The Truth about Gar

My husband is a fisherman. Specifically, he's a gar fisherman. He's written numerous garticles and has been on Animal Planet as a gar expert. Gar are long skinny primitive fish with big teeth, lots of bone and scaly armor.

As a result of his gartitude, I've eaten a lot of the creatures. And here's the truth about gar: They don't taste good.

Case in point: The other night we had fried gar. My husband makes a delicious beer batter. There was no problem with the breading. But the meat...I tried to cut into it with a fork; after all, catfish easily flakes with one. Nope. Then I got a steak knife. It still wouldn't cut through that gar. Finally I went to the kitchen and returned with a butcher knife. Sound extreme? It wasn't.

My husband insists this is not a negative culinary attribute. "The texture is like chicken," he said, chomping on the rubbery gar. "It's dense. Hearty, even."

Gar populations are dwindling. Here's how everyone can help out: Don't eat the gar.
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American Idle Hands Are the Devil's Playground

Kris Allen came to town last week so Conway had a parade. There was no way I was going to miss this event. But first I had to get liquored up.

It was crowded and humid. There were a lot of fat people and women with big Southern hair. We skipped the parade part and muscled our way off to the side of the stage, winding up on the railroad tracks. I kept fantasizing that a train would barrel through and kill everyone. No such luck.

The big crowd was in front of the stage and they kept screaming and whooping as if Kris himself were coming. But he wasn't. Finally we realized they were watching themselves on the jumbotron and screaming at their own image. It was like masturbating to your own porn: self-indulgent and pathetic. Sexy? Please. That crowd was white bread.

And then there were the families. That damn grandma with the sweaty three-year-old who just had to get in front of us. Why do people with kids think they have privileges others don't? Why does everyone have to bow down to fascist four-year-olds and let them skip in line? It's not like the kid will remember the event. She wasn't even paying attention. Regardless, I let her in front of me, I'm not a total ass, but I gave the tyke the evil eye--we had a staring contest and I won. Take that, three-year-old girl in a dress and pink ribbons!

Then Kris's preacher came out. Now, I have no problem with people praying. It certainly can't hurt anything. But I do have a problem with a man leading a crowd of 15K in prayer at a public event. There's the assumption that everyone is Christian or believes in God. It's so hegemonic! The preacher said the only reason Kris has gotten to the final three is...GOD! God wanted him to he did. It's all part of His plan. But I'm not so sure God cares about American (false) Idol. Didn't Jesus smash the temple with the money-lenders? At least he did in Jesus Christ Superstar...while singing. Plus, doesn't God have better things to do? Wars, cancer, famine. Give me an amen!

Then Kris came out and sang. He was okay, I guess. For more on his singing, check out Julee's blog. Julee's a rockstar and I stole my photos from her. Here we are posing so Kris would notice us. He didn't.

We didn't have the best view. Here's the back of the Idol's head. Check out the girl with the green shirt on Daddy's shoulders.

So last night, I watched American Idol, and when Kris Allen performed, I got a little excited. I even called in to vote, but couldn't get through. Despite the fascism of the parade, I hope Kris wins. Kick Awesome!
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Zombies Are Hungry

Last year I was a zombie. And I don't mean that metaphorically as in, I was so fried all the time I was a total zombie. Or my dog died and I was so sad it turned me into an emotional zombie. Or I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever...that's why I acted like a zombie.

But neither do I mean it literally. And that's unfortunate because I'd kill to join the ranks of the living dead. What tenacity zombies possess! What single-minded determination! If only humans were that goal-oriented, we'd have a cure for cancer.

No, I was the middle ground, a simulacrum of a zombie, an extra in a local stage production of Night of the Living Dead. Where I was the oldest zombie by at least twenty years. The rest were teenage girls.

None of them knew zombie lore. The ones I talked to hadn't even seen Romero's original, which I found shocking. Even more disturbing, they had eating disorders.

I found this out while applying my death mask. The one with a purple gash on her cheek extolled the virtues of vomiting after dinner. It made her feel lighter, she said, better. The others agreed, and I watched them in the mirror, unsure if I, the elder zombie, should intervene. After all, I've had friends and family members with bulimia and a brush with anorexia myself: When I was 20, I weighed just 85 pounds.

Alas, I chickened out. They'd see me as the square middle-aged zombie, telling them what they already knew from television programs and school assemblies.

The director called us to rehearsal. "You're dead," he said. "Act like it." He took us to the blood room where we smeared gobs of sticky red stuff all over ourselves. I put some in my mouth and it tasted sweet.

Here's a fact about zombie invasions: A lone zombie is a joke, easy to outrun and evade. But a mob of the undead is a threat and we were a mob, fighting to live. We were rotten and decaying, groping in windows, standing outside doors. We attacked the actors en masse and the bulimic zombie bit into a man's forearm.

I slipped out of character for a second and smiled. At least she was eating.
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The Cult of Kris Allen

Kris Allen, of American Idol fame, is from Conway--where I live. In fact, he's a student at the university where I teach, though he's never been in one my classes. If he was, I'd make him sing his final exam, because I've never seen Kris perform. In fact, I've never watched an entire episode of Idol. Except once, when I was visiting my father-in-law and his wife, The Skull, on the mountain they live on in the southwest. My husband and I slept outside in a 60s-era Airstream whose plumbing wasn't hooked up. At night, I heard coyotes.

It was the season finale, the one with Clay Aiken versus that large dude who won and who has since disappeared. The Skull and I sat in her sunroom drinking glass after glass of redwine. There weren't a lot of places to sit in that room--it's full of doilies and antique quilts and magazines, so I perched on a fancy embroidered stool. The Skull teaches a dance class called "authentic movement" and she moved authentically around the tiny room during the show, displaying no irony whatsoever; she was pumped and I caught the bug, squealing along with her. At one point I squeezed her forearm. Our husbands stayed away from us, on the porch, smoking pipes and talking about fish. It was the closest I ever got to The Skull and I'm glad I watched the show with her.

Anyway, everyone's in a frenzy here in Arkansas, banks have his name on their LED displays, and if Kris keeps winning, he'll come to town and perform for just us. But the rumor is, Kris is a member of a cult and not the cult of American pop music either. A religious cult. Apparently the cult cuts you off from your family and friends and if you're not a member you can't even drive on their property. Not even to turn around if you're lost! But I guess Kris is outside the church's fold now and friends with Simon and Paula so maybe that cult claim is untrue, spread by people who are jealous of Kris. It does seem extreme. Unless Simon and Ryan are members too and the whole thing is a giant conspiracy to take over the world with a karaoke competition.

Which is to say, I'm gonna try and get Kris Allen fever. It should be easier to catch than swine flu, which hasn't come to Arkansas yet. Next time he's on, I'll watch him and maybe even vote for him and if he comes to town, I'll go watch him croon. Why not? I just have to figure out what night the show's on.
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I gave in. I'm going to blog. They'll be short, mercifully. Right now, I'm listening to Tavis Smiley on NPR--who I love and who I've seen on tv and who doesn't look anything like his voice--and Tavis is discussing the phenom of blogging. Coincidence? No! Tavis is speaking about me.
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