dripping and splashing on the bed, and it sounds a lot like the beginning of River of Orchids. On the bed is a woman who sounds and looks a lot like Marg Helgenberger. She's clothed, crouching on the bed, facing the few audience members aggressively. She's dripping wet, in the dark corner. She immediately picks out first-timer dude, and rags him provocatively about bisexuality, flipping water in suggestive shapes around her breasts and taunting him with her femininity. At the back of the bed are curtains, and suddenly they part, and two young girls in mismatched swimsuits run the length of the bed, splashing. Seems it may not be a bed after all, but some stage prop, a sort of overflowing hot tub made up to look like a bed. They flip off the end into a large puddle, and exit out the back. Marg stands up, and she's hugely pregnant. First-timer dude is solicitous, but she waves him away, amused and dismissive, and does a tuck and roll off the end of the bed, then waddles off.

A white and black dream

The first part that I remember, we were at wedding party on a riverfront. Big house, many white lacy tables, lots of guests in southern style Easter colors. Every fourth table or so, there was a big white swing erected, like a one person hammerhead (the carnival ride) decorated with lacy swags and lilacs, like a wedding cake. My friend, whom in real life I do not know, and who vaguely resembled Gwen Stefani in an eyelet dress, went for a ride as an usher pushed. She went spinning high in gleeful circles, while at nearby tables, the guests ducked and whined or laughed. I felt a little vertigo watching, and went and lay head down on a little hillock, watching the party upside down.

About then, the world shuddered, and tuned itself down from C to B-flat. (What the? I dunno, it's a dream.)

My friend and I became crime fighters, kind of like the Order part of Law and Order, trying to capture a serial something (thief? murderer?) in a huge white enameled apartment building. The perp in question was undoubtedly Jon Cryer. Which added a weird vibe to it; in the dream, I was looking for the cameramen every few feet. They finally cornered Jon and led him out into the grassy sunlit lawn by the gleaming blue swimming pool, while I, on some disciplinary slapdown, had to stay in the lobby. While there, I managed to capture the suspect's brother, who looked shifty, and whom, it turned out, had been responsible for everything. Case closed!

So we're driving home, my friend and I, and her parents are nearby, on a set that looks like Skidrow in Little Shop of Horrors, her dad struggling with a thin man in black. So we stop to pick them up, and dad stops struggling and gets in the car with the thin man. "Avoid looking at him," he says, "it's Death." So we have this awkward drive home, with Death in the car, and everyone making small talk and looking out the windows. Of course, when we get home, he's still there, and comes in the house. Death, it turns out, is played by Neil Patrick Harris, an actor I find slightly creepy and slightly cute.

Death proceeds to dance us through this little farce with everyone suddenly needing to be in another room whenever he comes in, and he totally taking advantage of the situation; changing the radio station, eating the food off your plate, and generally being a little pest.

Finally we go to bed (Boo finally shows up in the dream about now), and Death is still being the bad guest, and we know someone's time is up. Turns out it's me, and Death comes into our room. We plead with him, but there's really no argument, and I don't want it to get physical. Boo says "at least turn off the radio," and instead, Death puts on an LP of some scratchy-voiced blues singers. Boo objects, but I say, "No, I like this song." So Death and I sing along to this beautiful aching song, his cheek pressed alongside mine, and cold, and I suppose that would have been the end of it...

...except that Ethan jumped on my back, and woke me up. I turned over, he settled on my chest purring, and I dozed off again, but I don't remember anymore dreams.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Here We Are Now, Entertain Us!

So, Boo and I have been quite the little patrons of the arts this past month. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned some of the things we had coming up, and, if anything, our calendar has been even fuller than I anticipated. Here’s what we saw and what we did, and what I thought. Bear in mind, won’t you, that I’m not exactly a “J” on my Myers-Briggs, and I tend to like a lot more stuff than I don’t. You can always read Boo’s blog if you want a counter-opinion. Someday, maybe we’ll put together an Ebert-Roeper type of deal – I’ll fawn over everything, and Boo can wield the “wagging finger of shame”.

Back on February 5, we went to Flogging Molly with Jen and Dave, our former neighbors and bad influences. Actually, I guess they’re not former bad influences... This was the night after the Superbowl afternoon, and the tickets were my Christmas gifts to everyone else. Boo is still a bit tense around them due to some previous miscommunications, but all in all, it wasn’t too fraught.

"Fascinating" side note - Superbowl is not in Word’s spellchecker. It wants to change it to Superb Owl, and really, can’t we all get behind that? “Hey, did you see that Superb Owl? It was like Johnny Weir in the short program!”

Um. I digress.

Anyhoo, we saw the Superb Owl, the yellow team won, we grilled some beer brats, got slightly dissipated, then headed down to First Avenue. The Scotch Greens from Idaho opened, and I was immediately in a mood to have a great evening. Celtic-flavored punk is the music I was born to have sex to, and while I opted to restrain myself for the time being, you could totally see that the drummer was of the same mind. He rode his kit like he was on a steam-powered dildo, and every time I looked at his blissed-out shiny face I started sportin’ wood. To me, that’s exactly what rock music should do, and as for the straight boys in the mosh pit, it soon had them pogo-in’ like it was 1982 all over again, smackin’ chest to chest and hip to hip in total forf1 mode. We opted to remain in the balcony, however.

1Forf: Fuck or Fight

Flogging Molly took the stage with their spitfire show for the “responsible adults” (the night before was all-ages), and from his first swig of Guinness, Dave King – the head Molly – had us laughin’, bouncin’, and singin’ along with his raucous tales of drunk friends, school rebellion, faith lost & found, and pirates. And who doesn’t love a song about pirates? The more critically-minded might argue that a lot of their songs sound suspiciously the same. The less critically-minded will grab their crotch and shout “bite me,” so I don’t know if it really matters what the more critically-minded have to say. I had a ball, and didn’t end up with a hangover, so all in all, a successful evening planned by yours truly.

Boo is usually the planner and executor of the social calendar, so most of the subsequent events have been his lookout. And if I’ve generally enjoyed them more than he has, well it goes that way sometimes.

The week after the First Ave show, we were just down the block at the State Theater watching ballet, specifically Swan Lake. Apparently for Matthew Bourne, Tchaikovsky is the music he was born to have sex to, so his rendition of the classic is highly erotic. Homoerotic, too, as all of the swans are male, bare-chested, fairly menacing, and exquisitely graceful.

We had awesome seats in the 6th row, thanks to S and M, (the two guys we went to North Dakota with last year). So, we could see every ruffled feather, and sadly, a bit more too.

On the plus side, it was funnier, more emotionally engaging, and more universal (less gay) than I expected. Individual dancers produced some thoroughly beautiful moments, especially the lead swan (pictured). His body language with the Prince at their first physical contact (the Prince places a hand just above his knee) is all wild-bird on the verge of flight, barely-contained fear, aggression, and desire. A perfect moment in a far from perfect production.

On the downside, the corps seemed pretty ragged - seriously in need of a strict dance captain. Also the State Theater used to be a movie house, and has a notoriously small stage and wings area. That might be why we could easily see some denim-clad butts poking onstage at a couple of points, and why a couple of scene changes were so damn clumsy. Still, I’m no critic, as I’ve stated elsewhere. I admire the effort as much as the execution, and there were definitely some brilliant ideas, and some moments of real wonder.

The bizarre pageantry of the Olympics filled much of the weekend for us – aside from the rather brilliant giant skier made up of hundreds of scarf-clad dancers – it largely left me cold, if you’ll excuse an unintentional pun. Since then, the games have provided at least several minutes of amusement, particularly as Boo’s blog receives hit after hit trying to determine if he knows which winter athletes are gay. (Could it be rainbow-clad Canadian Jeff Buttle? The tasty little Belgian Kevin Van Der Perren? Sassy and elegant Johnny Weir? Only Late Late Antiquity knows for sure! According to Google, anyway....)

As the temperature plummeted late last week, we ventured north into the no-queers lands of Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center with S and M again, along with token lesbian E (that’s a joke, don’t hit me). We had dinner at Udupi, probably the best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities (well, near the Twin Cities – it is in Columbia Heights after all), and a great place to take vegetarians since there is no meat on the menu. Everything is always absolutely delicious, even if I’m fairly confident that I’m always given something entirely different from what I actually ordered. (Maybe the menu translator is just exceptionally bad).

We then dashed off to Brooklyn Center to see Rang De Basanti, a Bollywood film starring Aamir Khan, who was so dishy in Lagaan. Real life is starting to catch up with him, and at 40, it’s a bit hard for him to plausibly portray a college student –even one five years past graduation. A very odd film, to be sure. Picture, if you will, one of the “Let’s Put on a Show” musicals that Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were endlessly in back in the 30’s and 40’s. Now update it, and instead of a show, Judy’s trying to make a movie based on her grandfather’s diary of some seminal events in the Indian independence movement. As the plot proceeds along a madcap merry way, Judy recruits Andy Hardy and his group of multicultural slacker hotties to make up the cast.

Unfortunately, she takes her digital video camera, and shoots lots of music video crap with speeding motorcycles and standing up in Jeeps bouncing around to Indian dance pop. As the cast coheres, and even Andy’s arch-enemy, a heinous Log Cabin Republican type, joins in, they find themselves filled with revolutionary fervor and nationalistic pride for the first time in their lives. And...intermission.

After the intermission, a tragedy befalls the group as one of their family, a pilot, is killed due to government corruption. Hot with the spirit of the revolutionaries they’ve been portraying in Judy’s film, the boys help Andy Hardy to brutally gun down the minister of defense on the street, and instead of putting on a show in a redecorated barn, they take over a radio station, where they make their last stand as each is bloodily shot to death by the merciless SWAT team. A nation is inspired as the mothers weep silent tears.


Indeed, one might even say "hmm."

Can’t fault the ambition, and in fact, I was tearing up at the end myself, mainly on the strength of the performances of Sharman Joshi (the Indian Andy Samberg – hotcha!), Kunal Kapoor (Yow. Zah!), and Telegu film legend Siddharth. But to say that it went where we least expected it to go would be an understatement. Boo was hoping for lots of dancing and flowing silks, not flowing blood and tears.

We wrap up this little orgy of entertainment consumerism, again, thanks to S and M, who insisted we go see the full-length version of a show they had seen in the late summer Fringe Festival – KNOCK!

KNOCK! is an inventive theatrical piece combining video and live action to tell a series of humorous tales of growing up in the latter part of the last century. The very yummy Jim Lichtscheidl created the work, and stars as Toehead, the approximately 10 year old protagonist. Nothing much happens, but the vignettes strike a chord with anyone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Particularly brilliant in the way action is timed to music and video, the piece is cleverly theatrical and yet disarmingly low-tech. And I can’t say enough good things about Ken Rosen’s portrayal of Toehead’s teenaged older sister, the “swinger of moods”. He perfectly embodies her vague and undefined femininity and navel-gazing self-obsession. And the “tube top” scene is so over the top I nearly peed myself.

As the social calendar has been so full, I’ve found it hard to get something posted here regularly this month, but I’m thinking I’ve either reached the end of the storm or at least the eye. Soon, I promise, more shout-outs to the folks on the blogroll, more tales of the developmentally damaging, more lead-lined quips. Til then, my friends, save a good seat for me!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A short and largely skipable post...

A lovely photo by Bea, hosted at Flickr
So, a few miscellany - I'll continue the shouts next week. I haven't quite decided how to divide up the rest of you in a logical (to me) fashion. But I'll come up with something.

First of all, and just for the record, swimming is the coolest thing ever. I don't know how I went ten years without doing this. Oh, sure, it still hurts some, and aches afterwards; I'm really out of shape! But damn, I'd forgotten how good it feels. It's the most sensual of sports for me - the water licking against your body as you glide through it, resisting and giving way as you push against it with hand and foot - delicious. The way it simultaneously dampens your other senses - it's harder to hear, harder to see, nothing much to smell aside from pool chemicals - takes you to a very internal place, where the petty troubles of the day shed away like droplets on a leaf. Your breathing becomes rhythmic to your arm stroke (it must unless you want water in your throat) breathe-exhale-exhale-breathe, further relaxing and focusing your mind, while you count laps, chant earworming song lyrics, conjure daydreams and mental imagery. Afterward, I ride the bus home with a dazed and glazed expression on my face, blissed and distant, radiating heat like a flare - when it's cold out steam rises from me for at least 30 minutes afterward. Swimming's a trip.

And besides that, I've lost five pounds since last week. 217 down to 212. I want to remember that in a couple of weeks when it isn't as fun as it is now.

I was just visiting Julie Beth's blog, and she's started commuting on her scooter. Which means she's hooked, and good. I do so miss my scooter from November through April. I visit it weekly to run for a short while, keeping the battery charged and the fuel lines clear. But its small tires are not safe on ice, and it runs pretty lean when it's cold - prone to engine shutoff at stops. So, I'll wait. April isn't that far away, and who knows? The way January was, maybe we'll get an early thaw. Julie Beth has decided to name hers Starbuck, which is nice - a clever shoutout to both Moby Dick and Battlestar Galactica. Which raises a question - what should I call my scooter? I've called it just "Scooter" for the 18 months I've owned it, but with a different Scooter throwing some ugly shade on that name, I'm thinking something else is called for. Got a suggestion? Drop it in a comment. You can take a look at my ride here.

Okay, so that's it for today. Going to a flick shortly (something Oscar® nominated, but I forget what exactly. Boo knows), and then Flogging Molly tomorrow night.

However, Julie Beth requested a recipe, and since working out in the pool makes hitting the dinner deadline a bit trickier, I'll post the fastest, best porkchop recipe I have. These always work, and are always good. You have barely enough time to steam some veggies to serve alongside. Or make someone else toss a salad.

Pork Chops with Mustard Crumbs

Heat oven to 425F.

In a blender or food processor, chop or mince 2 garlic cloves (this is a bit tricky in some blenders, you may want to chop before tossing it in). Add a slice or two of hearty bread, - whole grain, rye, french loaf, whatever, torn into chunks. You want to end up with about 1 large cup of crumbs, so use your best guess on how much to toss in. Add a teaspoon or so of sage (more if using fresh). Add 1/2 tsp salt, and a large 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Pulse process into uniform chunky crumbs.

In a large skillet (oven safe if you have one), heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium high heat. Add the crumb mixture, and saute until lightly brown, toasty, and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan to a prep bowl. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

Add 1 tbs olive oil to pan, and heat over medium high. Add four 3/4-to-1 inch thick pork chops (I've used thinner, and I've also halved this recipe; it's pretty adaptable). Brown chops in oil turning over once - about 4 minutes total. Smear 1/2 tbs dijon mustard on one side of each chop (2 tablespoons mustard total). Top each with 1/4 crumbs, pressing lightly to adhere. Put pan in preheated oven, and roast until chops are cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Turn off oven, and serve! Start to finish, about 15-20 minutes total, serves four.