Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Decidedly Un-Elite

::Incoming Transmission. WARNING: Emotional Ramble Detected. Proceed at your own risk::

This is going to be something. Sorry ahead of time.

If you don't follow Ta-Nehesi Coates on Twitter, you are on the wrong life trajectory. It is a simple correction. Here. https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor Now you are destined for better things.

I bring up Ta-Nehesi because he speaks eloquently on many subjects, but specifically one that's been troubling me recently, albeit in the opposite way it has affected him. That is the concept of "being elite" or "One of the elite." We all go on our various social medias and make authoritative statements. Twitter, specifically, is a place where it's very easy to make grand-sounding statements with vast context. 140 characters well wrought and one button starts a sharing cascade that can take you from noone to CNN (although that's not exactly the best place to be). Our tweets can be prophetic portents, our opinions divine laws. We literally have followers, so when you cross the line from "just some gui" to "one of Them" your words become something more than what they are -- words, opinions, statements from a human being.

Ta-Nehesi has waxed on why he is now considered Elite by many, when his statements have not changed and he does not live in a mansion and fly a jet. But his proximity to what we view as "the establishment" has somehow passed an invisible line and he is now closer to Them than Us. This comes with benefits and blights; he is certainly making more money now, he has increased albeit still limited public influence, and he is now attacked even more religiously by trolls and put on a separate pedestal because white women on TV have asked for his opinion.

He's still the same guy. Fame changes people, but usually only stupid people. You can remain an individual outside of your context, but only if you've reached a particual level of self-awareness. Something I'm still struggling with and I know many other people do too. In particular, how shouting to a vacuum suddenly becomes speaking the Word of Godzilla. I have gone up and down in Twitter popularity based on my involvement with various activities, Nanowrimo being the biggest of them, but my comments have not really changed. I evidently feel less need to share them with my significantly smaller author following, but I think another part of the problem. I don't really feel like my words are valued. When I ran NaNoPals, I was essentially providing a service. People weren't coming for wisdom, for my personality, for ME, they were coming for wordsprints that were presented with some level of emotional positivity. And why shouldn't they? I completely understand the perspective. I'm just another white guy trying to say his bit and get paid by someone for telling stories. Stories that people want and need to hear, in the best of worlds.

And that's my problem right now. I am now going to be a crabby old person, but I hope you don't take it the wrong way. This next sentence is going to make you mad, but it isn't what it seems:

SFF is not the genre it used to be. There are pros and cons all across the board. I have seen such great new authors, almost all from marginalized groups rise in this new genre world. I have seen people who struggle with gender identity and sexuality and a host of other things that I have always fought internally with come to the fore. Being gay is so cool now! It used to be pretty much the opposite. Despite some bathroom laws, it's a whole new fucking world and it's amazing and so much of that is thanks to the genre world, I don't care what you think or how much evidence there is for that. It has always stunned me that people who read Scifi and Fantasy could be stupid, ignorant, hateful people. The books are almost entirely written to fight against that! But that's just my personal journey through the genre. I somehow managed to read Brave New World and think it was a Utopia rather than a Dystopia. (I still think that way, and I will happily argue with you about it all day long. Right now as you're getting angry with me I ask you What Color Were the Natives. Because he never said what color they were)

It used to be hard as shit to find a book that had a character like me in it. I know how that sounds. Oh the poor white boi had so many white bois to choose from it was impossible to find the right one whereas I had princess fucking Jasmine and das fucking it for Indian/Arab American female representation circa 1997.

But what am I? Am I just another white boi?

Let's slap some labels on me now: genderfluid, queer, neuroatypical (depression, anxiety), autistic(?!), chronic-pain-haver, great actor. Now the picture is very complicated, especially when you consider how invisible all this stuff was and is to me and my family. Despite my mother's constant "everyone is on the spectrum" autism talk and side-eye, neither she nor any other authority figure has ever had any understanding or compassion for my behaviour, and no one has been able to put a finger down on what the shit I have/am, despite or perhaps because of my almost completely solo journey for self discovery and care.

You know how some people don't like to wear their whole lives on their sleeve? well despite the fact that I have cool tattoos (all to do with my nerd loves thank you) I don't. I like to be who I am and like things and have my shit without putting labels on all of it. I fucking HATE QUILTBAG and whatever. I despise the 40 gender labels we have and the fact that the word "cis" exists. It's a disgusting sound and I hate it. That's literally why btw. If we used "banana" instead I'd be fine. But I get why a gross sound was chosen. Fag and cunt and all that crap are fun and mean and gross to say. They have mouthfeels that make them matter besides just their meanings. So does cis, and I don't think it's a good one.

I feel like I've been passing my whole life. Passing as a man, passing as a white man, passing as a successful human being. Imposter Syndrome isn't a side-effect of my writing, it's my entire fucking life. And now that I don't "have" to pass, it's apparently a rude choice I've made, and I need to just walk out into the open and embrace my problems and scream them to the world at large, cos that's how "our" culture now works. Be out! Be loud! Be proud!

I describe my ego as the Hindenburg.

I'm literally surprised every time I look in the mirror. Can you imagine that? I don't honestly have an accurate internal view of myself. My internal me is a bloated troll seeping with pus and boils whose rotting teeth and fetid breath can kill a horse from thirty yards. In reality, I'm pretty decent looking. I can tell objectively now, and that helps. I'm fortunate there too -- I can't honestly complain about being ugly. All my complaints are invisible! NOBODY listened to me about ANYTHING until I had a god-damned HOLE in my leg, and now suddenly I'm allow to have all sorts of problems and oh the poor thing they got hit by a car.

MY LIFE FUCKING SUCKED BEFORE I GOT HIT BY A CAR. Now it just hurts more to sit and stand and do everything else, more than it already did before which was a lot. My back is so fucked up when I saw a professional masseuse they actually shrugged and gave up.

So now when I go on Twitter, and I see that there are so many people like me, and I see that our stories are succeeding and #ownvoices is trending and the books are being written I am very happy. Then, and now I suppose we will revisit an actual point -- I read them. And they are all fucking depressing. I get it. This post is depressing. Our lives are depressing. Our genre is turning into that most heinous of things... "literature."

And, like every fucking POS Hemmingway wannabe piece and the books by bloated goatfucker himself, I'm so fucking done reading those stories. I'm done, guys. I have been fighting my way out of this depression shithole for twenty years, and I'm so tired of fighting suicidal urges. That isn't mean to suggest I'm giving in, at all. I will be tired forever, and that's just that. But fuck, guys, do you have to make it so hard? I want to join in, I want to be a part of this, I want to be engaged and alive and part of the fucking movement but I don't want the labels, I don't want infighting over who has it worse black cripples or gay autistics. (hint, it's black cripples. but that doesn't mean we can't still have problems!) I don't want the tears anymore. I want us to laugh, for once. I want us to see how good things have gotten for us, even if they're still not great. I can't even imagine what my younger self would have done with Tumblr. I'd probably be wearing makeup and a dress right now. (Nah, I hate makeup)

This kind of an upbringing makes me have pity on GGers and their ilk. If you go on imgur or reddit where a lot of these trolls hang out you will find pictures of hot women and comments like "god I wish I could wake up next to/as that" and other illuminating tidbits that reveal they are troubled and no different from us -- they have been sold a lie and now cannot see the truth behind it. It is so difficult to help them, since they do not seem to want to help themselves, and that I think is the ultimate point. I want to get better. I want to learn. I was hate-filled and angry, I used the word tranny and said other rude things because trans people made me so jealous. Every trans person is a fucking hero. The level of courage and self-love it takes to make that change, announce it to the world and be proud of this new skin you've made yourself is just fucking incredible and I could not do it. Without a magic wand to give me a uterus and change my shape I would go fucking insane, more than I am already.

Good writing apparently comes from the heart. To write openly and honestly, to give it to you completely raw. That's hard as fuck, especially for people who are struggling. My life is better than it's ever been, but my problems haven't gone away. That's the hardest part of having brain problems. Everything looks FINE on the outside. But we need to be honest about the struggle. I need to be open, if anything is ever going to change. But I still need to be me, I still need to live. I need happiness and joy, because my internal production of seratonin is malfunctioning, and another story about being beaten, raped and abused is not going to help me get there. I know the world is awful goddamnit. I am reminded of that by my own life every five seconds because the only memories my brain can save are bad ones. I literally have to record good events separately if I'm going to remember them. I want to know that the world, that people, can be good. Someone, please, show me that. Anyone, anyone at all. The only author I can think of who rides that line and can make me cry about bad things but see hope is fucking Rose Lemberg and I don't understand how they aren't fucking famous as shit yet. They follow me! Why? They're INCREDIBLE and I am an almost entirely unpublished sack of meat-trash.

But maybe that means... I'm not a worthless sack of trash? Watch as I entertain this thought for all of one microsecond before it is disproven by my oh-so-many real life experiences. There's a whole other post about why I think right now I am starting to just "whine" rather than emote about my actual issues. Again, the invisibility of brain problems.

If/when I'm "elite" this post might be famous. It might be garbage. It might be a sore eyesight and I'll delete it shamefully, or no one will ever read it and I'll leave it here because why the shit not, let the future know what a loser I was. It will help with the data mining of our time, and maybe some future child will understand themselves better thanks to my rant.

In a world of a million labels, where we are gaining visibility and strength without losing any of our vulnerabilities, any member of #ownvoices is going to be having a tough time. Finding themselves, finding success, being accepted at all. Just remember that you are who you are. Ta-Nehesi is who he is. Fucking Barack Obama is going to go back to smokin' dope and straight chillin' when he's done with that white house.

Whether I'm a man, a woman, or just a brain in a machine, I'm still going to be me, and you're still going to be you. Whether or not anyone's listening, that matters. Even if I don't know you, I hope you're happy. I hope you can believe in yourself. You matter, and I'm just trying to prove to myself that I matter too, even if I don't scream my life from the rafters.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Un-German Potato Salad

Hello! Maybe I will write down one of these recipes ahead of time before saying Oh I'll send you My Recipe Because I Totally Write Them Down and Do Them The Same Every Time.

Totally.

I used to hate potato salad. I think a lot of people do! At its worst, its basically uncooked potatoes in a slurry of fake mayo and red onions, just some sort of tuberous polar stew. At its best the typical American potato salad is chewy potato bites covered with an almost sweet sauce with bright, popping textures from red onions, carrots and occasionally peas? (blasphemy? you tell me) It's basically cold fries. That's what you're looking for here, texturally and taste-wise. Crunch, potato and mayo.

So with that in mind, FORGET THAT SHIT. That's lame tater salad! TSH. New World can suck my newly accented anoos. Now, ve make a potato salad that will actually taste GOOD. And you will be like. How did I ever eat zis pathetic bullsheiße? Also by the end you vill probably say zis was not zuper German you kind of made zis up but zat's okay its very delizious you are totally a chef ja.

Now, I'm going to give you ze quick recipe, but I want you to listen to what comes after -- your ingredients and method are important, and I will help you. But I don't like to vaste time zo I give you full recipe now. Allow yourself the time to stare at it all and wonder how will this possibly come together in my mouth and know that yes, you will love it. Also you can stop with the accent now. You're just embarrassing everyone.

TOTAL PREP TIME: 1 hour+rest overnight in the fridge (don't be hasty!)

SERVES: Probably like 8 people, but not for long.

INGREDIENTS

4lbs POTATOES, chopped into mouth-sized bites. Any kind, organic is best.

1 BIG-ASS RED ONION (or a couple medium sized ones), sliced thick, then chopped. Use pinky finger width as a guide (less you're really huge or tiny)

1lb BACON, thick slice (or whole slab from the butcher!! slice it yoself!), chopped into big chunks.

1 Yellow or Red Pepper, diced (Optional -- add this if you don't/cant have bacon/meat, or if you're me. It's delicious too.)

3 cloves garlic (NOT WHOLE BULBS GUYS. Tho you can if you want *shrugasaurus*)

Green Onions, some. Diced. However much you want, tho probably no more than the bundle they come it at the store.

Salt n' Peppa to taste

DIJON MUSTARD AND FKIN HELLMANS REAL ASS MAYO. Don't PLAY WITH ME less you bout to make that shit yourself. Which is FINE and I probably have a recipe for that too. Damn.

Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tablespoon.

Some cumin and paprika. For later, baby.

METHOD

Get the biggest pot and pan you got. If you have some fancy le creuset or Kitchenaid enamel pot/pan or cast iron, that's your bet. A lot of times people have trouble with recipes because we assume a certain size of pot and pan. The heat and time for cooking things depends on the size of your pan and how you're getting heat. If you have a really tiny pan on electric stove as your only option cook all this in batches, saving the bacon grease from each batch of bacon for your veggies, and leave it at a solid medium-medium-low at all times. Things should sizzle rather than just simmer. Seriously tho, go to TJMaxx or whatever nearby and look in their kitchen section. usually some cheaper enamel cookware there (I know it's expensive, but $100 enamel cookware will literally last your entire life unlike that $15 walmart pot you've had to replace three times this year). Enamel and cast iron are your friends. Be one with the kitchen.

WHAT KIND OF POTATOES DID I BUY?? Is this question driving you crazy? I know, some people really care about their taters. But I don't. They're all delicious, so long as you're getting good produce. That generally means organic, but not always. I live in Vancouver BC and we have a lot of greenhouse heirloom non-organic potatoes that are generally small and taste amazing. For this recipe you'd just halve or cube them. Generally though, it's worth it to go for organic potatoes. Non-organic potatoes produced in the US have to sit in a decontamination vault for 3 days after harvesting and if you go inside during that time the residual pesticides in the air will literally kill you.

Now, boil those taters for about 15-20 minutes. More or less depending on the size of your cut. Pay attention, and use a fork to prod them every five minutes after ten; they're done when they feel like poking a piece of strawberry. Kind of soft but still resistant. Drain them and put them in whatever bowl you're going to serve all this shit in. This is now your mixing bowl. Ta dah! fewer dishes.

While the taters are boiling, start cooking that bacon in your pan. When the bacon is crispy on the edges but still chewy (probably 3-5 minutes of cooking), set it aside. If your potatoes are done you can throw the bacon in the bowl with it. After you and your friends snack on too much of it, there'll be the perfect amount for the salad (a pound is actually a bit too much. But otherwise you end up with too little cos fucking bacon man)

Sautee red onion, garlic and pepper (if using) until browned on the edges and slightly soft in bacon fat. Add butter if necessary. (It's probably necessary. Mm butter) If you've got a reasonable size pan and everything fits well in a single, even layer, then MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT for a few minutes, then drop it to LOW for 10-15. Otherwise, finagle. The idea is the same -- high heat to get everything searing and browning, then low heat for a while to draw out the sugars and carmelize everything in that glorious bacon fat.

While THAT is going on, whisk together our sauce. This amount is somewhat personal. Do you want this goopy or a nice covering, almost like a batter? I suggest the latter (haha). Either way, it's 1 part moutard, 1 part mayo. So for this amount we're going to take 1/2 cup mustard, 1/2 cup mayo and our tablespoon of cider vinegar and whisk it all together, along with our salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. You just want a little dash of paprika, but you can put in a lot of cumin. However much you like. This should have a definite bite to it, but don't worry. it will mellow out after being mixed and resting overnight.

Add the cooked veg and bacon to the salad bowl, then add your sauce -- start with half and toss from there. You can always add more in cooking, but you can't really take away. It should be a steaming, brown-yellow mountain of delish.

NOW DON'T EAT IT. This is frankly the ultimate secret to all cooking. LEAVE IT OVERNIGHT IN THE FRIDGE. AT LEAST TWO HOURS GUIS. I call this cold-cooking; you've got all your flavours, but now they need to cook together, to really mix and meld. You'll notice this effect most with soups and sauces, and potato salad is basically a sauce. You've probably tried some while making it, but try it the next day, cold. All those flavours you found yesterday are going to be there, plus some you had no idea could possibly exist. And you'll be like "woah, did i add something extra there?"

You did. It's called love.

(also green onions chopped and sprinkled on top right before you serve. Don't need to have those sitting in there)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

MARSICAN SAUCE

This unit has received a request for a BBQ sauce recipe. In advance of other such requests, I am posting the entire recipe here. This is... MARSICAN SAUCE. Cos it's Red like the Red Planet, and has a shitload of mexican spices in it.

THERE WILL BE NO PICTURES. Pictures are unnecessary and only for you to gaggle and drool. DROOLING IS FORBIDDEN. Until you start making this DELICIOUS SHIT.

HERE ARE YOUR INGREDIENTS (Listed in Freedom Units, because I didn't grow up w/ metric)

  • 1 phat can (28oz) of tomato puree/crushed tomatoes.
  • 1/2 cup BLACK STRAP molasses (or more)
  • 3/4 cup beyonce (brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup butter (1 stick, if in the United States of Trump)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar, but the apple cider is best. If you use a really raw apple cider, use a little less, maybe 1/3 cup)
  • 1 large onion, diced (red or yellow -- I use yellow. Red will give it a slightly more acidic bite, which I get elsewhere. Yellow helps make this a sweeter sauce)
  • 1/4 cup garlic, diced (or more)
  • 1 tsp worshteshire sauce
  • 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce (usually 1 cup. If you don't have a blender of some sort, mince these before throwing in)
  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup regular style ketchup (if on hand, otherwise don't sweat)
  • A healthy amount (1/2 cup) of MARTIAN DUST (see below)
  • Salt & pepper for onions+garlic+any peppers you decide to obliterate yourself with (add with onions)

Okay. Here's the directions. First, if you want (AND YOU WANT) prepare the MARTIAN DUST, as instructed below. If you are impoverished or otherwise missing ingredients, you will at least want a 1/2 cup of smoked paprika and some cayenne pepper. 

TOOLS: a pot. Anything non-reactive, NO TEFLON. I don't trust you guys with that stuff. It's dangerous. Also, a wooden spoon or other wooden implement. (not dong) Also a blender. I have a Kitchenaid hand blender, and I love it more than my left foot. (f u lefty) You already used the knives.

  1. Saute onions in butter until soft, dusting with salt and pepper as desired. If using any additional hot peppers, like jalapenos or dried peppers, add these now. 
  2. Add garlic, stirring to incorporate
  3. Add brown sugar, stirring until it all turns into a delicious brown caramel goo.
  4. Stir in some (1/4 cup) MARTIAN DUST or smoked paprika. Stir, then add cider vinegar
  5. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes. I find that this recipe burps A LOT, so you may want to turn on a show and stand nearby, stirring consistently but lazily.
  6. Once thickened, remove bay leaves and blend, preferably with a hand blender (I like it chunky) Let sit for at least an hour before serving, preferably overnight.
  7. CONGRATS! You have made BBQ sauce. Prepare for everyone you know to be really jealous. 
Okay fine, a photo. Here's what it should look like at the end of the day :)



MARTIAN DUST(tm!)

Grab a container. Whatever you're gonna fill with this spice mix. You should probably make it reasonably big, because if you like spicy food, you will want to put this mix on pretty much everything you ever make. I like to use old peanut butter jars and old spice mix containers. Don't throw glass away!

These amounts are just examples, and will make a TON of this spice. You probably want to do half this, but that would have made the fractions intolerable for me. Sorry! Scale up and down, all that matters is ratios. Think "parts" in your head if that's easier.

  • 1 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 cup ancho chile
  • 1/2 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt (you get plenty of salt from other things, but it's good to have some in here)
  • 2 tablespoons cracked pepper -- I use a five-pepper mix from a store nearby, but any peppercorns will do. Make it unique! Make it your own! Just don't use cheap pre-ground pepper)
  • 1-3 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder (optional -- I use enough garlic in everything that you don't need it. If you don't always use fresh garlic though, definitely throw this in)
Put this all together, make sure there's a little room left in the top of whatever container you're using, SEAL THE CONTAINER, and SHAKE! That's it, you've just made what is probably your first Real Spice Mix!(tm) Sniff it, and if it makes you wince and look away, it's good. 

Feel free to play with all of this -- the key base ingredients are the smoked paprika, chile powder and cumin. Another optional ingredient here would be coriander, between 1/2-1 cup. I didn't use that for mine, but you certainly could.

Enjoy cooking! I have a lot more of these, so if people want recipes, I can supply ;)