Wednesday, December 27, 2006

December Birthdays - Not for the Weak

This post is from an article in the Baltimore Sun, written by Thomas J. McFeely, although after reading it, I could have written it myself. You see, as previously reported, my birthday is December 20, while my son is stuck (?) with an even worse December date, the 25th.

When McFeely, whose birthday is December 21, turned 9, his grandparents forgot his birthday. "No card, no gift, no cash. Nothing. My parents made me rewrite my Christmas thank-you note, which originally read, 'Thank you for the sweater. It was so nice, I almost forgot that you forgot my birthday, which is December 21.'"

Sagittarians tend to be a little touchy about their birthdays, especially when the come so close to Christmas. As McFeely points out, "Being the opening act for Jesus and Santa Claus is no easy gig. Nobody ever remembers an opening act, much less buys the CD. Even the opening act knows nobody's paying attention."

McFeely offers several tips (all of which I endorse wholeheartedly):
  • Never, ever, under any circumstance wrap a birthday gift in Christmas paper. We know it's a crazy time of year, and your mind is on other things. We are just asking for the same wrapping paper you use for everyone else. Even children's wrapping paper, with teddy bears and tugboats, would be better than sleigh bells and holly. (The number one rule!)
  • Call us on our birthdays. It means a lot to us that you haven't forgotten us in favor of Kris Kringle, Hanukkah and Ramadan. Even if you're not the call-on-the-birthday type, make an effort for the Child of December. Santa's shadow, as you might imagine, is very large, very dark and very, very cold.
  • When you make that call, please be sure you have the right day. Maybe it's the thought that counts, but when my buddy consistently calls me on the wrong day, then explains that it's just so busy this time of year, ask me which thought counts just then.
  • Throw us a half-birthday party in June. The perfect birthday gift for me as a child would have been tickets to a baseball game. But tickets in December are hard to come by. So June 21 would have made sense. Guess which day my first and only niece chose to enter the world? Yeah, you got it. But she's the best (half) birthday present I could have asked for. (I used to have pool parties in June and I am sure the same fate awaits my son)
  • Try to mark the day somehow. We know enough not to throw a birthday party on Dec. 18. So take us to lunch during the week. Have a guy's night out in early December or just after the New Year. Just a little something.
  • Don't give a Christmas-related gift. No Dallas Cowboys ornaments, no outdoor holiday light sets. No goofy sweaters with snowflakes, pine trees or Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer on the front. (This is okay with me, I'm also a Christmas lover)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus

At Christmas, I offer to you one of my favorite Christmas stories. It dovetails nicely with the story of the Polar Express, and my wish for you all, is that you always be able to hear the bell. Merry Christmas.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
By Francis P. Church
(first published in The New York Sun in 1897)
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

About the Exchange
Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

“It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,' and that settled the matter.

“Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth," I said to father.

“He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.’”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Graphic Novels in Libraries

A recent article in the Washington Post caught my eye the other day. It was actually on the next page after the Yule Log story below. The headline read, "Library Patrons Object to Some Graphic Novels."

It seems that in the Marshall Public Library in central Missouri, the director made a decision to try and reach out to young adults and began increasing the number of graphic novels in the library's collection. Amy Crump, the director, states in the article there are about 75 in the collection now. The explicit nature of some of the novels has prompted a challenge (the first in the library's 16 year history) from parents about the books.

While the issue is being discussed the novels in question have been removed from circulation. The American Library Association is aware of at least 14 challenges to graphic novels in the past two to three years. In response to the controversy the ALA published a set of guidelines for librarians to follow.

Never a dull moment in America's libraries. But keep your voice down.

December 20 Should Be A Federal Holiday!

Why, you ask? Because it's my birthday, that's why. And since I now work for the federal government, shouldn't it be a given? But anyway, yes, today is my birthday. Feel free to send gifts. I will take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank those people who have already sent along gifts.

Thanks, Ed for the Golf Magazine subscription. What are you saying? I need a little help with my game?

Thanks Cheryl and Paul for the new lunchbag. It is great and will certainly get broken in soon. My current lunchbag was starting to look a little sad and I was wondering what my plan was. Problem solved.

The sweetest gift received goes to Nancy, who made me her special fudge sauce, soon to be enjoyed over some high-quality vanilla ice cream. Nancy also fed my lighthouse obsession, making a contribution to my Christmas tree, with a very handsome stained glass ornament.

Our very best friends joined my wife and I for a lovely birthday dinner downtown, and provided me with Jiffy Pop popcorn and some good Belgian holiday beer! Outstanding!

Thanks to my lovely wife for my gifts. I now have an iPod attachment for the car that allows my iPod to be played through the car radio - Excellent! I also received a new wallet (see the lunchbag problem) and a copy of National Lampoon's Vacation. "Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya."

Now what other momentous events took place on my birthday you might ask? In 1803, the transfer of the Louisiana Purchase was completed with ceremonies in New Orleans. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Sharing my birthday today? Dr. Samuel Mudd (b. 1833), Harvey Firestone (b. 1868), George Roy Hill (b. 1922), and John Hillerman (Higgins!) (b. 1932).

So get out there and enjoy the holiday! Me, I'm having a party. I'm sure it's just for me, although everybody in my office will be there . . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's a Cool Yule (Log)

For many years, growing up in New York, the Yule Log on WPIX-TV (now a CW station) was a Christmas tradition. We didn't have a fireplace and this was the next best thing. Begun in 1966 at the New York television station by Fred Thrower, general manager of the station, as a gift to his viewers. It started as a three-hour broadcast on Christmas Eve, lasting four years until the tape wore out and had to be replaced. In later years it was reduced to two hours and then moved in Christmas morning. Finally in 1989, the Yule Log was canceled. In 2001, to help a recovering city, the Yule Log returned to the airways and is now also living on the web.

However (and here's the archival content for this article), they could not immediately locate the tape in the station's New Jersey archive. When they discovered it, it had been misfiled in a film can for a Honeymooners episode called, "A Dog's Life." In a nod to the filing error, the 40th anniversary broadcast and associated special this year is titled, "The WPIX Yule Log: A Log's Life."

Also an issue was the soundtrack. Many of the songs had been edited beyond saving and also featured mid-60s easy listening artists. Enter Chip Arcuri. A New York resident, he had made a tape of the old Yule Log and kept it for his family during its televised absence. Chip is also a holiday music collector and owned every one of the 70 songs featured on the original telecast. Arcuri digitally remastered the soundtrack for use on the program this year. You can even download the program as a podcast. Here's the website for the history of the true, original Yule Log.

Not to be outdone, there is also a high-definition option. INHD (now called MOJO), a network dedicated to the high-definition TV viewer has his own Yule Log, which has been broadcast since 2003. Since I have no fireplace (still) and no high-def TV, I'm sticking with the original.

This posting was prompted by an article in the Washington Post on December 18.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Recipe: Mini Pecan Pies!

These were served at a holiday open house I attended over the weekend. They were quite popular. Thanks, Cheryl for sharing the recipe, which comes from the nice folks at Karo corn syrup.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes (twice)
Yield: 72 mini pies
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Karo® Light or Dark Corn Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
  • 72 whole pecan pieces for decoration
  • Enough dough for 4 single pie crusts (I use 2 boxes of refrigerated dough)
  • 3 or 6 mini muffin pans with 12 cups each
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In medium bowl with fork beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, Karo® syrup, margarine, and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Set aside.

Roll out the first pie crust thinly. Using a 2.5-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out circles. Lightly spray the muffin pans with cooking spray. Using your thumbs, gently press each circle into a muffin cup and fold against the edges. Re-form extra dough and roll out again until you have all 12 muffin cups lined. Repeat with dough and muffin pans until 3 of the muffin pans are lined.

Stir the pecan mixture thoroughly. Using a teaspoon, spoon pecan mixture into each cup. Fill each cup only about ½ way full. If you fill the cups fuller, the filling spills over when baking. Place a whole pecan piece on top of the filling for a decoration.

Bake all 3 pans at the same time for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is puffy. When ready, remove one muffin pan from the oven at a time. Working quickly, remove the mini pies from the pan and cool on a wire rack. If the pies start to stick to the pan, place the pan back in the oven and start working on a different pan.

If you have 3 more muffin pans, proceed to fill those while the first batch is baking. If not, wash your pans thoroughly before starting on the second batch.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

M is an Archivist!

On this date in 1991, Dame Stella Rimington (1935- ) became Director General of MI5, Britain’s secret intelligence service. She was the first female MI5 Director General, the first to be named publicly, and the first to publish an autobiography. She was made a Dame Commander of the Bath in 1996 and was the model for Judi Dench’s "M" in the James Bond movies. She earned a Diploma in Archive Administration from the University of Liverpool in 1959.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

James M. Huttlinger, 1953-2006

I received word the other day that the archives community had suffered a loss. Jim Huttlinger, who spent the bulk of his career at the World Bank Archives, passed away on December 5. He was 52 years old. I knew Jim from my time at the International Monetary Fund Archives, when we collaborated in 2004, on an exhibition to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference. This conference resulted in the formation of the World Bank and the IMF.

The obituary information was adapted from an obituary distributed to World Bank staff and from the local paper in Lake Placid, the Press Republican.

Jim was born in Lake Placid on Dec. 28, 1953. Jim received his M.L.S. in Library Science and an M.A. in History from the University of Maryland HILS program, a dual degree masters program. It was here that Jim met Lucinda Fitch of Phoenix, Ariz., a fellow library science student while taking a class in The History of Books and Printing. They were married on Nov. 11, 1989, in Washington, Missouri.

Jim made significant contributions during his years at the World Bank. One notable accomplishment was his involvement in a project to research and compile information for a tribute to former World Bank president, Robert S. McNamara. In 2005, during James S. Wolfensohn's final days as president of the World Bank, Jim personally assisted Mr. Wolfensohn in compiling and organizing his personal archival information. He thoroughly enjoyed his work and co-workers and he was strongly committed to the World Bank's goals of promoting worldwide social justice and economic equality.

In addition to his wife Lucinda, Jim is survived by one brother, John B. Huttlinger Jr. and his wife Karen of Lake Placid; two sisters, Retta Huttlinger of Winooski, Vt., and Tierney Beck and her husband Mark of Bennington, Vt.; one nephew, John B. Huttlinger III of Lake Placid; two nieces, Katie and Lauren Beck of Bennington, Vt.; and numerous other relatives and close friends who will miss him greatly.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Jim’s name to Care Organization or Bread for the City. At Jim's request, he was buried next to his parents in Lake Placid, NY. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim's wife at this time.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Recipe: My Mother's Cheesecake

Holiday gatherings at my home growing up always included lots of desserts. It was not unusual to have more desserts than food served during the main course. Here is the recipe for my mother's cheesecake, which she adapted from Lindy's in New York.

For the bottom (crust)
  • 20 crushed graham crackers (no sugar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter

Combine and press into the bottom of a springform pan.

For the filling:

Beat 4 eggs, 1 cup sugar for 5 minutes. Add three 8oz. packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and 7 tbsp half and half. Beat until smooth, pour in pan. Bake 45 minutes @ 350 degrees. Cool for 30 minutes with oven door cracked. Remove and cool for 30 more minutes.

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 pints sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine, pour on top of cool cake. Bake 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees. Cool for 30 minutes, refrigerate.

Feast of St. Damasus I

December 11 is the Feast day of St. Damasus I (circa 304-84), pope (366-84). A special achievement of his pontificate was providing adequate housing for the papal archives.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hershey Weekend

We've returned from our weekend in Hershey. Yesterday, upon arriving, we headed for Hershey Park (home of the Super Dooper Looper - my first loop roller coaster) and the Christmas Candylane. Only part of the park was open and most of the rides were the kiddie rides. I am happy to report that my son enjoyed the rides he went on, including the Dry Gulch Railroad, which he rode twice, the second time while Daddy rode The Claw. We went over to see Santa's reindeer, which were being cared for by helpful Hershey employees. My son, however was much more interested in noting that the reindeer were "sponsored" in part by Postman Pat, one of his favorite television characters.

Yesterday evening, we went off to see the Hershey Bears face off against the Norfolk Admirals. The game was good, if you only count the last ten minutes or so. The referee never really had control of the game (in fact, I remarked several times, "You're missing a good game, ref!" Several other fans had some less family-friendly ways of telling the ref their thoughts). There were a total of 19 penalties called during the game, 12 for Hershey and 7 for Norfolk. Yet, only four power play goals were scored, one by Norfolk and three by Hershey. In fact, the only way the Bears were able to pull off the victory was that Norfolk never really played at even strength. For when they did, Norfolk was the better team. The link above is to the box score for the game, but that does not tell the whole story. The important thing to note is the shots on goal. In the third period, Hershey had more shots on goal than in the previous two periods.

Here is a story from the local paper:

Today we ventured over to Chocolate World. My son enjoyed the "factory tour," especially the singing cows. Concluding with some shopping in the company store, getting some holiday gifts out of the way, we left the "Sweetest Place on Earth" and headed for home.

Friday, December 8, 2006

A Sweet Weekend

I'm off with the family for a weekend in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It is likely that several holiday gifts being given by the Brave Astronaut this year will come from the company store. There is sure to be a tour of Chocolate World and a visit to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane. Tomorrow night we are going to a Hershey Bears hockey game.

The weekend is being sponsored in part by the Hershey Community Archives. I'll have a full report when I come back on Sunday night. Have a good weekend, all!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Now that's a Fire!

Big doings in the neighborhood here yesterday. Around 7:30am, as my wife and I were getting ready to go to work (she downstairs and me upstairs with our son), I heard sirens. My thought was, "Oh, there's a fire somewhere." Next, I heard two explosions close by the building. We live in a condo building of about 20 units. The sound reminded me of a transformer or something similar tripping. But as the power was still on, I figured I would check outside.

Opening the front door, I was greeted by most of the fire trucks from the local area in front of my home. Suddenly, I realized, the fire must be here. Stepping outside, I immediately saw the three-story townhouse two doors down was ablaze. The home was fully engulfed and the roof had already partially collapsed.

The fire raged until it was declared "under control" about 9:00am. The townhome is a complete loss and the neighboring townhome was also significantly damaged. Our condo unit was damaged on the end facing the fire, as the siding warped under the intense heat.

The residents of the townhouse had emptied their fireplace ashes into a box under their deck, and the wind got to them and stirred them up. The explosions I heard were the propane tank on their gas grill and the gas meter blowing off the side of the house.

No one was hurt in the fire and that is the important thing. However, a lesson to all with fireplaces, dispose of them properly! You can read more about the fire here:

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

TV Catch Phrases with attributions (answers)

Here are the quotes again with the people that said them:
  • "Aaay" (Fonzie, Happy Days)
  • "And that's the way it is" (Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News)
  • "Ask not what your country can do for you ..." (John F. Kennedy, 1961 Inaugural Address)
  • "Baby, you're the greatest" (Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, The Honeymooners)
  • "Bam!" (Emeril Lagasse, Emeril Live)
  • "Book 'em, Danno" (Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-O)
  • "Come on down!" (Johnny Olson, The Price is Right)
  • "Danger, Will Robinson" (Robot, Lost in Space)
  • "De plane! De plane!" (Tattoo, Fantasy Island)
  • "Denny Crane" (Denny Crane, Boston Legal)
  • "Do you believe in miracles?" (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)
  • "D'oh!" (Homer Simpson, The Simpsons)
  • "Don't make me angry ..." - "you won't like me when I'm angry" (David Banner, The Incredible Hulk)
  • "Dyn-o-mite" (J.J. Walker, Good Times)
  • "Elizabeth, I'm coming!" (Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son)
  • "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver ..." (Eddie Haskell, Leave it to Beaver) (although I prefer the very dirty, "Ward, I think you were a little hard on the Beaver last night.")
  • "God'll get you for that" (Maude, Maude)
  • "Good grief" (Charlie Brown, Peanuts specials)
  • "Good night, and good luck" (Edward R. Murrow, See It Now)
  • "Good night, John Boy" (The Waltons)
  • "Have you no sense of decency?" (Joseph Welch to Sen. McCarthy)
  • "Heh heh" (Beavis and Butt-head, Beavis and Butthead)
  • "Here it is, your moment of Zen" (Jon Stewart, The Daily Show)
  • "Here's Johnny!" (Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show)
  • "Hey now!" (Hank Kingsley, The Larry Sanders Show)
  • "Hey hey hey!" (Dwayne Nelson, What's Happening!!)
  • "Hey hey hey!" (Fat Albert, Fat Albert)
  • "Holy (whatever), Batman!" (Robin, Batman)
  • "Holy crap!" (Frank Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond)
  • "Homey don't play that!" (Homey the Clown, In Living Color) - although I preferred Jim Carrey's Fire Marshall Bill - "Fire, Fire's cool.")
  • "How sweet it is!" (Jackie Gleason, The Jackie Gleason Show)
  • "How you doin'?" (Joey Tribbiani, Friends)
  • "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" (Alka Seltzer ad)
  • "I know nothing!" (Sgt. Schultz, Hogan's Heroes)
  • "I love it when a plan comes together" (Hannibal, The A-Team)
  • "I want my MTV!" (MTV ad)
  • "I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl ..." - "and this is my other brother Darryl." (Larry, Newhart)
  • "I'm not a crook ..." (Richard Nixon)
  • "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" (Vicks Formula 44 ad)
  • "I'm Rick James, bitch!" (Dave Chappelle as Rick James, Chappelle's Show)
  • "If it weren't for you meddling kids!" (Various villains, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?)
  • "Is that your final answer?" (Regis Philbin, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
  • "It keeps going and going and going ..." (Energizer Batteries ad)
  • "It takes a licking ..." (Timex ad)
  • "Jane, you ignorant slut" (Dan Aykroyd to Jane Curtin, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Just one more thing ..." (Columbo, Columbo)
  • "Let's be careful out there" (Sgt. Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues)
  • "Let's get ready to rumble!" (Michael Buffer, various sports events)
  • "Live long and prosper" (Spock, Star Trek)
  • "Makin' whoopie" (Bob Eubanks, The Newlywed Game)
  • "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" (Jan Brady, The Brady Bunch)
  • "Mom always liked you best" (Tommy Smothers, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour)
  • "Never assume ..." (Felix Unger, The Odd Couple)
  • "Nip it!" (Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show)
  • "No soup for you!" (The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld)
  • "Norm!" (Cheers)
  • "Now cut that out!" (Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Program)
  • "Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!" (Stan and Kyle, South Park)
  • "Oh, my nose!" (Marcia Brady, The Brady Bunch)
  • "One small step for man ..." (Neil Armstrong)
  • "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" (Grey Poupon ad)
  • "Read my lips: No new taxes!" (George H.W. Bush)
  • "Resistance is futile" (Picard as Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • "Say good night, Gracie" (George Burns, The Burns & Allen Show)
  • "Schwing!" (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle)
  • "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids" (Trix cereal ad)
  • "Smile, you're on Candid Camera" (Candid Camera)
  • "Sock it to me" (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In)
  • "Space, the final frontier ..." (Capt. Kirk, Star Trek)
  • "Stifle!" (Archie Bunker, All in the Family)
  • "Suit up!" (Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother)
  • "Tastes great! Less filling!" (Miller Lite beer ad)
  • "Tell me what you don't like about yourself" (Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy, Nip/Tuck)
  • "That's hot" (Paris Hilton, The Simple Life)
  • "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" (Jim McKay, ABC's Wide World of Sports)
  • "The tribe has spoken" (Jeff Probst, Survivor)
  • "The truth is out there" (Fox Mulder, The X-Files)
  • "This is the city ..." (Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet)
  • "Time to make the donuts" (Dunkin' Donuts ad)
  • "Two thumbs up" (Siskel & Ebert, Siskel & Ebert)
  • "Up your nose with a rubber hose" (Vinnie Barbarino, Welcome Back, Kotter)
  • "We are two wild and crazy guys!" (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as Czech playboys, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Welcome to the O.C., bitch" (Luke, The O.C.)
  • "Well, isn't that special?" (Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, Saturday Night Live)
  • "We've got a really big show!" (Ed Sullivan, The Ed Sullivan Show)
  • "Whassup?" (Budweiser ad)
  • "What you see is what you get!" (Geraldine, The Flip Wilson Show)
  • "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" (Arnold Drummond, Diff'rent Strokes)
  • "Where's the beef?" (Wendy's ad)
  • "Who loves you, baby?" (Kojak, Kojak)
  • "Would you believe?" (Maxwell Smart, Get Smart)
  • "Yabba dabba do!" (Fred Flintstone, The Flintstones)
  • "Yada, yada, yada" (Seinfeld)
  • "Yeah, that's the ticket" (Jon Lovitz as the pathological liar, Saturday Night Live)
  • "You eeeediot!" (Ren, Ren & Stimpy)
  • "You look mahvelous!" (Billy Crystal as Fernando, Saturday Night Live)
  • "You rang?" (Lurch, The Addams Family)
  • "You're fired!" (Donald Trump, The Apprentice)
  • "You've got spunk ..." - "I HATE spunk!" (Lou Grant, The Mary Taylor Moore Show)

12 days of Christmas

How much does a partridge in a pear tree cost anyway? And does anyone really need twelve of them? The answer to the first question is easily solved by the PNC Christmas Index. This year, the items given in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" will set you back a 22-year high of $18920.59.

One of the reasons for the rise in costs this year? Dramatically low unemployment. It is evidently hard to find good drummers-a-drumming and pipers piping. Nine Ladies Dancing earned $4,759, 4 percent more than in 2005.

So be sure that your true love really wants all that stuff before you make the investment.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Monday's Recipe: Almond Shortbreads

Today's cookie recipe comes from the "Twelve Days of Cookies" being distributed by the Food Network. I have not made these myself, but they may make an appearance on my holiday cookie plate.

Almond Shortbread Cookies
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds with skins, plus about 18 whole almonds for decorating
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for top
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (7 ounces, 1 3/4 sticks), softened, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white, beaten

Special equipment: 9-inch tart fluted pan with a removable bottom

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Blend and pulse the 1/2 cup nuts in a food processor with the sugar until mixture resembles coarse sand. (If there are a couple small chunks of nuts that is fine.) Add the butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and the salt, and pulse until creamy. Add the flour and continue to pulse to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out into a 9-inch tart pan and spread it out evenly with an off-set spatula. Dip the spatula in a little warm water to help smooth and even the surface of the shortbread. Cover and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and dock (prick) the dough all over with a fork. Generously sprinkle the top of the shortbread with sugar. Toss the remaining whole almonds in the egg white; evenly arrange and press the nuts into the dough around the edge of the pan. Bake until golden brown and set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool the short bread in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the tart ring and cut the shortbread with a sharp knife into wedges, each with a nut. Cool shortbreads on a rack completely. (Alternatively present the shortbread as 1 large cookie. Cool the shortbread in the pan completely and remove the tart ring. Cut the shortbread into wedges as desired.)

Serve. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

Dewey Readmore Books (1987-2006)

From the Associated Press:

Dewey the library cat dies
SPENCER, Iowa - The final chapter is closed on Dewey Readmore Books. The 19-year-old cat, who became a mascot for the city library in Spencer, Iowa, died on Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron.

Dewey was dropped off at the library in January 1988. Myron and another librarian found him in the book drop with his paws frozen in the ten-below-zero weather.

Dewey became famous after that. T-V crews came from as far away as Japan to do stories about him.

Dewey was named after the Dewey Decimal System, used in most libraries to catalog books.

He was diagnosed with a stomach tumor, shortly before November 18th, which was officially marked as his 19th birthday. His health rallied for awhile but he began hiding and the decision was made to have Dewey euthanized.

Google News Search for Dewey

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Hanging out at Blob's

Looking at that title makes me think that I have been to fat camp or something. However, after all the fried cheese and wurst I consumed, I might need such a place. On Saturday evening, at the request of some friends, my wife and I and several other friends headed off to Blob's Park in Jessup, MD, just up the road from the Maryland Prison at Jessup.

Here is the history, as found on the website and printed on the menu:
In 1933, Max Blob, wanting to have a gathering place for his friends from the old country, built a small frame building on his farm in Jessup, MD. It housed a bowling alley and a few tables. It became so popular that he opened it to the public as a German beer garden with dancing every weekend. The building has been periodically enlarged.

In 1942, John and Katherine Eggerl, Max's niece, began helping him manage the business. As their children and grandchildren have come along, they have also become a working part of the establishment.

On February 22, 1958 the hall was completely gutted by fire, but within a month it was restored and re-opened to become more successful than ever. In recent years it became apparent that in order to accommodate the crowds, a new building would have to be built. This dream became a reality on June 25, 1976 when the all new Blob's Park opened it's doors.
There was lots of polka-ing along with other dancing. I might admit to doing the hokey-pokey. There were the classic "chicken dance" along with modern "favorites," the Macarena and the Electric Slide. As mentioned earlier, there was good German food and beer to be had.

Our group all decided that we would come back again. We did meet someone there who comes every Friday and Saturday night and has been doing so for 20 years. That's dedication.

The building itself is a marvel to behold. The most random decorations, including a letter from the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who celebrated his 85th birthday at Blob's Park. There is a very nice portrait of the pope, Benedict XVI. Off in one corner, I even managed to find some archival content. There was a small poster with the story of Oktoberfest and at the bottom: "Source: Smithsonian Institution."

Friday, December 1, 2006

25 days of Christmas

Today, the Family Channel begins its 25 Days of Christmas television programming. While there is some repetition, there is some "original" programming, along with some non-Christmas related movies.

Leading off tonight is Frosty's Winter Wonderland. This is not to be confused with the original "Frosty the Snowman," narrated by Jimmy Durante. This is a much weaker sequel, with Frosty trying to get married and Jack Frost trying to stop it from happening. This is followed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a movie that just screams Christmas to me. ;)

However, be ready as there will be some really good shows coming along in the next few weeks:
  • The Year Without A Santa Claus - one of my all-time favorite Christmas shows. You can't beat Heat Miser and Snow Miser. Santa voiced by Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth (TV's Hazel) as Mrs. Claus. Showing on December 4, 9, 15, 20, and 24.
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town - another Rankin-Bass classic, again with Mickey Rooney as Santa, doing battle against the evil Burgermeister Meisterberger. "Put One Foot In Front of Another - And Soon You'll Be Walking Cross the Floor!" Showing on December 7, 9, 15, 18, and 24.
  • The Polar Express will also be shown during the "25 Days of Christmas." I still prefer the book, but will probably take a look at this film at some point. Showing on December 8, 9, 14 and 25.
  • Scrooged will also make an appearance. The modern "A Christmas Carol," Scrooged offers Bill Murray in the Ebenezer Scrooge role and he runs with it. December 10, 16, and 23.
  • Another non-Christmas movie, but a good movie nonetheless, Mary Poppins will be shown on December 11, 12, 22, and 23.
I anxiously await the showings of It's A Wonderful Life, although I do own the DVD. Of course, Burl Ives singing "Holly Jolly Christmas" and learning that "Bumbles Bounce!" is essential to a complete holiday TV season. And don't get me started about "Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

TV's 100 Greatest Catch Phrases (long post)

You've heard them. You know them. Because we are a couch potato generation. TV Land has released the 100 greatest TV catch phrases from television. I am including the full list below (without attribution, so you can amaze your friends), so print out the list and have a quote identification party. I will include the answers in a future post. Have fun! Send me your answers and I might even send a prize to the person who gets the most right!
  • "Aaay"
  • "And that's the way it is"
  • "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."
  • "Baby, you're the greatest"
  • "Bam!"
  • "Book 'em, Danno"
  • "Come on down!"
  • "Danger, Will Robinson"
  • "De plane! De plane!"
  • "Denny Crane"
  • "Do you believe in miracles?"
  • "D'oh!"
  • "Don't make me angry ..."
  • "Dyn-o-mite"
  • "Elizabeth, I'm coming!"
  • "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver ..."
  • "God'll get you for that"
  • "Good grief"
  • "Good night, and good luck"
  • "Good night, John Boy"
  • "Have you no sense of decency?"
  • "Heh heh"
  • "Here it is, your moment of Zen"
  • "Here's Johnny!"
  • "Hey now!"
  • "Hey hey hey!"
  • "Hey hey hey!"
  • "Holy (whatever), Batman!"
  • "Holy crap!"
  • "Homey don't play that!"
  • "How sweet it is!"
  • "How you doin'?"
  • "I can't believe I ate the whole thing"
  • "I know nothing!"
  • "I love it when a plan comes together"
  • "I want my MTV!"
  • "I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl ..."
  • "I'm not a crook ..."
  • "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"
  • "I'm Rick James, bitch!"
  • "If it weren't for you meddling kids!"
  • "Is that your final answer?"
  • "It keeps going and going and going ..."
  • "It takes a licking ..."
  • "Jane, you ignorant slut"
  • "Just one more thing ..."
  • "Let's be careful out there"
  • "Let's get ready to rumble!"
  • "Live long and prosper"
  • "Makin' whoopie"
  • "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
  • "Mom always liked you best"
  • "Never assume ..."
  • "Nip it!"
  • "No soup for you!"
  • "Norm!"
  • "Now cut that out!"
  • "Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!"
  • "Oh, my nose!"
  • "One small step for man ..."
  • "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"
  • "Read my lips: No new taxes!"
  • "Resistance is futile"
  • "Say good night, Gracie"
  • "Schwing!"
  • "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy"
  • "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids"
  • "Smile, you're on Candid Camera"
  • "Sock it to me"
  • "Space, the final frontier ..."
  • "Stifle!"
  • "Suit up!"
  • "Tastes great! Less filling!"
  • "Tell me what you don't like about yourself"
  • "That's hot"
  • "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat"
  • "The tribe has spoken"
  • "The truth is out there"
  • "This is the city ..."
  • "Time to make the donuts"
  • "Two thumbs up"
  • "Up your nose with a rubber hose"
  • "We are two wild and crazy guys!"
  • "Welcome to the O.C., bitch"
  • "Well, isn't that special?"
  • "We've got a really big show!"
  • "Whassup?"
  • "What you see is what you get!"
  • "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
  • "Where's the beef?"
  • "Who loves you, baby?"
  • "Would you believe?"
  • "Yabba dabba do!"
  • "Yada, yada, yada"
  • "Yeah, that's the ticket"
  • "You eeeediot!"
  • "You look mahvelous!"
  • "You rang?"
  • "You're fired!"
  • "You've got spunk ..."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dollar Coins and Two Dollar Bills

The Presidents are coming, the Presidents are coming! The United States Treasury is making a new dollar coin, hoping to capitalize on the recent state quarter craze, with the faces of the Presidents of the United States, released in order of their service.

You will remember this is not the first attempt at promoting a dollar coin. The modern dollar coin started with the Eisenhower dollar coin, minted between 1971 and 1978. Started to commemorate the death of Dwight Eisenhower and the Apollo Moon Landing in 1969, the coin was larger than any coin issued and kept mostly by collectors.

Second came the Susan B. Anthony dollar (1979-1981), celebrating the suffragette and the first woman to appear on United States currency. Easily confused with the quarter (same size and color), the Susan B. Anthony dollar never caught on and minting ceased in 1999, when the Sacajawea dollar was created to succeed it.

The latest incarnation was the Sacajawea dollar, which made its first appearance in 2000. Similar in size to the Anthony dollar (and the quarter), the Sacajawea dollar made a splash, as it was gold, instead of the usual silver.

The new dollar coins should make an interesting collectors item, larger than the current dollar coin, also gold, and with engraving on the side of the coin (for the very first time). Four presidents will be honored each year, beginning in 2007 with the release of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. An interesting year will come in 2012, when two Grover Cleveland coins will be issued (or will it be the same one twice?). The final coin will come in 2016, with the Nixon dollar. We will have to wait for Jerry and Jimmy to go on to their final reward, before the issuance of the Reagan dollar, as it is in poor taste to issue a coin with a living person on it.

Speaking of currency, the two dollar bill is rising in popularity, being used for more than tips and slipping into birthday cards from Grandma. Two explanations have been offered, inflation and immigration. Two dollar bills are very common in other countries and immigrants to the United States are comfortable with this denomination and are seeking them out. the 99 cent value meal aside, there are few things left for under a dollar, so the increase in the use of bigger dollars is helping to fuel its increasing popularity. I like to use them if for no other reasons than to see if I can get into this sort of situation.

Army-Navy Football Game

On this date (November 29) in 1890, the first Army-Navy football game was played at West Point. Navy creamed the cadets, 24-0, in the game played at West Point. This weekend, on December 2, the two squads will take to the field in Philadelphia for the 107th meeting between these two teams. This will be the 80th year the game will be played in the City of Brotherly Love. The careful observer will immediately recognize there are 116 years between 1890 and 2006, so what's up with the other nine games?

The first interruption, and the best story, came in 1894 (from the Nimitz Library website):
A reputed incident between a Rear Admiral and a Brigadier General, which nearly led to a duel after the 1893 Navy victory, caused President Cleveland to call a Cabinet meeting in late February 1894. When the meeting ended, Secretary of the Navy Hillary A. Herbert, and Secretary of War, Daniel S. Lamont, issued general orders to their respective Academies stating that teams would be allowed to visit Annapolis and West Point to conduct football games, but the Army and Navy football teams were "prohibited in engaging in games elsewhere." The result was that the Army/Navy game was suspended for the next five years. The annual series would not resume until 1899, when it was played in a neutral locale, Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
There were two other interruptions, in 1917-1918 during the United States involvement in World War I, and finally in 1928-1929, when there was disagreement on player eligibility.

In the interest of fairness here are links to the two academies for information on the Classic football rivalry.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Recipe: Cookies!

It's five weeks until Christmas so it's time to start putting out some of my favorite Christmas recipes. We'll start with a really good cookie recipe.

Toffee Crunch Cookie Brittle
In this recipe, one large sheet of cookie dough is baked until almost crisp, then broken into pieces that resemble brittle but taste like a cookie. Use bits of broken chocolate-covered toffee bars for a rich, buttery flavor. (Leave the candy bars in their wrappers when crushing the candy with a hammer to avoid pieces of toffee flying around the kitchen.)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooked slightly
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) coarsely crushed chocolate-covered toffee, such as Skor or Heath bars
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) walnuts, broken into large pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown and granulated sugars and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a large spoon, slowly add the flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. The dough should appear to be smooth. Stir in the crushed toffee and walnuts. (You may need to use your hands if the dough is thick.)

Spoon the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of empty space on all sides. Use the palms of your hands to pat the dough into an even layer about 1/2 inch thick and 13x9 inches. The dough should be patted out slightly thinner at the edges.

Bake the brittle until it turns golden and the edges turn light brown, about 19 minutes. The brittle may be fairly soft when warm but will crisp as it cools. Let the brittle cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Using a large metal spatula to guide it, slide the large cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely. Don't worry if the cookie breaks, it will be broken into irregular pieces anyway. Break the cooled cookie into 2-to-3 inch pieces. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hey You! In the Car! Reading Your Laptop While Driving! Yeah, You!

My wife's dream has come true, sort of. For years, my wife believed there should be a system by which one could call the person in the car near to you by dialing their license plate number. Then you could say to them what only the passengers in your car were able to hear previously.

The Washington Post reports that we are one step to "improved communications" with our fellow drivers. A new website, Plate Wire, allows motorists to post the license plate of offensive drivers. The site was started by a Fairfax, Virginia man who hopes to shame people into driving better. However, the problem is there is no way of knowing if the subjects actually see them.
It begs the question, "why are people taking the time to post what is basically a primal scream?" It just makes us feel better, OK? And my son doesn't have to hear that kind of language anymore.

If you prefer the more "intimate contact" with your fellow drivers, there are other ways. offers the Programmable License Plate Billboard, yours for only $39.95. If you really want to get creative, $199 buys the MobileLED MD-550, which plugs into a car cigarette lighter and comes with a small keyboard that allows you to type any message on a large electronic display board mounted inside your rear window.

Of course police and safety experts caution not to further aggravate the situation. You've got a cell phone - use it. Dial #77, the non-emergency number for the police and report the situation. However, responses will vary. The bird is instantaneous and more gratifying.

Be safe out there on the roads. I might be next to you as I am traveling for Thanksgiving. To the airport tonight to pick up my father, to Wilmington, Delaware tomorrow for the holiday, home on Friday through Annapolis (but God, not to the Mall), and back to the airport on Saturday to drop Dad off to go home. Happy Thanksgiving!

Where Were You When . . . ?

Today is November 22. You have to be of a certain age for that particular date to have any resonance. There is an entire generation that can stop and immediately tell you where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot. For today, on Thursday November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, the 35th President of the United States was assassinated. My mother used to tell me the story of how she was bowling (she was in a league - Christian Mothers Bowling League) and she received a call from my brother who was home sick from school. My mother had them make an announcement over the PA at the alley and everyone went home. Home is where everyone sat the entire weekend watching the coverage, which is why even more people can tell you where they were when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot, as they watched it happen right in front of them.

I used to say that my generation did not have this sort of seminal event to bring us together. September 11 changed all that, of course. Being a history nerd however, I can still tell you where I was when the "major events" of my lifetime took place. One of the first events that I remember took place 10 years after the tragedy in Dallas, the resignation of Richard Nixon. My family was on vacation and my parents called me in from the beach to watch Nixon announce his resignation, cautioning, "You may never see this again." Of course, we came close recently.

In the 1980s, my history antennae really starting tuning in. I remember coming home from school on Monday March 30, 1981 and my mother telling me that something had just happened in Washington, DC. Initial reports (remember this all predates the unending stream of 24-hour news) had several injured but President Reagan, who was leaving the Washington Hilton, unharmed. Then someone handed ABC's Frank Reynolds a slip of paper, to which he responds, "My God, The President Has Been Shot!" I remember clearly chiding Reynolds to pull it together and show a little Cronkite backbone, the way Walter did in 1963. Later that year, Anwar Sadat was assassinated in Cairo, robbing the world stage of one of the signers of the Camp David Accords, one of the few highlights of the Carter presidency.

I enjoyed watching the space shuttle launches (hey, I was still a kid) and when they started to become routine and not be covered as widely, I was a little disappointed. Which is why I immediately knew something was up on January 28, 1986, when I turned on the TV and the announcers were talking in very somber tones and there was a abnormal plume arching across the Florida sky. We had lost the Challenger astronauts, including teacher in Space, Christa McCauliffe. Say what you want about President Reagan, but he could give a good speech. His address to the nation that evening still gives me goosebumps.


Notable Events of the 1980s and 1990s

The death of John Lennon, December 8, 1980. Michelle Latessa, who sat next to me in homeroom moaned to all of us the next morning, "John Lennon is dead!"

The reelection of Ronald Reagan, 1984. While I could not yet vote, I worked at the polls as part of my political science class (I had to be involved in a campaign), and also called in the numbers from the polling place to the networks.

The Exxon Valdez spill, March 24, 1989. To this day, best friend will still not buy Exxon gas

The San Fransisco Earthquake, October 17, 1989. What was to be a routine watching of the World Series game, broadcast from Candlestick Park, became another chapter in tragedy, spawning even the forgettable TV movies.

The First Gulf War, 1989-1992. I remember sitting at the Syosset train station, waiting for my father to arrive, when the news was broadcast that we had begun bombing Baghdad.

The O.J. Simpson trial, 1995. While it was estimated that 91% of Americans were watching when the verdict was returned, ten years later, it seems we have had enough, with the pulling of the "interview" and "book" by Fox.

The Oklahoma City Bombing, April 19, 1995. I had just gotten to work at the department store where I was working and heard the news. It was particularly hard hitting, as we learned later that an employee's son (who worked for the Secret Service) was in Oklahoma City. She heard from him later that day. He reported that he had just left the building, when it exploded behind him.

What events do you remember? Where were you when . . . ?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Review: A Christmas Carol

I ushered tonight at Ford's Theater. It was opening night (for press) of Ford's presentation of A Christmas Carol. The adaptation takes place at the time of Charles Dickens' visit to Washington, DC in 1867. The play begins with Mr. Dickens taking the stage and reading "his" story to the audience. The play gets underway with the actor playing Dickens assuming the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Many of the actors that appeared in last year's production returned for this year, including the three ghosts and Bob Cratchit. There is a new actor playing Scrooge and he is exceptional. There were a number of small children in the audience tonight and it might be too scary for very small children, but grown-up children should take the time to see it. I am sure the Washington Post will have a more extensive review this week.

Going to see this play and the fact that Thanksgiving is but one day away, means that Christmas is around the corner. I am not ready for the holiday yet and am having trouble finding the Christmas spirit. Those who know me know why, but I am hopeful that I will find a little trove of spirit tucked away among the decorations.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday's Recipe - Fennelled Eggplant

As we prepare to gorge ourselves on the annual Thanksgiving bounty, it is right and fitting to pause and offer a different type of dish, something not laden with tryptophan. Watch the next few weeks for some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

I have some vegetarian friends. They're nice people. They don't even object when I order the strip steak. I can't help it, I'm a carnivore. People will tell me it's not good for me, that I should eat better. Yes, but I am going to die some day anyway - shouldn't I be happy with my food choices? However, that being said, here is a vegetarian recipe from a friend (Thanks Cheryl)that was very well received at a past holiday party.

Eggplant, Fennel, and Peppers
From Almost Vegetarian by Diana Shaw

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, stalks and fronds trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 large yellow peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seed
  • 6 Japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized cubes (If you have to substitute regular eggplant, be sure to salt it, place it in a colander, and drain the bitter juices for about 30 minutes before using it.)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425º F. In a large casserole or large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onions, fennel bulbs and seeds, peppers, oregano, and basil over medium-low heat until the vegetables are soft and limp about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the eggplant in a single layer on a nonstick or lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the vinegar to the vegetables in the casserole, and stir over medium-low heat until most of it evaporates, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the eggplant, coating it well with the other vegetables. Stir until heated through, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

This recipe takes about 1 hour from start to finish.

You can make this dish up to 3 days in advance, keeping it refrigerated in a tightly covered container. To reheat, transfer it to a covered baking dish, and warm at 300º F for about 20 minutes. It’s also delicious cold.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

All About Archives

It occurred to me the other day that my blog is also being seen on Archives Blogs, a blog aggregator that publishes entries from blogs "for and by archivists. " As a result, it made me feel a little bad (and even a bit embarrassed) about some of the fluff that I have been posting on Order from Chaos. I felt that my content should be a little more erudite, or at least occasionally about archives. To that end, I am posting tonight, and will do so periodically, a little vignette about an archives that I choose and wish to highlight.

The first selection is the Rockefeller Archive Center. In addition to being a stellar repository, it is where I got my start in archives. The Archive Center (familiarly known by staff as the RAC) was established in 1974 to pull together in one location the papers of the Rockefeller family and their various philanthropic and educational institutions, the Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Ten years after its founding, the Archive Center began to collect non-Rockefeller philanthropic records, including the archives of the Commonwealth Fund, the Culpeper Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the John and Mary Markle Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

The Archive Center traces its roots back to the 1930s when, upon the death of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. in 1937, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. realized that something should be done with his father's papers. He talked with the Library of Congress, and while interested, cautioned Junior (staff call him Junior, because it is easier to identify him - otherwise, you have to be more specific as to which Mr. Rockefeller you are talking about) that his fathers papers might get "lost" at the library as just another American industrialist. They encouraged him to go out and get a family archivist, which he did, setting up an archives in the newly built Rockefeller Center in New York City. The archives became the central repository for the work being conducted by Junior and the "Brothers," Junior's children: Abby (yes a woman led the Brothers generation), John III, Nelson, Winthrop, Laurance, and David. All of the brothers had their own devotions and the papers found their way back to Rockefeller Center.

In the early 1970s, upon the death of Junior's second wife, Martha Baird Rockefeller, in 1971, the archives at Rockefeller Center, along with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller University were looking for a space to expand and the home that Martha had near the family compound in Sleepy Hollow, New York was made available to these organizations to create an central archives.

The archives vaults were created under the house and the Archive Center opened for business in 1974. Today, they are visited by hundreds of researchers a year along with individuals who benefit from the Archive Center's extensive Grant-in-Aid program.

While I worked there, I worked primarily on the papers of Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States. The papers were very interesting and obviously where I learned what I needed to know about processing archives. A great place to work and I can even truthfully say, a fantastic place to do research, having been on the other side of the reference desk there as well. They have great stuff and the topics that are researched there every year produce some outstanding scholarly works.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Review: For Your Consideration

Tonight my wife and I had a grown-up date with our best friends. We had a very nice dinner at a downtown restaurant (steak frites for everyone) and then off to the movies to see the new Christopher Guest film, For Your Consideration. All of the usual suspects from the ensemble were back to skewer the industry in which he works. The movie opened in limited release tonight at two locations here in DC. We went to the Landmark Theater on E Street.

The movie centers around the making of a film, Home For Purim. Harry Shearer, Catherine O'Hara play two aging Hollywood veterans with Parker Posey and Christopher Moynihan playing two new actors, rounding out the cast. An Internet (that's the one with email right?) story gets published about the film, generating Oscar buzz for the film and its actors.

The members of Guest's troop act their hearts out as always. It is clear that when he calls to say he is working on a new movie, they jump to be a part of it. You can tell they are just having so much fun. If you are a Christopher Guest fan, this is a film that you will definitely want to put on your list. I give it three and a half hamantasch (out of five). If you need to ask what a hamentasch is, you're either not Jewish or haven't been to a good bagel place on Long Island.

Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for more movie reviews here, but with a toddler it's hard to have the grownup dates but I have a really nice mother-in-law, who loves to babysit.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Traffic Sucks

Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic. When I lived in New York, I commuted by car to my job. When I lived in Poughkeepsie and commuted to Westchester County, I drove about 60 miles one way. I could make the trip in about 55 minutes. Yes, that means I might have been exceeding the posted speed limits, but the flow of traffic was such that you could make good time. Granted, in bad weather, or if there was an accident, it would take longer. When I moved to Long Island and was still going to Westchester, it was 48 miles and it took about an hour. More cars, more traffic. However, in both cases, the infrastructure was such that if one road had a problem, there was another that could handle overflow and you could continue on your way.

When I moved to DC, I commuted by Metro from my home in the MD suburbs to downtown DC via the Metro. I was reminded how nice it was to let someone else be in charge of getting me to work, allowing me to read the paper, nap, or just relax on the train. It was very nice. When I got my new job at the National Archives, it was back into the car to be a road warrior again. I was quickly reminded how much I don't understand about DC area roads.

Let's start with the Beltway. It's a circle. There's your first problem. Having a parallel road next to it is an immediate issue. For example, in New York, if you are on the Long Island Expressway and it is slow, you can get off and ride the service road (and play my favorite game - Pace the Truck, but that's another story) or you could hop over to the Northern State Parkway or any one of several other east-west routes. When something goes wrong on the Beltway, you are pretty much hosed. Sure, there are roads that criss cross, but you have to get on them and usually navigate lights and other people who have bailed out, not to mention the people who actually live off these surface roads and don't appreciate the commuter gumming up their path to the local Giant.

Now let's talk about what I will call the ripple effect. On several occasions I have been on my way home, going west on the Outer Loop of the Beltway and I will begin to slow near Georgia Avenue (near the Mormon Temple, you've seen it, it looks like the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz). The traffic reports (see the next paragraph) tell you there is a problem on I-270 at Shady Grove Road (some 10-15 miles away). However, the traffic has backed up on 270 and is now affecting people trying to get on 270 from the Beltway! Inconceivable!

Traffic reports. I have become a devoted listener of WTOP radio, which has traffic reports "on the 8s." The traffic reports tend to report serious problems first (as they should) and then comment on the major roads around the region. Typically, they will omit a mention of "normal" volume, for example the Outer Loop between New Hampshire Avenue and Connecticut Avenue during the morning rush and the Inner Loop across the same stretch in the evening. I often find myself in a delay that is not explained by the report or cruising at highway speed in an area that has been reported as slow. Inconceivable!

Weather. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. Plan for extra travel time. OK, I expect that. But I don't accept having to plan to double my travel time because it's raining. A few weeks ago, I had a few longer commutes because people were adjusting to daylight savings and were getting used to driving in the dark again. Inconceivable! ("You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.")

I reported here earlier about the US reaching the population milestone of 300 million people and a related report about road gridlock coming up in less than 20 years. Check back soon for my pipe dream plans for helping the DC area get out of traffic and back up to highway speed.

Washington Theater

I like the theater. My wife does not. She will be the first to tell you that she doesn't want the theater to be outlawed, she just doesn't want to have to go. This will prove difficult as I have put in a request to go see Movin' Out, which is coming to the National Theater here in Washington, conveniently around the time of my birthday in December.

I manage my theater habit by ushering at two local theaters here in DC. I usher at both Arena Stage and Ford's Theatre. It's a good gig. You help seat patrons and then you get a prime seat and enjoy the show for free. Last season at Ford's was great and as a bonus, I got to "work" the Presidential Gala that is televised each year around the Fourth of July. There is a link to Fords in my links section and they are always looking for ushers. Tell Allison I sent you.

Tonight, I participated in a focus group that was focused on the Washington Theater "scene." The focus group quickly narrowed to an examination of the Olney Theater Center. I had to admit in the focus group that this theater was not on my radar screen, despite being shown a lineup of their 2007 season that looks outstanding. They are presenting a wide array of shows, including Democracy, Of Mice and Men, and Fiddler on the Roof. By the end of the focus group, I realized that Olney is but one of many outstanding theaters in the DC area.

Our group of eight rattled off a number of theaters in the area but Olney did not come up in the first pass. It occurred to me that theater in DC is sort of a hidden treasure. Even though it is nearly five hours away, the sounds of Broadway seem to echo down I-95 and overshadow what are many outstanding venues here in the area. Even my desire to see Movin' Out comes from hearing such great things about its Broadway run. It was the same with Spamalot, which came to the DC area in the spring after a very successful run on Broadway.

I have lived in the DC area for nearly five years now and have been to perhaps half a dozen different theaters and seen a fair amount of theater. But I know I am missing something. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know where I should be going. Theater is one of those treats that one goes to occasionally (it can get a little pricey otherwise) as I am not ready to subscribe to one particular theater, yet. I am preparing to dedicate those funds to season tickets for the Nats in their new stadium anyway.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Monday's Recipe - Milky Way Tart

I don't know about you, but I have figured out what kind of cake I want for my birthday next month. This recipe arrived in our mailbox in the September 2006 issue of Bon Appetit.

Milky Way Tart
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk


  • 3 1/2 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting)

Make crust

Whisk flour and cocoa in medium bowl. Beat butter and powdered sugar in another medium bowl until well blended. Beat in yolk. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours.Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Press each onto bottom and up sides of 4 1/2-inch-diameter tartlet pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate crusts 1 hour or freeze 30 minutes.Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake cold crusts until set and dry-looking, about 12 minutes, pressing with back of spoon if bubbles form. Cool crusts in pans. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.

Make filling

Place milk chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups cream to simmer in small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.Combine remaining 1/2 cup cream and butter in small saucepan and stir over medium heat until butter melts; remove from heat. Combine sugar and 3 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until color is deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. Immediately add hot cream-butter mixture (mixture will bubble vigorously). Remove from heat and stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Transfer caramel to small bowl and chill until slightly firm (semi-soft), stirring often, about 40 minutes.

Spoon caramel into center of baked crusts (about 2 generous tablespoons for each crust). Set aside.Using electric mixer, beat chilled milk chocolate-cream mixture until peaks form; spoon atop caramel in crusts, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup for each crust) and spreading evenly. Chill at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Remove tartlets from pans. Lightly sift cocoa powder over tartlets and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Taking Naming Rights to the Extreme

In New York, the stadiums have names that mean something: Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Giants Stadium. Elsewhere in the country, it seems that if you have enough disposable money and are a corporate entity, you can get a sports venue named for your company.

A few years ago, Ravens Stadium (now M&T Bank Stadium) in Baltimore, started its existence as PSInet Stadium. But when the dot com bubble burst, the company folded and the name of the stadium was changed to the next highest bidder, the aforementioned bank. And let us not forget the name change in Texas from Enron Field to Minute Maid Park.

Tonight, at the Rangers-Capitals game, at the Verizon Center ( MCI Center), everytime the Capitals went on the power play, we were informed it was time for the PEPCO Energy Surcharged Power Play. Chipolte and other companies have their logos emblazoned on the ice surface and of course, the endless billboards and the commercialism explosion is endless.

I have to say, I don't care for it. Advertising has its place of course, but product placement and endless shameful marketing really just makes me want to not use that company's services. Also, coming from New York, where the stadiums have real names and aren't likely to bow to the corporate cows anytime soon, it would be nice to see less.

Caps vs. Rangers - Saturday November 11

As previously reported here, I used to be a sportswriter in college, reporting on the achievements of the Albany Great Danes Hockey team. During one game, I was seated in the press bench rink side and watched a puck take out several teeth of an Albany player, but that's a story for another day.

Tonight was the long awaited contest between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. I had purchased tickets at the start of the season and looked forward to tonight's game. The Rangers are having a good season, first place in the Atlantic division, while the Caps are having a mediocre season, currently in third place in the Southeast division. Last night the Rangers beat the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-2 in Atlanta, while the Caps were handed a 5-0 loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Carolina Hurricanes two nights ago.

The Rangers arrived in DC early this morning, and the Caps practiced at their new practice facility this morning. Normally game day practice is held at the Verizon Center, but there was a basketball game and the ice was not available until tonight. The Rangers played sluggishly during the first period and the Caps scored a goal a little more than halfway through the first period.

It was clear the Rangers got a good talking too between the first and second periods and they came out crisper in the second period. However, the Rangers took several penalties over the course of the the game (7 penalties), though the Caps were unable to score on the power play.

After a scoreless second, the two teams took to the ice for the third period and the Caps broke the game open with two more goals, putting them up 3-0. The Rangers managed to score a late goal in a 6 on 4 power play but that was it. Final score 3-1.

A word of thanks here to the Senior Director of Operations for the Capitals, and a good friend. He came and retrieved my wife and I prior to the start of the game from our seats in the "nose bleed" seats and moved us down to some prime real estate behind the goal. While there are few bad seats in the Verizon Center, I greatly appreciated the upgrade, though the outcome was not desirable.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Joe Pa Sits Out

Joe Paterno turns 80 on December 21. He was recently offered a new TEN-year deal to continue coaching the Penn State Nittany Lions football team. Last week during the Penn State-Wisconsin game, Paterno was involved in a collision on the sidelines with two players. In the crash, Paterno fractured his shinbone and tore the ligaments in his knee. He was flown back to Happy Valley and is resting comfortably in the Mount Nittany Hospital Center after surgery to repair his injuries.

Paterno was determined to be on the sidelines for this weekend's game against Temple, but he will heed doctor's orders and not coach the game. There had been speculation that he might coach from a skybox above the field of Beaver Stadium, which sports a statue of Paterno out front. But Paterno will miss only his third game at Penn State in his unbelievable 57-year tenure at the university.

Paterno is a Brown University graduate as were both of my parents. My mother, who passed away earlier this year, knew Paterno at Brown. My mother's big claim to fame was that she helped Paterno and other members of the Brown football team get through economics. So I always keep an eye on the goings on in Happy Valley and the incredibly impressive record of Joe Pa.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Diabetes Walk for America

Last Saturday, I participated in the Diabetes Walk America here in Washington, DC. I decided to take part largely because my mother suffered from Diabetes for the last 25 years of her life. A colleague at work had a poster about the walk on her wall and I made the decision this was something I could do for my mother, and myself.

Last Saturday was cold here in the DC area. I headed down on the subway to meet at the starting area in advance of a 9:00am start time. With my decision to participate in this walks came a commitment to raise money in the fight against Diabetes. I contacted friends and family asking for support, not expecting to raise a lot of money. I was floored by the support that I received. By the time of the walk, I had raised more than $1000.

During the walk, I walked alone along the route, which wound around the US Capitol. It was only a short distance (3K) and I completed the walk in a little less than 45 minutes. I spent that time thinking about my mother and making a silent commitment to myself to make sure that I do everything I can to beat Diabetes.

While a cure may be many years off, the fight goes on and it is a personal one for me and one that affects millions of people across the country.

Thank you to all my supporters, I am extremely grateful and blessed to have had you walking along with me last Saturday.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

If you are a Democrat that is. It is now 10:00pm here in the east and most wire services (and CNN) are reporting that Jim Webb has defeated George Allen in Virginia, giving control of the United States Senate to the Democrats. There are also a number of House races yet to be decided.

See my political blog to see how I did with my predictions and my comments on the election and the departure of Rummy from the Pentagon.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

It's Election Day in the USA

Get out and Vote! Today is the day that we exercise our right to vote and ensure that we have a voice in the democratic process. If you choose to keep silent today, you forfeit your right to complain about the way things turn out tomorrow.

There are too many close races here in Maryland and Virginia, not to mention across the country, to stay home today. Raise your voice and cast your ballot. Do it now!

In Maryland and DC, polls are open until 8:00pm. Virginia's polls are open until 9:00.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Monday's Recipe - Thanksgiving's Coming!

Over the next few weeks, I will devote the Monday Recipe to some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I am sure that separately I will be discussing the ideal Thanksgiving feast and how to spend it (comatose on the couch?). But for now, here's two to get started.

Most tables are not complete without cranberry. There are those who have to have the canned stuff and they are welcome to it. I have however, become quite fond of this cranberry sauce recipe.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp. peeled and finely minced ginger root
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the the ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries pop open. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Carrots with Ginger and Honey
(an interesting vegetable choice, I know, but change is good)
  • 2 pounds baby carrots, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise if thick (can be parboiled in advance)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Two 2-inch pieces fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • 3 tbsp. honey
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and salt, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the carrots are almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the carrots. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the ginger and saute, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the drained carrots and honey and cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the carrots are glazed. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Roy Rogers and the Loss of Plentiful Fried Chicken

Several years ago, when I was living in Poughkeepsie, New York, there was a Roy Rogers fast food restaurant near my home. There had been several as well, near my parent's house on Long Island. I enjoyed eating there, especially the fried chicken. Suddenly, one day on my way home, the local Roy's was closed, followed quickly by several others in the Hudson Valley. I was left to the New York State Thruway rest areas as my only outlet for the chicken that I had become addicted to.

So I wrote a letter. I managed to find an address for the Roy Rogers franchise headquarters and in the process determined that Roys had been bought out by Hardees and was in the process of either closing or converting many of them to another restaurant. I explained in my letter how much I enjoyed the chicken and other items on the menu and sent off the letter, expecting to hear nothing from it.

One evening I come home from work and there is a message from someone at the corporate offices of Roy Rogers. She actually goes on to apologize for the closing of Roy Rogers restaurants and hopes that I will continue to patronize the remaining restaurants. Which I still do. And evidently they are on the rise once again. Franchise anyone?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalog

One of the sure signs the holidays are upon us is the release of the Neiman Marcus Holiday catalog. Be sure to look through the book and see the David Yurman necklaces and watch, the Burberry collections for him and her, the Baccarat bird, or perhaps the Mont Blanc diamond pen for $160,930. Perhaps you would prefer the Steuben vases made to look like tree trunks, or from the crystal collection: a wireless mouse ($170), a crystal pet leash ($185), or maybe you can't live without the crystal opera glasses ($150). There is even a section of items under $100 for us peons to choose from.

People around the world await the catalog to see what they cannot afford this year and wonder who it is that is buying these items. The fun part is perusing the big ticket items. Let's take a look:

Starting off the Fantasy Gifts section is the always popular, Virgin Galactic Charter to Outer Space. This too, can be yours, for you and five of your friends for $1,764,000. This is not the highest price item in the book however. That goes to the Club Membership (in perpetuity) at a Tuscan villa, the price tag? $3,800,000.

Perhaps you had your heart set on the Limited Edition 2007 BMW Individual M6 Convertible? Too bad, they all sold in one minute and thirty-two seconds. That is about as long as it took to type this paragraph. So be sure to congratulate your neighbor if he comes home in one. At least you will know what he paid for it - $139,000.

For the bargain shopper among us, the least expensive item in the fantasy gifts section? Not even for you. Limited Edition Pet Homes. Two styles, one priced at $5000 and the other at $7000, will each be signed by the designer and only ten of each will be made. Get yours today.

You may recall that I am an archivist. I take my job seriously. Unfortunately, NM has in its catalog this year the following: the Jacques Fath Archives. Here is the description for the item:

Jacques Fath led a magnificent life. The glamorous, self-taught Frenchman opened his couture salon in Paris in 1937 and became one of the first French designers to export haute couture collection to the United States. By 1947, his sweeping skirts were reshaping a global industry still in its infancy.

In 1949, he earned a Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. He dressed some of the most elegant celebrities of his time. Fath apprenticeships launched the careers of Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche. Sadly, the magic ended abruptly with his death in 1954. Two years later, his widow closed the couture line. Although his career was cut short, Fath had a profound impact on popular culture. He helped launch the New Look of the late 1940s. And unlike most designers, Fath kept meticulous records of his design sketches. In partnership with Rita Watnick of Lily et Cie, we proudly offer a rare chronicle of historic significance: the only archival record of the House of Fath. This museum-quality collection includes 26 volumes of original sketchbooks from 1948 through 1956, with more than 3,400 couture designs. The collection also includes three exquisite Fath haute couture dresses, each with its accompanying sketch. With this archive, the possibilities are monumental. Endow a wing of your favorite museum with a comprehensive overview of fashion history or launch your own research center to inspire the Faths of tomorrow. For more information about securing and preserving this distinct legacy, please call 1.877.9NM.GIFT.

The price tag to own your own archives? $3,500,000. Quel horreur! Anyone for signed copies of the Declaration of Independence? Perhaps a Picasso unblemished by Steve Wynn? Hey, isn't Interpol still looking for "The Scream"? I guess what I am saying is that like priceless works of art, there can be no price tag placed on items of archival value, especially those that do not exist elsewhere.