Archive for the ‘New Mexican Quirks’ Category

We interrupt LabRat's navel gazing for the following rant:

November 11, 2007 - 1:24 pm Comments Off on We interrupt LabRat's navel gazing for the following rant:

This article, from the NY Times (and I apologize for that up front, by the way) has been making the rounds lately. Given how many New Yorkers (and Californians) have been cropping up around this state in the last ten years, I feel compelled to add my two cents. I will say up front that I know not all New Yorkers are like this, and some can still be cool (Hi Michele!). There are around nine billion of these other fuckers crammed onto that tiny island though, and this is for them.


In the course of my scant years on this dusty brown chunk of the US I have chosen to occupy, I have met every single one of the people from that article, at least in character. And for note, these problems are not exclusive to New York, though I’m sure one of their die-hard boosters would happily stand up and claim their neurotics are more neurotic than Los Angeles/Phoenix/Chicago/Megafuckopolis’ neurotics, but that’s a separate “Why New York Sucks” post. This panty-wetting nancery at the mere prospect of encountering wildlife appears to those of us more accustomed to the notion that animals exist outside the zoo and meat counter to be behaviors expected of an eight-year-old child kid camping in the back yard for the first time. This flat cowardice in the face of what so many are clearly dealing quite well with would be on its own if not acceptable, at least understandable. Unfortunately, rather than accept that there are environments ill suited to their particular form of existance, the recently arrived anchovies begin trying to mold the new environment to their particular liking, which means tranforming the pleasant rural environment they so desired in the first place into yet another Mini-NY, complete with overcrowding, horrible fashion, gun laws that even the most disabled Downs Syndrome patient would consider stupid, crime, more overcrowding, oh, and could someone please get rid of those pesky elk? They keep coming in and eating our fruit! I wish I was making that up, too. One particular New York Fucker my family had the misfortune to deal with some time ago actually said that. Well no fucking shit, you enlightend and sophisticated twat. They tend to do that. What the hell is wrong, New York? Did you watch one too many reruns of “Green Acres” and decide that Oliver Wendell Douglas was on to something? Too bad nobody took into account that the average NY Male is about as masculine and capable as Eva Gabor these days.

The snobby fucks with the weekend houses and no idea how to live in them are disgusting. You perpetually refer to us as “Flyover Country” and rural bumpkins, hicks, “machine people, not like my helpless, incompetent, idiotic enlightened artistic ass self”, etc. If you fall into this category, do everyone the biggest favor of your non-productive life: Stay in the city! The tales of tourists in NY getting progressively shittier and shittier treatment are nigh endless. Here’s the other side of the equation, jackasses: We don’t like you in our environment either. I don’t lobby to turn cougars and bears loose on Manhattan (well, not very hard at least), and I know damn well that I am not suited to spending any time in that glass and concrete sardine tin you’re all so fond of, so I stay well clear of it. Being packed shoulder to shoulder and living in a space where turning around means you’d better be damn friendly with your neighbors is as alien to me as the notion of chasing a thousand pound antlered critter from the yard (another alien idea to you folks) is on 5th Avenue. Come on out and be tourists. Even though we’re not fond of you, you’ll probably get better treatment than tourists in your own town will. Spend some money skiing, go for a hike – if you can stand the notion that you might encounter an animal bigger than a squirrel – and go home. That’s the important part: Go. Home. Know your limitations.

Sure, there are some advantages to the city. Personally, I’d love to have a genuine cut-to-order butcher closer than 100 miles away. This is what is known as a trade-off. I get my space, elk in the yard, etc, I give up the instant gratification of having a specialty shop for every conceivable specialty within five miles. If you cannot understand this trade off, do not make it. Anybody from the big city (especially coastal cities; I know Phoenix has a healthy gun culture for example) consdering a more rural life, ask yourself this: If you see your new neighbor walking around casually with a gun, will your first thought be along the lines of “He might kill me!”? If the answer is yes, you might not belong outside the city.

I will happily continue to be a bumpkin in flyover country, so long as the quivering little sods as described in the original article continue happily to be urban sophisticates. This is most certainly not a happy case of “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter,” so stop forcing it. Yankee go home!

*Yes, I’m sure there are a couple New Yorkers who are bona fide outdoorsmen, wonderful folk, not like this at all, etc, but the day I meet someone from NY City, especially the city proper, who doesn’t work it into the first five minutes of conversation, usually with “X is better there,” I will probably require emergency medical attention from surprise.

It ain't the heat, it's the inanity other people

August 23, 2007 - 11:07 am Comments Off on It ain't the heat, it's the inanity other people

Attention: If you live in a state such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, etc that is specifically known for getting Fucking Hot in the summer, and you complain about this heat more than ten times in the space of five minutes, you are fair game for a good old fashioned burning at the stake. The twist is that instead of gasoline and logs, we will use a giant magnifying glass.

Stingray vs. Nature: Pt. N

August 20, 2007 - 1:33 pm Comments Off on Stingray vs. Nature: Pt. N

My parents moved me to this hilltop Geek Storage Facility when I was about six months old. Since then, I’ve grown up playing with the local bugs, being wary that the possibility of rattlesnake was out there, watching for packs of coyotes that might find a small child a tasty treat, and generally being unimpressed by the local dangerous, poisonous, or painful residents sharing the plateau. I knew that a Jerusalem Cricket would give you a nasty pinch (and that tarantulas absolutely loved their flavor), I learned about the tarantula mating season, and I cornered more than a couple of bullsnakes, terrifying one or two other kids who swore they were poisonous.

Unfortunately, at no point do I feel I was properly briefed on the subject of scorpions. “It gets too cold in the winter,” I was told. Or sometimes the line would be “It gets too wet in the summer.” “The altitude is too high.” “There isn’t enough __________ for them.” Certainly, I knew they were in the state somewhere. I’d seen one that took up residence under the leg of our camper once at Conchas Lake. Obviously they had them down south, since to my young mind anything south of Albuquerque may as well have been the Sahara. Thus, a few months after finishing the move to our current house last year, I was in for something of a surprise. We had grown fairly adept at corralling and disposing of the steady march of centipedes stampeding their twitchy little way through our living room, and had a reasonably efficient drill in place. Someone would see the little (or not so little) bastard tearing across the living room floor, and a pair of pliers would be dispatched to transfer the creepy-crawly into the nearest critter disposal, be it toilet, garbage disposal, or blowtorch.

What we hadn’t prepared for was that sometimes the smaller specimens would be using our living room as an escape route rather than a hunting ground. One evening about this same time of year, several beers into the evening, a small centipede was spotted. Coming in well under an inch, this was not cause for alarm in any way shape or form, and it was swiftly dispatched. Less than five minutes later, however, I heard a disconcerting “Ummm….” come from LabRat’s end of the sofa. A brief discussion followed, most likely including the phrase “Dammit, I don’t want another brain-sucking hat you bastards!” while she attempted to bring the new intruder to light. Zydeco, meanwhile, was on full alert thanks to the centipede, and was already investigating. I was finally distracted from the Space Pirates just in time to see Zydeco batting at something that looked suspiciously lobster-like on the carpet. Lobster-like with an arched tail. Lobster-like with an arched tail that just stabbed Zydeco in the nose.


Immediately and full of calm rationality, I scooped the cat up, deposited him to safety with LabRat, who was already checking to find out if we should be calling a vet. I proceeded to test the crush strength of our foundation by beating the ever-loving unholy stabby poison out of our new friend. I am told that in no way did this display resemble a child with ADD and full of caffeine attempting to play golf using whatever vaguely club-like instrument came to hand. After the initial shock of discovering an unprecedented creature in the house passed, we were left with this:
First visitor

LabRat determined it was a mostly harmless bark scorpion, and I spent the next few weeks glaring angrily and readying a club at every piece of dust that happened to twitch at ground level while coming to terms with this new threat. It was not a peaceful period.

Last night, while in the process of looking for heart pieces, I heard from the opposite end of the sofa “Don’t freak out.” Naturally, I began freaking out. After a quick look to determine that a) nothing was on fire, b) there were no intruders standing in the doorway with explosives and ropes made out of poisonous snakes, and c) none of the animals appeared distressed, I deactivated the death-ray security system and looked around to find out what it was, exactly, that I should not freak out about. On the carpet, a few feet away, I saw a suspiciously familiar outline.

“Is that…?”
“I think so.”
“Hold on to Zydeco.”

With ninja-like dexterity, I improvised and adapted the standard issue centipede drill and nigh-soared across the room, pliers in hand. With a year’s worth of mental training, not to mention a year of festering grudge to work out, I quickly disarmed my opponent, leaving the tip of its tail in a puddle of goo while I addressed the other end of the vile bastard. After a summer of extraordinarily large centipedes, I also discovered that scorpions are not particularly speedy in comparison, a finding that delighted me to no end as it tried to escape.

I am told that the sight of a grown man lecturing something less than an inch and a half long on the complexities of the food chain, the proper preparation of lobster, and cackling madly while wielding a leatherman is a stirring one. Obviously I can issue no commentary on this display, as I was involved with the scorpion and didn’t see whoever this stranger was that was making such an ass of himself. Our new friend has joined the companion he sought to avenge.

The Avenger

Naturally, I made sure to get the stinger in the jar too. Everybody knows if you don’t get the stinger, it’ll grow a new scorpion twice as big and flashing red. I intend to keep filling this jar, seeing as how the first one survived a year under glass without so much as losing a leg. Eventually, this will mean I will have a jar full of dead scorpions.

If luck smiles on me, I will someday have the opportunity to fling a jar full of dead scorpions on Sarah Brady.

LabRat vs. Capsicum: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the chile

August 4, 2007 - 3:33 pm Comments Off on LabRat vs. Capsicum: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the chile

I used to absolutely despise spicy food. And it’s all this man’s fault:

pepper-snorting bastard

Back in 1984, he released Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, and it was something of a hit. It caused a new nationwide craze for “Cajun” food, led to the opening of a thousand mediocre restaurants, and blasted my tender little palate right into the stone age. It’s not entirely his fault that his audience missed some finer details in his book, but the end result was the same: people formed their first impression of “Cajun” food, and the two major features they came away with as being markers of “Cajun” cooking were:

1) It’s just like normal food, only with ten times as much pepper.

2) It’s just like normal food, only with all the meats and seafood scorched to carbon.

Unfortunately, point one is just because Paul Prudhomme likes pepper (read the cookbook, it’s obscene), and point two- “blackening”- was Paul’s own invention. It’s a neat technique done right- which it rarely is- but it’s about as traditionally Cajun as sushi. This little runaway train also just about drove an unassuming fish species into extinction, but that’s a story for another day.

If the misguided Cajun craze had restricted itself to Yankees and other tin palates, it would have had little effect on me. As it were it reached my mother’s side of the family, who had lived in central Louisiana for generations and had nothing to specifically identify the food that had been handed down between the generations other than the realization that their mothers’ recipes were just like the new, famous food except- not enough pepper and carbon. Obviously, they had been doing it wrong*.

Before a collective coming-to-senses happened and the cooks returned to the actual Cajun-creole home food they had no idea they were already good at, many traumatic restaurant visits and one truly epic Thanksgiving turkey that had been “Cajun-ized” with enough red pepper to run the LAPD’s crowd control operations for a month had run roughshod over me. So far as I was concerned, “spicy hot” was for masochists who preferred pain to flavor. (There was also one memorable episode with a Chinese firecracker pepper, but that one was entirely my fault.)

After that, two things happened: first, I took off for New Orleans for college, in a mingled attempt to get a good education and put at least two states between myself and my parents. While there I figured out that outside of Prudhomme Cajun-Creole cooking is all about seasonings and spices but not about fire, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

And then I fell for a guy who was firmly rooted to New Mexico, and after college lit out to join him.

I had thought I could successfully avoid all food more challengingly spicy than intense sausages; after all, I’d survived Arizona and Louisiana that way, despite the former’s proximity to the border and the latter’s embrace of hot sauces. I had not counted on New Mexicans’ devotion to chile being under-reported rather than over-hyped. It’s not just a convenient image to tack on a postcard; they really do eat chile for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if given half a chance. Green chile is an option to get on your cheeseburger at McDonald’s within this state.

I was in the hot place whether I liked it or not. Avoiding it would have required becoming the state’s pickiest eater, and being extraordinarily rude to my potential in-laws in the bargain, given that every single special-occasion dish that Stingray’s mother is good at is chile-based.

Having been raised to eat what I was served by my hosts up to and including that which was actively evolving new life before my eyes, I sucked it up and ate the chile. At first I was utterly miserable, but over time the constant exposure had its usual addictive** effect, and it ceased to bother me and started to be a plus. I still break out in a sweat and start guzzling my margarita in some of the local restaurants, but so do many of the natives.

The overall effect is rather like hazing in its shame/bonding cycle, really. On the other hand, I now know enough to know that Bobby Flay knows only slightly more about chile than he knows about astrophysics, and the heckling value and sense of superiority are invaluable all on their own.

*Should any member of my extended family read this and happen to figure out who I am, I will accept any and all asskicking due to me and my potentially revisionist approach to these events. But I can still taste that turkey, dammit.

**No, not really. It’s definitely self-reinforcing, but it’s not a true addiction. Neither is sex, shopping, or chocolate, for that matter.