Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not one, but two year end lists

At the end of the year it is traditional for the year-end summaries, lists of popular songs (c'mon how many of you taped the year end countdown off the radio onto cassette - Anyone? Just me? OK, moving on), top movies, big news events (was there one this year?). Herewith is a list that popped up not long ago with a list of the Top 10 Most Annoying Phrases that came into the language this year, seen among others, here, here, here, and here.
  1. At the end of the day
  2. Fairly unique
  3. I personally (It's not personal . . . it's about me, of course it's personal)
  4. At this moment in time
  5. With all due respect (If you hear that, be prepared for something disrespectful)
  6. Absolutely
  7. It's a nightmare (not anymore - just three more weeks of the current nightmare)
  8. Shouldn't of
  9. 24/7
  10. It's not rocket science (well sometimes it is)
Following that list is the one promoting the top buzzwords of 2008 seen first on kottke:
  1. Fail
  2. Malus
  3. Change (well, duh)
  4. Caribou Barbie
  5. Obamanation
  6. Frugalista
  7. Staycation
  8. Digital cliff
  9. Skadoosh (from this movie)
  10. Phelpsian (was Spitzian ever on the list?)
  11. Gas-sipper
  12. Joe (you know, like that plumber-guy)
  13. Greyjing (making it hard to be Phelpsian)
  14. Fish pedicure (I would like one of these)
  15. Sister wife
  16. Lipstick on a pig
  17. Photobombing
  18. DWT (Driving While Texting)
  19. Age-doping
  20. Pregorexiz
  21. Throwie
  22. Hockey Mom
  23. Twitt- (and its roots, tw- tweet-)
  24. Plutoid
  25. Futarchy
  26. Maverick (and no, not him or even him)
  27. Quake lake
  28. Recessionista
  29. TBTF (Too Big To Fail - hah!)
  30. In the Tank
  31. Twi-Hard (rhymes with this movie)
  32. Naked Shortselling
  33. Nuke the Fridge (the new "Jumping the Shark" from this movie)
  34. Edupunk
  35. Stag-deflation
  36. Longphoto
  37. Burrowing
  38. Terrorist Fist Jab

If you want to show off your Internet skills with people, you can always tell them, hey, "Let me Google that for you."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weekend Wrap - Christmas Edition

Back from New York for a Christmas weekend. Here's the wrap-up.

Let's start with the Loot List:
  • Stephen King's new collection of short stories, Just After Sunset
  • A few other books, Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Supreme Court, this Bill Bryson book, which I haven't read, and a sports writing anthology
  • Bananagrams, a new game
  • A new mag-lite, as mine had gone missing
  • A new canister for holding my coffee beans (perhaps Mrs. BA is tired of looking at the plastic Folger's can?)
  • A great puzzle of a map of baseball stadiums (Thanks C in DC!)
  • One of the books I got from my MIL will work well with the above as it is "Watching Baseball Smarter."
  • As a treat for having NJM over for Christmas Eve dinner, I now have a new supply of official NJM fudge sauce (and thanks for the dinner treats, NJM - Lobster rolls - GOOD)
We headed for the Big Apple on Friday and made it in a relatively easy five and a half hours. LBA was a great trooper, informing us as we were passing the Vince Lombardi rest area that he had to go potty, in time for us to stop for him (because after that it's no stops until Grandpa's house). SBA did well on the trip as well. My brother was there when we arrived as was my father and his new girlfriend. We all decompressed from our long drives (my brother traveled from Maine) and then my father took us all out to dinner at Boulder Creek Steakhouse.

On Saturday, my brother and my family got up and headed into "the city" for what might be referred to as "Midtown Christmas Tour A." Both LBA and SoBA enjoyed their first trip on the Long Island Rail Road. After arriving at Penn Station, we headed across 34th Street toward Fifth Avenue, passing the window displays at "the World's Largest Store." The theme, as you might expect was, "Miracle on 34th Street." Along the way, Mrs. BA ducked into Old Navy to buy a vest as it was colder than we thought when we started out.

Upon reaching 5th Avenue, we turned north, stopping at the window displays at this New York institution. From there, we pushed on to catch sight of the tree at Rockefeller Center. Shortly thereafter, LBA announced he needed a potty break, so we headed across the street to find a rest room in Saks Fifth Avenue, which had its own window display, but the other need was more pressing. So we made use of the mens lounge (on the 6th floor, if you need it) and went across the street to St. Patrick's Cathedral. LBA had a small meltdown leaving there (he didn't want to put on his coat) - so we managed a compromise and he promptly fell asleep in the stroller before arriving at our final planned destination, FAO Schwartz. SoBA enjoyed the store from start to finish and finally LBA awoke and nearly lost his mind at the world he had found himself in. Thanks to Uncle David for some birthday money so everybody got to leave with a new toy.

Then it was time for lunch. We had no planned destination and started back in the general direction of Penn Station, walking down 6th Avenue. We finally spotted an Au Bon Pain and figured it was a good place to stop. I set the family up at a table and headed back to get some food for everyone. I get back to the table and Mrs. BA is deep in conversation with the couple behind her. I try several times to get her attention but she doesn't come back to the table until the couple has finished, gotten up and left the store. I ask her, "Who have you been talking to?" She responds, "Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped." I suddenly realize that she has been in engaged in conversation with Prince Humperdinck and his wife, the lovely Joanna Gleason. It was a very New York moment.

After that we headed back to Penn Station walking through Times Square. Thanks Rudy, for cleaning up the porn shops, but chains have rushed in to fill the void. It's a little jarring. I did note in the news today this story, but there's still a lot going on there. All in all a great trip to NYC.

The rest of the weekend was spent working with my father on helping him to divest himself of his many treasures. If you're in NY and in the mood to build some models, he's got a lot for sale on Craig's List. Yesterday we headed home, with a horrendous drive - traffic was everywhere - my SIL was kind enough to rescue us, we stopped at her home for dinner before taking care of the final leg of the trip.

Speaking of legs, I screwed up mine carrying a sleeping child into the house. He didn't get hurt, but I managed to twist my knee and get a bad cut. But I'll live. But I might whine about it.

2008 will come to an end tomorrow and we will have our traditional fondue evening with Mr. and Mrs. OSG here at the Brave Astronaut launch pad. I've already loaded a post for you tomorrow and I am working on one that might concern some resolutions for 2009. For now, a very Happy New Year to you all and I thank you for coming by now and again.

Monday, December 29, 2008

God Save the Queen's Dinner

With Boxing Day just a few days ago, this is an appropriate time to throw out a good English recipe. Toward the end of October, Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema reviewed a new restaurant in the DC area, CommonWealth. You can get all the standard British pub fare there, but not Toad in the Hole, which was highlighted in a subsequent post to DCist later that week. That is one dish that I could get behind. From 101 Things Every Cook Should Cook.

Toad in the Hole

  • 8 pork/beef or vegetarian sausages (get nice ones, you’ll thank yourself)
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 125g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk mixed with and 50ml water
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I use Dijon)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lard (LARD!), dripping or oil
To make the batter; whisk together eggs, flour, milk, water and mustard. Whisk it well so that it’s nice and smooth with no lumpy bits and it’s about the thickness of runny custard/cream of mushroom soup/double cream (pick a comparison you like). Season with salt and pepper. Set it aside to rest for at least half an hour. This is so that the flour absorbs the liquid properly and relaxes and the whole thing comes to room temperature.

Now get the oven nice and hot - 220C/450F/Gas mark 7. Put the sausages in the baking tray and stick them in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes without turning them over until the tops are brown. This means that you’ll have one brown side and one pale side.

Take the sausages out of the baking dish and set them aside. Put the lard into the baking tray and put it back in the oven. Wait 5 minutes or so until the fat is really, really hot and sizzling and then quickly remove from the oven and pour in the batter. It’ll sizzle pleasantly. Quickly pop the sausages in the batter, pale side up, and put it straight back into the hot oven.

Leave it for 25-30 minutes. Resist the temptation to open the oven door, the cold influx of air may make the batter collapse. After 25 minutes, it should be all puffed up and golden brown. Serve it immediately with some gravy and maybe some greens like peas or cabbage.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A List of Firsts

I'm on the road today to spend a few days with my father for the holiday, so here's a list of firsts, that I "borrowed" from my Canadian friend, Stinkypaw.
  1. When was your first kiss? Well I was known as the "kissing bug" in elementary school for a reason.
  2. When did you first start buying holiday or birthday gifts for other people and stop thinking about what people would buy for you? An interesting thought, but not one that I have ever really contemplated. I like to buy things for people.
  3. When was the first time you thought of yourself not as a kid/teen, but as an adult? Who says I think of myself as an adult now?
  4. What do you remember about the first time you drove a car? Drivers Ed in high school. I think the teacher is still pounding on the passenger brake.
  5. Tell me about your first pet. There were always cats and dogs around the house. But Tonto was the first pet that was really "mine." He had a brother, Tarzan, together they were TnT. Tonto lived to a ripe old age, despite having been hit by a car and nearly dying. He used to lie around my neck like a stole and be quite content about it. And he liked to eat cicadas.
  6. What was your first job? Delivering Pennysavers, then Newsday. Then I got an "indoor job" working at the Syosset Public Library.
  7. Who was the first teacher to make a positive impact on your life? Mr. Izzo, fourth grade, Baylis Elementary. But the model of the teacher I wanted to be was Mr. Gaudino, Social Studies, high school.
  8. If you’ve lived in more than one house or apartment as an adult, tell me about your first one. The first place I lived on my own was in Poughkeepsie, a one bedroom apartment in a house converted to apartments next door to a funeral home. Occasionally, you could watch the people "arriving" by the side door.
  9. What was it like the first time you got drunk (assuming you remember). Well certainly, they all start to blend together. But one of the better (more vivid?) memories is on the beach with friends, the night I lost my high school class ring. I was pretty hammered that night.
  10. Did you marry your first love? Inconsequential. I am in love with the one I am now married to and that's all that matters.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once A Year

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future."
Here we are on Christmas Eve (are you tracking Santa?). I am spending it with my family and NJM. My mother would be proud, because she hated when people were alone on holidays. We're having a nice dinner and I have kept my father's tradition of making homemade potato chips with dinner. Later NJM and I may go to Midnight Mass, which will take place at 10:00. Then it will back home to meet up with Santa and finish wrapping presents. There are still cards to be mailed to. Honest, yours is in the mail, really.

Tomorrow morning we will have a family celebration and then we are off to my MIL's house for Christmas dinner. Then it's off to NY to spend the weekend with my father (and his new girlfriend) and my brother, who will be down from Maine. We are planning an excursion into NYC to blow LBA's mind with a trip to FAO Schwartz and the Rockefeller Center tree. We will try to take in some of the windows on Fifth Avenue as well.

I leave you with a story about a popular Christmas tradition and my heartfelt wishes to all of you, my faithful readers, for a blessed holiday season and health and happiness in the New Year. I have posted here before, one of my favorite stories about Christmas, and as Clarence remarks in "It's a Wonderful Life," "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

The OSG family and the Brave Astronaut did not get out to cut down our own trees this year. We settled on some nice conifers from the local Lowes:
  • On Christmas Trees - Although the Christmas tradition of adornment with floral decorations has been traced back to the Roman festivities of Kalends, the Christmas tree has more modern German origins. Records indicate that Christmas trees were sold in Alsace in 1531; in 1605 a German citizen wrote: "At Christmas, they set up fir trees in the parlours . . . and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper." Folklore has long associated Martin Luther as an early champion of the Christmas tree – crediting him (probably erroneously) with inventing the practice of lighting trees with candles. The British love of Christmas trees is usually linked to Prince Albert who, in the 1840s, did much to make the tree part of the British Christmas. Records indicate, however, that Queen Charlotte had a Christmas tree in Windsor as early as 1800. The most famous Christmas tree in Britain is that which stands in London’s Trafalgar Square. Presented by the people of Norway each year since 1947, the tree is a symbolic gift of thanks for the role Britain played during the Second World War, and the sanctuary King Haakon VII was given in 1940.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Birthday Bash Weekend

I was back at work today after a flurry of events to celebrate my birthday on Saturday. First let me give some shout-outs to some great gifts. That Ed guy in Pittsburgh has renewed my subscription to Golf Magazine although I'm beginning to wonder if it is going to help my game or the information overload will completely destroy what little game I have. Mrs. BA and sons gave me a great gift - a griddle, complete with warming tray.

No one gave me a city for my birthday - or Christmas, as General Sherman did for Lincoln on this day in 1864, but that's OK, where would I put it?

So how did I spend my weekend? On Friday night, I was invited out to a evening of drinking. Which I did. A lot. I hurt myself. I guess I really am getting too old for this. Although I had a very good time hanging with the Capitol Lounge Rovers. My downfall was most assuredly the brown liquor (free Irish whiskey) that I put on top of the several beers that I was drinking. I am not a fan of the brown liquor. I should have listened to OSG's voice in my head "Beer then Liquor, never sicker."

On Saturday, I moved slowly for most of the day, cleaning up the house in anticipation of Mrs. BA's family on Sunday. But Mrs. BA and I did get out to the Georgetown - Mount St. Mary's basketball game at the Verizon Center (Thanks to Rob for the tickets!). Watching "the Mount" made me think of the days when I was a season ticket holder for Marist College basketball, watching the bow-tied clad Jim Phelan patrol the sideline for the Mountaineers.

Sunday was the day set aside for Mrs. BA's family to come to the Brave Astronaut launchpad for an early Christmas celebration and birthday celebrations for my two boys. LBA will turn 4 on Christmas day and SoBA will be 1 on the 30th. I got several more gifts from them, several books and a sweater from my MIL. All nice stuff. The highlight of the event was the Cheese and Sausage Breakfast Casserole (Bon Appetit, April 1990) made by Mrs. BA. She considers it a success whenever her BIL, a trained chef, eats several helpings. The recipe appears below the description of the final event of the weekend, dinner with Mr. and Mrs. OSG at Belga Cafe.

By then, I was ready to dive back into the Drinking Pool, so I had one of these and one of these (or at least that's what I think the second one was, I wasn't paying attention - it was just good). Both the OSGs has fruit cocktails - Mr. with Bourbon and Mrs. with Champagne.

As is their wont, both Mrs. BA and Mr. OSG had the Foie de Canard, while Mrs. OSG and I opted for the garlic dishes, she with the snails and frogs leg stew, me with the mussels gratinee. Mr. OSG had the Duck breast for dinner, Mrs. BA had the Belgian steak, which could be cut with a fork. Both Mrs. OSG and I had lamb in various formats. As the birthday boy, I went for dessert, choosing the creme brulee sampler platter (one raspberry, one pistachio, and one vanilla - decadent). A lovely evening and a perfect capstone to a great birthday weekend.

My thanks to everyone who sent me wishes via Facebook and various other electronic means.

Cheese and Sausage Breakfast Casserole
  • 8 white bread slices, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage, crumbled and cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk (do not use lowfat or nonfat)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
Grease 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Place bread in prepared dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Beat together eggs and next three ingredients. Season with pepper. Pour over sausage mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole until puffed and center is set, about 50 minutes. Cut into squares.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's my Birthday and I'll Type if I want to

Today I turn 41. As previously noted here and here, my birthday is cause for celebration. But since it's my birthday, I get to write about pretty much whatever I want here today. So the topic I have chosen is typewriters and death.

Martin K. Tytell, Typewriter Wizard, Dies at 94

What's the point of posting about an obituary that appeared in the New York Times in September? The article has archival content insofar as Mr. Tytell was a typewriter repairman, serving the likes of David Brinkley, Dwight Eisenhower, and many, many others. The article was posted to a professional bulletin board that I read. It also later appeared here. I happened to click on the link and began to read the obituary.

That's when I saw Mr. Tytell's birth date. December 20, 1913. Suddenly, I felt like Josh Lyman in that episode of The West Wing, Noel. Josh snaps when he learns that a missing pilot shares his birthday. Not that I'm planning to put my hand through a window or anything. But it was a little freaky. The scene below is one of my favorites from the show. I know that if I'm in a hole, there's always going to be someone to help me out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

100 Skills That I Should Know

Tomorrow is my birthday and both of my sons will celebrate theirs in the next two weeks. I should get started on making sure they know all of these. Seen on Buzz Feed and kottke, from Popular Mechanics. There's a quiz there also. I've put in bold the ones in the list that I feel I have the skill.

    1. Handle a blowout
    2. Drive in snow
    3. Check trouble codes - although my middle name is trouble . . .
    4. Replace fan belt
    5. Wax a car - "wax on, wax off"
    6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
    7. Use a stick welder
    8. Hitch up a trailer
    9. Jump start a car - so far, so good
Handling Emergencies
    10. Perform the Heimlich
    11. Reverse hypothermia - ooh, body heat!
    12. Perform hands-only CPR - is that the Bee Gees I hear?
    13. Escape a sinking car
    14. Carve a turkey - something I learned from my father
    15. Use a sewing machine - if I have to
    16. Put out a fire - heh, heh, fire
    17. Home brew beer
    18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
    19. Move heavy stuff - remember lift with the knees, not with the back!
    20. Grow food
    21. Read an electric meter
    22. Shovel the right way - remember lift with the knees, not with the back!
    23. Solder wire
    24. Tape drywall
    25. Split firewood
    26. Replace a faucet washer - call the plumber, right?
    27. Mix concrete
    28. Paint a straight line - except while drinking
    29. Use a French knife - I'd have to know what a French knife is, but I'm not usually supposed to touch sharp things. Someday I'll tell you about the scar on my wrist.
    30. Prune bushes and small trees - well I can prune, but is it right?
    31. Iron a shirt - used to do it all the time, now I just put on a sweater over it.
    32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
    33. Change a single-pole switch
    34. Fell a tree
    35. Replace a broken windowpane
    36. Set up a ladder, safely
    37. Fix a faucet cartridge
    38. Sweat copper tubing
    39. Change a diaper - um, yeah
    40. Grill with charcoal - but I prefer the gas
    41. Sew a button on a shirt - sure, and most times it won't come off again
    42. Fold a flag - every day when I worked at the public library, we had to go out and get the flag and fold it
Medical Myths
    43. Treat frostbite
    44. Treat a burn
    45. Help a seizure victim
    46. Treat a snakebite - this of course, leads to this joke
    47. Remove a tick
Military Know-How
    48. Shine shoes
    49. Make a drum-tight bed
    50. Drop and give the perfect pushup
    51. Run rapids in a canoe
    52. Hang food in the wild
    53. Skipper a boat
    54. Shoot straight
    55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
    56. Escape a rip current
Primitive Skills
    57. Build a fire in the wilderness
    58. Build a shelter
    59. Find potable water
Surviving Extremes
    60. Floods
    61. Tornadoes
    62. Cold
    63. Heat
    64. Lightning
Teach Your Kids
    65. Cast a line
    66. Lend a hand
    67. Change a tire
    68. Throw a spiral - Nelson Rockefeller, Jr. likes to tell a story about how his father told him the only way to throw a good spiral meant you had to take off your overcoat.
    69. Fly a stunt kite
    70. Drive a stick shift
    71. Parallel park
    72. Tie a bowline
    73. Tie a necktie
    74. Whittle
    75. Ride a bike
    76. Install a graphics card
    77. Take the perfect portrait
    78. Calibrate HDTV settings
    79. Shoot a home movie
    80. Ditch your hard drive
Master Key Workshop Tools - as mentioned earlier, I'm not allowed to use power tools unsupervised unless 911 is on speed dial
    81. Drill driver
    82. Grease gun
    83. Coolant hydrometer
    84. Socket wrench
    85. Test light
    86. Brick trowel
    87. Framing hammer
    88. Wood chisel
    89. Spade bit
    90. Circular saw
    91. Sledge hammer
    92. Hacksaw
    93. Torque wrench
    94. Air wrench
    95. Infrared thermometer
    96. Sand blaster
    97. Crosscut saw
    98. Hand plane
    99. Multimeter
    100. Feeler gauges

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Love the President

Wow, did I really say that? And I at lest like him a little more than the Iraqi journalist he encountered this past Sunday. But he has been very good to us federal workers of late:
Executive Order: Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on Friday, December 26, 2008

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. All executive branch departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Friday, December 26, 2008, the day after Christmas Day, except as provided in section 2 of this order.

Sec. 2. The heads of executive branch departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on December 26, 2008, for reasons of national security or defense or other public need.

Sec. 3. Friday, December 26, 2008, shall be considered as falling within the scope of Executive Order 11582 of February 11, 1971, and of 5 U.S.C. 5546 and 6103(b) and other similar statutes insofar as they relate to the pay and leave of employees of the United States.

Sec. 4. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

December 12, 2008.

Monday, December 15, 2008

100 Southern Foods to try Before You Die

But that assumes you can get through the entire list without needing the paddles . . .

From Garden and Gun Magazine (really?). And there's an interactive map. OSG, the floor is yours. Christmas is around the corner so no recipe this week, just the list, enjoy! OSG is traveling to his people's land for Christmas, let's see if he can knock a few of these off on the trip.

  • Beef Jerky, Bourgeois Meat Market, Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • Burger with Gin Sauce, Pirate’s Cove, Josephine, Alabama
  • Catfish of Pork, B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Lexington, Tennessee
  • Cheesy Western, Texas Tavern, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Chicken Liver Pâté, FIG, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Chicken Salad and Saltines, James Food Center, Oxford, Mississippi
  • Chicken Stew, Midway BBQ, Buffalo, South Carolina
  • Chili-Slaw Dog, Nu-Way Weiners, Macon, Georgia
  • Conecuh Sausage Dog, Conecuh Factory and Retail Store, Evergreen, Alabama
  • Cornish Game Hen, Cozy Corner, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Cuban Sandwich, Kool Korners Grocery, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Fried Chicken, Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Fried Rabbit Livers with Pepper Jelly, Cochon, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Hash and Rice, Neal’s Barbecue, Thomson, Georgia
  • Hot Fried Chicken, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Hot Sausage Wrap, Southside Market, Elgin, Texas
  • Hot Tamales, White Front Café, aka Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, Rosedale, Mississippi
  • Inside-Out Hot Brown, Wallace Station, Versailles, Kentucky
  • Mutton Sandwich, George’s Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Pig Ear Sandwich, Big Apple Inn, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Pimento Burger, Kingsman Restaurant, Cayce, South Carolina
  • Pork Chop Sandwich, Snappy Lunch, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  • Pork Neck Bones and Rice, The Sands, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Pork Rinds, Kim’s Processing Plant, Clarksdale, Mississippi
  • Porterhouse Steak, Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville, Mississippi
  • Redneck Taco, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Nolensville, Tennessee
  • Ribs, Archibald’s Bar-B-Q, Northport, Alabama
  • Roast Beef Po’boy, Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Scrambled Hot Dog, Dinglewood Pharmacy, Columbus, Georgia
  • Slaw Burger, R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue, Gastonia, North Carolina
  • Sliced Pork Sandwich with Slaw, Craig’s Bar-B-Q, De Valls Bluff, Arkansas
  • Soul Spaghetti, Collins Dream Kitchen, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Spread, McClard’s Bar-B-Q, Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Stew Dog, Harold’s Barbecue, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Stewed Oxtails, McKinley’s Bar-B-Que & Soul Food, Ensley, Alabama
  • Whole Hog Plate, Scott’s Variety Store, Hemingway, South Carolina
  • BBQ Crabs, Sartin’s Seafood, Nederland, Texas
  • Boiled Crawfish, Hawk’s Restaurant, Rayne, Louisiana
  • Campechana Extra, Goode Company Seafood 1, Houston, Texas
  • Crawfish Fried Rice, Hank’s Cajun Crawfish, Houston, Texas
  • Deviled Crabs, Wall’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant, Savannah, Georgia
  • Fish and Chips, Avenue Sea, Apalachicola, Florida
  • Fried Mullet Gizzards, Chet’s Catering and Seafood Restaurant, Pensacola, Florida
  • Fried Red Snapper Throats, The Bright Star, Bessemer, Alabama
  • Fried Shrimp, O’Steen’s Restaurant, St. Augustine, Florida
  • Grouper Sandwich, Seagrove Village Market Café, Seagrove Beach, Florida
  • Hot Fish Sandwich, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Oyster Po’Boy, Bozo’s Seafood Restaurant, Metairie, Louisiana
  • Oyster Stew, Speed’s Kitchen, Shellman Bluff, Georgia
  • Pan-Fried Trout and Scrambled Eggs, The Greenbrier, Main Dining Room, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Roasted Oysters, Bowens Island, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Rolled Oysters, Mazzoni’s Café, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Salmon Croquettes, Watershed, Decatur, Georgia
  • Shrimp Buster, Herby-K’s, Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Smoked Mullet Dip, The Wheelhouse Café, Apalachicola, Florida
  • Thick Fried Catfish, Taylor Grocery & Restaurant, Taylor, Mississippi
  • Thin Fried Catfish, Middendorf’s, Manchac, Louisiana
  • Trout Caviar, Sunburst Trout Farm, Canton, North Carolina
  • Beans All the Way, The Bean Barn, Greeneville, Tennessee
  • Deviled Eggs, Sally Bell’s Kitchen, Richmond, Virginia
  • Egg and Green Olive Sandwich, Trowbridge’s, Florence, Alabama
  • Fried Black-Eyed Peas, Ashley’s, Capital Hotel, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Fried Green Tomatoes, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Grits with Butter, Zada Jane’s Corner Café, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • House Salad with Comeback Dressing, Mayflower, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Italian Salad, Mary Maestri’s, Tontitown, Arkansas
  • Kool-Aid Pickles, Eastend Grocery, Cleveland, Mississippi
  • Krinkle Kut Fries with Milo’s Sauce, Milo’s Hamburgers, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Macaroni and Cheese, L.D.’s Kitchen, Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • Okra Soup, Bertha’s Kitchen, North Charleston, South Carolina
  • Pimento Cheese and Crackers, Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee
  • Pot Likker Soup, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Red Beans (and Drumsticks), Frenchy’s Chicken, Houston, Texas
  • Red Rice, Hominy Grill, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Soufflé Potatoes with Béarnaise, Galatoire’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Sriracha Remoulade, Reef, Houston, Texas
  • Stewed Tomatoes, Niki’s West, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Sweet Potato Casserole, Weaver D’s, Athens, Georgia
  • Turnip Greens, Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta, Georgia

Friday, December 12, 2008

New York City Buildings That Need to Go

I heard something on the radio a while back about how Washington DC was designed to salute Italian architecture, with all its columns and grand boulevards. New York did not have that option, confined to an island, and grew in various eras. And some of the buildings that have appeared have long ago worn out their welcome. Here's an article from the New York Times (that I first saw on kottke, of course)

I'm from New York (well the suburbs) and I've been to most of these buildings and I wouldn't miss any one of them in the slightest. Discuss.
  • Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station - despite the fact that my beloved Rangers play there, the Garden is a pit. And the rabbit warrens of Penn Station underneath it are even worse. Build me something new, please.
  • Trump Place - this relatively new residential complex, which is only slightly larger than The Donald's ego, is a nice place, but I don't want to live there, which is part of the problem - people are heading elsewhere. Remember - less is more, OK, Donny?
  • The Javits Convention Center - It took me a while to make my first visit here, partially because it's on the Hudson River and very hard to get to. And it's ugly. And cavernous. Big Jack should have a more fitting building named for him.
  • Annenberg Building, Mount Sinai Medical Center - it's the ugly brown cube in the middle of this picture.
  • 375 Pearl Street - home to the Verizon empire, hey can I help take this one apart?
  • Astor Place - this patchwork building bears the stain of several architects and sits atop a lobby filled with ATMs.
  • 2 Columbus Circle - designed by Edward Durrell Stone, who also designed this place where I went to school - he's got a thing for the big ugly concrete things, doesn't he?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An 80s Recipe

In keeping with last Friday's post on the Music of My Life, here's a post from another spot that highlights the "Top Ten Uniquely 80s Foods." And yes I am a day late with this. I'm still recovering from my trip to my fathers.

Here's the list:
  1. Capri Sun - the predecessor to the ubiquitous juice box
  2. Lean Cuisine - still around and still bad
  3. Tab - making a comeback
  4. Artificially Flavored Fruit Snacks - some things were better off not coming around.
  5. Equal - my parents were original Sweet and Low people, so the blue packet never gained ground at our house.
  6. Orange Julius - still a classic, though I was more of a Strawberry Julius kind of guy.
  7. Tri-Color pasta salad - easy and quick. And the recipe is below.
  8. Cool Ranch Doritos - One bad drinking experience and to this day, Doritos make me a little wobbly.
  9. The California Raisins - one of my son's favorite snacks
  10. Jawbreakers - with my teeth, I should have avoided these at all costs.
  • 4 1/2 lbs. noodles, cooked & cooled
  • 3 c. mayonnaise, thinned with olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c. pitted black olives, sliced crosswise
  • 1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 c. fresh herbs (parsley, marjoram, basil)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Toss pasta with ingredients. Season and serve.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Music of My Life (at least High School)

I'm on my way to NY for the weekend to pack up my father's belongings as he prepares to move in with his girlfriend. So here's a list to make you remember days gone by. Me, I'm just scarred from the whole experience . . .

Borrowed from the Curious Child's Library Wanderings . . .
  1. Go to Music Outfitters and type in the year you graduated from high school (or first year, if still in high school) into the search function.
  2. Retrieve the top 100 songs from that year.
  3. Strike through the songs you hate(d), italicize the songs you like(d), bold the songs you love(d) and leave alone the ones you either don’t remember or don’t care about.
  4. Annotate at will.
The Year was 1985. Here's the list. An (i) indicates the song may be currently found on my iPod:
  1. Careless Whisper, Wham!
  2. Like A Virgin, Madonna
  3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Wham!
  4. I Want To Know What Love Is, Foreigner
  5. I Feel For You, Chaka Khan
  6. Out Of Touch, Daryl Hall and John Oates - I have a friend who reads this blog and is sure to have a comment on Hall and Oates - Skate Factory, Lana, little "Private Eyes"?
  7. Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Tears For Fears
  8. Money For Nothing, Dire Straits - The video is stuck in my mind, those cartoon characters
  9. Crazy For You, Madonna
  10. Take On Me, A-Ha - C'mon who doesn't like this song, it's catchy and the new, literal version is hysterical
  11. Everytime You Go Away, Paul Young
  12. Easy Lover, Phil Collins and Philip Bailey
  13. Can't Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon - I have a friend that I wrote out the lyrics to this song for her one day - it was along the lines of a profession of love (i)
  14. We Built This City, Starship - I have seen references to this being the worst song every put out. But it's a little catchy
  15. The Power Of Love, Huey Lewis and The News - Back to the Future anyone? (i)
  16. Don't You (Forget About Me), Simple Minds - Only because of the Breakfast Club.
  17. Cherish, Kool and The Gang
  18. St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion), John Parr - I saw this movie long after putting Demi Moore on my list. If you have to ask, you didn't see this movie or remember the scene.
  19. The Heat Is On, Glenn Frey
  20. We Are The World, U.S.A. For Africa - I had the 45 and used to "identify" the singers as they began to sing. I could also do some imitations of them. Stop Laughing.
  21. Shout, Tears For Fears - Shout, Let it Out.
  22. Part-Time Lover, Stevie Wonder
  23. Saving All My Love For You, Whitney Houston
  24. Heaven, Bryan Adams
  25. Everything She Wants, Wham!
  26. Cool It Now, New Edition
  27. Miami Vice Theme, Jan Hammer
  28. Lover Boy, Billy Ocean
  29. Lover Girl, Teena Marie
  30. You Belong To The City, Glenn Frey
  31. Oh Sheila, Ready For The World - not ready for me
  32. Rhythm Of The Night, Debarge
  33. One More Night, Phil Collins - Someday I might tell the bad associations I have with this song, but not today.
  34. Sea Of Love, Honeydrippers - Come with me, to the sea. If you stop to think about it, a very dirty song.
  35. A View To A Kill, Duran Duran - this song is forever ruined for me by the startling image of Grace Jones in the Bond movie.
  36. The Wild Boys, Duran Duran
  37. You're The Inspiration, Chicago - For many years, they were. Now, not so much (i)
  38. Neutron Dance, Pointer Sisters
  39. We Belong, Pat Benatar
  40. Nightshift, Commodores - this song appealed to the history geek in me and taught me about Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson.
  41. Things Can Only Get Better, Howard Jones - they could, and this song would help.
  42. All I Need, Jack Wagner
  43. Freeway Of Love, Aretha Franklin
  44. Never Surrender, Corey Hart - please, surrender
  45. Sussudio, Phil Collins - there was a running joke about campus while I was in college, that he was really saying, "ssssSunyA!" for SUNY at Albany.
  46. Strut, Sheena Easton
  47. You Give Good Love, Whitney Houston
  48. The Search Is Over, Survivor - yes, yes it is.
  49. Missing You, Diana Ross
  50. Separate Lives, Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin - My girlfriend in college, who was later my first wife, use to sing duets like this, a la Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in "Dirty Dancing." Stop laughing.
  51. Raspberry Beret, Prince and The Revolution
  52. Suddenly, Billy Ocean
  53. The Boys Of Summer, Don Henley - We had a lot of Cadillacs on Long Island, but very few with Dead Head stickers on the back of them.
  54. One Night In Bangkok, Murray Head - really?
  55. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, Sting
  56. Obsession, Animotion
  57. We Don't Need Another Hero, Tina Turner
  58. Material Girl, Madonna
  59. Better Be Good To Me, Tina Turner
  60. Head Over Heels, Tears For Fears
  61. Axel F, Harold Faltermeyer - only because of Beverly Hills Cop
  62. Smooth Operator, Sade
  63. In My House, Mary Jane Girls
  64. Don't Lose My Number, Phil Collins - Rikki, do you have it? Is the number 867-5309? Is Jenny there?
  65. All Through The Night, Cyndi Lauper
  66. Run To You, Bryan Adams
  67. Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen - yep, they were (i)
  68. Voices Carry, 'Til Tuesday - not only do they carry, they hurt a little bit.
  69. Misled, Kool and The Gang
  70. Would I Lie To You?, Eurythmics - "Would I say something that wasn't true?" Nope, not me.
  71. Be Near Me, ABC
  72. No More Lonely Nights, Paul McCartney
  73. I Can't Hold Back, Survivor
  74. Summer Of '69, Bryan Adams - This evokes more college memories than high school (i)
  75. Walking On Sunshine, Katrina and The Waves - Possibly one of the catchiest tunes ever issued (i)
  76. Freedom, Wham!
  77. Too Late For Goodbyes, Julian Lennon - Where have you gone, Jule?
  78. Valotte, Julian Lennon
  79. Some Like It Hot, Power Station
  80. Solid, Ashford and Simpson - yep, like a rock
  81. Angel, Madonna
  82. I'm On Fire, Bruce Springsteen - "Hey, little girl is your daddy home?" Not cool, Boss.
  83. Method Of Modern Love, Daryl Hall and John Oates - M-E-T-H-O-D!
  84. Lay Your Hands On Me, Thompson Twins
  85. Who's Holding Donna Now, Debarge - who cares!
  86. Lonely Ol' Night, John Cougar Mellencamp - who? Mellancamp? John Cougar? John Mellancamp.
  87. What About Love, Heart - I had a friend in HS who really, really liked Heart.
  88. California Girls, David Lee Roth - Don't mess with the Beach Boys.
  89. Fresh, Kool and The Gang - stale
  90. Do What You Do, Jermaine Jackson
  91. Jungle Of Love, The Time
  92. Born In The USA, Bruce Springsteen - C'mon, it's the anthem! (i)
  93. Private Dancer, Tina Turner - Um, sure, nice legs, but Ms. Tina has never been my thing.
  94. Who's Zoomin' Who, Aretha Franklin
  95. Fortress Around Your Heart, Sting - Hey, I had "Dream of the Blue Turtles on vinyl, baby!
  96. Penny Lover, Lionel Richie
  97. All She Wants To Do Is Dance, Don Henley (i)
  98. Dress You Up, Madonna
  99. Sentimental Street, Night Ranger
  100. Sugar Walls, Sheena Easton

Monday, December 1, 2008

Forget PETA, Let's Form PITH*

PETA is in the news again. I have hesitated on this post for a while, because it's really just a little too icky to contemplate. But here goes. PETA lobbied ice cream makers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield to replace cow's milk with human breast milk. With a press release titled "The Breast is Best," the organization, which also pushed the idea on their blog, pointed out that a Swiss restaurant owner is replacing 75% of its cow's milk with breast milk from nursing mothers. OK, all together now, EWWWWW!

So instead, grab that Ben and Jerry's flavor you love best and whip up some Creme Brulee.

Arnold's Ben & Jerry's Organic Crème Brulée

  • 1 pint of Organic B&J Vanilla ice cream ( other flavors may be used. Smooth flavors work best. Break up chunks if using chunky flavors)
  • 2 Organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. Organic sugar
  • 1 tsp. Organic vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Organic sugar, reserve for "burnt sugar crust"
  • 4 oven proof ramekins for custard
Soften ice cream to a liquid state. You can empty the pint into a bowl and leave in the refrigerator for a few hours. Do not heat at high temperatures to melt ice cream.

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

Place four ramekins in a pan with water half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Beat the eggs only until well blended, no more then 15-20 seconds. Pour eggs, sugar, and vanilla into softened ice cream and stir until well blended. Pour crème mixture into ramekins. Place pan with water and crème mixture into oven for 1 1/2 hours. Custard is done when top is firm and jiggles slightly in the middle when shaken. Remove pan from oven and cool custard to room temperature. Note, you will see holes on top of the custard from the air in the ice cream having escaped - this is normal. When completely cooled, cover with food wrap and store in the refrigerator.

To create burnt sugar crust:

Immediately before serving, pour a liberal amount of sugar on the top of the first custard, pouring any excess into the next ramekin. Continue until the tops of all four ramekins have a thin layer of sugar. Caramelize the sugar by placing the ramekins under a broiler on the top rack or by using a small culinary flame torch. Note this step goes quickly, remove when sugar on the custard turns golden brown. Serve immediately.

* PETA is of course People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - PITH would be People for the Inhumane Treatment of Humans (especially PETA members).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Age - By the Numbers

While we all recover from our tryptophan comas, here's a little list for your reading pleasure, courtesy of the Atlantic Monthly.
  • At age 1, Keith Richards is evacuated from suburban London to escape German buzz bombs, 1944

  • At age 3, Sigmund Freud sees his mother naked, 1859

  • At age 6, Alfred Hitchcock’s father sends him down to the police station with a note instructing the officer in charge to lock him in a cell for five minutes, circa 1905

  • At age 9, Proust suffers his first asthma attack, circa 1881

  • At age 10 Martin Luther King Jr. sings in a boys choir at the premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta, 1939

  • At age 11, Giacomo Casanova experiences his first orgasm, 1736

  • At age 12, Joan of Arc begins to hear voices, 1424

  • At age 13, Spanky McFarland retires from Our Gang, 1942 and William F. Buckley Jr. takes up sailing, 1939

  • At age 14, Marie Antoinette is packed off to be married to the heir to the throne of France, 1770. She is stripped naked and carefully inspected at the French border

  • At age 15, After twirling lassos in Disney’s Frontierland and pricing hats in Adventureland, Steve Martin gets a job doing magic tricks in Fantasyland, 1960.

  • At age 16, Allen Stewart Konigsberg changes his name to Woody Allen. He sees his first Bergman film, Summer With Monika, 1952

  • At age 17, Kurt Cobain leaves home and finds work as a hotel cleaner but is fired for sleeping in the rooms, 1984

  • At age 19, Zsa Zsa Gabor is chosen to be Miss Hungary, 1936 and Joan of Arc is burned at the stake, 1431

  • At age 20, Clyde Barrow meets Bonnie Parker, 1930

  • At age 21, Alice Waters visits France for the first time, 1965

  • At age 22, Dwight Eisenhower misses a crucial tackle on Jim Thorpe, and the Carlisle Indians go on to defeat Army, 27–6. Before the game, Carlisle coach Pop Warner told his players to remember Wounded Knee, 1912

  • At age 23, Neil Young joins Stephen Stills, David Crosby, and Graham Nash to form Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1969

  • At age 24, Newlywed Sylvia Plath consults a Ouija board with her husband, Ted Hughes, 1956 and Bob Dylan goes electric on the first side of his album Bringing It All Back Home, and is booed at the Newport Folk Festival, 1965

  • At age 25, Anne Boleyn marries Henry VIII, 1533

  • At age 26, Ho Chi Minh is working as a pastry cook at the Carlton Hotel in London, circa 1916

  • At age 27, Alice Waters opens a restaurant called Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, 1971

  • At 28, Thomas Lanier Williams shuttles from New Orleans to California, Missouri, and New York; along the way, he adopts his college nickname of Tennessee, 1939

  • At 30, Adolf Hitler grows his famous mustache, 1919 and Jerry Lewis parts ways with Dean Martin at the end of their 10th-anniversary show at the Copacabana, 1956

  • At 31, Charles Schulz gives Linus a security blanket, 1954

  • At 32, Lizzie Borden is found not guilty of giving her stepmother and father 40 and 41 whacks, respectively, 1893

  • At 33, Gertrude Stein meets Alice B. Toklas, 1907

  • At 34, Sigmund Freud is given a couch by a grateful patient, circa 1890 and Charles Manson buys a copy of the Beatles’ White Album, 1968

  • At 35, In the midst of the Depression, Walt Disney spends a million and a half dollars to make a feature-length cartoon about a young woman living with seven men, 1937.

  • At 36, Einstein completes his General Theory of Relativity, 1915, Marilyn Monroe dies in her Brentwood, California, home of an overdose of barbiturates, 1962 and Diana, Princess of Wales, dies in a car accident in Paris, 1997

  • At 37, Coco Chanel introduces Chanel No. 5 perfume, 1921 and Marie Antoinette is guillotined, 1793

  • At 38, For a television special, broadcast from Hawaii, Elvis Presley commissions a special patriotic caped jumpsuit with a sequined eagle, 1973

  • At 39, Ian Fleming vacations in Jamaica with his mistress, 1948. While there he purchases a copy of Birds of the West Indies, by the ornithologist James Bond

  • At 40, John Lennon and Yoko Ono have a session with Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibowitz. The most famous image is of John nude and in the fetal position embracing Yoko, who is fully clothed. That evening, Lennon is shot dead by a deranged fan, 1980 and Winston Churchill is forced out of the Admiralty after the disastrous Dardanelles campaign, 1915. He retreats to the country and takes up painting

  • At 41, Columbus sails the ocean blue, 1492

  • At age 42, Elvis Presley dies on the floor of his bathroom, 1977

  • At age 44, Ronald Reagan co-hosts live coast-to-coast TV coverage of the opening day at Disneyland, 1955

  • At age 45, John F. Kennedy is serenaded by Marilyn Monroe at a large birthday party held at Madison Square Garden, 1962 and Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo, 1815

  • At age 47, White House sage Henry Kissinger is dating Jill St. John, 1970. The red-haired soon-to-be Bond girl is reputed to have an IQ of 162

  • At age 48, Paul Newman’s name turns up on President Nixon’s secret enemies list, 1973 and Mick Jagger becomes a grandfather, 1992

  • At age 50, Former ’60s radical Jerry Rubin is organizing networking seminars on Wall Street, 1988

  • At 51, Ronald Reagan becomes a Republican, 1962

  • At 53, Walt Disney opens a theme park in California, 1955 and The Graduate soundtrack asks: “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” The retired ballplayer is living quietly in the Bay Area and coaching for the Oakland A’s, 1968

  • At 54, Christopher Columbus dies in Spain, 1506. A year after his death, a German mapmaker names the New World after somebody else

  • At 56, the now-nearly-forgotten Victor Fleming directs both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, 1939

  • At age 57, Richard Nixon receives the velvet-suited Elvis Presley in the White House, 1970

  • At age 58, Abraham Zapruder makes a keepsake film of John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passes the book depository in Dallas, Texas, 1963

  • At age 61 Orson Welles performs card tricks on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, 1976

  • At age 62, Aristotle Onassis marries 39-year-old Jackie Kennedy, 1968

  • At age 63, Walt Disney secretly acquires land from orange growers in central Florida, 1964

  • At 65, Jack Welch retires after 20 years as chairman and CEO of General Electric, taking with him a retirement package paying for telephone and computer service at his five homes; flowers, food, wine, and waitstaff when he’s in New York; memberships at three country clubs; Red Sox, Yankees, and Knicks tickets; a box at the Metropolitan Opera; very nice seats at Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open tennis tournaments; and dry cleaning, for the rest of his life, 2001

  • At age 66 Hunter S. Thompson invents “shotgun golf” at Owl Farm, in Woody Creek, Colorado, 2004

  • At 67, as a guest on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS, Mary McCarthy says that her fellow writer Lillian Hellman is overrated, and then says, “Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the,” 1979

  • At 70, Long-range photos of a still-svelte, semi nude Greta Garbo sunning herself appear in People magazine, 1976 and Robert Frost gets the young Truman Capote fired from his job at The New Yorker after he walks out of one of Frost’s poetry readings, 1944

  • At 72, on his birthday, Albert Einstein has his picture taken while he sticks his tongue out, 1951 and Mao Zedong launches the Cultural Revolution, 1966

  • At 75, George Plimpton appears as a corrupt spelling-bee emcee in episode 303 of The Simpsons, 2003

  • At 77 Retired senator and former astronaut John Glenn becomes the oldest man to orbit Earth, 1998; After exhibiting some of her paintings at Thomas’s Drugstore in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., Grandma Moses is discovered by art collector Louis Caldor, 1938

  • At age 80, Poet Marianne Moore throws out the first pitch at the Yankees’ season opener, 1968

  • At age 84, Dame Agatha Christie complains that Miss Marple is nothing like Margaret Rutherford, who portrays her in the film versions of Christie’s novels, 1974

  • At age 86 Robert Frost recites his poem “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, 1961

  • At age 87, Sir John Gielgud plays his first nude scene, in the film Prospero’s Books, 1991

  • At 88, Walter Cronkite maintains an office and a staff of four at CBS headquarters in New York. He has a consulting contract with the network, but is rarely consulted. He thinks about writing a blog, 2005

  • At 89, Julia Child decides to give her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen to the Smithsonian, 2001

  • At 90 John D. Rockefeller Sr. watches as half of the family fortune is lost in the stock-market crash of 1929. But there’s still enough Rockefeller money to found the Museum of Modern Art, build Rockefeller Center, restore colonial Williamsburg, and buy enough of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a national park

  • At 91, On his deathbed, W. Somerset Maugham asks a friend to reassure him that there is no afterlife, 1965

  • At 93, After having four car accidents in a month, George Burns hires a chauffeur, 1989

  • At age 94, Bandleader Artie Shaw dies, 2004. His obituary in The New York Times bears the byline of a reporter who died in 2002

  • At age 95, Titian writes a letter to Phillip II of Spain, to bug him about a portrait that hasn’t been paid for, 1571

  • At age 96 Philip Johnson is still seen occasionally at Table No. 32 at the Four Seasons, the ground-floor restaurant located in the Seagram Building, 2002. He designed the building with Mies van der Rohe

  • At age 98, Rin Tin Tin dies at his home in Los Angeles, 1932. In human years he was 14

  • At age 99, Bob Hope has amassed an 85,000-page joke file, digitally scanned and broken down into categories, which he stores in file cabinets in a theft- and fire-proof walk-in vault in the office next to his North Hollywood home, 2002

  • At age 100 Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, celebrates his 100th birthday, 2006

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Away From it All

Today is one of the biggest travel days of the year around here. I will be staying home to celebrate the Feast of Turkey with Mrs. Brave Astronaut and her family. But don't worry about me, I'm heading to my father's next week to divest him of his belongings as he prepares to move in with his new girlfriend.

On the subject of travel, I spotted this in the New York Times Magazine several weeks ago and thought it might be a nice place for the "old archivists rest home," which is a subject of some discussion around the work lunch table. Clingstone, a home built on top of a rocky outcropping in the middle of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island is a rather rustic, remote getaway. Of course, it does sort of give new meaning to the phrase, "getting voted off the island." We may have found a solution to our problems anyway. But we would need to come up with the money to pay the taxes on this house until we were ready to occupy it. Maybe we could rent it for the Obama inauguration. Anybody want to go in on a ticket?

Believe me it has occurred to me to rent out the Brave Astronaut manse and make some money. But then again, I wouldn't miss the event for the world - and already I have reservations from friends looking for floor space that weekend. I'm assuming that Ed guy from Pittsburgh is out.

While I am likely never getting a vacation again, I lived vicariously through this site, which chronicles famous trips, including a few that didn't end so well for the people involved. And of course, if you are getting away, remember don't leave home without this (courtesy of the Smithsonian - the American History Museum has reopened as of last week!), via kottke.
Finally, I hope that your travels, if they include air travel, don't include your needing to reference this checklist:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sweet and Sour Chicken

With a young child, I am constantly on the look out for good things to make for dinner that he will eat. The toddler seems to eat anything I put in front of him. This recipe was posted by fellow Cheverly resident, Scott, who writes on cooking on his blog. The recipe comes from Simply Recipes. Of course, with Turkey Day coming up fast, is chicken wise to be on the menu?

Sweet and Sour Chicken
from Simply Recipe

  • 1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
  • 1/4 cup juice from the canned pineapple
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 2-3 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB + 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  1. In a bowl, combine the chicken with the egg white, salt and cornstarch. Stir to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. In the meantime, whisk together the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Pour in the 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat. It's important that the pan is very hot. Add the chicken and spread the chicken out in one layer. Let the chicken fry, untouched for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned. Flip and fry the other side the same for 1 minute. The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle. Dish out the chicken onto a clean plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and then add the bell pepper chunks and ginger. Fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce. Turn the heat to high and when the sauce is simmering, add the chicken pieces back in. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Timing depends on how thick you've cut your chicken. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to take a piece out and cut into it. If it's pink, add another minute to the cooking.
  5. Taste the sauce and add more brown sugar if you’d like.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What Do I Need

Pinched from my friend Lana some time ago.

Here are the rules:
  • Google your first name with the word "needs" after it and post the results
So what does John need? Evidently, I'm pretty needy. Putting "John needs" into Google returns 46,300 hits. A fair number of them referred to what John McCain needed or what Elton John needs (and I'm not going there). Here are some of the other highlights:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Building a Team of Rivals

Well not so far, but President-elect Obama has promised to fill his cabinet with a wide spectrum of people. He has noted that he hopes to follow in Lincoln's footsteps, but should probably be a little more up on his FDR history. I note today is the 146th anniversary of Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address, given at the dedication of the cemetery for the Union War dead.

Now remember people, this blog has been labeled as one that covers a wide variety of subjects, but let's remember that history and archives will still occupy the forefront. I still have a number of posts ready to roll and ideas for several more, so you won't get rid of me that easy. And as long as my teeth cooperate, you won't have to hear about them.

You might note even remember some of the things you read here - as happened to Edward Everett, who was noted for his oratorical skills and asked to speak at the cemetery dedication before the President. He spoke for nearly two hours. Anyone remember what he said? No? Well that's because Abraham Lincoln got up and spoke these words:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sometimes You Just Need a Big Mac and some Fries

My wife has a problem. Sometimes she just wants to have the quarter pounder and some fries. And of course, there is nothing like a hamburger grilled on the barbecue. And we have been known to make our own french fries.

But a gang war in McDonald Land? How sad . . .

This is our favorite Garlic Fries recipe
Oven Fried Garlic Fries
  • 3 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine potatoes, oil and salt in bowl or zipper-style plastic bag. Toss to coat.

Spray baking sheet or jellyroll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place potatoes in single layer on prepared sheet. Leave a little space between potatoes. Bake 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning after 20 minutes.

Place butter and garlic in large, deep nonstick skillet; cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add potatoes, parsley and cheese; toss to coat. Serve immediately. [Note: too many fries on the baking sheet and they will not crisp up]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Top 25 Documentaries

A straight up list via kottke (with a little comment) of the 25 best documentaries as rated by the International Documentary Association.
  1. Hoop Dreams (1994), Steve James (um, it's a basketball movie - really, number 1?)
  2. The Thin Blue Line (1988), Errol Morris
  3. Bowling for Columbine (2002), Michael Moore (possibly one of Moore's best)
  4. Spellbound (2002), Jeffrey Blitz (but I really prefer this movie about Scrabble)
  5. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976), Barbara Kopple
  6. An Inconvenient Truth (2006), Davis Guggenheim (shouldn't this be first?!)
  7. Crumb (1994), Terry Zwigoff
  8. Gimme Shelter (1970), Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin (not being a huge Stones fan, I missed this. I know, ask Mrs. BA, it's one of my faults)
  9. The Fog of War (2003), Errol Morris
  10. Roger & Me (1989), Michael Moore
  11. Super Size Me (2004), Morgan Spurlock (I already dislike eating McDonalds - I'd never eat there again if I sat down to watch this.)
  12. Don't Look Back (1967) D.A. Pennebaker (so we're heavy on the musical documentaries, I see.)
  13. Salesman (1968), Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
  14. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982), Godfrey Reggio (and if it's not music, it's death and destruction)
  15. Sherman's March (1986), Ross McElwee (to this day, Northerners driving to Florida have to tread carefully driving through Georgia.)
  16. Grey Gardens (1976), Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer (Mrs. BA saw this, as did the OSGs. I passed. And will always do so.)
  17. Capturing the Friedmans (2003), Andrew Jarecki
  18. Born into Brothels (2004), Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski (this film comes very close to a point about my being able to watch films where children are in peril. Mrs. BA can't watch that stuff anymore, even the fictionalized stuff)
  19. Titicut Follies (1967), Frederick Wiseman
  20. Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Wim Wenders
  21. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Michael Moore ("Now watch this drive . . ." - sigh . . . )
  22. Winged Migration (2002), Jacques Perrin
  23. Grizzly Man (2005), Werner Herzog
  24. Night and Fog (1955), Alain Resnais
  25. Woodstock (1970), Michael Wadleigh
For the record, I have seen parts of numbers 3, 6, 9, 22, numbers 4, 10, 21, and most of 25. I prefer my film watching to somewhat escapist.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#44 - Barack Obama, 2009-

When I realized that I would need to add another post to this long series, I toyed with the idea of creating two posts, one for each candidate and then posting the one with the victor. I am a little too suspicious for that, so I created a template post and just had to plug in the vital information once the results became known. Even thought the 44th President, according to Hollywood, is this man.

So now that this series is done, any ideas for the next profiles? First ladies? Vice Presidents? British Prime Ministers? Popes? I would be interested in your ideas. I hope that you have enjoyed reading these as much as I have had in writing them. I even learned a few things along the way and I hope that you have as well.

The 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama. I am still getting used to that wonderful idea. He will become the first African-American to hold that office.

Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a black father and a white mother. Obama's parents divorced when he was two and he saw his father only once before Obama's father was killed in an automobile accident in 1982. Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995. He was raised mostly by his maternal grandparents. Obama's grandmother, Marilyn Dunham died two days before Obama's historic election. Obama graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, at the latter he served as President of the Law Review. After graduating from Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago, where he had been working as a community organizer.

Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, where he was reelected twice. In 2000, he ran for the United States Congress and lost by a wide margin. In 2004, Obama was elected to the United States Senate, an office he had been contemplating a run for since mid-2002. He gave a stirring keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. With his election to the Senate, he became only the fifth African-American to serve in the Senate. As the only African-American in the Senate, he was the sole Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In February 2007, Obama stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois to declare his candidacy for President of the United States. In June 2008, he emerged from a bruising primary battle to become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. One week ago, on November 4, 2008, he defeated Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona to become the President-elect.

The Facts
  • Born: August 4, 1961
  • Party: Democrat
  • Wife: Michelle Robinson, married 1992
  • Children: Sasha and Malia
The Election of 2008 (as of Tuesday November 11, 2008, from CNN)
Here's footage of the evening (I'll never get tired of the Fox News guys having to report it):

  • Obama was known as "Barry" when he was young, but asked to be called Barack starting in college.
  • In his election to the United States Senate, it marked the first time that both candidates were African-Americans (Alan Keyes)
  • He will be the first president to have been born outside the contiguous United States.
  • He will be the fifth youngest president to accede to the office.
  • He is the second president whose political base is Illinois (Lincoln - although Ronald Reagan was born there).
  • Obama is the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to receive more than 51% of the popular vote.
  • The Obama family has received their Secret Service codenames. Barack will be "Renegade," Michelle is "Renaissance," and the two girls are "Radiance" and "Rosebud."
  • Today is Veteran's Day - Barack Obama is the first president to be ineligible for the Vietnam Draft, born during the war and came of age after its conclusion.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recipe: My Deviled Eggs

This post that I saw on kottke, prompted me to write this recipe post on my deviled eggs. My deviled eggs were featured on Special K's blog, when the eggs made an appearance for a baby shower that Mrs. BA and I hosted for Mr. and Mrs. C in DC. My deviled eggs are a popular item at picnics and parties.

While it is kind of hard to screw up hard boiling eggs, the recipe that I prefer the most comes from the "Very Best Recipe" cookbook.

Place the eggs in a saucepan with just enough cold water to cover the eggs. Bring the eggs to a boil and remove from the flame and cover for ten minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and place them in an ice bath. The eggs will shell easier this way. Older eggs work best.

After you boil the eggs, shell them and then cut the eggs lengthwise. Place the yolks in a bowl and arrange the whites. Add some mustard and mayonnaise to the yolks and mix to a creamy consistency. If you want to be fancy, pipe the yolk mixture into the whites, if not, a spoon will do the trick. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

One way to enjoy deviled eggs is to eat them at a party as an hors d'ouvre. And in the why didn't I think of it first category, here is something that will come in handy at every party where you have to eat standing up and hold your drink at the same time. Fingerfood. Brilliant.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I am sitting in the last session of the Fall Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, in Silver Spring, MD.

My colleague and friend, ADR, is live blogging the session here. The session is entitled, the session is titled, Harnessing the Power of the Blog, and features a fellow colleague and blogger, who deals with archival issues at her professional blog - Archives Next.

Update: Kate is leading off the panel taking about Archives Next and how archival blogs get promoted and featured.

11:50: Kate continues, giving Order from Chaos a plug as a blog that covers a broad spectrum. I would tend to agree. Comments?

12:00: Next speaker, Elizabeth Hull from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who is discussing the blog, A View to Hugh, devoted to Hugh Morton.

Geof Huth is also blogging the session at his archival blog, the Anarchivist.

12:10: Hull finishing up telling about the most popular blog post, based on comments, which was on Duke-UNC basketball - of course, one of the largest rivalries around. She then is concluding with a story of one particular commenter to the blog, who got a little bent out of shape about a particular blog post and a gentleman who has commented on the blog more than seventy times.

12:15: Power running out on laptop, so final update from inside the session. I will try to add something about the final presenter, Dickinson College Archivist, Jim Gerencser - who is also my successor as MARAC Treasurer.

2:45: So the final speaker, Jim, spoke of a relatively new blog created to catalog reference requests. It sounds very interesting and in time, should prove helpful to archives staff who will not have to reinvent the wheel.

I learned after the session that the ADR's live blog along with Geof and my posts, were being monitored at the registration desk. A successful outing for a MARAC session on blogging! Live online sessions next stop!