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?