Recently I discovered the Blog of People Who Deserve It ("it" being a punch in the face, in this case). Every day a different jerk is featured, along with a funny photo. Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
Recently I discovered the Blog of People Who Deserve It ("it" being a punch in the face, in this case). Every day a different jerk is featured, along with a funny photo. Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
I have decided to retire the Wiki Wednesday feature, so this is the last one ever:
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 literary one today, something I didn't know before:
New Place (grid reference SP201548) is the name given to William Shakespeare's final place of residence in Stratford-upon-Avon during his retirement, and it is where he died in 1616. It is now owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
The house rested on the corner of Chapel Street and Chapel Lane and was apparently the second-biggest dwelling in the town. It was built in 1483 by Hugh Clopton, a wealthy merchant and future Lord Mayor of the City of London. Built of timber and brick (then a new innovation in Stratford) it had ten fireplaces, five handsome gables and grounds large enough to incorporate two barns and an orchard. Shakespeare bought the house in 1597, nine months after the death of his son Hamnet, for sixty British pounds. Shakespeare was associated with London for much of his life, and tradition states that he retired to Stratford in his later years, though he still visited London as late as 1614.
After Shakespeare's death in 1616 the house passed to his daughter Susanna Hall, and then his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall. Elizabeth Hall married Thomas Nash, who owned the house next door. After Elizabeth died, the house was returned to the Clopton family who had originally built the house.
The next owner was one Reverend Francis Gastrell. In 1759, after becoming tired of the constant visitors to the house, he attacked and destroyed a mulberry tree in the garden which was reported to have been planted by Shakespeare himself. In retaliation, the townsfolk destroyed New Place's windows. Gastrell then razed the house to the ground, destroying all that remained.
I don't quite know what to do about my New Year's Resolutions this year. Long-time Verbatim readers know that I started out with 10 resolutions way back when, and every year I annotate that list to show which resolutions I kept and which I need to work on again. As a glance at last year's list will show, I'm not so good at keeping resolutions. And, though I'm too dismayed with myself to go into much detail, let's just say that I did manage to offload all my old computer stuff via Freecycle (Resolution #5), but I have little else to be terribly proud of otherwise.
So, where does that leave me? Well, short of resolving not to set any specific goals (Hey, there's a resolution I can keep!), I think I will follow the advice I read somewhere recently. Rather than outlining resolutions that need to be kept the following year, I will end my year with a look at my achievements from the past year.
This was a great idea. Now I feel pretty good about myself instead of getting all worked up about setting and attaining—or failing to attain—somewhat arbitrarily determined goals.
Every December 31, I go back through my blog and pick out the first sentence of the first post of each month of the year. Why? I have no idea, but that never stopped me before.
January 1, 2008: Did you by chance receive a holiday gift of a book that you don't want, or that you already own?
February 1, 2008: 1. Them Belly Full - Bob Marley & The Wailers
March 2008: This morning I was telling Andy about a bizarre, creepy dream I had.
May 1, 2008: Andy was in Toronto overnight.
June 1, 2008: I woke up yesterday with "Build Me Up, Buttercup" stuck in my head, so I finally decided to just download it and be done with it already.
August 1, 2008: I bought this thing for the shower the other day, but I haven't installed it yet.
September 1, 2008: We're back home, and Steph is already out again, at Fenway with her grandparents.
October 1, 2008: It's a Best-of-Palin 5-minute reel!
November 1, 2008: For those of you who have been waiting patiently for one of my gripping tales of hypochondria, you're in luck.
I continue to do very well in the online contest-entering arena. I've recently won the following items:
3. From Serious Eats, I won The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh. This hasn't come yet, and I'm eager to see whether it contains all new recipes or recycled recipes from the magazine (which I receive monthly).
Sheesh, where was I on December 3 when Pantone announced its color of the year for 2009? Without even further ado, I give you . . .
Congratulations, Mimosa, and thanks to all the other colors who competed for this sought-after honor. Here's why Mimosa beat out all the others:
"The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation."
One night last week, Andy decided to try out Tyler Florence's Chinese-style spareribs. They came out finger-lickin' good:
Unlike me and Andy, the kids ate them without great enthusiasm—particularly Steph, who does not like to see bones or other evidence that her food was once alive.
2 racks pork spareribs (4 lbs. each), trimmed of excess fat
½ cup Chinese five-spice powder (Andy says he didn't measure it; he just "dusted" the ribs and probably used considerably less than called for. Update 1/10/09: Tonight we made them again, with the full amount, and it was too much. You know how much you like five-spice powder; go with your gut. Next time we're going back to the dusting—"less is more" for us.)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnish
Green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish
(I think I can hear Andy now: "We don't need no stinkin' garnish!")
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 fresh red chile, halved (That seemed like a sure way to scare off the kids.)
5 garlic cloves, smashed
one 2" piece fresh ginger, smashed
Preheat the oven to 300°.
Dust the ribs all over with the five spice powder; season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan (or two) and slow-roast for 2½ hours.
Meanwhile, make the teriyaki glaze: Combine all the remaining ingredients in a pot and set it over medium heat. Bring to a slow simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
In the last 30 minutes of roasting, baste the ribs with the teriyaki glaze. When they are done, the meat will start to pull away from the bone and you will see about ½" of bone showing. Just before you're ready to eat, baste the ribs with the teriyaki glaze again and turn the oven up to 500°. Cook for 10 minutes to make the spareribs a nice crusty brown.Separate the ribs with a cleaver or sharp knife, pile them on a platter, and pour on the remaining glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and green onion before serving.
The other night I finally got a chance to watch "Eastern Promises," which I'd been dying to see ever since I heard Terry Gross interview director David Cronenberg and star Viggo Mortensen about a year ago. It did not disappoint.
Viggo plays a low-level Russian mafioso in London, the driver for the son of the head honcho. Naomi Watts plays a midwife who unwittingly comes into possession of some incriminating information about the big guy. Conflict ensues. The plot unfolds at just the right pace, and with a satisfying conclusion.
I'm sure by now you've all heard about the infamous bath-house scene, in which Viggo, wearing nothing but a lot of Siberian prison tattoos, has to fight off two fully clad, knife-wielding Chechnyans Chechens. Oh. My. God.
Viggo knocks my socks off. I'm pretty sure I first saw him in "A Walk on the Moon," and that scene in the trailer with Diane Lane still rates as one of the sexiest I've ever seen. The next time I recall seeing him was in "A Perfect Murder," where he again wooed me (as well as Gwyneth Paltrow's character). It's possible that I saw those two moves in the reverse order; I really can't remember. Anyhow, after that came the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and all the others. He is not only incredibly handsome, but man! Can he ever act. He is one of the most versatile actors out there. And did I mention how gorgeous he is?
If you can take some really brutal, bloody violence, you must see this. And even if you can't, you still should give it a try—it's obvious when the violent scenes are about to happen, so you can just shield your eyes. Even though that means you'll miss a few seconds of watching Viggo.
Today has been Game Day Chez Verbatim. First, we took the kids bowling (and I refuse to offer apologies for New England's proud tradition of candlepin bowling, so save your comments on that for another day). Julie was having a very frustrating day, with all her "diaper shots" (legs apart, both hands swinging the ball between her legs and then letting it fly) winding up in the gutter 6 inches later, and taking their good, sweet time getting all the way to the end. She was just about to cry when ... she got a strike! The only one of the day for anyone! That certainly boosted her little spirit. (For the record, Andy got 2 spares, and Pete and I each got a coupla tens, but Steph did not fare as well.)
Then we came home to a game of Monopoly, which we ended up aborting mid-game in order to clear the table for dinner. It was just as well, because Pete for the life of him could not seem to land on any property, and Steph wasn't doing much better. Julie somehow amassed quite a bit of property and still had tons of cash, but Andy and I were clearly the future leaders. It was all we could do to rein in our killer instincts and not take advantage of the kids with unfair trading deals.
In between, we've been working on a jigsaw puzzle in the dining room. Fun.
1. Salome (live) - Old 97's
2. Now She's Gone - Steve Earle
3. Salty Dog - Cat Power
4. I Got a Gig - Hayes Carll
5. I Wanna Be Loved - Elvis Costello
6. Stolen Moments - John Hiatt
7. Gulf Coast Highway - Nanci Griffith & Darius Rucker
8. She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett
9. Clampdown - The Clash
10. Sitting in Limbo - Tuck & Patti
I just received a package containing something I'd forgotten I'd ordered back in November: DOTS gloves! What on earth are they, you ask? For one thing, they're nearly impossible to photograph, but here goes:
And now you want to know, what's the point? Well, see that shiny little circle on the fingertip and thumb-tip? It's a smooth nickel and brass dot (hence the name of the product) that lets you use your iPhone touch-screen (or any other touch-screen, presumably) without taking off your gloves in the freezing cold! And they really work! The dots are on both gloves for us ambidextrous iPhoners, and I for one am looking forward to that next frigid day when I'm out and about and needing to answer my phone or send a text.
Merry Christmas to everyone out there who is celebrating today! Hope Santa was good to you.
Everyone knows* that all good Jews go to the movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas, right? Well, today I am a partially bad Jew, because I'm home working while Andy and the kids are at the movies (seeing "Bedtime Stories," I believe—and since I don't care much for Adam Sandler, that's fine with me). But, mark my words, I will not miss out on the Chinese food for dinner tonight! We're having it at Barbara and Jerry's house, so we can see Jo and the kids one last time before they fly back to London.
*What, you didn't know that? There's even a song about it, silly:
If you enjoyed my recent post about esoteric Monopoly rules, you'll love this Onion piece: "When you're 18, you can move out and call the shots, but as long as you're living under my roof and participating in my family board-game night, you'll play by my Monopoly rules." Go read the whole thing. Really.
I love hearing from people who read Verbatim. I try to reply to every comment I get, and some of these email exchanges wind up fascinating and fun and heart-warming.
I also frequently get emails directly from my readers, sometimes because they are too shy to leave comments. I got one recently that said:
Or, sometimes, a reader wants to talk about something not specifically related to any blog post. For instance, here's an email I got a couple of weeks ago:
I replied as follows:
(The reader won her bet.)
You can wake up now! I'm done talking about grammar.
In case you're not familiar with the song, here it is:
(Weird video, but I could listen to the song all day.)
Anyhow, Verbatim reader Kelly commented on that post, "I love 'Wagon Wheel' in its many incarnations." I hadn't realized there were any other versions, so I asked her about them. She pointed me to a few:
Apparently there are others, too, but (1) I adore the original, and (2) as we've discussed here before, I generally tend to prefer whatever version of a song I hear first anyhow, so I won't bother looking for more.
I forgot to tell you about a great program I helped out with at school last week. "Understanding Our Differences" is an award-winning disability awareness program that teaches acceptance and respect to fourth-grade students in Newton. I was unable to participate when Steph was in fourth grade, so I was glad to have a chance for Pete.
The week that I volunteered was about blindness and visual impairment. First the kids got a brief overview of the topic, and then they were introduced to the guest speaker, Pam Fernandes, who lost her sight to disease when she was in college. She came in with her guide dog, Scooby-Doo (who immediately won the kids' hearts). Pam lives in Needham, where she teaches spin classes at a local gym. She had been a competitive bike racer when she lost her sight; now she is a gold medal winner on the tandem cyclist team at the Paralympics. She described her day-to-day life (what it's like to gradually lose your sight, to have a guide dog, to get around and cook and use a computer when you can't see, etc.) as well as the thrill of pedaling (in the back seat, of course) as fast as possible in a velodrome. She addressed the kids as naturally and un-self-consciously as any sighted speaker might, and the kids felt comfortable asking her questions and chatting with her.
Afterward, the kids watched a brief video about how to offer help to a blind person you might meet, and then they went back to their classrooms for more hands-on activities. In each classroom, there were three stations, and all the kids got to take part in each activity. One station featured a grab-bag of everyday objects (for instance, a deck of cards, a spice bottle, a dollar bill) that the kids had to try to identify with their eyes shut. They talked about using their other senses to figure out what things were, and then they got to see some adaptive objects, like a Braille deck of cards, a spice bottle with a Braille label, a dollar bill with one corner folded down to identify its denomination. A second station had a cane for the kids to try out, with kids taking turns being the "blind" person and the leader.
The station I was at was way cool. We had a bunch of Braillers—machines that look like old-fashioned typewriters. (I tried to find a photo online, but I couldn't find any that looked like the ones we had.) Instead of letter keys, there were 6 keys numbered 1–6, since each letter of the alphabet in Braille can be constructed out of 6 dots. Here's the card we each got for reference:
Each kid got a chance to type his/her name in Braille. The kids loved it—and so did I! This says "Karen" in Braille:
We also had some other Braille materials, including an entire Braille version of the George Foreman grill cookbook! And there was a small hand-operated tool for taking Braille notes on the fly. We were all fascinated.
This was an amazing program. Other disabilities included in the series are deafness, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy). I hope to be able to participate in some of these programs, and am very grateful to live in a community that recognizes the need for this kind of educational curriculum.
This is the fifth winter solstice celebrated here at Verbatim, and thus the fifth time I've asked you to join me in wishing Steph a Happy Birthday! Today she is 12, which sounds awfully old to me—although you can ask me again next year when I have to declare her age with a word ending in "-teen." (Eek!)
Steph adores her green digital camera, although we discovered that it eats batteries like nobody's business, so it looks as though I'll be investing in some rechargeables as soon as possible. (I love the idea of these USB rechargeables—anyone ever try them?) Andy ventured out into the winter wonderland to pick up her beloved Bill's Pizza for lunch, so she's a happy camper.
Oh, and as soon as the sun officially sets, she will get to continue her celebration with the first night of Hanukkah! It's an embarrassment of riches for her today.
Remember I told you about how Boston.com had gone loco local, beginning with Newton, and that Verbatim was featured on the front page? Well, what I didn't know was that there was a promotional video made of the project, and Verbatim is featured twice (at about 2:11 and again at about 2:33)! How cool is that? Many thanks to Twitter pal quiverandquill for the tip!
It's practically all I've been talking about on Twitter, but I neglected to tell you folks that we are in the midst of a major snowstorm weekend here in Boston! Thursday night we got a recorded call from the school superintendent saying that there would be an early-release day on Friday, since the snow was expected to start in the early afternoon and get increasingly heavy throughout the afternoon. That ended up being a good call, because once all the buses and cars were home safely, the snow did start up in earnest. And ... it hasn't stopped yet! We've got at least a foot on the ground now, and it just keeps coming.
I have a bad feeling that school will be canceled tomorrow, and then there's just an early-release day on Tuesday before vacation starts! I was really counting on getting in a full day of work tomorrow, but I fear that will not be the case.
Here's the current view out my front door:
(That thing in the center is a planter.)
Someone has started a blog featuring examples of passive-aggressive notes seen in shared working and living spaces. Here's the sort of stuff you'll see:
Ah, makes me yearn for my days at the cubicle farm and my nights in a three-bedroom rental in Somerville—not!
This Polaroid maker is fun, but the documentation leaves something to be desired—for one thing, it's all in French; for another, it turns out to be useless even when translated. But the interface is cute—you get that familiar whirring sound when the camera spits out the image, and you have to wait while it "develops." But I can't seem to figure out how to save the photos tilted, the way they come out—as if they're just tossed down on the table.
1. Shinin' in the Dark - The Greencards
2. Old Virginia - Crooked Still
3. Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War - Paul Simon
4. Bewildered - The Notting Hillbillies
5. Glory of True Love - John Prine
6. Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Glory, Glory) - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (featuring Taj Mahal, Alison Krauss & Doc Watson)
7. Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby - Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss, & Emmylou Harris
8. If I Had a Boat (live) - Dave Matthews
9. Can't Shake These Blues (live) - Chris Smither
10. Honey It Must Be Love - Paul Rishell
It appears that our big weekend plans will be thwarted by Mother Nature. We were planning to drive up to the White Mountains late tomorrow and spend the weekend with Andy's parents and his sister and her kids—something we've never done in all these years. Andy hasn't even skied with Jo in something like 30 years. And while the 8 of them skied, I would keep Jerry company, since he had a knee replacement a couple of months ago and isn't allowed to ski yet. (And thus I wouldn't have to feel bad about being the only non-skier in a skiing family.) And Sunday we would wake up to Steph's birthday and then drive back home to continue the celebration—and then begin Hanukkah at sundown. Sounds great, huh?
Not so fast. New England is in for a doozy of a snowstorm, beginning around noon tomorrow and lasting until the wee hours of the night. We talked about driving up early Saturday morning, but that really cuts into the ski day, and then we'd have to just turn around and drive back down Sunday—and they're predicting more snow for Sunday evening! (There just better be school on Monday and Tuesday is all I can say—because then the kids are off for 12 days, and we have no vacation plans. I don't want to think about it.)
The only silver lining is that I have a ton of work to plow through (get it? plow, like a snowplow?) and would've lost about 6 hours in the car and probably would've found it impossible to get much work done up there anyhow.
Oh, but wait, there's another silver lining: I finally get to post a wonderful graphic I found at Universal Hub. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The French Toast Alert System:
The French Toast Alert System has been developed in consultation with local and federal emergency officials to help you determine when to panic and rush to the store to buy milk, eggs, and bread.
We're in the orange zone for tomorrow! (For those who don't live in Boston, Harvey Leonard has been a TV meteorologist here since, well, I think forever. And for those who have never lived in a snowy clime, I regret that you just might not get the joke at all.)
One of the language blogs I read had a brief discussion of Rod Blagojevich's use of the infix (or is it a tmesis?) fucking in "Kalama-fucking-zoo." For the record, I agree that "Chi-fucking-cago" doesn't work, but I kinda like "Abi-fucking-lene." Let's think of some others, shall we? How about Barce-fucking-lona? North Da-fucking-kota? Sacra-fucking-mento? Ala-fucking-bama?
I feel like I'm channeling Steve Buscemi in a yet-to-be-made Coen brothers movie.
Time to learn something!
1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. Click on "Random article" in the left-hand sidebar box.
3. Post it!
Mine's awesome this week:
The Heart of Saturday Night is the second studio album by singer and songwriter Tom Waits, released in 1974 on Asylum Records. It is generally considered the peak of his melodic early years, before his voice became more gruff and he embarked on an experimental musical direction. In 2003, the album was ranked number 339 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, his highest placing. The album cover is based on In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra.
All songs written by Tom Waits.
As many of you probably know, my pal Mir writes a delightful personal blog at Woulda Coulda Shoulda. But did you also know that she sprinkles her magical deal-finding, discount-hunting, freebie-winning pixie dust over at Want Not? That's where I go to find out what's on sale all over the web, what code to input for free shipping, how to combine orders for extra savings, and so on. Every now and then, she even runs a giveaway, and this time I was the winner! And the prize was a doozy: My choice of any shoes from KEEN!
I first discovered KEEN in 2005, when I got my beloved purple sandals—I wore them every waking hour during our trip to Disney in 2006 and never complained of sore feet, so that tells you something about how comfy they are! And they are still in perfect condition. Then a year or so ago I discovered that they also make closed shoes; I promptly got some cute black slip-ons that I wear almost constantly when the weather's cool but not too wet.
So, when I won Mir's contest (and after Andy administered the smelling salts), I got to browse the entire KEEN catalog and pick whatever I wanted. I was vacillating between the Napa shoe and Napa boot and ended up with the boot:
Aren't they adorable? And isn't Mir just the KEENest?
Both Steph and Julie read every chance they get. Doesn't matter if they're starting a new book or revisiting an old one, all they want to do is read. But Pete? Not so much. The books that appeal to him are often too challenging for him to read on his own, and the books at his appropriate reading level are inevitably deemed "boring." We've had a few hits—for instance, he recently loved The City of Ember—but for the most part, his books end up lying all over the house half-finished. We've done some reading aloud—taking turns, even—but I'm eager to find some books that he'll devour by himself.
A while back, I was sent a review copy of a book by mystery/thriller author James Patterson. Patterson wrote The Dangerous Days of Daniel X in response to the very same issue I'm facing: a son who wasn't able to find interesting-enough books. Unfortunately, this particular book was still a little too advanced for Pete, although he did find the story compelling. I've put it aside for another day.
In the meantime, Patterson has gone one giant step further in his quest to instill in children his own love of reading: He launched a website, Read Kiddo Read, in order to help kids of all ages (and their parents) find that one great book that might be the magical key to turn a kid on to reading. Each featured book, hand-selected by Patterson, includes a synopsis, related themes, quotes from critics, links to find the book in any number of locations (including local libraries), and even similar suggested reads. I can't wait to dig in.
Thanks to the lovely ladies at Mother Talk for letting me (and thus you!) know about this great resource. I hope to report back soon that Pete is sneaking a book and flashlight under his covers after lights-out.
Do you write/say "an URL" (pronounced "an earl") or "a URL" (pronounced "a you-are-ell")? How about "a FAQ" (pronounced "a fack") vs. "an FAQ" (pronounced "an eff-ay-cue")?
Moi, I've done it both ways, but more often "a URL" and "an FAQ." State your preferences in the Comments, please!
Here's the recipe for the pumpkin bread I posted about yesterday; it is moist and delicious, and my kids love it.
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup orange juice
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour two 9x5x3" loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs, orange juice, and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in two additions. Mix in walnuts.
Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely. Freezes bee-yoo-tifully.
I got an even 50 comments on my post the other day, which means that I'm mailing a check for $25 to the Women's Lunch Place tomorrow—as is Verbatim reader Amy, who pledged to match whatever amount I reached.
Thank you, Amy, for stepping up to the plate. Thank you, Chris, for coming up with this great idea in the first place. Thank you, Verbatim readers, for coming out and showing your stripes. I was especially moved by how many of you pledged to give to your own local food pantries and shelters. Let's shock the statisticians and make this a manageable winter for the needy in our communities.
Andy's sister and her kids arrived from London on Thursday, and my rockstar-drummer nephew had his audition at Berklee on Saturday. (Isn't it a coincidence that we happened to be at a concert there on Friday night?) We sure hope he gets in, because we hardly ever get to see him! Then they and Andy's parents came over last night for our belated Thanksgiving feast. It was perfect.
First of all, the D'Artagnan organic turkey I won from Serious Eats was out of this world. I brined it and roasted it the same as I always do, but it was exceptionally moist and flavorful. Good thing, because it was a 17.5-pounder, so there were plenty of leftovers even after serving 10 people! Here's how it looked upon emerging from about 3 hours in the oven:
Something tells me that gorgeous crispy wing never even made it onto the serving platter, because Andy was in charge of carving, and he does like his wings:
Here's my recipe for roast turkey with gravy—that latter link is for boring, plain gravy, which I then turn into liquid heaven with concentrated gravy made from the pan drippings (recipe at the bottom of the turkey link). It's too strong and salty to use as is, but about half of it mixed in to the plain stuff is un-be-fricking-lievable. (I froze the remainder for another day, most likely to be served with fried chicken. Oh, behave!)
Of course, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving (belated or otherwise) without stuffing, would it?
And how about some oven-caramelized, candy-sweet roasted root vegetables (I posted on Twitter on Friday that I suspected I was the only person in the entire Twitterverse who was at that moment peeling a rutabaga):
And my mother-in-law brought her noodle kugel, which is Pete's most-favoritest food—he even had it for breakfast today. (He once wrote out a list: "1. Bammy's kugel, 2. ice cream, 3. cake.") I've never made her recipe before, but she gave it to me last night, and I'll post it here as soon as I try it out.
For dessert, she also brought her to-die-for brownies (second recipe down at that link). We also put out a My Grandma's Coffee Cake (far and away the best coffee cake on the planet—really), and Andy made his Apple Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Topping, which we served with vanilla ice cream:
If you guessed that we could barely waddle away from the table after that feast, you are correct. But I'm already looking forward to today's lunch of leftovers....
Last night's Martin Sexton concert was wonderful. First we grabbed a bite at the bar at the Met. Andy had a Kobe burger, and I had duck pot pie. Then we headed down to the Berklee.
The show was supposed to begin at 7:30, but the lights didn't go down till closer to 7:45 or so, when Martin's sister Colleen Sexton came out to do an opening set. She has a beautiful voice—it reminded me a lot of Shawn Colvin's, but fuller—and plays the guitar well, but none of her songs were terribly compelling. She might want to have her brother help her write a few songs for next time. I'm just saying.
Then we waited around for another good long while, until Martin finally took the stage at about 8:40, and—you guessed it—it was more than worth the wait. He was outstanding, as always. His voice is the most remarkable instrument—the range alone is unbelievable, as is his access to that range at seemingly any moment, but also just the power. He has such a rich, full, all-out voice, it just stuns me at times.
He did my very favorite song, "Freedom of the Road," early on, so I didn't have to sit there fretting about whether he'd do it. His encore was one of my other favorites, "The Way I Am," which he did on an acoustic guitar (all of the other songs were electric). He did other oldies but goodies, like "Glory Bound" and "Angeline," as well as some that I don't love as much—but he does every song differently every time, so you always get something new out of even his oldest songs.
He had the crazy feedback mic thingy (I think that's the official name of it), which I don't like listening to on recordings, but which I don't mind listening to when I'm also getting to watch him do it. He did a truly amazing replica of Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner," all with his voice. The audience was mesmerized.
All the while, he seemed to be in a great mood, loving the music, loving the audience, loving being back in Boston, and just into it. If you ever get a chance to see him live, go.
1. Kaya - Bob Marley & The Wailers
2. Sing Me Back Home (live) - Son Volt
3. Revolution Rock - The Clash
4. Sitting In Limbo - Willie Nelson
5. Carnival Eyes - David Byrne
6. Late In The Evening - Paul Simon
7. The World (And All Its Problems) - John Wesley Harding
8. No Puedo Más - Los Lobos
9. Twilight (live) - Rick Danko & Garth Hudson
10. Maybe Sparrow - Neko Case
Normally I would say that anyone who steals another blogger's idea is a plagiarizing rat. However, today, I am going to do just that, and I'll need your help.
Chris over at Rude Cactus had an idea that made my heart sing, and I'm hereby appropriating it. He said it was OK, honest.
The economy sucks and I'm feeling the pinch, but I am still most definitely one of the "haves"—and damn grateful for that. The kinds of things I'm cutting back on are restaurant dinners, vacations, and name-brand apparel. Other people are trying to decide whether to pay the rent or buy the medicine this week. There are people without jobs, without homes, without health care, without food, and without hope. Right here, in my community and in yours.
As you are no doubt aware, all the local food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens are facing a double whammy this year: Fewer donations, because the economy is so bad and people are understandably a little less free with their charitable dollars than before; and greater demand, because so many people who were already hanging on by a thread last year are now cut loose and have nowhere else to turn.
You might remember last year that I had joined a national relief organization and pledged to donate a box of groceries each month. I recently completed my year of involvement with them and have decided to focus my resources closer to home. I figure that the few extra dollars it cost to ship the food to another state could instead be used to purchase even more food for someone local. Just my frugal nature shining through!
Now here's where you come in. For each person who leaves a comment on this blog post in the next 24 hours, I will donate 50¢ to the Women's Lunch Place.* I don't expect I will suddenly get hundreds of comments (although wouldn't that be something!), but there is a limit on how much I am able to donate. (Not sure yet what that limit is—I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.)
So what are you waiting for? Leave me a comment! Just one per person, please. And feel free to link to this post on your own blog, to mention it on Twitter or Facebook or wherever else you hang out, to tell your friends via email, or however you communicate. Let's see if we can make a difference.
*From the Women's Lunch Place web site:
For over 25 years, the Women's Lunch Place has been a daytime community in Boston for poor and homeless women and their children. We are open six days a week, year-round, to offer food, friendship, and a full spectrum of advocacy and support services to each of our guests.
Their mission and core values are outlined here.
I am again (or is it still?) feeling frazzled. Today I worked in Charlestown all day—it's my favorite day of the month as bookkeeper, when I get to reconcile all the bank accounts. Wheee! (I'm serious, I really get a charge out of it.) But that means I still haven't had a chance to even start that cocktail cookbook manuscript yet, and the deadline draws ever nearer. (For those of you playing along at home, I finished up the Spanish project earlier in the week.)
Tomorrow I'm a chaperone for Pete's field trip to the Peabody Museum at Harvard. Friday I am helping out with a special program for the fourth graders about blindness, as part of the school's "Understanding Our Differences" initiative, with a training session beforehand. Friday night Andy and I are going to see Martin Sexton at the Berklee! Seems like a hundred years ago that I ordered those tickets.
And then, somehow, I have to get an entire belated Thanksgiving dinner for 10 on the table Saturday. No problem! (She says, as she slips into her strait jacket and adjusts the straps....)
In the meantime, if anyone has any great ideas for Hanukkah gifts for my kids, I'm all ears. And nothing that will break the bank, if you don't mind.
1. A friend who shall remain unnamed, talking about last night's session with his officious, annoying anger management counselor: "I was ready to hit the guy!" (I said that the guy's description made me think of Bob Balaban, and my friend exclaimed, "Exactly!")
2. Andy on the subject of Rod Blagojevich: "His hairpiece is in and of itself an impeachable offense. He should just write HAIR on a piece of paper and put that on his head."
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 music magazine:
Classic Rock is a magazine dedicated to the radio format of classic rock, published by Future Publishing, who are also responsible for its "sister" publication Metal Hammer. Although firmly focusing on key bands from the 1960s through early 1990s, such as Queen, Free, Deep Purple, Status Quo, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Metallica and The Who, it also includes articles and reviews of contemporary and upcoming artists it deems worthy of note, such as The Answer and Wolfmother. Despite starting as a one-off project it has become one of the UK's best selling music magazines, and attracts much attention and respect of many of classic rock's biggest names. It recently published its 100th issue and now has a higher circulation than NME.
Classic Rock was an idea formulated by ex-Metal Hammer Deputy Editor Jerry Ewing (subsequently Editor of Classic Rock), along with Metal Hammer colleague Dave Ling and art editor Andy Ryan at Dennis Publishing. They suggested a one-off title dedicated to classic rock. They felt it was neglected in publication and would attract a large audience. In 1998 original publishers Dennis Publishing allegedly begrudgingly authorised the first issue of Classic Rock featuring Guns N' Roses and including an article by Mick Wall, a journalist who became something of a renowned name when Axl Rose insulted him on the track "Get in the Ring" on Use Your Illusion II. It sold better than expected and was continued. Wall is one of six writers, along with Ewing and Ling who where involved in that publication and still write for the magazine today. The magazine attracted a niche audience initially but sales grew as Classic Rock featured artists such as Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden and Aerosmith on its cover in the first year. It attracted those who saw mainstream music publications such as Q and NME to be stale, and too focused on discovering the "next big thing". It also came at a time when the charts were even more dominated by pop bands than usual, as record companies seemed unwilling to risk money on bands who wrote their own material. Classic Rock soon became a regular fixture in newsagents the UK, Ireland and Europe, and now publishes 13 issues a year.
The magazine focuses on established bands with credentials dating back to the 1960s. Indeed, many of the artists who have appeared on its cover are deceased (Jimi Hendrix and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy featured on early covers, as did bands with deceased members such as Queen and The Who). Acts to have appeared on the front cover 3 times or more to date include Queen, Guns N' Roses, Black Sabbath / Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page has been on the cover on his own right 3 times), Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis, AC/DC, and Mötley Crüe. More recent acts to have been on the cover include The Darkness and Velvet Revolver have been on it twice, though it comprised of members well known to Classic Rock enthusiasts, such as Slash. Despite the dominating nature of acts undeniably falling into the category of classic rock, the magazine takes an inclusive attitude to its genre and is happy to include heavy metal, prog rock, blues and grunge acts. Recent features have included thrash metal band Slayer, and are happy to review acts as diverse as Porcupine Tree, Buckcherry and Rodrigo y Gabriela. Monthly updates on 'sleaze' and prog releases are a regular feature.
Classic Rock reviews any release that even comes close to being classified as rock, including albums, DVDs, concerts and books. It includes an annual award for best new band. Acts such as Rose Hill Drive, Muse, DragonForce, Wolfmother and The Answer have all been featured in recent months.
100 Greatest British Albums
For the 91st issue (April, 2006), the magazine presented 'The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever', which were voted for by Classic Rock staff and various people associated with rock music (including Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath fame, Lemmy of Motörhead and Francis Rossi of Status Quo). The magazine decided to let AC/DC be classed as a British act, although the band was formed in Australia. Two of the band's singers (Bon Scott and Brian Johnson) and guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young are of UK decent. Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV reached first place.
The 100th issue, quite a landmark considering the haphazard nature of the magazine's origin, contained all the regular features, but only one article, in which 100 names in rock were asked to write a piece on their nomination for a "rock icon". Contributors included such notable figures as Brian May, Lemmy (who nominated Tina Turner, who was then himself nominated by Ian Camfield) Ian Gillan, Gary Moore, Angus Young, Phil Collins, Sebastian Bach, Peter Frampton, Jerry Cantrell, Chris Cornell, Paul Rodgers, Chad Smith, Jack Black, Zakk Wylde and Matt Bellamy.
Classic Rock has also published, in conjunction with Metal Hammer, special decade issues featuring 70s (Issue I), 80s (Issue II), and 90s (Issue III) hard rock and metal bands, throughout 2006. In 2007, three special editions were also published with bonus DVDs for £7.50. These each focussed on one genre of rock music - first blues rock (Issue I), then progressive rock (Issue II), and finally, heavy metal (Issue III). A special 2007 collectors edition bookazine was produced entitled "High Voltage", featuring stories by Mick Wall and photographs by Ross Halfin on Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Axl Rose et al.
Rock on, dudes!
Remember that big jar o' coins I cashed in recently? That left me with $237.50 to spend at Amazon, and I also had two $20 Amazon gift cards from some blog reviews I'd done, so off I went to shop. I got some incredible deals!
First off, I finally ordered a Flip video camera—not the fancy new one with HD, but the "ultra" one with zoom. And they are running a promotion now through the end of the year where you also get a free accessory for it! I chose a tripod.
Then I finally found a great gift for Steph's birthday next week (shhh ... don't tell her!): a basic digital camera. It was marked down from $150 to $70, and it's green (her favorite color)! Also a Simpsons calendar for her for Hanukkah.
And then a bunch of toys for Pete and Julie for Hanukkah, also on sale.
Did I mention the free shipping?
Oh, and spending more than $25 in the Electronics department yielded me a free subscription to Wired magazine and $5 to spend on mp3's.
In the end, I was out of pocket a whopping $20.84. Color me a happy shopper.
I have some important questions to ask all of you, and the results may expose some great divides between us. I'm aware of the risks involved, but I think it's important. You ready? Here goes:
1. What is your preferred token in Monopoly?
2. Do you put all taxes and fees in the middle of the board and award the entire pot to whoever lands on "Free Parking"?
3. Do you pay more then $200 if you land on "Go" (as opposed to just passing "Go")?
There. That wasn't so bad, was it? As for me:
1. Growing up, I'm pretty sure I was the terrier. Lisa was definitely the race car, and Lauren was the battleship. But what was Dad? The top hat, maybe? Or the wheelbarrow? Surely not the iron? Sisters, help me out here. (For the record, Andy reveals that he was always the race car growing up but switched to the top hat in college for easier handling. And, while I'm at it, I might as well mention that he held formal Monopoly games in college: You had to wear a suit and tie to play. You heard it here first.)
2. Yes, by all means—it's all about the "Free Parking." Andy too.
3. Again, yes. I believe we did $300; Andy says he always did $400.
Let 'er rip. I'm ready.
1. Times guest columnist Timothy Egan tells it like it is re Joe the Plumber's new book deal. He could've easily just said "WTF?" and left it at that, but he goes into a little more detail about why this is such a travesty when there are so many really good writers out there who can't get signed.
2. Speaking of books, here's another piece from the Times, on the ins and outs of belonging to a book group. (Which reminds me, mine hasn't met since last June. D'oh!) I learned that in New York, where people apparently hire someone to do everything for them, there's such a thing as a professional (paid!) Book-Group Facilitator. Who knew?
3. Mir, who is always the first person on the planet to learn about hot deals, points out that Restaurant.com is running a “Feed It Forward” promotion now through Christmas. Get this: Every single day until then, you can send up to 3 free—yes, I said free—$10 gift certificates to anyone who has an email address! They normally sell $10 gift certificates for $3 and $25 gift certificates for $10, which is already quite a bargain, but free? Gimme a break!
4. Via Debra, I learned of Kidzeyes, a site where kids can take online surveys about food, toys, movies, etc. and earn points that can be turned in for cold, hard cash. I just signed my kids up and now will wait to get an email whenever there's an appropriate survey for one of them. Fun.
Roger Ebert posted his picks for the 20 best films of 2008. Of the 20, I've seen only 3: "Iron Man," which I loved (review here); "Frozen River," which I also loved (review here); and "The Dark Knight," which I didn't love (review here). I've added nearly all of the others to my Netflix queue, which is growing even more quickly than before due to Steph's later bedtime—we can't start watching anything of questionable appropriateness until she's in bed, and by then we're getting tired too. I currently have 395 movies in my queue. No, that is not a typo. We'll have to try to make a major dent in that list next summer when Steph is at sleepaway camp for 7 weeks!
Eek, I knew I forgot to do something: I meant to tell you about the Holiday Gift Guide over at Mom Central. It's broken down by age/sex of recipient as well as by price, so you should be able to check off everyone on your list in no time. It's especially useful if you find yourself needing to buy a gift for a teen and you have all babies and toddlers, or if your kids are grown and you want to find something just right for a school-age kid. But there are also great ideas there for everyone who is in need of unique gift ideas for the men, women, teens, kids, and even pets on their holiday list.
2. Git some of these-here free Gmail keyboard stickers to remind yourself of all those helpful keyboard shortcuts. (When was the last time you had to send a SASE for something? Kicking it old-school in a big way!)
3. Check out these cool stop-motion photography clips (annoying popup alert). I'd love to watch them shooting these—must take all day, though.
1. Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club
2. James River Blues - Old Crow Medicine Show
3. Through the Morning, Through the Night - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
4. Storm Windows - John Prine
5. Stir It Up (live) - Dave Matthews
6. The City - Los Lobos
7. Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
8. Tempted - Squeeze
9. Another Nail in My Heart - Squeeze
10. Something Fine - Jackson Browne
Two each by OCMS and Squeeze? Go figure.
1. Snow looks pretty at first, but I quickly grow to hate it. Really quickly.
2. I'm looking forward to my belated Thanksgiving feast next week.
3. Sol Free is the best free Solitaire app for iPhone ever!
4. One of my favorite old TV shows is "Seinfeld."
5. I'm done with home-grown birthday parties for the kids.
6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is having Andy home.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include getting a few errands done, and Sunday, I want to catch up on work.