Friday, November 14, 2008

Join the Impact

I encourage all my friends and family to join the international protest against California's hateful and discriminatory Proposition 8. Don't let the malefactors win. Show your support, and maybe we can educate the ignorant.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


America, you did the right thing. I know we have a lot of work to do, but today I am rocking my new short hair and my new black president. And I have every hope that Ms. Obama is going to be as strong an advocate for women as Ms. Clinton.
California bigots, I invite you to fuck right off, but you are not going to harsh my high.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shameful Confession

So, I basically haven't eaten at McDonald's for years because a) I don't like it and b) everything there has ten million calories. And I know that a) should preclude b), but in the past, it didn't always, because sometimes Mickey D's was just too convenient and cheap. It wasn't until I decided that if I'm going to "spend" 1700 calories on one meal, that meal had better rock my world rather than be just tolerable, that I really left McDonald's (and most fast food) behind.

Fast forward many years to when my son is introduced (by my MOM) to McDonald's. Now I basically have to go to McDonald's a couple times a month to get Happy Meals (i.e., food that gets thrown away and a really crappy plastic toy made by slave children in China). If I'm hungry too, I usually grab something for myself somewhere else, like the French bakery nearby my local McDonald's.

Today, my son wanted to eat at McDonald's so he could play in the (also craptacular) play structure because he hasn't had enough exposure to flesh-eating bacteria lately. I didn't think I could get away with bringing my own sandwich to a "restaurant," so I resolved to try to find something to eat at McDonald's.

I settled on this. The southern-style crispy chicken sandwich is a fried piece of chicken breast on a bun with a pickle. And, to their credit, McDonald's now provides easy access to nutritional info at their locations, so I knew in advance that the sandwich is 400 calories, which I deemed reasonable for something I figured would be bland and unmemorable, but filling.

Imagine my surprise when I took a bite and liked it. I mean, I'm not saying this was some kind of delectable gourmet snack, but it was tasty, and here's why: The chicken itself tastes like pickles! This totally appeals to the seriously trailer-parkish part of my palate that enjoys the occasional bowl of ramen noodles with melted American cheese slices, pickle sandwiches on soft white bread, and Tater Tots.

So now I'm looking forward to the next time the junky toys change genre at Mickey D's and Chase wants to get his next Happy Meal. I'm not going to make a habit of it, of course, because there's probably a ton of junk like growth hormones or DNA-altering herbs and spices in there, and because I recently renewed my commitment to pesca-vegetarianism, but, dang that pickle-chicken made me say yum!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Open Letter to Rachel Ray

Dear cacklin' Rachel Ray,

Everyone knows what nutmeg is.

SHUT UP already.


Friday, July 25, 2008

My Life on the (WT)F List

I went to Comic Con today. I'm going to post a longer entry with pictures later, but I can't do it now because my feet hurt.*

Anyway, every other time I've attended Comic Con, I've seen at least a couple celebrities -- usually minor ones, like Erin Gray, Lou Ferrigno, and random Playboy bunnies. The last four times I've gone, I've had close encounters with Gene Simmons.

Well, today, I saw just one. Stephen Fucking Baldwin. And he was signing autographs and sort of roaring at people. I thought about taking a picture, but then realized he wouldn't know I was taking it to show people how ridiculous he looked today and would just assume I loooooove heeeeem. So I didn't.

But you have to believe me, I saw him and he was acting like an idiot. And he loves Jesus. Just so you know.

*How does sore feet prevent me from blogging? I would have to walk a couple feet to the table to get my camera so I can download the pix. I don't see that happening today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oh yes. Food. (Trader Joe's Lemon-Pepper Paparadelle)

I love citrus. Citrus fruits are my favorites, with pears a close second. I mean, I'm not gonna turn away strawberries and nectarines during the summer, but citrus fruits are so versatile and full of pop, they enhance any kind of cuisine.

One of my favorite recent discoveries is Trader Joe's dried lemon-pepper paparadelle. I've had citrus-infused pastas before, but this paparadelle has a super bright lemon hit, along with a nice savory black pepper finish. I've had it with acidic sauces, like arrabiatta, but I thought it would really get along great with a cream sauce.

Problem is, in the summer, I don't want the heaviness of a real cream sauce, and I definitely don't want my stove running any longer than necessary. So, I did a little thinking, and this is what I came up with.

Trader Joe's Lemon-Pepper Paparadelle with Ricotta and Creme Fraiche Sauce

1 cup part-skim ricotta
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 pound lemon-pepper paparadelle, cooked al dente
1/3 to 1/2 cup pasta water
salt and pepper to taste

Put paparadelle on to boil in salted water.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, creme fraiche, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.
Once pasta is al dente, drain, reserving at least 1/2 cup of water.
Put pasta back in cooking pan and add ricotta mixture, tossing to incorporate.
Add pasta water and stir and toss until sauce is smooth and creamy.

Serve pasta with grated parmesan and parsley sprigs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Recipe: Lime smoked salmon with avocado

A recipe that's been in my repertoire for years, and happens to be one of my mom's favorites, is grilled salmon with lime, chive, and avocado vinaigrette. It's super simple, delicious, and I think it came from a special issue of Bon Appetit magazine about eighteen years ago. I can't find the original recipe anywhere anymore, so I'm just going to claim it as my own until the copyright police find me. Heck -- who knows how I've changed it over the years? Anyway, the fun part is making the leftover recipe (which will be my next post. probably).

Lime-Grilled Salmon with Avocado Vinaigrette

Adjust amounts to fit your needs. In this case, we had too much salmon for one meal, which is why the leftover dish came about.

I used an outdoor gas grill and hickory chips for smoking. I'm sure a charcoal grill will also make this pleasantly smoky. If you wish to use a grill pan or indoor grill, it's still a delicious meal without the smoky taste.


If you are using an outdoor gas grill, set your woodchips up for smoking as directed.

2 pounds wild-caught salmon, fileted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
kosher or sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil

With the salmon skin-side down, sprinkle the lime juice over the salmon. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Drizzle olive oil over, and rub mixture into salmon until well coated. Let sit for ten to twenty minutes.

Grill fish until it bounces back to the touch (about eight minutes on medium-high on a gas grill).


2 medium avocados, diced
1/4 cup lime juice
zest of one lime
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Let rest several minutes (while fish cooks). Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

When fish is done, serve with several spoonfuls of sauce on top. Accept the kudos when your mom acts like you're a big chef!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Here, It's Peace.

One of the really wonderful things that has happened to me in the last couple of years is I've met a really interesting, intelligent, and artistic woman through my son's friendship with a schoolmate. She's a thoughtful liberal, and a funny and complex person, which can be a little rare in the environment in which I live.

One of the really crappy things that has happened to me over the last couple of years is my situation at a job I would otherwise really like. But that changed last week.

I have been trying to see Michele's show since it started, but a combination of stress and circumstance kind of kept me away. In fact, it kept me from a lot of fun activities I would have liked to attend. Though I have seen some of the works she exhibited in the show (and maybe that's not the right word for it -- I am not a visual artist) in her home and online, I knew it wasn't the same as seeing them properly hung, with statements and context. I already knew I find her work powerful, but when the artist is standing there holding the work up before you, it is (for me) difficult to lose myself to the experience.

Though the craptacularness of my job changed by the end of last week, there were still a lot of unanswered questions, mixed emotions, and general disbelief. I walked out of work on Friday afternoon with a sort of surreal potential for celebration.

Saturday was another interesting day. I will blog about that later.

Sunday, I woke up knowing Michele was going to take down her art at 3:00 pm. It was my priority to see it before it went away. I was sad I wasn't going to see the show on a day when Michele was there to talk about it.

Michele's exhibition was titled "Here, It's Peace." I had talked with her before about the meaning of that, and I know it's meant both literally and not literally. Many of the pieces for this collection have a sort of desert camouflage motif, but even though they evoke the current combat situation in the Middle East, they do not literally depict it. And, in fact, the images are also meant to (as I understand it) evoke other types of war and peace. For example, they might suggest the "war" of an illegal alien crossing the border versus the "peace" of a family in San Diego enjoying a day at the beach. Or the "war" of a woman or children who are abused by a violent patriarch versus the "peace" of a happy marriage.

As I say, I have seen many of the works before in other contexts, and always, I have been aware of the juxtaposition of the conflict and the harmonious. But I have always related more to the socio-political implications of the works, especially with regard to the USA's current conflicts.

Sunday, I woke up with an invigorated heart and sense of self. I was ready to let the past go, and give my energy back to my personal life, my friends, and most of all, my son. After entertaining him for a few hours, I set off to see Michele's exhibition.

The San Diego Art Institute is located in Balboa Park. It was very busy, so I had to park far away from the SDAI. For some reason, I felt in a hurry, and dashed off, noticing nothing around me and passing pedestrians left and right, to get to the SDAI.

I got to the SDAI and went downstairs to see Michele's exhibition. It was a rare hot and humid day in San Diego, and I relished the cool quietness that was the exhibition room. Michele's exhibition was the first thing I saw.

I'm not sure I saw the show in the order Michele wanted me to see it, but, for me, the order in which I saw it meant everything. One of the first things that struck me was this painting. There was a poem by Ivan Sigg accompanying the painting that moved me, and I hope Michele will give me a link to it. What really struck me was that for me, the politics were in the background. They were there, but this painting reminded me that personal relationships are what's important. What transcends the politics. As I moved through the rest of the works, I saw things I hadn't seen before. I saw Michele's relationship to her motherhood, which is so similar to mine. I saw her fears and her bravado. I saw and felt orange where before I had seen only camouflage. I saw so much more than I had before.

Note: I'm still processing her piece on Ingrid Betancourt and cannot comment on it now.

Because I was by myself, I could sit on a bench and really let the pieces speak to me. I did that for awhile before I moved on to the pieces behind me.

Those pieces seemed to get more hopeful.

I must say that every piece I saw seemed to speak to me in a new way, and I kept thinking for each piece, "This is my favorite." But then I came to this:

This was the piece I felt summed up everything I was feeling. It's beautiful, it's powerful, it speaks to me about my motherhood, my nurturing, and my conflicts. I stood before it for a long time, letting it draw me in. The most important part for me is it spoke of my relationship to Michele and of our mutual relationship to our kids, our culture, and our concerns.

If you don't know Michele Guieu's work, you should.

And this is what I wrote to her soon after seeing her show:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Goodbye Boss Wack

If you are among my legion of fans who check my blog daily for a new post (Hiya, Gumbeauxgal!), you might have noticed I've been AWOL for, like, two months. There's actually a good reason for this: For about two years, I've been dealing with an increasingly hostile situation at work that recently became intolerable. In a nutshell, my boss was an idiot.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. "Oh, come on! It's the same all across corporate America. Everyone's boss is an idiot, and the same problems exist in every company, and you're just a whiner, or this is your very first job."

Ahem. I'm sorry to disillusion you, but this situation was truly so. fucking. special. (Apologies to Radiohead).

Over the last two years, this boss nearly toppled our entire organization. It almost would have been easier to take if Boss Wack were evil. Instead, BW is pathetically unqualified to perform the work expected. And, unfortunately, BW was too incompetent to carry out the very good advice (even specific instructions) of the many employees who wanted to see the organization (and by association, BW) succeed.

As the situation declined over the years, several of BW's employees developed both emotional and physical symptoms of stress, including digestive trouble, chronic migraines, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Of course, our loved ones advised us to simply "leave work at work" and detach our emotions from the office. Unfortunately, we are all highly ethical, committed to our customers, and invested in quality. Our work is too big a part of our lives to be able to compartmentalize in that way.

Numerous complaints to the higher-ups and traditional HR channels resulted in naught . . . until last week.

As of last Friday, BW is no longer our boss. Several of those who remain likened it to getting out of an abusive relationship, because that's what it essentially was. There was obviously no physical abuse, but there was emotional abuse, and many levels of inappropriateness. None of us has experienced anything quite like this before, and we all have many years of experience in corporate America.

So, the tides have turned, the wall has come crashing down, and a bunch of good people are suddenly happy campers with the weight of the world off our shoulders. We don't know exactly what will happen next, but the future is rife with opportunity and hope.

And that means I have my energy for my personal life back again. I can be happy and funny, and, of course, brilliant again. Let the post-athon commence!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happiest Blog Post Ever. Sincerely.

A few weeks ago, one of my dearest friends, M, called me at work after being MIA on e-mail for longer than is usual. I picked up, and asked how she was. Instead of saying, "Fine," she asked if I had a moment to talk, so I knew right away something was up.

M has always been very health-conscious. She is fit, she exercises almost every day, she avoids anything even remotely suspected of being carcinogenic, she monitors her cholesterol intake, and she eats bean burritos with remarkable regularity (no pun intended). And she's only 42. So, how in the hell is it possible I was listening to her tell me she had a cancerous polyp in her colon?

I don't know if I found the news particularly shocking because I love M so much, or because I just assumed her healthy lifestyle rendered her impervious to serious illness. In any case, all I could think were such nonsensical things as "Why her? It isn't fair! How could this happen to her?" As though it would be more fair or comprehensible if it happened to -- I don't know -- my son's teacher? My aunt? The woman in front of me in the supermarket line?

So, there it was. It wasn't fair. It isn't fair when it happens to anyone, but M is close to me, so this time, I care. A lot.

M told me the next step would be surgery to remove the part of the colon with the polyp. The surgery is major: They have to cut her open. It's not something that can be done with a scope and a tiny incision. Plus, only after the surgery would they know the severity of the situation.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. M had her surgery last Thursday, and the procedure went well. Astonishingly, the good news came back only two days later: The surgery was completely successful, they were able to completely remove the polyp, and no cancer had spread beyond the part of the colon they removed. As of today, she is home, feeling much better, and hopped up on vicodin.

M said she feels almost like it didn't even happen. Like the pain and worry of the surgery is a small price to pay for the fantastic outcome. I danced when she told me. I've never been so relieved.

I know I will have to face my friends' mortality someday, but I can go back to believing that day is far away. At least for awhile.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Five years ago today, we won the war President Bush so thoughtfully started for us.

I'm sure that's very comforting to the many thousands* who have died in the war since then.

*Because I count Iraqis.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vesuvius and the Super Boys

In recent weeks, my son, Tornado Boy, and I have been making "play dates" with one of his school friends, Spiderman, Spiderman's little brother, Batman, and their mom. We've had great fun at various parks around town, so last Saturday, we decided to go to The San Diego Museum of Natural History together to see the exhibition A Day in Pompeii.

Spiderman and Batman's mom is an artist whose work, I believe, is often inspired by photographs of her family, so she always brings a camera to our play dates. This was fortunate for me, because I forgot to bring my camera. We weren't allowed to take photos in the exhibition, but while we waited our turn to go in, we were treated to a history of first century (Common Era) Roman soldiers (centuria) by the reenactment group Legio IX Hispana. About eight people in full ancient centurion armor and weaponry, all handcrafted by the reenactors from traditional materials and methods, transfixed the super boys immediately. The super boys cautiously approached a pair of centurions holding large wooden shields, along with iron swords and javelins. The centurions described their armor and weapons, and then kindly posed for a few photos with the boys, playfully brandishing their weapons. Batman asked, "Are you going to kill us?" and one of the soldiers responded, "Only if you touch the artwork!"

The exhibition itself was both fascinating and poignant. There were several marble sculptures, which I particularly like because of the way sculptors make such hard material look like flowing robes and soft skin. It was interesting to find out how wealthy the rich in Pompeii were. The homes would have been luxurious and richly decorated, with lush, intricate gardens and beautiful artwork. Of course this was supported by servants and slaves who had very little and were often treated poorly. The volcano didn't discriminate, however.

I found a couple of things particularly interesting.

The citizens of Pompeii, a small city by current standards, worshipped a variety of gods and belonged to many sects and cults. It seems as though the various beliefs existed side-by-side, with no significant conflict resulting. I need to do further research to find out why this might have been, or whether it is even true, but with different factions of the same religion fighting viciously just within my own country, I am curious about how it might be possible for people of diverse beliefs to "just get along."

And then, during a video presentation, we were told that the launderers of Pompeii placed jugs around the city to collect the urine of any townspeople who felt the urge, and then they used the urine as an early type of bleach to brighten fabrics. "Ewww," I said, showing off my scholarly intellectualism.

I think the moms maintained a higher level of interest than the super boys did, but several aspects of the exhibition definitely had an impact on the super boys. Of course, the casts of the bodies of people and animals trapped by the lava and ash intrigued and moved us all. I think the boys absorbed enough information to have a rough understanding of what happened and to start to think about the similarities and differences between our lives and those of ancient cultures.

In the end, though, they mostly wanted to go to the park. So we did, and we played until the super boys had to rush off to save the day.

On John McCain and Jon Stewart

I wrote the following piece for my ill-conceived web site in 2006. I still see people are sometimes surprised to find out John McCain is not such a moderate, so I thought I'd repost this here, as it still seems sort of relevant.

On April 3, 2006, the glorious Jon Stewart conducted a short interview with John McCain on "The Daily Show," during which he chided Senator McCain for his decision to deliver a speech at Jerry Falwell's tax shelter of intolerance, Liberty University. The interview generated two responses of note: Senator McCain has been lambasted by liberals for evidently losing his mind and supporting uber-conservative Jerry Falwell, and Jon Stewart has been lauded by liberals for finally relentlessly hitting a conservative guest with tough questions. I'd like to address each of those points.

John McCain has been a right-winger the entire time.
During the 2000 and, especially, the 2004 election years, John McCain seemed almost moderate-- compared to George W. Bush, Karl Rove, et al. That's an important distinction. Let us not forget a number of political observers have advanced the theory that Richard Nixon was reasonable, compared to the current administration.

In 2000, John McCain had a 67% approval rating from the John Birch Society, and a 91% approval rating from the Christian Coalition. By 2004, he had a 90% rating from the John Birch Society (Project Vote Smart). These organizations don't give approval like that to moderates.

What we saw in 2004 was Republican Party infighting. And liberals were so desperate to see a chink in the conservative wall, some quickly embraced John McCain, going so far as to suggest the Democratic party court him as a potential presidential candidate. I think the idea was lobbed half-jokingly, but I believe it was a case of kidding on the square.

So now people worry Senator McCain has suddenly gone bananas in endorsing at least one of the more powerful dark forces within his party. I believe it's just the opposite. He's behaving like a man who wants to be President of the United States of America and knows there's only one party whose support can make that achievement remotely possible.

How many times does Jon Stewart have to say "fake news show" before you believe him?
I think it must have started when a flurry of media reviews suggested some great percentage of young adults learned of current issues and events primarily through "The Daily Show." For the last year or so, I've read numerous complaints that Jon Stewart doesn't dog his guests with hardball interview questions. He's criticized for being a soft -- what? -- journalist? I wonder if that isn't because he's actually a comedian. Doing a comedy show. On the Comedy Channel. With comedy.

Granted, he's often able to sting a guest with a pointed observation or express complete disagreement with his guest, but nine times out of ten, it's funny when he does it.

It was the same with John McCain on April 3. McCain had some idea of what he was about to get, and he seemed to come into the interview prepared to be ribbed. He mostly responded with humor, and Stewart was able to push for answers in a way that maintained the comedy, while (maybe) getting a couple of flustered responses from Senator McCain.

I happen to think the significance of what has been seen as McCain's major slip is overrated. Frankly, I think he was joking around.

I have a few more posts I want to work on this week, but I will try to update this piece with links to my sources in the next few days.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I don't typically just link to someone else's more brilliant blog, but this resonated with me:

Sing it, sister.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Breaking News: Kittens Still Cute

Especially when sleeping, as the potential for serious injury is so much lower.

By the way, certain poodles are also easy on the eyes:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Will Nobody Think of the Pancakes!?

As my legion of faithful readers knows, I am very concerned about what America is doing to poor, innocent pancakes.

Until recently, it had not occurred to me that the largest threat in the Pancake Axis of Evil would be The International House of Pancakes (a.k.a iHOP, as if we wouldn't see through their disguise.) My naivete was due, in part, to the fact that I don't ever eat there. Why would I go to a crowded, plastic-coated, weirdly-shaped place with embarrassing dish names when I can get my pancake needs satisfied here? Or here? Or, dare I say it, at home?

It sort of surprised me a couple of weeks ago when my son woke up on a Saturday and informed us that we would be going to iHOP for breakfast. I didn't even know it was on his radar, since we never go there. My mom and dad thought it would be harmless enough -- perhaps even a nice change from the usual, high-quality restaurants we frequent, so we got ourselves in the car and drove to the nearest fake Swiss chateau, or whatever it's supposed to look like.

Inside, I got my first inkling of the horror that was to come. First of all, at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, there was no wait. Every other breakfast place in San Diego always has a line out the door at that time on a weekend.

When I got into the tiny lobby, my son pointed to a poster bearing images of characters from Horton Hears a Who around this startling item:

"Oh my God, what is that?" I exclaimed. "It's what I want for breakfast," my son explained.

Indeed, iHOP has invented Who-cakes in a cross-marketing campaign for the recent movie version of Horton Hears a Who. What they are is a stack of about six pancakes covered in not-found-in-nature pink and blue sauce with candy sprinkled all over and a lollipop stuck in the center. For children. For breakfast.

Now, I'm not super vigilant about my son's diet. I try to make sure he has a fairly good balance of veggies and pasta and proteins and such, but I let him have cookies and candy, and I indulge him with milkshakes and pie for dessert, probably more often than I should. But this particular monstrosity really tested my limits. In the end, I let him order the Who-cakes.

My son ate approximately one bite of one of the less-sauce-covered cakes, and declared himself finished and asked for some of my veggie omelet. I asked how he liked the Who-cakes, and he declared them "kinda maybe yucky." Unfortunately, so was the omelet, though it wasn't as much of an assault on the eyes.

So, sense prevails, even in six-year-olds. They may be taken in by advertising, but they will figure it out when something is just not good.

Finally, in another terrible strike against pancakes, our waiter revealed that the iHOP does not stock real maple syrup. What the hell?

Green, Green Orzo Salad

Last night, I made an orzo salad with a lot of green ingredients. It tasted like spring.

1/2 pound orzo, cooked al dente, dressed with a bit of olive oil, and cooled
1 cup frozen peas prepared according to package directions and cooled
1/4 cup garlic-infused olive oil
zest and juice from 1 medium lemon
2 T mint, chopped
2 T chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz crumbled light feta cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, mint, chives, and salt and pepper. Add orzo and peas and toss to coat with dressing. Fold in crumbled feta.

This tastes even better the next day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Give Jay Your Gayest Look

Jay Leno just keeps making friends:

So, here's my gayest look for you, Jay.

What an asshole. Also? Not funny.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Flu Sucks

This might be the first time in several years I've come down with the actual flu, as in high fever, fake-sounding cough, horrible headache, and general all-over "owwwww, unghhhh" feeling.

But soon, I will update you on the latest salvo on America's War on Pancakes.

Here's a preview:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fettucine with Green Pea Pesto and Spring Herb Salad

I've been watching Jamie Oliver's new series on FoodTV and getting inspiration from some of the things he makes. Not so much lately, though, as the latest few episodes have been about game and lamb, and I do my best to be a pescatarian, if that's a word.

A couple of weeks ago, a salad he made inspired me to try to recreate it, and for some reason, I thought it would go nicely with a green pea pesto and pasta dish. I'm not going to write out a recipe, because I used a recipe from Gourmet magazine for the pesto (with the addition of a little tarragon and parsley), and the salad was just arugula, Belgian endive, Italian parsley, and raddicchio tossed with a lemon-tarragon vinaigrette. The point is, it was really good, and I remembered to take a picture of it.

Actually, there's more: My son LOVED the pasta. In his little mind, pesto now means the pea mixure that was on that pasta, so I have finally found a way to get him to eat vegetables. As long as I puree cooked veggies with garlic and parmesan and call it pesto, he seems to be willing to eat them. (I recently tried this with roasted cauliflower and called it "white pesto" and it worked.)

Aside: The plates in my house reflect my mom's taste, not mine so much.


If you are a fan of Lost and a fan of funny, you will like this. I command you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Food: It's What's for Dinner

I just noticed that my friend Gumbeaux Gal has linked to my blog as one of her favorite food blogs, so I'd better post about food again right quicklike.

Last night, I didn't think I had anything in the house to make for dinner, but I definitely did not want to go anywhere, so I opened the fridge and looked for inspiration. There it was, in the form of a bag of cleaned, sliced crimini mushrooms from Trader Joe's that if I didn't use right now, would probably convert to something unrecognizable overnight. Well, maybe they weren't that bad, but let's just say I had a bag of mushrooms I needed to take care of.

I've always got pasta on hand, and lately, I've been buying bags of Trader Joe's mini ravioli to feed my little boy. So, with the mushroom mini ravioli, sliced mushrooms, some fresh thyme and sage, and some onion and garlic, I created:

Carmelized Double-Mushroom Ravioli in a Pinch

1/2 bag of Trader Joe's mini mushroom ravioli
1 bag Trader Joe's sliced crimini mushrooms (about two cups sliced mushrooms)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
olive oil
grated parmigiano-reggiano

In a stock pot or large sauce pan, bring a whole bunch of water to a boil, and then add salt. Cook ravioli according to package directions, and drain.

Meanwhile, In a hot saute pan, add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add mushrooms and cook over high heat until mushrooms give off their liquid and begin to brown (about ten to fifteen minutes*). Add onions, and season with salt. Cook until onions and mushrooms begin to caramelize (about ten more minutes*). Add garlic and herbs and cook until garlic turns golden and mushrooms and onions are nice and brown (about five more minutes*). Deglaze the pan with the wine, and cook until wine reduces by half. Season with pepper and more salt, if necessary.

Throw the cooked ravioli in with the mushroom mixture and toss. Top with grated cheese and enjoy.


I seriously considered adding about 1/4 cup of cream once the wine was reduced. Also, I think rosemary would be nice in place of the sage. If I'd had spinach on hand, I would have added that too, as well as some crushed red pepper.

*All times are approximate and reflect the crappiness of my stove.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's National Grammar Day!

Because I am a writer and editor, several coworkers and acquaintances have alerted me to the fact that today is National Grammar Day.

Imagine my delight! A whole day devoted to picking on people's grammatical and spelling foibles!

Okay, okay. I get that it's sort of all in fun, and, sure, I make fun of some of the grammatical errors I see in the wild. But, and here's the important part, not to the faces of the people who made them.

It's not really "celebrating good grammar" that bugs me, and if this holiday can result in editors getting presents, I'm all for that. This is what I object to:
If you see a sign with a catastrophic apostrophe, send a kind note to the
storekeeper. If your local newscaster says "Between you and I," set him straight
with a friendly e-mail.

That's not a celebration of good grammar; it's a celebration of bad manners. I mean, it's sort of what I do for a living, except I'm doing it for professional writers who are well aware of the standards they need to follow, and who also understand that it's impossible to be perfectly precise, consistent, and accurate without that "second pair of eyes." They get that it's not personal (well, most of them do). They also have a set of published guidelines reflecting industry-standard usage. Nonetheless, sometimes when they speak off the cuff, they say things like "between you and I" or "I don't feel good," or "Fuck this bullshit," though that's not technically incorrect. My point is, you wouldn't find it in one of their manuals.

Guess what? I do that too. And I write conversationally in places like this blog. And I've noticed people think I sound friendlier when I say "I'm good," rather than "I'm well" in response to "How are you?"

And I haven't even gotten to things like regionalisms, colloquialisms, dialects, accents, and lolcats. All of which I totally love. Did you understand that? Because it wasn't grammatically correct.

Which brings me to this from the National Grammar Day site:
If we don't respect and honor the rules of English, we lose our ability to
communicate clearly and well. In short, we invite mayhem, misery, madness, and
inevitably even more bad things that start with letters other than M.

This is simply retarded.

Other than a very new English speaker, who doesn't understand that a pet store sign reading "Cat's: 50% Off!" means there's a sale on cats? Or that the newscaster who said "Between you and I" means -- well, to be honest, I have no idea what that means, since newscasters talk to huge audiences, and so can't really keep secrets. So maybe that was just a bad example. Should I send a "friendly" e-mail to the National Grammar Day people pointing out their huge fucking mistake?

Speaking of which, again from the site:
Seriously—sort of.

Not a grammatically correct construction, people. So, I guess I must not be able to understand it.

So, I'll just go back to picking the nits I'm paid to pick, and not obsessing over misspellings on Italian menus or worrying about how many people pronounce err as "air" instead of "er" (betcha didn't know that one -- thanks, Mr. High School English teacher for that unnecessary little bugaboo), or whatever the newest thing is that's Killing the English Language.

In the meantime, I am grateful for all the coworkers who sent me and the other editor pats on the back about the job we do for them. And I promise, I am not really that uptight about this, and now that I've ranted, I can go back to remembering it's all in fun. 'Cuz I totalleh lurves teh lnguaj.

This post is especially for phibetakitten, who LOVES SHIT LIKE THIS. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I've had a big crush on Tilda Swinton since I first saw her in Orlando. I just now realized it's because she's been David Bowie the entire time.

Congratulations on that Oscar, Tilda!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tyler Florence Does Not Understand the Concept of "Buddy"

On Saturday mornings when I have nothing to do before a play date at 1:30, I do not tidy up my room or go for a walk or write my best-selling novel. No I do not. Instead, I park myself in front of Food Network programming for, like, five hours. I watch all the shows, whether I like them or not. In fact, I think I like the shows I don't like more than the shows I like. I mean, Jamie Oliver just makes me hungry, but Paula Deen provokes deep, philosophical questions like "What were you mainlining when you thought Velveeta should be an ingredient in fudge?"

Today, I watched Tyler's Ultimate with Tyler Florence, which I don't find particularly interesting in either respect, but what am I going to do -- laundry? He was making something out of a beef shoulder, and in trying to describe where on the animal the cut comes from, he said, "You see, our cow buddy here . . . " and pointed at the beef.

Pssst! Tyler! When you have an animal killed so you can eat it? It stops being your buddy pretty much right away. It probably questions whether you were ever really friends at all.

I guess this didn't bug me as much as when the Cuban lady kept saying "shrimpies," but . . . sheesh. One Rachel Ray is way more than enough.

Kitten Lessons

I'm having to relearn what I've forgotten about having a young kitten in the house. Mish-Mish has been teaching me the following kitten lessons:

  • Toilet Paper Is Kitten Crack
  • Kleenex Is Also Kitten Crack
  • If You Sleep with Your Feet Outside the Blankets, Your Toes Are Fair Game
  • Do Not Leave Your Beverage Unattended, Even if You Think It's Implausible That a Kitten Would Drink a Greyhound
  • Cats Are Nocturnal, You Know
  • There Is No Barrier So High a Three-Pound Kitten Can't Jump Over It
  • You Are not the Boss of Me
  • People Legs in Pants Are a Convenient Mode of Transportation
  • Your Hair Is Also Kitten Crack, Especially at 2:00 A.M.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Being an Atheist Is Hard!

I'm an atheist. My ex-husband is an atheist. Therefore, our son is an atheist. Seems reasonable enough, right? I mean, no one questions it when a Catholic mom and a Catholic dad have Catholic kids. But you should hear the shit I get from people when I say my son is an atheist.

"How can you say that? He's not old enough to make up his mind!"
"If you brainwash him like that and he dies, he'll go to hell."
"How will he learn morals if he thinks there isn't a God?"
"My kid believes in God, so tell your kid not to tell my kid he doesn't believe in God."

And so forth.

That's on top of the fact that at least three kids at school repeatedly tell my son he's going to hell because he doesn't believe in God. We're talking six-year-olds, people. So, apparently, it's perfectly fine to brainwash your kid until he turns into a tiny, Jerry Falwell-style, neo-conservative hater, but it's totally unacceptable to encourage your kid to think for himself. And can I just point out that it really should be obvious that "You're going to hell" is probably the most wildly ineffective argument possible when you're talking to an atheist?*

So, as the title of this post says, being an atheist is hard, and it's not just because we're going to hell. As an adult, I occasionally wish I could pass off various human atrocities and natural disasters as "God's will," and convince myself there was some good reason God wanted to kill a bunch of babies in a hurricane or whatever. Intellectual honesty and critical thinking take effort, and sometimes, aren't very comforting or fun, especially considering the current state of affairs in this country. But, in return, I get to have an open mind, an interest in science and keeping myself educated, and a deep appreciation for the genius that is Jon Stewart. Who should call me at his earliest convenience.

But the hardest part of all is teaching this style of thinking to a child. The day he watched Bambi and figured out that everyone is going to die, including mommy, I wanted to convert on the spot to any religion that would let me tell him that after we die, we all go somewhere great to eat unlimited macaroni and cheese while watching The Upside Down Show and making Lego robots together. But no. I had to spend several heartbreaking hours consoling a little boy who was learning to deal with the idea that one day, mommy will probably go away forever. That seriously sucked.

On the bright side, my son gets to learn that there are reasons for everything. The sky isn't blue because God made it that way or little fairies painted it when they were drunk. He knows that the sky is blue because, uh, something about refraction, I think, and . . . honey, let me introduce you to a great invention called Google.

And that's really the meat of the whole thing. Google has all the answers, so who needs God? Google will never smite you. Google is totally new testament.

*Explanation for those who don't see why this is obvious
Hello, Christians! See, atheists don't just not believe in deities. They also don't believe in all the stuff the deities supposedly (more of the not-believing, here) said in their various books, alleged (see?) appearances, visits with schizophrenics, and messages on trees or tortillas or toast. So, as an atheist, I don't believe in God, hell, the devil, angels, or lepers, and I'm kinda undecided on what I think went on with the whole Jesus thing. Just kidding about the lepers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meet Mish-Mish

This is Mish-Mish. She is a twelve-week-old Chausie kitten who is currently purging my home of invisible-to-the-human-eye terror threats.

It's been about sixteen years since I've had a kitten. My last kittens were Fear and Trembling, a sweet, adorable, if non-litterbox-oriented pair of "mutt" shorthairs I adopted upon pressure from a former coworker who didn't believe in neutering her cats. They weren't that smart, and they weren't that proud, but they loved me and I loved them. Fear died over the summer, and Trembling died early this month. That was the first day I ever lived without a cat family member.

Between the time I was about six until I got Tremor (a year before Fear and Trembling), my family favored purebred exotic cats, like Siamese, Burmese, and Tonkinese. After my family's long-lived, beloved Burmese, Killer, died, my dad expressed an interest in Abyssinians, which I had also always coveted. When Trembling died, I started looking into Abyssinian rescue organizations, thinking that "when I was ready," I might want to adopt an Abby or Abby mix. I found an Abyssinian and Chausie breeder and rescue service, who happened to have one female Chausie they desperately wanted to adopt out. I researched the breed, and when I discovered they're more affectionate and better with children than Chausies, I figured I'd better meet that kitten. I did, and it was very-much-like at first sight.

She came home with me (and about eighty dollars' worth of Chuao chocolates) on Valentine's Day. She hid under my bed for about eighteen hours, and then began reminding me of what it's like to have a kitten.

Fingers typing on a keyboard are a scourge that must be exterminated. Dust bunnies will not stand. Six-and-a-half year old little boys are a very interesting science project and/or transportation system. Toes? Another scourge. By the way, that snack you're eating? Drop it, or she'll pounce. In fact, pounce is her middle name. Oh -- and there was nothing in the available material on Chausies that mentioned they can jump ten feet vertically from standing.

It's been fun. And she's certainly worming her way into my heart. I miss my old lady kitties, but I can see my new longtime kitty companion in Mish-Mish.

Question: Why Won't They Give Me a Normal Amount of Food?

Answer: It's because they like me.

Where I work, we have an on-site cafeteria. The level of tastiness of the offerings is unpredictable, but having the option on site sure is convenient, since we don't have anything nearby that we can walk to. And there are some consistent items, like the salad bar and deli sandwiches, that one can eat in a pinch.

So, what you probably don't know about me is that I'm sickeningly nice almost all the time. In any given transaction, I probably say "please" and "thank you" about a dozen times. Once, when I called a friend at her family's house, her brother who answered the phone gave me crap about being too polite. "Fuck you!" I replied. Fictitiously.

Anyway, I am very polite to service workers, and when I see them on a regular basis, I try to find out their names and have just enough small talk to make the interactions friendly without slowing them down in their jobs. (Aside: This is different from my mother. Woe betide the supermarket cashier who asks her how she is.) In a nutshell, I treat the staff of the work cafeteria the way I would treat my coworker acquaintances, because . . . they are coworker acquaintances. Apparently, this attitude is unusual in my office.

As a result, the staff tend to like me and they sometimes do favors for me. Like, the cashier sometimes doesn't charge me the quarter for my daily giant cup of water. The chef tells me when he's going to make my favorite soup. The sandwich maker automatically puts dijon mustard on my veggie wrap. And the guy in charge of serving the "healthy choice" entrees piles ten times more food into my container than he puts in anyone else's.

I've tried to explain to him (politely!) that for me, more isn't better in this area. Especially since the healthy choice entrees I am likely to try are typically some form of pasta with veggies or tomato sauce. But he always just smiles and keeps putting more in, sometimes brushing me off with an "it's good for you." I've finally stopped begging him to stop after every giant spoonful, even though it's really horribly wasteful to have to get rid of three-quarters of the meal. (Why don't I share with someone or save the leftovers for the next day? It's never really that good.)

Today, I weighed my orecchiette with roma tomatoes, basil, fat-free mozzarella, and garlic (which still ended up pretty much tasteless) on the salad bar scale: 1.34 pounds. Of pasta, basically, since there was but one tomato in my container. So, more than a full standard package of pasta. That's what people want you to eat if you're nice.