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Archive for September, 2011

Reading Mein Kampf: Day 1

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m sixty pages into Mein Kampf, and I feel like I’m going to vomit.

The first fifty pages start off slowly, with Hitler building up a skewed and praiseworthy history of his own past; constructing for himself a false reality, much like you would expect out of any demented fuckwit with messianic tendencies. There are only brief flashes and hints at lunacy. He only mentions Jews once or twice.

He’s got daddy issues. Around age twelve, he’s dead set against his father’s desire for him to be a civil servant because he’d rather be an artist or a musician, or as he later focuses on, an architect. His dad dies while he’s 13, and his mother two years after that. Hitler then runs off to Vienna and applies to an art school because he wants to be a painter. His rejection by the school is painted in terms of the school master’s realization that he’s just oh-so-good an architect that he couldn’t possibly bear placing him in a lowly art school and instead, Hitler decides to study architecture.

So, he enters architect school, or whatever, and becomes ever-so-poetic about the hardships he endures now that he’s no longer part of the bourgeoisie. He’s constantly struggling to survive and always battling hunger, of all things. Yea, that’s fucked up. Hitler’s whining about being hungry. Goddammit.

He flies into a few rages in his writing about the working class and unions and how everyone in the union is under some hypnotic spell. Hitler then does his homework to find out how to argue with those low class union-folk. In doing so, he plays the martyr and complains about how the union workers threatened him with violence when they disagreed with him. Apparently, using violence as a means of persuasion is below Hitler.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?

The first few chapters are filled with random rants. You can just feel him building up into a frenzy, and it’s like, oh geez, he forgot to take his pills again. And he hasn’t even gotten to any of the racial stuff yet. Most of it revolves around his desire that everyone realize just how supercool being of German heritage was. He’s not a fan of the Austrian state and feels that it should be dissolved and absorbed into the whole Germanic nationality.

So then, you get to about page fifty and you take the dog for a walk. You’re thinking, this fucker’s got some issues but you’re wondering when he’s gonna take that dive off the deep end. And then you get to page fifty-one.

I only made it to page sixty so far in this edition. On each of those ten pages, it was harder and harder to go on. It’s here that the raving becomes focused on the Jews. Hitler describes his descent into antisemitism in a way that feels like he’s trying to convince you of how he has seen the light. He describes how he never really thought of the Jewish problem until slowly beginning to open his eyes and read some of the antisemitic literature and fliers out there. He praises some of the local antisemitic douchebags for showing him the way, and continues to vomit racial lie after lie, spewing hatred in a way I had mistakenly thought society had long since surpassed.

The first fifty pages contained brief hints at this madness and ensuing fervor. These last few pages begin to lay it bare. I’m done for tonight. I can’t take any more.

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Categories: books Tags: ,

Banned Books Week 2011

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s Banned Books Week again and this year I’m trying to outdo myself. For previous years, I’ve stuck to the arguably easy and fun stuff; 1984 and the ironically banned Fahrenheit 451.

Last year’s was my favorite so far: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. I had no idea what it was about up front but was pleasantly surprised at the story. It’s a work of fiction where a lot of dizzying bouncing around takes place between time, place, dream states, and in between species and monsters, angels and demons. The allegories seemed more poignant to the religious and class struggle of Indians, especially those transplanted to the Western world. All the blasphemous subplots involving Mohammed’s source of his religion and the ensuing parodies by his local critics are vastly entertaining, and must have stung to the core of many Islamist fundamentalists, some of whom are still calling for his death.

This time, I’m going to up the stakes and go with something that makes me a little queasy. Something that will probably get me on some kind of Homeland Security watch list. Mein Kampf.

Yikes. It has the same sort of ring as the dreaded Necronomicon by the Mad Abdul Alhazred.

For all its infamy and loathing, I’m expecting it to be somewhat of a boring and dry read about some lunatic’s obsession with racial and societal “purity,” and his whacked out justifications for what was to come. It’s in the interest of free speech that I’m taking on this daunting task. I’ll be sure to blog my review of the book.

*gulp*

Categories: books, pondering

Cooking Withdrawal

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I think I must have had some kind of cooking withdrawal when we were out in California. All we had were a few pans and bowls with which to work, and our culinary creations were usually pretty slim. We never suffered for wont of food. We ate out at all sorts of restaurants all the time, and at each one, I was always curious as to how it was done, eager to get back to our full kitchen back home where I could try out a bunch of random experiments.

Now that we’re home, I’ve been cooking a lot, making up for all the lost time. Jen and I team up a lot of the time and make things that leave the house smelling like an Indian or Asian restaurant for weeks. Butter Chicken and Pad Thai are great for that just-walked-out-of-Bombay scent.

Last week, we made an amazing tomato sauce from scratch, disassembling twenty-some tomatoes and simmering them with spices for five hours. The results were amazing. We used it on some Chicken Parmesan, and it’s hard to go back to the store-bought sauce once you’ve made your own. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s too time-consuming to do more than once a year, and you need a ton of tomatoes to get any kind of yield. It simmers down to less than half of its original volume. It makes me curious about the process they use in the giant sauce mills. I’m sure there are teams of red Oompa Loompas running around, simmering countless dutch ovens of tomato meat.

And then I bought a charcoal grill. I’ve been wanting one for a while, having always lived off of a gas grill. Now I can get that smokey charcoal flavor in my meats, but even more exciting, I can use it as a smoker. I made some killer baby back ribs last week, smoking them with some hickory chunks for five hours. It’s worth the effort. The meat just falls off the bones. We’ve got a few friends coming over this Sunday, and I’m gonna try it again. I love the smell that it gives off; it permeates the house and you can smell it from all over the neighborhood. The neighbors are either envious or annoyed. I’ll choose to believe that their mouths are watering just as much as mine.

I’ve never gotten into the whole Food Network thing. The internet is a better tool for me for learning how to cook at your own pace. I’ve stolen recipes from all over the place, and there are youtube videos for every culinary niche, so there’s always something new to learn. Some of the things I find are great and some of them are crap. The trouble is, I sometimes forget where I found a certain recipe and then I have to start over, but then, the fun is in the experimentation.

Categories: pondering, travel

They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton came to town a few days ago. I fell in love with Jonathan Coulton a few years ago when I first heard his rendition of Baby Got Back. The rest of his repertoire is one giant nerdgasm after another. It was through his website where I found out he was coming to town, and the Giants were icing on the cake.

It was a great concert, but I sure wish that Coulton’s set was longer. He couldn’t have played more than a half dozen songs before rushing off the stage to allow for another hour of setup. It would have been much better to just give him an acoustic guitar during that interim so we could get our money’s worth.

I’ve always teetered between being a big fan of TMBG and getting too annoyed with their music. I love their variety and quirkiness and the constant struggle of trying to figure out what the hell they’re singing about without going to their wiki. On the other hand, I hate to sound petty, but sometimes I just can’t get over the grating voices of the lead singers. Usually I’m fine with it, but there are some songs where the earsplitting nasality of their vocals is just too much and I have to take a break. I’ve never been a fan of Rush or the Smashing Pumpkins for the same reason, but I can dig the Giants. They’re worth the extra effort.

The crowd was definitely a new one for me. It felt like I was in a nerdy internet forum, with all the current memes being represented. At one point I realized that I’m probably just as nerdy as the rest of the bunch, because I understood and enjoyed a lot of the obscure humor. I guess I just try to hide my inner nerd. These people were flaunting it. Good for them.

Categories: music, nerd