So They Don’t Kill Me

“The bulls are my best friends.”
I translated to Brett.
“You kill your friends?” she asked.
“Always,” he said in English, and laughed. “So they don’t kill me.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

The Running of the Bulls,
New Orleans

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The Terrain of the Bull

“In bull-fighting they speak of the terrain of the bull and the terrain of the bull-fighter. As long as a bull-fighter stays in his own terrain he is comparatively safe. Each time he enters into the terrain of the bull he is in great danger. Belmonte, in his best days, worked always in the terrain of the bull. This way he gave the sensation of coming tragedy.”
—- The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Running of the Bulls, New Orleans

From The Running of the Bulls

The Running Of the Bulls

“The stretch of ground from the edge of the town to the bull-ring was muddy. There was a crowd all along the fence that led to the ring, and the outside balconies and the top of the bull-ring were solid with people. I heard the rocket and I knew I could not get into the ring in time to see the bulls come in, so I shoved through the crowd to the fence. I was pushed close against the planks of the fence. Between the two fences of the runway the police were clearing the crowd along. They walked or trotted on into the bull-ring. Then people commenced to come running. A drunk slipped and fell. Two policemen grabbed him and rushed him over to the fence. The crowd were running fast now. There was a great shout from the crowd, and putting my head through between the boards I saw the bulls just coming out of the street into the long running pen. They were going fast and gaining on the crowd. Just then another drunk started out from the fence with a blouse in his hands. He wanted to do capework with the bulls. The two policemen tore out, collared him, one hit him with a club, and they dragged him against the fence and stood flattened out against the fence as the last of the crowd and the bulls went by. There were so many people running ahead of the bulls that the mass thickened and slowed up going through the gate into the ring, and as the bulls passed, galloping together, heavy, muddy-sided, horns swinging, one shot ahead, caught a man in the running crowd in the back and lifted him in the air. Both the man’s arms were by his sides, his head went back as the horn went in, and the bull lifted him and then dropped him. The bull picked another man running in front, but the man disappeared into the crowd, and the crowd was through the gate and into the ring with the bulls behind them. The red door of the ring went shut, the crowd on the outside balconies of the bull-ring were pressing through to the inside, there was a shout, then another shout.

The man who had been gored lay face down in the trampled mud. People climbed over the fence, and I could not see the man because the crowd was so thick around him. From inside the ring came the shouts. Each shout meant a charge by some bull into the crowd. You could tell by the degree of intensity in the shout how bad a thing it was that was happening. Then the rocket went up that meant the steers had gotten the bulls out of the ring and into the corrals. I left the fence and started back toward the town.”
—-Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Running Of the Bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

Ever since reading The Sun Also Rises and The Drifters as a kid I have wanted to go to Pamplona and see the running of the bulls. Will probably never get to do that – I don’t feel the urge as much as I used to.

On my last trip to New Orleans, I was able to do the second best thing. For over a decade they have had a running of the bulls in the Big Easy. Instead of real bulls – the participants run from a horn wearing women’s roller derby team which chases and smacks the participants with plastic baseball bats.

A bit of fun and a great opportunity for photos.

A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 10 – How To Talk To Girls At Parties

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day ten – How To Talk To Girls At Parties, by Neil Gaiman

Read it online here:

How To Talk To Girls At Parties

It’s a rare pleasure when you start out reading something and you think you know what it is going to be about – about a third of the way you are still sure and then, all of a sudden, you realize you are lost on a dark road and on the way somewhere unexpected… somewhere interesting and wonderful.

Reading something by Neil Gaiman… well, I should have known better. The title, the opening gambit… a young teenager trying to find his way in the world of women, intimidated by a good-looking, silver-tongued friend who has a way with the ladies. We’ve all read this before… we’ve all lived this before.

Then, all of a sudden….

Read it and find out.

You know when you are sixteen and confused and ignorant and you say to yourself, “I don’t understand any of this. Jeez! These girls all act like they are from another planet.”

Well, be careful….

She looked at me with her green eyes, and it was as if she stared out at me from her own Antigone half-mask; but as if her pale green eyes were just a different, deeper, part of the mask. “You cannot hear a poem without it changing you,” she told me. “They heard it, and it colonized them. It inherited them and it inhabited them, its rhythms becoming part of the way that they thought; its images permanently transmuting their metaphors; its verses, its outlook, its aspirations becoming their lives. Within a generation their children would be born already knowing the poem, and, sooner rather than later, as these things go, there were no more children born. There was no need for them, not any longer. There was only a poem, which took flesh and walked and spread itself across the vastness of the known.”

I edged closer to her, so I could feel my leg pressing against hers.

She seemed to welcome it: she put her hand on my arm, affectionately, and I felt a smile spreading across my face.

“There are places that we are welcomed,” said Triolet, “and places where we are regarded as a noxious weed, or as a disease, something immediately to be quarantined and eliminated. But where does contagion end and art begin?”

Construction Project at the Bayou Boogaloo

While in New Orleans for Lee’s Tulane Graduation I rode my bicycle to Bayou St. John for the Bayou Boogaloo. There is always a festival going on in The Big Easy and they are always fun. This was a particularly good one.

I bought a beer and found a shady spot on the shore of the Bayou. I sat there chatting with the locals about cycling, music, and aging hippies. We watched the watercraft plying the waves. It was a beautiful day.

A small group of people arrived on the far shore (not very far away) towing something on a trailer. They proceeded to extract a large, homemade barge consisting of a wooden platform with plastic barrels strapped underneath for floatation. We wondered how they were going to launch the ungainly contraption.

The guy had it going on. He directed his motley crew with efficiency and before you could swallow your gumbo they flipped it neatly into the water – using ropes to control the weight.

Then the guy proceeded to start hauling out prefabricated railings, benches, and an umbrella – screwing everything into place with a portable drill. It was an efficient and impressive display of carpentry. He soon had his own portable floating party barge, right in the middle of the bayou.

“Get that guy’s name,” one of the folks sitting next to me said between gulps of Abita Amber and bites of muffuletta. “I need a new deck and that’s the best carpenter I’ve seen in New Orleans.”

As I watched he extracted a full-blown steel anchor and dropped it into the mud at the bottom of the bayou.

The barge arrives and is flipped

The barge arrives and is flipped

over into the Bayou St. John.

over into the Bayou St. John.

Pretty bare bones at this point - but it floats.

Pretty bare bones at this point – but it floats.

Adding benches and railings.

Adding benches and railings.

Dropping Anchor.

Dropping Anchor.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Super Bowl Sliders

The Super Bowl has become one of the biggest holidays of the year in the states. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t an official government edict, that it has no religious status – not even some ancient pagan ancestor, or that it is usually a pretty crappy football game that only people in the two cities involved really cares about. It is a reason to go to someone’s house, gather ’round the big screen, and eat yourself into oblivion.

This year we were invited over and told to bring sliders of our own design. At first, I was not too excited. I am not a football fan (college basketball is my sport of choice – I went to Kansas and my son goes to Duke) and I didn’t relish a wasted day of boring sports and overindulgence. I started to think about things and try to make the best of it. There was some serious cooking skills at this place (professional caterers, graduates of chef school, people from Louisiana) and I decided to go for it and make an effort at putting together some original sliders.

If you don’t know, sliders are small hamburgers, originally from the White Castle chain. They have gone beyond those simple (but good) tiny versions of the All American Burger. Recently, I have been to a couple of food trucks – Easy Slider and The Butcher’s Son for example – that raised the bar on the creativity of sliderdom.

So I sat down with a sheet of notebook paper and worked out three different versions of sliders – two fairly pedestrian ones and one that was a bit more exotic.

First, BLT sliders. Simple – bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a roll with a little mayo. Easy and foolproof.

Then, for a second slider, I went for a Blu Cheese slider. Sliced sausage with blu cheese coleslaw and blu cheese crumbles on top.

Finally, with a little trepidation I designed a Korean slider. Pork Bar-b-que with caramelized kimchi. Soy sauce and Sriacha on the bun for a spicy kick. I still had a bunch of kimchi left over from my trip to Super H Mart. I ground some up in a food processor and sauteed it with some brown sugar (caramelized kimchi).

So I made a trip to the store and then set up an assembly line on the kitchen counter. The nice thing about sliders is that you can make a boatload of ’em without too many raw materials. There isn’t much in each little thing.

So we headed over and I lugged my trays of sliders into the house. The BLT and Blu Cheese were fine cold, but I heated the Korean sliders up in the oven. The first two disappeared immediately. I didn’t even get to try any myself, they were gone as soon as I set them out. The Korean sliders weren’t such a big hit. They were too spicy for most folks’ taste – but the more adventuresome eaters seemed to like them. I thought they were good – but I’m used to kimchi and spicy stuff.

I guess I had a good time, though we stayed too long and I ate way too much. I remember looking at a plate where I had stuck a few jalepeno peppers wrapped in bacon and thought, “I should not eat these. I’m already full and if I do it will make me sick.” I did and they did.

There was some point in the game where I think the announcer said, “And on that play Brady had no choice except to eat the football.” I know how he felt. I felt like I had eaten a football.

It even killed the next day. I walked around in a haze, dehydrated and worn out from the effort of digesting all that food.

So I swear I will never do that again. I’ll have to read this again to remind myself before next year’s Superbowl.

BLT Slider

Blu Cheese slider

Korean slider - bar-b-que, kimchi, and sriacha

Slider assembly line

One nice thing about sliders - they are easy to transport

 Thunder Burger

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Sliders

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The Best Sliders

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