Status Report

All is well. Head down this weekend to hit my Nanowrimo total, and then I’m back with a vengeance.

Upcoming: wibble on slow blogging, Quantum of Solace, and the simple joys of a roast chicken.

Them’s Good Readin’s

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A slumgullion, according to Keith Floyd’s American Pie, one of my favourite cookery books, is a makeshift or improvised meal, usually in the form of a stew or casserole. I sling together a slumgullion on a regular basis, often out of leftovers, half-jars and veg that’s one last sniff from the compost bin. They would, inevitably, fail any and all health and safety inspections. They are, inevitably, delicious. I can, inevitably, never make the same one twice.

Now, the inestimable Dr. Jones has made me aware, through the auspices of the fine magazine of Confederate kulture Garden and Gun, that Southern cuisine owes a huge debt to the art of the slumgullion. Here, for your delight and delectation, are the 100 Southern foods you have to try before you die. I get the feeling that after trying them all, you probably would die, of pork fat poisoning if nothing else. But glory be, you’d die with a smile on your face.

An example, just to whet that there appetite:

Hash and Rice

Neal’s Barbecue

Thomson, Georgia

Trotters go in the cast-iron washpot. Jowls, too. Cooked down, over a wood fire, they become hash, kissing cousin to Brunswick stew. At Neal’s, rice is the preferred ballast, but a half pound of hacked whole hog works, too. (706-595-2594)

Trotters and jowls. Cooked in a washpot. I’m off to Georgia.

(Oh, and a reminder here of my favourite slumgullion, Brunswick Stew:

Recipe from Spanky’s Seafood Grill & Bar

First the sauce:

In a 2 quart sauce pan, over low heat, melt ¼ cup of butter then add:
1¾ cups Catsup
¼ cup French’s Yellow Mustard
¼ cup white vinegar

Blend until smooth, then add:

½ tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ oz. Liquid Smoke
1 oz. Worcestershire Sauce
1 oz. Crystal Hot Sauce or ½ oz. Tabasco
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Blend until smooth, then add:

¼ cup dark brown sugar
Stir constantly, increase heat to simmer (DO NOT BOIL) for approx. 10 minutes.
Makes approx. 3½ cups of sauce (set aside – to be added later).

Then The Stew:
In a 2 gallon pot, over low heat melt ¼ lb of butter then add:

3 cups small diced potatoes
1 cup small diced onion
2 14½ oz. cans of chicken broth
1 lb baked chicken (white and dark)
8-10 oz. smoked pork

Bring to a rolling boil, stirring until potatoes are near done, then add:

1 8½ oz. can early peas
2 14½ oz. cans stewed tomatoes – (chop tomatoes, add liquid to the stew pot)
The prepared sauce
1 16 oz. can of baby lima beans
¼ cup Liquid Smoke
1 14½ oz. can creamed corn
Slow simmer for 2 hours

Yields 1 gallon)

*stifles belch*

Couldn’t Have Put It Better Myself

Clare woke me up this morning, and all she did was put her thumbs up and say, “It’s good news.” And so it is. I’m dumbstruck by how well America did this time around, so I’ll leave this one to someone who truly deserves the last word. Take it away, Michael Moore.

“Friends,

Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair.

In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.

There was another important “first” last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan. The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday.

It’s been an inexcusable 44 years since a Democrat running for president has received even just 51% of the vote. That’s because most Americans haven’t really liked the Democrats. They see them as rarely having the guts to get the job done or stand up for the working people they say they support. Well, here’s their chance. It has been handed to them, via the voting public, in the form of a man who is not a party hack, not a set-for-life Beltway bureaucrat. Will he now become one of them, or will he force them to be more like him? We pray for the latter.

But today we celebrate this triumph of decency over personal attack, of peace over war, of intelligence over a belief that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs just 6,000 years ago. What will it be like to have a smart president? Science, banished for eight years, will return. Imagine supporting our country’s greatest minds as they seek to cure illness, discover new forms of energy, and work to save the planet. I know, pinch me.

We may, just possibly, also see a time of refreshing openness, enlightenment and creativity. The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, “gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?” Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom! We’ve entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this: Anything Is Possible.

An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.

We really don’t have much time. There is big work to do. But this is the week for all of us to revel in this great moment. Be humble about it. Do not treat the Republicans in your life the way they have treated you the past eight years. Show them the grace and goodness that Barack Obama exuded throughout the campaign. Though called every name in the book, he refused to lower himself to the gutter and sling the mud back. Can we follow his example? I know, it will be hard.

I want to thank everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this victory happen. It’s been a long road, and huge damage has been done to this great country, not to mention to many of you who have lost your jobs, gone bankrupt from medical bills, or suffered through a loved one being shipped off to Iraq. We will now work to repair this damage, and it won’t be easy.

But what a way to start! Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Wow. Seriously, wow.

Yours,
Michael Moore.”

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The Man With Twelve Fingers

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Nanowrimo has started again. As I had no response to the poll as to whether I should “stream” my output onto the site or not, I’ve decided even your apathy has a message for me, Readership. So I’ll be posting random segments for the next few weeks. Usually the cool stuff, although I might stick on some of those “what the hell were you thinking, Wickings?” moments that are as much a part of Nano as the moment when things are working.

I’m having an issue with uploading my word count to the Nano site at the moment (they are notoriously flaky over the first few days of November, as millions of people attempt to squee and grumble on servers that are never quite big enough) so you’ll have to take my word (ooh, pun!) for it that I managed four grand and change over the weekend. It’s a good start. But of course, there’s a long way to go yet. More news as I get it, people. Wish me well.

***UPDATE***
it appears I had one vote on the poll. Thanks to whoever it was, but this changes nothing.

Freaky Friday

Well, here we go. The markets are in freefall, the end of the free market economy is here at last. You know what? I’m glad. I’m glad that the experiment in trickle-down economics, the mad idea that if the rich were made richer, somehow we’d all benefit has been shown up as a blatant sham and a fraud. I’m glad that Thatcher, that mad old bitch, is still alive to see the epic failure of her life’s work. We’re going through massive changes, and who knows what’s going to come out of the other end? A better, more accountable economic system? The global apocalypse? Everybody running their own pocket banks, as we devolve back to a system of barter and trade that doesn’t depend on ghost money and phantom promises?

Whatever happens, we’re smarter and better connected at this point in history than we have ever been, and we’ll figure it out somehow. It’s a new day, and I’m treating the fear-mongering of the press with contempt. I’m a banker now. We all are. We have a chance to look beyond the tired old formats and systems, and come up with something genuinely 21st century.

While we consider what form that new financial model might take, let’s have a little music, shall we?

Thoughts Gathered

Saw this the other day on the tube, and got unfeasibly excited at the idea of Paul Pope drawing Tank Girl, and that prospect being advertised on massive billboards.

kaboooooooooooooooooooooom
kaboooooooooooooooooooooom

It was, of course, not to be. I have no clue what the show the poster’s advertising will be like, but I have no doubt that it won’t be anything like as cool as this image.

Incidentally, I’m pretty excited about the return of Tank Girl to UK news-stands, as she finds a new home in the Judge Dredd Megazine. Rufus Dayglo’s art has a rough-hewn Hewlett quality that I find most pleasing. Alan Martin in particular seems chuffed that the Girl is back in a British magazine, and I can only concur. The Ashley Wood stories that came out earlier in the year were fine in their way, but they seemed to be dicking with a winning formula, in much the same way as the abortive Rachel Talaly movie. The new story, Skidmarks, harkens back to the Gumball 3000 strip back in the Deadline days. I could well find myself investing…

More coolness, from A Softer World. The perfect browse for a Sunday afternoon.

Baby Doom
Baby Doom

And finally for now, a response to possible-Vice-Pres Bookburnin’ Palin from the guys at Tales From The Crypt. I’ll try to get hold of more comix versions of The Hockey Mom From Hell over the next week or so. She seems to be galvanising the comic community in ways I’ve not seen since the golden age of Thatcher. She’s just so easy to hate…

Burn Baby Burn.
Burn Baby Burn.

A Good Day For Writing

The last sunny Sunday of the year, probably, and I have spent the best part of it in the conservatory, and allowing the light to push some particularly black and nasty bits of writing out of me and onto the site.

Firstly, the regular update of Satan’s Schoolgirls has reached Chapter 8, where I go sort of torture porn. Sort of. I’m trying to be subtle, really I are, Readership.  It’s a good chunk of verbiage, that try as I might simply couldn’t break up. Let me know if it’s too much, won’t you?

Secondly, a new short is up in the fiction room. The Murder Room is a short burst of bile that shot out of me pretty much fully formed. It wears it’s heart and it’s influences very clearly on it’s sleeve. I won’t pretend it’s particularly great art, but it’s at the sort of level that I’m happy to hit on a warm sunny Sunday, thinking on the dark days to come.

Autumn, I mean. Nether Gods, I can be over-dramatic sometimes.

Here, have some patented lighten up Rob funnies, courtesy of the fabulous Kate Beaton: