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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Stick It Y'all

Almost done, one more semester! :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Play Your Hand

Take a group of partially quadriplegic men, strap them into souped-up wheelchairs, chuck out a ball and turn them loose on a game of Rugby.

How do you feel about that? Do you feel sorry for them? Does it pull on your heartstrings? Do you feel guilty, curious, outraged, happy, sad?

About 5 minutes into this documentary, you will forget that they aren't able-bodied, you won't feel sorry for them, in fact, you'll realize they are no better or worse off than you and I.

"F*ck that, I'm not here for a f*cking hug, I'm here to win a f*cking gold medal!"

Yeah, so this is a quote from one of the Quad Rugby players explaining his motivation for participating in the Rugby portion of the 2004 Paralympics. I was not expecting this spin at all but I was glad to see it. This documentary could have easily turned into an emotional tug piece, complete with Sally Struthers directing you to the 1-800 number you can dial to make a donation. Rather, it comes across balanced, without agenda and at times just downright funny.

While the filmakers spent some time on the accidents, the multiple years of physical therapy and the psychological toll, this was not the focus. The focus was on the fact that even in extreme situations, the human spirit still dominates.

Quad Rugby, or Murderball, is not a light-hearted, rolling the court and passing the ball sport designed to fill the audience with warm fuzzies. These guys are aggressive and slightly beyond competitive -- they are out to take their opponents down, crash into them, flip them over mid-court and take control of the ball -- they are seriously out for the win.

This guy, Mark Zupan, is clearly one of the leading forces on court and in the documentary.

I used to think Matthew McConaughey was Austin, Texas' resident bad boy. But no longer, Zupan has my vote, total bad-ass. Cocky, confident, aggressive and he has a great on-camera personality. I was disturbed but still impressed with the stoic recant of his accident, in which a he was a passenger with a friend who was driving drunk, they crashed, sending him flying head first into the dirt, leaving him in a wheelchair at age 18. He has no anger whatsoever and really, no regret.

I saw Zupan in some photos from last year's Sundance Film Festival, one in particular caught my eye. He was paired up with Charlize Theron, he was not looking at her face, rather somewhat lower. I loved the expression on his face, I could almost hear the thoughts.

You know, if wasn't in that accident I would have never been in this chair. And if I wasn't in this chair I would have never played Murderball. And if I never played Murderball I would have never made this film and I wouldn't be here right now looking down Charlize Therons top. I rock!

Oh man, I hope my girlfriend never sees this photo.

Gotta appreciate Zupan's life philosophy -

You can only play the cards you have, so you move on and play your hand.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


My friend and action reporter, the highly elusive urban Tara, made an emergency U-turn on her way home from work to bring us this very disturbing image. I am concerned. What is this school trying to tell us? Are they advertising a trait that is required for admission or are they simply telling us that this is a trait common to the student body?

Either way this is simply more fuel for my getting out of this city.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[ stóopid ]

I forgot to mention this. The day after I got back from Oklahoma City my credit card company called to inform me of some suspicious activity on my account. I inquired as to what constituted 'suspicious activity'. Frequently I travel to other cities and charge hotels, food, whatever - no reason to be alarmed. Or worse, shut off my card, which is what they did. Then the nice lady on the other end explained how in the span of one day someone had charged $14,000 to my card.

Crap, yes, that is definitely suspicious.

But it was more than suspicious, it was stupid. This brain-trust had ordered from 3 different online stores and had all delivered to the same physical address. Did they not know every major credit card company has software called fraud alert which detects this type of pattern? Could they not forsee that the card would be deactivated immediately? Did they not realize the stores would be alerted as to potential fraud, which would necessarily mean that the merchandise would never leave the warehouse?

The charges were reversed and affidavits signed so I'm out nothing, just a snickering, sarcastic thought that there is someone, somewhere wanting to know where the hell their stuff is :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


If you're looking for fast car chases, sex and snappy one-liners, you shouldn't be looking here. If you want to see corporate greed and political corruption with no possible happy ending, then this one is for you.


George Clooney directed and acted in this searing, very pointed political intrigue piece; kudos George, you kick politically incorrect butt.

Syriana takes you through a thought-provoking, in-your-face tour of the bizarre love triangle between he United States, the Middle East and big oil industry; how the deals that are made have less to do with economics and governmental policy and more to do with personal power and exploitation of the poor to achieve such. While Syriana is based on a non-fiction book, it makes big claims to be purely fictional itself. It will not take much immagination for you to draw parallels between story characters and real-life entities.

You're going to be mad at the end.

Hold on tight because this one starts off with a bang and just becomes progressively more tense. From Houston to Saudi to Geneva the layers of activites and story lines are dense, you almost need a map to keep up with the Byzantine relationships. The CIA, big Houston oil, the Emir of Saudi Arabia (implied), Pakistani oil workers and an independent energy analyst are the pieces on the gameboard. The game is control the oil. Pawns and innocent bystanders are moved and removed as the King and Bishop conspire to checkmate themselves in this cyclic game where there are no winners.

Clooney, Matt Damon, Chirs Cooper and William Hurt are riveting, each giving their characters some subtle nuances that only seasoned actors can do. But you expect them to be good. A couple of surprising performances by some people I didn't know but will look out for in the future.

Alexandar Siddig

This eerily beautiful Sudanese man plays one of the Emir's two sons; he's the smart one who wants to take the oil profits to rebuild the infrastructure of his country and instill social reform. The other son just wants to spend like a shoe-whore in Nordstrom.

If looks could kill, Siddig would leave a path of destruction in his wake.

Mazhar Munir

Mazhar Munir plays one of the Pakistani oil workers who becomes involved with a fundamentalist religious group. He has such innocent and caring undertones in the beginning but you know exactly where his story will end. He progresses from one stage to the next like a pro.

The soundtrack to Syriana is rhythmic, primal beats with electronica - mezmerizing, I loved it. I was probably from some Middle Eastern country in a former life :)


Saturday, July 22, 2006


The 6th Sense. Unbreakable. Signs. The Village.
And now ...

Lady in the Water

These are all of M. Night Shyamalans films and they all revolve around one central theme - purpose. Having a purpose, finding your purpose, what is your reason for being here. Lady in the Water is a simpler, more straight-forward delivery of the same; its almost as though he dumbed this one down for the people who didn't get The Village.

M. Night is one my favorites, I think he's found his purpose and will continue to create immaginative screenplays and produce and direct them into awesome film. I've always liked the purpose theme since it is wide enough for everyone to be able to relate. I've also really liked the plot loop-back that he writes into most of his films; toward the end of his films, the intricate plot you thought was reality is blown to smithereens by a larger, cleverly architected story. The use of color, mostly red, to denote intense emotions always makes the viewing somewhat of puzzle. But his strongest gift is to give the audience a few shadowy frames of substance then let their own immagination take over to create a powerful psychological thriller. Its almost Hitchcock.

The trademark color symbolism and loop-back script are gone from Lady in the Water but making use of the audience's immagination is pulled squarely into the foreground.

Overall I liked it and the big screen definitely works better for M. Night films.

Paul Giamatti was freaking brilliant in this film; from the very believable stammering to the heart-felt monologue at the end, he was genuine and personable. I think his great acting ability helps to bridge the huge suspension of disbelief.

M. Night generally makes a small appearance in each film but this time his role is pivotal. His character, like the others, learns his purpose, but the reality of his fate is both blessing and curse. He could change his actions and attempt a different fate but he decides fulfilling his purpose in life is worth whatever liabilty it incurs.

Even though I liked this one, I believe critics are going to rip him a new one for several reasons: 1) Its too long, some scenes definitely needed trimming. It would have made a great 85 minute film 2) the loop-back plot is missing, making this one linear and taking away some dimension 3) no color, the film is shot in color yet its largely shadows and reflections. 4) Too many characters, I liked the Korean chick and her mom but the stoner-guild could have been whacked.



Summer session is officially over. I will give you all my grades next week so you can post them on your refrigerators. Only 5 more months of this madness! :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Age Discrepancy

You might remember my attorney friend, Girlfriend-X. I post this story about her because I have another friend involved in the same quandary.

Gather 'round.

Girlfriend-X was divorced at 35. At 36, after a lecture she gave to law-school hopefuls, she found herself the object of a 22-year-old's affection. It started out innocently enough, him asking for her email address to ask questions about the logisitics of law school, pre and post. Then it morphed into a flirty, innuendo thing. Then he just flat out asked her for a date.

GF-X: Phone interference, high-noon.

Me: Work meeting or bad date intuition?

GF-X: I'm meeting the kid for coffee.

Me: Wait, you said that would never happen.

GF-X: Executing the Dragonlady routine, he'll be glad to see me leave after 20 minutes.

Me: LOL, good plan.

GF-X: High-noon. Don't forget.

Me: Yes, Mrs. Robinson. Coo Coo cachoo, LOL

Even though the kid e*stalked her for several weeks, he was charming and goofy. He was also one of the few people whose emails made her laugh out loud. I was forwarded most of them and I have to admit, he was clever and witty, in 22-year-old way. I encouraged her to meet him; what was the harm in giving a newbie advice about navigating the shark tank aka law school? She could never see beyond the 14-year difference in age, swearing up and down that it could never escape the neatly-wrapped boundaries of email.

I ran phone intereference at high-noon only to be greeted by her terse, Dragonlady cell phone announcement. I left a smart message thinking I would hear back in a couple of minutes. Five hours later I got a callback.

Me: Please tell me you've been in an accident.

GF-X: I decided to take in a movie, um, and go for a walk in Venice Beach.

Me: I believe they cell service in Venice Beach now, in case you were not aware.

GF-X: Yes, they do.

Me: Feeble attempt at obfuscation. You have something else to tell me, counselor, don't you?

She spent the afternoon with the kid, good. What I noticed, as she talked about her afternoon, was that this was the first time she talked so much about any afternoon with a man, and there had been many prior afternoons. For once she sounded truly happy. She laughed some sort of unfamiliar giggly high school girl laugh. I couldn't see it but I knew she was flipping her hair and probably wearing lip gloss, bubble gum lip gloss. And that hazy, goofy look people have coming off a date swirling with possibility - I knew she wearing that too.

But she could not allow it to continue. He was too young, too immature, she was a seasoned professional, he just a mere law student hopeful. Not to mention, what would The Firm think? I asked her when did she ever care about what anyone else thought about her. Acknowledged. I told her that she barely looked 30 herself. She corrected me, telling me she looked 29. So noted. I even told her that the 22-year-old at 6'3" with a persistent scruffy had a bit of an older look, say 28. So really that was only a 1 year age discrepancy. She wouldn't buy it, so I brought out the big guns -- interactive rationalization.

Me: Counselor, isn't true that your ex is older than you?

GF-X: Yes, 7 years older.

Me: And isn't it also true that his behavior toward the end of your blissful union could be construed as immature?

GF-X: Yes, very.

Me: Correct me if I don't recall exactly but isn't true that said ex has a flabby butt and love handles?

GF-X: LOL, wait a minute, for the record I would like to say that he didn't start out that way!

Me: Just answer the question, please. Yes or no, does the ex currently have a flabby butt and love handles?

GF-X: LOL, yes.

Me: So I ask you couselor, what makes more sense to you? Being involved with an immature 43-year-old with love handles and a flabby butt or being involved with an immature 22-year-old who is very fit and has a cute butt?

GF-X: Your ability to rationalize me speechless is why I both love and hate you.

Me: My work here is done!

So, the 22-year-old stayed around and became Boyfriend-X. Son-X loved BF-X if only because they spent more time together in the first several months of the GF/BF-X dating game than his real father spent with him during the first 8 years of his life.

GF-X and BF-X have been 'dating' for 10 years, the 22-year-old kid is now a 32-year-old attorney. They still maintain separate homes but they spend almost every evening together. Both are involved with Son-X's life with almost equal weight, as Son-X is starting his pre-law journey this Fall at UCLA. They have no plans to be married simply because they are happy and enjoying their lives -- as is.

It might not be conventional, but as you might conclude, following the rules was never their forte to start.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thai Jito

This weekend I subjected Neighbor Blair to one of my mad mixologist experiments. There have not been any noticeable adverse side effects, so, all things considered, I believe it was a success. We both agreed that this drink will probably dominate our cocktail shakers over the summer.

Jim's Thai Mojito
1 1/2 part Light Rum
1 part freshly squeezed Lime Juice
1 part Special Thai Mixer
Soda Water
Chopped Basil
Chopped Cilantro
Sliced Strawberries
Sliced Lime

Fill half of a short glass with ice. Add rum, lime, mixer, a pinch each of basil and cilantro. Stir. Add soda to taste and a couple of strawberry and lime slices for color. Stir and serve.

Special Thai Mixer
3/4 C shredded, sweetened Coconut
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 C sugar
1 C water
10 sprigs Mint
12 spring Cilantro
2 stalks Lemongrass (Cut into chunks and broken with a meat mallet)
5-6 Kaffir Lime Leaves (or 1 t lime zest)(optional)

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 2 hours. Strain. Refrigerate until ready for use.

This makes about 6 short drinks using a shot glass as a part. Not that you'll care too much after the first two.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


When it comes to sushi, I am an elitist snob and a purist. Give me Yellowtail sashimi or Tuna nigiri, but give it to me straight up, don't give it to me ladeled with mayo or stuffed with cream cheese, those ingredients have no place in sushidom.

Or do they?

Sushi Zushi
3858 Oak Lawn Ave. Suite 145 @ Blackburn
Dallas, Texas

Sushi Zushi took over the space formerly housing Citizen. Small remod but it is basically the same casual-chic space.

What is tremendously different is the menu. While Citizen was much loved for their Japanese fusion dishes, Sushi Zushi has taken it to an extreme. The owner, Japanese by ancestry, grew up in Mexico and now lives in San Antonio. This interesting combination of cultures is written all over the menu - standard sushi with Mexican flare. Sounds down right hideous, doesn't it? It isn't, its amazingly good.

The menu itself is an intimidating 8 pages long, broken down by Japanese dish category, within which there are many, many options, some that I have never seen outside of NYC or San Francisco.

After getting light-headed from considering all of the choices I finally fell back to my standard yardstick choices: Yellowtail, Eel and Sea Urchin. Laywer-in-waiting, Lauren, opted for several of the non-traditional rolls. I sneared, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw a roll that was non-traditional but minus mayo and cream cheese, so I tried it.

Here are the highlights:

The Yellowtail, Eel and Sea Urchin are just as good as other top-rated sushi houses in Dallas.

Acapulco Roll: Non-traditional but worthy. Take rare tuna and cucumber, roll it, then dip the whole thing in tempura batter and fry it up. Add chipotle sauce. Crunchy and spicy on the outside, soft and cool on the inside. Delicious.

Cosimo Roll: Definitely non-traditional. Take some fried shrimp, avocado and cream cheese and roll it. Tempura coat and fry it. Add Tampa Bay sauce, which is like a mildly spicy crab salad. So, its not particularly healthy, so what, its good, really good.

Monterrey Roll: Right, just strap on the ol' portable defibalator and enjoy. Take some breaded, fried crab, a little avocado, roll it all up in serrano-studded rice, then melt jack cheese on top. Serve it all with a chipotle mayo. CLEAR!

Service is excellent, I can't imagine how long it took the servers to memorize and talk intelligently about 8 pages of options. Prices are reasonable for sushi, about $25/head.


Friday, July 14, 2006

World Domination League, VP

I can't run for President of the World Domination League because blog-bud Greg, of My Drinking Team Has A Frisbee Problem is gunning for that role (or at least one more reader for his blog).

So I'm going to run for Vice-President.

First issue, marriage.

Ok people, its like this, we are putting this thing to bed right here, right now. We, as a country, have more important things to conquer, like renovating our health care system, repairing some intensely damaged foriegn relations, reclaiming our leading-edge role in science (by federally funding research that is necessary to do so), education and therapy for those people who still think its OK to wear white after Labor Day.

I will defend anyone's right to engage in marriage, it can be a beautiful thing if its done on the right premise with the right people. For those that choose to engage in this activity, I will support, even encourage them. However, for the record, this is a choice, not an obligation, nor is it a social stigma should you not choose to do so. Anyone engaging in single bashing will be deported to Antarctica. No explanations required, nor will any be accepted.

We are going to go to most popular internet reference source, Wikipedia, for our definition of marriage.

A marriage is a committed relationship between or among individuals, recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants.

OK, so thats it, as long as you believe in marriage, you may participate in one. No one is going to spend one more cent trying to re-define this. Anyone attempting a redefinition or ammendment, be it explict, implied or subconscious will be deported to Antarctica for wasting tax dollars.

Reality Check
Take a look at the statistics for divorce rates in our country as of 2003. Divorce Rates, 2003 As you can see this data is tabulated by our government, specifically National Vital Statistics, so its official. The marriage rate in 2003 was 7.5 and the divorce rate was 3.8. Since the rates are fairly consistent year over year we can safely extrapolate that divorce rates and marriage rates in different years commute. Lets do some 1st grade math, 3.8/7.5 that would be roughly a 51% failure rate or a 49% success rate.

In terms of a letter grade this is an F. Actually its worse, we could call this failing miserably. This is completely unacceptable. You people have 5 years to turn this into a passing grade, which is 70%.

New Rules
In order to make sure we weed out the people who are not serious about marriage, which will hopefully improve our miserable statistics, we are going to impose a few new rules.

  • Noone under the age of 21 may apply for a marriage license.

  • Marriage licenses are $10,000 made payable to the Ministry of Marriage.

  • Before you are given a marriage license you will be subject to 3 full days of intense psychological testing, the results of which will be disclosed to your partner in waiting.

  • Marriage is a contract, divorce is a breech of contract. Divorce, as all breeches of contract, will incur a fine. Please pay your $10,000 fine to the Ministry of Marriage. Failure to pay your fine will result in deportation to Antarctica. No explanations required, nor will any be accepted.

  • After a divorce you will be ineligible for a marriage license for a period of 3 years.

  • Liz clause 1 - You may not apply for a marriage license with anyone you previously divorced. Remember, you divorced them for a reason.

  • Liz clause 2 - After 3 strikes, you're out. You obviously don't get it or you have bad karma. Either way you arent getting a 4th chance. Any attempt at a 4th marriage and you had better bundle up, its a little nippy where you're heading.

  • Implicit pre-nupt - you keep your stuff, your partner keeps theirs. Anything jointly owned will be sold on Ebay, profits divided equally.

    We will cover taxes next but rest assured it will be a flat tax and the IRS will be dismissed then re-assigned to the Ministry of Deportation to Antarctica.

    Good night.
    And good luck.

  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Biscuits, Gravy & Chihuly

    I've known Tina for almost 30 years, she lived next door to us during the California era, she is one of my other moms. She relocated with her job to Oklahoma about 7 years ago. She just had a milestone birthday so I decided to trip up to Oklahoma and help her celebrate.

    Tina, Oklahoma City Museum Of Art

    Tina works in downtown Oklahoma City, but she arrives before sunrise and leaves after sunset so she was unaware of the OKC Museum of Art's proximity to her building, two blocks south. I decided I should take her to their Museum Cafe for brunch, the menu sounded good plus it was a good way for me to introduce her to the city she has lived in for 7 years.

    I've been to OKC many times and eating out there can be problematic for me; what isn't meat-based is chicken-fried and smothered in cream gravy. I found a place during my last trip that offered a veggie platter but I noticed that Mac & Cheese and sausage stuffing are both considered vegetables in OKC. Even when I ordered the veggie platter, the waitress asked me if I wanted a side of biscuits with gravy, she didnt understand how that could be my whole dinner.

    Fortunately times have changed. The Museum Cafe is first-rate, French inspired fare with Southern twists and execution. The inside is casual chic; light wood tones, white linen and floor to ceiling windows in panorama. I highly recommend it if you find yourself in OKC.

    Museum Cafe

    415 Couch Drive | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | (405) 235-6262

    After brunch we wandered through the museum. To our surprise they had a huge Chihuly glass exhibit. I've seen alot of examples of his work but never so many in one space. Simply beautiful pieces with awesome display and lighting. Why can't Dallas get something like this at their museum? This was my favorite.

    Chihuly Exhibit, Oklahoma City Museum Of Art

    The hallway is topped with thick plexiglass, on top of which sits the Chihuly pieces, spots from the ceiling cause all the shadows against the walls and floor. Incredible.

    Also very interesting were the permanent Chihuly pieces commissioned by the museum. Someone has some serious connections and some very deep pockets. This piece anchors the front entrance, it is 3 stories tall, about 55 feet.

    Chihuly Entrance, Oklahoma City Museum Of Art

    You can see the rest of the photos of Chihuly and OKC at Oklahoma City: 7/2006

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Exit Stage Reich

    Being German and Russian-Jewish makes watching films about the Nazi era somewhat difficult. For some reason I still find myself interested, I suppose there is a lesson in the tragedy, one we should never forget, for fear that it be repeated again.

    I wish I would have seen this one in the theatre, since this level of excellence is the reason why we are willing to fork out $10 to go to the movies.

    Der Untergang (Downfall)

    Seeded by the diaries of Hilter's personal secretary, Traudl Junge and sculpted by brilliant German direction, production and acting, Downfall chronicles the last day of Hitler's life on Earth, the inevitable fall of the 3rd Reich and the end of World War II.

    The film assumes you know what horrendous events occured before the end of WW2 so it drops you smack in the middle of Berlin as the Russian Army begins to take it down. You will feel as though you are there, the filming style and staging are that realistic.

    Bruno Ganz deserves the German equivalent to an Oscar for his phenomenal portrayal of Hitler. The mannerisms - watch Ganz closely to see how amazingly accurate he is at the notoriously quirky mannerisms of the failed Führer. Also notice the magnificent, outrageous shifts in personality as he lies trapped like a dog in a bunker beneath a crumbling city. In a short span Ganz swings effortlessly from cheerful optimism to venomous, maniacal rage.

    Equally outstanding was Juliane Köhler as Eva, Hilter's wife. The contrast between reality and Eva's actions are almost unresolvable. She smiles, laughs and dances Swing on a dinner table while Russian bombs continue to knock out parts of her home. She takes breaks between bombings to walk their dog, Blondi, smoke a cigarette and make small talk with the girls. In some ways she is more delusional than Hitler himself. You almost feel sorry for her. Almost.

    Opening and closing comments by the real-life Traudl Junge were well-selected polish on a masterpiece.


    Wednesday, July 05, 2006


    I moved to Houston in 1990 after a long, cold year of the white stuff in Colorado. I liked Colorado but the cold and snow, forget it.

    Like any self-respecting gay man in their 20's, the first thing I did when I settled in Houston was check the gay bars and meet new people. Alan was the first person I met. Alan and his cowboy-posse surrounded me in the BRB, Houston's gay C&W bar, about 5 minutes after I arrived.

    Which one of us are you going home with?

    Maybe we could start out with an easier question like you asking my name?

    Ok, whats your name?


    Nice to meet ya Jim, now back to your selection for this evening!

    Bob, I'm trading you all in for whats behind door number 3!

    Smart-ass! I knew I liked you!

    So started our friendship.

    Alan and I were polar opposites: he was the tall, red-headed extrovert cowboy who literally could not function without 4-5 hours a day of being surrounded by a crowd of people. He got off work at 3, changed and at 3:30 he would arrive in the Montrose for pre-happy hour. At 5 he would transition to happy hour, around 8 he would take in a quick bite then head out for the 930 to 2a post-happy hour. He did this 7 nights a week.

    I, on the other hand, the short blonde introvert, was completely content with my one friday night out, afterwards I needed no social interaction until the following week.

    Still we became the best of friends. He never tried to change me and I reciprocated. One night after closing the BRB and exhausting after-hours at the Ripcord, we found ourselves at some 24-hour dinner sucking down omelettes and coffee. This is when Alan told me he had AIDS.

    I must have had a face on, since I said absolutely nothing.

    Now Jim, you know as well as I do that getting enough sleep, eating right, stopping my 2 packs a day of Marlboro Red and cutting back on my daily pre and post happy hours would be like putting me in pine box before my time.

    I know I was put here to show people that this thing does not have to stop you from living. I know it and now you know it too.

    And I did. We never talked about this subject again, no need really, he had made his stance clear.

    Although Alan never mentioned it to me, I would later discover that he spent his weekend days at hospices, walking-the-walk, his Texas-sized personality and upbeat perspective were almost legendary in Houston. He was Houston's poster boy for living with AIDS.

    My two years in Houston were memorable, largely due to Alan and his grab-life-by-the-balls persona. Unfortunately, work took me to Dallas in 1992 and we were only able to see each other occasionally there after.

    In 1993 he inherited a bit of land in his home town, Tulsa and moved back to the build his dream home. I still remember his endless 2am phones, the panic discussions over what tile for the kitchen, was a shower for 12 considered gauche or how pink did I want my room to be (he knew I hated pink). A year of this insanity went on until mid-1994 when he started to settle down. He made me promise that I would visit when he finished his house, he was planning a housewarming party for himself sometime in September. But like many good plans there were some glitches to pulling it off.

    Alan passed away on July 5th, 1994, he was 32 years old, exactly, it was his birthday.

    His family informed me of his passing but they did want any of us at the services. I ignored them and went anyway, standing a respectful distance from them but still able to see. Later, I went to Alan's almost-finished house and said good-bye and happy birthday in a way Alan woud have liked: a 6-pack, a pack of Marlboro Reds and his picture, which had just been published in Houston's gay rag.

    Thats why, for the past 12 years, my July 4th weekend has always been truncated or sometimes scraped all together - I'm in Tulsa on July 5th, celebrating a birthday for a very special friend.

    Alan Hughes (July 5, 1962 - July 5, 1994)

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    L4yer Cak3

    Films about the life of crime are a part of our culture. Godfather has been the most-watched and most-purchased movie since its release in 1972. Goodfellas, circa 1990, follows close behind. Why is it that we are so captivated by organized crime? I don't know but it certainly pulls in the profits at the box office.

    Layer Cake

    Daniel Craig is featured as the man with no name in this tight, neo-noir. I understand now why the powers that be picked him as the new Bond; he does come off as strong, calm and mysterious.

    If it feels like you are watching a slightly different spin on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, well, its because the same guy, Matthew Vaughn, applies his slick production style to Layer Cake as well.

    Mr. X (Craig), after a long, successful career as a cocaine dealer, decides to retire while he's ahead. But, just as he exits, a bigger drug-lord asks him for a favor. Bits of acidic British humor and electronica permeate as the execution of the favor becomes progressively more complicated and dangerous.

    The plot flips toward the end and the favor turns out to be a masquerade for something entirely different. As Mr. X determines his new and uncertain fate, he receives a facts-of-life speech from the head underlord himself, which serves as both a warning and a premonition.

    Our lives are stratified. When you're at the bottom you take crap from above. As you ascend you take crap from above and below. Then, perhaps, you reach that rarified level where the concept of crap no longer exists.

    Son, welcome to the layer cake.


    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Persian Monkey

    I have a monkey on my back - Persian food. I love the simplicity and combinations of spices. Now, if only it wasn't so heavily meat oriented, it would be better. No bother, really, I can cheat on vegetarianism.

    525 W. Arapaho
    Richardson, TX 75080
    Phone: 972-235-4007

    Looking at my Persian-o-meter, this place ranks higher than Giovanni's based solely on the food.

    Drive up to Kasra is scary by Dallas standards, its in a run down strip mall, most of which seems to be vacant and what isn't vacant seems to be hangouts for baggy-jeaned high-school students in need of something to do.

    Go anyway.

    Lunchtime is a great way to try the highlights since they offer a $10 boofay. Lets review those highlights, shall we?

    Hummus: Great. They make theirs with extra garlic and lemon, brighter and more aggressive, I like it like that.

    Marinated Olives: Green olives in pomegranate sauce. Sounds strange but man are these addictive!

    Ghirmeh Sabz: Beef and veggies sauteed with 'Persian herbs'. Good but heavy.

    Gheymeh Badenjan: For me this is the dish a Persian restaurant must do right or there won't be a return visit. Badenjan means Eggplant, so as you might guess this is an eggplant stew. Kasra's version is unbelievable. They do theirs with beef, dried lime and lentils. Its served with a huge plate of Chelo, the very delicious butter saffron rice. I dare you to eat the whole thing.

    Tabrizi Kabob: Marinated ground beef seasoned with Persian spices. This is like a Persian hamburger on a stick, dee licious. I still haven't figured out the 'Persian spices' but I'm hoping I can tweeze them out of the owner on my next visit :)

    The inside of Kasra doesn't compute with the outside. Inside is polished and serene; beautiful tile, a fountain and classic Persian archways create a pleasant environment, which, at least during the lunchtime hours, is quite full of mainly Persian patrons.

    Service for those ordering from the menu is reasonable and polite, although at lunch time with the huge crowd, you may have to ask twice for something like coffee.

    Guidelive dig: Kasra is not open to the public on Sunday past 4p, thanks for screwing up again, Guidelive!