Friday, November 27, 2015

Some Swag

 We are getting closer to being able to sell my short film dvd compilation. Here are some of the swag we've got for the dvd.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Making Chirashi

Such fun day yesterday! I got up at 6 a.m. and went to The Buddhist Temple of Chicago to help make Chirashi. There were about 15 of us all pitching in and following directions or giving directions. This was all new to me so I was asking for jobs and asking what style of slicing etc to do.
The photo on the left is interesting. Take a look at those suspended fixtures. Those are fans. The handmade trays below the bowls help to suspend the steel bowls for cooling under the bowl...and the fans above cool everything down. Monitoring temperture and while "cutting" the rice with a paddle is important because you "cut" the rice not stirring so the rice doesn't turn pasty. Cooling is so once the rice goes into a bowl it doesn't go much by a small ecosystem of the heat overcooking the rice in the container....and I think to monitor the temp of the veggies and rice and fish for food safety. At the temple we have an amazing kitchen and lots of storage for equipment so all these baskets and trays had to be pulled out first thing. Then a series of carefully orchestrated food prep set up. Huge bamboo strainers for the rice. Half a dozen cutting boards and knives for chopping shiitake mushrooms, carrots, fish and bamboo shoots. On the right is lovely Helena...she is being a good sport while I beg her to pose for a picture...and hide her head gear. And Sensai took this picture of me...after I begged her...and I had the nerve to posture and pose. Sensei thought maybe I had been given the job of carrots because of my touque and sneakers. Orange!

The shiitake mushrooms are cooked in water, boiled, that blew my mind....with miring wine, sugar and a big pot of water. That is my dear friend Haru, I just love her! I love all these ladies at the Temple. They usually intimidate all the U.S. white women...but for me they remind me of my family, especially my grandmother. Sometimes these ladies scare people off of doing service around the's actually quite funny. The first time Stagg and I worked in the kitchen at of the women sternly told us not to stack the washed cutting boards together. And I mean sternly...not because they aren't nice people but because sometimes in a kitchen or in has limited time to explain things, and is more concerned about results than feelings....because why on earth would doing something practical have anything to do with one's feelings? Also there is a difference between what is polite in Canada, what is polite in Japan and what is polite in the U.S. Japan and Canada have a similar practical approach to manners. In the U.S. the approach is much more boisterous and sugar-friendly. Notice how when you go in a  store people yell at you "Welcome to Walgreens!" This is repulsive to Canadians. I hate shopping in stores that greet me. And friendly over extended smiley face server is just upsetting to me. I don't trust them. Oh Americans just do not get that, because so many bosses practice this horrible fake friendliness and force their staff to be loud and "friendly."  Sales go way up when bosses aren't around micromanaging and yelling "Hey how are you!" to customers. I also think for a lot of people...unresolved childhood issues get triggered in a  kitchen. So this idea of being militantly friendly in the United States is associated with childhood pain, and fear and control. Maybe especially or particularly for women. Long story short...I love helping out in this kitchen. I feel totally honoured they let me try to help and learn. I sometimes feel like I might be more hassle than help but they always graciously let me try. The picture on the right is my cutting board, a sort of julienne of the fish.

I was completely fascinated with how the food is sliced and prepared. Each item is seasoned in it's own unique way. Carrots with one combination of wine and vinegar and sugar so that they don't turn brown from the wine that seasons the shiitake mushrooms.  We also learned some great aesthetic tricks to how to slice the vegetables. Bamboo shoot is a vegetable right? I'll have to google that later. I love how rice has been separated and measured once it's cooked to maintain a batch. Then the plates are set up with the three separated seasoned vegetables ready to add to each batch. As Haru said "Slice on an angle it looks better." Well, there you go...and it's true isn't it? She showed me how to slice the shiitake mushrooms in a manner I don't think I could have figured out on my own.
All of this procedure is hundreds of years old. Maybe more, right? This is passed down between generations and groups of family and neighbors and friends. Before the electric fan system we use would use hand fans to cool the rice while their grandparent or parent "cut" the rice. Serving this recipe works so perfectly for making hundreds of single serve dishes. And everything is layered up specifically to be pleasing to the eye. Marvelous! Looking at the photo below, we mixed up the three veggies carrots, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Then in the container we dressed the top of the dish with eggs. Yes, look closely, the bright yellow are eggs whipped and cooked on a very low heat so they don't brown. Then sliced so thinly I thought they were angel hair noodles when I first saw them. AWESOME! Then the colorful fish is dressed on top. At opposite sides is a red ginger rashes thing and a parsley. Then about 6 peas. About. This leads to all kinds of quality control which I found hilarious. Some folks are like, it totally matters. Then another folk is goal oriented. Well, as soon as a Buddhist hears "goal oriented"....things can enter an alternative realm of time being slowed down. Tis also happens when we do the bulletin. Our bulletin is mailed out to about a 100 people. And the sorting and stickers to send it has very specific directions. Sometimes the mistakes are hilarious during the bailout. Same here. We made about 250 meals between 7-10:30 in the morning. Marvelous! the examples below are not the finest work we did yesterday...these were so of the end of the line...but they still look pretty good right?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Reader, R.I.P.

I posted the following  on the Cormac McCarthy forum this morning as one of our participants passed away.

I don't even know how long or when I met Martin....just...years ago. I've been a participant with him in at least three different book web boards since the 90's. You know  kindred we are in our offices and homes in our cars on our phones...miles away from each other...with....but to feel like I know Martin and Martin's kids and his crazy humour, his losses his good days, and his absolutely rabid reading and online book reviews as if we had met in person. This loss is just another reminder of how incredible the internet and book reading are together and how they just seemed to be made for each other. I can not imagine the thrill and joy of reading online and sharing books without Martin the past 20 years.

For a couple of years I participated in one of Martins own book clubs online...where his interests and different topics of discussion were so massive. His knowledge of aesthetics and art was really amazing. His interest in so many different topics. His humour about relationships was something so funny and wise and sometimes painful. I also was lucky enough to have many email correspondences with Martin. He was so level-headed about many things. He talked off cliffs many a time and was so personal and generous with his anecdotes. He and I also share practicing meditation and study of buddhism. This was very inspiring to me especially when it came to a kind of perspective he could bring to studying characters and novels.

I've lost track of the books or movies I've seen from Martin's recommendations. He always had something up his sleeve to lay down on others to read. I could say the same for many of you all here too...and this is important for me to share...just how fantastic my experience of sharing literature and culture has been with this forum and the participants. Ups and downs...agreements or disagreements. How much it has informed and inspired my life. It's just mind-blowing. Martin being a special mind-blowing force reminds me to say this now out loud here. (poor Stagg, he just woke up and came into the kitchen to find me crying insanely here at the computer) If two technologies were ever meant to be together it had to be books and the internet. And I believe that Cormac McCarthy's timing of popularity in the 1990's corresponded with domestic computers. What a fucking ride! It's been a pleasure to ride this midway with Martin Zook.

I feel so bad for his kids....he was just such a good dad. He really really was such a good foundation for them and loved spending time with them and talking about them ....if either of his children happen to pass by here...I am so sorry for your loss. He really really loved you and I hope you find comfort in knowing he was never shy to share his pride and love of you to online pals like me. I loved hearing about what he thought of movies and he often saw a lot of movies with his kids.

Martin was an inspiration to me when it came to practicing meditation and mindfulness. His exploration of philosophy and Buddhism was an inspiration to me. I took a quick look around post some quotes from book readings or reviews...I mean Zook and Takei were born for the internet!!! You can find Martin everywhere....but he had so many great things to say and observances it would be crazy to post them all here...but I found a simple excerpt  comment he wrote at the end of a book review on Amazon that I thought really summed up his mindfulness, humour and style:

"Nagarjuna's teachings on perfecting the paramitas are accessible, detailed, and almost each page contains a metaphor that expands this reader's experience in deepening my recognition of the process of at least clarifying obstructions. For instance, while I was in a doctor's office waiting area, TV blaring, I was reading the section on perfecting meditative concentration. In introducing the various dyanas, Nagarjuna asked why the various levels of concentration are necessary. To answer the question he introduced the metaphor of an oil lamp representing wisdom. If the lamp is outside in a raging storm, it is rendered useless. But if the lamp is in a secluded room, its light shines fully. That there was a fair breeze (the blaring TV) in the room in which I read this made me chuckle and better appreciate my space reserved for meditation at home.

In the chapter on perfecting wisdom, he makes abundantly clear the significance of understanding the various connections of phenomena during the perfection of wisdom. He also offers a claim completely new to me that focusing on perfecting one of the paramitas, because they are all connected, will lead to the perfection of all six.

This is dharma that's worth consulting across lifetimes. Too bad we can't take our texts with us." Martin Zook

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Last Nazi Hunter

I went to see a short film about Efraim Zuroff last night. He also spoke and gave questions and answers and book signing. Fascinating film and I was very happy to meet a real life superhero. He really had a huge power and presence about him, he filled up space.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Gold Star Bar

 Stagg has a few paintings at Gold Star Bar, 1755 West Division. We had a lot of fun figuring out how to hang them. Hope to see you there this week!

Friday, November 06, 2015

DVD News

Just a quick update on my dvd compilation release. I am pretty close to being able to mail out that is good. Just waiting to finish up a couple details. I'm so pleased about this project. I also will have some stickers and fun swag in the compilation. The dvd is called HUNTER GATHERER SLOW ABSORPTION FEARLESS BITCH. The above image is the cover.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Habitat For Humanity

 Last Saturday morning really early, around 7 a.m. a bunch of us met at 120th and helped do some fix-ups in the neighborhood. We had so much fun, digging up a border and muclching a garden, painting and scraping and fixing stairs. Amazing!