Why Black Lives Matter Matters

12 Jul

For many years I was very ‘involved’ politically. During that time I had passionate experiences on both sides of the political aisle. It has been years, however, since I’ve posted anything publicly. A few years ago, a frustration and weariness set in, causing me to think “What’s the point?” I also realized I was doing more harm than good given my predilection for winning any argument no matter the cost or even whether I was on the right side of the debate. There was also my intense viewpoint, i.e a big fat mouth. So I’ve remained silent, for the most part happily so. 

Like everyone else, the events last week unnerved me. After a lot of thought, I decided to make a rare post on events more weighty than food and film. 

For those who don’t know me, a few declaratives are in order that relate to the title of this essay. Few people will agree with me on every one of these statements of belief. I humbly ask you to continue reading if you react negatively to any of them. Nor am I asking you to agree with me when you have finished. Just hear me out all the way.

As for my declarative statements:

Socially I have ended up fairly liberal, though I definitely have a few conservative positions as well. I am a believer in God, a person of faith. I cannot stomach either of our presidential candidates. I believe in the Second Amendment, but that does not include the right to automatic weapons. You could not find a more ardent, fierce supporter of the police, our amazing men and women in blue. And I believe the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ is of the utmost importance, though it took me a while to accept this last belief.

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A Killer “No-Cook” Summer Pasta

30 Jun
Summer Pasta Ingredients

Ingredients for a fresh summer pasta

My favorite season is Fall for a variety of reasons, not least of which is I look best in fall clothes and it’s all about me. Summer is wonderful, however, because summer means fresh vegetables everywhere. If a bounty of fresh veg doesn’t mean happiness to you, you haven’t been served vegetables the right way.

I have a good friend who refused to eat vegetables, no matter how I served them. Only after years of cajoling did I convince her to try some of mine. She is now a vegetable freak, she can’t get enough. One night she finally explained, “My mom used to take broccoli and boil it until it was white. That’s how she cooked all our vegetables. I thought that was how vegetables tasted!”

Makes me want to weep for vegetable haters everywhere.

blossoms

Summer’s Bounty

While we covered a great way to cook vegetables in an earlier post about roasting (Sunday Night Vegetable Roast) another of my favorite ways to eat fresh vegetables is with pasta. In the fall when not in season, roasted vegetables are a wonderful combination with pasta. But when you have vegetables fresh off the vine, there’s no need even to cook them! Trust me on this.

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Ruminations on Prince

22 Apr

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Desire

I find it silly when a famous person dies then people get upset and, well, lose it. Wail, moan, it’s all about me, the whole thing. It’s not like you knew the person, right? How do you think the family feels? How could you be so affected? 

Silly. 

Yet for the second time in my life, I heard of a death while driving my truck and was overcome. Understand, I don’t cry. Like, almost never. 4 or 5 years between a cry — if I’m lucky enough to release the emotion that often. Yet Thursday morning my good friend Lisa, knowing my love for a dazzlingly talented man, texted me as I was navigating the freeways of Los Angeles. Prince had died.  I had to pull over to the side of the road. 

Silly. 

Um, no. 

My friend Andie reposted a beautiful and accurate tweet about this phenomenon. @ElusiveJ wrote:

“Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.” 

This makes me ashamed I’ve secretly made fun of those who mourn artists. Yet I don’t think this is why Prince Rodgers Nelson’s death hits so hard.

When listening to Prince’s music, it’s less about coming to know ourselves than experiencing a deep sometimes dangerous revelation. His music and lyrics are filled with desire. Not his desire. But ours. At least for those of us who are dreamers, there may never have been an artist to speak so directly to us, connect so deeply with us. His music confronts us with our desires, our longings, our passions. As his music plays, something begins to bubble up from deep within.

It’s up to the individual listener what happens next. I guess there are people out there who can resist the call. I myself have never been able to suppress what happens inside when Prince’s music plays. Feelings I’ve buried emerge, emotions of all kinds, waves of joy, sadness, longing, sexuality, melancholy. And I feel a deep connection to the one artist I have never been able to resist.

Prince reaches down inside of us and pulls emotion out. Through his music he says, “Hear this? Feel this? You have this inside you, too. Let it out. Don’t be scared. Experience it. And live free.”

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The Grand Romances of Stephen King

18 Feb

Yes, constant reader, that’s right, it’s true. Here, come sit beside me and let’s talk. There’s a story within the story. The Master is a romantic at heart.

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I was 12 years old when Ann McPherson handed me a copy of The Shining. A wonderful woman with a joyous and infectious laugh, Mrs. McPherson was one of my mom’s best friends. She lived a few doors down and often dropped by our the house in the late afternoon. She treated me as an equal, for which I adored her, and we shared an intense love for books. Earlier that year Ann gave me Robin Cook’s Coma, a terrific thriller I finished in two days while my parents banged on my bedroom door trying to get me to emerge. (It may be the one time in my life I willingly skipped a meal.) After Coma, I was ready to read anything Mrs. McPherson recommended.

The copy of The Shining she handed me was the initial paperback release. The cover was in reflective silver with the outline of a young boy’s head. 

 

shining cover

How awesome is this?!

 

I looked at the cover over and over, tingling with anticipation. I figured they must have spent some bucks on this cover if it reflected! Incredibly cool! The cover read A Masterpiece of Modern Horror. The marketing team earned their salary with that phrase. I was scared already. And a young boy as the centerpiece? Talk about primed.

Primed indeed. The book changed my life, not only because it remains one of my favorite novels of all time, not only because it has haunted me since, but because it introduced me to the man who has influenced my life as much as anyone on the planet. 

stephen-king

I love this.

What strikes me now about The Shining, which I’ve read umpteen times, is the novel’s humanity. As dark as Stephen King can go – and, oh my, can he go there: try Cujo, one of his best and easily his darkest novel, it’s shattering – his novels have enormous power because he has such a clear love and respect for people, their dreams, their emotions and their love. In The Shining, Jack Torrance’s fierce love for his son Danny (completely missing from the cold, emotionless Kubrick adaptation) drives the novel. Jack’s fierce love for his son is also what ultimately saves everyone from hell. Certainly, yes, terrible things happen in Stephen King novels. (Is life any different?) Yet there is a compassion surrounding the events and the characters that surmounts the horror. I’ve read almost everything in King’s canon and can attest that this love of humanity is evident in just about everything he writes.

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A Winter “Risotto”

15 Feb

It seems odd posting about winter dishes when it’s almost 90 degrees outside and looks like this:

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Ah, Southern California!

Whatever the temperature, it is still winter and for most of the country, a soul-warming bowl of goodness is a perfect dinner. Actually, this kind of dinner sounds wonderful to me even when it’s 90 degrees out.

Risotto ingredients

ingredients for winter risotto

Risotto used to make me nervous. I read over and over that it was very difficult, that you have to stir it constantly, never leaving the stove; if you look away for a nanosecond, it’s ruined. Oh and chances are whatever you do, you will ruin it.

Total BS. Risotto is pretty easy to make.  You do not have to stir it continually or even watch it constantly. True, this isn’t stew which you can leave for hours and never look in the pot but you can be in the kitchen doing other things and not be scared your risotto will get messed up. I assure you: once you make a risotto, you will make it over and over again. You probably already have on hand what you need to make a basic risotto, the variations from the basic recipe are almost infinite and risotto tastes so damn good!  It’s also great to learn because this dish is a perfect meal any time of year. Spring and Summer risottos, for instance, with fresh vegetables from the garden or the Farmer’s Market are divine.

Let me then give you a wonderful recipe. But first, a few notes on my winter risotto:

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A Food and Film Affair

10 Feb

This is mostly for my Texas friends and readers, although anyone is welcome to make the journey to the utterly charming town of Fredericksburg, Texas!

ChrisLitherlandFredricksburg

Fredericksburg, Texas

Friday, February 19th, I’ll be in the glorious hill country of Texas hosting a “Food in Film” benefit for The Hill Country Film Society, a terrific organization I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past 5 years.

Bluebonnet-Sunrise-on-a-Country-Road-in-the-Texas-Hill-Country

Bluebonnets of Texas Hill Country

In partnership with Hoffman HausOtto’s German Bistro and Pedernales Cellars, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite “food in film” clips and discussing film while we all share in a multi-course meal designed with the clips in mind. The menu is incredible, it’s going to be delicious.

Better yet, your ticket will help benefit a great organization dedicated to supporting Texas filmmakers, independent film and children interested in filmmaking. (Proceeds benefit the Hill Country Film Society’s year-round programming: the Hill Country Film Festival, Indie Film Series and Summer Film Camp.)

Five Star ranked Hoffman Haus is offering 20% off accommodations if you are not local. 

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Hoffman Haus

So come out and join us for what should be a blast of an event. Click the link below for more information and tickets. Feel free to contact me as well! Would love to see you there.

For tickets and information click here: 

https://www.universe.com/events/film-affare-tickets-fredericksburg-ZM6R58

godfather

Clemenza teaches Michael how to make Spaghetti Sauce

 

 

Bacon Guacamole

4 Feb

Yes that’s right. Bacon Guacamole. When you have two of the best tasting wonders in all the universe, why not combine them for something even better? And just in time for SuperBowl Sunday.

Bacon Guacamole

Bacon Guacamole

I wish I could say I thought of the idea. But when I can make and eat a dish this incredible… who cares? My friends Jeff and Owen introduced me to a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Studio City called Cascabel. They have Bacon Guacamole as an appetizer. Jeff and Owen said it was a must. They ordered it and the waitress brought it to the table.

After I pulled my face out of the bowl and wiped the remains out of my eyebrows, I realized I would have to try my own version. So here it comes. 

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