"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, August 3, 2015

RECIPES - Goan-style Curry With Shrimp,Tomatoes And Coconut

This is a very good approximation of a Goan shrimp curry but nowhere near as hot and spicy.  Goan curries are fiery and the hottest by far on the subcontinent.  The combination of shrimp, tomatoes, and coconut is a classic.

Goan curry

            www.aishcooks.com

Goan-style Curry with Shrimp

* 1 1/2 lb. medium unpeeled shrimp

* 1/2 can San Marzano tomatoes

* 3/4 cup coconut milk

* 5-10 leaves fresh basil, chopped

* 1 Tbsp. sugar

* 5 cloves garlic, chopped

* 3 Tbsp. olive oil

* 2 Tbsp.(approx.) Madras curry powder

* 5 shakes hot red pepper flakes

- Place the shrimp in a steamer and steam until done (10-15 min.)

- Remove, let cool, then peel, reserving steaming liquid and shrimp

- Put the peels in the liquid and boil over medium heat until liquid reduced by half

- Remove the shells and discard

- Sautee the garlic in olive oil until very lightly browned (5-10 min)

- Turn down heat, add the curry powder, basil, pepper flakes, and shrimp liquid.

- Stir,  and cook over low heat for 5 min

- Add the tomatoes, sugar, and coconut milk, stir well

- Simmer for about 1 hr. stirring occasionally until liquid reduced by half

- Add the shrimp, heat the mixture and serve over rice

- Add a few grindings of black pepper, salt to taste

Vaudeville, Hollywood, And Las Vegas–The Brilliance Of Donald Trump

In the Chapter The Devil – Ivan’s Nightmare in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the Devil says:

If everything in the universe were sensible, nothing would happen. There would be no events without you, and there must be events. So against the grain I serve to produce events and do what's irrational because I am commanded to. For all their indisputable intelligence,men take this farce as something serious, and that is their tragedy. They suffer, of course... but then they live, they live a real life, not a fantastic one, for suffering is life. Without suffering what would be the pleasure of it? It would be transformed into an endless church service; it would be holy, but tedious.
The Devil - Ivan's Nightmare
  www.russiantumble.com 

America is divided in many ways – rich-poor, black-white, blue state-red state, gay-straight, and North-South; but most of us, regardless of these differences, “take this farce as something serious”. There are the cavils on the Left about civil injustice, glass ceilings, global warming, and income inequality. There are laments on the Right about the loss of family values and the centrality of the Bible in American life, the pernicious intrusion of government in private affairs, creeping socialism, and the secular Washington cabal that wants to remake the country into a godless, relativist society.

At the same time we live in a world of clowns, vaudevillians, carny barkers, and showmen who would make Ivan’s Devil proud.  There is no way to take seriously the shenanigans of politics, Hollywood make-believe, religious fundamentalism, television sitcoms, reality shows, and the carnival of the private market; and yet they are at the core of American exceptionalism. What makes the United States exceptional is that we take things so seriously but are in fact a nation of vaudevillians. 
Take Donald Trump, for example, the current best example of America’s cultural exceptionalism. He is a self-styled clown and buffoon who has never taken himself seriously. He has used his intelligence, wit, ambition, savvy, and bourgeois tastes to game the system like no other.  He is Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Venice Beach all rolled up into one.  He is outrageous, outspoken, oversized, and a caricature of America’s culture of ambition, money, and display of personality and wealth.
While all other politicians in the 2016 Presidential race are stepping over themselves to seriously address the issues, The Donald shoots his mouth off and rises to the top of the pack.  It should be a liability that most Americans know him from his time on the popular reality show The Apprentice. His character is arrogant, dismissive, and judgmental. “You’re fired”, says Trump.  How could anyone take Donald Trump for anything more than a showman, a comedian, and a vaudevillian?  Yet his fame as a television star and cultural stuntman is an attribute. The line between journalism and entertainment was blurred long ago and no one cares about finding the real Donald Trump – or in fact even if  there is anything beneath the braggadocio, the blonde bimbos, the Towers, and the billions.  The executives in Hollywood and Madison Avenue know that only image matters; and The Trumpster is as purely an American idol as we have. 
Image result for images ivana and donald trump
         www.eonline.com 
Trump would lose his appeal if he squired Audrey Hepburn types – quiet, demure, aristocratic women. He can only be paired with showy, decked-out, coiffed, and bejeweled American caricatures like himself.  
It is no doubt that he is polling many points higher than his nearest competitor in the GOP field of presidential candidates. He is America’s man – honest and upfront about his opinions, never apologetic about his ideas or his lifestyle but exuberant, confident, and delighted. 
Trump is the best at what he does because he admits who he is and never hides it. Outrageous displays of wealth? Egoistic bombast? Shameless self-promotion? Nothing to be ashamed about there.  It is the smarmy, dishonest, and tricky politicians that he hates. He is no Newt Gingrich or John Edwards who cheated on their dying wives.  No Mark Sanford who made up lame excuses instead of proudly admitting he was flying to Buenos Aires for love and passion.  No Bill Clinton who parsed and parsed but never admitted his manhood.  Donald Trump knows that Clinton would have been far better off had he admitted his love affair with Arkansas Gennifer Flowers right from the beginning. 

These politicians thought they understood America well enough to snooker us; but they only were laughed at for making stupid mistakes.  JFK was a national hero and cultural icon because he knew what the American public wanted – Camelot.  His fairy-tale White House filled with glitterati from Hollywood and the arts and women dressed in Dior and Chanel were appealing because they were fantasies that most Americans could only dream about. Jack’s youth, vigor, sexual appeal, and Hollywood good looks; and Jackie’s aristocratic elegance fit in perfectly with an American longing for class.

There is no contradiction between Donald Trump’s low-brow showmanship and the Kennedys’ European flair. Both are American ideals.  We loved the Kennedys like we do Downton Abbey – impossible but desirable.  We love Donald Trump because he is very real and very possible.  Billionaire entrepreneurs and financiers like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are admired but only in passing.  They have accomplished as much if not more than Donald Trump but don’t flaunt it. We need flaunt.

If we are to believe Dostoevsky, it is the Devil behind all this tawdriness; and behind Camelot, Las Vegas, and Hollywood. None of us want life to be an endless church service, holy but tedious.

If it weren’t for the likes of Donald Trump, political life would be be a circus - not the brilliantly-conceived vaudevillian performance the Devil would have appreciated.  We can’t turn away from Hillary, Santorum, Cruz, Christie, and the rest of the presidential contenders because they are as irresistible as a side show – two-headed freaks, giants, midgets, and limbless acrobats.  We have no respect for them or their antics. We know they are poseurs with ambition but no talent or class.

The Donald is becoming a serious candidate exactly because the American electorate is fed up with smarmy Washington politicians; with posturing, no answers, and outright lying.  Voters would rather get an honest vaudevillian than a shady con man.

Trump is America, so it is no wonder he is doing so well. He is what we want to be and what we are – a combination of bourgeois tastes and capitalist success. We are absolutely delighted that he is suing Jose Andres, the celebrity chef who pulled out of a hotel restaurant deal because of his objection to Trump’s comments about Mexicans.  Trump has threatened to sue Andres within an inch of his life, take all his pretentious fussy cooking money, and toss him to the dogs.  We love that Trump never apologies, because only venal politicians apologize to save their skin and intend to continue tomcatting, stealing, and lying as soon as the furor dies down.

The Donald is a billionaire mover and shaker in real estate, and a popular entertainer.  His opulent lifestyle, wives and girlfriends, and  social bashes combine the very best of capitalist-generated wealth and Hollywood glamor.

Given the sketchy history of the Presidency over the last few decades, and the ineptitude of those who have sat in the Oval Office, it is time to give The Donald a chance.  How could he do any worse? And in a gesture that will send all liberals to Sweden, he will turn the White House into a Las Vegas version of Camelot.  It has been fifty years, and about time we had some glitz and glamor on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sexual Attraction–The Good Old Days Have Never Left

Feminists are up in arms about ‘Retro-Sexism’ – the embrace of the feminine culture of the Sixties.  It is all well and good to be ironically creative – where would we be without derivative fashion – but another thing altogether to glorify an era when women were enslaved. These critics, however, are myopic in picking on Mad Men and the post-War era.  They could have just as easily focused on Victorian bustles, Renaissance décolleté, or the seductive drapery of Roman women.

Women have always dressed up to look good, to attract men, and to compete with their rivals.  In times past when women were permitted little else, it was quite logical to squeeze every ounce of sexuality out of fashion. When women’s ankles were considered most appealing and sexually alluring, of course they hiked their skirts, walked with a bit more sashay, and pushed acceptable limits farther and farther up the calf.

Decolletage

          www.en.wikipedia.org

Women of the 18th century European courts were trussed, wigged, and powdered; but were permitted a décolleté – a suggestion of feminine beauty but only within the context of a classic and severe Greco-Roman ideal.

The history of fashion shows how women hewed to both a male-centered ideal of chastity and high breeding as well as a courtesan sexuality.  They understood and never underestimated the power of their sexuality; and dressed to the limits of the confines of the day.

Women throughout history have dressed to be appealing to men. They have always found ways to push the patriarchal limits and to show as much of their feminine selves as possible.  It takes no genius to figure out that men are excited and sexually aroused by the very sight of women; and that savvy women can use this unerring biological instinct to their advantage.

Put another way, given the fact that men become hopelessly infatuated with beautiful, sexually alluring women, why wouldn’t they use their sexuality to their advantage?  But of course they have.  Beautiful women have ensnared men since the beginning of time.

Men and women are equal when it comes to intelligence, wit, charm, and social abilities.  Men have physical strength which used to be an evolutionary plus but which has been neutered and overshadowed by a marketplace savvy and aggressiveness which has no gender notation. The Devil Wears Prada and The Wolf of Wall Street are equal.

Prada

             www.screencrush.com

Men may show off physically, but women don’t buy it. They want far more from prospective mates than washboards and gym-fitness.  Men on the other hand simply cannot get over breasts, lips, and a ‘come hither’ look. The war between men and women is very unequal, with women winning all the time.

If this is true, then why are women still clawing to break through the glass ceiling, to be taken seriously, and to be accepted as equals?

Ambivalence is the answer.  Most women understand their innate biological supremacy, but have been too intimidated over the centuries to exploit it.

Not all women, of course.  The women of Shakespeare – Tamora, Dionyza, Volumnia, Rosalind, Portia, and Lady Macbeth used every feminine strength they had to best inferior men.  Hedda Gabler, Laura, Miss Julie, Rebekka West and many other Scandinavian dramatic heroes beat men at every turn because they understood their power.

Men have always been sex slaves to beautiful women; and because they can never know the paternity of their children, are in thrall to them. Laura, the hero of Strindberg’s The Father who sows seeds of doubt in her weak and ineffective husband and drives him mad enough to be sent away to an asylum, leaving her with complete control of her daughter. She and her fictional cohorts who, because they knew and understood these fundamental truths, dominated men.

Young women today are no different.  Their retro-fashionista embrace of the Sixties simply restates a universal truth.  Hot lipstick, décolleté, short skirts, and a sexy come-on wins all the time.

You’ll see her perched at a banquette at the bar after work: the millennial college grad nursing that outdated American dream of marriage, kids, and the house with the lawn and the white picket fence… She’s nursing a stiff drink, too, because husband-hunting is hard work these days, not to mention frowned upon in college-educated career-girl circles. She toys with a stray curl and sucks listlessly at (how fitting) an Old Fashioned, or a gin martini (but only one) if she’s out with an older man and wants to seem sophisticated.

She may go full-blown retro and have her hair done in pin curls, or it may be modern, but her lips are likely stained a crimson shade—Bésame’s Red Velvet 1946 as seen in ABC’s “Agent Carter” is a good bet these days. She’s dressed in something fetching and feminine that she got from Etsy, eBay, or one of the dozens of “vintage inspired” or reproduction clothing companies that have gained popularity in the last decade…(The Federalist)

Although it is the male of the species who has the brightest feathers in the animal kingdom, it is the female who does in our society.

No matter how much modern mothers have tried to get little girls to wear worker-man overalls and play with tractors and Humvees, they have failed.  Just as boys will substitute carrots for guns under the watch of progressive moms, so will girls find a way to dress up.  Princess costumes have never been more popular. Sexy pre-teens are the rule, not the exception.

Image result for images sexy pre-teens

     www.psychedelickimchi.com

So what can we make of all this? Despite 40 years of feminism, nothing much has changed in the relationship between men and women.  Despite the fact that women have made significant strides in the workplace and are now earning and advancing as quickly as men up the corporate ladder, nothing much has changed.  Women still advertise their physical charms, and men still flaunt their Wall Street abs and K Street credentials.

Mrs. Linder’s Dancing School in New Brighton, CT was de rigeur for the children of the West End, a final polishing of the social graces and skills taught by their well-to-do parents. Boys were arrayed on one side of the dance floor, girls on the other; and at Mrs. Linder’s click, the boys rushed across the slippery concourse to the prettiest girls in the class.  It was primitive, sexist, and totally unacceptable in today’s PC gender world; but it was honest.  Girls did their best to attract the most desirable boys.  Straight A’s didn’t count.  It was all about lips, breasts, perfume, and sensuality.

Image result for images mad men women

                www.maxim.com

Barbie came on the scene in 1959 and has never left.  No matter how many mothers have tried to suffocate her, she is still alive and well.  She has changed with the times, but she remains the image of femininity admired and desired by little American girls.  No matter how tough the media character may be - Wonder Woman, Laura Tomb Raider, or Lucy – sex still rules.

Image result for scarlett johansson latest movie lucy images

                        www.boomsbeat.com

This, despite feminist whinging, is a good thing. Who said that women have to look like or act like men?  A woman who wins wars against aliens by using smarts, military training, savvy, and sexual come-ons is a winner.

For feminist journalists to walk the walk would take a dismantling of their traditional feminine persona.  If an attractive, sexually alluring woman is innately anti-feminist and retrograde, then why have feminist journalists gone out of their way to choose the very images which show them at their most feminine and alluring and not uncompromising and tough?

Image result for images jessica valenti

 Jessica Valenti, Feminist columnist for The Guardian www.usa.com

Women have always had the upper hand in things that mattered.  The women in Shakespeare’s plays, despite being ‘second class citizens’ always ruled. Rosalind, Portia, and Beatrice rode rings around their male suitors. Lady Macbeth was the power behind the presumptive throne. Margaret rode against the French for her pusillanimous husband, Henry VI.  Dionyza and Tamora had nothing contempt for men and defended their children like she-bears.

The glass ceiling and wage inequality are temporary rough stops in women’s social and economic progress. Men have tried to use their strength and social standing to keep women in their place, but to no avail.  Women have been a match for men since Adam and Eve; so feminist plaints fall on deaf ears.  Men and women are equal and have always been.