October 2010

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Yup, only a few days out and still no Halloween costume.  I’ve got an idea for something that’s very obviously last minute in sort of a slap-stickish way, and I’m thinking I might do that.

It’s funny, the real issue is much less laziness right now than that I can’t really be bothered with holidays.  I’m hella busy. I mean right now I just don’t have enough free time.  So I haven’t had the mental energy to plan a costume, and honestly, this year I just don’t really care.  I let it go a little while ago and left room in my brain for planning other things.

The thing I’m looking forward to most this weekend is seeing my friends and seeing how their parties come together.  The big picture of Halloween pageantry just doesn’t interest me that much at the moment.  Maybe next year we’ll really get dolled up and hit some of the fun spots about town.

What’s more, as I was thinking about the other holidays coming up and was perhaps a little disappointed to find that I’m not interested in them either.  Thanksgiving?  Jesus Christ.  After the major family drama that went down but a very short time ago, the last thing I want to do right now is sit down with the family over dinner.  The possibility of another fight errupting is not exactly minor.  And you know what?  Life is good right now.  Why would I want to bother with that kind of stress?

It’s a strange and in some ways sad place to be:  happy and away from family.  But it doesn’t feel sad.  Like I said:  happy place.  I’d like to stay here in this place, yet I can’t help but worry a little that the holidays will come a knocking and reunite me with those who have made my life hell. 

This is my holiday wish this year:  happy and independant.  It’s the best place I can think of to be.

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Mulling it over here today and I feel confident about this as a draft menu.  There’s somethings here I’ve made before and some that I haven’t.  Will definitely need to do a few test runs before I commit to a few of these.

Main Dishes

Soy Ginger Glazed Sliders – Beef sliders glazed with a soy-ginger-citrus reduction and served on toasted buns with triple cream brie.

Cheddar Pretzel Sliders – Beef sliders with mustard and ale cheddar cheese served on pretzel buns.

BBQ Marinade Mini-dogs – Mini hot dogs braised in southern style bbq sauce

Carolina Slaw Dogs – All beef dogs served with Buffalo style blue cheese cole slaw and onions and mustard

Pulled Pork – Spicy braised pork shoulder, slow roasted in classic BBQ style

Sides

??????????

I really don’t know what to do for sides. A huge batch of slaw to go with the carolina slaw dogs and the pulled pork, but what else…. I guess we’ll see.

One thing I really, really, really want to attempt is cheese fries, preparing the fries McDonald’s style a la this recipe. But that could be too time consuming. I just don’t know yet.

Drinks

And this of course is not to mention my trademark fresh squeezed margaritas. I’ve a reputation for making margaritas that knock people the fuck out. And this is a reputation that I intend to live up to.

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So I’m falling into the same trap that I fall into every year at this point: lack of planning. Not that I’m being a slouch, just that I’m spinning one too many plates. The holidays aren’t even here yet, and already it’s one thing after another.

First issue is a Halloween costume. Every freakin’ year I do this. Put off Halloween ideas until it’s too late to do anything elaborate. And so I’m left scrambling for a last minute costume. Generally speaking I manage to pull it off. I come up with something fun, and Halloween’s always a blast. But this year… this year… man I’m not so sure I’m gonna pull it off. Like, almost a little worried. I might end up as that slacker without a real costume at the Halloween party.

There’s also the complication this year of the Jon Stewart rally, which I and a number of friends will be attending. Here’s to hoping we make it back from DC in time for the evening’s many Halloween parties. I mean, even if I had an elaborate costume, I probably wouldn’t have much time to put it together.

So yeah, there’s that.

And the other thing is food. And here the problem is an overabundance of ideas. I finally set a date for my much belated house-warming party. And now I must plan a menu. If you ever make it to one of my parties, rest assured my friend you will be well fed. And it’s all about the savories: burgers, dogs, cheese, cheese, and more cheese.

Just last night I came home with an armful of cheeses from Eddies. I found this cheddar called Red Dragon, which is an English cheddar with whole grain mustard seed and ale. It’s tasty stuff on its own, but it begs to be melted into a soup or dip. And I’d like to try it on a burger as well. I’m thinking cheeseburger sliders on pretzel rolls–the hearty mustard seed being a perfect compliment for the pretzel dough. Of course, where am I going to get pretzel roll slider buns?

I also brought home a savory, soft taleggio. I’d had an amazing taleggio this weekend at one of Baltimore’s finer restaurants, and it had me craving some more. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it though–eating it over bread and crackers aside. It would provide some delightful gooiness to a risotto or similar, but that’s not exactly party food. I might have to save this cheese for some non-party preparation.

Anyway.

The main thing I’ve been thinking about is dogs—hot dogs! Baltimore has been graced lately with two absolutely amazing hot dog establishments: Stuggy’s and The Haute Dog Cart. The Haute Dog Cart is tucked away in Mt Washington and is very low key–really just a lunchtime hot dog stand. But the dogs are A-MAZ-ING. I stopped by last week or so and had a bbq mustard cheesy dog that blew my mind. I will definitely be attempting to recreate that dog for my party. It’s preparation isn’t that different than a bunch of other BBQ I’ve done before–I’d just never thought to do it with hot dogs.

Stuggy’s on the other hand is fast on its way to becoming one of the city’s venerable savory meccas. It’s on the square in Fells, and it specializes in a number of regional dogs, all of which are amazing. Things like Chicago dogs and Carolina slaw dogs. The kinds of dogs you see here. I find myself raving about this place constantly, and if I lived down in Fells Pt, I swear to you I’d be twenty five pounds heavier by now.

So I’m trying to think of some ideas for dogs. Well, okay, I’m trying to pare down many, many ideas to just a few. I’ve got the BBQ dog that I’d like to do. I’d also like to do what I’d call a Mexican mushroom dog, based off of a recipe for Mexican mushrooms that I kinda whipped up (a variation on a traditional Russian recipe actually). There’s the temptation to do a hot dog bar, with fixins for slaw dogs and Chi-town dogs there for self serve. Just so many freaking hot dog possibilities.

And then of course there’s the sliders. I can’t have people over without sliders. The soy ginger with creamy brie spread slider most definitely will return.  Everyone loved those last year.  But what of the others? I feel like doing something a little more interesting than bacon cheeseburger sliders this year. But not sure what. I like the mustard cheddar and pretzel roll idea, but not sure how to make all of that work. Plus that cheese ain’t cheap.

And of course I need to plan all of this without overdoing it. I need to pare it down and figure out what’s workable–what can I preprep the day beforehand so that I won’t be busy cooking during my whole party. It would be nice if I allowed myself some time at my own party to enjoy myself, don’t you think.

Anyway, if you’re a friend or acquaintance of mine, don’t be alarmed if I call you over in the coming weeks plying you for opinions on recipes I’m trying.

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Taking it or giving it?  Which are you better at?

This is one of the things that I’ve always hated about being single.  I mean, I guess everyone hates it.  If you like it, well then either you’re a sociopath or you’re a masochist (or both).  But I’ve always felt like I really hate it.  More than most folks.  I’ll stay stubbornly single, in part at least to avoid this part of the game.

The thing for me has always been that I hate giving it more than I hate getting it.  I can take it.  I’m a big boy.  I’ve been in plenty of relationships, and looking back there are some heartbreaks that I have a hard time seeing repeated.  So I’m prepared to handle it.

But dishing it out has just never been easy for me.  I like dating sites, because at least on something like that the terms are all laid out.  There’s no confusing middle ground, and the people on there aren’t your friends (well… this being Smalltimore, I run into friends on there all the time–but I’m not asking them out and vice versa).

I’ve had to break off relationships where the breakup was really painful for me, and telling someone you don’t want to go out with them is nothing like that.  But it’s just strange how intense the aversion really is.

It’s like I have a fucking endodontist appointment today.  I really don’t want to go.  But I should really just be a gentleman and say to this young lady who keeps hounding me, “Look…”

I wonder what exactly makes rejecting others so painful.

Is it a selfish thing?  Like, am I just turned on by the fact that they’re into me, and some part of my ego or whatever doesn’t want me to sever that?

Or is it that there’s a glimmer in their eye, a spark of optimism.  It’s fun to be excited about someone, and it’s fun to imagine the possibilities with that someone.  I love that feeling, who wouldn’t love that feeling. And in some way it can only be an ugly thing to snuff that.

If you turn it on its head, rejecting people itself can seem a selfish thing.  Choosing yourself and your own future over a future (I’m including immediate future here–not necessarily long term) with this other person.  I can see it as an embrace of one’s own ego, one’s own self and life.

But it doesn’t really feel like that.  It feels like booing at someone’s long awaited, eagerly performed recital.

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So I’ve had this stalker lately.  Cute girl.  Sweet.  But she just, like, doesn’t seem to be getting it.  And I’m getting to a point with it.

And before I get too far, you can see why I stopped linking these pages with my Facebook pages awhile ago.  Hell, Facebook is a Flickr/eVite hybrid to me these days–that’s all I use it for.  But the thing is: people will seek you out on Facebook.  They won’t seek you out on WordPress.  Or even Twitter.  And if they do, they’re either savvy enough that you’ll get along with them; or psycho enough that you feel fully entitled to tell them off.

Anyway.  Stalker.

Like seriously, man, how many hints does it fucking take sometimes?  Really?  Really? Are you going to make me blow you off?  My general awkwardness around you and habit of suddenly cutting out aren’t obvious?  And this when you’re throwing yourself at me?  Like how many times have you blatantly thrown yourself at me?  I’m losing count.  And each time I end with a polite, “Goodbye, see ya!”

My friends were even teasing me about this.  And with good reason.  It seems obvious to everyone but this poor young lady that I am–capital–NOT interested.

There was an encounter with this person this weekend, well two–the first one I knew was going to happen, it was someone else’s party.  But when I turned and “randomly” ran into her a certain Maryland local faire the next day, I began to wonder: is this a coincidence?

I don’t know.  I don’t want to say actual bad things about this young lady because, hey maybe it was.  But it was suspicious as shit.  Did I mention on Facebook that I would be there?  Did I mention it to her and forget it?  ‘Cause it was really suspicious.  To the point that I almost texted a few friends and said, “Hey, if so-and-so asks for my number, mind saying that you lost it?”

And now she’s hounding me again.

And this is what I want to say to her:

“Heyyyy, girl, what’s up!!! lol!  So yeah, like I could totally come “grab some coffee” with you, but see I’m seeing this chick now, and she’s like, kinda… possessive.  I don’t want to scare you or anything, but she’s got some warrants in another state.  It’s regular stuff.  Just like, uh… traffic tickets, maybe a ‘failed to appear’.  Oh and that one for hacking into that guy’s computer and stealing his wife’s identity.  Lols!!! Omg!

But, no, like, maybe we should just be friends.  Like I’m not kidding, you could get hurt.”

And what I’ll actually say to her:

Something polite.

My point is that there are times in life when I just want to say fuck it and make a bunch of shit up.  Because why the hell not.  How many times in life do you get the opportunity to make some crazy flying bullshit up and not give a fuck about it?

But I’m not really that type.  Apparently I do, in fact, give a fuck.

And in either case here’s a tip for the ladies:  throwing yourself desperately at a guy is the most unattractive thing a woman can do.  And if a guy actually goes for that, hey guess what?

But hopefully you already know all that.

(I really, really hope you already know that.  Take good care, ladies.)

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Sometimes the world reminds you that you had better be on your toes and have your wits about you.  And since my wits are known to wander, I’m lucky I was born with an amazing set of toes.

The roommate search has been going well.  Met some nice folks, nothing finalized yet, but I’m pleased at the progress.  I’ve been extremely picky about who I meet to show the place.  Good grammar and complete sentences is a rule that I’m finding will not only get you ahead in the world, but will protect you in turn.  I don’t email anyone back who can’t write a reasonable inquiry.  I also don’t write anyone back who doesn’t tell me anything about themselves in the email; and even then, I’m choosy.

One thing I noticed was that one of the, well in my opinion, sorta creepy emails that I was getting was being repeated.  This didn’t stand out right away–I just thought it was the same person.  But then I noticed that the emails sounded really alike, and I thought that odd–for someone to be copying and pasting the same email over and over.  And then I looked at the names and saw that the emails were identical except for the names and email addresses.  Take a look:

Hello,
Am responding to your craigslist posting about the room available for rent,i will like to know if the place is still available for rent…My name is Kristi Vienna,am 25 years old of age’ .I am very clean and have no pets or kids,laid back,No drugs or drinking etc .I will like to know how soon you want to rent the place,because i really need a room now..
Hope to read from you soon
Thanks

Hello,
Am responding to your craigslist posting about the room available for rent,i will like to know if the place is still available for rent…My name is Rosa Adams,am 25 years old of age’ .I am very clean and have no pets or kids,laid back,No drugs or drinking etc.I will like to know how soon you want to rent the place,because i really need a room now..
Hope to read from you soon
Thanks

Hello,
Am responding to your craigslist posting about the room available for rent,i will like to know if the place is still available for rent…My name is Britney Smith,am 25 years old of age’ .I am very clean and have no pets or kids,laid back,No drugs or drinking etc .I will like to know how soon you want to rent the place,because i really need a room now..
Hope to read from you soon
Thanks

Hello,
Am responding to your craigslist posting about the room available for rent,i will like to know if the place is still available for rent…My name is Lara Smith,am 25 years old of age’ .I am very clean and have no pets or kids,laid back,No drugs or drinking etc .I will like to know how soon you want to rent the place,because i really need a room now..
Hope to read from you soon
Thanks

Creepy, huh?

At first I was put off by the bad grammar, but more than that anyone emailing me with a desperate sounding situation is a no-go.  I don’t want anyone’s drama.  I’m glad I was patient and careful about my screening and ignored these, but I saw another that I did almost respond to:

Anna Lee
Hi…..Hope the room is still available?

Cheryl Anderson
Hi…..Hope the room is still available?

The name wasn’t even in the email–it was in the header with the differing email addresses.  Just a one-line email.  But the fact that they said nothing and more importantly responded with a stupid question put me off.  Of course the room is still available–I posted it only an hour ago.

I did some googling and found this explanation from one of the fellows over at ScamWarners.  This is in response to a fellow named Matthew.

Hi Mathew, welcome to Scamwarners.

As Dotti suggested it’s almost certainly a fake cheque scamer.

The basic concept is that the victim will be paid by “her” (Dotti was also correct, it’s almost certainly an African male but for the purpose of this thread we will refer to him as a female) using a fake cheque, the victim will be encouraged to cash the cheque as soon as possible, the cheque may be made out for an amount over and above the amount of money that the victim is owed, and the victim will be asked to either refund the difference or perhaps send a portion of that money to another person.

What many people dont understand about cheques is that they go through a banking cycle that includes “provisional clearance” this stage has to do with regulations that mean the bank has to make funds available within 5 days so on the 5th day you will be able to access the money so long as the bank has not found any obvious problems in that time.

Unfortunately, as the cheque goes through the banking cycle it may take much longer than 5 days and even in some cases months for a bank to realise that a fake cheque is fake, when they do, any money drawn on that cheque is immediately reversed from the bank account it was deposited into, if funds are not available to reverse the transaction than the police may be asked to get involved.

Any money that is drawn on a fake cheque is the responsibility of the person who deposits it so the victim in this case will be out of pocket by any money that has been spent or passed on and may also find themselves in trouble with police as well

Interesting, huh?  Here’s a link to that post.  You can read the email he got after responding to something like what I got above, and you can see that the person starts trying to “secure the room” right away with money.  They ask for pictures, but can’t visit because they are out of the country.

I’m careful about things, so it hasn’t been an issue for me.  When I respond to people, the only additional piece of information they get is my first name.  I don’t give out the address or contact info until we’ve talked a little bit.  And I don’t discuss money or payment in the email whatsoever.

So be warned!  If you’re renting a room and using Craigslist, as so many of us do, be careful about who you talk to.

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I’m thinking about making it an all Radiohead kind of day. I’ve always loved Radiohead, but I find that I don’t listen to their albums very often. I sometimes feel like there’s some sort of emotional commitment to a Radiohead album. Like, what’s the point of listening to this if you’re not going to feel it, you know.

But I’m starting with the Airbag/How Am I Driving? ep, which is sort of cheating. This is the Radiohead album that some would probably say is only a Radiohead album by relation or by birth. Like it’s some cousin to the other albums and not a part of the true lineage. Unlike the other albums, I don’t feel the need to tap into this one on that same level, which I guess is why I listen to it sometimes. It feels in some ways like Radiohead doing their own arrangements of someone else’s work. You can listen to Radiohead without having to get Radiohead.

Anyway.

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d arrived at some sort of fifth stage of grief or something. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happened this summer, and that’s why I haven’t been writing in my journal here. If you don’t know what you can or should say, then just keep it to yourself–that sort of thing. I’ve accepted that something has happened to one of my family members and that I’m going to be okay. Acceptance. That’s what they call it. I should apologize, you should have been there with me for some of the other stages. Anger, that was a good one. I got into it with my father. I haven’t been that angry since, I don’t know, high school or something–back before I’d learned to channel away negative emotions through heavy metal music. There has never been a heavy metal song written–and believe you me, I have heard the attempts–that summons the fury I felt after one particular phone call.

The depression stage was what you’d think–plenty of booze there. I actually went to my doctor at one point and got her to prescribe me stress meds, but I’m too fucking stubborn to take them. Nope, pass me the whiskey. I’ll take the poison I know over the poison I don’t. Besides, pills are a tragedy that has blighted the lives of several family members–sometimes through negligence and sometimes not. Either way, I fucking hate pills.

And there was reasoning too. After the last dramatic episode, I spent a good deal of time seriously, seriously considering changing my name. Clean start, you know. I even had a smart-ass journal post typed up, making fun of the idea. Yes, I did spend some time reasoning about how I’m not like the other members of my family. And I feel comfortable in the knowledge that I am not, but it would probably have been a real hassle having to explain to everyone why I had the name changed.

Here were my top choices for a new name, by the way:

– Jonathan Makers Mark
– Turok
– Commander Adama
– Agamemnon

Though in the end I’d settled on Jonathan Evan Wyatt as my most preferred. Who knows, maybe someday it could happen. It does have a ring to it.

In either case, my name remains in tact and for the most part so does my sanity. It’s funny, looking back over a few posts here, I was quite convinced at a number of times that The Great Family Drama of 2010 had subsided, only to be quickly proven wrong. So watch me be proven wrong tomorrow.

But today I feel alright. I played my part and played it well. That was actually the most frustrating thing–other members of the family patting me on the back for being such a good, you know… person. Even if you did everything right, you don’t come out of a serious crisis like that feeling like a good person. And if you do, then you’re a fucking sociopath, I’ve got news for you.

Anyway, it is now time for some Radiohead. I believe next we will hear the most classic of classics: OK Computer.

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