Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Festivities

I've been very busy lately taking part in the Fall festivities. When I was younger and in grade school, fall semester was my favorite semester because we used to get so many days off from school to celebrate the holidays. And it was also the season when we got to eat delicious seasonal holiday foods.

Two weekends ago, I was at the Texas State Fair, the biggest state fair in all of the US, in operation since 1886! Most people go to the fair to see Big Tex, the worlds biggest cowboy--he wears a size 70 boot! He'll greet you and tell you about the day's events and schedule. Others go to ride the Texas Star, the largest Ferris wheel in the entire continent, at a height of 212 ft (64.6m), 21 stories high. You can see an incredible view of the city of Dallas on a clear day and as far away as the Fort Worth city skyline, 45 miles away. It lights up red and white and blue at night. As for me, I went to the Texas State Fair for the food.

As XL points out, the Texas State Fair is "the place for things on a stick and/or deep fried!" And he's right! This is the place where the corny dog made its worldwide debut!

Known as a corn dog outside of Texas, this heavenly creation is a delicious hot dog on a stick, dipped in batter and fried to a brown, crispy bun!

Goes great with mustard or ketchup and even some mayo! For the adventurous, try it with some chili. And those with finer tastes might want to dip it in some Ranch or Thousand Island dressing. Mmmm...delicious!

The Texas State Fair was also the launching pad for another famous treat enjoyed by movie goers and one of the staples of mall food courts, the nachos!

This inspired creation is a combination of crispy nachos chips topped with melted cheese and jalapenos! I like mine simple like that, with maybe a dollop of sour cream and avocado. Other like to pile on the beans and chili and salsa.

With such an illustrious history of serving up such delectable, spectacular fine fair cuisine, you better believe that I was making that pilgrimage to the mecca of deep fried food and tasty things on a stick!

Every year, a competition is held to decide the best food at the fair. Two categories up for grabs this year was the Most Creative and the Best Tasting. I only regret that I wasn't able to attend last year, when the Fried Butter--that's right, Fried Butter!--was chosen as last year's winner.

But this year's top ten finalists were fantastic. Among them was Fried Beer--yes, fried beer!; Fried S'mores Pop Tart; and Fried Club Salad--because all salads taste better when they're fried! Go here for a description the amazing ten finalists. I made sure to sample every one of these delicious treats!

And the Fried Beer won for Most creative. It was creative! Beer in a pretzel dough deep fried! And the beer stays liquid and tastes like beer. Me? I'd rather have my beer cold, but hey, that's some genius creation putting beer in a pretzel!

My favorites were these three:

3. The Deep Fried Frozen Margarita! You need to show proof of age to legally eat this treat! Margarita ingredients are fried in a funnel cake, spritz with lime and served in a salt rimmed margarita glass!

2. The Fried Chocolate! A mini candy bar is stuffed in a brownie, dipped in chocolate cake batter, then deep fried and served with powdered sugar, cherry sauce, and chocolate whipped cream.

1. My favorite and winner of the Tastiest Award: The Texas Fried Frito Pie!


XL has an outstanding recipe for making Frito Pie. Learn it! Make it! Love it!

The inspired creators of the Texas Fried Frito Pie took a great dish and transformed it into ambrosia! Food fit for the gods! All the exciting flavors of the Frito pie in a crunchy, deep fried shell! Heaven! Just an amazing taste! That food definitely deserved the top prize.

Sure they had other fun stuff to do at the Texas State Fair, like the shows and exhibitions, seeing all those performers doing fantastic tricks and watching those animals. And yes, they had rides and other carnival/fair games. But me, I stuck to the food map and hunted down those delicious, tasty treats that can only be found during the fair and when the carnival comes to town.

After a weekend of stuffing myself with those morsels, I spent the next weekend just laying on the beach, enjoying the sun for a little while longer before it gets cold. You could say I was recovering from the previous weekend's glutton fest. But I didn't spend all weekend just lazying about the beach.

I actually took time to do some volunteer work for Breast Cancer Awareness. I even got a pink T shirt from the event. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I've posted about this before, and I think that every month, if not every day, should be about Breast Cancer Awareness. So ladies (and gentlemen), take care of those breasts and do your monthly breast self exams, or have a friend help out

On a side note, I'm sure I've mentioned before that when I was younger, I wanted to be a background dancer for Janet Jackson. She had awesome music videos and dance moves back then. Then this cover pic came out and I thought, forget background dancer, I wanna be the guy who holds her boobs for foto shoots! Where do I apply for that job?

Anyway, there's only one big festive event left for October, and it's a big one, one of my faves: Halloween!!!

When I was a child, I loved Halloween, and mostly for the candy! Who doesn't like getting free candy just by dressing up and knocking on someone's door and saying, "Trick or Treat!" And I still like eating the candy! Every weekend this month, I'd buy two bags of candy, only to start eating them before the week is out. Now I've bought four bags and kept them out of sight, so I won't be tempted to eat through them like I did the last four bags of candy.

Nowadays, I look forward to dressing up on Halloween more than eating the candy. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still like eating the candy. But now I have a blast coming up with Halloween costumes. I have a blast making up my own costumes and being inspired by whatever is going on in the world. This year, I had a few choice ones to decide on.

Some friends wanted to go as a group and be vampires. I was excited! Until I found out that they wanted to go as those Twilight vampires, complete with the bushy eyebrows, the hair gel, and possibly glitter, angst, and douche bagginess. No thank you, I'd've much rather gone as a True Blood Vampire, dressed up just like this

It's a great look! Scary, sexy and it promotes Breast Cancer Awareness, by reminding people to do their monthly breast self exams, or get a helping hand (or two) from a friend (or two).

Since my friends still wanted to go dressed up as Twilight vampires, I decided to look for other options. I thought about getting a blond wig, putting on my jean jacket and dressing up as Canada's latest atrocity singing sensation, Justin Bieber!

I even had the dance moves and the lip syncing down.

But then I was watching the news and I had an epiphany! The perfect costume! This year I'm going as a Chilean miner, one of the 33 successfully rescued. I'm going as the one who has the wife and the mistress!

I've got a helmet, and I'm attaching a light on it. I've even got old raggedly clothes and old boots to wear with it. All I need now is the make up to make my face look dirty, like the mine caved in. I even have two friends lined up to dress as the wife and the mistress. It's going to be another fun Halloween.

I suppose fall is still a fun time of year. Truth be told, I still much prefer summer because I get to spend time hiking or being at the beach. But there's a magic and fun that makes the fall festivities a wonderful time. I like it, and I hope you get a chance to enjoy the fall festivities, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Discovery and Change

It's Columbus Day today in America. It's the day dedicated to remembering Christopher Columbus landing in the New World on 12 Oct 1492, in the Bahamas. Coincidentally, it's also Thanksgiving Day for Canadians, so Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians! Enjoy your sweet pickled beaver and roasted moose!

When I was younger, Columbus Day was a federal holiday--still is; except back then, there was no school and banks were closed. Now, it's up to individual states how to celebrate the day of discovery. I liked being off from school, because it meant an extended weekend holiday and there were only four days of school left in the week. I never gave much thought to Columbus Day, other than wonder what life was like aboard the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria--and wouldn't it have been better if the Santa Maria was named something that rhymed with the first two, like the Quinta or the Hasta La Vista?

As I grew older, I was surprised to discover that some people actually protest against Columbus Day. I thought to myself, Good gawd! Who doesn't want a day off? Seriously? I was curious and started to do some research. Suffice it to say it was an eye opening experience. While everyone agrees that Columbus' discovery was a momentous event that changed the world, it's the impact of that change that's being challenged and debated.

I was in high school, in my late teens, and until I started researching, it never occurred to me that Columbus' discovery marked the beginning of some of the darkest chapters in human history. I never thought about how Columbus and the Europeans would see the New World as a resource, including the people, whom they considered inferior. I never thought about how the indigenous people of the Americas were subjected to slavery, slaughtered if they resisted European conquests, and were wiped out from the diseases and the destruction the Europeans brought with them. They don't tell you about this stuff in classes when you're making drawings of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

And they certainly don't tell you about how these native peoples were forced to labor in dangerous mines for gold and silver to fuel European conquests and religious wars. Not to mention how this was beginning of the global slavery of an entire race of people from another continent, kidnapped and forced to work in dangerous, difficult conditions.

The truth is, Christopher Columbus was a horrible man. He enslaved the natives, sold their children into sexual slavery, and butchered them for resisting. And these were the honest, kind natives who helped salvaged the Santa Maria when it was shipwrecked. Within 50 years, these native people were extinct, exterminated by Columbus with the blessings of royalty and the compliance of the Church. It was genocide. And when there were no more natives to enslave, an entire new race of people were kidnapped and forced from the African continent. And the slave trading of the African peoples would flourish for the next four hundred years, their dehumanization would last well into this millineum.

It was the beginning of the end for the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The Europeans not only brought soldiers to subjugate the natives, they also brought their priests to wipe out the natives beliefs and ideology. For the next five hundred years, the accomplishments of the indigenous peoples, their history, and their very way of life would be exterminated and erased systematically by the immigrant Europeans bent on conquest.

It's kind of ironic how the American Thanksgiving was basically a day created by those Pilgrims to share with the American Indians their harvest, to thank the Indians for helping them survive in the harsh new world. The Native Americans taught these immigrants how to farm, and fish, and hunt in the new environment. Perhaps if the American Indians had foreseen the destruction those Pilgrims and their descendants would bring, they would've left those Europeans to starve and die. But they did not know that their kindness and mercy upon these foreigners would lead to the destruction of the Native American peoples and their way of life.

I suppose it's easier to look back in hindsight and see the mistakes that were made and the failures of the past. The truth is, those people did what they thought was right, what they thought was the norm for their time. We're doing the same. But times change, thankfully. We live and learn for the most part. And I'd like to think we've made some strides since those dark days. We've abolished slavery and women have been granted the right to vote. The history books are being rewritten as the achievements and legacy of the indigenous people are now being recognized and given their due. The surviving natives have embraced their culture and stand with pride. In some parts of the Americas, including the US, Columbus Day has been renamed and celebrated as a day dedicated to the native Americans. In other places, it's dedicated to the multicultural heritage of the Americas.

Everyone agrees that Columbus making contact with the New World was a global event that changed not only the course of human history and development, but has changed the world as we know it. Species crossed into new environments; landscapes were razed and reconstructed in the race to obtain resources; groups of people and animals and plants were wiped out from new diseases and war and the changing geopolitical and natural environment.

We still have some ways to go to improve the lives of not just the native peoples, but the people of the Americas as a whole. But out of the clash of the Old World and the New World, a new people was born out of the mixture of cultures and ideas. We've forged an identity of our own. And though we may speak many different languages and have many different ideas, one thing still remains, these lands are our home, and we all share a responsibility not only to care for these lands, but for all the peoples who live upon it.

I'm not sure how we should celebrate Columbus Day. I'd still rather have the day off. I support celebrating it as a day to remember the indigenous people of the Americas. But I also think that Columbus' achievement should also be remembered. After all, this was an event that changed the course of human history. And maybe that's what Columbus Day should be about. It should be about change. Whether or not that change is positive is up to the people who live in these times. After all, change only happens when people take action. And I'd like to think that Columbus Day is a day to remind us to take action and to do our part to learn from mistakes of the past; to do the right thing; and make the world a much better place for all of us: the immigrants, the natives, and all those who've come to call this place home.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

C U Next Tuesday

I was checking out blogs this morning when I came across MJ's blog. There, I learned some terribly sad news. It seems that one of our fellow, beloved bloggers has passed on. I was shocked and stunned at the news. I turned off the computer for a few hours, trying to take in this information. And when I logged back on, I was hoping it was a dream; but it wasn't; the sad realization finally set in. Piggy of Tazzy and Piggy, has passed on.

The first time I became aware of Piggy was on SNICKS blog. It was many years ago, and SNICKS was the first blog I actually read. I was looking for Fleetwood Mac songs to download from the internet, and during one of those searches, I stumbled on SNICKS blog--named after music legend and Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks. SNICKS no longer has a blog, as he's now a contributor to the AFTER ELTON pop culture website.

From SNICKS blog, I clicked on a link to Maidink, who no longer maintains a blog as well. But such is life. All things have a beginning and an end. And it was on Maidink's blog that I really started to notice Piggy. Every now and then, some rude, hilarious poster named Piggy would post something insulting but funny. And from Maidink, I made my way over to MJ and IDV and CP. And it was mostly at MJ's and IDV's that I saw a lot of Piggy and sometimes Tazzy.

What I remember most about Piggy was his welcoming spirit. He treated everyone with the same rudeness and fondness and mischievous spirit. I loved his posts about his travels (and the rude and hilarious pics that often accompanied them). I followed his adventures to the Smunts, SID, Connie and Tatas, and to IDV. I also loved his appreciation and enthusiasm for rollercoasters and theme parks. I, too, love rollercoasters and theme parks, and I can totally relate to the sense of joy and fun and excitement he felt every time he rode a rollercoaster and visited a theme park.

But what I remember most about Piggy was that underneath the rude, complaining, diva behavior, there lay a big heart, full of love and passion. Every now and then, he'd post something truly heartfelt and personal on his blog (and the many incarnations of his blogs). I remember being moved by his story about how music saved his life. He was depressed, and he hadn't come out yet, struggling with his identity, feeling stuck between what society had expected of him and who he truly was. I was moved by his story about how music kept him going, and how finding Tazzy gave him a new lease on life, gave him a reason to keep on living and enjoying every day.

And I remember being so proud of him for taking part in a protest for civil rights for gays and lesbians. He complained about the rain, about the lack of support from fellow gay men who rather cruised the bars and parks instead of standing up for their rights, to be treated as equal people under the law. And as much as he made fun of lesbians, he acknowledged that it was these women who stood with him in the rain, trying to make the world more just, a better place for them and everyone else. He had a passion for doing the right thing, even when on the surface he acted selfish and ungrateful. And for all the blustering, the whining, and the rudeness he projected, he could not hide his generous spirit, his passion for equality, and his love for his family and friends.

Piggy used to be fond of saying CUNT on the blogs he visited. It was like his signature style to call people cunts, especially people he was close to and called his friends. It won't be the same, not seeing him call anyone a cunt on the blogosphere anymore. It was a term of endearment from him. RuPaul has another use for the word cunt. On his show, Drag Race, RuPaul uses the term CUNT to emphasis the qualities that make a truly great, fabulous drag queen. A true star is someone with Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. And Piggy was one of the brightest stars in the blogosphere night sky.

A few days ago last week, I visited Piggy's blog, and I learned that he was in the hospital for pneumonia. I tried to leave a message for him to "Get Well Soon," but the message wouldn't go through. I figured I'd try again later. Now it seems that I'm too late, and I'm really sorry that I didn't find the time to let him know that I was thinking about him and wishing him well.

I remember the last entry that Piggy wrote that really moved me. It was about his journey home, to Scotland, to see his ailing father. He was on a train, his heart heavy and his mind full of conflict. He looked out a window and saw a small bird flying in the air. Suddenly, a large bird of prey swooped down and took out that small bird. He was shocked to see it happen. But then an elderly man sitting next to him made a comment. "Such is life," and suddenly it all made sense. He was able to spend some time with his father and was there to keep him company until his father passed on.

Such is life. We live, we die. And in between living and dying, we do the best we can with the time we are given. I enjoyed having Piggy visit my blog from time to time. And I enjoyed visiting his and watching him have fun on MJ's blog.

Piggy, you will be missed. You were one of a kind, and in the brief moments you were here on earth, you touched so many lives and made a lot of us smile. You've done your part to make this world a much better place. Tazzy, I wish you so much strength, and peace, and love at this time. To Piggy's family and friends, I wish you serenity and much love. And to Piggy, thank you for making me smile, for making me laugh, and for showing me that there really are some good people still left in this world. And so long as we keep doing our best, making each other laugh, and looking out for each other, we can make the world just a bit more wonderful, a little bit brighter, and a bit more beautiful each and every day.