Monday, August 22, 2005

Parmesan Polenta and Radicchio with Tomato Concasse

Wes has really immersed himself in vegetarian cooking. This was his first attempt at a full vegetarian dinner. To say that it was a success is an understatement!

Wes, the chef


Ceramic knives are so cool!


Spreading pesto over the parmesan polenta cakes he prepared the night before


Roasted orange bell peppers in olive oil


Polenta cakes topped with mozzarella, peppers and sun-dried tomatoes


The finished parmesan polenta served alongside radicchio with tomato concasse and asparagus spears.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

SF Underground Films

The San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival was a blast! It was the first "Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ" that I was able to attend. Sadly, it also happened to be the last of the season.

As Wes and I arrived at the Bridge Theatre by cab, we got a quick glimpse of the line. I was ecstatic! There were plenty of people, despite slow ticket sales earlier in the week. I got my reserved tickets, and then turned back toward the line.

"You're one of the actors! Go up to the front!" Wes urged me. I've never been on a guest list for anything so I shrugged and said I would wait in line with everyone else. It was a big line, but not THAT big. Plus it was moving fast. And then we turned the corner, and saw the true extent of the line. That changed my mind real quick! Wes and I ran back to the front and were let in with the first rush of patrons.

The show started off with a performance by Peaches Christ and Vinsantos as little kids in pajamas. It then seamlessly morphed into a rocking number to the song also available on the SFUSFF trailer.

Doodie Calls was well received. At first I was skeptical of the film's placement in the middle of the lineup (the lineup in the posters was not the final one). The coveted spots in a film festival lineup are generally the opening and the last three spots. But it turned out that the middle was a perfect spot for Doodie Calls.

The majority of the films were about five minutes in length, compared to DC's 13 min running time. The films leading up to Doodie Calls tended toward music videos and experimental animated shorts. They were a great set-up for the more narrative-based Doodie Calls. The crowd absolutely loved the film. And the "explosive" ending was even able to shock a theater full of San Franciscans. I was introduced to the crowd at the end of the screening by Peaches, where the applause got a big boost from Wes and a cheering section led by my friend Daniel and his roommates.

An added bonus of the night was being recognized from the 48 Hour Film Festival, as well. Taj, a roommate of a 48 HR organizer, was at both screenings and introduced himself again at the end.

Some standouts in the festival:

"Slut?" featured a rap song about being sexually free but not a slut. Standard fare for San Francisco, except that the song was spliced with the cartoon "Hello Kitty."

"Get Over it Honey" was the animated tale of gay best friends in San Francisco, separated when one moves to West Hollywood. The San Franciscan visits his friend, but doesn't even recognize him at first due to the super dark tan (with attendent pale sunglass circles), blond highlights and beach-ready party wear. The LA boy is surrounded by a host of bad, but hilarious stereotypes of Southern California gay boys. It's like a gay Borg hive, as the LA crew relentlessly urge the San Franciscan to get a tan, try some "tina" (crystal meth), get laid, and change his wardrobe. This cautionary tale couldn't come at a better time, as I'm heading down to LA for the first time this Friday.

"Entschlossenheit", a music video, was my favorite entry. It featured a bespectacled German in all black, spouting German adjectives to thumping techno music as two women and one man with a fro performed calisthenics in 80s aerobics gear, complete with spandex, headbands and leg warmers. It was the oddest, funniest, most creative entry in a night of some truly underground films.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yay for Kanye!

Wes sent me the following article this morning.

***

Thursday, August 18, 2005
(08-18) 17:54 PDT New York (AP) --

Kanye West says "gay" has become an antonym to hip-hop - and that it needs to be stopped. During an interview for an MTV special, the 27-year-old rapper launched into a discussion about hip-hop and homosexuality while talking about "Hey Mama," a song on his upcoming album, "Late Registration."

West says that when he was young, people would call him a "mama's boy."

"And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, 'cause it's like I would go back and question myself," West says on the show, "All Eyes on Kanye West," set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET).

West says he changed his ways, though, when he learned one of his cousins was gay.

"It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays.'"

West says hip-hop was always about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." He adds that in slang, gay is "the opposite, the exact opposite word of hip-hop."

Kanye's message: "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.'"

West, whose debut disc "The College Dropout" won a Grammy for best rap album, will see his second record in stores on Aug. 30.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
©2005 Associated Press

Friday, August 19, 2005

Stupid Dog Owners

Last night I was at the "Best of" screening for the SF 48 Hour Film Festival. The venue was Walk-in Movies, an outdoor theater (well, side of a house, really) overlooking the city from Potrero Hill. It was a fun night, even if Date No. 2 didn't win the big prize. However it did get "Best Title Sequence," so I was happy for my team.

Naturally, several people brought their dogs. No big deal. But early in the show, there was a large golden retriever mix that began to show some aggression toward a black lab that was seated near it. After a few snarls, the owners of both dogs calmed things down. Then a few minutes later, the same big retriever starting snarling at another retriever close by. Once again the owners calmed their dogs. And then they did nothing else. WTF. Separate those dogs, people. Hint. They are not fond of each other.

So of course, before the end of the night, the aggressive retriever lunged at the other one, and a huge dog fight erupted. The dogs reared up on their hind legs as they went at it. They were literally falling on top of the people resting on picnic blankets nearby. Wes actually thought for a moment that they were mauling a woman, because her sweater matched the color of their fur exactly. From his perspective, the dogs were right on her, rather than inches in front. There was much screaming, including from the owners, as if this was some surprise after leaving the dogs within lunge reach!

The owners tried to separate the dogs, but one of them slipped out of his leash... and then the fight was really on. The owners didn't want to get into the middle of it, because at this point they would've been bitten. Finally someone wised up and began throwing bottled water on the dogs. The two dogs were startled momentarily, allowing the owners to separate them. THEN the owners decided to move the dogs far, far away from each other.

I have to say, I really dislike dog owners who neither understand nor respect the violent potential their furry "pride and joy" has. They just can't imagine "Foofoo" or "Binky" lunging at another dog or person with the intent to do bodily harm. I am not a dog hater. When I lived in Boston, I volunteered on Saturdays as a dog walker for the MSPCA Animal Shelter, which more often than not meant I walked abandoned pit bulls. And I don't hate all dog owners. But *stupid* dog owners really irk me. There is something incredibly irritating at the utter look of shock they have when canine violence erupts. "Omg! This can't be happening!" Yeah, whatever. 1 oz of prevention...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Methi Pulao and Masoor Dal

My roommate had tons of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in the pantry, so settled on Methi Pulao (fenugreek rice) for dinner, along with Masoor Dal. I make this dal pretty often, choosing the spices according to the dish accompanying it. The Methi Pulao was modified from a recipe posted on Bawarchi.com / Sify Food.




Methi Pulao and Masoor Dal (served with left-over Amai Vadai and Saag Aloo)


Related entries:
Amai Vadas
Masala and Movies

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chinese Gold Farmers

I like Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs). Probably too much ("most definitely" my ex, Doug, would say). The game I play currently is City of Heroes, though many of my friends (local and virtual) play World of Warcraft. I've become a bit of a groupie on a World of Warcraft board dedicated to gay gamers (gaymers), especially since it has a lot more activity. Just to give you an idea, City of Heroes has about 150,000 total subscribers, while World of Warcraft is the largest online game in the world with over 3.5 million.

A friend of mine on the WoW board mentioned the term "Chinese Gold Farmer" the other day. I thought the term had something to do with the Chinese laborers in California during the Gold Rush. A quick online search revealed something very different and a little frightening. It refers to workers who play online games nonstop (several players on one account for 24/7 coverage) to "farm" gold and then sell it for real world cash.

MMORPG Sweatshops

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Amai Vadas

Vadas are lentil fritters that are traditionally eaten along with a sambar. Because they're South Indian appetizers ("tiffins"), they may not be as familiar as samosas and pakoras, staples of North Indian restaurant menus in the US. In fact, I've only seen vadas on a restaurant menu once, back in Boston.

Clockwise from bottom: urud dal, mung dal, yellow split peas (in place of channa dal)


Mixed dal (soaked overnight), cilantro, shredded carrots, veggie oil, turmeric, copra (shredded coconut), peppercorns, cayenne, curry leaves, hing, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds


Lightly frying the curry leaves, hing, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds before being mixed in with the pulverized dal and other ingredients.


I often use chopsticks in deep-frying, regardless of the cuisine. I also use a rice paddle, rather than my hand, to ease the batter into the oil. Vadas are often shaped like donuts, but this is very difficult to do with a mixed dal batter. If the batter had been made solely from urud dal (a very glutinous legume), then making the donut shape would've been more feasible.


Amai Vadas served with Haldi Chaval from the previous night


This was a variation on the Masala Vada recipe found in Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Masala and Movies

It's been a long time since I've posted my dinners on here. I was inspired by Wes, as well as Kit from PaperFrog.com, to get back into the cooking groove. I've been eating out FAR too often lately. In fact, for the past two weeks I haven't cooked a single meal! Definitely not ideal, so I decided to get back to basics, which for me consists of homecooked (often Indian) meals.

Wes is transitioning to vegetarianism, so on Saturday we had lunch at New Ganges, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in the Inner Sunset. I hate to say this, but it was pretty subpar. I was particularly disappointed with our order of channa masala which had a pale yellow gravy, rather than the robust, deep orange that is customary (from caramelized onions, roasted spices and fresh tomatoes that have been simmered down). I promised Wes that I would treat him to the real deal.

In other news, August has been a great month. On Sunday I finished all of my scenes in "Pandemonium", my first feature film. It's a local, indie production and is best described as a gay coming-of-age story spliced with a campy horror flick. More on that later. This month I also have two entries in two separate short film festivals:

Date No. 2, Thursday, Aug 18th at the San Francisco 48 Hour Film Festival

Doodie Calls, Saturday, Aug 20th at the San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival

I met Peaches, the organizer of the SFUSF today in person. I totally didn't expect the hunky guy who answered the door to be the crazy drag queen that I adore. Most drag queens tend to make mediocre looking men. Peaches/Josh is quite the hottie as a guy.

The ingredients for Channa Masala (chickpeas in spiced tomato gravy), Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) and Haldi Chaval (turmeric rice)


Frying whole cardomom pods, cumin, and a cinnamon stick before adding the rice, water and turmeric.



Wes helping out with the channa masala.


The masala gravy made from tomatoes, onions, cumin, coriander, hing, cayenne and tamarind juice (a quick substitute for amchur/dried mango powder)


Channa Masala, Saag Aloo and Haldi Chaval