sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-03-07 12:39 am

It makes you wonder why you're here and why you feel so strangely weird

I did not know that cube steak is called chicken-fried or country-fried when you dredge it in beaten egg and seasoned flour and fry it in a skillet, but that's what we made for dinner tonight. I'm not disputing the name: it's exactly the preparation my family uses for chicken breasts pounded thin, although those tend to get served with lemon. I had just never encountered it in the wild, which I suspect just means I have never eaten a meal in Texas. [ profile] derspatchel made cheese grits to go on the side and his family's pepper gravy to go on top and I confirmed for myself that our apartment's fire alarm works. Autolycus confirmed that he will attempt to eat anything that contains milk, even if it also contains cayenne.

I am very glad that we made it to the town hall with Attorney General Maura Healey. Much of what she was doing was reassuring her constituency that her office is both responding to the daily onslaught of national-level horror coming out of the White House ("You name it, day after day, it's been disheartening and distressing") and keeping on track with its own state agenda (opioid crisis, student debt, healthcare, gun safety, consumer protection, the environment), but she was an entertaining and responsive speaker and I did find myself reassured, so I would say she's good at the public-facing part of her job as well as the part that involves getting sued twice by the NRA and most recently—and unsuccessfully—by Exxon. She was in Logan Airport the night of the first travel ban and she finds the revised version no less unconstitutional, disingenuous, and dangerous. She called 45 a "chaos president" and reminded the audience that she did not believe that his election reflected the true American majority: "And I'm not even going to get into the popular vote." She stressed the efficacy of small daily actions as well as big crowd rallies, the kind of steady pressure on elected officials that has already produced results like the Arizona legislature backing down on its bill to criminalize nonviolent protest; she spoke multiple times of the importance of reaching out to the people who are already being hurt, who are marginalized or marginalized differently from you, the importance of showing love, compassion, and solidarity. The state hotline to report hate crimes or bias incidents—experienced or witnessed—is (800) 994-3228. Topics from the audience included the legal status of sanctuary cities, gun violence, affordable housing and minimum wage, the urgency of Massachusetts' opioid epidemic, clean energy and climate change, the best ways to combat potential ICE action in Somerville and Cambridge, trans rights and Healey's disappointment in Jeff Sessions, the importance of not forgetting people actually using drugs in the focus on prevention and recovery, and the closing big-picture question of what the attorneys general across different states are doing to fight a presidential administration that seems bent on exploiting and exhausting its citizens, for which Healey's answer was "Take your vitamins, drink a lot of water, get up, and go!" and the encouragement that, indeed, state AGs wake up every morning, read the news, and immediately ask themselves "Do we have grounds to sue?" Earlier she had taken a question from an audience member concerned about Baker's budget cuts and her office's ability to handle so many different issues; now she closed with a verbal air-punch, "We got this!" I had not heard her speak before; I am not surprised that she has a huge popular following. She gave the impression of tenacity, energy, and humor without naiveté; she never offered a slick answer to a complicated question without qualifying it, which I appreciated especially given her flair for pithy lines. The thing where she is an out and proud queer woman in politics is also pretty sweet. It was slightly startling and wonderful that the thin silvery man who asked about climate change was Fred Small, beloved folksinger of my childhood, these days Minister for Climate Justice at the Arlington Street Church. [ profile] teenybuffalo sat in front of us and almost certainly took better notes than I did.

I am also pleased that my hunt for a birthday book for my mother in the basement of the Harvard Book Store bore fruit, but I am taking it as a wholly undeserved reward from the universe that their mystery section contained a remaindered paperback of Elliott Chaze's obscure pulp classic Black Wings Has My Angel (1953) and New Orleans Noir (2007) edited by Julie Smith, complete with Benjamin January story. It opens with a perfectly reasonable incredulous question: "Kentucky Williams owns a Bible?" Hannibal is referencing autochthonous Athenian kings by the bottom of the page, so I expect to enjoy it.
yhlee: Texas bluebonnet (text: same). (TX bluebonnet (photo: snc2006 on

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-03-07 07:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I actually first had chicken-fried steak not in Texas but at some chain restaurant in NY state, I think? When I lived in Texas my dad was snobby about the steakhouses we went to. But I would totally believe chicken-friend steak being a thing that is done in places in Texas. I miss it terribly, but I probably shouldn't indulge in that much fried food. *wry g*
genarti: ([misc] oranges)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-03-07 09:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Chicken-fried steak is something I discovered as a kid in Ohio. My mom didn't make it, not being fond of fried stuff or creamy sauces in general, but sometimes we ate at truck stop-type places when traveling. It's one of the things I specifically miss as a vegetarian, and there's really no good vegetarian alternative. That said, I'm not sure whether I'd still love it, or if my memory of it has the soft filter of nostalgia (and younger tastebuds) that wouldn't carry through to nostalgic fondness for the genuine article.

Thank you for the write-up of Maura Healey's town hall! That sounds like an excellent event, and she seems like an excellent public official. Reassurance is in short enough supply these days that it's always extra welcome.
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-03-08 06:19 am (UTC)(link)
I don't know if this makes it better or worse, but prepared in a kitchen rather than a truck stop it was pretty delicious. I am sorry that no suitable vegetarian replacement exists!

To be fair, I'm not 100% vegetarian always; I'll eat meat once in a while if the animal lived well and died well and the meat didn't get shipped hundreds of petrochemical-fueled miles. So I could technically make my own sometime! I just have never gone to the effort. But you've reminded me now that it's possible, so perhaps we'll see.

I'd known almost nothing about her beforehand except for a couple of cases she was involved in and now I am actively glad that she is our attorney general.

Same, but based on this so am I now!
dewline: (not fail)

[personal profile] dewline 2017-03-08 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
Maura Healey as you describe her is the sort of person I ought to be glad to share this planet with.
rinue: (Default)

[personal profile] rinue 2017-03-08 10:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Hooray Maura Healey! I'm a fan. Thanks for the eyewitness recap.

[identity profile] 2017-03-07 05:46 am (UTC)(link)
I fondly remember Fred Small coming to my college campus back in the day.

[identity profile] 2017-03-07 09:57 am (UTC)(link)
Conversely, I had met chicken-fried steak (as a recipe, not in the flesh) but had to look up cube steak.

Thanks for the status report: good to know that the opposition is in office as well as on the streets.

[identity profile] 2017-03-07 07:25 pm (UTC)(link)
chicken fried steak is just that, a steak (or something cheaper and tougher) is tenderized and then like chicken, dredged in whatever and flour and then pan fried.. it took me years to wrap my brain around that ... I doubt we will see a Kentucky Fried Steak franchise...
gwynnega: (lordpeter mswyrr)

[personal profile] gwynnega 2017-03-07 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)
They call it chicken-fried steak in Los Angeles (especially in old-school diners, which I think are the only places I've ever had it).

AG Maura Healey sounds quite impressive.

[identity profile] 2017-03-08 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
Old-school diners know that they are serving steak fried like chicken. Other, newer types of diners have customers who think they are getting chicken when they order chicken fried steak, hence the change to "country fried steak."

[identity profile] 2017-03-08 01:13 am (UTC)(link)
Your town hall meeting sounds great - informative and invigorating - I'm glad. :)

[identity profile] 2017-03-08 01:28 am (UTC)(link)
I'm jealous of your New Orleans Noir find. And that's a place you'd find chicken-fried steak: cheap cube steak fried the same way that your mom fries her chicken. Yum. (My mother and extended family are from Texas.)

[identity profile] 2017-03-08 07:08 am (UTC)(link)
If I see a second copy, it's yours.


[identity profile] 2017-03-17 05:26 pm (UTC)(link)
My grandmother used to make chicken-fried steak! She lived in Ohio, so it doesn't seem to be only a Southern thing. It makes me think of time I tried to explain the name to a non-native English speaker, and couldn't come up with anything better than "I guess when Americans think about fried things, we think of chicken".

And I'm so glad you found a copy of New Orleans Noir! I'd forgotten that story had a publication that wasn't electronic.

[identity profile] 2017-03-18 01:23 am (UTC)(link)
(Have you read the others? How are they?)
Yeah, I've read them all – of course, I have the advantage that I often prefer ebooks to physical copies.

The short stories tend to be much more focused on the mystery itself, with little time for characterization or setting, which is probably just inherent to the limited space. I'd happily read a story without a mystery plot! But Hambly hasn't written any, alas.

That said, there are some nice moments in them. Several are written from Rose's POV, which is a nice contrast to the books, which are limited to Ben's POV. There's a fascinating conversation with Livia in "Hagar", and "Death on the Moon" has some very cute scenes between Rose and Hannibal.
Edited 2017-03-18 01:23 (UTC)