Today is the 136th birthday of Sir Winston Churchill. Pug was his wife's pet name for him.
Like the Tony Curtis character in Some Like It Hot, I had a freshman year at Princeton. Unlike the Tony Curtis character, this fact has doomed me to receive the PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly) for the rest of my natural life.
Actually, "doomed" is too strong a word. The PAW does give me an inside look into the lifestyles of the elite and educated. This week's edition, for example, has a cover story about a classmate of mine who has started a business based on the concept of Parent Coaching.
I'm not going to go into what Parent Coaching is, because I didn't read the article (I have to get to work...I shouldn't really be taking the time to write this right now, either). But I did read the pull-quote. If the pull-quote was doing its job, then it summed up my classmate's world-view with admirable clarity. It read as follows:
"If we can't figure out who gets to sit next to the window, how are we going to solve world conflicts?"
And there you have it. All the arrogance my generation inherited, lock, stock and barrel, from the 60's crowd. World leaders like, say George W. Bush, are likened to squabbling children. The elites, here in the form of my classmate, are portrayeed as the wise ones who have all the answers...if those squabbling children would only listen. World conflicts (World War II, the Cold War, etc.) are seen as nothing more important than a children's disagreement about who gets to sit where. The lack of perspective is breathtaking.
But you can afford to think that way if you've been insulated from reality in places like...Princeton.
Mitsy, The Misspent One recently wrote The Crack Young Staff over at HQ for advice on how to deal with his troubles.
"Yet we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” didn’t expect to receive an intriguing query from one of the Internet’s true e-eminences, the proprietor of the delicious “weblog” The Misspent Life. Mr. Misspent, who is working away in graduate school to become Dr. Misspent, sent us the following jaw-dropping note:
"To: “Chip” and the Rest of the Crack Young Staff
"I need your help. While “toiling” away in graduate school, it has come to my attention that my life-world is a very oppressive one; that my normative constructions of gender and race and progress are both structurally determined and structurally constitutive and that it all benefits me.
"I had never thought about how my very existence was perpetuating oppression and how the words that I used purposely killed children, women, lesbians, and poor people. What should I do? Should I reject my life-world and strive to become a poor ten-year-old female lesbian (in a wheelchair, just to be safe)? Or should I embrace my role of oppressor and use the system as an excuse to be a jerk, since that is the “real me” inside?
"I am really in a bind here. I was going to ask some of the women on campus what to do since they must have wisdom beyond my phallonormative capacities (except for the transgendered ones) but I can't tell which ones are female. Of course I could always ask an undergraduate one. They are very wise, empowered, and brave. Plus, I could probably get la__ in the process if I bring them beer and a Chingy CD. Oh, and I'd ask the Larouchies but I forgot my nose-plug at home.
"An interesting letter, is it not? We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have been racking our brains for the better part of a fortnight, attempting to solve the Misspent One’s vexing problem.
"Although Mr. Misspent only refers to it obliquely, we take it that he is both a male and white. Which, as anyone with a college degree can tell you, are two cardinal sins in the open-minded world of American academia. Further, it appears as if our lily-white pal doesn’t have any other face cards in the oppression deck—no transgenderism, no homosexuality, no nothing.
"At first thought, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” firmly believed that the Misspent One’s best shot to gain some campus respect was becoming “a poor ten-year-old female lesbian (in a wheelchair, just to be safe).” After all, if the Misspent One could honestly pull this off, all his problems would be solved, and he could undoubtedly land a job in some mindless Department of Noxious Political Grievance-Mongering.
"Still, we aren’t entirely sure that the Misspent One could actually do this. For starters, it’s really bad karma to use a wheelchair when you don’t need one. We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t leave too many taboos unsullied, but the handicapped are certainly one of them. Nothing says “You’re Asking for it, Dipstick” quite like messing with the disabled.
"Also, we couldn’t quite figure the value of transforming into a ten-year-old female lesbian. We mean, come on: How would such a young thing wind up in graduate school in the first place? Is he supposed to become some amalgam of K.D. Lang and Doogie Howser? We just don’t think it’ll work.
"Unfortunately, this left us with only one reasonable option. Although we certainly dislike the fact that the Misspent One’s “very existence was perpetuating oppression,” and that “the words that [he] used purposely killed children, women, lesbians, and poor people,” such is undoubtedly the case.
"As such, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” officially advise our pal Misspent to change his language. Although he certainly can’t alter his oppressive existence, he could employ a few different turns of phrase. Perhaps this would halt some of his congenital offensiveness.
"Allow us to offer an example. We officially recommend that our pal cease using phrases such as “Boy, I’d like purposely to kill children, women, lesbians, and poor people.” It’s a rather polarizing sentiment, to say the least. Instead, how about “Hey, I know I’m a white guy and all, but I’m pretending to believe in your pandering, simplistic, and childlike worldview regarding women and minorities in an attempt to get in some chicks’ pants”?
"If that doesn’t work, we collectively don’t know what will."
So Mitsy, you're a lady that's been around the world once or twice. You've been to Carnegie Hall, seen Carol Channing and Marie Callas on stage (I've forgotten what else -oh you've lost money on your Ford stock) , do you find it odd that the future Dr. Misspent takes issue with me slandering him yet he writes to The Crack Young Staff asking them if he should have reconstructive surgery and amputation of a limb so that as a 10 year-old lesbian in a wheelchair he will fit better into his academic enviroment? My slander was to suggest he pays full price for his Ralph Lauren clothing. The Young (and gaudy and glitzy and papist) Cusack does not pay full price for his.
As this is a Rueters story, it is safe to only believe half of it is true. That said, there will be no joy at Lambeth Palace tonight cosidering their stance on same-sex civil unions starting next week in England. As for 815 Second Avenue, they must be reaching for the valium as we speak. Besides the Catholic seminaries, many Catholic schools, universities, priests, nuns, and laity have been put on the hot seat as well. The aftershocks of this document will continue for a long, long time.
Larry Summers' legacy will be the guy who was right who let a bunch of spoiled and delusional women roll him. Case in point: Little Bertie does not have school today. He and I just finished making the dough for the gingerbread husbands and wives for our Christmas trees. (In Victorian England gingerbread men were called gingerbread husbands and wives) Little Bertie has always been fascinated with all of my cooking impliments. Today, my scoop for the flour was the front loader or digger as he told me. When he incorporated the molasses into the creamed butter, he called the hand mixer his snowplow. According to him it was plowing the snow (the creamed butter) into the dirt ( the molasses). The Kitchenaid mixer which he loves to turn off and on and off and on...has no name because as he said "It can't dig."
So what happened this morning with the gingerbread was the reverse of Larry Summers' little girl turning boy toys into girl toys. All kids do it. Experts agree that kids adapt to their enviroment. Little Bertie was merely adapting what he likes best; trucks and digging in the sand and to what has traditionally been the provenance of women; baking. Too bad the gals at Harvard can't handle the truth.
Yesterday, Little Bertie, Roger Kimball's future daughter-in-law and I made the popcorn balls for our tree. Popcorn balls are very simple and delicious. Ask the Card's wife, she went through 2 dozen of them during the Florida 2000 recall. Everytime things took a turn for the worse, she yanked one off her tree and ate it. Plus popcorn balls look terrific on the tree in their cellophane bags and red and green ribbons.
Popcorn Balls from America's favorite kitchen felon, Martha Stewart
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (yesterday I used unsalted margarine)
1 10 oz bag of marshmallows, large or mini
1/4 cup light brown sugar (Mr. P likes to add a bit more)
3 quarts popcorn, (lightly salted)
In a large heavy pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the butter marshmallows and brown sugar and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
Place the corn in a large bowl and pour on the marshmallow mixture; toss well. Butter your hands (and wooden spoons to mix the mixture) and shape into balls. Set on wax paper to dry. When dry place in cellophane bags (available at cookery stores) and tie with a bright ribbon.
I doubled the batch and ended up with 16 softball-size popcorn balls. The marshmallow mixture is hot so watch the children. Little Bertie and RKFDIL's job was to eat any of the popcorn mixture I dropped. When we had finished, RKFDIL said that was the best job they've ever had. Little Bertie would have agreed but his mouth was still stuck together from the all the melted marshmallow.
*The gaudy and glitzy Catholic version of popcorn balls would be to add a cup or two of salted peanuts or almonds. The amounts would vary depending on how guady, glitzy or Catholic you are.
In a culture--I'm speaking of our elite culture--where the death of every soldier in the name of freedom is a bottomless tragedy, whereas the bottomless tragedy of every aborted child is considered a triumph of freedom, what else could we expect than this exhibit served up for our collective delectation in Manhattan? Below, our special correpondent reports from the front lines if the Culture War. Many thanks, Steve M.
In the 1930s, while he was The Guardian's correspondent in Moscow, Malcolm Muggeridge was asked by a visiting British jurist if Soviet law included the concept of habeas corpus. Muggeridge replied that Stalin's government did not recognize this right. However, the jurist was reportedly reassured when Muggeridge added that there certainly was a right of habeas cadaver.
That latter right has been recently utilized in turn, by a Chinese universtity, as seller, an American exhibit promoter, as buyer, and the South Street Seaport mall in lower Manhattan, as landlord, with respect to 22 adult human corpses, and more than two hundred preserved body parts and unborn children. "Bodies: The Exhibition" opened November 18, 2005, and will occupy the second floor of the renovated Fulton Fish Market building within the mall complex for the next few months, or, depending on public appetites, the next few years.
A local newsaper, New York Newsday, reports as to the exhibit's ultimate source: "The bodies are unclaimed or unidentified individuals from China." That disclaimer appears next to a Newsday photo of the polymer-coated corpse of a 32 week old unborn child. All 16 Newsday photos from the exhibit can be seen here. Caution: they are not for family viewing.
At the exhibit itself, there is no statment whatsoever about the derivation of the corpses, and the New York Times greeted its arrival by publishing questions from human rights activist Harry Wu. Mr. Wu noted that the bodies of executed prisoners had been exploited by this same universtity in the past. It is clear that no one in the United States really knows who the dead individuals are, much less how they died. To the relief of the exhibitors, no one seems to care. No local politicians have objected or raised questions, and a similar display by the same exhibitor in Tampa has not drawn any notable complaint at the national level. Katie Couric on the Today Show, while cracking jokes last week as she sat next to one of the dead bodies, did mention that the exhibit is "controversial."
Based on my two and a half hour visit on the day after Thanksgiving, "Bodies: The Exhibition" is drawing an upscale crowd. With a $24.50 admission price ($18.50 for the 12 and under set, of whom there were a handful during my encounter), the main involvement by the poor and other downscale folks may be confined to a few bored security guards and, of course, the "specimens" on display. Although the advertisements, and the exhibit title, proclaim: "Bodies," the term of choice is "specimen" for the explanatory texts that accompany each unidentified dead person.
"To see is to know." The exhibit, after making this assertion, takes steps to be educational, and rooms are divided based on themes relating to human anatomy. Visitors first see a bare skeleton, then one that retains a substantial portion a dead person's muscles. Those learning about anaotmy are allowed to see intact corpses in the first half of the exhibit--intact except that most of their skin has been removed. I alway found myself looking at the faces, and my instinct was validated when I read that "Humans have the most evolved facial muscles of all mammals." A visitor's attention was readily drawn to the whole body with the assistance of some clever props. One fellow is running with a football, another throws a baseball. Yet another is shooting hoops. In their own way, the first 12 bodies appear fit and attarctive. And unmistakably male. There are only 2 full adult females in the entire display. The thirteenth corpse, and the first female on the tour, is divided vertically into four pudgy sections. Her body is used as part of a health tip: avoid obesity. Her cadaver is the only one of the 22 adult corpses that is missing a face. It has been sliced off and, unlike any of the 20 male faces, is just, simply, gone. Res ipsa loquitur.
The more extensive dissections, and the "embryonic specimens" that "perished in utero," are left to the end of the exhibit. No word on whether the "complications" included China's "one child policy". Followed, of course, by an area where one can acquire mugs, T shirts and other momentoes of one's visit to the new and improved Fulton Fish Market. The antiseptic Twenty First Century replacement for a memento mori.
The sponsors of this exhibit reportedly paid $25 million to the Chinese vendor of these "specimens", so the sponsors' motive to charge $24.50 is clear enough. But why are people in Florida, and now in New York, paying this price? Surely not for an anatomy lesson avaiable through plastic replicas (along with dinosaurs, meteors and countless other exhibits) at the American Museum of Natural History and its counterparts. The man who shaped modern China may provide the answer to this question, by way of reflections he wrote at the age of 24 while reading an ethics textbook. A little while before he made his words into flesh, Mao Tse-tung opined:
"Human beings are endowed with the sense of curiosity. Why should we treat death differently? Don't we want to experience strange things? Death is the strangest thing....Some are afraid of it because the change comes too drastically. But I think this is the most wonderful thing: where else in this world can we find such a fantastic and drastic change?"
It's Sunday, pouring rain and I'm more under the weather than usual. My illness is due to being a slave to fashion. Yesterday, against more sensible thoughts I went to the mall to fetch Little Bertie a Cusackian yellow sweater. The Card's wife was to meet me at the Polo Store for the momentous purchase. Defying all previous behavior, I arrived before she did and I was speaking to her via cell (using your cell phone always makes the sales ladies think you are a serious contender) when out of the corner of my eye I spied the Cusackian yellow sweater. I went over to it, picked it up and exclaimed to the Card's wife, "It's cashmere and it has a v-neck!" (close readers will recall a v-neck is the preferred neck style of young Cusack) The Card's wife said, "How much is it?" I fished around inside the carefully folded 2T sweater for the price tag. (Little Bertie is a 5 but the 2T was on top) I was expecting $95 and willing to pay $95 dollars for such a sweater. I pulled out the price tag and said "It's $195...which is out of my price range." There was dead silence at the other end of the line. The Cardinal who I had just heard moments before in the background did not step up to the plate and gallantly offer to pay the $195 clams necessary to have his godson dressed like his future son-in-law. So realising that Little Bertie was not going to look like young Cusack on Christmas Day, I carefully put the Cusackian sweater back on the shelf and went away sad. That's when the Card's wife miraculously found her voice again and said "My future son-in-law is right. Who would be dumb enough to pay full price for that?" "Misspent." I replied. Then she added, "Let's go to the outlet and get Little Bertie one of my future son-in-law's sweaters."
So after I return to what little mental health I have, the Card's wife and I are road tripping it to a Polo outlet near us. I think there is one in Ohio but if not, there's always Freeport Maine. The Card's wife will love Freeport and the MacDonald's in the 1840's farmhouse. We'll have to stop by Gritty McDuff's in Portland for a pint or two of bitters. Plus, the Card and Mr. P get the priviledge of caring for the kids while we're off shopping. Shhhhh....don't explain it to them that it would be a lot easier to fork over the $195 at the Polo store or force the young Cusack to toss his sweater into the dryer and dry it on the high heat cycle a few times.
Here is Michael Barone on GM and the UAW's creation of the Scandinavian-style welfare state right down to the actual architechure of the UAW buildings. If the Barrone is right, (when is he ever wrong?) the next shoe to drop will be the advertising firms. If that happens Little Bertie will not be wearing Cusackian sweaters, but the good old barrel on suspenders and we'll be living in our car. Thank goodness last summer we caved and finally bought ourselves a minivan.
Tomorrow Steve M is up a bat. Please throw him several curve balls. I'm going to research bacon recipes for Hosni.
Mr. P and the kids just pulled out of the driveway with the minivan loaded down with our contribution to the Thanksgiving feast. He will be back for me momentarily so I must type quick and hop into the shower.
The family we spend our Thanksgiving and Easter with is enormous. We were once all Episcopalians and now magically we are Catholics - no time for that story except to say that natural family planning has been kind to us and there will be more than 15 children racing around the home. So needless to say as most are off nursing, bottles and baby food, we women needed to prepare more than the 25 Lb turkey this year. I decided to make 6 lbs of roasted smoked kielbasa with all of the proper fixings. As my yankee mother said this morning, "How different."
Different? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.
Steve M., how would you like to be a guestblogger here at Patum Peperium? The comments you put here (under The Spirit of Roderick Spode Lives*) are not only worthy for everyone to read, but worthy of a serious post. Since I am not a serious person I was wondering if you would like to flesh it out and post it here sometime in the coming weeks?
The idea of traveling bodies on the Today Show vis a vis the media's outrage of army reserve troops photographing terrorist suspects a la Barney Frank's D.C. basement in the good old gay days is very interesting to say the least. For you youngsters who may not be in the know, in the mid-80's Barney Frank's old live-in boyfriend ran a D.C. gay call service out of Barney's basement when Barney was working hard up on Capitol Hill. Barney, of course had absolutely no knowledge how his live-in boyfriend made all of his mooney or the huge number of parking tickets that had been accumulated outside his D.C. townhouse. Barney was as shocked as the rest of his constituents - well no there was no shock or outrage because Massachusetts has returned him to Congress every two years since. Where is the outrage for these traveling souls? Who are they? How does one just get 22 bodies to travel the country? Those Army Reservists are now doing time in the pokey for their perverted games and the artists, or at least the modern-day P.T.Barnums are making money. Loads of money.
Anyway, it's a post.
While the Pilgrim story is a fascinating story of the failure of liberalism and socialism, I 'm sorry to say that I don't have time to go into it today. But since telling the story means I can bang another nail or 12 into the coffin known as liberalism and all of her ugly little stepsisters, there is always tomorrow. For today, suffice it to say that if it hadn't been for God, Indians, private property, and corn, there would have been no Plimoth Plantation.(Yes Steve M., that is the correct spelling) So try to wedge some corn into your celebration tomorrow. Popcorn to watch the Detroit Lions lose for the gazillionth time would be highly appropriate. A corn pudding, cornbread and sausage stuffing or Indian Pudding would be nice as well. Mr. P adores cornbread and this is one of the best recipes for it from a Boston landmark. Oh, how I miss Durgin Park's prime rib and Indian Pudding...
Durgin Park Cornbread
Tommy Ryan credits the consistent excellence of Durgin-Park's corn bread to a women called "Cornbread Helen," who had worked in the kitchen for twenty-five years when he arrived in 1960. "She gave me the recipe, and I didn't change a thing," he says. "Although she used to make it in big stone crocks. Today we put the batter into baking pans to cook it." How does the batter get into the pans from the big vat in which it was made? Baker Martin Gonzales scoops it out with his hands and splashes it straight into the baking pan.
1/4 cup sugar, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl mix the sugar and the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add the cornmeal, melted butter, and milk. Beat just enough to mix Pour into a 8x12x1/2-inch-deep baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. This makes one pan full, which cuts into 20 squares.
Makes 20 servings
My family is an Ocean Spray Cranberry family. We always drank the cranberry juice cocktail and had cans of both the solid and the whole fruit cranberry sauce in the cupboards. On the table at Thanksgiving there would be the platter of cranberry walnut bread (along with lemon bread) and dishes of both kinds of cranberry sauce. When I grew older and inquired as to why we relied on the canned cranberry sauce instead of making our own, I was told we did it because of "Bompie's War work".
Bompie was my mother's father. He had missed WWI by being at Yale. Though Yale did train him to be a member of the calvary if the war was still going on after his graduation. He said that the only horses Yale could get a hold of for training were swayback mules. They were the most uncomfortable things he every rode. The one that was assigned to him had a nasty habit of dumping him in the mud much to the anger of his instructor. Finally one day Bompie decided he was not going to let that beast dump again. That day as he was going around the ring, the beast did his fancy footwork that always tossed Bompie off, but this time Bompie held on as tight he could. He did stay on but not in the traditional way. All of the beast's wiggling and jiggling had caused him to slide with his arms around the neck of the beast and eventually he found himself hanging upside down under the animal's neck with his legs wrapped around the top of the neck. This did not faze the beast in the least and he kept going around the ring at a good clip. His instructor shouted, "Ellis, are you alright?" He shouted back, "Yes Sir!" The instructor then shouted, "Then stay like that!" Bompie rode upside down for the rest of the training session. After WWI ended and Bompie's calvary training along with it, he never had the desire to ride a mule or horse again.
By the time WWII came around Bompie was in his forties and too old to be called up. But since he was a patriotic man and felt called to serve his country in any fashion he could, he moved his family to Plymouth, Massachusetts. There, he helped the Ocean Spray Cranberry company balance its books for the duration of the war. This was Bompie's war work. I of course laughed at the idea that working for Ocean Spray could be considered "war work". But then my grandmother explained to me the vital role cranberries played in WWII. According to her, Ocean Spray made huge tray after huge tray of cranberry fruit leather. The leather was cut up into strips and sent overseas for the soldiers to eat. The vitamin C in the cranberries prevented scurvy among our troops. Who knew?
Now my own family enjoys the same cranberry bread that my grandmother and great-aunts used to make. I love to make it not only because I love the combination of cranberries and walnuts, but because it reminds me of Thanksgiving at my great-aunt and uncle's home with the family all assembled. My cousins, siblings, and I would be all running around upstairs through the hallways, jumping on the beds, having pillow fights or into my great-aunt's jewelry box trying everything on. One time we even got into the cedar closet with her ermine coats. The womenfolk were busy in the kitchen getting the 24lb turkey ready for the table and would only occassionally scream up the stairs for us to "stop horsing around". We never did. The menfolk were too cosy in the family room with a fire in the fieldstone fireplace watching the Detroit Lions to even care what we were up to. Those were fun days.
Cranberry Bread (from the Ocean Spray Company)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated orang peel
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, butter, orange peel and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Makes 1 loaf.