Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Therapy, Lesson 1

Figure out how to answer call on new cell phone.
Answer call from Home Depot Guy.

HDGuy: I'll be over at 8

Jim: What if I already have plans?

HDGuy: Its Friday, you just had a 3-hour Immunobiology final. My guess is afterwards you stopped by Central Market where you picked up a bottle of wine, assorted cheese and fruits, then you sped like crazy to get home to look at the Blockbuster DVD's you havent watched this week since you were studying compulsively.

Jim: I hate that you know me so well after 5 months, LOL.

HDGuy: So I'll see you at 8.

Jim: Make it 11

HDGuy: 10

Jim: 10:30

HDGuy: Deal. I'm bringing a Cabernet.

Jim: What if I don't want a Cabernet?

HDGuy: I'm bringing a Cabernet. You will drink the Cabernet and you will like it!

Jim: LOL, you're being kind of a bully today.

HDGuy: Its the only way to get on your radar since you don't process subtlty.

Jim: OK, there is that, LOL.

HDGuy: I've also noticed the task list in your Palm Pilot and how you will plow through those items with machine-like efficiency first and then, maybe, you will surface to initiate some sort of social interaction.

Jim: Clever boy, LOL

HDGuy: So, the only way to get a bump in priority with you is to arm-wrestle, LOL

Jim: LOL

HDGuy: So, see you at 1030, I'm bringing a Bollywood movie too. And before you object, you will watch the Bollywood movie and you will like it!

Jim: I'm hanging up now, LOL.

Andaz Apna Apna

LOL, this film is like Indian Vaudeville. The story is goofy, the acting is goofier but the music is interesting, if you like Indian music. I laughed alot during the film but I'm not sure if that was the goofiness or the wine, maybe a little of both.

If you rent this, turn the viewing into a game of find the inconsistencies, there are many. We loved the hair violations; in one scene a character has a mullet-ish cut then later its clean and short, then mullet, then short. LOL. So much for editing!

Other than that the only bonus to this film was that I got to see Salman Khan in action for the first time. Khan is India's resident bad boy. He is forever getting himself arrested and jailed for something; his rap sheet must be a mile long. But, he also has heart too, for every arrest you will also find him giving up his own time and money for some charity or specific cause that has crossed his path. Take the good with the bad, I suppose.

As you can see from above, Khan only occassionally wears a shirt.

Kahn is HDGuy's idol, seriously. So, you know I'm starting to worry :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Stand Down Farrah

So, its finals week, y'all know the drill. I should be back sometime next week.

Just to keep you entertained and probably laughing your asses off, here is my high school picture. I'm still laughing, so should you. Powder blue tux with a black velvet bow tie, groovy. I'm surprised I didn't take off like a 747 with all those wings ... LOL

Uh-huh, you ain't got nothing on these wings, Farrah Faucet.

Yours truly, San Francisco, 1979

Uh-huh, bigger and blonder than you, Farrah Faucet

Me again, San Francisco, 1979

(And you thought my 80's DO was bad :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Friend Contract

Girlfriend X turned 46 today. She wears 46 much like Sharon Stone does, like an accessory; subtle, enhancing , never obvious nor distracting.

Jim: Happy Birthday!

GF-X: Objection, if you will recall in clause 23 of The Friend Contract, we do not acknowledge the B-Word after the age of 40.

Jim: Sustained, let me rephrase. I wish to express my feeling of joy that you have completed another successful year of enduring the planet.

GF-X: LOL, thank you.

You're thinking she uses the term Friend Contract as an occupational hazard, lawyer speak-laced satire?

Nope, we actually do have a written contract. When I left San Francisco in 1989, GF-X and I met at the Metro on Market St. for a couple good-bye drinks and Cashew Chicken. After 4 margaritas each we were headlong into silly and we decided that we would remain friends by never doing those little annoying things that chip away at a friendship. It was her idea to write each annoyance down on a cocktail napkin, then we would exchange. She made me sign my name to each cocktail napkin in the name of friendhship, she reciprocated. I still have her cocktail napkin contract somewhere in a ziploc bag in one of the many unpacked boxes from my California days.

Definitely one was "Never acknowledge, confirm or insinuate that I am over 40". I signed it therefore I am under margarita and chinese food contract to oblige.

The day after GF-X's divorce was final I received a Fed Ex package. The package contained two cocktail napkins and one hand written note. The note read "Please sign one copy of this amendment to our Friend Contract and return the signed version to me :)"

The cocktail napkin read "From this date forward you may not use my ex-husband's name when speaking in reference to said ex-husband. From this date forward he will be referred to simply as The Sperm Donor."

It was a particularly nasty breakup involving no warning and a 22-year old assistant, leaving her alone to explain the reality to a then single-digit son. Aside from a few very long, very hysterical phone calls while she sat gridlocked on the 405, she handled it with grace. She took the high road - fixing up a new condo, throwing herself into work and working out.

I called GF-X after receiving my amendment.

Jim: Congrats!

GF-X: Thanks, I feel the closure now, its beautiful! So, Jim, you know physics right?

Jim: Sure, I remember some, why?

GF-X: Tell me, about how long would it take for a piece of irreplaceable family china carried from generation to generation for hundreds of years to fall 10 stories before breaking into a million pieces on the hard, cold surface of Wilshire Blvd.?

Jim: Um, what exactly are you doing?

GF-X: Having a dry martini, LOL. Oh, you know this is very interesting -- the tea cup itself drops fast, straight down and breaks when it hits the grass, however, the tea cup saucer kind of floats and glides off to the side before meeting its demise, LOL.

Jim: Let me guess, these are the Sperm Donor's and he wants them back, right?

GF-X: Uh-huh, tomorrow morning. You know, the bowls are rather disappointing, they start off with a beautiful sprial downward, then they just flip end over end.

Jim: And what are you going to tell him?

GF-X: The movers dropped them, LOL.

Jim: Good plan, LOL. Do you really think this is healthy?

GF-X: Now Jim, you know we all grieve in different ways, LOL.

Well, you know what they say ...

Hell hath no fury like a Summa Cum Laude Stanford Law woman attorney scorned.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hard Candy

Last summer I took a course on the molecular biology of HIV, it was fascinating biology. I was all amped up on HIV research after that class, taking about every opportunity to learn more, still am.

A friend in Houston recommended that I watch a few episodes of Queer As Folk since he felt they dealt with the HIV issue in a unique manner that I would appreciate. I ignored him, the last thing I wanted to do was watch yet another gay-themed showed that perpetuated stereotypes. Then another friend recommended the same, and another and so on. I started renting the series in late 2005. Today I just finished the first episode of the 4th season.

I didn't care for season 2 and 3 but overall I recommend QAF. Let me say up front, its not for everyone. If you are offended by explicit sexuality, foul language and drug use, just walk on by.

My friend in Houston was right. And this is what I have enjoyed about QAF so far.

The show has attacked just about every issue: HIV, substance abuse, depression, loneliness, prostitution, mental illness, gay bashing, same sex marriage, same sex adoption, political corruption and so on. It's not so much the issues but how they present them. Its not with a gentle, gradual delivery nor with artistic, billowy poetry. Its a Japanese bullet train travelling at 300 mph, aimed tap dead center between your eyes.

Lets face it, without Sharon Gless, QAF would not have punch. I think she centers the show with her passionate, over-zealous, slightly neurotic, always interfering, proud to be the mother of a gay son character, Debbie.

Debbie, to me, is the personification of that little voice in our heads, that in most cases, never makes sounds in our throats.

Go ahead take your best shot but I think Peter Paige does a remarkable job at making his character, Emmett, the most believable of the lot. Country-boy gone city, Emmett stumbles through life big-hearted and very emotional, looking puppy-eyed at most situations. While his character could turn drama-queen on a dime he usually tried to find the silver lining.

Randy Harrison is youngest cast member and he's also had one of the most complex characters, Justin, an ever-evolving persona. Randy did a good job at evolving. I didn't like this character in the beginning, finding his actions a little unbelievable for the age he was playing. But over the last few seasons they have presented the character with life experience after life experience, letting the viewer see him overcome adversity and accelerate in maturity. He stands as the lone voice of reason. (I hear this changes in Season 4 but I'm not there yet)

While a lot of the show is fluff and eye-candy, they have addressed some very serious issues with an aggressive, in-your-face style and they've made no apologies for doing so -- gotta love 'em for that.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Chocolate Secrets

3926 Oak Lawn @ Avondale
Dallas, Texas 75219

For the last 20 years there has been a Persian Rug Shop at the corner of Oak Lawn and Avondale. There has been a going out of business sale sign on the shop for at least 13 of those years. It became the standing joke - look, they are still going out of business, just how long does that take? Well, self-fulfilling prophecy, they are now officially out of business. Don't worry, you can just substitute your Persian rug addiction for your chocolate addicition, since now this large space houses Chocolate Secrets, the de facto church of Our Lady Of The Holy Cocoa Bean. Let us pray.

I'm not big on sweets but my friend Galina has a marked love of dark chocolate. I tried a Pistachio truffle, which I have to admit, was wonderful; pistachio paste and milk chocolate, hand-dipped in the best dark chocolate I've ever tasted. As I looked up from my truffle I saw Galina making herself a little box of truffles to take back to work. Little is a relative word in this case.

Galina & Noeha @ Chocolate Secrets

Jim: Wow, so you really like chocolate.

She smiled, looked me dead in the eye and uttered one single heartfelt word in her cute, mysterious Russian accent.

Galina: Anti-depressants.

There you have it, and less expensive too.

April Find

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

2 t brown sugar
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1/2 t ground black pepper
4 6 oz salmon fillet
1/2 c greek yogurt
1 cucumber; peeled, seeded, chopped
1 T lemon juice, fresh
2 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 t salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Mix the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Rub evenly over both sides of the fillets and place them on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If you want a chunkier sauce, just stir the ingredients in a bowl. Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt but regular yogurt will work fine too.

3. Spoon 1/4-1/2C cucumber-yogurt sauce over spiced salmon and serve.

Servings: 4

A modified version from my Nutrition Action newsletter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Me & David, San Francisco 1987

It was the day after my birthday in 1987, I remember feeling many things because there were so many people missing from my birthday celebration that year. I'm not sure if that event supplied the motivation for me to do it. Maybe anger, depression, helplessness, or selfish self-absolution of survivor guilt. But I marched right down to the Shanti AIDS hospice and volunteered. That was my big response to the epidemic while living in San Francisco.

Afterwards I had a celebration cocktail at the Midnight Sun and felt better. I felt even better as my calves started to ache their usual ache ascending the Castro to Divisadero hill. I was feeling smug by the time I arrived at Geary St. At Pacific St. I was down right causy, stopping people I knew, asking them if they had volunteered, making them feel bad if they hadn't. If had owned a motorcycle and a set of nipple clamps, I would have rolled with Dykes On Bikes.

The next week I received communication from Shanti. I was to be screened. Screened? Why, I mean I filled out the forms and talked nice to the lady at the counter. Plus, I minored in Psych. I realized that Shanti embraced a more Eastern philosophy; no coddling, no enabling, you let the guests work through their own issues. But a screening too?

OK, I will be screened, whatever that might be. Screened, in this instance, turned out to be a euphemism for 8 hours of psychological testing. There were 100 people in my group. The leaders of the 'screening' told us up front only one or two of us would pass. At the end of the day two of us had passed. I was one, Girlfriend X was the other, this is how we met. What were the deciding factors in our selection? We were the only two the leaders felt could remain completely unemotional and objective in a crisis situation.

Girlfriend X and I did the Shanti thing for 6 months. In fact, that was the maximum allowable time you could do that Shanti thing. We both to this day consider it the largest learning lesson of our lives. And although we both catch hell about our ability to 'switch it off', we both realize we could have not survived that 6 months without that ability.

If you have that ability to 'switch it off' you might be able to watch this film to the end, otherwise I bet you will switch it off. The Sea Inside won in 15 categories, yes 15, at the Goya awards last year. Goya is Spain's equivalent to the Academy Awards. It deserves every single one.

Its a difficult film to watch, emotionally, but rewarding if you can make it to the end. Just get yourself a box of tissues beforehand because its going to drag your heart all over the place and chew it up like a pupppy with your favorite shoes. Your favorite new shoes. Your favorite new Kenneth Cole shoes that you've never worn but you bought for a big date tonight.

Ramón Sampedro(Javier Bardeem) is a quadriplegic who wants assisted suicide. Right, a very explosive and emotional situation to start. But the creators have dealt with this issue with such compassion and grace that you will feel your own staunch opinion ebb and flow with the story.

Ramón is confined to bed and incapable of any movement yet he reaches and causes profound changes for everyone who crosses his path. While he cannot fulfill his own dreams, he does so with everyone else, not by any action, but simply by allowing others to see themselves through his eyes.

I won't discuss any of the details because you should see this unbiased. But what I will say is that I liked that they did not dwell inappropriately on the ethical, moral, religious or legal facets of this issue. What comes beaming through is a story of love and loss; how they both are inextricably paired, and how one does not, cannot exist without the other.

What will break you down in the end - its a true story.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Spent the majority of the weekend working on a research paper - Rhabdoid Tumors, a particularly nasty form of cancer. Its fascinating stuff, but I won't go into the details here.

Because I don't have enough to do, I have also started my third (and last) facelift on the townhome. I'll capture shots later but this facelift will be necessary before I slap it on the market later this year.

Galina, Noeha and Noeha's new assistant, Rachel, stopped by for coffee and catching up in between paint layers.

HDGuy was in NYC this weekend and 4YA Guy is entrenched in Anatomy class.

Saw Good Night and Good Luck, whoa, what an amazingly written, acted and produced film; such attention to detail of the era and I think they captured the insanity of McCarthy-ism quite well. That Murrow was a true journalist, not like the fluffy puppets of late.

You know how my dad has a thing for Queen Latifah, right? So, he recommends Beauty Shop, which I saw last week and really liked. Feel good, persistence conquers all theme.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Israeli Brokeback

Yossi & Jagger

I liked this short (1 hr, 7 min) from Israel. Think Brokeback Mountain but instead of Montana, its the border between Israel and Lebanon. Its not cowboys, rather Israeli Army soldiers. Other than that, the stories are amazingly compatible.

What stuck in my head like a splinter was the song at the end. Its a clubbish song, which I normally don't care for but the singer's voice is amazing. The song in English is called Your Soul, in Hebrew its called Bo, its performed by Israel's gay pop icon, Ivri Lider (above). Don't bother trying to find his music through normal means, just go to and search for the CD named Ha-anashim ha-hadashim.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


My friend Sunflower's (not her real name) mom went into hospital, stroke, call the family, just horrible. Sunflower has been taking care of her mom, who lives with her, for a long time. Just to complicate matters, she is about buy a home and start law school. She amazes me in many ways but particularly now; she is obviously very sad but she still maintains a balanced attitude and forges forward with life.

HD Guy's older brother was diagnosed with the evil 'C'. Its a particularly nasty variety at an advanced stage. He has been spending a lot time flying back and forth to NYC to visit and support. I have to say HD Guy is handling everything very well. On top of the family crisis he is also finishing 2 tough courses, working full time, fixing up his condo for sale, interviewing and trying to still have a social life. I don't think I will be seeing a lot of HD Guy in the near term, considering.

Why is it that I, the lone life sciences major in a grad statistics class full of statistics PHD candidates, get the highest midterm grades? Just to make matters more odd, I skipped right over the two grad prerequisite statistics for this course. I'm happy about all that but I just find it curious.

4YA Guy was asking me a while back how much weight I lost on my F.I.T diet. So I told him I was down to 150. Then, jokingly, I added that at 150 he could almost bench press me. It was joke, he can obviously do more.

4YA Guy picked me like a barbell and carried me overhead around the living room.

'OK, I get it, you're strong, put me down.'

Up the stairs, down the stairs.

'Seriously, I get it!' LOL.

I've been a Netflix subscriber for 4 years. I loved them in the early years but in the last year they have been throttling me hard. For those that dont know what that means, it is 'special treatment' they give heavy renters like me. Basically, they delay your shipments by a few days then don't mark them as received for a few days. Net result is that they limit you despite their very clear advertisement of unlimited rental. They have been sued over this tactic and it was a PR nightmare for them. Another trick they have been pulling recently, on top of everything else, is to send cracked or unplayable DVD's. Again, this limits the number of movies you can watch in an advertised unlimited capacity.

I've been trying out Blockbuster's online rental service for the last week. No delays, no damaged discs. They have movies in circulation that Netflix doesn't. They give you two free in-store rentals on top of the mailouts. The price is the same as Netflix.

Yesterday I got my newest rounds of Netflix DVDs. All three were late and all three were cracked.

Goodbye Netflix, and good luck competing with Blockbuster! lol :)

I'm starting to really like this system of learning Spanish on the internet.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before but two fo the jobs I'm targeting would have me traveling to Latin America to manage clinical trials. I could either get Spanish on my transcript now or wait and take that hokey business Spanish. I decided on now.

Here's a link to the videos I watch every week. Destinos, its actually kinda fun. Destinos is a soap opera; a little dated (1992) but still well-done and the Spanish is very clear and slow (at least to start). There is also a book and CD's that come with the course, which you use both before and after each episode.

I've learned more from watching this show than I did in a more university setting. Sure, I might not be able to read and understand Tolstoy in Spanish but I can order drinks, count my change and ask for directions :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Objection, Overruled

My friend, girlfriend X, has raised objections to my 'parallel' dating and blogging about both. Girlfriend X is an attorney, a divorced 40-something woman and very opinionated. I love her for her in-your-face, matter-of-factness. Keep that in mind as you read. A snippet of our conversation this afternoon.

GF-X: I think dating two people at the same time is a mistake.

Jim: Counselor, I think it is entirely plausible to get to know two people in tandem.

GF-X: Plausible, yes, but not wise. You are creating a competitive environment; they will both feel pressure which will not allow the relationship to evolve naturally.

Jim: Objection, conjecture, you might feel that way but I think its unfair of you to project your feelings onto two people you don't know. Not everyone thinks like you.

GF-X: Fair, but wouldn't it make more sense resource-wise to just date one person at a time.

Jim: Yes, if resources were in question here, you would have a point, but alas they are not in question.

Let me also add that I think you are missing a few facts in the case.

Exhibit A - I'm 95% confident that I will leave Dallas in January. 4YA guy is also confident that he will have to leave Dallas to further his education in healthcare. HD Guy will almost certainly leave Dallas in either Sept or Dec, destination NYC or Boston. This backdrop paints all of us into a different interpersonal dynamic. In fact, it makes us embrace dating for what it truly should be - a opportunity to get to know another person without expectation. Dating does not necessarily lead to a relationship, not by design nor by motivation.

Exhibit B - The dynamics between two men are fundamentally different than between a man and woman. And unless you have been a man in a relationship with a man, your opinion on this matter is a moot point.

Exhibit C - Generally I do date one person at a time but this is largely a situtational reality, date-o-nomics, supply and demand, usually there are not two people in the same chunk of time that I would consider dating. I think ignoring one for some contrived serial-dating rule would be foolish.

GF-X: You make some excellent points but I still think its unwise.

Jim: I'm OK with you thinking that :)

GF-X: Now, don't you think blogging about both is unwise. Now that really creates a competitive envirnoment. Do you really think they want to know details about each other?

Jim: Objection, badgering. And to answer, yes, this is paying hommage to open communication, you know, that thing that helps to foster working relationships.

GF-X: There is such a thing as too much detail.

Jim: I think the level of detail is appropriate, furthermore, most of those details are generalizations and blurbs of humor. Neither are disturbed by it, in fact, I think they get a kick out of reading about themselves through my perspective.

GF-X: I still object.

Jim: Overruled.

I should have been an attorney :)