Sunday, June 27, 2010

Parting Shots

I had a class start-date pushed back and a college roommate flying in for a visit, so I helped myself to an extended vacation this week. Boring story short: Went to Fez on Wednesday afternoon, randomly bumped into two of the Brits I met climbing Toubkal, shared some shisha and managed to insert myself (and Samantha) into their plans to visit a big waterfall.

So, I wound up spending two nights at Ouzoud Falls just NE of Marrakesh (cheapest hostel I've found in the country thus far, btw; ~$2.00/night). Biggest waterfall in the country and home to a large population of Barbary Apes who, having been fed by local Moroccans over the past decade or so, were extremely comfortable around us. As evidence:

And here's the whole album:

In other news, I'm busily finalizing my schedule for my return to the States. Going to be hectic, but interesting, I think. As of now, it's looking like Casa -> JFK -> ATL -> BWI -> O'Hare -> PDX. If anyone is in any of those neighborhoods in late-July/early-Aug and wants to get a drink, let me know.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I love soccer

Not really. Soccer is awful. If I wanted to see a bunch of effete metrosexuals running around, throwing tantrums, weeping and groping each other... well, yeah, I’d watch soccer. I saw some of the USA v. Slovenia game earlier today, and the only thing more embarrassing than the fact we tied is that my country participates in this histrionic nonsense at all. "But they came back from a 2 - 0 deficit!" Slovenia has a population of 2 million. I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that makes their World Cup team about 8% of the workforce.

Anyway, one of their guys was running toward the goal when one of ours stole the ball, so the Slovenian hurled himself to the ground, grasping at his ankle like his foot were dangling from his leg by tendons and started crying. So play stopped and his team got the ball.

If I were in charge of soccer, I would implement the following rule changes to make it less awful:

  1. No crying. Crying = red card.
  2. No post-goal celebrating. This rule can be temporary, until the culture of spazzing out like some emotionally-troubled tween has been purged from the soccer community. It’s a goal, not the cure for cancer – and it’s what you’re paid to do.
  3. No make-up. And players are required to have first and last names. I don’t know who the fuck “Ronaldo” is, but if he’s that transvestite with all the eyeliner, I’m not impressed.
  4. New position. One man on each team will assume the title of “striker” (which was misapplied before – the other guys are called ‘forwards’). Like goalies, strikers will abide by a separate rule set. Strikers will not be allowed to touch the ball, and if they do, they’re out for 5 minutes (regular players can, of course, eject the strikers by drilling them with the ball). Strikers are, however, allowed to tackle people. Same rules as rugby; must have the ball, at least one foot on the ground, no headshots.
  5. One fewer defender.
  6. Penalty kicks are awesome. Any infraction whatsoever within the goal box will result in a penalty kick.
  7. Goalies are also allowed to tackle people.
  8. New foul rules. If you have the ball, you’re fair game. Any attack by another player that can reasonably be assumed was directed at the ball is legal. This is a good idea because dangerous slide-tackles are awesome and would become commonplace. Furthermore, play does not stop for injuries. Guys who want to roll around on the group weeping are welcome to, but the game will continue.
  9. If you spread your arms open really wide and look confused or exasperated with something the referee says, the referee is allowed to punch you in the face.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Me > Nature

Made it to the top of Toubkal this time (see: previous failure). Apparently it’s easier to ascend things when they aren’t covered in ice. So, yeah; I’m pretty pleased.

The second day was exhausting – almost 4 hours straight up from the refuge, and then another 8 spent in various stages of semi-controlled falling back to the base. I made it back to Casablanca late that night and needed to brace myself against the handrails to make it up the stairs to my apartment. My knees feel like they were on the wrong side of a mobster gambling debt. Despite all that, I’d chalk this one up as a resounding success.

I ended up going with two backpackers I met on Saturday. Anthony was going to come, but anorexic girls aren’t allowed on the trail (some kind of liability thing). The backpackers – Mike and Bryan - were both in good shape though and we managed to harass one another into making fairly good time up the mountain. So aside from a lot of exhausted/awe-struck cursing, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama.

Actually... The mountain did try to murder us once. We were traversing a scree (loose rocks) field on the way down from the summit and two big rocks broke off a cliff above us. Pretty horrific timing to say the least, as Mike, Andy (a British guy we met) and I were all directly below them. One of the rocks ricocheted off to the side, but the second – a little smaller than a beach ball – came right for us. Seeing a rock that probably weighed 150 pounds bouncing six feet in the air and moving faster than a car barrelling down at you is disconcerting to say the least. Andy handled it best, in exceptionally English fashion:

“Heads up, lads.”

It was difficult to judge the rock’s path, so we were all stuck, standing in place, waiting for the last minute to gauge whether evasive action was necessary. Luckily, it bounced about four feet wide of Andy’s chest and fell harmlessly down a cliff.

So you had your shot, Nature. Had your shot and you missed.

Seasonal Differences

I was going through my photos from my two trips up Toubkal, and a few of them are taken from similar angles. Kinda neat to see how much the landscape changes between April and June. (Full albums are on Facebook).

Looking down the valley from the refuge:

The Berber village at the trailhead:

The last valley before the refuge:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Round Two

A few months back my buddy Jeff and I took a stab at summiting a little hill called J'bel Toubkal. We failed. Since I won't be going to Palestine, I have all of next week off to poke around in Morocco/Spain. Time for a rematch.

I'll be heading up with three other guys, taking roughly the same approach as before (except, ideally, without screwing up the route). The weather should be a bit more agreeable this time around, so I'll be able to swap out the winter jacket and extra layers for a [considerably] lighter tube of sunscreen.

Unfortunately, I think the snow will be gone as well, so it will be a little less epic. Oh well. Good to get out of Casa.

If any of y'all need to get ahold of me, hit the FB or email.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've got a lot of downtime in the evenings here. As of last month, a lot of that was filled watching old episodes of Hell's Kitchen. Hell's Kitchen is a television show about a guy named Gordon who cooks delicious food and helps teach other people to do the same. This is accomplished with a lot of yelling. Sensing in Ramsay a kindred instructional spirit, the show inspired me to learn how to cook. This is Chef Ramsay with an animal he's about 90 seconds from eating. -->

Part of my cooking philosophy is that there exists a culinary trifecta - booze, meat, explosions
- which, if satisfied, renders positive results regardless of the chef's skill, experience, intelligence or personal hygiene. Why booze, meat and explosions? Stupid question, but I will explain anyway:

Booze: I've read quite a bit that the right beer/wine/spirit will compliment a dish. The only surprising thing there is that anyone would go through the effort of writing it. "Compliments" means "makes better". So, yeah... no shit. The only thing I would like to point out here is that anyone who says that the quality of a cooking wine doesn't matter isn't using enough of it.

Meat: Because this is America. (And by "this" I mean "the internet" which, like the moon, is owned by America). Do you know what kinds of people don't eat meat? North Koreans.

North Koreans are, on average, six inches shorter than South Koreans (who are also pretty short). The North Koreans say it's because they are ethnically purer than South Koreans (which is racist). But it's actually because they're a bunch of retards who don't get enough protein.

In conclusion, Americans eat meat and racist midgets don't.

Explosions: This is so obvious it borders on intuition and is difficult to articulate an explanation for. Why does 2 + 2 = 4? It just does. The beauty here is that explosions can be integrally related to booze (which explodes). Or even meat. It is widely acknowledged that animals who were killed by explosions taste better than those who weren't.

Of course, if there were a way to integrate gratuitous female nudity into this equation, I would. But for now, it remains a trifecta. ...Also, I'm not sure quadfecta is a word. I'm working on it.

So, here's the recipe for what I ate yesterday:

Sangria, Pizza and Spicy Fruit Desert

Ingredients (primary)

  • 1.5 pounds of ground beef (approximately a baby's head size.
  • Two fists-full of Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 bottles of the shittiest red wine you can buy or shoplift
  • 1 bottle of rum (dark and spicy are ideal, but when isn't it? -- take what you can get)
These ingredients are "primary" because if all else fails you can just throw them all in a saucepan, add fire and eat.

Ingredients (secondary)
Quantities not noted because a) I don't know and b) it doesn't matter

  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Tomatoes
  • Egg
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Red peppers
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Sprite
  • Basil
  • Cloves
  • Whatever fruit and berries you can still afford after all the alcohol and meat
  • Olive oil
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Apple juice
  • Black pepper
  • 4 different kinds of hot sauce (to pour all over the pizza)
  • Probably some other stuff, but whatever you've got on hand will probably work

Serves 1


1. First of all, you bought way too much wine for one pitcher of Sangria. Drink like half of one of the bottles.

2. Sangria was invented by the Spanish as a quick, effective delivery vehicle for cheap red wine. The recipe therefore, is necessarily cheap and simple. You pile as much sliced fruit and berries into a large pitcher as you can and then fill it with wine. The juice from the fruit will slowly diffuse into the alcohol and make it delicious.

3. Keep the pitcher in the fridge for a couple of hours or while you do the rest of the prep. When you serve it, top up the rest of the pitcher with Sprite to make it bubbly.

4. Sangria done.

5. Drink continuously for the duration of cooking.

6. Dough is pretty easy. Just throw a bunch of flower, yeast, an egg, some water and a dash of milk into a bowl. Mash it all together until it starts to look like dough. I don't know. Making dough is boring. Watch this fruitloop do it.

7. Put the dough in a pan and put a bunch of mashed up tomatoes and hotsauce all over it.

8. Then fire up all the meat, onions and red peppers in a pan until they're a little bit cooked. More hotsauce. Then put that on top of the dough too.

9. Finally, tear up the cheese and sprinkle it all over the place. More cheese = better. Mozzarella is what Zeus ate.

10. Throw it into the oven. Turn the oven on. I forget to do that sometimes.

Pizza done.

11. Eat pizza, finish sangria. It's important to be over the legal limit for the next part.

12. Skin, core and half the apples and pears. This is hard when you are drunk, so think of it like a field sobriety test. Don't fuck it up or you get stabbed in the hand.

13. Spread an even layer of sugar over the bottom of a non-stick pan. Turn on the fire part underneath it and wait for the sugar to melt. (Yeah, sugar melts into a light-brown liquid when it gets hot. I didn't really know that.)

14. Add a bunch of butter once the sugar melts. Then throw in a bunch of cloves, black pepper and the cinnamon sticks. My roommate ate one of the cinnamon sticks and informed me that it was gross, so don't do that. Then put in the fruit.

15. After like 30 seconds, the goopey shit at the bottom will start to get really thick. That's when you pour in a bunch of rum. Like 4 or 5 shots worth. Some people will tell you that that's too much, but... well, they're wrong. Quantity of rum => amount of fire. So I don't really know what the hell they're talking about.

16. Then kinda tip the pan into the fire. Or stick your hands in there with a lighter. I don't care, I'm not your mom. The alcohol should explode (trifecta attained). Then flick around the pan, preferably where a girl can see you because this part makes you look awesome. Don't spill fire on yourself.

17. Then pour some apple juice on it so it's not so sludgey.

18. Eat.

This would be good with ice cream. But I never remember to get ice cream, so I just ate it plain. Probably the most delicious thing ever. I might put it on pancakes sometimes.

I'll try to make this a running thing. Hopefully with a different type of dead animal, variety of liquor and magnitude of explosion each time. I even made a new subject tag! Next up; Jack Daniel's chicken. Side of white phosphorus.