The Canadian Club











I was in India!

With a long stretch of stressful physiognomy research and my subsequent travels to one of the oldest and most hallowed civilizations, I had neglected the pleasures of professional football (where people don’t do crazy stunts with unloaded firearms in team locker rooms) for what must be over a month.  Yikes!  So, it was good today to squeeze in at least one game before my girlfriend, who is Indian, returns tomorrow.

Watching the Saints demolish Jesus-freak sore-loser Kurt Warner, I was at first alarmed.  Something had happened to the NFL.  Why were they talking about the earthquake in Haiti?  What’s up with that?  Not only did they offer advice on donating to rescue efforts, but they even interviewed a Haitian player on the Saints sidelines, asking him about his family.  Lost in all this, was the real message of football: support for our troops!  Seriously, this is the first time I’ve seen football announcers shirk their responsibility to remind us that the real reason we watch football is to remind ourselves of the freedoms being protected by our amazing young men (and some chicks) on Iraqi and Afghan soil.

Oh, and the other reason we watch football is to be reminded of how tough it is to be a white man in a world full of chicks who get on our case and people of color who are just weird.  Although this sometimes plays itself out on the field, most of this message is conveyed through advertising.  For example, it had been over a month since I saw this awesome ad about how much it would be awesome if women were potato-heads, so you could just dismember their faces and make them finally shut up.

I think only today, after a long time away from the U.S. boob tube, did I actually figure out that this is selling tires and not the trailer for the next Almodovar film.

It is always comforting to turn off the TV at the end of a football game secure with the knowledge that chicks are stupid and annoying. But football also goes hand-in-hand with race-anxiety, even where this concerns model minorities, such as your usually technically adept, funny-talking South Asians.  This superbowl ad from 2008 is the perfect demonstration:

Usually, you have to wait for the Simpsons later to a couple of hours later to find Indians this hilarious!

Of course, Ramesh, satisfyingly, is still working to meet the exacting expectations of a comfortably white middle manager.  But look what happens when you let these guys run the show.

OMFG!  Any frakin’ day and Indians are still adorably hilarious — but kind of dumb, too.  I mean, don’t they realize that they can’t dance?  Clearly, not amongst the more graceful, football-lovin’ people of this nation.  Thanks, Metro PCS!  It’s good to know that — since blacks always play the race card and never get the joke — we can still get good, innocent chuckles from Indians!

Speaking of which, I would just like to point out, now that I’ve been to India — so you can’t accuse me of making this a race thing, Dave — that more Indians look like Naveen Andrews than do Iraqis.  Yet television keeps on trying to cast Indians as some kind of undefined Middle Easterners!  I mean, are actual Arabs/Persians just not swarthy enough to represent shiftiness and inscrutability?  Or do they only want to cast Arabs in unambiguous terrorist roles, reserving good guy Middle Eastern roles for good guy, non-Muslim Indians?  What’s up with that?

Meanwhile, there are actually Indians who can pass for Iraqi:  those hunky, brooding Muslim Bollywood superstars of whom I’ve now grown quite fond!  Did you know that so many Indians now want to look Iraqi, that it is actually perceived as a precondition to being cast?  See for yourself:

Thankfully, those of us who watch football can just grab a beer, relax, and thank G_d for other people’s insecurities.

By the way, did I mention I was in India for the past two weeks?

Advertisements


{January 17, 2010}   Delhi-cious

Some tomb somewhere in Delhi

You were right, Dave.  This India country is pretty good.  Who knew you’re supposed to find the girl before obsessing about the country?  I suppose the last twenty years of my life would have unfolded quite differently if someone had told me then.  Not that I’m complaining about how things have worked out…

So my prolonged spell of romancing under the radar may have spared your highly functioning gag reflex for the past couple of weeks — though I do feel somewhat remiss about not providing a running commentary — but believe me, I sure tested mine.  Let me just say, I don’t plan on eating paan again anytime in this life.  Just remembering the texture as my teeth pierced through an assemblage of unknown ingredients, some of which were sweet and gooey and others savory and crunchy, all bundled in the tough betel leaf, sends shivers of disgust through my body.  Maybe had I, like you, known about something else for which India is famous, I might not have been so eager to seize the opportunity to try this common, local treat.  And the worst part is, I could tell, watching the man dip his fingers into various bags of unspecified spices and swab the leaf with unspecified salmon and maroon colored jellies that this spelled certain doom — that first big test of constitution when one travels abroad.

As it was, I was laid out for two days with severe chills and mild nausea.  Sure, that was bad, but at least it afforded me the opportunity to engage in two of my favorite activities:  puking and watching crap television.

Despite puking my guts out, I still managed to put on about 20 pounds.  Perhaps it’s because most of the Punjabi-style food served in Delhi is dripping with either butter or ghee.  Or perhaps it’s due to the sheer excellence of Bengali home-cooking. Just to offer you a glimpse into my heaven:  amazing aloo ghobi, saag with fenugrek and potatoes, mutton curry, deep fried eggplant, fried bitter melon, and, of course, fish in mustard curry.

The essential Bengali ingredient

Of course, the highlight of Bengali dining is not only the flavors — and it’s amazing what one can do with just turmeric — but also using one’s fingers.  I may not have learned how to cook during my stay, but, importantly, I retained how to say, “It’s good” in Bangla and managed to eat dal, rice, fish, and most everything else with my fingers.  It’s a very simple process of mashing things together — this is especially fun when there is potato — using three fingers as a scoop, and then one’s thumb serves to push the mashed food from scoop to mouth.  The rewards for this are yellow fingernails and a totally unselfconscious eating experience.  You will be surprised to know that I didn’t even need a finger bowl of lemon water, although these were offered at restaurants after the meal.  However, the feeling of being messy may have been a factor in how quickly I would eat everything.  While one can give up the idea of wiping one’s hands for a full meal, the salutary napkin and thorough handwashing at the end are always something to look forward to for this guy.



Well, Dave, the 7th Chokra of Ganeesha has been eclipsed by the night lotus for the past 5 flights of the bulbuli.  Or, for those of you who don’t speak Hindu, the network here has been down for the past five days.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make a brief surfacing to show how deeply I have penetrated the quotidian of this seemingly complex and layered culture by sharing this beautiful masterpiece of Indian art.

Indeed, here — as in all cultural manifestations of the aughts — it’s all about the geek getting the hot girl.

Now, off to the Taj Mahal!



What the kids are wearing now

What the kids were wearing then

I appreciate your concern for the health of my gag reflex, Russ, and I’m happy to report that it’s working splendidly.  No danger of consuming anything posing an obvious choking or poisoning hazard here, my friend, because I know for certain that I have no problem puking when puking is called for.  So yeah, you can quit it already with the VOMIT-INDUCING Facebook PDA in good conscience, knowing that your efforts have not been wasted.

Speaking of which, how’s India?  A little ironic that you’re there and I’m not, seeing as how I’ve always wanted to go to India, have been fascinated by Indian culture and religion and you — well, let’s just say that historically, you haven’t.  Take some pics for me, why dontcha?

Alright already, on to topics of more general interest (“HA!” says the Viennese man who stumbled on our blog while looking for Gerhard Richter jpegs).  I agree that we are due to post our various Best Things of the Aughts.  I had, in fact, been giving the topic a good thinking over prior to reading your post.  I’m trying to take myself back to the dawn of the millennium so I might better recall all the miraculous changes and improvements to my daily life that have since occurred, but it’s all a little hazy.  Lots and lots of time in a beautiful, if somewhat dilapidated painting studio at Penn.  An obscenely cheap apartment — seriously, I think it was $450 a month  — that was sort of collapsing around us, but was on a super-nice block in a great part of town.  It really is true that you get a little nostalgic for the shitty places you’ve lived once you start moving up in the world, isn’t it?

OK, so in the spirit of getting with the spirit, I’ll begin by offering up some of my favorite things from the Aughts.

1) TV

OMFG.  And I thought that the 90’s were the Golden Age of television, but then this decade came along.  Here is just a partial list of TV’s Aught Awesomeness — I’m sure that you have more to add.  The Sopranos*, The Wire, Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Lost, Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica*, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (both of them), Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Mythbusters, Glee…  An embarrassment of riches, right, Russ?  TV is no longer merely superior to being alone with your thoughts except for the hour or two a week when the show you care about is on — it’s where the action is.  Saying “I don’t watch TV” now is like saying, “I don’t read novels”.  An amusingly quirky comment when uttered by the right sort of eccentric, but certainly not a sign of intellectual superiority.

(*overrated, but still good.)

2) OBAMA.  Frak the haters.  We’ve dreamed about electing someone this awesome since we could vote.  We thought it would be Clinton.  We waited, we canvassed, we went to 2000 Gore “Victory” parties (the memory of which still make us a little teary).  We got a health care bill, you lunatic lefties, so just shut up because I LOVE HIM AND STILL CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S OURS.

3) Teleportation.  I don’t get it, but I think it’s gotta be good.

Um, I’ll think of more stuff later.  100 things is a lot, Russ.

No live action video for this one.  Sorry folks.



{January 1, 2010}   Plus ça change…

Luann

Well, Dave, here it is, the big 2010 — and I’m still working hard testing everyone’s gag reflex.  Let’s just say, I’ve soooooo been there!

Right now, ‘there’ is Dubai, where I’m chillin’ at the airport.  Man, this airport — free Internet and all — is a fancy gem, worth the trip all in itself.  It would be better without the fleck of spittle that just hit my eye from the hacking fellow traveler lounging next to me.  Dude, does he not see all the signs about A(H1N1) at the transfer points?  Next time, I’m coming here before X-mas, since it is the ideal place to shop for gifts… But, I have to say, I’m a bit

Anyway, so they’re saying it’s a new decade — which brings me to my thoughts about the aughts… So, Dave, if you were going to make a list of the top 100 things from the past decade, what would you put on it?  Isn’t making lists what blogs are for?

I was going to put the great accomplishment of grafting an ear onto a mouse… but then I discovered that that happened in the 90s.  So, isn’t there anything we can feel good about from the past ten years?

Well, since we’re — and by we, I mean me — in Dubai today, let me offer up the Palm Islands as one of the things we — and by we, I mean people — can be proud of from the 00s!



et cetera