Monday, June 30, 2008

How To Throw A Party, Part I: What Kind of Party?

The first thing you need to know about throwing parties is that it is an artform, and not a science.  You can get all of the variables right and shit could still go wrong.  Even if Dionysus does show up, he might just end up breaking all your corning ware.  But there are a few time-tested ways to cut back on the possibility of disaster, or worse, boredom, and here, for the first time in print, I would like to share them with you. 

Before you start inviting people over to your house, it is important to decide what kind of party you want to have. Here are a few kinds of parties you could consider:

1. Intimate Gourmet Cocktail Party 
Not only should the food at this event be chosen with discernment, so should the guests. This is not the party to invite a random stranger to, unless said random stranger is walking down the street in a Viktor & Rolf tuxedo carrying a plate of Humbolt Fog and a bottle of Cristal. This party is characterized by conversations about art and trips abroad, rich foods, and threesomes . It is usually expensive to throw, but a quick clean-up (except the threesome, which can not only get messy, but emotionally complicated).

2. Raging Stranger Rail Drink Bash 

This can be considered the opposite of the previous party, but should only be attempted if you a) live in a frat house or 2) don’t give a shit about your home or belongings. This type of party is characterized by low-quality alcohol and drugs, date rape, frequent vomiting, and ang
ry neighbors. For this type of party, you can invite anyone you want. including people you don’t know or like. If you get enough people together drunk, there will be someone for everyone to know and like.

3. Medium-sized Theme Party

This is the kind of party that I usually throw, because it allows me to invite most, but not all, of the people that I know and like and even some of their friends. It can be messy, depending on your age and socioeconomic status, but is generally less disgusting than the Rail Drink Bash. It is not crucial to have a theme, but in my opinion, it gives a smaller group of people something to rally around. This kind of party is characterized by mid-priced liquor, hydroponic weed, sexual experimentation with members of the same sex, booty dancing in living rooms, and loud conversation.

Great, but how do you decide which kind of party to throw? Well, how much money do you have? An intimate, gourmet gathering will cost you a couple hundred bucks, because even if you request that guests brings something, you still have to have a seed table of lovely wines, cheeses, etc. You will have little left after this party because everything will be amazing and people will gorge themselves. But since people will conduct themselves with dignity, you won’t have much to clean up and you will get to go to bed still drunk.

A rail drink bash is the cheapest, but you could end up paying for it in property damage. You can start with basically a case of beer and an empty space and tell everyone to bring their own shit or go home sober. Other than your own booze, you don’t need to provide anything but music, but you might want to stock up on paper towels. There will be little left after this party, including things you want and need. Be prepared for the loss of appliances, furniture, your integrity, and maybe your girlfriend.

A medium-sized party can cost as much or as little as you’d like, starting at about $150. You can ask people to bring alcohol, but you will need to provide mixers. You should make sure that you have some high-carbohydrate food around to soothe your guests pickled tummies. I usually go with rice and beans (cheap in bulk), bread, and perhaps some sort of cookie. These will be civilized folk, so while you won’t have to break out the white tablecloth, you will have to provide disposable cups and utensils. You will more than break even in the end. You might even have enough, beer, liquor, and captain’s hats for your next shindig.

*A note about theme parties: If you are going to go with a theme, then fucking go with it. Do not half-ass your playlist or your outfit. I usually spend $50-$100 on music for a theme party, $50 on a costume, and maybe $20 to $100 for other theme-related stuff.
If you aren’t into the theme of your party, no one else will be, either. And, this is the hard part, but you must INSIST that guests follow through with the theme. I usually tell people that if they aren’t going to wear a costume then they have to bring an eightball. I can count on one hand all the people who did not dress to impress for my last party, and you better believe that they have a big, fat question mark next to their names on the guestlist for the next throwdown (see HTTAP, part III: Who to Invite). When people tell you that they are tired of listening to bluegrass, just tell them to leave. I accepted a non-theme related request at my last party and it is what I think of as my own personal low- point for the night (even considering the two-day hangover). My self-esteem has recovered, but I will never do it again.

Clamming : A Brief Guide and Photomentary

Have you ever been clamming?

I have and I love it.

I have been going clamming since I was about 5, when I thought that the tiny snail shells everywhere were tiny, dainty horse poops (Chincoteague ponies, perhaps) left by early Native Americans and original colonists who had magically survived into the 20th century and were riding these horse-ponies across the marsh. Perhaps it was because the marsh was so quiet and seemed so mysterious to me.
Back then, my job was to follow my dad for up to half a mile across the mud and through the knee to waist-deep water and then dig where I was told. That is actually more or less still my job, except now I carry a bucket and my own rake. I thought I'd make a little photo-documentary of the recent clamming trip I took with my dad. Maybe those of you who have never clammed will develop a taste for it and the confidence to go to it. Maybe those of you who have clammed before will decide that I am a more ridiculous person than you thought because who would do this year after year for "fun?" Or maybe you won't. Maybe you like clams, maybe you don't. It's not my job to tell you what to eat or how to get your food. Except that I'm going to here.

When you go clamming, you go to a place that looks like this:

A marsh. We go to a place called "The Point" at the end of Oak Island, NC, where the beach and the intracoastal waterway meet. The water is very calm and you go at low tide. You walk across the water to find some undiscovered area (or, at least where the clams are undiscovered.)

Here is a picture of my dad bravely crossing the perfectly calm waist-deep water. (You actually do have to be a little brave; there are all kinds of creatures in that water! But they're harmless. It depends on how phobic you are.)

(You will see that my dad is headed back toward civilization, the beach houses. This photo is actually from the way back. I just wanted to put in one of somebody crossing the water.)

So this is what it looks like to clam.

And this is what it looks like when you find a clam!

What happens is that you dig, dig, dig, not very deep, but you try to cover a large area. And then you hear a faint scraping sound and you feel it in your rake. You dig a little more and you strike something, you feel the weight of the clam as you pry it from the mud with your rake, and then, ta da! clam.

This time, we found a lot of clams within a very short period of time; 3 or 4 dozen in 45 minutes, I'd say. But, there is a price to pay for all this free food. Your shoes get very dirty.

Here's a picture of our bounty.

And here's our bounty partying.

And here's a member of our bounty partying with a crab claw.

From a fancy homemade (and homecaught) paella.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's Lactofermenting in my Kitchen?

Ahh Summer. Nothing like a 100 degree kitchen to bend bacteria to my will to make my food more digestible. Right now I've just got some Smith Dairy kefir going. So here's a question: what do you think make a good party? I know its some alchemy of people music and Dionysus's blessings, but seriously, why do some parties work and some flop? I have to say DTD seems to have the magic combo down, but what the combo is, I don't know.

In other news it was hot today in Baton Rouge. It was also hot yesterday. It will also be hot until October, at which time someone should have a party. The number of mosquito bites on my legs hovers around ten.


The only way to allow you guys to post instead of just comment on my posts is if I allow you in as a "team member", which requires that you have a Google account. If you'd like to be a teammate (high-fives and butt slaps also required) just say so.


Why a stupid blog? Ooh, I like this font. Anyway, for those of us scattered to the winds this summer, here's a techno-savvy way to keep up/prod/harangue each other for the next couple of months. Welcome to 2008, suckas.