Friday, June 30, 2006

Cook it, ya'll

This will be tasty:

First you cut a fennel bulb up into bite-sized pieces (I'd never done this before -- fennel is both exciting and scary. The way I did it was to first cut off the stalks and fronds, then cut it in half and then sort of pull out the core with my fingers and then chop it all up. There is probably a more graceful way...) Then you cut a couple cups of cherry tomats in half, chop up two teaspoons each of fresh oregano and rosemary, and pit half a cup of kalamata olives and cut those in half too. Put all your stuff in a big ole' 13" X 9" baking dish, sprinkle a bunch of pepper and some olive oil on it and toss it around. Put it in the oven at 450 degrees for about half an hour, stirring it halfway through (maybe a little longer if the fennel is still tough). While it is cooking, make some penne pasta (half a package or so) and grate a big handful of romano cheese. Then put the drained pasta in a big bowl, mix in the roasted veggies and their juices, and stir in the cheese.

This will be so good.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pickles?



My first question: Fake or real?

My second question: Is she also scared of cucumbers? (I can't believe no one asked her this)

My third question: Some kind of penis complex?

My favorite part is the way the guys at the pickle factory hesitantly approach the screaming girl with their trays of pickles.

[This has been linked to and commented on all over the place, but I found it first on The Amateur Gourmet.]

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Secret Boyfriend Wednesday II: The Secret is the Boyfriend





It doesn't matter if he is a scary vampire....













Or the son of god...











Willem Dafoe is one-hundred percent secret boyfriend material.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wifey is tired of chicken on Wednesdays

This weekend I zipped right through the next guilty pleasure book from my Literacy Austin Booksale spree, Wifey by Judy Blume (1978). This book notes on its cover that it is "an adult novel," most likely to differentiate it from Blume's well-loved books for children and young adults (do not make the move from Superfudge to Wifey, kids).

I was one of those girls that read every single available Judy Blume book twice, including Forever, the very special young adult novel where the main characters actually have sex. And somehow I totally missed this one. Which is too bad because I imagine I would have found the rather tame sex scenes to be pretty exciting when I was twelve. Twenty-nine year old Kristy, however is not so easily impressed.

In Wifey, our main character, Sandy, is an upper-middle class housewife in a sexually unfufilling marriage. She doesn't have anything to do except watch the kids and go to The Club to play golf with her sister. Except the kids are at camp and Sandy hates golf. As her feelings of frustration mount, a strange man keeps riding up to her house on a motorcycle while she is alone and jerking off while she watches from the window. Then she has sex with her brother-in-law at a drunken party. Then an old flame comes back into her life and she has a little affair. All this sex is peppered with hints that it is 1978 and Sandy is thinking a bit about feminism and a life beyond housework and dutiful sex. When her rekindled flame refuses to leave his wife for her, Sandy must decide if she should divorce her husband anyway and try life as an individual, or try to make her marriage work. And on top of all that, she has gonorrhea! Poor gal...

I found the ending to be pretty disappointing, but I don't know that a super-woman's-lib freedom ending would have satisfied me any more. The book as a whole was an engaging read, and the characters (especially Sandy) were as nicely developed as you would expect Blume's characters to be.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sherlock Holmes is kind of a jerk

Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is one of the best known characters in literature. And yet, I'd never read any of his stories before signing on to the awesome Discovering Sherlock Holmes serialization put on by Stanford University. When you sign up (which is free), they send you one reproduction issue of a Holmes serial a week for twelve weeks -- each issue is a reproduction of the stories as they were released in the Strand Magazine, complete with the original illustrations.

It is too late to sign up for the printed editions, but you can still read all the archived serials here [or look at their previous series of Dickens' novels here]. And they are doing another series in January, so check back if you want to get in on that one.

In my recent Holmesploration I read "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Speckled Band," "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and "The Final Problem" (wherein Doyle actually kills Holmes, leading over 20,000 people to cancel their subscriptions to The Strand in protest, nearly bankrupting the magazine).

I signed up for the series a little late, and my issues came in spurts and starts and not in order. Once I had a few of them, though, I played by the rules and just read one issue a week. This was amazingly fun (although hard when the next issue is right there). I'm really thinking about going back to that Dickens site and reading Hard Times in the same way.

Sherlock Holmes is pretty much a jerk, but sort of a loveable jerk, and the mysteries are engaging and dapper. Ten thumbs up to the Stanford University Libraries for putting these guys out.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Can't... Stop... Looking...

Take a good look at this recent Cuisinart ad. Now focus in on the guy in the red shirt. Isn't he a little... disturbing? It is almost like he is in a totally different ad from the rest of the group.

The look on his face. His focus on the margarita. The way his shirt is pulled up. The whole thing is hypnotizingly odd.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fruity

Today all I want to eat is fruit. So far I have had two bananas, a bowl of strawberries, a handful of blueberries, an apple and a glass of grapefruit juice. Also some carrots. Plus assorted bread and meat products, but they don't count. Not when you are counting fruit.

Fruit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Revenge of Secret Boyfriend Wednesday


Thurston Moore: so rockin', so tall, so playing in Austin this week, so secret boyfriend.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Watch the heel

I am feeling very proud of myself this week. My latest random book choice was none other than the 3000 year old text that is the bane of high school students around the world, The Iliad (ca. 700 BC, my copy was translated by E. V. Rieu in 1949).

When this first popped up I was a bit excited and a bit intimidated. I mean, lately I've been reading lots and lots of pulpy science fiction books and cheesy biographies. I was an English major and all, but did I still have some serious reading eyes in me? I figured I would trudge through it and break it up by reading magazines and such when I was too tired to read Homer. At the end, I would have the satisfaction of having finished the book, no matter how long it took me.

In actuality, I jammed through the thing in less than a week and loved every minute of it. Rieu's translation is very approachable and captures the excitement that the stories must have held for the original listeners.

In case you aren't up on your classic literature, the basic story is this: We are nine years into the Trojan War, which started when Paris, a prince of Troy, stole Helen, the wife of Agamemnon's brother, when he was staying with them as a guest. He also stole a bunch of stuff. Troy has been under siege by the Achaeans ever since. Achilles is one of the Achaean's best fighters, in part because his mom is a goddess (some kind of sea nymph) and she dipped him in the magic water when he was a tot, all except for his namesake heel. Agamemnon, the king of the Achaeans, is forced to give back a woman that he captured in battle and decides he can take one of Achilles' ladies to make up for it. This makes Achilles mad and he refuses to fight for Agamemnon anymore. He makes his goddess mom ask Zeus to let the Trojans win and Zeus does until Achilles' best friend gets killed in battle. Then Achilles gets pissed, joins the fight, and kills the Trojans best fighter, Hector.

That's about it.

So, lots and lots of fighting. Lots of names. Lots of telling us who the father was of the guy that just got killed as well as the guy who killed him and a sentence or two about why they are there. Lots of gruesome descriptions of spears poking out eyeballs, spilling guts, and spurting brains.

The best parts of all are the gods and goddesses who help out their favorites, watch from up in their skyhouse and bicker with each other. One of the gods, Hephaestus, who has a lame leg but is an expert metalworker, even made himself ancient robots! "Golden maidservants hastened to help their Master. They looked like real girls and could not only speak and use their limbs but were endowed with intelligence and trained in handwork by the immortal gods." Nice work, gods.

So, if you want to party with the gods and soak up lots of gruesome spear action, (as well as some interesting mythology and complex ancient characters) I say that the Iliad is for you. I'm sure Josh is glad I'm done with it, as it has been nothing but Iliad references and mythological inneuendo all week.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tasty:

Take about a pound of sweet Italian sausages.

Put some oil in your pan and brown those guys for about four minutes on each side.

Put about a pound of washed and dried red grapes into the pan with the sausage. [Try to dry them as best you can -- any water in there makes the oil go crazy.]

Cook the sausages and the grapes together for another ten minutes or so, stirring them every now and again so the grapes don't burn, until the sausage is cooked and the grapes are all soft and tasty.

Put a splash of balsamic vinegar in there (about an eighth of a cup) and stir it all around.

I swear it will be delicious. Cooked grapes are a fantastic thing that I'd never really tried before.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I must accession this beer and then process it

Yesterday Josh won the husband of the year award for stopping at the store on the way home from work and bringing me not only surprise roses for no reason, but also a delicious six-pack of Archives Beer! Okay, so they actually don't call it Archives Beer, they call it Independence Pale Ale, and it is brewed by the Independence Brewing Company right here in Austin, along with a few other brews. Not only is this beer quite tasty, it also features the remarkable Angelina Eberly, heroine of the 1842 Archives War that kept Austin (and not Houston) the capital of Texas.

She might look a bit familiar to Austin residents as she is featured on a statue downtown on Congress (photographed here by the lovely Jo). She also graces a series of Archives coffee mugs that the student SAA chapter put out when I was in library school.

So raise your glass to Angelina, and drink up for the Archives!

Friday, June 16, 2006

She is getting irritated

I stopped by my regular liquor store on the way home from work because the doctor has been hankering for some gin and tonics and I wanted to replenish my tequila supply in case the opportunity to do some tequila shots would arise in the future. Most of the guys (and the one gal) that work there are super nice. Helpful when you need it, but otherwise unobtrusive. This one guy, however, constantly narrates everything that you are doing while you are in the store, but in the third person. For example:

"She wants to buy some alcohol. There's going to be some drinking tonight!"
"She is looking at the bourbon. She wants the bourbon on the bottom shelf. The bourbon on the top shelf is for sale!"
"Ooooh, she is looking at the tequila!"
"She also wants some gin. She is picking up the big bottle."
"She is ready to pay."

I have no response to that.

This is the weirdest attempt at humor? customer service? flirtation? I have ever seen. Usually when he is there, I'm the only other person in the store, but this time there was another woman shopping around. The guy almost had a heart attack trying to narrate both of us without getting confused. Eventually he settled on primarily narrating the other woman's shopping since she was there first.

This time there was also another employee in the store, one who was actually ringing people up. The narrator sat behind him on a stool and did his narrating. The other employee looked extremely irritated.

I wonder what else this dude narrates. Perhaps he narrates everything?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poo Paper!

My youngest sister spent a couple of weeks in Sri Lanka back in December/January and when I saw her earlier this month she gave me my Sri Lankan Christmas present: A bookmark, some delicious mango tea, and this lovely elephant stationary. One slip of paper in with the stationary notes that it "is carefully made by our skilled artists using a mixture of traditional and contemporary materials and designs to create an original product." That sounds great! And what might some of those traditional materials be? Why, 75% of this paper is elephant dung.

It does actually smell a little earthy, but not shitty. I had second thoughts about licking the envelope when I sent a letter out the other day, but I decided to live dangerously. Luckily, according to this article the dung is all boiled and sanitized. [My favorite part of that article is the "Dung paper in easy steps" sidebar: 1. Collect fresh dung, 2. Sort it, 3. Dry it in the sun, 4.Boil it, 5. Press pulp to make paper. Let's do it!]

One nice thing is that the sale of this particular brand of dung paper goes to support a home for elderly and disabled elephants in Pinnawela, Sri Lanka. If you don't want to help elderly and disabled elephants, then you are quite the jerk.

My favorite article on the subject of elephant-dung paper is this slightly fractured, but very endearing piece from London. The best part is the useful introductory paragraph which notes that "Elephants never forget and are, therefore, noted for their good memories." Can't argue with that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's the Son of Secret Boyfriend Wednesday

Greg Dulli. All not sexy and also sexy at the same time. Particularly on stage. That man can smoke a cigarette.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cheese!

I've always wished that I knew more about cheese. This past weekend Josh and I went to the overwhelming and fun cheese department at Central Market in search of some Neufchatel Cheese for these fancy grilled cheese sandwiches he was going to make and serve with homemade gazpacho (both turned out awesome). This cheese isn't that rare or expensive, but in my limited cheese experience, I'd never had it. Just imagine my surprise when I opened the vaguely heart-shaped container to find a perfectly heart-shaped block of cheese. Yay!

Josh showed the heart-shaped cheese no mercy when he pulled out his knife. This cheese is tangy and strong, but not too strong. It has a nice texture and it tastes great with gazpacho, or with grapes, or just by itself.

This is really only the second time we've explored the cheese aisle. For photographic evidence of the really bizarre purple-red cheese we bought before (which was also good, all cheese is good), go over here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Red Planet

Naturally I bought The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett (1967) for the awesome red Martian cover, complete with a crouching bondage dude who wears way too much mouse in his hair. The cover was so goofy, that it even took me a bit to get into the book -- I figured that it would be a silly science fiction novel and not much else beyond that.

As usual, I was surprised by how thoughtful and well written my pulpy cover selection ended up being. And is it any wonder? Leigh Brackett was the author of dozens of science fiction and crime novels, a friend and collaborator of Ray Bradbury, and a screen writer (often uncredited) for a whole slew of Howard Hawks movies, including The Big Sleep, which she co-wrote with William Faulkner and Jules Furthman, Rio Bravo, Hatari!, and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye

The Coming of the Terrans was written in the middle of Brackett's career and consists of a group of five longish short stories set between 1998 and 2038 on Mars. Brackett's Mars is inhabited by an ancient race that has been around for many thousands of years longer than humans have been on Earth. The receding water in the Martian canals has created a haunting series of abandoned cities and dry harbors that move further and further down, following the water level. The Martians have traditions and technologies that greatly surpass those found on Earth, but have largely forgotten the knowledge behind them. Humans are gradually settling on Mars, creating trade cities in large air-conditioned domes, but there are still unexplored regions of the planet where groups of Martians carry on their traditions.

The stories are all inventive, engaging, and filled with action, but are also rather thoughtful explorations of race, colonization, and the responsibilities that come with scientific discovery. I also like that the stories move forward in time -- as they progress, the reader can watch the subtle changes in the relationships between the Martians and the Earthlings.

Plus just look at that little green guy on the cover.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm turning into such a girl...

Why just look at how wonderful my new Pretty Good Things purse, handmade by the lovely Mary P., is! It is just the right size, has a nice thick purple strap, three pocket levels, and just the right amount of flowers and sparkle beads. I used to be just a wallet in my pocket kind of gal, but lately I've been wanting to take my camera and little notebook around with me. The solution: A nice new purse.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'd better watch my lampshades and bell-cords!

Don't you wish you could pull off a hat like this? Well, Carmen Miranda sure can in the "Lady with the Tutti Frutti" hat number from Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here (1943). This movie has sadly never been released on video (although I imagine there are bootleg copies around). Lucky for me, the Paramount Theatre showed it as part of their Summer Film series this year. For some reason the only stills I could find were in black and white, but the movie itself is in fabulous Technicolor.

The best parts are the ridiculously large and beautifully photographed dance numbers that Berkeley is known for, particularly those featuring the above mentioned Miranda and her hats. Also noteworthy is character actor Eugene Pallette (whose deep froggy voice cracks me up even when he says something like "Why should I get the San Francisco paper?" and especially when he says "What are you, a square from Delaware?" or "What do you have to do to get a room in this shebang!" (that last one is actually from a different movie, but you get my point, the dude is awesome). And of course, any dance number involving gigantic bananas being waved around in the air must be seen to be believed.

And yet the best part of all is the last few minutes of the film which start out as a song sung in homage to the polka dot and somehow turn into a psychedelic film-fest that is at least twenty years ahead of its time. We get glowing hoops, kaleidoscopic lenses, swirling colors, and a finale of disembodied heads singing the theme song of the film in unison. Probably one of the best endings ever, with the possible exception of The Fury.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Photo Recap

I am semi-recovered from my week back in Nebraska and the subsequent mold attack that Texas thrust upon me when I returned.

I had a lovely time, spending much of it with my youngest sister (the taller blonde, pictured above), and my folks. My trip involved golfing with my dad, visiting with cute girls (like the wee one above, and her sister, playing with cute boys, chatting with old friends from high school at a barbecue, drinking coffee with my mom, going to the horseraces and losing six bucks on the ponies (sadly not pictured), drinking beer with my parents, drinking beer with friends, eating pizza with friends, drinking coffee with friends, watching TV with my parents, going to my sister's graduation party, and rocking out at my friend Lindsay's wedding. Lindsay is my oldest friend -- we met when we were ten, and were best friends all through junior high and high school.

So, although I apparently missed out on the social week of the century back in Austin-town, I still had a lovely time up north. Also, no mold and not as hot.

Complete photographic evidence available here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The insides of my ears itch like crazy

I love you Austin, but why are you so hot and moldy?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Erection? What's That?

In the past couple of days, I've somehow managed to watch this one exceedingly long Viagra commercial with my dad three or four times. It isn't so bad until the fake TV doctor gets to a long list of side effects. One caution is that you should probably call a doctor if you have had an erection for more than four hours. Seriously, TV, this is really funny, but I'm just not the kind of girl who can make jokes about erections with my dad. Please don't play this commercial for us anymore. Thanks.