"Ted and I talked about me filling in for him at Wesleyan University earlier this week. Considering what he's done for me and for our country, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. So I'm looking forward to standing in his place on Sunday even though I know I won't be able to fill his shoes," Senator Obama said.How exciting!
Jack in the Box was written and directed by Frank Kerr, and tells the story of a group of aspiring actors locked in a room and forced to play a deadly game of musical chairs. The film’s tension escalates over 89 minutes, as characters are slowly taken out by an unseen villain, and the game is whittled down to one remaining “winner.”You can watch the trailer here.
Q: What is a gentleman?3. Remember when I found a bunch of cool, old John Prine videos on YouTube? Well, ol' JP himself must have had the same idea, because now they're all collected here—plus a few I'd never seen before.
A: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.
We know that you would just love to "do the right thing" for yourself and the planet if it were convenient, fun, inexpensive, and made you feel good.Every little bit (bite?) helps, right?
The other part of my MomCentral "assignment" (for which I will receive an Amazon gift card, just so's you know) was to review the new Rice Krispies website, Childhood is Calling. It's a well-designed, colorful, quick-loading site filled with resources aimed at encouraging us to just enjoy our kids while they're kids—and let them have fun too!
Specifically, the folks at Kellogg's have partnered with the nonprofit Playing for Keeps to launch Operation Spark, whose goal is to remind parents of the importance of play in our kids' development. I try to make a conscious effort not to overschedule my kids, but even so, we occasionally have days filled with rushing around from here to there, from school to activities, from practices to lessons, from appointments to errands. It never hurts to be reminded that some good, old-fashioned family play time can be just the ticket to "regroup" after a long, hectic day that saw everyone flying off in different directions. We've occasionally done something as simple as a game of Uno, which takes all of 15 minutes but serves as a point of connection for the whole family.
In addition, the site has links to cute little games that kids (mostly the younger set) can play on their own or with a parent or friend. And of course no Rice Krispies site would be complete without recipes for many variations on Rice Krispies Treats. All in all, this is a very appealing website that offers solid parenting support without being sappy about it.
*You probably won't be too surprised to find out that my favorite part of the website was learning how they say "Snap! Crackle! Pop!" in other countries:
Over the years, I have on many occasions fielded questions about my productivity, ranging from "Do you somehow have access to more than 24 hours in a day?" to "Have you figured out a way to bypass the space-time continuum?" to "What, are you an alien?" I don't know how to explain it, but I've always been an extremely efficient person. I have always been able to squeeze more into a week than most people I know—reading more books and magazines, watching more movies, cooking and baking more food, and so on, all without sacrificing sleep, family time, or the usual "daily grind" of house-keeping, bill-paying, errand-running, and all that. Plus freelance work! And volunteering at school! And that "blog" thing? How does she do it?
Well, right about now, I'm kind of wondering the same thing myself. I don't know what's going on, but lately I can't seem to keep up. I haven't taken on any new responsibilities—indeed, I've given up on the gym entirely, I haven't had a huge work load for most of the last few months, I can't even remember the last time I did a sudoku puzzle—yet I'm still feeling as though I'm falling behind in everything. The next New Yorker on my pile is from November 12 (yes, I still insist on reading them in order), I've watched fewer Netflix DVDs in the last 6 months than I used to watch in any given 6 weeks up till then, and the 25-pound bag of flour I bought at Costco back when I was baking bread as fast as we could eat it is still unopened.
I sure hope this is just a weird phase I'm going through. I've always taken it for granted that I could just accomplish a lot more than anyone I knew. It wasn't as though I was competing with people, it's just the way it was. I realize that as I age, I won't be able to do quite as much as before, but I didn't think I'd have already peaked by now. And with the kids in school for more hours every day than ever before, I'd have thought I'd be even more productive lately. Mais non. I hope to be reporting soon that I'm back in the saddle. In the meantime, bear with me if it takes me more than than the usual few hours to reply to your comments or emails!
Last night we finally got to see "Iron Man," and I'm so glad we didn't wait too long and miss seeing it on the big screen. (I realize that many people have those enormous flat-screen TVs in their homes, but we don't, so if we miss the theatrical release of a movie and end up having to wait a year for the DVD rental, we end up watching it on a regular old 29" TV—not so great for movies with lots of special effects and such.)
I was probably the only person in the cineplex who knew nothing about "Iron Man" going into it, other than that it was an action movie starring Robert Downey—and getting great reviews. I didn't know anything about the plot and hadn't even seen a trailer, which is the way I like it. Well, I loved this movie. It was exciting, fun, and way cool. I have always loved Robert Downey, and I think he's just terrific in this.
Pete is dying to see this movie, but we've decided he's not old enough yet. If it were just the comic-book violence (of which there is plenty), I'd let him. But I think the PG-13 rating stems from more than a couple of scenes involving torture and terrorism and mass murder, all perpetrated by real humans, not fantasy superheroes. Indeed, even as Iron Man, Downey's character is not a superhero, he's just a brilliant engineer who can create machinery beyond what anyone else can even imagine—with computers and other gadgetry that puts 007 to shame.
Like action? Enjoy supercool special effects? Get a kick out of clever repartee? Love Robert Downey? Think Gwyneth Paltrow is cute as a button? Want to see Jeff Bridges as a bald, bearded bad guy? Go see "Iron Man."
The folks at MomCentral have asked me to review a new breakfast cereal from Kellogg's.* It appears that Tony the Tiger has taken a good look at his nutrition profile and made some changes. The result: Frosted Flakes Gold. Whereas regular old Frosted Flakes is made entirely from milled corn, the new Gold version contains 10g of whole-grain corn and wheat per serving. The Gold cereal also contains honey, so it looks more golden-colored than the whitish sugar-dusted regular version (although both cereals contain sugar and the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup). The total sugar count for the Gold is 10g per serving, compared to 11g in the regular cereal. Most of the other nutritional info is also comparable—the Gold has just slightly more fat (0.5g versus 0g), sodium (190mg versus 140mg), and protein (2g versus 1g) per serving; both cereals have 110 calories per serving.
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you can probably guess that I don't buy sugary cereal for my kids (so the only way they've ever tasted regular Frosted Flakes is at someone else's house), preferring Honey Bunches of Oats (6g), Crispix (3g), and the like. More importantly, I no longer buy any products that contains that evil high-fructose corn syrup.
So, what did the kids think of the cereal? Steph didn't like it at all—she had the regular Frosted Flakes at camp and prefers that, so it must be the honey taste she didn't care for. Julie pronounced it "too sweet"—again, likely a reflection of the honey flavor, because she doesn't seem to mind other sugary-sweet things. Pete didn't care for it dry, but he liked it well enough with milk. (The girls don't drink plain milk, so they ate theirs dry.)
On the one hand, I applaud Kellogg's for putting their first tentative foot on the nutritional bandwagon by using whole grains, but on the other, I do wish they'd give up on the high-fructose corn syrup completely and reduce their use of sugar. Kids will happily eat less sugar without even missing it. Really.
*Full disclosure: I received a free box of cereal to try and will receive an Amazon gift card in exchange for providing this review.
Barbara and Jerry treated Andy, Pete, and Steph to a guided tour of Fenway Park last Tuesday. They weren't allowed on the field, of course, or even the dugout (I kind of thought they'd let them in there), but they did get to climb up on the Green Monster. It was a great day:
(Oh, don't worry about me and Julie; we had just as much fun. First we went to the optician to get her glasses tightened and then we ate Fritos while playing Clue Jr. They were so jealous when they got home.)
I love John Updike's description of Fenway (from The New Yorker back in 1960):
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. Its right field is one of the deepest in the American League, while its left field is the shortest; the high left-field wall, three hundred and fifteen feet from home plate along the foul line, virtually thrusts its surface at right-handed hitters. On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 28th, as I took a seat behind third base, a uniformed groundkeeper was treading the top of this wall, picking batting-practice home runs out of the screen, like a mushroom gatherer seen in Wordsworthian perspective on the verge of a cliff.
Meanwhile, Pete was supposed to go to the Sox game last night, but Jerry was still getting over a nasty bug, so they gave away the tickets. And just as well, because after a 1½-hour delay, they called the game on account of rain. That would have been such a disappointment. And the rescheduled game is tonight at 8:30, which is really kind of a late start for a kid, plus Barbara and Jerry had already planned to have company over. So, they'll take him in 3 weeks instead, and we'll hope for sunshine.
Remember in The Accidental Tourist how the entire Leary family was more than a little directionally challenged? If they had to go to, say, the post office and the hardware store, they'd go to the post office, go back home, and then go to the hardware store—they didn't know how to get from the post office to the hardware store without coming home first and starting out again. Well, that's me. I pretty much know only one way to get anywhere. I've gotten much better over the years, and I can usually find my way around my own turf, but once I've ventured beyond my familiar zone, forget it.
When I have to drive into town, I carefully review my route and make sure I understand it before I leave the house. The truth is that I've never really felt confident driving around Boston—I never lived or worked there, so I never had the opportunity to really learn how the various neighborhoods fit together. For those of you who've never been to Boston, it is not an easy city to navigate. It was certainly not built according to any nice, neat plan of blocks like Manhattan. There's a dearth of helpful signs, since Bostonians generally feel that if you don't know where you're going, you shouldn't be here, thank you very much. On top of that are the ubiquitous but unpredictable one-way streets and the constant rerouting due to road construction.
So, what happens if there's a detour, or I make a wrong turn, or I want to go elsewhere after I'm done with whatever I went there for? Color me lost. Like this morning. I was driving to Charlestown to Andy's office. In the 21+ years that I have known Andy, I have driven to his office approximately eight bazillion times. The vast majority of the time, I come and go with no trouble. But every now and then, I end up calling him to say, "Um, Andy? I'm in Chelsea!" or "Help, I'm in front of Hamersley's Bistro!" Today a big truck wouldn't let me get over to the left in time to get on 28 from Storrow, so I suddenly found myself on Beacon Hill. I couldn't reach Andy, so I just kept driving and driving, looking for somewhere to pull over. Finally I did and asked a woman for directions. Her plan had me driving all over the freaking world to get to Charlestown, but luckily Andy called me back just as I was about to start following her directions. I described as best I could where I was, and he said simply, "Take your next right and you should be able to get back on Storrow." Bingo! I was at his office in no time. But I could never, ever have figured that out on my own.
My iPhone has a nice little navigation system courtesy of Google maps, but it isn't something you can easily do while driving—or at least I couldn't do it while wending my way through rush-hour traffic downtown. Andy's new car has a built-in GPS that talks to you the whole time, saying things like, "Take a right in 100 feet." Maybe that should be a priority on my next car.
1. Cowboy Peyton Place - Doug Sahm
2. Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) - The Specials
3. Lost Cause - Beck
4. I Will Survive - Cake
5. Help Me Make It Through This Funky Day - Greg Brown
6. Fishin' Blues - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band featuring Taj Mahal & Vassar Clements
7. Ice Cream Man (live) - Martin Sexton
8. Broken Promise Land - Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
9. Hard Times (live) - Emmylou Harris
10. Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones
1. There is absolutely NO way you can get me to try sashimi!
2. The pile of new swimsuits from Lands' End reminds me that summer is almost here!
3. I cannot live without my MacBook Pro.
4. Growing herbs in pots and making duck confit are two things I'd like to try.
5. When life hands you lemons, make limoncello.
6. Going to the beach is my favorite childhood memory.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include finally seeing "Iron Man," and Sunday, I want to help make bag lunches for Mitzvah Day!
Today I did something I should have done 7 months ago: I canceled my gym membership. Why? I haven't set foot in the place since the first week of September! At first it was because my shoulder was bothering me, and the back-to-school thing was hectic, and I took on some more work, and then, and then, and then.... I kept thinking that the guilt of seeing the $70 deducted from my VISA every month would force me to go eventually. It didn't—I had the guilt, mind you, but it just wasn't strong enough to get me off my butt.
I don't even know where my sneakers are.
Time to learn something!
1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. Click on "Random article" in the left-hand sidebar box.
3. Post it!
I got a good one today:
I'd almost forgotten about "Vera Drake." What a wonderful movie that was. I'm glad it got the kudos it deserved in the UK. If you haven't seen it yet, push it to the top of your queue. Really.
Below are 7 partial questions. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to copy and paste them into the Comments section, filling in the blanks with anything you want. I'll do my best to answer as honestly as I can. (via Naomi)
1. What do you think of ________?
2. When did you last ________?
3. ________ or ________? Why?
4. What did you ________?
5. What’s your favorite ________?
6. How would you ________?
7. Whom would you most like to ________?
The Hill asked all 97 senators who are not running for president the same question: “If you were asked, would you accept an offer to be the VP nominee?” Here are a few of my favorite answers:
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah)
“Of course. Big house, big car, not much to do. Why not?”
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
“Does that include any sports picks or anything like that? … I would certainly consider it.”
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
“I would say ‘No, Hillary.’ ”
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)
“No. I don’t like going to funerals.”
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
“I plan to stick with my current job until I get the hang of it.”
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)
“I’d say, ‘Please read the Constitution.’ I wasn’t born in America; I can’t be VP.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
“The chances of that are so remote that I’m more likely to be hit by an asteroid.”
Here's the latest batch of quirky Google search strings that led some of you here to Verbatim:
babysitting slogans - Hmm, how about, "I'll watch your kids as if they were my own! Which of course they couldn't be, since I'm only 15!" or "OMG! Your kids can watch TV while I text with my BFF!"
lets eat chalk! - OK, you go first and let me know how it goes. But first, put an apostrophe in let's, if you don't mind.
stomach bug morning only throw up - I don't know how to break this to you, but, um, that might not be a stomach bug....
whom am i kidding - Not me, that's for sure! "Whom am I kidding?" is indeed grammatically correct (whom is the direct object of kidding), but it sounds awfully fancy-pants, so I can't recommend you actually say it out loud.
correct grammar who shall i say is calling? - By George, I think she's got it! Take out the shall I say part, and you're left with "Who is calling?" (not "Whom is calling?"). Or, think of it this way: "Who shall I say is calling?" is the same as "I shall say who is calling?" You wouldn't say "I shall say whom is calling?" just as you wouldn't say "I shall say him is calling"—both are object pronouns and you need a subject for is calling.
wainwright iii vincent black shadow - I think you must mean "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," a gorgeous song by Richard Thompson that has been covered by a number of artists, but not Loudon Wainwright III, as far as I know.
Remember last May when we had dinner at 51 Lincoln with Barbara and Jerry, and the food was outstanding but the service ... well, not so much? Same thing just happened again tonight. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday night, but even that couldn't excuse the service. We waited far too long to order, to receive each course, and—always worst of all—to pay and get out of there. We didn't even have time for Andy to order the freshly baked cookies for dessert, because we'd been there over 2 hours already and had to get home to put the kids to bed.
All I ask is for a waiter to stop by the table and say, "Your entrees will be out in just a moment; I apologize for the delay" or "Here are your dessert menus; I promise I'll be back in a minute to take your order." But he just ignored us, as if somehow we might forget how long we'd been waiting if he didn't show his face. He also totally blew it on the vodka front. In case you're not familiar with the history of my vodka preferences, go read this and then come back. OK, ready? So I order my Absolut Citron and the waiter says they have only Svedka Citron. I say "No, that won't do," and he rolls his eyes at me without actually rolling his eyes and says snippily, "They're exactly the same." WRONG! They are so very much not the same that I drink far too much of one and yet can't even bear a tiny sip of the other, even when I don't know that's what's in my glass.
In this case, I'm afraid, two strikes and they're out. Next May we will seek out somewhere else to splurge on delicious food—served with a smile.
You've got to watch this really funny, spot-on impression of Hillary. I mean it—regardless of whether or not you support her.
Who/what is younger than John McCain? For starters, Pat Buchanan, the state of Alaska, both of Barack Obama's parents, the polio vaccine, McDonald's, and Mount Rushmore. More here.
And, when Obama wins ... then what? Keep hitting Refresh.
Hey, I forgot to tell you about something exciting that happened this past week: I got a call from the editor who gave me that cookbook proofreading job over the winter, and she asked me to copyedit two—count 'em, two!—cookbooks coming up from the same author. One is a revision of an existing book (about pickling), and the other is a new book (about jams, jellies, and preserves). I'm just thrilled—I do so much prefer copyediting to proofreading, although of course I'll take whatever I can get when it comes to cookbooks. The schedule is going to be a bear and will take me right through the summer, but I don't care. (Ask me again during our vacation week in July....)
Mother's Day started off in the usual way, with Andy telling me to stay in bed so he and the kids could prepare a breakfast tray for me. They came in with all my favorite Sunday morning things—tea, toast, Times, MacBookPro—plus lots of hugs and kisses and cards and drawings. Then they all left me alone! Bliss.
Later was the annual Mother's Day party, but without Grandma for the first time. It was of course obvious that she wasn't there, but no one got weepy, and it didn't feel as though there was such a gaping hole when I wasn't thinking about her.
I tried out a new pasta salad recipe from Pam Anderson. It was a wee bit too lemony for me, so I think next time I will leave out the grated lemon peel. It also wasn't the most colorful dish there; I think a few halved cherry tomatoes or roasted red pepper strips would do the trick.
Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Artichoke Hearts, and Parmesan
2 Tbsp salt
1 lb. bite-size pasta (I used the new mini-penne from Barilla. So cute!)
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained; artichokes rinsed and cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
creamy vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta and cook until just tender, adding the asparagus for the last 1 minute of cooking. Drain in a colander, then spread the pasta and asparagus out in a shallow baking pan, and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer pasta, asparagus, and remaining ingredients, except dressing, to a large bowl; do not mix. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 hours.) When ready to serve, add dressing, toss to coat, and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 large garlic clove, minced
⅔ cup olive oil
Put lemon juice and mayonnaise in in a Pyrex measuring cup. With a small whisk, stir in garlic, a big pinch of salt, and a couple grinds of pepper. Slowly whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream to make an emulsified vinaigrette. (Vinaigrette can be made and refrigerated 1 day in advance.)
Whoops, I knew I forgot to do something yesterday!
1. Busted - George Jones*
2. Wish We Were Back in Missouri - Emmylou Harris
3. Hold Me Back (Frankie & Johnny) - Michelle Shocked
4. The River in Reverse - Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
5. Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me - Alvin Youngblood Hart
6. Harry's Wall - Loudon Wainwright III
7. You Can't Resist It - Lyle Lovett
8. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon
9. Willin' - Little Feat & Ry Cooder
10. Canned Goods - Greg Brown
*This one wasn't really random; it just happened to be the last song I purchased. I heard it on BootLiquor and immediately had to click over to Amazon and download the single. Wow. Ol' George almost out-Rays Ray here, and I love the sound of that Cajun fiddle.
This week I happened upon a way to unite two of the more obsessive parts of my persona: the Relentless Copyeditor and the NPR Junkie. Via Twitter, I "met" Ken George, who is the New Media Guy at WBUR, my local NPR affiliate. He recently started a blog called The ConverStation, which is meant to be a public forum about how public radio can connect with listeners through "Web 2.0 and other things." He put out a call for anyone who might be interested in getting involved and taking home a really high salary and lots of extravagant perks. Oh wait, I got that wrong. He wanted to know if anyone would be willing to help out for nothing more than the satisfaction of a job well done and an occasional WBUR mug or T-shirt from the station's closet o' swag.
I checked out the blog and got excited about the content but wasn't sure how I could contribute. Then I spotted a typo. And another. And another! Fast forward to Ken asking if I'd mind editing all the blog posts—and possibly posting something on occasion. Yes, yes, yes! Armed with my new WordPress username and password, I went in and cleaned up errant hyphens and typos in every post that's gone up so far. I was positively giddy, fantasizing about having the skeleton key to every blog so I could do my own version of the Typo Hunt Across America—but all across the blogosphere instead! I'm just delighted to be involved.
Appetizer: When someone smiles at you, do you smile back?
Soup: Describe the flooring in your home. Do you have carpet, hardwood, vinyl, a mix?
Ceramic tile in the kitchen, something old and icky and unidentifiable in the bathrooms, hardwood (beautiful parquet) throughout the downstairs, carpeting in all the bedrooms.
Salad: Write a sentence with only 5 words, but all of the words have to start with the first letter of your first name.
Karen keeps kissing kindergarten kid.
Main Course: Do you know anyone whose life has been touched by adoption?
Yes, Andy and his sister were both adopted, and I have quite a few friends who have adopted children.
Dessert: Name 2 blue things.
My jeans and my T-shirt.
1. The bread I made had an extra secret ingredient; it was vital wheat gluten!
2. I see a "Sale Pending" sign on the house next door through my window.
3. Right now, I need to go pick up Julie from school .
4. Straight to bed is where I went Thursday night; it was still not enough sleep .
5. Why does a tiny fricking paper cut hurt so much?
6. All I can think of is the city budget override vote next week.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing Jen , tomorrow my plans include two (probably rained-out) kids' sporting events, and Sunday, I want to be surrounded by family for Mother's Day !
Today on Twitter, Fritinancy presented these two lists:
So, not surprisingly, that got me thinking. I'm quite frugal by nature. I clip coupons, I shop sales, I reuse, I do without. But I don't deprive myself. Specifically:
And you, my pretties, what do you spend on? What don't you spend on?
Here's "A Typical Conversation with My Mother" (or your mother, or anyone's mother—or, probably, me sometime in the not-so-distant future).
I dig (get it? get it?) these rolling planters! It would be so easy to move your plants according to the sun and time of day. Maybe that's what I need to get my dream of a small herb and veggie garden going. I wonder if I'd save enough on produce to justify the steep pricetag, though.
Last time I made this recipe, I think I forgot Step #2.