Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Read the rest: http://jaslarue.blogspot.com/2008/07/uncle-bobbys-wedding.html
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I saw a banner for this promotion on the sign of a local salon, and thought, "Now that is an awareness promotion that makes sense!!"
Cookies and pens and instant drink mix might not have much of a connection to the disease, but hair certainly does.
Having been a chemotherapy patient (about thirty years ago at this point and not for breast cancer), I was proud of my baldness. (Of course, I was four, so having my hair fall out wasn't particularly traumatic.) My mother even had t-shirts saying "Bald is Beautiful" made for family and friends.
I wasn't much for wigs or hats (again, I was four), and no one shaved their head in solidarity, but pink hair, or a pink hair substitute might have been fun.
So add a little flair to your hair!!
(I think I just might. I need a haircut anyway.)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci play Julia and Paul Child with enthusiasm, respect and fearlessness. Especially Meryl Streep. You can tell she just embraced Julia's larger than life, enthusiastic approach to everything and didn't worry about anything else. Amy Adams is delightful as Julie Powell. I'm sure that there are plenty of people who will wish for more Julia and less Julie, but I enjoyed the balance.
The film had all of the necessary elements of a good film. I was transported to another time and place for two hours, and in the process was made to think and feel -- the hallmark of good art.
I laughed at Julia's feet hanging off the end of a too short bed, the ill-fated hat making session, the determination which resulted in a mountain of chopped onions (and Paul's reaction), and, of course, the lobsters.
The scene where Julia gets the letter from Dorothy saying that she is pregnant was utterly heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes.
I worried about their future as Paul is investigated by Senator McCarthy.
When the editor at Knopf discovers Beouf Bourginon, I could practically taste the delicious recipe, and I had a sudden inclination to rush home and prepare it myself.
Oh, and the film definitely made me want to live in Paris. And New York.
If there was any flaw it was that the movie had to be movie sized and could only hold so much detail.
When I moved into my little house on Water Street, one of my great sources of excitement was the kitchen -- a *real* kitchen, with counter space, a dishwasher and a gas stove. The presence of the gas stove especially went a long way to influencing the purchase of the house. For (I believe) six years prior, my cooking had to be done on an electric stove and in an electric oven ... and with zero actual counter space. Any preparation had to be done on a small cutting board on the stove top, on the ever-cluttered kitchen table, or on top of the washer. And by washer I mean clothes rather than dish.
I grew up in a kitchen with a gas stove, and it always seemed to me to be the only way to go. My general stance on most subjects of preference is "to each his own," but why anyone would actually want to cook on an electric stove is quite beyond my capacity to understand. (But then I tend to avoid using the microwave, so I'm sure that plenty of people would argue that I'm not quite right in the head myself.)
Lack of counter space + electric stove = not much in the way of serious cooking.
When I did cook, meals often didn't turn out quite right, and I was never quite sure whether to blame the electric stove and oven or my relative lack of practice under less than user friendly conditions. One notable exception was the Thanksgiving turkeys, which did tend to be a success, even if the stuffing was not. Perhaps I will have to see what Julia says about stuffing a turkey. (This year I have delusions of preparing a turducken, but I think that they may have to remain delusions a while longer.)
Many of my cookbooks were stashed away or scattered haphazardly about the apartment because I didn't have a proper, central location for them. In the house, I have cleared out a small bookcase, and it houses the cookbooks almost perfectly. It's in the living room rather than the kitchen, but at least they are close by, and it's not as if I generally need to use more than one at a time.
At about the same time that I was looking to buy a house, I started reading about food -- in fiction and non-fiction -- and one of the first books I read was Julie & Julia. Reading Julie Powell's various (mis)adventures in the kitchen with Julia encouraged me to keep reading about food and reminded me how much I loved Julia. I have fond memories of watching The French Chef on on Sunday afternoons, and I remember Mastering the Art of French Cooking sitting alongside my grandmother's recipe box in my parents' kitchen.
My parents no longer live in the house where I grew up, however, so when I asked my mother about the book -- technically books, I suppose, since it is a two-volume set -- I learned that it had been among the donations when they moved to what I still refer to as the "new house," even though they have lived there at least half a dozen years now ... maybe even as many as ten. (I could sit here and figure it out, but chasing after such details would only detract from my little story, and I think that the shaded ambiguity lends an air of mystery.)
Apparently, I was distressed enough by the knowledge that my parents no longer had Julia in their library that I blocked the information from my memory, causing me to repeat the question on at least one more occasion, and though it wasn't really meant as such, my mother took the hint and tracked down a nice copy of the fortieth anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and had it sent to me. It sits proudly on the shelf next to a rather battered (I would like to think well loved and used) copy of Simca's Cuisine.
I have not yet cooked my way through Julia's extensive offerings, but I do consult her advice from time to time.
I have been labeled as "adventurous" in the kitchen, and as I become more so -- which I think I shall be once I truly find the courage of my convictions to flip a potato pancake or an omelette in a frying pan -- I am sure that I will spend more time with Julia and Simca.
While the film is still fresh in my mind, however, I am sitting here with copies of Appetite for Life and My Life in France next to me on my desk, trying to decide which one to read first. I am likely to start with My Life in France because I would like to hear more from Julia in her own words. I know that the book was written with the help of Alex Prud'homme, who is her grand nephew, I believe, but based on her introduction, I am quite convinced that he was mostly the means for telling her story, almost as if he played the role of pen and paper, or perhaps typewriter. (Somehow I can't possibly see Julia sitting in front of a computer.)
Julie Powell did sit in front of a computer, however, so the Julie/Julia blog might be the real place to start, rather than rereading Julie & Julia as I had briefly conisdered doing.
I'll let you know how it goes. And perhaps once I have spent some more time with Julia, I will finally delve into the works of another venerable foodinista -- M.F.K. Fisher.
Edit to add:. In the end, I did decide to start with Julie's blog. If you share the inclination, start here.
Edit to add (on January 10, 2010): Now that Julie & Julia is available on dvd, I can watch the film almost any time I care to, and one of the times I cared to was this evening while I had the house to myself for a while. What I really love about the movie -- about the story of each of these women actually -- is the reminder that success doesn't come from talent so often as it does from hard work and perseverance. Find a way and the time to do what you love. Work at it and keep working at it, and success will follow. Maybe not millions of dollars and international fame, but success in the form of personal growth and satisfaction. Such is my wisdom on this particular Sunday evening.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
In my mind, the “phenomenon” of the Kindle has become synonymous with a train wreck which I cannot help but watch. Any in depth article I read impresses me only for its indecisiveness.
Last night, Twitter took me to this article (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/03/090803fa_fact_baker) from the New Yorker, and I reached the end of it completely baffled as to whether or not the author was in favor of the device or not.
Nicholson Baker lists plenty of reasons to either stick with the tried and true paper, ink and glue version or to choose another gadget, but in the end, he succumbs as the Kindle performs as advertised and “disappears.”
I already know that I will not be purchasing a Kindle. Nor will I add one to my Christmas list. I would like the opportunity to spend about a week playing with one (and such an experience might change my mind), but all I can think of is how many real books (especially used books) I could purchase with that much money and then sell to or share with others.
The list of books which are *not* available gives me pause. To quote Baker ‘There is no Amazon Kindle version of “The Jewel in the Crown.” There’s no Kindle of Jean Stafford, no Vladimir Nabokov, no “Flaubert’s Parrot,” no “Remains of the Day,” no “Perfume,” by Patrick Suskind, no Bharati Mukherjee, no Margaret Drabble, no Graham Greene except a radio script, no David Leavitt, no Bobbie Ann Mason’s “In Country,” no Pynchon, no Tim O’Brien, no “Swimming-Pool Library,” no Barbara Pym, no Saul Bellow, no Frederick Exley, no “World According to Garp,” no “Catch-22,” no “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” no “Portnoy’s Complaint,” no “Henry and Clara,” no Lorrie Moore, no “Edwin Mullhouse,” no “Clockwork Orange.”’
The simple fact that it is electronic is also a significant deterrent, and not simply because I tend to be a Luddite at heart. I pay the phone company an extra five dollars a month essentially as insurance against myself. If I lose the phone, or drop it in a puddle, or step on it, or some other catastrophe befalls it, I will not have to pay to replace it. A Kindle living with me would be exposed to the same sort of risks, and it costs at least twice as much as my phone.
I just imagine the heartbreak of losing hundreds of books because something happened to the Kindle.
Paper books are much sturdier, heartier creatures and can withstand an impressive amount of abuse.
Maybe that is another part of my suspicion – I consider books (especially the ones I really enjoy) to be almost living creatures. They are my friends and companions who see me through the best and worst of times. Can an electronic device really inspire the same depth of feeling?
I highly doubt it, and for most of his article, Baker seems to agree. I can’t help but wonder what caused him to waiver in his judgment. It makes me curious to find out, but not for $300.
The supposed ease and accessibility – start reading an impulse purchase in under a minute – is tempting to be sure, but I can’t help thinking that this might be a case of something being too good to be true.
For the present, I shall retain my skepticism.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
The entertainment value.
If I wanted to be a bit more accurate, I could make the heading, “Why I love loud public figures.” That phrasing would probably make more sense, but I am going to pick on the Right Wing because, as I recall, that is where Pat Buchanan hangs out.
Anyway, I came across the following quote:
"With regard to Levi, I think First Dude up there in Alaska, Todd Palin, ought to take Levi down to the creek and hold his head underwater until the thrashing stops."
-- Pat Buchanan
Am I the only one who doesn’t see how this is the business of anyone but the Palin family (and possibly the readers of People magazine)? But then minding one’s own business isn’t any fun for loud public figures who spend an inordinate amount of time being concerned about whether or not anyone can hear them.
And then there is the heavy dose of irony in the statement. Terminating a pregnancy is terrible, sinful, should be illegal, etc., but drowning the kid who knocked up your daughter (or who was perhaps seduced by your daughter) is acceptable.
Killing is bad unless it is in the name of God or family honor?
Do I have that right?
Or have I grossly misinterpreted the statement so that I can twist it to strengthen my own ill-informed, misguided liberal bias?
Although I am generally not much of a fan of guacamole (to the point that I am not even entirely sure how to spell it properly), Martha’s recipe -- Mix juice 1 lime, 4t crushed garlic, 5 chop scallion, 1C chop cilantro, 1 mince jalapeño + 3 ripe avocado – intrigues me.
Perhaps garnished with tomato and black olives.
Nom nom nom. Now I’m hungry.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Okay, so maybe not my immediate next reading assignment, but I think I might need to read this book.
Having arrived at work at about six thirty Friday morning (my attempts to defend my sleeping territory not being exactly successful), I decided at about eight thirty or so that breakfast was in order. On the very short drive to Panera for a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich (protein, grease and salt - yum!), I heard the author of Arabian Knight being interviewed on npr and was captivated by the story of the meeting between FDR and the Saudi king.
It took me a while to track down the book because I was not spelling Lippman or Knight appropriately, but I got there eventually.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Every once in a while (which might actually be fairly often), I think about meditation. Meditation would be a healthy addition to my life because I have a lot of trouble powering down my mind, especially when I go to bed for the nigh. Relaxing my body into the dark and quiet of my bedroom seems to be an invitation to my brain to kick into overdrive. I have become dependent on a murmuring radio to give my mind something to focus on so that I can leave the rest of the day behind and achieve sleep. Even then, sleep is frequently invaded by whatever might be causing stress in my life. Work is the most common culprit.
After a day of constant correspondence and conversation via e-mail and instant messenger, as well as ringing phones and surrounding conversations, I like to come home to peace and quiet. I will turn on the radio but not the television, and I have moved away from “popular” music and back to the classical music and public radio programming which were the background of my childhood.
I have read several memoirs involving meditation and yoga and retreats, and I wonder if such an environment would have a salubrious effect on me. Could I really spend a week in a silent retreat not speaking to anyone? Would I have any interest in starting to speak again once I had spent a week not doing so?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I tend to not read magazines since I let my New Yorker subscription expire. (Too many of them were piling up unread.) I rarely watch television and refuse to pay for cable. Despite spending quite a bit of time online, I don't wander around on the web much. Social networking sites are pretty much lost on me. Never having been one of the popular kids, I am much more of an observer than a joiner.
While I see signs of a struggling economy all around me, I have thus far been fortunate enough to not have it hit too close to home.
The other day, however, I found a reason to be genuinely (albeit somewhat selfishly) concerned.
As a self-described book junkie, a significant amount of my disposable (and sometimes some of my not so disposable) income is handed over to bookstores of one sort or another -- some new, some used, some online, some brick and mortar. Sometimes I give in to the need to have something as soon as it is published and rush right out to a store to pay full retail (although usually minus a membership discount). Occasionally, I have the patience to wait a few days for a shipment to arrive from an online retailer. More often, I try to acquire titles, especially if they have been available at least long enough for the hardcover to be issued in paperback, used, either in a shop, online, or at a library sale. I get more for my money that way, books get a new home, and I feel a little bit better about the piles of paper surrounding me.
In short, I don't have a lot of loyalty to any particular literary resource. Usually, I land somewhere between efficient use of money and going where I can find the titles I want.
On Friday, seeing the noticeably depleted (perhaps reduced or streamlined would be a better word choice since I don't believe that brisk sales are the culprit) shelves of a fabulous local independent bookseller (http://www.toadbooks.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp) was a sobering and somewhat depressing experience. As usual, the Toadstool Bookshop had the title I wanted, and I found a few others I decided I couldn't live without. All three books came off the used shelves in the back. Also in stock were two newly released hardcovers which have piqued my interest.
Herein lies my dilemma: Do I purchase the two hardcovers at full price (for a total of about fifty dollars) and support a wonderful local business, or do I purchase them online at a discount (for a total of about thirty-three dollars) and save myself the equivalent of a tank of gas?
Of course, the wiser choice would be to wait for the books to be released in paperback (because it is not as if I don't have at least a year's worth of reading in the house already) or become available used.
Nevertheless, the experience made me think a little bit about buying more than just food locally.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them, if they'd follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things -- resign, or go commit suicide."
-- Sen. Charles Grassley, on AIG execs
This quote is all over the place, and based on what I have heard so far, people are completely missing the point.
Granted, the Senator probably could have made his reference to Japanese culture a little more tactfully, but more than that I think he needed to make it a little more clearly.
The reference is to the high value placed on integrity and honor, and shame is taken very seriously. It’s an ancient code.
Given the magnitude of the personal greed and betrayal of public trust, the resulting shame is sufficient to warrant apology and resignation at the very least, and according to the ancient Japanese code, seppuku is not out of the question. The suggestion only seems ridiculous by isolationist American standards.
People need to take responsibility for their actions rather than continuing to work the system to avoid consequences.
One might argue that hearing such a recommendation from a politician is the epitome of irony, but that’s a debate for another day.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I finished reading In Buddha's Kitchen: Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures in a Meditation Center by Kimberly Snow this past weekend. As I was reading: I found the following passage, and it spoke to me pretty clearly:
"'Most of the relationships in our country are based on a sort of ledger model,' says Lama S. 'I make you a cup of tea, but on some level, somewhere, I'm expecting you to make me one in exchange. If a week or so goes by and I haven't gotten my cup of tea, then I start this angry little dialogue within myself about how "you" aren't fulfilling "my" needs. But any relationship that is founded on the idea that another person will make you happy is doomed from the very start. The only ones that will ever succeed are those that begin with the question "What can I do to make the other person happy?" And this motivation needs to be the ground of the relationship, not just a temporary attitude that you adopt to make yourself seem like a good person. You really can't be waiting for that cup of tea to come back to you but must learn to give freely. A cup of tea, a smile, a little kindness, there is always something that we can offer. Only through our unimpeded generosity do we become happy. ... The center of the universe has shifted a little from you to the outside. This can be done within a relationship, within the family, with the world at large. Give. Love. Help. But without wanting something back to balance the ledger. You'll find that this makes you deeply happy all the time.'" (pg. 160-161)
Give of yourself and give freely. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Not that I can't do things for myself and pursue my own interests or set limits and boundaries (although the ideal is probably to give with no boundaries).
Nevertheless, to give with no expectation of reciprocation is one of my personal aspirations.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I'll have to find a few more interesting people to follow.
The first find of the day is courtesy of Neil Gaiman: http://www.blackphoenixtradingpost.com/neilgaiman.html
Sadly, and not terribly surprisingly, these wonderful trinkets are out of stock.
Do not despair! There are more to be found nearby at http://www.blackphoenixtradingpost.com/jewelry.html.
Or click over to http://www.blackphoenixtradingpost.com/claws.html for Lady Macbeth Claw Polish. Or perhaps Mme. Moriarty Claw Polish is more to your liking?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What is really at issue here?
Is the article supposed to be about wasteful government spending for installing coffee makers costing more than I will spend on food for the entire year?
Is it about the loss of face for the Cimbali company when it was implied that their machines made inferior espresso?
Is it about the risk of poor water quality?
As none of these subjects are treated with any kind of depth or seriousness, who can tell?
Any of the three subjects, properly researched, has the potential for an excellent article, but the three jumbled together end up being meaningless.
And this is the news which is truly fit to print?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Ever since I first heard of the Sony eReader, I have contemplated the possibility of adding such a gizmo to my household. There were two primary inhibitors -- the price tag and the availability only by mail order. I wasn't about to pay that much money for something I couldn't try out and play with first. Even my most outrageously expensive pair of fabulous shoes didn't cost that much (although I do have my eye on the three-thousand dollar Chanel boots, but my fashionista aspirations are best left to a whole other blog post). The only things I have come close to spending that much money on are tickets to a Springsteen concert and a signed, limited edition of a biography of Stuart Sutcliffe.
Then Neil Gaiman started writing about this mysterious device he had been given to play with, and eventually he revealed that it was a Kindle, so I would occasionally look at it on the amazon.com web site. I would read some reviews and ponder the possibilities.
The real attraction has always been the possibility of carrying all sorts of books at once so that I wouldn't have to worry about not being in the mood to read whatever it was I had with me, especially when traveling.
That attraction is still there, but I think I would need at least a week with the device to determine whether the attraction is deep enough to sustain a long term relationship or just a mere infatuation.
I have seen one live Kindle. It was in the hands of a fellow airplane passenger on the return trip from the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. last year, but she was reading, and I couldn't bring myself to disturb her. I find it an almost unforgiveable intrusion when someone interrupts my reading as if the book I am holding is an invitation rather than a ticket to my own private world.
The key sentences in the article are (my commentary follows each sentence in italics):
"Unlike a laptop or an iPhone, the screen is not illuminated, so there's no glare, no eyestrain — and no battery consumption. You use power only when you actually turn the page, causing millions of black particles to realign."
(I have visions of a Kindle being possessed by a gremlin of some sort who insists or realigning the millions of particles into random pages in random books, or even with secret messages, rather than the next page in sequence. Or perhaps it is the particles themselves who rebel and refuse to realign as proscribed.)
"It's all a thousand times more convenient and more exciting than loading books from a PC with a cable, as you must with Sony's Reader, the Kindle's archrival."
(More exciting than loading books from a PC with a cable? What is less exciting? The convenient part I will agree with, however.)
"But as traditionalists always point out, an e-book reader is a delicate piece of electronics. It can be lost, dropped or fried in the tub."
(As someone who carries at least one book pretty much everywhere she goes -- sometimes stuffed in a bag and sometimes completely unprotected -- I find the sturdiness of a real book tough to beat. Even if pages get torn, stained or wet, they are still legible. I have had more than one book take a bath, and even the ones which weren't the waterproof erotica anthologies survived to be read another day. I have insurance on my cell phone because the salesman who sold me my first phone about three years ago told me that it meant replacement of my phone in case it was lost, stolen ... or dropped in a puddle. I was sold.)
"The point everyone is missing is that in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything."
(And marketing departments everywhere cheer!! You can't just replace one thing with another. You have to buy more. Seriously, though, and somewhat less cynically, it's almost impossible to replace the original. Pens, pencils and paper are still around because the personal computer hasn't been able to vanquish them either. You will always need a backup and a contingency for something which requires some kind of power.)
"The reading experience is immersive, natural and pleasant; the book catalog, while not yet complete, is growing and delivered instantaneously; and apart from the clicky keyboard (an unnecessary appendage 99.9 percent of the time), the design feels right."
(That word "immersive" is highly seductive because I consider books my means of escape from reality. If you say reality is for people who can't handle drugs, I say reality is for people who don't have the courage to fall in love with an imaginary man or woman. If this little electronic gadget can truly take me to Redwall or Pern or Hogwarts or Maycomb, Alabama, then I might just be willing to hand over that much money for a literary toy.)
The NYT article is the first discussion of the Kindle which has addressed the issues which are important to me, and I have a better understanding of the device than I had previously. I maintain, however, that until the Kindle and I are properly introduced (or some admirer presents me with one in homage), I shall continue consuming my reading material in a more conventional format.
Congratulations are certainly in order for Ms. Niffenegger because didn't President Clinton only get a million for his memoir? Or maybe that was just the advance.
I'm glad nobody told Scribner about the recession going on and isn't listening to those who are portending doom and gloom for the publishing industry as a whole, but I do wonder if a move like this means that more midlist or unknown authors will the chance they need or if their numbers will become ever slimmer.
Today I am spending my lunch hour reading In Buddha’s Kitchen: Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures in a Meditation Center by Kimberly Snow.
In chapter three, the author describes dealing with a particularly aggravating individual, and the response of one of the Lamas is that she is “Good practice for bardo … very good practice.” Bardo is the state after death and before the next rebirth, and it “is often filled with wrathful deities, terrifying sights, loud noises.” Staying calm and keeping your wits about you while in a bardo state is the path to enlightenment.
One of the tweets I read today was a quote to the effect of “What angers you, controls you.”
It has been a while since I have encountered these sorts of reminders about coping with the trials of daily life. The timing appears to be apt because I feel calmer already. Not so much enlightened, but definitely calmer.
I spent a large portion of Sunday playing in cyberspace – setting up a twitter account, overhauling my blog, chatting online, downloading a new program, and doing a bit of web surfing. It was fun, but I don’t know that it was particularly productive. The conversation was interesting, and I learned a few things in articles I read, but I wonder about the use of time. Most likely, I should just accept it as fun and not worry about it, even if I do sit in front of a computer for a living. Seems like I ought to have more active things to do with my time off.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Today’s Doonesbury sums up the problem nicely, I think:
Of course, most people probably don’t think of it as a problem.
It’s just the Luddites like me whose computer and internet usage really hasn’t changed in the last fifteen years who think it’s an issue.
YouTube, FaceBook and MySpace are not part of my daily life, and probably eighty or ninety per cent of the minutes on my cell phone plan go unused every month.
I signed up for a Twitter account yesterday, so maybe that will rock my world. After all, instant messaging programs have become a major player, and I never thought that would happen.
By contrast, however, the hermit in me appreciates being able to communicate without having to actually talk to anyone.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Somewhat against my better judgment, I have created a twitter account, so I can tweet at will.
I have also (hopefully) created a couple of avenues to make posting easier (and therefore hopefully more likely).
There's quite a bit of hope in that last sentence.
The ultimate hope is to stop worrying about the audience (who or even if it is) and just write, and with a little luck, omphaloskepsis will not be the only result.