Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Brought him home.

Pete Seeger's dead.

He lived a great life, dying at the ripe age of 94. He committed the greatest "sin" an American ever could - being a Communist during the Cold War - and nevertheless founded folk rock and dedicated it to the antiwar movement. He was a strongly ethical person, dedicated to democracy in its most practical sense - every concert he played was one big singalong, and he fought inequality everywhere he saw it - and he finally got the recognition he deserved.

Chadron's got a relatively huge folk scene, given the population, and pretty much nothing that gets played in that would have been possible without Pete Seeger's life and work. With Pete Seeger, there's no Bob Dylan; no Kingston Trio; no Peter, Paul and Mary.

So today, I'll be listening to this song:

And this song:

And this song:

And especially this song that I was singing with some grandmothers as we marched to Student Center last week:

Rest in peace, Pete Seeger.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Real progress on homelessness, from the last damn people you'd expect.

I've tried not to be too political on this blog. Couldn't really avoid it with the government shutdown, but all my previous blogs were mainly political, and I wanted to break away from that. But this issue is near and dear to my heart; I've seen homelessness up close and personal. Some of the closest people to me were homeless once, and the general hatred and indifference of society to their plight fills me with sadness and rage all at once, so I decided to post about it.


Utah is the reddest state in the nation. Redder than Texas. Redder even than Nebraska or Oklahoma. It is more Republican than a white guy in a Duck Dynasty shirt taking off his gun holster to have sex with his wife on a bed made of money. Utah is so Republican that Mexicans not only don't want to immigrate there, but insisted we take it with us along with Texas and California. Utah is more Republican than saying hi to a cop on your way to a stockholders' meeting. Utah is more Republican than Sarah Palin saying anything.

Point is, you would not expect Utah to be the first state to solve homelessness. And yet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day 'n' such.

I took part in the MLK march this year.

It's an annual thing that happens every year on MLK Day. A bunch of students and professors gather at Common Cents and then march down Main Street. The po-po show blocks off the street and escorts the marchers. Some dude with a truck blasts an MLK speech out of hugeass speakers at the head of the march, and people are given signs with quotes from the civil rights movement to hold.

I've never partaken before this year, and this year I showed up because one of my professors asked. I'm certainly not against the idea; it just seems, well, strictly educational. People take part in it to learn a tiny bit of what it would've been like back then, to assert their liberal bona-fides. And that's fine, as far as that goes - with all the oppressive anti-civil-rights shit that's transpired lately, we can't educate people about the importance of civil rights enough - but it's not an actual protest, y'know?

I was tempted to show up with a sign that read "VOTER ID = JIM CROW" but I'm glad I didn't - as soon as I showed up, my impressions
were confirmed. This isn't an actual protest, it's street theater. But even as street theater, it was all right.

First off, it's an event where you get a whole bunch of people of every race and background marching in support of civil rights in a very red area. That's better than nothing. As we marched, people got out of their houses to watch us, and there were photographers on hand.

Which brings me to the next thing - one of the dudes ahead of me was holding a sign made of wood. It was a pretty big sign. It was therefore pretty heavy, and in the ridiculous wind we had today, it was unwieldy too. I offered to help him hold it after one of his friends helped for a bit and then gave up. And together, we marched it from about Sixth Street to the Student Center. The pic is of us holding it against a strong wind.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A picture I saw on /b/...

At first blush, it's pretty disrespectful; making duckface at the Vietnam Memorial?

But look at it a bit longer, and it kinda sums up the differences between the generation before mine and the generation after it. Some of those names on that wall weren't much older than her. They were compelled by their government to fight and die half the world away. She's... well, not.

Which means, in a sense, that the world has become a better place, I think. An inevitable aspect of better circumstances is a lack of understanding of the worse circumstances that preceded it. This is why the older generation is always like "Well in my day, we didn't have X, Y and Z..." and the younger generation blows them off. The young don't understand (unless they're in a job like mine, or at least paid attention in history class) and the old are frustrated that their sacrifices have created spoiled brats that can't relate to them. It's mutual incomprehensibility... a generation gap.

It's always been thus, and always shall it ever be. The girl in the photo will probably grow up and have children, and they'll have children, and maybe one day her grandkids will do whatever childish fad is popular at the feet of the Afghan War Memorial, a war where she remembers some of her friends' friends died, and she'll be on the other side. But I can't hate her; what she does is probably out of blithe ignorance, not malice or unconcern.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cooking With Stu: Capellini Marinara

This is better known to most Americans as simply "spaghetti," even though I prefer capellini (angel hair) to spaghetti noodles for this dish.



From back to front, left to right: capellini/angel hair, red wine, olive oil, the cheapest tomato sauce (NOT ketchup, for any Aussies in the audience) you can find, minced garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, chili garlic Cholula, basil, red pepper flakes, mint and tarragon.

Cholula's usually used in Mexican stuff, but the garlic version adds flavor as well as heat. Mint and tarragon are oddball choices for marinara, too; they're usually used in Greek cooking but they add this sorta fresh flavor to whatever they're put in, and it balances well with the rest of the spices.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

While I'm on a Civ kick...

This is the coolest thing I've seen all day.

Stu Plays Civ: 1312 AD - 1776 AD

(This is the final post in a series of posts about a Civ IV file wherein I tried to recreate the British Empire. The previous posts can be viewed here, here, here and here.

The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain, Part V

From the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of the British Empire (1534-1603 AD)

The British Empire had been at peace for over two hundred years when we were placed upon the throne. They were quiet years, spent developing the economies of the colonies, pacifying India, and slowly absorbing Australia through diplomacy. The Chinese colony of Tianjin in Australia was sold to the House of Lancaster for money to use against the Mongolians. The Spanish gave the realm Colonia Australia del Sur upon the marriage of our predecessor Mary and Philip I of Spain. The only remaining foreign colonies in Australia were the Arabian and Malian colonies, which we continue to offer to purchase from the current owners.

However, this peace masked tensions. The liberal democratic order, though invented by the British, was perfected abroad. As of late, the groanings of the British people grew louder and louder. The Liberal-aligned House of York and the Conservative-aligned House of Lancaster kept fighting it out for control of Parliament and therefore the succession. The Yorkists appealed to the people, promising to reform the peerages, weaken the House of Lords and abolish the property qualification for voting that our ancestors had used to restrict the franchise to the rich. The Lancastrians appealed to the gentry and the rich, often resorting to tricks like rotten boroughs. Their Parliaments were Parliaments of money, and they maintained the stagnant social order. It could have been worse, though - for all their politicking, it's not like the Yorks and Lancasters ever did battle, after all.

The final victors of that long period of electoral struggle were our ancestors, the Tudors - a minor faction of the Lancasters settled on as compromise candidates. The first Tudors extended the franchise to the middle classes, the burghers that were now scattered and prosperous throughout the Empire. However, that act led to widespread and enduring support of those same burghers for the Tories, which the Tudors were associated with.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dark Christ Apocalypsos, lol.

Looking through a friend's Facebook tonight, I saw this pic. Hooooooly crap!

Yes, that's me, albeit over a decade ago. I was still a teenager! And also the lead vocalist in Dark Christ Apocalypsos. The dude to the left of me in the pic, with the cross, is Tribble, the lead guitarist. The big dudes in the back were both drummers at different times... the guy on the left is Chris, our first drummer; the guy on the right with the spiky hair is Jeremy, our last drummer. The curly-haired dude to my right is David, Jeremy's brother and our sound guy. The chick in the pic is Leanna, who attended a practice or two and almost filled in for Amber as our pianist for a show, except Amber made it at the last minute.

If Amber was in this pic, that'd be the whole group! Damn.

Da svidaniya.

I was complaining about the snow on my car when I left the Old Main this past Saturday, calling it "snowy bullshit" and my friend Vera took the liberty of writing it on my windshield.

She stayed with us for about a week. We met because my friend Nate dated her on and off for about a year, but she ended up being one of my closest friends. We both seem to have similar personalities.

Cooking With Stu: Walnut Cheese Pasta

I've decided to start another post series, this one about various recipes I cook. Before I went back to school, I used to be a professional chef. I've been told from several people that I'm rather good at it, and that I should post up some recipes. I've done this for several years on various forums I've gone to as the occasion arose, but now I'm gonna just post them all here... together with pictures I take as I cook them.

So, walnut cheese pasta. It's one of the better pastas I make. I found the recipe in an old Italian cookbook from the 60s or 70s, and tried it out when I was living in Portland. It was pretty awesome, so I'd make it regularly for myself and my roomies. And then one day, when I was working at a college cafeteria, we didn't have the ingredients for the pasta on the menu, so they asked me to whip up something. We had the stuff for this (minus the fontina cheese) so I made it, and then had to make something else after it was cleared out within an hour. And now I'm giving the recipe to you.


From left to right, top to bottom: Farfalle pasta (the bowtie-looking things), walnuts (chopped, but not too fine... if you buy them whole, then chop them yourself), black pepper (ground is fine, but whole peppercorns are better if you can crack/grind them yourself), milk, grated Parmesan cheese (or similar cheeses; grated Asiago and/or Romano are fine too), fontina cheese, and an 8 oz. block of cream cheese. They're not pictured, but you'll also want some lemon juice and olive oil. (Get extra-virgin olive oil that's first cold pressed, otherwise you're throwing your money away.) If you can't find fontina cheese in your area, havarti is a good substitute, so is gouda or, worse comes to worse, mozzarella. But do try to find the fontina first: it's got subtle flavor notes that you'll want in this dish.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

On guitars, progressions, rock, and worship music.

My friend Vera is hanging out at my place right now and we're playing guitar together.

I've been playing guitar since I was... I wanna say 16? So about 13 years now, and now I feel old. But she just got her guitar this year. She's learned a lot more in this year than I did my first year; I wasted most of my first year or so trying to emulate power metal songs without learning chords or anything but she can play songs already. Granted, they're cheesy three-chord praise and worship songs, but that's still pretty awesome. (For the record, the first songs I learned were also in that genre... and the same goes for a surprising number of musicians. Churches have started musical careers since time immemorial.)

Anyway, I'm giving her some advice because I can. Specifically, I'm teaching her about how progressions work. She started playing this worship song:

I recognize it because I've played it countless times about a decade ago when I was in worship bands. Anyway, apparently my knowledge of music theory's come to a point where I noticed the chord progression and pointed it out to her. I started playing the song above in A instead of D, and then I, without changing the chords, started singing this song:

They have the same progression. The tempo you play changes a bit, but the underlying infrastructure of both songs is the same.