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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting Around, Seeing the Town

All of the hard work and sacrifice have finally paid off.  Yes, I finally bought a basket for my city bike (It’s not a girl’s bike, god damn it!). This bike weighs at least as much as any car I have ever owned so it’s a really good thing that Valencia is as flat as a tortilla. Just to hump this pig out of the Turia river park I have to work up a decent head of steam. I still have a bit of adjusting to do to make this bike perfect, things like getting new brake pads and tire for the front but I am really happy with this purchase. I use it for all of my around town trips. I only ride my other bike for sport or for any longer trips out of Valencia. As I am one of the first kids in the neighborhood to own one of these bikes I am the envy of all my friends. Most people here have some sort of shitty mountain bike for transportation around town—not very stylish I’m afraid. If it’s style you want you can’t beat a puke orange leviathan like this one I picked up in a pawn shop.

 There are public drinking fountains and then there are public drinking fountains. Since water is absolutely essential for human existence the Spanish have deemed the allocation of this compound to be important enough to warrant cool dispensers. I drink filtered water at home and I refuse to drink bottled water. I can rarely carry enough water for my bike rides so these beautiful fountains are a welcome sight when I am dry. The drinking water is completely safe although it has a bit too much chlorine.  It is certainly better than dying of thirst and better than wasting a plastic bottle. I have a mental map of the fountains along my bike rides so that I can refill my bottles and camelback.

A completely retarded T-shirt with something printed on it that only remotely resembles English.  Why? Why would anyone wear this shirt let alone pay for it? This T-shirt says: BOAK NEAT Previous Festival. Whatever the fuck that means.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pollo al Chilindrón

I have been looking for something new to cook and a friend told me about this simple dish of chicken and peppers. I had never heard of the dish, never tried it before, and I certainly had never cooked it. I did my usual internet search for recipes and then I turned to youtube to find a video to walk me through the dish. I found several but I especially liked the José Andrés version. I have seen many episodes of his show,Made in Spain, on the net. I left out the tomato sauce part. I don’t remember if this was an accident on my part or if I was imitating another version of the dish that doesn’t use sauce. My version in the video came out very well so you decide.

What I am finally learning about cooking is that one of the most important aspects of any dish is how you season the dish. This sounds incredibly obvious but it is the difference between the insipid and the delicious. A pinch more salt, a bit of pepper, a dash more of pimentón can change a disastrous dish into something sublime. When making gazpacho, seasoning is so incredibly crucial to the final product. It is something that I am learning dish by dish as I develop my taste buds.

From Made in Spain

Pollo al chilindrón

Chilindrón is a wonderful vegetable stew that comes from Aragon, where they grow astonishing vegetables in the fertile land near the Ebro River.
Serves 4
• ¼ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
• 4 chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated
• Salt to taste
• 4 cups diced Spanish onions
• 1 cup diced green bell peppers
• 1 cup diced red bell peppers
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1 cup thinly sliced and diced jamón Serrano (Spanish cured ham)
• ½ teaspoon sweet pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
• 2 cups plain canned tomato sauce
• 1 fresh rosemary sprig
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 cups flat mineral or filtered water

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-quart pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt then, working in batches, brown them on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.

Add the ¼ cup of olive oil to the same pot, and when the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly until the vegetables are dark golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of water if the onions start to burn. Add the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Then add the white wine and cook until it evaporates, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the jamón and browned chicken pieces, as well as any juices that have collected, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the pimentón, tomato sauce, rosemary, bay leaf and the water and simmer over low heat for 1 hour or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. Season to taste with salt before serving.

*Youtube no longer allows you to use copyrighted music in your videos. Big deal, who needs it? In this video I use a song my younger brother made. Not exactly cooking video music, it's more like "humping some hot chick in a corner of an Ibiza disco" music but I think it's pretty cool and I'm hoping he'll make me some more stuff to put in future projects. Thanks, Mat. You are a true Renaissance man.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Freedom Is...

Freedom is sometimes just another word for having an afternoon off on a beautiful sunny day in the Spanish countryside and discovering a lot of cool places that were heretofore unknown to you. Freedom like this is a luxury most of us don’t often allow ourselves. This is unfortunate because very often the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is simply deciding to take a new route home. This was the case for me on Friday and I enjoyed it so much that I did the same thing again on Saturday. Sometimes there is nothing that makes you feel freer than deliberately trying to get lost on a bicycle in a strange place.

I was already a few kilometers out of Valencia on Friday when I was looking at the spire of a small village church out in the distance peeking over the rooftops of Burjassot. I had noticed the church before on several occasions and I tried to think how I could get there on my bike. It’s not always easy going from point A to point B when you are out in the country in Valencia. I have been on similar quests in which I had to portage my bike over stone walls, through irrigation ditches, or under wire fences. The real strengths of bike travel are usually only apparent when you can actually ride the bike and not when it is like a weight around your neck.

I have been out to this western side of Valencia many, many times and although I always enjoy the ride I am rarely as adventurous as I ought to be. I stick to my route there and back, and that is that. Even on this trip I didn’t start off by saying to myself, “I’m going to get thoroughly lost out in the sticks and I don’t care how long it takes me to find my way back home.” I simply hesitated as I clipped into my pedals for the ride home. It was such a spectacularly sunny and warm day. I didn’t really have anything to do. I was wearing my heart rate monitor in anticipation of doing some sprint work on the way back. And then I just went off in another direction, not really thinking much about it. I thought I would see a bit more of Burjassot.

As I was riding down a hill on the back side of the village I was treated with a great view of the vast coastal plain to the north, and there was my little church a few kilometers away. I could make it there in a half a down sprints. As it turns out the village is called Carpesa and the church is the Parroquía Santos Abdon y Senen. I didn’t have my camera with me on that day so the pictures will have to wait until the next time I am there. There is one café in the village in the little square adjacent to the church. I didn’t stick around even though I was sort of hungry.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why Isn’t My City More Like Copenhagen?

"It’s really wonderful to live in a city where every day when you wake up in the morning you realize that today the city is a little bit better than yesterday. I’ve had this feeling now for almost 40 years.”
-Danish Urbanist Jan Gehl

Shouldn't you be able to say that your city is a little better every day? Does your city really need another parking lot? Another strip mall? Another lane of freeway? Is most of the energy of urban planning where you live simply trying to facilitate the automobile and make traffic move faster? Or would you prefer that the automobile become a diminishing presence in your life? Would you rather spend even more time in your car or more time around people? To me these seem like ridiculously easy questions to answer but it seems that they are also questions that few people are asking.

Many cities have been built completely out of scale to the human beings living there. As I have said on many occasions, the domination of the automobile was a tremendous mistake of the 20th century and a mistake that we must work diligently to rectify in this century. This isn’t just a matter of increasing problems with energy consumption, it’s about human happiness.

Here's how they do it in Paris:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Alternatives in Parenting

Mrs. G. recalls it as "the darkest year of my life." She cried all the time. She had trouble speaking in complete sentences. She lost 15 pounds. One of her friends remembers fearing that the stylish blond mother of two, and owner of both an Upper East Side apartment and a Long Island beachfront home, was suicidal.

A child stricken with cancer? The collapse of her husband's business? The death of a beloved parent? Menopause? No, the darkest year of Mrs. G.'s life came the year her son was rejected from kindergarten.

-Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal
It’s time to start looking for a school for your child. I don’t mean to point out the obvious but you really should have started looking earlier. You screwed around and waited until he only has two years before kindergarten. Most responsible parents these days start filling out applications to competitive schools once they get a sonogram or as soon as the paper turns blue on the pregnancy test. I don’t mean to overstate this but you may have destroyed any chance whatsoever for your child to have a meaningful life—at least the way that it is decided in your neurotic social circle. You and I know that if your kid doesn’t get into the right kindergarten you may as well send them to a lunch lady training academy. You may as well change your baby’s name from Wilson to Spartacus if all you have planned for him is a public school education.

If after all of your considerable efforts you only manage to get your child into a second-tier kindergarten there is no need to panic. All you have to do is put that child up for adoption, learn from this mistake, and start over with another baby. If you have become too “attached” to this child to relinquish it, you may consider keeping it as an employee in some domestic capacity, say as a maid or gardener. Let’s be honest with one another, even though your second choice of kindergarten costs $35,000 a year plus supplies, the only thing your child will be fit for in life will be manual labor, politics, or crime.

If this whole process seems too daunting, too much of a crap shoot, there is another option available to would-be parents. Instead of the traditional process of having a child of your own, scratching and clawing to get that kid into a succession of ever more expensive schools which may or may not culminate in producing an offspring you would be proud to call your own, then there is a new service for you. At "My Kid Is Better than Yours" Adoption Agency you can chose from an array of accomplished adults. You can pick and choose among the adoptees who are licensed professionals from leading universities, or even professional athletes (all of our candidates have at least a .350 average, and that’s in the American League!). Saying “My son, the doctor” has never been easier.

At a cost of only $500,000, the My Kid Is Better than Yours adoption process will save you a fortune over raising your own doctor or World Series ring-holder from scratch. The price may seem a bit high but, by skipping their actual childhood, you’ll save at least that much by not having to buy little metal cars. The bond between you and your adopted kid will be so authentic that your adult child will want to have nothing to do with you, just like in traditional families.

I know what a lot of you are thinking: What if my hyper-successful kid turns out to be a complete scumbag? It’s hard to believe but many extremely successful people in our society don’t rate very high as human beings. For those parents who wish to eliminate any possibility of risk regarding their offspring we offer a new service. When you choose "Only the Good Die Young" Adoption Agency there are no surprises. We will painstakingly fabricate the perfect child for you, working backwards from the stellar New York Times obituary, to a remarkable career, to a childhood that filled you with pride. Everyone knows that the tragic demise of a promising youth trumps any other parent’s boring story about their little go-getter urchin.

Imagine having a child who doesn’t drag your good name through the mud with a sex scandal or drug issues. Can you put a price tag on that sort of peace of mind? We have and if you have to ask you can’t afford it and we’re sure your kid will love public school.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Bike Propaganda

Unlike the guy in the video, I AM a cyclist. I have also spent a good deal of time and intellectual effort thinking about the best ways to build livable cities. For me the bicycle is (and has been all my life) transportation, entertainment, and sport. I'm too lazy and too impatient to walk much. I love my bikes!

Life is better  when you ride a bike and the world would be a lot better off if more of us rode bikes. Ride yours today!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Real Madrid 0-2 Barça

To say that the Real Madrid-Barcelona football games are a big deal here in Spain is an incredible understatement. This year it is even a bigger deal because the teams came into the match tied for La Liga with 77 points each and only five (I think) games left in the season. It is yet another holiday weekend here in Valencia (San Vicente) so this big game gave an even more festive mood to the city. It gave us a good excuse for a rooftop barbeque. It was sort of short notice so no one had time to prepare anything fancy. What we did have was lots of grilled meat.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

American Literature ™

Just how free is our right to free speech in America? There is a huge difference between what you are allowed by law to say and write and what the powers that be (in movies, television, and in print) will allow to been seen, heard, and read. I don’t include most visual art in this essay because I don’t think that it has much of an audience these days. If you are a painter or sculptor you had better have a few rich patrons lined up or you won’t ever be able to give up your day job. But just how “free” is the American novel at this moment in our history? I don’t know whether the novel is being censured in the marketplace or there just aren’t any novelists exploring the true dilemmas in our society but the end result is the same: most American fiction has been pretty mealy-mouthed and uncontroversial, at least in my lifetime.

Let me give an example. Just how far do you think a writer could go if she criticized our culture of strip malls, chain stores, suburban sprawl, and the over-all corporate takeover of American culture? I would venture to guess that such a novel would never be printed—not by a big publisher—and it would certainly never be able to reach much of an audience. It almost pains me to consider how many great American novels have been ignored so that we may be supplied with an almost endless river of insipid vampire novels or books about women who love shopping. About the only novel that I have read in my lifetime that actually went so far as to question our consumerist culture was Douglas Copeland’s Generation X (which he followed up with some pretty insipid bullshit).

After John Updike’s death recently we were presented with a month-long hagiography of this writer. I would lump Updike in with just about every other writer in the American pantheon of modern authors and then I would toss them all in the trash. Did Updike ever write a novel that wasn’t about divorce or fucking around on your wife or about college professors? Has Joyce Carol Oates ever addressed any pressing American problem other than little girls getting diddled by their uncles? If she did then I didn’t read it. And I defy you to tell me what sort of issues John Irving sees fit to weave into novels. Fuck Saul Bellow too while we are at it.  In my opinion you can either be a college professor or a novelist. Choose one and do it because you can’t be both.

And here we come to the heart of the matter. American academia has sucked the very life out of our literature. Think of the countless professors who have spent countless years dissecting the most ridiculously stupid and meaningless passages of American fiction, as if their efforts in the matter are enough to validate their life’s work. Did Edgar Allen Poe have syphilis or whatever dumb question these professors ponder so that they might get published in some hoary little journal read only by other ridiculous professors?  I would rather have what I write be read by a construction worker on his lunch break than by any college professor. It seems like much of the American literature that we are allowed to read is either vampire novels or stuff written for and by college English professors. So where does that leave readers such as myself who aren’t 12 year old girls or old fogeys smoking pipes?

Does anyone believe that you could write a novel that is highly critical of the culture of automobiles and have that novel reach a large audience (I’m assuming that it is a great novel and merits such an audience)? I sort of doubt that you could criticize Starbucks or TGI Friday’s or Chase Bank or Walden Books or Barnes Noble’s or Pizza Hut or Shell Oil or McDonald’s and get very far as a writer. And it isn’t as if these entities don’t need some writer to take the piss out of them once in a while. What art that is allowed to filter down to the masses is almost completely devoid of debate. Look at the artwork in your neighborhood Starbucks, for example. Insipid, machine-generated crap that is completely lacking in humanity and certainly free of controversy. Pop music is just too stupid to even pick on as far as I am concerned, ditto TV and movies. Woody Allen is the John Updike of feature films, and I mean that as a huge insult. Woody Allen’s view of the average American comes from his relationship with his servants.

Of course there is plenty of room in the realm of fiction for everything, even novels by Joyce Carol Oates written only for English graduate students (I can’t think of a more absurd audience). The problem is there seems to be no room on our bookshelves for people with ideas concerning our society as a whole. We have reduced literature to market shares. There are countless novels published and heavily marketed that talk directly to you, the individual. There are dozens of books each year about single women raising children (my precious little mistake), books about divorce and cheating, novels about how to make it in our consumerist society. The problem is there don’t seem to be many books directed at us, all of us, the collective us who make up the American citizenry. Of course we are all different but we also have much more in common than anyone dares mention.

Here is one example of what I am talking about. What if something like 50,000 Americans were being killed each year in terrorist attacks? What if some novelist wrote a book detailing how we could rescue half of these victims from their fate? That might be a novel a few people would read. So why aren’t we seeing novels that criticize the culture of automobiles and driving? If Americans suddenly drove half as much we could cut in half the yearly number of traffic deaths (my figure of 50,000). I don’t think that even the most brilliantly written novel critical of the car culture would be allowed to be popular in America.

Of course someone could write a book critical of the strip mall culture in America and the ever-increasing stranglehold of corporate culture on everyday life but you can bet that it wouldn’t be sold at Barnes & Noble’s or Waldenbooks. Corporate America prefers books that can have movie and happy meal tie-ins.

In the end we are free to write about anything under the sun. The problem is if you want anyone else to read what you have written you had better color within the lines and not piss off the folks holding the strings.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

America's Renewed Social Contract

From what I have gathered from the spit and bile coming from American conservatives in the wake of Obama’s victorious passage of health care reform, their resentment lies mostly in an irrational fear that some people may receive benefits without contributing. Once again whoever is behind the curtain of conservative politics in America has done a fine job of pitting our lower classes against one another. Most of these teabaggers are middle class and below citizens and for some reason they think they are the only people in America who work for a living. The rest of us are either fabulously wealthy movie stars or welfare cheats.

One of the things this health care reform will do is to finally impose a bit of a tax burden on America’s wealthiest citizens, something we haven’t seen since Reagan lowered tax rates for this small, elite group and thus causing the greatest disparity of income in our country’s history. Just the mere mention of attempting to balance out incomes in America will send the rank and file teabaggers into fits of apoplexy. They don’t want anyone to get anything for free, so they say. No one ever gave them anything for free, except public schools, roads, national defense, fire and police protection, etc. Of course none of these things are free, we all pay for them with taxes, and of course national health care as it functions in Europe is not free. In Spain the right to health care is actually written into their constitution.

It’s called a social contract and it goes something like this. A person plays by the rules, works hard her entire life, perhaps serves his country in some way, and then this person should expect something from this society, things like social order, national defense, infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transportation, etc.). They expect police and fire protection and the rule of law. In advanced societies this social contract has included health care so that the citizen is not preyed upon by a system that puts profit ahead of health care. Something as fundamental to human health and happiness as medical care is best left to the citizenry. This is something the anti-government, anti-democratic conservatives can never seem to understand: who is the government? In a democracy it is the people.

The quality of health care is a measurable item and all measurements say that the best health care systems in the world are government-run. Spain’s system is rated 7th in the world and this is not the 7th richest country in the world. Sure, there are problems with the Spanish system but not cataclysmic problems as with the American system that had reached a point of dire crisis—and how else could you define a system that has excluded some 50 million citizens? Spanish hospitals are modern, health care is excellent, and you pay nothing out-of-pocket for a hospital stay. Furthermore, their system has controlled costs much better than its American counterpart. If you had to pay for an emergency room visit as a foreigner you would pay a fraction of what it would cost in the United States.

Europeans in general pay much higher taxes than in America but they demand much more from their governments. Most countries here have great public transportation which means you don’t have to own a car—a lifestyle impossible for the majority of Americans who rely on their cars for nearly every trip away from home. There is also not nearly as much disparity between the rich and poor in Europe. If there is one single thing that I think most threatens democracy in America it is the enormous wealth that is being gathered by the top 1% of the population. We have already lived through the days of serfs and royalty and we didn’t like it much. Why have conservatives been so intent on putting us on a direct path back to the days of the super-rich and their peasant servant class?

By all accounts our middle class has been shrinking since the Reagan tax cuts while the top income earners have seen enormous increases in their accumulation of the national economic pie. If there is a way to look at the growing imbalance of incomes in a positive light then someone needs to let me know. If there is a coherent reason why we shouldn’t tax the rich at the former rates, back when America was much less of a class-divided country, please let me know.

According to the Right, all of America’s problems are the result of the parasitic lower classes who are only looking for welfare checks, free lunches, and now free health care. I have news for these folks: no society was ever brought down by the lower classes. Failure has always been caused by the elites, and in America’s case that would be the richest few citizens who want even more and who want to contribute even less. They also oppose any sort of inheritance tax so that they can create new monarchies here in the country created to escape the dictatorship of royalty. What was George W. Bush but a medieval earl or duke, completely lacking in talent and brains but who was raised to the throne through the fact of his royal birth? Citizens should be allowed to pass on businesses and houses to their offspring, but not dynasties.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Another Tale of Paella

I made a paella for a rooftop barbeque the other day that turned out very well. I have video testimony of the quality taken from a true Valenciana. As she says in the video, “ está el arroz super en su punto” (The rice is perfect).  If I have learned one thing since moving to Valencia it is how to cook rice. The other thing I have learned is that if Spanish people don't like your cooking they will tell you.

Back in the States  I cooked the vast majority of the rice I consumed in a rice cooker. I would make an occasional risotto but I generally ate rice as a side dish. Now I make all sorts of dishes using rice as the main ingredient. Getting the rice en su punto is just a matter of using the exact amount of liquid, although this can be tricky at times.
My secret for paella valenciana is using the right amount of meat for whatever size pan I am using.* In this video I used my 46 centimeter paella. For this pan I use half a rabbit and half a chicken and then two extra leg quarters. The leg quarters are the most flavorful part of the bird so the extra meat really helps thicken the broth. You simply fry the meat in the pan with olive oil, browning it well on all sides while being careful not to overcook the pieces that cook faster. I salt the meat during the browning process. Then you add the water and let this simmer for about 30 minutes. I add the saffron at the last ten minutes or so. Taste for salt (It is difficult to add too much salt as far as most Spanish cooks are concerned and I concur). Then you add the vegetables: broad green beans (perolas as they are called in Valenciano), white beans (alubias blancas), and butter beans I think they are called in English garrafó. These are all precooked so they just need to heat up and then you add the rice. Once you have situated everything in the pan correctly you stop stirring the pan although you are allowed to shake it a bit. When the water is gone it is done. You will probably have to adjust the water a bit by adding a bit towards the end as you try the rice.

¡Buen provecho!

* I don't just have a paella pan (called a paella), I have paella pans!  Plural. If you only have one paella pan you are livig like an animal, at least here in Valencia.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Gadgets, Gimmicks, and Riding Your Guts Out

My brother just sent me a new 160 gig iPod and my old heart rate monitor. Totally exasperated with iTunes but thrilled to finally have my heart rate monitor on the same continent as my fat carcass, I’ll be going for some sort of epic bike ride in an hour or so. The weather here in Valencia is cooperating with a cloud-free sky and a thermometer that will reach 23 degrees this afternoon (that’s 73.4 for State-side folks). I had a hell of a time trying to import an audio book for the ride today. I will be listening to the robot version of Travesuras de la Niña Mala which I have just finished reading for the second time. It may seem a bit tedious to listen to a book that I have just finished reading—a book read by a computer at that—but I don’t have a lot of selection when it comes to books in Spanish. Any help in this area would be appreciated greatly.

I just got back from about a two hour ride. The heart rate monitor doesn’t lie: I ain’t exactly in the best shape of my life. Today’s ride certainly pointed me in the right direction. When you are looking at your heart rate display you can’t kid yourself that you are having a good ride when in fact you aren’t. I had a good ride today because I was constantly kicking myself in the ass to keep my heart rate in range. I really know when I have a great workout when after my ride I eat, take a shower, and then fall unconscious for 45 minutes and wake up feeling as good as the day I was born (that was a good day).

I tried to go for a maximum heart rate sprint but I wasn’t feeling it. First of all I need some clip-in pedals for my bike which I plan on buying next week. I don’t even feel safe pedaling all-out without clip-ins. I don’t feel my normal attachment to my bike. I will try again for a max heart rate ride on Monday. From your maximum heart rate you can start really judging your daily workouts. Some days you will try to maintain 80% of your max, other days less, but you need to know your max. It’s not like I’ve ever been too much of a geek about my bike rides by getting overly-technical, at least not in the past. I just rode my ass off. As I get older I realize that if I want to maintain a decent level of performance I need to train a bit smarter. Train smart or train stupid, there is no substitute for miles ridden. Gadgets and training gimmicks are fine but I never really needed a heart rate monitor to tell me I had a great ride (although it does help with motivation). Time to start racking up some hard kilometers.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good in Bed

You may be asking yourself, “Am I good in bed?” The answer is probably “no.” Actually, in your case the answer is definitely and unequivocally “no” and possibly even "hell no" which is why you should keep reading.

To accurately determine your sexual performance you need to break down “Good in Bed” into its three components and what those individual components mean. “Good” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Say someone had been trapped under earthquake rubble for three weeks without food or water.  If you offered this person a half-eaten microwave burrito you found under your car seat they would undoubtedly say it was good. It is all in the perception. If your own sexual technique is the moral equivalent of a half-eaten burrito found under a car seat then all you have to do is work on how you are perceived. There is probably an easier way to do this than bury your partner under a collapsed building for three weeks, but a better method doesn’t readily come to mind. Make sure to feed his/her cat while they are gone.

Next there is the whole “bed” thing. Maybe you are good in places other than a bed? Perhaps your prowess can only be appreciated outside the stifling confines of the sleeping chamber. Probably not but I’m just saying this to be polite. As you get older you learn the hard way that a nice soft bed is about the only sane place to wrestle while undressed. Sure, you were a lot more spontaneous in your youth, but the last time you had sex in the kitchen you fell on the utensil drawer and then had go to the emergency room to have a melon baller surgically removed from your lower intestinal track. As the doctor asked how this happened all you could think was, “I have a melon baller? Cool!” Just remember to wash it.

Finally there is the word “In.” Let’s be honest here; if you are somehow expecting a simple preposition to validate your miserable sexual performance then you are worse off than any of us ever imagined. To be perfectly honest I think you are doing it all wrong. There is probably a book you can read on the subject but it's probably too late; any change in your routine would just frighten your partner.  In your case I think the most sensible solution is to just give up.

Valencia CF 2-2 Atlético de Madrid

Valencia came back from the brink of defeat against Atlético de Madrid last night in Mestalla and settled for a 2-2 draw. I thought that Valencia dominated most of the match even though Atlético led almost the entire game. A loss with Atlético gaining two away goals would have been an almost insurmountable challenge for Valencia as they play the return game next week in Madrid. Valencia can never seem to do anything the easy way. They lost the opener against Brugges in Belgium and then drew at home in the first game against Werder (Valencia advanced after that completely insane 4-4 match in Germany) so I guess you can say that history is on our side this year.

In other games:

Fulham 2-1 Wolfsburg
Benfica 2-1 Liverpool
Hamburg 2-1 Standard de Liège

Can Valencia make it to the final in Hamburg on Wednesday 12 May? If they do you can bet that they will take the difficult route.

So there has been some very exciting football the last three nights. In the Champions League we saw two brilliant games earlier in the week. Bayern Munich beat Manchester 2-1. Franck Ribéry is one of the most competitive players in the game today.  On Wednesday Arsenal pulled off a 2-2 with Barça although Cesc Fabrègas broke his foot shooting a penalty kick to tie the game and will be out for the season and will probably also miss the World Cup games for Spain.