Chicken Cordon Blue

Mom was a great straight ahead cook, able to whip up something delicious from whatever was handy. She could make a great meal starting with, say, a can of soup, some noodles, and, as far as I could tell, magic. Some her best stuff came out of cans, always with some kicker added that made it different – we didn’t eat straight up canned food but rarely – but she could also make a great meal starting with vegetables right out of the garden – or even a live rabbit or chicken. (1)

She taught all 9 of her kids how to cook in the best possible way: anyone who wandered through the kitchen when she was cooking was immediately drafted as an adviser/taster. “Does this need more spice?” “Should I put more X in this?” “How does this taste?”

By simply asking us kids questions and respecting our answers, Mom invited us into her cooking world.  All of grew up thinking our palates were good, our decision about cooking were good – and so, that we could do it.

Mom of course also let us help when we wanted to, and turned us loose when we were ready. By the time I was around 13, I’d make kid staples for me and my two little brothers: pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, that sort of thing. Mom was cool with it, and the little bros totally didn’t complain.

So 9 out of 9 Moore kids could cook up a storm.(2) No matter which brother or sister we visit, fresh quality grub is not an issue. (And plenty of it – there were 9 of us after all. Still trying to learn to scale back, now that we’re down to one resident kid in our house. Old habits.)

The big difference was this: Mom grew up during the Depression – for most of her life, mom cooked under a strict budget. The idea that you’d buy expensive stuff and fool around with it was completely foreign to her. So, while the cooking was good, it tended strongly toward what an East Texas Czech girl would think of as normal American cuisine.

This inherent thrift, sad to say, has not been passed along. Once I got settled and had a real job, I would occasionally try stuff that mom would never or very rarely try – like fresh salmon or crab, or fancy soft cheeses (the kind of stuff I first encountered in college events like art show openings. It should go without saying that we weren’t doing many art show openings when I was a kid.)

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Nice presentation, but I’d kick those Brussels sprouts up a couple notches with a cream cheese and slivered almond sauce.

My kids have taken this practice to the extreme. Once a few years back, we rented a SoCal beach house for Thanksgiving (off-season – cheaper than motels for 7 people). This house had a nice TV and cable – two things we didn’t have at the time. (3)

So what do these 5 TV deprived kids watch, when the entire cable world is their oyster? Cooking shows, of course.

Earlier in the week, I had bought the large value-pack of chicken breasts at Safeway, because I needed 2 but buying 6 or more is cheaper. (Did I mention this scaling back thing is difficult?). Had these chicken breasts that needed cooking up.

Yesterday, I ask David, age 12, what would you like for dinner that involves chicken? I listed off the usual: fried, breaded and fried, chicken Caesar salad, chicken stew, chicken soup – and he says “chicken cordon bleu.”

Ooo-Kay. Had no idea what chicken cordon bleu even is, but I googled it, saw how easy it is – so, yesterday, made chicken cordon bleu for the first time for dinner.

David  had no idea what chicken cordon bleu was, either. It was just the fanciest named thing involving chicken that he’d ever heard of. My son was messing with me, in other words.

He went with me shopping for Swiss cheese and ham, and looked over the recipe with me. He critiqued my chicken breast pounding technique – Alton Brown uses a glass pie plate and *presses* the chicken thin. Silly me – I was wondering what the recipe meant for me to do to ‘gently pound’  the chicken flat. Gently pound? Huh? David watched me mangle the first breast (it cooked up fine, especially when covered with breadcrumbs and cheese – sheesh!) until he could stand it no longer – he’s a polite kid – and started coaching me.

Well. The remaining three turned out lovely.

Anyway, it came out delicious, and really is easy. The consensus: it was pretty good, but my buttermilk Panko-crusted fried chicken is way better.


  1.  Those days, thankfully, were in the past by the time I would have been old enough to notice the bunnies getting it – I’m 7th of 9 kids, 18 years younger than the oldest.
  2. Grandma Brilliant, who was a classic Irish matron, when she found out I was raised by a Czech-American mom, took that as a complete explanation of why I, despite being a man, could surprisingly cook. No explanation for this view was ever offered.
  3. Still don’t have cable – PAY for that stuff? No Thanks.

Can the Attractive Youngsters Please SHUT UP?

If I never hear another actor, singer, or sports star say anything about politics, life will be much more peaceful and, more importantly, much less STUPID. Generally, I avoid reading or listening to ‘news’ sources in which I’m likely to hear the latest wisdom vomited forth from some pampered, sheltered one-dimensional punk to the applause of absolutely EVERYONE they know.

It’s worse in the Bay Area, of course. This is the land where the mere possibility one might actually hear something WRONG is sufficient justification for burning some random person’s car or vandalizing some random stranger’s storefront. Thus, allowing a few hundred people to listen to one guy say stuff that challenges the fantasy -land assumptions of progressivism is the same as forcing fascism on America, and therefore any steps necessary may be taken. No, really (1).

Anyway, I am weak, and sometimes do listen to the news over the radio on my morning commute – and, worse, even though I’ve sworn off the NBA, I don’t reflexively turn it off when the sports news comes on.

So, today, I paid the price: I listened to an Attractive Yet Sheltered and Ignorant Youngster use his platform as a sports superstar to attempt to ruin a company that has made him many millions of dollars. A company he is reputed to own a good size stake in. Because the CEO said something nice about Trump, and Our Attractive Youngster doesn’t like him.

Background: Steph Curry is the two-time defending Most Valuable Player in the NBA, which, given that he looks about 16 years old and is ‘only’ about 6’3″ tall, is utterly remarkable. His story is a Hero’s Journey in real life: no major colleges wanted him, so he attended a second-tier school, gained recognition when he took them deep into the NCAA playoffs, got drafted by the Warriors, spent the first couple years mostly injured – then blew the league apart with his phenomenal shooting ability. All the while looking like some kid who wandered onto the court where the men were playing.

He’s also charming in a boyish awe-shucks manner, married to a lovely, vivacious wife and father to two utterly adorable little girls. His reputation is squeaky-clean. He is unfailingly polite, and can effortlessly navigate both the black urban street-ball culture and golf with the CEO of any corporation. Children of all ages adore him in vast numbers.

In other words, Steph Curry is a marketer’s dream – no, rather a marketer’s most outlandish fantasy – come true.

A few years ago, just as he was starting to make a name for himself, he was up for a sneaker contract. For those not up on modern sports, the superstars cut deals with one of a small number of sporting equipment companies, wherein they get paid – often, a lot, as in millions per year – to wear the company’s shoes and other apparel when they play and at all other times. The 600 lbs gorilla in this game is Nike – they ‘own’ LeBron James, Tiger Woods and, legendarily, Michael Jordan, among many others.

Curry did not fit the Nike mold – their stable includes mostly god-like physical specimens who destroy all opposition. He looks like a kid. So they made a rather tame and lame offer to him. But up and coming Under Armour saw the potential, and signed him to a much sweeter deal, cut him a piece of the action, and made him the centerpiece of their entire corporate marketing campaign.

The rest is history. Cashing in on Curry’s unexpected meteoric rise to the top, Under Armour became a darling of Wall Street and made a boatload of money – with a smaller yet still large boatload paid to Curry. Match made in heaven, certain to be the subject of business school case studies for the next several decades.

Curry is the son of a professional athlete, a good, solid Christian citizen named Dell Curry. He grew up wealthy in the alternate universe elite athletes inhabit. His fairytale life really is a fairytale compared to real life.

Yet, he has no way of knowing that. It’s like water to a fish.

So, today, on the news, it was reported that the CEO of Under Armour commented that Trump’s pro-business policies make him “an asset to America”. Bay Area news-cretins (2) cannot let THAT pass, and so stuck a mic in Curry face and asked him to comment: he said he agreed, so long as you removed the ‘e’ and ‘t’ from ‘asset’. He then went on to say he’d need to have a talk with Under Armour about their business relationship, since it was clear they didn’t support the same politics.

Financially, Curry and Under Armour made each other. Yet, a 27-year-old sheltered child of a man now feels, not only free, but compelled to threaten to destroy the relationship – and the company! – unless management of a *corporation* reflects his personal political views. Some other company will snap him up in a minute, if push comes to shove, so Curry will come out just fine. But that may not mean much to the thousands of employees or owners of Under Armour stock.

I hope they have that discussion. I hope Under Armour gets somebody who can get through to Curry to explain that wishing Trump well and even supporting his policies does not make someone evil or stupid – that there are good reasons to prefer him over Hillary. That one might support the current President and wish him well – because he’s President, even if (as is the case for me) you find him personally appalling. That plenty of black men and women support Trump. That maybe he should contemplate why the military went Trump 3 to 1.  That maybe he should broaden his sources of information beyond his current echo chamber.

I’d be much more impressed with this principled stand if it stood to cost Curry anything. Meanwhile, I might just have to start buying non-Curry Under Armour gear if I ever need any, while grabbing some Chick Fil A on my way to Hobby Lobby.

  1. First thing that came up, from Rolling Stone: “Shutting down the talk was successful,” the protester, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an email. “But it was also about sending a message to everyone else: We aren’t about to allow white supremacist views to be normalized. It was about striking at the seemingly impervious confidence the far right has been boasting.”  But it isn’t just about blocking a single speaker. “It is really about making them understand the danger they pose by treating these insane neo-Nazi ideas cavalierly,” the protester says. “People talk a lot about ‘freedom of speech’ and I think this fetish of speech misses the larger point. It is about ideas of freedom itself. Who has it, and who is denied it.”
  2. The next item up was an interview with a marketing consultant about what it all means – because 90 seconds of information over the radio are what make the world go round. BUT: this marketing expert mentioned in passing, matter of fact, that boycotts by the right tend to not have much effect, because the media has no interest in promoting or even reporting on it like they do with boycotts from the left. That’ll teach that station not to do live interviews!

Divorce: Lying Starts at Home

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At least he didn’t kill his own children. But the divorces did – how do you say ? negatively impact a whole lot of people. (BTW – doesn’t his face look like a code monkey’s? The beady eyes and beard?)  

Divorce is like having both your legs amputated. It might be necessary in some extreme cases, but only a madman would make it anything other than a desperate last resort. And, afterwards, you can never walk unaided again.

Via some Twitter feed or other, I was made aware of this testament to our culture’s love affair with comforting self-deception and willingness, almost eagerness, to make someone else suffer for our sins, a currently popular song called When You Love SomeoneContinue reading “Divorce: Lying Starts at Home”

Rahm Makes Machiavelli Look Like a Choir Boy

Oops – doing politics.

I’ve long been fascinated by Rahm Emanuel, in a similar way to how I find LBJ, Whitey & Billy Bulger, Genghis Khan and, well, Machiavelli fascinating. These men are all recognizably human, probably kind to their pets and considerate of their mothers, which makes their behaviors and what they say all the more outrageous and repulsive.

His lust for power is complete, in that, as the article we’ll be discussing below shows, there are no principles he would hold on to at the risk of losing an election. Reading between the lines, elections, insofar as they might keep the likes of Rahm out of power, are therefore in themselves nothing to be defended – not surprising, once you consider the man saying this is the umpteenth consecutive Democratic mayor of Chicago, where elections have not been allowed to turn out ‘wrong’ since the 1920s (1).

So here is the headline from today’s Chicago Tribune:

Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning

Hmmm. This is a ‘problem’ Rahm himself will never suffer from. From the article:

“Winning’s everything,” he said. “If you don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes, you’ve just got to win, OK? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose.”

Here’s another interesting bit:

The mayor expanded on what he believes is the road map back to power for his party — putting moderate candidates such as veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people up in Republican districts, picking battles with Republicans, exploiting wedges within the GOP and fighting attempts to redistrict Congress on partisan grounds.

It does not seem to occur to Rahm, or, rather, if it were to occur to him he would see it as utterly irrelevant, that, generally, those “veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people” might not agree with his goals. That getting him and his elected might not be seen as all that. That his win-at-all-costs approach itself may be a turn-off. For example, read somewhere that 75% of the military voted for Trump, and that the much of the remainder voted Not Hillary. The reasons should be obvious. So, what he’s looking for is that veteran who can, at the same time, be seen as ‘one of us’ by other military while embracing the party of Benghazi, Military as Affirmative Action Laboratory, and constant insults and dismissal of military people. Soldiers do tend to cling to their guns, if not always their Bibles, after all.

But all this – what people believe and how they reasonably respond to being dismissed, insulted, and hung out to die – is just irrelevant to Rahm. Or rather, is just another political problem to be overcome by cunning and hard work. That the actual concerns and dreams of “veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people” might not correspond to what his party demonstrably stands for just isn’t important.

Winning is important.

People, especially the wrong people, are to be used as means to an end if possible, or crushed like bugs if not.

Now, Rahm can be forgiven, perhaps, for thinking this way. He and his did get Obama elected. Twice. Digression: Many years ago, watched a TV item about a comparatively harmless cult leader out in, I think, New Mexico. His small number of followers *LOVED* him. Fortunately, the cult leader didn’t seem to want to make them into slaves or have them kill themselves – as I said, relatively harmless.

The interviewer tried to talk to the leader, who was very open and gracious. He came across as friendly, sincere, honestly interested in answering the dude’s questions – and utterly, completely incoherent. He was using English words in complete sentences, but darned if I, or the interviewer, could make out what, if anything, he was saying.

But, to his followers, he was the font of wisdom. That they, the followers, could not articulate what he was saying any better than he could (any more than a generic message to be nice and be open) was a source of mild frustration and calls to just talk to him yourself, you’d then see.

I recall thinking: wow, these seemingly normal people see a prophet where I, and most everyone else, see a kindly, babbling crazy person. His followers just couldn’t see it. It greatly helped, I think, that what he said was a content-free vessel for the listener’s own hopes and dreams. The followers were free to imagine whatever they wished they’d heard.

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Harding. Doesn’t he look like a president? Sure, he’s largely unqualified and is being pushed by unscrupulous people for their own ends – but he looks so presidential. 

In a similar way, the first time I saw Obama, before I’d formed an opinion of him, my initial impression (fleshed out in hindsight, of course) was: here is a pampered teacher’s pet, who has been told his whole life how smart he is, who has been walked through the halls of academia (along paths his mother and family had already trail blazed, it turns out) and handed degrees and awards, and has no idea that he, himself, hasn’t conquered the world by his own merits. Then, he opened his mouth and removed all doubt.

Hope and Change, it turns out, was not just a campaign slogan, but, as in the case above, was a container into which the listener is invited to put whatever he wishes he heard. I do not exaggerate: I had two friends who were both strong Obama supporters both times around, and one was mortally offended at the idea that Obama was a Socialist at heart; the other supported him because, obviously, Obama is a Socialist.

Thus, I was and am dumbstruck: we are looking at and listening to the same guy, right? And you see a brilliant scholar and leader who is or is not absolutely certainly a Socialist or isn’t, in whom all right thinking people must place all their trust? You don’t see a pampered, spoiled little boy whose life is completely achievement-free except for stuff handed him by other people? Whose actual words (especially off script) reveal him to be totally pedestrian? Have you never met people of intelligence and accomplishment? And you can’t see the difference?(2)

Anyway, Rahm got that guy elected. Twice. His team deflected all criticism by accusations of racism, leaving people like me, again, completely baffled – what? I’d be thrilled to have a black – or female, or polka-dot – president IF he seemed likely to do the job well. Obama turned out to be everything I thought he’d be: the Warren G. Harding of our generation.

And Rahm has now announced his hopes that the Democrats find more Hardings: people who look the part to act as figureheads while the operatives – you know, like Rahm – actually run things (3).

I guess we’d have to elect them to find out what’s in them.

  1. “Big Bill” Thompson won as a Republican in 1915 – 1923 and 1927 – 1931. His most striking achievement was being even more corrupt and brutal than the Democrats he was running against.
  2. That’s another problem with academia: they are the self-proclaimed smart people, urban, sophisticated. Except, with the wild expansion of post-high school education over the last 50-60 years, more and more academic positions have to be filled by average people. Those average people are then the gate-keepers, determining who the next round of academics will be. Thus, especially if one were to get a degree where objective technical competence is not measurable – sociology or English, say, as opposed to accounting or chemistry – an innocent young thing might graduate thinking he’d met all the really smart people. Then Obama doesn’t look half-bad – he sounds just like that smart sociology professor you had in sophomore year…
  3. Rahm went back to Chicago right around the time it became clear that Obama wasn’t going to let him run things – the story goes that the President refused to listen to Rahm’s advice on getting the ACA passed – so Rahm took his ball and went home. Rahm, BTW, is a brilliant man of achievement, in case you need to know what one looks like. He’s also a politically amoral power mad manipulator who finds socialism appealing – because it promises to concentrate power into the hands of people like him. It should go without saying that just finding that brilliant person of achievement is not enough.

A Thought on Eternal Evil

Eternity is not just more time, in a sense similar to how  God is not just a bigger cause. As God is the Cause of causes – the Unmoved Mover, in classic Greek philosophy, wherein, in Christian theology, all created things live and move and have their being – eternity is that within which time takes place. Eternity is more than the sum of all time.

This has implications for redemption and repentance. We, bounded by time, find it strictly unimaginable (strictly, since our acts of imaginations are realized over time) that a creature could act eternally. Angels are such creatures. We, having been given eternal life, are also such creatures, though we haven’t (in both senses of that word) realized it yet.

Image result for the fall of luciferWhen we talk of the fall of Satan and a battle in Heaven, we are speaking about events that take place (if that’s a meaningful way to say it) in eternity – they are not something that happened in the past. Satan is falling now, has fallen in the past, will continue to fall in the future – that’s how events in eternity necessarily look to us living in time, like seeing a 2-dimensional slice of a three dimensional figure, and trying to imagine the figure – only it’s worse, since eternity is not just the sum of a bunch of snapshots of time.

People sometimes wonder if Satan or any human in Hell can repent and be saved. If eternity were just more time, then that would be an interesting question. But if eternal acts are eternal, there is no ‘later’ in which to reconsider or be redeemed. This will be our fate once we realize, in the sense of make real to our own eyes, our eternal nature. This is why saints, as they start to see God, are mortified by their slightest fault – becoming more Christ-like is also becoming more aware of their own eternal nature, and how their sins tend to become eternal as a result.

So here’s the mind-bender: Satan and his angels knew all this. Their ‘act’ in falling away from God included all the temptations, manipulations, possessions and horrors by which we see evil unveiled over time – and their defeat at the hands of Christ. All these acts took place at once, as it were, as it was, is now and ever shall be. The fall of the angels IS the evil they work in the world and our lives. There was no ‘before’ Satan fell, and no ‘after’. He is falling now; he is rejecting God now; he is hating us with a white-hot passion now. And he will be doing all this for ever – for all eternity.

The fallen angels knew all this, saw how it worked out to their own destruction and pain, and rejected God anyway.

Christianity proposes we all get to make eternal decisions, that there comes a point where we pass from time within which one can change one’s mind, to eternity, where knowledge and decisions are complete.