Archive for November, 2008

10 signs that you've found your soul mate

  1. Looking looks back.
  2. The fear is gone, especially of the future.
  3. The free and easy chance to snap, dig, cut, one up, or smack down is not taken.
  4. 2/3 of the way.
  5. You feel a hand on your shoulder when you sit and think.
  6. Four lungs make sleep easier.
  7. Iron loyalty, lapidary trust.
  8. You don’t have to sell.
  9. Dreams written down overlap much and conflict little.
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Rouge Musings for November 17, 2008

You can’t really make anybody do anything–including yourself. I have been meaning to write a whole post on this, but the one sentence suffices, I think.

One thing I always wonder when the GOP is chanting, “Lower taxes, lower taxes,” is just what tax rates they think would serve the country best? You can’t assume that taxes should always be lower than what they are, and basic math tells us there is a rate than which nothing lower is possible.

I am in love with Brahms’ second string sextet. The tonality reminds me of Debussy. In the second movement, the scherzo, Brahms delivers one of those sinuous dances with tears in its eyes. Brahms, Brahms, Brahms–how much you have taught me in the past five months, I cannot even begin to relate. Thank you, dear friend!

I continue my relationship with Beethoven’s 8th Symphony; for more than a year now it has been a shot in my spiritual arm, so to speak. Four movements, four melodic tours de force. It’s Beethoven, so of course you are getting brilliant instrumentation, but this has special appeal to me. This symphony is short (Beethoven’s shortest, in fact), punchy, upbeat, and unforgettable. I am curious why it is not more well known.

I have this two-CD set as well, “The Best of Boccherini.” He is, in a word, great. I really need to explore his work more, as does the world, for he has been overly ignored.

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I made Punjab choley–again

Punjab choley cooked by Matt RougeA truism of blogging is that you never know what posts are going to get the most hits. Searches on “Punjab choley” have landed me more hits than just about anything other than “matt rouge.”

So today I’m writing a new post, this time complete with recipe and a more appetizing photograph of my most recent choley adventure. I cannot promise that my choley is exactly as it is made in the Punjab region; rather, I suspect that, in terms of spices, it probably isn’t. I do believe, however, that most Indians and Pakistanis would enjoy it! Note: I do not use use any butter in my Indian cooking, nor meat, so this receipt is perfect for vegans. In fact, it is an incredibly satisfying dish; you will not miss the animal products in this one!

The basic ingredients

The essence of Punjab choley is

1) Chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans). Imagine cupping your two hands and filling them with dried chickpeas; that’s about how much I used, soaking them for over a day. They filled your basic steel mixing bowl (I never measure these things out, as you can tell). You can used canned chickpeas, too, but I love the texture of the dried after you’ve cooked the heck out of them; they retain a delightful springy texture to them. And if there is a more economical food than dried chickpeas, then, well, I haven’t found it yet.

2) Tomatoes. I used two cans of diced tomatoes; canned tomatoes are ideal in texture for this dish.

3) Onions and ginger and garlic. I used two large yellow onions (chopped not too fine) and ton of ginger, probably about a quarter of a pound. I julienne the ginger quite fine instead of grating it; it retains a bit of crunch within the dish even after lengthy cooking that pleases the palate. I did not use garlic this time because I didn’t have any, but use as much as you like, chopped or not chopped as you please.

The seasoning

1) Salt to taste. It really doesn’t need much.

2) Hing (asafoetida resin–they’ll have it at your local Indian food store. Important hint: store the opened container in your freezer; otherwise, it will totally stink up a cabinet!). I use a lot of hing in this, but you can completely leave it out if you wish.

3) Dried hot peppers. I threw in a bunch of those little round Indian peppers, but other types will do. You can also leave them out to keep the spice level down: totally a matter of personal preference.

4) Spice blend. You will not go wrong if you just put in a bunch of regular curry powder and a few extra cardamom pods. I typically will use a bunch of G&S curry powder as a base (this may not sound very gourmet, but it is hard to grind certain spices to a fine powder, and this gets in a good base of these upon which to build creatively), add in additional coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ajowan seeds, and cloves that I grind myself. I then throw in cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick whole into the slow cooker. Again, all this is a matter of personal preference, and you can spice it lightly or heavily.

5) Sweetener. You don’t need much, but there should be a bit of sweetness to the dish–just a hint. I use 100% maple syrup; maybe about 1/4 cup.

6) Curry leaves. A few of these can go in at the end of the cooking process (otherwise the flavor disappears; note, however, that the flavor is very strong, so don’t put in too many). These can be hard to find fresh (and that is the only way they come), but they had them Saraga market one day and I bought some. Hint: They freeze very well. They are optional in the dish.

The cooking process

Fry the onion, ginger, and garlic in vegatable oil on low to medium heat until brown and slightly mushy. Put this and everything else into the slow cooker with adequate water (which is to say, you fill it up with water and let it cook down and keep adding water as necessary; the end product, however, should be moist but not soupy) and cook on “high” for about six hours. Check the choley-in-progress from time to time to make sure that you are not burning the dish; not all slow cookers cook at the same rate. At some point you will want to turn the heat down to “low” and cook for an additional period of time: maybe four to six hours, but so long as you are not burning the dish you are not really hurting it, either. If you used canned chick peas, cooking time will be much reduced.

I like to cook the dish until it’s “destroyed,” as I put it. The chickpeas get some mush to them and the color of the spices has completely penetrated them. The tomatoes and onions and ginger and whatnot have all been converted to a tangy sauce for the beans.

Serve over brown rice or a grain mixture of your choice, and I really don’t think there is a healthier, more flavorful, more satisfying, or for that matter more economical meal on the planet. Make a ton, eat heartily, and freeze some portions in those Glad containers for later consumption, and your life will be perfect!

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My name, "Matt Rouge"

My last name, “Rouge

In case you didn’t know, rouge means “red” in French, but my ancestors did not come from France. My great-grandfather, Charles A. Rouge, came from Geneva, Switzerland, to New York City in the early 1900s. I don’t know much about him. His son, Charles F. Rouge, ran an art supply store in Manhattan until his death in the mid-1950s. My father, Lawrence Rouge, entered the military soon after he got out of college and married my mother, who is originally from Southern Indiana. They settled in Indianapolis in the early 1970s, and thus begins the story of my Hoosierhood (actually, I am adopted, so four people established my Hoosierhood, for which I am extremely grateful).

I am the last of the male Rouges in my family, and there are only three other persons currently of the tribe who have borne this august appelation from birth: my unmarried sister, my unmarried aunt, and my three-year-old daughter. It’s a rare name, and a good one I think, so it would be a shame if I did not combine DNA with a suitable partner and have some sons to carry on the tradition (the first of which will definitely be named “Charles”).

In English, “rouge” is a word not so rarely used (a woman rouges her cheeks with a bit of rouge). Despite this fact, throughout my life people have mispronounced my name egregiously, calling me “rogue” or “roogie.” I finally discovered a way to get people both to say it correctly and remember it for the long term: when introducing myself, I say, “I’m Matt Rouge–like ‘Baton Rouge’ without the ‘baton.’”

Should I ever run for president of the United States, my campaign slogan will be, Rouge, White & Blue. Were I not to do so, I am quite certain that the GOP would accuse me of being an effete Frenchman a la Kerry and “red” like a communist.

My first name, “Matt”

To be sure, there is nothing unusual about the name Matt. I did have an issue with it, however. I used to go by “Matthew” in a halfhearted way:

New Person: Hi, what’s your name?
Me: Matthew.
New Person: ¡Mucho gusto! Is that “Matthew” or “Matt”?
Me: Either, I guess.
New Person: Well, which do you prefer?
Me: Gosh. Let’s go with “Matt.”

When I lived in Japan I was always “Matto.” When I came back to Indy in 2004, I decided just to go with “Matt”: simpler, easier, and with no confusion about whether “Matthew” or “Matt” is desired by moi (not French, Swiss!).

For what it’s worth, I never use my middle name.


My sister Emily wrote this on my Facebook wall:

Hey Matt, actually our ancestors did come from France – our great grandfather’s wife – Josephine Piquet was from St. Pierre, France

So I guess I am an effete Frenchman after all.

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I got over you today

Three months ago you made my heart sing: you told me we were getting back together after a seven-month hiatus. Within a week you found out you were pregnant. I made a trip to Nebraska to help you, yet within six weeks we were no longer on speaking terms; my last email to you was on September 22, 2008.

It has been a torment to reach into the ether and feel you out there and know how much you’re suffering. But two days ago or so ago I reached out and all I perceived was cold and mean. This is not how I wanted, or expected, to see you, but this is how I saw you. It was not, to be sure, all of you, the whole you, but it was a part of you; is; and I saw it very clearly and felt it most deeply.

Yesterday and today I have been dealing with a person whom, like you, I love deeply and want to see succeed in life, but who, reminiscent of you, has been using and taking and not fulfilling promises. I got angry. I got frustrated. And I thought, “I’m done with this.” And I really was done, and I’m not going back.

Being done with her means being done with you: I thought, “If I get rid of promise-breaker B, then I am emotionally done with promise-breaker A.” And so it was: I became emotionally done with you, not merely by dint of the logic of the situation: I wasn’t convinced that you were not someone desirable, not someone to clutch within the white corpuscles of my spiritual heart; rather, in elegant extension of the negative emotion I felt for this other person–to wit, frustration, anger, and resignation–I finally rejected you, threw you out of my heart as someone undesirable, as someone who fails to meet the standard and feels like someone who so fails.

That’s not all that has caused this; there are other bits and pieces. I saw a woman the other day who just looked so beautiful and cuddly and kind; I just felt such a warmth in my heart toward her, and, after a long time of not finding anyone toward whom I could feel such emotion–even in such an admittedly low-information, fantasy-based manner–that feeling was like a shot in the arm: it reminded of me of my ideals, of why I loved you so much and gave so much of my heart to you in the first place.

I also did the Reiki Level 2 class with you-know-who yesterday. It’s sad, in a way, that such a class would (if I perceive my own experience correctly) catalyze not beneficence, not magnanimity, but instead a pissed-off desire to take out the garbage of the soul; but that, apparently, is one of the things it did for me, and I do think it to be something that will lead to greater health in me.

No, I had never expected the emotional transition described above to be the method by which I finally got over you, but I am happy that I have. That’s not the whole story, however. I still love both of you; I still want both of you to succeed. I also perceive, however, that your success at this point is up to you. I gave what I could; I shall not give any more, I shall send myself into the ether toward you no more.

That does not change the fact that you are most intelligent and intellectually gifted woman I have ever met. You are stunningly brilliant. You have powers and gifts about which the average person can only dream. You have beauty and charm. In this blog post I offer my final prayer for you; I send out my final increment of energy toward you: I pray, Great Spirit, to all the powers of goodness and wisdom in the Universe, that you become a light to yourself and your child and the world and fulfill the potential of your gifts and your magnificient soul and achieve happiness in your journey. I love you forever. Buona fortuna!

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Rouge Political Musings for November 6, 2008

This is not a political blog, but so much of what has just happened in our country affects Spirit that I am impelled to comment somewhat in detail.

About Obama’s victory I will be brief. It is a great thing for our country, for our planet, and for our species. I voted for the man with utmost enthusiasm (i.e., not as the lesser of two evils this time) and think he will be a truly great president.

On NPR yesterday, there was a senior citizen who said he had said to his children (paraphrasing), “Now that Obama had been elected, I think we will find a cure for cancer.” I was struck dumb by the truth contained within this statement. This is how karmic shifts happen. Let me get into this a little deeper here.

I recall seeing a book in a resale shop in 1988 or 1989 called The Miracle of Jimmy Carter (which was of course from 1976). People had high hopes for Carter, and, although I don’t totally agree, the convential wisdom is that Carter was a failure. I had a friend opine to me yesterday that Obama would be “our Jimmy Carter,” to be followed by “our Ronald Reagan.”

But no, Obama is different. Everyone can see the mark of greatness on the man; most of those who oppose him (unlike my friend) don’t fear that he will be ineffective, but rather he will be too effective in going in what they consider the wrong direction. I think it ironic and yet entirely proper that the first African-American president has so many superlative qualities that his historic blackness will be seen, in retrospect, as an attractive yet relatively minor part of the whole he will have offered the nation.

Obama’s election is a great shift for our country–no, I should say for our species. Naturally, the fact that people of all races joined together in choosing him is a very great blow to racism, and yet–there is so much more at work here. Obama’s perhaps greatest gift among many is his ability to channel and mediate the talents and strengths of others (which is to say, leadership, but of an extraordinary kind). He has demonstrated this gift through his many political accomplishments, including his magnificent campaign, maybe the best run in all of world politics to date.

Indiana came through for Obama–that makes me proud.

§           §           §

On the negative side, California’s Proposition 8 is a disgrace. California? In Indiana, which is supposed to be so conservative, we have already rejected the nonsense of such a constitutional amendment. My friend pointed out to me that one big difference is that the California Supreme Court had its ruling permitting gay marriage, and thus the conservatives or wingnuts or whoever in California were motivated to do the whole Proposition 8 thing. In Indiana, no such situation pertains.

That is true, but other states have already done preemptive strikes, so to speak, of one type or another, and Indiana, to its credit, deep-sixed such an idea without too big a fuss. The argument that seemed to work in Indiana against such appalling bigotry is that a constitutional amendment would scare away gays, who tend to be educated and have money and–oh yes, they have money! It may not be the most altruistic and pure motive of all, but there are worse. Indiana may have its conservative side, but it also knows on which side its bread is buttered.

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Rouge Musings for November 3, 2008

This is my first “Rouge Musings” post, in which I just write about what’s on my mind without forcing too much discipline on the process. I hope you enjoy it, and–

Did they change the recipe for M&M’s Peanut Butter? I bought a bag recently and they seemed bigger and cruder, with more chocolate and less peanut butter. Indeed, the chocolate therein tasted pretty poor (whereas it seems better in the M&M’s Peanut–maybe for reasons intrinsic to the chocolate, maybe because the combo of cruddy chocolate and peanut and shell just doesn’t taste too bad).

We’re talking Hershey bar-level grunge chocolate.

Went with friend to Noblesville this evening, and people in a long line outside the county building to do some early voting. It’s good to see people participating in politics with enthusiasm. I am not a pessimist about our country or my generation, or the next several generations working their way up in age. Things are OK.

In the line was one of my friends, who said he was going to follow me on Twitter, and I started following him. Should you care to follow me, you will find my Twitter profile link on this page. Enjoy.

I’m not one of the many people who are worrying about the election (which is to say, I’m not worried that Obama will lose). Obama is going to win; Obama has “winner” written all over him right now, and, the beautiful thing about this man is that he gives all of it, or nearly all of it, back to the people in love and service. Sound corny? The next eight years will demonstrate the corn level; I’m patient.

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World's ugliest pumpkin

The world\'s ugliest pumpkin, carved by Matt RougeI feel ashamed to admit I carved this thing.

O crude visage!

O foul squash thug!

No one cares jack- about an o’-lantern the day after Halloween.

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