Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Many Homes for the Holidays

I'm still on the road and will be moving around the South until the Super Bowl. Currently, I am in Tampa, Florida, but before that I was spending time in Atlanta. However, for the last few days I was on Crystal River, just north of where I grew up on the Tampa Bay. I will be posting about another kind of manspace I found there. More later.

Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Making Room for the Man Couch


LaGrange, Georgia. – The way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach, but through a leather recliner. I spent the last two days with my best friend Jessica and her husband James at their home in LaGrange where James took a job a few years ago. Jessica says the house was bachelor pad before she moved in.

Vestigages of that life remain: beer steins and leather couches.

According to one source, a hallmark of the bachelor pad is the lack of attention to detail and cleanliness. The leather couch makes sense, he says. The cushions never have to go to the dry cleaner, which makes cleaning up easy.

A list of men who own leather couches whirls around in my head. Brother-in-laws and rockers among them. In the case of my sister, both she and her spouse decided to put a black leather set in their living room. That was four years ago. Today, she’s wondering why she didn’t recommend them for the den.

This brings me to where the man couch should live. In an earlier post, my architect cousin Beth explained the role of the den, specifically how modern design plans have thwarted this much-coveted man space. Rather than dens or sitting rooms, which were for the ladies, open floor plans force people to share spaces once deemed private for the different sexes.

So what's the big deal? My recent writing on the value of shared spaces suggests that the phasing out of the den is a good thing. It’s not. The best relationships are ones with boundaries, and in the South, where boundaries are often blurred, privacy is at a premium. The man couch in the living room (or what was once the sitting room) looks weird because it is. Where there should be a humidor, there’s a chintz vase in its place.

(Chintz Vase)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Putting the "PUH" in Pecan

As some of you know, I spend a good amount of my life in the kitchen. Today, I received this recipe from Cara Lundqvist, a former high school classmate of mine in Tampa, Florida, who now lives in Finland. (She met the man and moved there!)

A southern home is not complete without its pies. Three gold stars for Cara for keeping up the southern tradition of making pecan (puh-kahn) pie in Finland:


1 cup of dark brown sugar
2/3 cups of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of rum
3 eggs
2 cups of chopped pecans

In a bowl, whip the brown sugar and the syrup together until sugar has dissolved and the consistency is smooth.
Beat in 2 eggs and add 1 tablespoon of rum.
Add pecans and mix around until they get completely covered in the sticky liquid.

6 tablespoons of butter
24 graham crackers
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan or microwave.
Crush 24 graham crackers into fine pieces.
In a bowl, add the butter into the graham cracker mix. Add more butter if needed. Mix should be moist. Stir in 2 egg whites. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Press graham cracker mix into pie plate.
Pre-bake pie crust for 8-10 minutes at 350F.

Pour filling into the pre-baked crust and bake until the pecans are lightly toasted on top. About 20-30 minutes.

Monday, 1 December 2008

No TV Zone

I am hooked on television. I don't own an "idiot box," so whenever I have the chance to park it in front of one, I do. For those of you who think this is strange, I couldn't agree with you more. I haven't owned a TV in years. The reason is simple. I would become an addict.

(Case in point: Last night, I watched 3/4 of the True Blood series. More on that later...)

It's unfortunate, because Barry Hannah, the acclaimed writer and hero to many, once explained the value of the TV for creativity, and especially writing. It's about stories, he said. (In reality, my friend used this argument when I made fun of how much he watched TV. It's not in the watching, it's what you do with it that counts.) Hannah's point is that too much isolation from the rest of the world is never a good thing.

(Barry Hannah)

Clarissa subscribed to cable this fall. This is my friend who grew up in the bright lights and big cities of L.A. and New York. For the first couple of years she lived in Oxford, she watched movies and a few local fuzzy channels she captured with bunny ears. I recall the day I walked into her house and noticed the screen was clear. You have cable, I announced, rather than asked. Then in her usual way of explaining things (yes, my Clarissa really does explain it all), she told me that she needed it.

All this brings me to the "blog." A few weeks ago during my meeting with Charles Wilson, the professor signing off on this project, we discussed the sudden-hit TV series True Blood. I'd heard about it from my sister in Florida who records it and watches at her convenience every week. It's good she told me, but never why. So when Dr. Wilson brought up, I was intrigued. What is he doing watching this show?

(It's like Cheers with Vampires and Sex and Southern Drawls.)

Charles Wilson has his finger on the cultural pulse of the South, that's why. The show, he explained, and I would later find out, was series of dialogues about race, sexuality, and gender in the South. What I noticed, aside from the rich amount of sex and violence, was the depictions of southern homes. Whether it's the home Jason now lives in since he parents died in a flash flood, the home Sookie inhabits by herself since her grandmother was murdered, or the shabby digs of Tara's abode she shares with her alcoholic mother, the theme is this: the south is all about the shared space. Even Will Compton, the vampire Sookie has fallen for, shares his home with transient vampires; and Sam, the owner of the bar Merlotte's, spends more time in there than in his tin can trailer. You get the sense that people move between spaces more freely in the south.

I thinking about this as I plan my own move from Pierce Avenue. Will it be easy? I hope so, and perhaps watching a little TV will help with the process.