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."