Got your sitz muscles on and your warm beer and cold pizza ready? Good, because today I have 2 and a half solid hours of Baroque Oratorio for you.
I told you to expect something completely different.
Most people associate Handel's Messiah with what I jocularly call ek'smas because I'm a stone cold atheist. My teacher was just a guy who had it all, rebeled against it, saw that that didn't quite cut it either, and spent the rest of his life under a tree teaching people how to get off the wheel until, at a ripe old age, he got off it himself.
No martyrdom. No expiation of your personal sins in the face of "divine justice". No resurrection.
Who craves that anyway? Isn't this life enough?
If not you'd better get off your ass and start living.
But I was raised a Methodist which in digest form is a very fundamentalist Christian Church that is considered mainstream, even liberal, because they did a lot of proselytizing among African-American slaves so they're incredibly active in social justice. There is also a large Latino component.
This strung me along for years in my urban church where I was active in the choir (and looking forward to duckpin bowling in advanced Sunday School which met in the alley in the basement) and annually played the most effeminate Herod you'd ever hope to see while I actively craved Pilate in our production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I suppose natural first Tenors are not so easy to come by.
Here's a comparison-
Perhaps they thought I couldn't handle the math.
If you can you might join me below the fold.
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.
I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD. And I am highly organized.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
-Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
This Day in History
I suppose in a way it was prescient. When I switched to the suburban church it was all white, totally fundamental, and the youth group was a fuck club.
Though that is not why I abandoned Christianity, it was over the doctrine of original sin and free will.
Anyway, Messiah was originally composed as an Oratorio which is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists that resembles an Opera in that it is narrative, except that the perfomers are not in costume and are not expected to act out their parts. Also while most Operas are secular, Oratorios are primarily sacred and Messiah in particular deals with the passion of Christ, which is to say his death and resurrection.
Slow me down if I'm moving too fast, there's a lot of material to cover.
Handel himself was part of a long string of Germanic Court Musicians imported by England to amuse the nobility and his primary business was Opera, composing over 40 of them, though after Messiah he never wrote another and had only middling success.
But he died a wealthy and respected man and is buried in Westminster Abbey. It is said, "the passion of Handel's oratorios is an ethical one, and that they are hallowed not by liturgical dignity but by moral ideals of humanity."
Not surprising from a man who's father wished him to be a lawyer except he was just such a damn good keyboard player (harpsichord and clavichord because the piano hadn't yet been invented). He started out on pipe organ though he could also play oboe and violin. He was a Lutheran, but probably not Missouri Synod.
He was actually kind of a musical anarchist, employing his own band while the custom of the time was to whore oneself out to a noble sponsor and take what you got, and mostly relying on gate for his income.
When he was 52 he suffered a stroke and after a long recovery confined himself to composing, primarily sacred works. The debut of Messiah was a benefit for the Foundling Hospital and after a debilitating accident and botched cataract surgery a performance of this work was the last he ever attended.
I told you these guys were rock stars.
Other Holiday Business
Naturally Dyed Eggs
NATURALLY DYED EGGS
Natural Easter Egg Dyes
In the Gilmore house there is no surer sign of Easter than onion skin boiled eggs. I like them much more than the traditional store kit dyed kind because they have a subtle onion scent that lingers even after you peel them. In fact sometimes I'll even make them off season.
We do 3 dozen at a time and the recipe is very simple-
* A Big Pot
* 3 pounds of regular cooking onions, my market calls them yellow, but they're actually brown. I personally use 6.
* 3 dozen eggs, White (I mean otherwise what's the point?)
* Water to cover (Distilled Vinegar Optional)
Directions: Collect the onion skins, just the dry papery part, the more the better. No need to be fussy.
Toss them in the bottom of your big pot, gently place your eggs, water to cover and you may need to replace periodically.
Simmering boil for as long as you want, at least 30 minutes. The longer the darker the color. Adding Red Onion skins also darkens the color.
If you have cardboard cartons you can use them for draining racks. The color will tend to rub off pressure points or if you rub them before they have cooled and the color has set. Overnight is best.
Naturally dyed eggs are naturally matte finished, if you want them slightly glossy you can rub them with shortening or merely with your hands.
You may find that several eggs are cracked, those eggs are extra special oniony good and you should eat them first.
My Mom doesn't generally use it because my brother hates it. When I make for myself I do. Just as with the commercial kits it helps the dye penetrate the shell of the egg. Most recipes recommend 2 or 3 Tablespoons per Quart, some people dip their eggs in Vinegar before boiling too.
Mom's is a general Boiled Color recipe, but there is a slightly different process that is recommended for some of the Alternate Color Natural Dyes (I've marked them below with a |(cd)|, it stands for Cold Dyed).
For this process you boil and cool your eggs separately and then make the dye in an isolated step. Frankly I don't see the necessity or advantage of this approach for most colors as the colder it is, the longer it takes for the dye to infuse.
In fact most recipes direct you to soak them overnight in the refrigerator though some are direct analogs of the store kit dye experience except that the colors are more... ah... subtle.
Basically you boil the dye ingredient separately in very little water, about a quart or so depending on the volume of the ingredient. For a Paprika dye they recommend a half cup! Boil for at least 30 minutes depending on the color intensity you want (it's never as dark on the egg).
Strain. Dip cold eggs in dye. Leave in refrigerator overnight if necessary. You will almost certainly want to use vinegar with this method.
Alternate Color Natural Dyes
If we are especially lucky or foresighted it's sometimes possible to collect enough Red Onion skins to do a whole batch just Red. Don't bother trying to scrape them up off the bottom of the bin the week before, the good ones are already gone.
That's the only one I have personal experience of and likewise has a yummy aroma, with some of the dye ingredients however you may wish to consider if you have a tolerance. Some people don't like cabbage, but the results are spectacular
* Blue- Red Cabbage, Blueberry Juice
* Brown- Black Walnut Shells, Onion Skins, Coffee (cd), Black Tea (cd)
* Brown Gold- Dill Seeds (cd)
* Green- Spinach
* Green Yellow- Golden Delicious Apple Peels
* Red- Red Onion Skins, Cranberry Berries
* Orange- Cooked Carrots (cd), Chili Powder (cd), Paprika (cd) (also said to produce Peach or Salmon color, use lots)
* Yellow- Carrot Tops, Orange or Lemon Peels, Chamomile (cd), Celery Seed, Ground Cumin, Ground Tumeric, Green Tea (cd)
I got that list as well as my Cold Dying recipe from WhatsCookingAmerica.net. Other than Cooked Carrots I can't see the need and couldn't you cook them within an inch of their life in, oh, half an hour or so?
Maybe it's just harder to clean up some ingredients without rubbing the color off.
Beet juice dye is very strong and will result in red tones from pink to grey depending on how much you use and how long you leave the eggs in contact with it. Most people recommend using the cold method with beets.
Some people like to give eggs deliberately non uniform color treatment. One common way to do this is to be extra specially careful removing the onion skins and then wrapping each egg individually with a nylon stocking pouch or with rubber bands holding the dye material next to the egg. You'd use this with Boiled Color recipes.
For a mottled effect you can also dab with paper towels or sponges before the color fully sets.
Some techniques require a Cold Dye method, for instance wrapping with dye infused cloth or paper towels.
By creating dye resistant areas on the egg you can make designs or personalize them with people's names (which my Mom did for us). The most common tool (included in most dye kits) is a wax crayon. Any color will do, but the way you remove it is to melt the wax off in a hot bath after the dye has set. Don't scrub or scratch it. Crayons are not usually compatible with the Boiled Color method and are less successful the hotter your dying solution.
Resists that do work with Boiled Color are Rubber Bands and this innovative technique from Green Momma on a Budget. She puts small leaves or flowers on the egg and wraps with dye material in a tight nylon pouch and gets images of the leaves and flowers.
Hard Boiled Eggs
I like them with just salt and pepper, still they're just fine deviled, sliced or chopped on a salad, or in an egg salad, but in a potato salad not so much (not a big fan of potato salad).
You can also pickle them.
There are a zillion recipes for pickled eggs some of which incorporate your dye ingredients and which would be most appropriate to compliment and enhance eggs dyed that way (Dill, Chili, Onion, Beets, Celery Seed, Cumin, Tumeric).
One thing they all share in common is that you peel the eggs first.
Still your naturally dyed eggs do retain the scent of the dye so you might want to think about that before you start adding Ginger or Garlic.
What they share in common is a solution of Water and Vinegar which you adjust depending on how sour you like it (1:1 is a good place to start)
Salt, Sugar, and Pickling Spice (usually containing Mustard Seed, Peppercorns, and Bay Leaf) are added to adjust the flavor.
Cover the Eggs and let them sit for at least a couple of days (better a week or more) refrigerated so they pick up the pickling flavor. If you're going to use Garlic, Chili, Onions, or Beets at all I recommend whole cloves or chilis or big slices of onions or beets, because the object is to infuse the flavor and not over power the eggs.
Likewise Sugar and Salt in small doses.
Alton Brown offers 2 recipes-
Dark and Lovely
* 2 1/4 C Cider Vinegar
* 3/4 C Water
* 1 1/2 T Sugar
* 1 T Salt
* 1 1/2 t Pickling Spice
* 3/4 t Chili Flakes
* 1/4 t Liquid Smoke
* 2 1/4 C Cider Vinegar
* 3/4 C Champagne Vinegar (slightly less acidic)
* 1 T Salt
* 2 t Pickling Spice
* 6 Whole Cloves Garlic
Heat your solution to make sure the Salt and Sugar are thoroughly dissolved. Don't heat your whole ingredients (Garlic, Chili), add them with the Eggs to your container and pour the Pickling Solution over the top.
Well I'm out of ideas, but I suppose there are other things. I try not to eat more than 3 a day because some people worry about cholesterol, but I don't get more than dozen from Mom so they seldom last.
My preferred method of cooking eggs is over easy on garlic toast with the yolks nice and runny.
Sometimes I'll make up a smaller batch of onion skin eggs for myself if I miss them.
One of the by products is a whole pile of peeled onions. One way to get rid of a large quantity of onions is French Onion Soup.
Here's a fairly decent recipe-
* Onions (about 3 pounds), sliced thin
* 7 3/4 cups Chicken and Beef broth (less Beef than Chicken depending on how beefy you like it)
* 1/4 cup dry Red Wine
* 2 sprigs fresh Parsley
* 1 sprig fresh Thyme
* 1 Bay Leaf
* 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
* Fresh ground Black Pepper
* 1 Baguette, cut on the bias into 3/4-inch thick slices
* Grueyer Cheese
* Oven Proof Crocks
Directions: Melt enough butter on the bottom of a soup pot to coat the onions. The traditional way to slice them is thin strips from bottom to top. This is easiest if you cut it in half lengthwise and leave on the root end until you have sliced it. Then cut off the root.
Toss in a little salt and brown them at medium of medium high until they are dark, dark brown and the pot is coated with dark brown fond. Thirty five minutes or more.
Deglaze pot with liquid (except Balsamic Vinegar) stirring thoroughly to release all the fond. Add herbs, bundled so you can remove them and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or so. Remove herbs. Add Balsamic Vinegar. Soup can be cooled and stored.
Topping: While the soup re-heats (if cold) toast your baguette slices. Toast them quite crispy because they will soften up. Spoon hot soup into Crock about 3/4 an inch from the rim. Float toast on top of the soup covering as much soup as you can. Use extra pieces if you need to. Mound shredded Grueyer over the top of each Crock and broil until the Cheese is bubbly and a little brown.
Piping hot! Watch out.
Covert Inquiry by F.B.I. Rattles 9/11 Tribunals
By MATT APUZZO, The New Yok Times
APRIL 18, 2014
Two weeks ago, a pair of F.B.I. agents appeared unannounced at the door of a member of the defense team for one of the men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a contractor working with the defense team at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the man was bound by the same confidentiality rules as a lawyer. But the agents wanted to talk.
They asked questions, lawyers say, about the legal teams for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other accused terrorists who will eventually stand trial before a military tribunal at Guantánamo. Before they left, the agents asked the contractor to sign an agreement promising not to tell anyone about the conversation.
With that signature, Mr. bin al-Shibh's lawyers say, the government turned a member of their team into an F.B.I. informant.
Keystone decision delayed yet again
By ANDREW RESTUCCIA and DARREN GOODE, Politico
4/19/14 12:18 AM EDT
The State Department declined to specify how long the delay will last, saying only that it needs to extend its review because of an ongoing dispute in front of the Nebraska Supreme Court that could affect the project's route inside the state. "We are moving ahead very diligently with all the other aspects that are necessary for the national interest determination," a senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call.
"It's disappointing President Obama doesn't have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now, but this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents," said Jamie Henn, spokesman for the climate activist group 350.org, which staged mass sit-ins outside the White House to protest the project. "We're going to keep up the pressure on the President to make the right call."
The Natural Resources Defense Council was much more positive, saying that waiting on the results of the court fight is "the most prudent course of action possible."
"The newly extended comment period will show what we already know: the more Americans learn about this project, the more they see that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in the national interest,'' the group said.
"Any day without the Keystone XL pipeline is a good day because it means more dirty tar sands crude stays in the ground where it belong(s)," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
Vladimir Putin must be called to account on surveillance just like Obama
Edward Snowden, The Guardian
Friday 18 April 2014 00.06 EDT
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question - and Putin's evasive response - in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
In fact, Putin's response was remarkably similar to Barack Obama's initial, sweeping denials of the scope of the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, before that position was later shown to be both untrue and indefensible.
blew the whistle on the NSA's surveillance practices not because I believed that the United States was uniquely at fault, but because I believe that mass surveillance of innocents - the construction of enormous, state-run surveillance time machines that can turn back the clock on the most intimate details of our lives - is a threat to all people, everywhere, no matter who runs them.
Last year, I risked family, life, and freedom to help initiate a global debate that even Obama himself conceded "will make our nation stronger". I am no more willing to trade my principles for privilege today than I was then.
I understand the concerns of critics, but there is a more obvious explanation for my question than a secret desire to defend the kind of policies I sacrificed a comfortable life to challenge: if we are to test the truth of officials' claims, we must first give them an opportunity to make those claims.
CIA's former top lawyer fires back at Senate report, criticizes Feinstein
By James Rosen, McClatchy
April 16, 2014
Rizzo was responsible for helping to create the legal foundation for permitting waterboarding, extreme sleep deprivation and other aggressive methods he says were used on 30 people held at secret "black sites" around the world.
In his first extensive interview since McClatchy published the 20 key findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report last week, Rizzo strongly denied the panel's conclusion that the 10 so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which he acknowledged were brutal, had failed to produce significant intelligence or to prevent more terrorist attacks.
"This program went on for six years," Rizzo told McClatchy earlier this week. "And I watched daily _ every night there was a meeting in those early years at 5 o'clock. It was chaired by the CIA director, George Tenet. And every night, during the course of those briefings, the career CIA analysts and operatives would sit there and recite the information that had been acquired from these detainees. I mean on a daily basis. I'm not an analyst or an operative, but I'm not stupid, and I sat there and listened to this relentlessly."
CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend 'enhanced interrogation'
Jason Leopold, The Guardian
Friday 18 April 2014 11.12 EDT
The committee's report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.
But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. "The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time," he said. "You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later."
The CIA is currently facing battles on two fronts over its use of torture on terror suspects. The agency is embroiled in an unprecedented public row with Feinstein, who has accused it of violating the law by monitoring computers her committee's staff use to compile the report.
Meanwhile, allegations of abuse have taken center stage in the prosecutions of detainees at Guantánamo. The military judge overseeing the tribunals has ordered the CIA to provide a detailed account of the detention and interrogation in one of its secret prisons overseas of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged with orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 US sailors. Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others charged over the 9/11 attacks say they are seeking similar orders.
Barry Goldwater's loss should be a warning to the GOP, not a rallying cry
By Michael Gerson, Washington Post
Published: April 17
There is much to be written on the dangers and diminishing utility of a Republican electoral strategy based on maximizing the turnout of white voters. My concern here is with the tone and approach of the Goldwater movement. The candidate and his supporters regarded his vote against the Civil Rights Act not primarily as a political maneuver but as the evidence of ideological courage in the cause of liberty.
When Goldwater eventually, inevitably and massively lost, it is instructive where he placed the blame. "This year, obviously," Goldwater reflected, "millions of Republicans decided socialism and central-decided socialized government is all right."
Obviously. Obviously it had nothing to do with a candidate who declared intraparty war, advocated "extremism in the defense of liberty" and opposed the landmark civil rights achievement of the 20th century.
The tea party radio network
By KENNETH P. VOGEL and MACKENZIE WEINGER, Politico
4/17/14 5:08 AM EDT
* Sean Hannity: Heritage began sponsoring Hannity in 2008 and paid $1.3 million in 2011 to a broker to arrange and fund the deal, according to the group's IRS filings. Last year, Hannity began doing ads for the Tea Party Patriots, lending his name to fundraising drives, hosting its leaders on his radio and Fox News shows, and even using the Fox airwaves to promote the Tea Party Patriots website HannityforSanity.com.
• Mark Levin: The Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity paid at least $757,000 primarily to sponsor his radio show - a sponsorship that covered part of the 2012 cycle, when he joined David Koch and AFP president Tim Phillips in boosting Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. After AFP ended its sponsorship, Levin began doing ads for the Tea Party Patriots, touting its campaign to "fire" House Speaker John Boehner. He also apologized for endorsing Hatch, whom some Tea Party Patriots' leaders opposed.
• Rush Limbaugh: The Heritage Foundation at the end of January ended its five-year sponsorship of El Rushbo's show, for which it had paid more than $2 million in some years and more than $9.5 million overall. In 2012, FreedomWorks paid at least $1.4 million to make him an endorser, though it's not clear that the sponsorship is ongoing.
• Rusty Humphries: While Humphries lost his long-running radio show late last year, he re-emerged last month as a video show host and blogger at The Washington Times and hooked up with a PAC called the Tea Party Leadership Fund. "I got involved when they asked me," he said of the group, which has paid him $15,500 over the past few months to serve as spokesman for a campaign to support Boehner's long-shot primary challenger, a local high school teacher. The effort included a February fundraising email declaring "with your support behind him, he cannot loose [sic]."
Or, as Charlie Pierce properly calls it- Payola.
Compensation battle rages four years after BP's U.S. oil spill
By Jemima Kelly, Reuters
Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:37am EDT
The oil company has spent over $26 billion on cleaning up, fines and compensation for the disaster, which killed 11 people on the rig and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days after the blast on April 20, 2010.
That is more than a third of BP's total revenues for 2013, and the company has allowed for the bill to almost double, while fighting to overturn and delay payments of claims it says have no validity, made after it relinquished control over who got paid in a settlement with plaintiff lawyers in March 2012.
In one of its latest advertisements, the oil major said the outcome of what it said was its fight to return the settlement to its intended purpose would affect future decisions by other companies in similar positions.
"Will they accept responsibility and do the right thing? Or will the lesson be that it's better to deny, delay, and litigate - with victims potentially waiting decades for compensation?"
Must Read Blog Posts
Experts Warn: US 'on Course to Repeat' BP Gulf Disaster
Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams
Friday, April 18, 2014
The chilling cautionary words are given by former offshore drilling regulator Elizabeth Birnbaum and Jacqueline Savitz, vice president for U.S. Oceans at conservation organization Oceana, in op-ed published in the New York Times days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the epic oil catastrophe.
Birnbaum was head of Minerals Management Service at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but in a move seen by some as "scapegoat firing" was ousted from the position weeks after the well began to spew oil into the Gulf. She is now a consultant at SEB Strategies.
Birnbaum and Savitz write that the Obama administration has yet to act on recommendations which could make offshore drilling safer.
"We would never have imagined so little action would be taken to prevent something like this from happening again. But, four years later, the Obama administration still has not taken key steps recommended by its experts and experts it commissioned to increase drilling safety. As a result, we are on a course to repeat our mistakes," they write.
DOJ Inspector General Investigating DEA's Use of Parallel Construction under Hemisphere
Published April 18, 2014
The description doesn't say it, but this is Hemisphere, the program under which DEA submits administrative subpoenas to AT&T for phone records from any carrier that uses AT&T's backbone. DEA gets information matching burner phones as well as the call records. In addition, it gets some geolocation - and continued to increase what it was getting even after US v Jones raised concerns about such tracking.
A Guide to John Rizzo's Lies, For Lazy Journalists
Published April 17, 2014
By my count, John Rizzo completes his first lie in his purported "memoir," Company Man, at the 64th word:
* 55: Zubaydah
* 56: was
* 57: a
* 58: senior
* 59: figure
* 60: in
* 61: the
* 62: Al
* 63: Qaeda
* 64: hierarchy
The Evening Blues - 4-18-14
by joe shikspack, Daily Kos
A final note
Volume loud enough for you? Since they went to blown sixes you really have to crank it up to 11. I have two blogs, The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma, that I reserve most of my energy for, the rest is mere diversionary tactics. While I would never, ever poke fun at LaEscapee I'm convinced his latest is simply designed to thwart me and make my life more difficult than it already is.