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What’s Wrong With Cultural Appropriation? Unpacking The Recent SFSU Incident –

So I’ll be honest: I’ve always had an issue with the universal nature with which the term “cultural appropriation” is (seemingly in my experience) applied and wielded without consideration for the potential of the “appropriator” (or perpetrator of appropriative behavior if you prefer) to have legitimate cause or justifiable explanation for their choice. 

Much in the way that a man attempting to engage in a conversation about gender/sexuality issues might be told he ‘can’t have an opinion because [he] is male,’ this approach seems (to me) to alienate and isolate members of the privilege population (whose systemic conditioned behaviors are recognized as needing to change) instead of providing the opportunity for all parties involved to become part of an inclusive dialogue on the issue at hand. This second approach seems more likely on paper to achieve any result at all, let alone the desired result of changed systemic behavior patterns.

The way this article approaches the issue of appropriation is fantastic. It treats it as the undeniably important issue that it is,  and explains incredibly well the importance of dialogue for social understanding and change. It allows for the possibility that whites do sometimes appropriate external influences out of respect for that culture or for similar, thought-out reasons,  but (and to me this is vital) warns that anyone who does so should expect and prepare for scrutiny and some level of suspicion. If you don’t have a good reason to appropriate from another culture, you probably shouldn’t do it.

And while the argument of ‘freedom of expression/choice’ is one of my favorites, I can also recognize the elephant in the room:

200+ years of culture theft, misrepresentation, bigotry, and white-washing every goddamn thing that’s crossed our path as a society (pretty much every  style of music since…oh let’s call it 1920 just to play it safe on either end) has earned us the distrust of pretty much any representative of any other culture.  Period. 

The only thing at which white people have ever truly excelled has been…well, we’ll call it taking everything that isn’t nailed the fuck down, by any means necessary.

There’s a word for that: Robbery.  The taking of property by force or intimidation is called robbery.  If we consider the intangible aspects of existence and culture as personal or cultural ‘property’ this becomes a horrifying rendition of our history, even if you blur out the really heinous parts. And when systemic social inequality can be recognized as ‘force’ or ‘intimidation’ it gets even worse.

So yes, like it or not, the fact remains. If you’re going to appropriate from another culture,  you had better be ready to defend your reasons and do it well.  Or you’re kind of a part of the problem.

We did it to ourselves through a history of exploitation. And the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start taking steps together as a larger, unified society.

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Cook’s Couch: One For the [Recipe] Books OR Do Not Read This Post on an Empty Stomach…

One of the things that has prevented me from more actively attempting to revive this blog in recent months has been purely technical: My computer died pretty much as soon as I retrieved it from my friend’s house and as odd as it sounds, finding a single blank DVD to fix the problem and reinstall my OS has been a surprisingly daunting task.

I’m not a fan of crafting expansive text-work on a phone.  I miss my keyboard and I miss the multi-functionality of the software environment on my Ubuntu box,  even if it’s a Frankenfossil. One positive aspect, however, is that I have a much easier time taking and applying pictures without unnecessary steps.

Which means this particular installment is going to hurt your feelings.


It's okay, you can hate me

Because this is what we’re making today…

I’m sure this dish has some kind of technical culinary name, but I don’t have the faintest clue what it is. So I’m calling it Drunken Chicken.  With garlic parmesan mashed potatoes.

Those of you who are familiar with the old Cook’s Couch segments may have already figured out I’m a fan of single-dish mixture meals; fried rices and pastas and such. Part of that is pure laziness or ease of process.  This is a pretty distinct departure from that style of cooking.


The garlic on the plate is for the mashed potatoes

For this, you will need:

1 Big-Ass Pot (1gal+ stockpot)
1 Big-Ass Skillet (12″-14″)
1 Little Saucepan (1-2qt)

1 chicken breast
2 Tbsp.* Alcohol**
2 Tbsp.* soy sauce(low sodium)

2 small yellow onions
12-15 baby carrots
2 stalks celery

1/2 lb. mushrooms
5-7 spears asparagus
10-12 fresh green beans
4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 bulb garlic (3-5 Tbsp minced)*

Milk or heavy cream (maybe 1/2 cup)*
Butter (1/2 stick)*


*A note on measurements: I don’t really measure things. These measurements are used to give an idea of relative amounts.  Maybe a shot of alcohol and an equal amount soy sauce, basically.

**For this dish, I strongly recommend Triple Sec. Tequila or Rum are both excellent for this, but Triple Sec adds the hint of citrus this dish needs without requiring the addition of fresh lime/orange juice and zest.

***I use a fairly consistent collection of ingredients to season almost all of my food. 

-black pepper
-white pepper
-cayenne(red) pepper
-chinese five spice powder*
-curry powder


Chinese five spice is cinnamon, ginger, anise, fennel, clove, and licorice root. The important items are cinnamon and ginger.

Okay, so now we get into the process.  One reason I like this dish is that the cooking of the different parts stagger easily with each other.

First, dice the carrots, celery, and onions. One onion goes with the celery and carrots, the other goes on a separate plate (we’ll come back to that)

Now, cut off the bottoms from the asparagus spears. Cut the asparagus  into three evenly sized lengths. Cut the tips off the green beans and cut them about the same size as the asparagus. Trim the stalks off the broccoli and cut the crowns into smaller pieces (refer to picture above)

Cut the mushrooms (I prefer quartered to sliced but whatever.) Half the mushrooms go with the brocolli, the other half go with that lonely diced onion.

If you’re starting with fresh garlic, mince your garlic now. Set aside about a third of the garlic, you’ll use that for the mashed potatoes later.  The rest of the garlic will get spread around. Take about half of your remaining garlic and split it between the carrots/celery/onion mixture (called mirepoix) and the sort of random mushroom/onion setup.  Start heating up the water for the potatoes.

Now, dice the chicken (1-inch pieces are good) and put it in a plastic container.  Add alcohol, soy sauce, and the leftover garlic with reasonable dashes of all the seasonings (EXCEPT the basil.) Mix together by hand and set aside.  Wash off your knife and cutting board.

Cut the potatoes. These are skin-on mashed potatoes so don’t bother peeling them. Just cut them in half and cut the halves into 4-6 pieces. When your water is boiling, add the potatoes and stir. 

Start heating up the skillet for the main dish.  Once its hot, add a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil (just enough for the bottom of the pan) and then add the mirepoix.


Mirepoix is a mixture of aromatic vegetables, typically carrots, celery, and onion.

Once the onions start to turn translucent, push everything to the sides of the skillet. Let the center heat up fir 20-30 seconds and add the chicken. You’ll need to pull the chicken from the container instead of dumping it, you’ll need the remaining liquid in the container in just a minute.


Let it cook like that for a minute or two then mix it all together.


Once most of the pink has cooked out of the chicken, add the green beans and asparagus and the liquid from the chicken container (shouldn’t be too much) and then mix it together.  Add some basil and another round of light seasoning and let it cook for a few minutes,  stirring it regularly so nothing sticks.


Once the beans and asparagus start to soften a little, put the mushrooms and brocolli on top of everything. Don’t mix it in yet, it’s about to get tricky.  Grab a lid (it only NEEDS to be big enough to cover the mushrooms and brocolli but as close to the size of the skillet you can manage) and pour about two tablespoons of cold water right over the top and cover it with the lid. 


Advanced cooking technique number 72: lid-steaming

This technique will steam the brocolli and mushrooms. Put the saucepan on the stove and turn it on medium or medium-low.  Put about half your butter in the saucepan with the mushrooms/onion/garlic, add a little salt and black pepper, and stir. Once the butter is mostly melted, it’s time to return your attention to the skillet.

Remove the lid and stir.  Add a splash of soy sauce and alcohol, keep stirring it, you may even want to turn the heat down to keep it from burning or sticking.

Check your potatoes now, they should be pretty close to if not done.  Grab a big potato chunk with a fork. If it falls apart pretty easily, they’re done. Turn them off and transfer the potatoes into a strainer and then into a big bowl.


Turn off the heat under the skillet but stir it again and leave it on the stove. The mushrooms and onions probably aren’t QUITE done yet but don’t worry.  Add garlic, milk, butter, salt, seasonings (no five spice, no curry powder) and parmesan to the potatoes and mash/stir until the desired consistency.  Turn off the heat under the mushroom/onion saucepan.  And bam.


It’s dinnertime.

This makes about 3-5 servings, but it’s super easy to just add another piece of chicken and stretch it to 4-6 or even 8 servings if you make small additions to each of the vegetables, or add a few extra ones in.

Now, it wouldn’t be the Cook’s Couch without an entertainment pairing.  Unlike previous installments, however, I’m attempting to improve accessibility for you, the reader, by finding something on Netflix.

Since Netflix has recently added it, our selection will be taken from Season 5 of Bob’s Burgers. Tonight’s episode is “The Gayle Tales.”

This is one of the anthology episodes, where the kids are grounded and must write essays in order to win the opportunity for a night out at Yarnival (“It’s like Cirque du Soleil, but with cats…”) with Aunt Gayle, who has been stood up.

One catch, the essays must contain Scott Bakula.

So go. Eat, drink, and be meow-y.

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Re-thinking things through an Autistic filter –

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the…No Go Fuck Yourself It’s Still November

It’s November 12th, right? I’m not making it up?

That’s what I thought.

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, which I’m actually pretty happy about. It would have been cooler last month, but I love it whenever it happens.

What I am not happy about…is the fact that [insert name of syndicated female DJ on the station we play in our dining room] decided that today was a good day to begin playing Christmas music.

This is why I carry the ‘Halloween is all of October’ torch with such fervor.

Nevermind the fact that the vast majority of Christmas music was written in the 1950s and just regurgitated every generation. Forget the atmosphere of aggressive corporate consumerism, the chaos of the Holiday shopping season, and the seasonal increase in gas costs.

It’s two fucking weeks before Thanksgiving. Two. Fucking. Weeks. Exactly two weeks from now motherfuckers will be fully glutted and sleeping in preparation for what Christmas is really about: Black Friday.

I sincerely doubt that the faithful are lined up 8000 deep at 5am on Black Friday professing their jubilation for the coming of Christ their savior, but motherfuckers will be trampling each other for TVs and cell phones and shit.

I guess that’s what Christmas is really about…

Can we at least get through Gluttony before we progress to Greed and Envy?

I’m just sayin…

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This is What They Pay Me For… – YouTube

This is What They Pay Me For… – YouTube.

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The Passion Season 2 or Grice is Back With A Brand New Invention…

Come on, don’t hit the back button.  I promise that’s the only Vanilla Ice pun that’s going to happen today…probably.

I apologize to all of my readers for the incredibly long absence, but by the time winter went away, I got a job and started working 6 days a week in a hot-ass kitchen, even by kitchen standards.  Summer is the super-duper busy season for us, so I’ve been in ‘working my ass off’ mode since Memorial Day.  I’ve been in the “mulling it over in my head stage” of resuming the Passion for a month or two now, and with the added motivation of my recent Facebook pact with PerpetualPlotHole it’s time to get on my ass and get a post done.  By the way, if you still haven’t checked out her blog, you should.  It will brighten your day.

It’s nice to be making pizzas again, and I’ve been learning some pastas and generally improving my kitchen skillset, which has been stunted in a couple of key areas by the nature of the places I’ve worked.  I had to have a very awkward conversation with my manager early on about the fact that it’s been ten years since the last time I had to actually prep anything, you know, with a knife, or cook fish on an actual char-grill, or fish at all really.  He’s a great big bear of a hippie, and he’s one of the coolest bosses I’ve ever had.  We went with another of the guys from work to a Love Canon show in Bristol back in July and had a great time.

I do miss my old job, I’ll be honest.  I miss having interactions with the customers who were demographically close-enough to me most of the time that I could easily find common ground.  I miss people actually recognizing the reference of my “I am the kwisatz haderach” t-shirt.  On the upside, there are hot servers. Many of whom are also pretty rockin’ people separate from their eye-candy value which, bless them for being such good sports about the raucous kitchen harassment all the time.  And before you get offended, please try to understand that it’s one of the few perks of being a cook to be able to harass servers, and there exists a very clear element of consent.  The first time a person communicates discomfort with it, it stops and it stays stopped, and 99% of the time the touch barrier isn’t broken.  We’re all fairly close just from working so damn much together, and there’s a certain level of what we will call respect (comprised at least 15% of desire to maintain employment in many cases) towards one another so it’s all just a way to help everyone stay positive and happy.

And now, I have to go to bed.  Because I still live in the land of the doubles.

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More On the Topic of Insomnomnomnia

I am not, by true definition, an insomniac.  I do not suffer from extended periods of sleeplessness that are beyond my control, nor do I have a general problem sleeping for healthy duration.  I don’t dislike sleep, and I don’t have notably bad dreams.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I have pretty awesome dreams.  Vin-Diesel-fighting-Predator-in-a-swamp-driving-a-fanboat awesome.

I just have a very complicated relationship with sleep.

It takes forever to fall asleep unless I’m already about to fall asleep where I’m sitting.

As a kid, I would turn on a bathroom light and read until I fell asleep, or listen to music.  It got me in trouble when I was young and my parents thought I was just being a stubborn kid.  No matter how many times I tried to explain to them that I just wasn’t sleepy yet and was trying to make myself sleepy, I was told to go to bed, and that if I tried I would fall asleep.  Not once did this approach yield results.  When it was summer and I stayed with my grandparents, I could pretty much stay up until whenever as long as I didn’t wake anybody up.  So I watched a lot of late-night TV or laid in bed and listened to, and I’m not kidding here, AM-band late night talk therapy shows (if you’ve seen Frasier you know what I’m talking about) on a little stuffed raccoon with a built-in radio.

A Radio Shack product from back in the day.

It’s a little more disturbing than I remember. Click link for original source (which is an eBay listing for one of these things. Trigger Warning for Online Impulse Shoppers)

In middle school, I would not do my homework during the evening, set my alarm to something ridiculous like 2 or 3:30 AM, do my homework in about a half an hour, and then go back to bed, begrudgingly get up in time for school (which was a good half hour away.)  By senior year of high school, I was going to bed around 4 AM and waking up at 6:30 to get to school by 7 so I didn’t have to fuck with traffic.  I can take half a nap or whatever if I’m already there, but I fucking hate sitting in avoidable-ass traffic.  If I can leave twenty minutes early and just chill out where I’m supposed to be, I avoid a lot of unnecessary stress and/or hassle.

By the summer before I started college, I had adopted a “go to bed when I notice the sun coming up and wake up whenever” routine, which made those 8 AM acting classes that Fall absolute hell.  Especially since my teacher was a double PhD. in Dance and Movement.  Yoga at 8 AM on two-to-four hours of sleep for two hours three days a week.  Let that sink in.

Falling asleep before 3 or 4 AM has been an issue for some time, and I’ve never been a morning person.  Even straight out of bed I function better at 6 or 7 PM than I do at 8 AM, regardless of how much sleep I’ve had.  I don’t want to see early morning unless I haven’t been to bed yet.

And then sometimes I stay awake just long enough to hit that second wind and, like a hang-glider, I try to see just how long I can glide from updraft to updraft.  I feel it important to note that I’m a hobbyist.  I don’t take it seriously.  I try to avoid staying awake for more than two or three days at a time.  I know the kind of cognitive issues that start cropping up around days four and five, and I can do without perceptive lapses and the decrease in fine motor coordination, thanks.

Besides, I really do have some interesting dreams.  I don’t really remember them except for random images or moments that stick in my mind, but they’re incredibly elaborate.  Like having to drive to a real friend’s fictional house with fictional roommates up a series of fictional roads (with consistent names and geographies) during three or four separate dreams to play a fictional video game that has also stayed consistent.  I had to walk up one of the roads in one dream.  And not consecutive dreams, either.  Places and people and things just crop up from time to time.  There’s a massive arcade (easily the size of a two-story warehouse) with a roller coaster that’s cropped up a few times, that place is epic.  I’ve done some minor dabbling in lucid dreaming, and I learned at a young age that I can will myself awake during a nightmare.  I’ve also learned how to recognize the signs of cross-state cognition, where things that happen in the outside world interject themselves somehow into the dream state. I do still wake up from a dream thinking I’ve got a big stack of money on the dresser sometimes.

It’s almost as disappointing as waking up and realizing you haven’t mastered the art of telekinetic flight (shut up you have your secret dreams and I have mine.)

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Another Update or No Really, It’s Boring Up Here

Coming out of hibernation is a process.  Overexposure during the social reintegration period can sometimes prove more harmful than helpful, and the colder it stays the less quickly the mind resolidifies into working order.

It also doesn’t help when there’s not a lot to do outside that doesn’t require feats of Herculean measure.  I’ll be honest, I watch a lot of shows and play a lot of the same video games.  There’s also a small library of books (three large shelves stacked two deep plus who knows how much more.)  It’s safe to say we’re all set as far as entertainment is concerned, but we don’t really watch TV because there’s no way to get a signal around here without a satellite or cable anyway and we use DSL.  There’s also just a general lack of basic social interaction day-to-day that, if you’ve lived in a city long enough to get used to having, you start to miss.  My nearest friends are easily twenty minutes away.  The nearest store is about the same distance.  The Post Office only has one person working there about one hour a day five or six days a week.

I cook pretty much everyday.  I’ve been on a fried rice kick lately, though I did make a meat sauce a while ago that fed us for about a day.  I’m trying to make small steps towards eating healthier, and anything made fresh is better than processed foods.  I’m a picky eater; I have a core group of veggies that I use for things, and there’s not a particularly wide variety of good produce up here even if I wanted to branch out.


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Fancy Meeting You Here or The Grice Comes Out of Hibernation

Hey there, Internet.  It’s been a while.  You look amazing.  Have you lost weight?

I’m doing fine.  I know I dropped off the face of the earth for a little while, but I promise that’s perfectly normal.  Those of you that know me probably don’t need much explanation, but for those of you that don’t…sooner or later every winter I hibernate for a while, and my anecdotal insistence is that it usually happens around February, and may be attributable to Seasonal Affective Disorder (you may recall I posted this in November.)

I call it hibernation because it’s usually an extended period of time where I feel especially sluggish and tired.  Given the opportunity, I’ll sleep a lot.  Otherwise I eat and smoke a lot to try and stay awake without my mind rebelling for the sake of sleep.  Creative things are harder to manage due to the sort of syrupy consistency my brain takes on when it’s cold, and social environments are ultimately taxing and irksome.  Plus it sounds a lot less like a problem and more like an environmental response when you call it hibernation.

I grew up in these mountains.  There’s fuck-all to do when it’s cold and dark, unless you hunt or go to church, I suppose.  Everything pretty much shuts down at dark as a general principle, and when dark is like 6:00 PM…you basically spend a lot of time coming up with ways to amuse yourself in your own home for as little cost as possible.  Though apparently they put a YMCA in the hospital, so if we’re lucky and enough of us can stay motivated to do something about it, we at least might manage to get some exercise somewhere inside.

When I was a kid, we had these places called video stores.  And the one chain of video stores in our area had 99 cent rentals on Mondays.  This was before the internet had invaded our homes, before Netflix and Redbox and cell phones.   And once the power went out, then you had a whole new world of limits.  Depending on where in the county you lived, your power could be out for a day or even a week after a big snow.  No lights, no running water, Playing cards can be a life-saver three or four days into a snow-in.  The same can be said for good books nobody’s had the time to read.  Or, you know…sleep.  Nothing to do?  Fuck it let’s go back to bed.

In other news, I’ve figured out better ways to make potatoes so that the starch doesn’t stick to the pan, which is nice.  I’ve also figured out how to turn my computer into a media server accessible by my PS3, which gives me better access to my files without having to drag the external hard drive all over the house.

More to come later, folks.  But for now I need to wade through the month of stuff I haven’t checked.


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Nope, It’s Still Winter or I Should Probably Get Out of the House on Principle.

So the last time I left the house was the day we went to Charlotte.  It hasn’t been on purpose but…well…the only thing vaguely within walking distance is the post office, and I don’t really feel like walking that mile in the snow on the side of a road with no sidewalks.  It hasn’t really been on purpose, but between the snow and the work schedule of the one person in this house with a car, getting out has just not been something that’s managed to happen in a while.

On the upside, I’ve finished watching all five seasons of Leverage and I’m about halfway through my second playthrough on Borderlands 2.  Which has more or less amounted to me spoofing a second player to power-level a friend’s character.  And since someone was sheltered her whole life, I’m going to have to sit her down and force her to watch The Addams Family (the show, I’ve already made her watch the 1991 movie.)  For those of you who haven’t caught up with Leverage yet, you should.  It ends beautifully.

The job hunt has been fairly uneventful, which isn’t really surprising for up here in the winter.  Jobs are kind of scarce up here at the best of times, and while the winter definitely brings the skiers the slopes are still a good half hour away and were probably staffed in October.  I’ve been, admittedly, avoiding one potential employment venue simply because it’s a decent distance away and I would really rather not backtrack to a job I left five years ago, which is a good half an hour in the other direction.  I miss walking distance to work.  I also, surprisingly enough, miss my old job.

Unemployment has been about as uneventful as the job search.  For some reason there is an “active issue” with my claim, and I’m waiting for something to come in the mail, I guess?  I may need to pay a visit to the Department of Employment Services (once known as the Employment Security Commission) with some pay stubs and/or my W-2 to try and get any of that figured out.  If there’s anything to figure out in the first place.  My state is one of those that refused the Federal Unemployment Extension of Benefits money, so I get the feeling that my state is probably not too far from being an even shittier place to be unemployed.

So yeah.  If you feel like you’ve been missing out on the exciting life of the Grice, let me put your fears to rest: I’ve been in hibernation mode, cuddled up on the couch watching a retarded amount of TV and movies and slogging through trying to find a job.

And I’m pretty much ready for Spring.  Cuz fuck this winter bullshit.

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