Saturday, December 29, 2007

New computer

S gave me a Macbook for Christmas. I'm sitting in the living room right now online with no wires. Never used Mac before so it's taking some adjustments, such as how to do cut and paste, how to open links in new tabs and all that stuff. But I have a feeling I'm going to love it and may even get to blog more now that I don't actually have to sit at the computer to do so.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Rapping Captain Kirk

S and I watched a pretty funny movie we had never heard of last night, called "Free Enterprise." And much like other movies where the ending made the entire movie, so did this one.

It's about some buddies who are Star Trek fans, worship William Shatner and work in the movie industry. William Shatner shows up in the movie, playing himself as an egotistical, hard-drinking blowhard who wants to put on a musical version of Julius Caesar with himself playing all the parts. I thought that part was a jab at Patrick Stewart who put on a musical version of A Christmas Carol with himself playing all the parts.

At any rate the movie culminates with Shatner rapping Marc Antony's speech at a birthday party.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Project 4.4 -- the 80s v. the 50s

Dear God, now I feel old, old, old. Back when I was in high school, thanks to Happy Days, 50s flashback dances were hugely popular. Girls would dress in poodle skirts and tight sweaters with headbands. Boys would put on white t-shirts with sleeves rolled over cigs and slick their hair into ducktails.

Well, now the 80s are getting that treatment. With even more disdain than we felt making fun of the 50s. Now I know how my mother felt.

Never more so than watching this edition of PR where a lot of 80s and late 70s style fashions were revisited in all their hideous glory. Overalls. Dancewear (Flashdance anyone? Jane Fonda jazzercise?). Shoulder pads, a la Dynasty.

And it was a dreadful mess. I didn't think anyone won. I don't think Jillian's crew was memorable. The closest was our fey friend Christian and his crew.

But Chris should not have lost. Maybe I have too much 80s left in me because I didn't think his was that bad.

In other words, Ricky, go home. Now.

Edited to add: and Victorya and your passive aggressive route can quickly follow.


I just got back from Houston. What a town. What failed potential. And its panhandlers could give lessons to DC ones. Someone pointed out that a lot of the beggars were probably vestiges of Hurricane Katrina. That's probably tragically true, because I saw some pretty tragic homeless cases.

The one place I did not see homeless folks in downtown Houston, curiously enough, was the Bayou Trail. Picture this: Coming from snowbound DC where it was 27 when I left to a Houston at 80 degrees with about 100 degrees humidity. Of course I had to don my t-shirt and running shorts and check out the trails. That meant the Bayou Trail, which snakes under the complex highway system along a sort of river. It had huge failed potential, symptomatic of the entire downtown, it seemed to me. Visually, it's a great downtown -- so why did it seem so sluggish? The Bayou Trail could emulate San Antonio's Riverwalk. At least decorate it for Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Project Runway 4.3 -- It's Raining Men

This week was rather fun. Was it all the designers freaking out or all the male pulchritude floating around the design room? hmmm. Though I have to say, none of the male models had as chiseled pecs as Jack. Are we sure he's on the show as a designer?

But there was plenty of action for the straight male as well. S was thrilled that the designers were dressing Tiki Barber. My face was as blank as those of most of designers. Tiki who? "He's one of the greatest running backs ever! He's absolutely amazing! I can't believe he agreed to do this."

This episode brought out the ugly in a few people. I liked Raimi a lot less. I liked Jack a lot more after all the help he gave Carmen and sharing his pattern with anyone who asked. Ricky came across as an Andrae without the fun part.

Sweet P came across well as far as not whining about her failures. I liked her self mockery with shooting herself with her forefinger as her model tried his best.
Steve looks as though he's very witty. The Titanic quip was priceless.
Carmen was the right choice, once more. Who makes the jacket before making the shirt?! duh. Sweet P's shirt was a hot mess but the pants looked good.

I don't agree with the judges on the winner for the third week in a row. I would've picked Kevin or Kit before Jack.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Farewell, my countryside

Ah, my Kentucky. It's a fading memory, chopped down by subdivisions and strip malls. My memories are erased by McMansions and vanishing trees, disappearing meadows, green Kentucky grass paved over by concrete.

I took S to meet the family for Thanksgiving. Of course he knew my mother, father and siblings, but he'd never met my grandmother, various aunts, uncles and cousins. Where are the rolling hills, he wondered. I promised him a detour to where my grandmother used to live, in Anchorage, where she cultivated a quarter-acre garden, hedged by honeysuckle.

I have a lot of fond memories of that house, sitting on the grass watching the incredible stars that you would never see in the city lights of Wilton Manors or Fort Lauderdale. The smell of brewing coffee in the morning, the fried chicken and green beans in the large kitchen where we'd chat as we strung and snapped the beans.

There was the playhouse at the corner of the lot where my aunt, three weeks younger than me, played, dark curly hair where mine was straight and blond, clear green eyes where mine were murky brown, battling weight while I struggled with gauntness. When we were really daring, we'd duck under the barbed wire fence to visit the retaining pond below. We'd go visit Pam at the farmhouse a crop away.

Now a huge house sits where the pond was. The rolling hill beyond seems to have vanished. The farmhouse and the crop are gone and several brick houses are there. Grandma's old clapboard white house seems shrunken and disheveled, no longer shaded by the large elm tree.

The windy Flat Rock Road, which used to twist and turn with the woods, is straight and smooth as it goes by one huge house after another. The old falling down barn is long gone. So is the old general store on Highway 60, or Shelbyville Road that would signal you were nearing the turn.

All gone. Childhood is gone, eaten away by progress.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Community Activism

So I joined in as a homeowner for the first time in my life.

I attended the ANC6A alcohol committee meeting tonight. The committee held a public hearing on possibly establishing a moratorium on bars and nightclubs on H St.

It's way, way too soon to consider such a thing. H street is still more vacant buildings than anything else right now. A two block stretch that is only starting to thrive is just that -- only starting to thrive.

People kept mentioning Adams Morgan. That's a different situation. For one thing, as I pointed out when I said my piece, the problem there is bars exploiting loopholes to get a restaurant liquor license when they're really bars. I think everyone in the H Street corridor will bow down and worship the first real sitdown restaurant we get in these parts.

That's what just about everyone said at the hearing: it's way too soon. Maybe we should look at some other successful corridors in the city (U st, Barracks Row, Chinatown) and see how many bars it took before restaurants and retail showed up.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Project Runway 4.1

It's baaaack! My favorite reality show, well, any tv show. Tim is as thoughtful a critiquer as ever. Heidi does her crisp you're out, auf wiedersen thing. It will be interesting to see where this cast of characters goes. They seem talented. It's always hard to tell at the beginning when there's such a large cast.
We already have one standout irritant, or maybe two. My DH votes for Christian. I vote for Elissa.
Remember the Breakfast Club? What would Ally Sheehy's character be like if she grew up. Ladies and gentlemen, I submit Elissa as my nominee.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stocks and pillory

Residents of DC have been reading with horrified fascination the story of Harriette Walters, the mid-level manager in the property tax division, who along with others, stole at least $20 million from city coffers.

The Washington Post's most recent story discloses the most shocking and mortifying nugget about this most sorry affair. As much as 20 percent of the property tax refunds last year went to Walters' criminal enterprise. That's $1 out of every $5 in property tax refunds, folks.

It's times like these that you think the old Puritans might have had the right idea with stocks and pillory. I'd like to lob a few rotten tomatoes at this woman and her cohorts.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cellphone conversations

Let's see, on the walk home over the last two work nights, I've listened to a guy talk about how his mortgage was going to be $8,800, plus $1,100 in property taxes so that they would have $4,000 left over for other expenses. Sounds like a winner to me.

Then I couldn't help but overhear a girl's tiresome conversation about Olive Garden. uh-huh. whoo-hoo, what a great life!

And the last one was the nauseating details of another girl's hot date. I mean, it's not something I'm going to repeat on a public blog. I tried walking faster so that I wouldn't have to listen, but she seemed to pick up her pace too. And every word was annunciated clearly and loudly.

Why on earth do people blab about these things where perfect strangers can't help but overhear their convos?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

SCHIP again

This is a long windup. I dropped out of the Republican party back when I was in college. Just as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson turned me off to the more conservative branch of Christianity, William Bennett caused me to reject the GOP itself, although fiscal conservatism is something I lean toward. Why? He wanted to eliminate the federal subsidies of student loans. Even though our family was middle class, we didn't have "wealth" and I was the first in my family to go to college. So I needed those student loans Bennett sneeringly rejected as subsidies for stereos and spring breaks.

Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, hardly bleeding hearts, worked hard for this compromise that the extreme wing of the party rejected. And the language those people use reminds me of Bennett and the student loans. As someone who worked at KFC, JC Penney, McDonalds, a sub shop, often until 1 a.m. before morning classes, I really, really resented that.

To me, the SCHIP is along the lines of federally subsidized student loans, or even FHA loans. It's a subsidy, not an out-and-out payment. Families still have to pay premiums, but they get a discount. These are the working poor and working middle class who can't afford insurance for themselves, but want to protect their children.

Most Americans, if you put it in those terms, would not object at all to the coverage. It's not the kids' fault their parents don't have jobs that include insurance. And it keeps getting dropped from more and more jobs.

As an aside, something that strikes me when I read the messages of hatred toward the Fosters or Bethany's family, instead of any ounce of empathy or "there but for the grace of God," a lot of these folks seem to be worried that someone is going to get a break that they didn't receive. And my guess is, if you automatically assume someone must be cheating, you must tend toward that yourself. Maybe IRS needs to carefully audit their tax returns.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Scum of the earth

I haven't posted much about politics because, quite frankly, I've felt numb. When so much angers you, it's hard to get worked up about any one thing.

Well, now I'm angry, outraged, beyond words. Apparently some of the right wing persuasion have decided it's perfectly fine to go after a 12-year-old boy. This kid gave the Democratic response to Bush's veto of S-CHIP. Now S-CHIP is supposed to help cover -- with insurance, mind you -- children whose parents' income levels are too high to qualify for Medicaid.

Apparently it's perfectly justifiable to make up crap about such a kid's family. You know, ASS-U-ME things. Such as just because the family lives in a gentrifying neighborhood, that must mean they're living beyond their incomes, instead of buying before the neighborhood changed, or that because the kids go to private school, that they must have paid full tuition.

In fact, it's an irony overload because under any other circumstances, these same people would be pointing to this family as an example of respectable Republican virtues at work. You know, father is a small business owner, mother, up until recently, was the bookkeeper, etc, and stayed home with their four kids, they invested in capital that might eventually pay off.

But because they voiced support for something that leaned Democratic -- and even though lots of Republicans support the same thing and it was a bipartisan effort -- nope, they must be slimed and stalked.

I seem to recall that Michelle Malkin takes pride in being a purported journalist. Well, as someone who, as a reporter, had to screen people for the Santa's helper Christmas features, I can tell you, she doesn't know the first thing about bread and butter journalism.

We'd always first screen families for criminal history. If a parent had a checkered past but wasn't willing to 'fess up in print, we'd turn the family down. I thought that sucked in many cases because the parent had turned their lives around and it wasn't fair to the kids, but I wasn't the editor. Then we'd check their property records to make sure they weren't living beyond their means, check their DMV records, etc.
The operative phrase is property record. It's the easiest thing in the world to check. But apparently while Michelle had the time to visit the neighborhood in Baltimore where this family lived, she couldn't bother to make a detour to the courthouse to check the property records.

And then there's this whole Dems exploiting little kids charge. Uh, last I heard, it's something all politicians do. Bush had Noah McCollough and his social security campaign. There's the new spots on abstaining from sex. I've sat through way too much Congressional testimony that included young people telling their anecdotes for both sides of the aisle. Politicians live by anecdote. Heck, so do journalists.

OK, long windy rant over.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Has it been a month?+Top Chef Finales

Geez, this blogging thing is harder than I thought. I can't believe it's been a whole month since I blogged before.

The outcome of Top Chef is what I feared at the beginning, but it was a more fun ride than the original episode hinted at. For a while I thought it was going to be the Tre v. Hung show all the way and that the season would be boring for that reason. Hung sank from view and Tre, alas, got cut earlier than anyone anticipated.

The season did get tedious at times, but I quite frankly think it was because they had so many d@#$% chefs that it was hard to keep track and hard to get to know them.

The most refreshing thing about this season: no clear-cut villains and almost everyone was a professional instead of the juvenile delinquent high school clique mob mentality we saw last season.

And I loved, loved, loved the fact that I had no problems with any of the top three winning. Yeah, Hung is an arrogant ass and too snobby for words, but there's still something cuddly about him. Maybe it's because he so obviously (especially in this eppy) adores what he is doing. The joy seeped from his pores. It's an avocation, not just a job.

I was rather rooting for my girl Casey, but alas, she went the way of Sasha Cohen and a million other over-hyped Olympic athletes who choke when the world is watching.

And Dale, who couldn't like Dale, the Mr. Dial-a-Quote? He was such a midwesterner, beyond the wry observations. Plus he definitely liked to play on the edge and take risks -- who couldn't root for that?

And I also cheer Bravo for the setup of having celebrity sous-chefs. That was a clever twist. You also got the sense that none of the secondary sous-chefs who came in the following day would sabotage their chef, also a refreshing change from both previous seasons.

My one concern: it seems a little unfair to have the final competition at such a high altitude. Yes, they should have prepared and planned for it. But what about physical reactions? Dallas is a pretty flat place, like my home state of Florida. It isn't easy and I wondered if part of Casey's discombobulation was due to altitude dizziness?

And always, please focus more on the food!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

S came back from visiting his parents with copies of the first season of WKRP. We, of course, popped one of the funniest 30 minutes of tv history, the Thanksgiving Turkey episode. Oh, the humanity.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Just saw the most amazing movie last night. It had an incredibly simple story to tell. It's about an Irish busker -- street musician -- who meets a Czech immigrant struggling to support her son and mother by selling flowers, magazines and cleaning houses. She's also a musician and the movie is about them bonding through music.

It sounds so plain when you describe it, but the music is wonderful. The "guy" is the lead singer for an Irish band called The Frames. I'm going to have to check out their tunes. The "girl" is good, too, in a Bjork kind of way.

Here's a live performance of one of their songs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Farewell, Tre

My favorite Top Chef candidate was eliminated last night. Now I have no one to root for. The only reason to watch is to hope Howie goes down before the final three. There is no justice. Really, even though I like the guy, CJ should have gone home. I also thought they should have brought Daniel B back as a judge. The new judge was pretentious.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Is the U.S. replacing the U.S.S.R.? Sure, we're a capitalistic country, but as China shows us, you can have an oppressive government and flourishing market-based economy. Of all the rights being curtailed and trammeled, the right to travel freely is, to me, one of the greatest.

I keep thinking of this because of the tightening restrictions on travel and identification. There's a news item about how people in states that rejected the REAL ID program might have to show their passports to travel domestically or visit National Parks. That comes on top of the hideous restrictions that have led to foreigners refusing to visit the U.S. I don't blame them. If a country demanded that I be fingerprinted and all data on my politics, my sexual orientation, my faith be transmitted, well, I'd skip visiting, thank you very much. One of the most haunting parts of visiting the USSR back when it was the USSR was the oppressive restrictions on travel -- for both foreigners and citizens. As a foreigner, you had to register where you were visiting. As a resident or citizen, you had to have internal travel papers that you had to show.

And even the USSR, for God's sakes, didn't go as far as fingerprinting people entering the country. And at least they let S come in even though he stupidly decided to read Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" on the plane. Can you imagine someone named Ali Q Hussein from Egypt getting the same respect here if he decided to read the book on a plane from Cairo to New York? And if the feds play chicken with the states refusing to implement REAL ID, Ali Q Hussein traveling from Boston to Las Vegas might run into the same problem.

I also keep thinking of the Palestinian Kuwaiti we met in Moscow during Gorbachev's reign. He hated the USSR and refused to leave the hotel while his daughter was getting operated on by a famous Russian eye doctor because the USSR had such tight restrictions on travel. He described his last trip to the U.S. to us and how he rented a car in Chicago and traveled down the Mississippi River, visiting Graceland and wound up at Disney World in Orlando. "What a great country you have!" he exclaimed. I don't think he could do that trip today. If he's still alive, I wonder what he thinks of things of the U.S. now.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Italian food disillusionment

One of my books to read on the cruise was Heat by Bill Buford. It's a wonderful account of a former New Yorker editor's quest to learn Italian cooking, first from Mario Batali and then in Italy itself. His obsession is so great, he learns the Tuscan way of butchering. It's a wonderful read, especially to me since Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain and Top Chef have made me such a foodie.

It gave me a craving for all things Italian, especially pork and pasta. And olive oil. I had been savvily buying olive oil from Literi's, the wonderful Italian deli near our home even before reading Heat.

Well, I just finished reading an article in the New Yorker about the extra virgin olive oil ripoff going on in Italy. They import Tunisian and Turkish oil -- not even olive oil, but sometimes hazelnut and other things, and even the dregs of olive oil that's used as lantern oil -- and mix it into the olive oil, then sell it as the real deal. It's hurting small farmers in Italy because it's the big corporations pulling this stunt and choking out the little guy trying to make an honest living. The EC is trying to crack down, but not hard enough. And of course the US doesn't have the manpower to investigate and relies on trade association evaluations -- and of course, these companies are on the trade association board. Guess I'll avoid Italian and try Spanish or Greek next time.

Here Bill Buford built up my romantic views and how quickly they're demolished!

Bermuda, the only way to get married

So S and I did it. We bowed to the patriarchy and got hitched. But we did it the only way you should -- eloping on a cruise boat to Bermuda. We had to get married in Baltimore on the boat because that's the only way we could legally with only a six-week turnaround time. And here's a myth for you: Captains can't marry people, unless they're licensed officiants. The only cruise that offers that option is Princess. We were on Royal Caribbean. Can't complain about the wedding -- it turned out well. I got a lovely corsage, the female Lutheran minister was great and the wedding coordinators very accommodating. In fact, we carefully laid out ties for S and promptly forgot to pack them. The cruise director loaned us one of his ties at the behest of RCI's wedding liason.
Do have complaints about the photographs. The photographer herself was a sweet thing from Croatia. But the company wanted to charge us $1,200 or more to get a CD of -- not all -- but about half the pictures. Naturally, already being broke from the cruise (we splurged on a balcony) and the wedding, we weren't about to do that. We bought 5 electronic copies and probably will scan in others.
Bermuda was beautiful. Unfortunately, our pics of Horseshoe Bay didn't come out. S accidentally put the camera on internal memory instead of flash card when showing the WC how to shoot a picture of us in wedding gear on our balcony. So we ran out of memory while shooting pictures there. The sand does appear pink from a distance -- if you're peering at it through lush green foliage. Up close it has a pink tint, but is pretty normal otherwise. The water is stunningly blue, sapphire, turquoise, aquamarine. Pick your jewel.
We want to do a cruise again. Unfortunately we're now hooked on balconies, so that limits our options.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Random thoughts

Daily Show was spot on about the Clinton/Obama fracas over nothing last night.

The metro was delayed this morning. Of course. Anytime I'm running early, it's always running late. Then I tried to scoot by a woman who was blocking the way, muttering 'excuse me.' She apparently didn't hear me and yelled at me for not saying excuse me. Well excuse me, but what the hell are you doing blocking lots of empty space on a crowded train? Self-righteous prig? I have some kind of circuit block between my brain and my tongue so of course I didn't make that retort.

Just have to get through today and then off to cruise.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm sick of it already

I have to read what's going on in the presidential campaigns and I have to say, I'm sick of it already. S has Wolf Blitzer on in the background and I want to scream: "Just shut up already!" I don't care about this dustup between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It doesn't matter at this point. You can never say never if you're president. And guess what, guys of the press. The majority of voters don't give a flying you-kn0w-what. I live in DC but feel like the rest of America, probably, watching this circus.
There was a great article in the Washington Post on how the Democrats need to start talking to the gut instead of putting out intellectual talking lists. So true. I'm a laundry list kind of person. I'm generally attracted to the most knowledgeable candidates, like Bill Richardson in this race, Bruce Babbitt and Paul Tsongas in previous ones.
But most people go with their gut.
In the meantime, I wish the tv shows would just do the news.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Turistas are out of control

I used to think I knew tourists when I lived in South Florida. Nope, South Florida tourists have nuthin' on the Washington, D.C. ones. All they wanted in Florida was surf and sun, and other than the beach, you'd rarely run into them as a native.
Well, they clog the streets of D.C. and more importantly, the Metro. Several things drive me bonkers. Of course, the standing on the left thing that everyone dreads. The pole hugging. The hogging of the machines that operate the Smart Cards, leaving the regular fare card machines lonely. But what really drives me batty: the abrupt stop after entering or exiting the gate so that you trip over yourself not to ram into them. Ditto the abrupt stop at the bottom (or top) of the escalator.
Last night, as I raced to meet S at Union Station for a very important engagement, I groaned as I descended the Dupont Metro escalator at Q Street. Down below me, moving into the bowels of the tunnel was a clogged cluster. Someone must have been pushy, because it cleared up before I reached. As I passed the shorts-clad folks on the right, I heard a white bearded man say to a younger one, "Must be a local custom."

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I used to love For Better or For Worse. Of course, Calvin and Hobbes will always be my favorite comic. And I loved the edginess of Boondocks. For FBOFW was a comfortable pair of slippers you could return to.
No longer. I'm glad Lynn Johnston's ending the show. This year's series has been a train wreck. And now the worse has come to ought. Liz is paired with Anthony. Actually the way she's acted this past year, she deserves the whiny, passive, selfish drip of a man. I've always hated Anthony, way back when Liz was dating him in high school. He's boring and dull. And did I mention passive and whiny? As the feminist blogs put it, he's a "Nice guy" TM, not a normal nice guy, but the kind who thinks he's nice but isn't really. A truly nice guy doesn't visibly moon over another woman at his engagement party, his New Year's Eve party or any other time with his wife. A nice guy doesn't then wonder why his wife is jealous. And a nice guy, after his wife makes clear she doesn't want to have children, doesn't pressure her and berate her into having one and complain about her lack of maternal instinct. A nice guy, after rescuing someone from a sexual assault, doesn't dump his miserable emotional baggage onto the assault victim's lap only minutes later.
A nice guy doesn't have to be boring and dull. He can be well-read and an interesting conversationalist and have great hobbies even if he's in a "stable" job. I would never call my brother-in-law, who is an accountant, boring and dull.
And Liz, Liz, Liz. Used to be my favorite character. What happened to her? She's living an exciting life helping kids in a remote area of Canada and as soon as Anthony's divorce is announced, drops her interesting boyfriend, who had made all the effort in the relationship, to move back home, betraying her promises to her students.
She doesn't ask her boyfriend, after he's already requested one transfer, whether he'd be willing to move south. It's her way or the highway, no compromise. And then plays victim when he finds someone more suitable.
Gah. I'm through. Sorry, Lynn, I used to love you, now I don't. You used to have a wonderful comic strip.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


S and I are going on a cruise in August. 25 years in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale even, and I've never been on a cruise. I've been on a cruise ship a couple of times. We toured the Queen Mary (or was it Elizabeth?) when it was docked in Lauderdale when I was 10. And I covered a Project Graduation party as a feech on a cruise boat.
But this was easy. We just take the train to Baltimore and take the train home. It will, we hope, include lots of sun. It's a nice short trip with time to get ready for work, and presumably not much of a time change.
Never had the desire to go on one because I'm not into the Broadway show tunes scene, disco dancing or activities galore. However, we splurged on a room with a balcony, and one of my favorite vacation activities is to read. We'll be on the ocean, in the sun, only missing the sand.
We've got something else planned. Hint: involves me driving up to Baltimore/Towson to pick up the paperwork.
We'll see. Maybe I'll try the rock climbing wall.

Top Chef 3.3

Top Chef again. I really need to post more. Hung has shown his butthole tendencies in full flower. He had to know that Fromagerie Sara had put her chicken in the convection oven. Lee Ann notes in her blog that she turns all the ovens on an hour before competition, so clearly they're not responsible for the turning off and on of ovens.
Loser was Micah and deservedly so even though I was rooting for her as a PBCer. If you screw up meatloaf so that people say yuck, you deserve to go. Every culture has a meatloaf and I've made some wonderful meatloaf like recipes from other regions. There's some eastern European and Middle eastern recipes. Even a French one. Terrine anyone?
Or make it from lamb or veal or turkey or even tofu. eh.
Great one-liners in this one. The judge was very cool.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Happy Home Depot Experience!

We went to Home Depot on Sunday. And we actually found what we were looking for! This HD is famous for its CVS-like tendency to never have what you want. For instance, we went there to look at lawn furniture. It had this fantastic set of table, four chairs, umbrella and stand for $99. Sign us up! Is that easy? Of course not.
The only one left was the floor model and the manager wasn't willing to sell to us. Think about this. You have none of the product left. Wouldn't it make sense to just sell the last remaining one? Of course not to this Home Depot management.
And then we had to special order a door for the closet containing our gas furnace. The height was a standard 79 inches. That's 6 foot seven. But the width we needed was only 21. So we put in the order for a 79-inch (the height of the masonite doors they sell in the back). We get it, bring it home. It's 77 inches, not 79. This was the day it was 72 degrees in January. So instead of enjoying the beautiful weather, we spent two hours at Home Depot. They claimed it was our fault because we should have told them it was 81 inches because they take clearance into account. Fine. We changed the order. A month later, the door is ready. We go to pick it up. Yep, you guessed it. 77 inches. I just figure there's a moron in the back who keeps equating 6'7" with 77 instead of 79. S did some tinkering so we could get the door to fit. Otherwise, winter would be over before we got the damned door.
So that's been the sum of our experience with Home Depot until Sunday. The floor crew told us the only charcoal grills they had were the dinky Websters. We wanted something bigger with storage. HD online indicated they did have something called the Santa Fe Grill at that store -- a rectangular box style charcoal grill with wooden shelves on the side. So we special ordered it and wandered the aisles looking for solar lights and other things to spend all our relatives' gift cards on.
I happened to look up as we went through one aisle looking for citronella candles. And there it was. Angels sang. A light shone down from the heavens. The one and only Santa Fe grill in the entire store sat there, waiting for us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Top Chef 3.2

So this week's Top Chef was fairly entertaining, though I'm already developing dislikes. Word of advice to Top Chef casters -- don't cast more than one bull-necked bald man with a heavy New Yawk accent next season, m'kay? One is interesting grit, two are an overload of testosterone and not in a good way.

Some observations:
Of the two bull necks, I think I prefer the BS artistry of Howie to the loud and loud of Joey.

Sandee, I really liked you, but girlfriend, Florida lobster tail is prime grilling meat! Why, oh, why would you poach a lobster tail in a grilling contest?! I mean, vanilla bean butter sauce sounds like a yummy thing to baste the tails with. Skewers when grilling the lobster in its tail is so good? nonononononono. And you live in South Florida, you should know better.
That said, I really wouldn't have minded them sending Bullneck 1 or Bullneck 2 home, cuz I thought Sandee's tai chi was really cool.

And CJ came across as a bit of a jerk, didn't he? I mean, OK, you weren't going to help Casey. And granted, she makes snippy, superior asides to the camera and maybe off camera as well. But why not shrug your shoulders and say, your guess is as good as mine? Why be mean?

Speaking of mean, Hung cracks me up and I don't know whether to hate him or root for him. I notice he has two personas. He's a total in-your-face, I'm number one to the camera. But notice how likeable he is with the rest of the crew. I wonder how many of his fellow chefs are watching tv in shock right now. He did help Sara N. Unlike CJ. Maybe it's Hung's supreme self-confidence. He doesn't see Sara as competition. And he definitely seems to have the cooking chops to back the bragadiccio.

I'd like to root for Micah, since I'm a former PBCer, though never a BO-CA Ra TONE fan. Boca is like the nouveau riche guy who wants to mimic the Palm Beach blue-blood who inherited his millions. For the Palm Beacher, it's effortless, for Boca it's all flash. (Boca is number one in telephone fraud, btw)
But anyway, Micah seems to have a wry sense of self in some ways, but in others comes across as a little too emotional and frazzled and we're only a week into the competition! I like a lot of her food, though.

And finally, you might have noticed how many chefs didn't know how to cook with a grill. It's a conspiracy, I tell you. Hank Hill has taken over corporate America and is pushing out charcoal grills. I sure can't find any. Home Depot has gas grill after gas grill with elaborate push buttons and knobs and gizmos. But if you want a charcoal grill that can hold more than four burgers? Outta luck. So with this corporate conspiracy to rid the US of its charcoal grills comes less and less experience with the art of charcoal grilling. Alas.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Top Chef

Top Chef is back. yay!
This season looks so much more promising. The chefs look as though they really can cook. I hope it's a return to the more skill-driven drama of the first season and not the soap opera of the second one.
It will take a couple of episodes to get a handle on everyone, but Tre looks like a sweetie -- and talented too. I might also root for Micah as a former PBC-er. Hung, I wonder if he's all bark and no bite. It's one thing to be arrogant about your talents. It's another to take it out on other people.
The elimination challenge was great. I loved learning about exotic ingredients. Never heard of geoduck or black chicken before. Already like ostrich and buffalo. And gator tastes like chicken!

In fact the past seasons of both Top Chef and Project Runway, about the only shows I watch with any dedication really were downers because of all the personality based drama. If I want that, I'll watch Hell's Kitchen. ugh. I tried to watch that once as a temporary fix while TC wasn't on the air. Lasted one episode. I hate screaming of any kind. Talk shows, radio shows, tv commercials, anything. Why would I want to watch someone scream at people?

I ended up rooting for Marcel, reluctantly, last season, just because I detested everyone else. But he ain't a picnic. Harold shut him down as the people in S2 should have. In a mature way -- telling him to act like a professional.

So here's to a season where one can root for chefs based on talent!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back from my trip to California.
It was exhausting. I was getting up at 6:30 a.m. to call speakers on the east coast because the governor's schedule was changing. And then working until 9 or 10 p.m.
But it all worked out in the end.

Then off to Palm Springs, Death Valley and Las Vegas. If I ever do it again, I'll go to Las Vegas first and skip Palm Springs. PS is a cute town and all, but seems more a weekend getaway than a vacation destination.
While there, we did get to see where the two plates on the San Andreas fault come together. What if the two plates clashed together in an earthquake while we were in the narrow crevasse between the two? hmmm. A little frisson of danger.

We stupidly took the advice of a 20-year-old on a sushi place. Never listen to a youngster about food. It was the worst sushi I've ever had in my life. The tuna nigiri tasted like plastic. The rice was stale. Ugh. And worst of all it was in a shopping mall. That should have sent off alarm signals if I hadn't had some of the best sushi in a shopping center in Sacramento.

Then on to the best part of the trip, which was Death Valley. We took a route through Joshua Trees and Mojave Desert. The Mojave was about as bleak as you can expect, but fascinating.
We stopped at a non-functioning gas station (we had 3/4s of a tank anyway) to stop and get directions since none of our maps had the names of the roads we were traveling on.
The guys, who seem to support themselves by selling bottled water, were incredibly nice and friendly.

Death Valley was awesome. The colors were amazing. I expected it to be bleaker. It is desolate. It is empty of civilization. But it is not empty of life. We couldn't use our cell phones once we went over the mountain into the valley. And that was rather blissful to me after living on my cell for days at the conference.

We were going to go to Scotty's Castle and the Ubehebe Crater first, but the ranger at the visitor's center recommended seeing Artist's Palette at sunset and she was so right. Monet has nothing on God. J joked about the rangers coming out at night to spraypaint the mountain, the colors were so vivid green and lavender. Unfortunately, the pictures don't do the colors justice.

J flirted a bit with another traveler (she denies it, of course). I was nervous about taking the dirt road to Devil's Golf Course but he recommended it, and the road wasn't that bad, plus it was a short trek. We didn't see any of the bizarre salt formations, but I think you need to hike out quite a way. Unfortunately, the nearby ones probably have been broken by man.

The hotel at Stovepipe Wells Village was pleasant. And oh, the stars at night!

The next morning I got up early to shoot pictures at the dunes near the hotel. It was worth every early morning minute. Even though I sometimes saw other people, they were far away and quickly disappeared. I could see how someone could get disoriented and lost in the dunes. I kept wanting to go farther and farther away.

The last highlight of DV was the coyote we saw at Scotty's Castle. It must be used to people and that's probably a bad thing. Nonetheless, I got great shots of it.

Then on to Las Vegas. We stopped in Rhyolite and Beatty, Nev. The casino we had lunch in was a bit sad. It looked as though the people gambling at the slots all had one disability or another. But Rhyolite was cool. Artists are putting up outdoor sculptures at the site. They include two that involve ghosts -- one of the Last Supper and one of a ghost and a bicycle (Ghost Rider of course). Check out the website for the exhibit.
My camera's batteries ran out so an artist who helps run the site was gracious enough to take a picture of me and J at the site.

Las Vegas was a culture shock after Death Valley. That's why I recommend going to LV first. The traffic, the noise, the crowds were dizzying in comparison. I enjoyed the lights and the locals were amazingly helpful considering how many tourists they must see. (that's so not true in Florida, or DC for that matter).
But it was a bit...much after Death Valley!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

First Time

This is my first blog and my first post. I'll start posting once I get back from sunny California and LA. Next week should be fun -- we still don't have all our speakers lined up. But I'm really looking forward to the vacation road trip after the meeting. Palm Springs, Death Valley, Las Vegas. Usually the Death Valley part would be the travel I look forward to the most. But I really want to sit by a pool and sip fruity drinks and read trashy novels right now. Maybe if I'm really ambitious, I'll try to post from the road.