Review: My Name is Will

Cover 0708 260x300A novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare! by Jess Winfield

Patrons of the arts will recognize the authors name– none other than Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

The fictional story accounts the lives of two Will Shakespeares: the vanguard of verse (or pontif of prose), and that of a mondern-day graduate student who not only bears the Bard’s name, but is a Shakespeare scholar to boot.

Their struggles, weaknesses, and successes are paralleled in a weave that entertains & edifies, at the cost of some historical accuracy.  For instance, the two Wills are motivated by having contraband thrust upon them, which each must deliver to its rightful owner.  In the first case, the contraband is a Catholic Reliquary in a vigorously Protestant England; in the latter case, a psychodelic mushroom in the age of Reagan’s war on drugs.  Great care is taken to incorporate every last detail in comparing the two lives; that the modern should mirror the ancient.  This is one of those ideas which sounds good in theory, and then turns out to be terrible in print.

It becomes so predictable and stretched that one is tempted to skip the chapters about the modern Will.

That said, I really did enjoy reading it.  It offers easily digestible bits about Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, and mushrooms, all rolled into one.

Bon Appetit, Madame Guillotine

Prise De La Bastille 300x224In honor of Bastille Day, everyone should overthrow their government (even if it’s just for a day).

If you’re not up for that, try my Revolutionary Ratatouille (anthropomorphic rat not included):

  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Big Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Fresh Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Diced Eggplant
  • 1 Big Finely Sliced Zucchini
  • 1 Bag of New Potatoes

Crush the garlic cloves and dice the onion, then simmer them over medium-low heat in some olive oil.� Stir continuously, lest the garlic turn brown.� When the onions are soft, throw in the diced Eggplant (I find the thin Japanese Eggplants cook more evenly) and throw in all the tomatoes.� Grind in some fresh pepper & sea salt for good measure.� Stir everything together, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.� This gives the eggplant time to soften up & absorb the flavor of the garlic/onion/tomato.

While it’s simmering, get slicing on that zucchini.� It has to be sliced thinly and evenly; think semi-transparent slices.� If it’s too thick, it will taste gross.� Add the Zucchini when the eggplant/tomato has simmered long enough, and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.

Now’s a good time to boil some water for your potatoes.� In this case, the spuds are the base of the dish (pasta also works, but it’s not as good).� Potatoes are heartier and absorb more of the flavor of Ratatouille.� Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes- if you’re not sure of whether or not they’re ready, try to stick a fork in one (if the potato is soft, it’s ready to eat).� Drain the water and quarter the potatoes with a fork or other pointy thing.

Before you ladle on the ratatouille, put some fresh herbs (like rosemary, basil, oregano, whatever you’ve got on hand) and let them sit for a minute in the stew- if you put them in earlier, their flavor gets lost.

Pour the Ratatouille on the potatoes, serve with a nice red wine, and get ready to depose the broccoli crown, chop some heads of lettuce, and let the cat out of the baguette.

The audacity of hoax

Five short days after Indepence Day, this country is in deep sh*t.  The new FISA bill is now law.

The republicans see it as a victory.  The democrats see it as a compromise.  And myself, no words come to me that can help me to reconcile it.

No sad strand of syllables could adequately describe my disgust, so I’ll try to set it aside (for now).

Let’s take an objective look at this particular piece of legislation.  There’s a nice bit about monitoring terrorist activity through the internet & phone lines.  Few people would argue against attempting to intercept terrorist communications, provided there is a probable cause and a warrant to do so.  The new bill expands the scope of surveillance and shrinks oversight (in the name of national security), so we’ll take it for what it is: broad, unsupervised wiretapping of international communications.  Though ripe for abuse, we’ll give the government the benefit of the doubt and assume that this will help find terrorists (are we even looking for Osama any more?)

So that’s the new bill in a nutshell… plus this one other little part that’s hardly worth mentioning- the part that grants telecom immunity.  Still President George W. Bush personally insisted that telecom immunity be included in the bill, or he would not sign it.

Why should this be the case?  If our government has done nothing illegal, as Bush has so often stated, why would he insist on legal immunity?  Maybe he meant to say “We will not have done anything illegal, just as soon as we pass a bill that makes the illegal stuff we did a-ok”.

It doesn’t take much cogitation to realize that insisting that no illegal activity took place and later insisting upon legal immunity for what was done could be misconstrued as contradictory. John Kerry must be flip-flopping in his grave right now….

*Cue cynicism* But then, that’s business as usual in Washington.  Those slimey politicians!  They’re only worried about their careers; politics before principle may as well be their official motto!

And then, a hero arose from the Land of Lincoln.  He promised us change we could believe in, and whether or not you believe, he’s a departure from the elderly white male hegemony of the last two centuries of American democracy.  Yes, he’s downright democrazy; railing against a government predicated upon partisan politics and all that.  And not so long ago, in the heat of a democratic primary, he stated loud & proud that he was unequivocally opposed to the bill.

Today, he’s the Democratic nominee, and voted ‘yea’ on the FISA bill.

There’s change we can believe in.  In fairness, he had a good reason: it was politically prudent to support the bill.  For God’s sake, we can’t let the republicans say he’s weak on terror*! Imagine the soundbites & witty jabs Fox News has waiting for him.

No, it’s much better to abandon your party ideals and move in on that coveted centrist demographic.  What courage…

*If Obama is afraid of the republicans, what chance does he have against an actual threat?

And then there’s McCain

I once had a great deal of respect for John McCain.  He was a rebel republican, undaunted by President Bush and his croneys.  He stood against Whitehouse-sponsored torture, chastised the President publicly, and gave candid answers to tough questions.

Then he learned to love the GOP, hug the President, and recite neo-conservative propaganda with one hand tied behind his back.  In fairness, he was probably only doing because it gave him a shot at the republican nomination.  Seriously, have you seen the independent candidates?  Embracing the republican party and abandoning his ideals were a small price to pay for the nomination.

Which leaves us where we began: in deep sh*t.  The FISA bill passed today proves that we are under the rule of a man, not the rule of law.  Soon, a new man will be head honcho.  But there won’t be any change from either candidate, because our two-party dependency prohibits it.  That’s why this voter will be staying home on election day- because of pure apathy.  Apathy not born of ignorance, as is commonly thought of American voters, but apathy for having done my research and realizing that it matters not in the least which lever I pull in the election booth.

Voting on American Idol, on the other hand….

Tile be seeing you…

Img 40441 224x300For anyone who’s keeping score, tiling my bathroom floor was completed today; a scant 7 weeks after removing the old floor.

Not that I’ve been working on it for that long.  Cutting and laying the tile (a relatively simple task) only took 3 days; acquiring the tile and investing the time presents the greater challenge.

My advice to would-be tilers is only this: buy as much extra tile as you can afford.  It pains me to think of the cost of all the tiles I broke in cutting, but a worse fate would have been to run out of tiles before the mortar has a chance to dry.  Out of 3 cases of tile, only 3 tiles remain unused.

It also helps to have a second bathroom.  God, how I wish we had a second bathroom (tiling, grouting and sealing takes about 3 days to cure; at no point during that time can the bathroom be used for anything).  If you are unlucky enough to have just one bathroom, the restrooms at Kohl’s are very tidy.

Liberry my heart at wounded knee

Yesterday marked the end of my service to the Liberry.  It ended much in the same way it began- with everyone wondering if the new person would know what the hell he was doing.

It’s a strange thing to keep one job through the first half of your 20’s.  Things change rather quickly during those years.  I look different, think differently, and care about different things than I did when I started working at the Liberry, which is how things should be.  But the side-effect of working in one place during a  metamorphosis is the sense that you’ve worked there forever.  It’s been four years- approximately 16% of my life.

Four years of working on Gates computers, unjamming printers, helping the helpless, teaching classes, meeting weird people, and keeping books waaaay longer than is befitting a liberry employee.

Now it’s up to another brave soul to traverse the straits of the Liberrian Sea.  Will he reach the sunny shores of super-librarianship?  Run aground in the shoals of mediocrity?  Be dashed upon the rocky coast of incompetence?

Be misled by a mixed maritime metaphor?!?!?!