March 2002 Archives

While The Cat's Away

Yeah, I know that I've been rather delinquent with updates recently. Get used to it, because I'm going to be without much in the way of internet access for the next week as I head off to Hong Kong with my brother. I gotta say that this staying-up-until-half-past-one-in-the-morning-packing-and-cleaning-up-and-then-getting-to-the-office-at-8-a.m. thing can really make you loopy. But hey, I can sleep on the plane. That's what it's there for, right?

Some links to keep the mice occupied while the cat's away:

Since I'm rambling feverishly here, I might as well add that it would be really cool if HyperCard were to be reborn for OS X. I doubt that it would ever happen, though. Real Basic seems to have taken over that part of the market.

Oscar!

Well, I have to admit that the Oscars didn't suck, or at least they didn't suck too badly.

They were, however, waaaaay too long.

My advice is:

  • Fewer commercials.
  • Fewer honorary Oscars (they gave out THREE, for gosh's sakes).
  • Better material for Whoopi.
  • What was with Donald Sutherland and Glenn Close being "The Voice of The Oscars"? Isn't that why you have a host?

The Oscar for Most Spectacular Acceptance Speech goes to Halle Berry, who just might have won a Lifetime Achivement award last night.

The Oscar for Best I Don't Give A Damn Anymore Speech goes to Randy Newman, who, after winning for the first time in 16 nominations, said "You're not going to cut me off in 4 seconds" while looking right at John Williams and later added "I see a lot of musicians who've worked for me before... and might not work for me again" as the cameras showed an orchestra that was dutifully not getting ready to play.

The Oscar for Rambling goes to Woody Allen, who started strong but eventually ran out of steam, ideas, and organization.

The Oscar for Best/Worst idea goes to whoever thought about hiring the Cirque du Soleil.

Brilliant idea, brilliant execution (though the TV direction was pretty pointless), but what exactly is the point behind sticking a long spectacle number in the middle of a show that's too long as scheduled and ends up going over by an hour?

Jerry Springer The Opera

Aria of the Lesbian Dwarf Diaper Fetishist. Or, Jerry Springer: The Opera. (sometimes those Times copy editors come up with some real doozys, eh?)

VH1 Classic

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VH1 Classic is pretty cool. It's basically all classic music videos, all the time (hey, remember when MTV actually played music videos? Me neither), with no commercials.

Anyway...

So I'm watching it, brain turned off, and Madonna comes on. Singing a song called Material Girl. It's pretty amazing that people took this song seriously once. I guess that we didn't have a sense of humor back in 1984.

And speaking of a sense of humor, when did Madonna lose hers? She hasn't done anything fun or funny in years.

St. Patrick's Day Already?

Wow. Four days without posting. I guess I better get on the ball. First things first.

Red Flower

I moved all of my Bali pictures to a new server. Same great pictures, less filling. I hope to move the rest of my travel pictures there soon. We'll see how long it takes.

. . .

That carrot soup I made last week is still quite tasty. And I'm almost done with it, which is amazing.

Some more random observations from Paris

  • Durex sells a 12-pack of prophylactics in a brightly-colored package. They call it "The Fiesta". Quite the appropriate name. Particularly if one was able to use them all up in one go.
     
  • Parisian couples hold hands in public waaaaay more than New Yorkers do. Maybe it's a European thing.
     
  • The Smart Car should be sold in New York. And probably a bunch of other large American cities. I don't really see it catching on in Suburbia, though. Yes, I want one.
     
  • Typing on keyboard layouts that are almost but not quite exactly like the one you're used to is a real pain in the ass.

Notes From The Web

Stephen Jay Gould: Saint or Sinner?

It's a vicious cycle: you get rejected, you get stupider. This explains a lot about the deterioration of my mental facility over the past few years.

Did the Chinese get to America before Columbus? Survey says... it really doesn't matter, since the Native Americans got here way before anyone else did. That, and the fact that Columbus stayed while the Chinese didn't. Here's another, longer story.

Baz Luhrmann is gonna bring La Boheme to Broadway.

An Old Story

Card Sharks

I'm going to visit a friend's house for a poker game on Friday. Fortunately for me, it's not evolved into a lifestyle just yet.

Copenhagen, 1942

So It's Been Six Months

This is my record of September 11, 2001.

This is my brother's record of September 11, 2001.

These are some pictures of New York that I took not long after September 11, 2001.

Dîner la nuit passée (pour une partie de quatre) :

Le entree
Red Endive with Honeydew melon wrapped in prosciutto

This was really easy to make. Take chunks of honeydew melon, plop it on top of a red endive leaf, wrap the whole thing with a strip of prosciutto. Repeat twice more, then plate and send it out.

Repeat until you run out of ingredients (you'll most likely run out of proscuitto first).

Le potage
Creamy Leek and Carrot Soup

Take one large onion and chop it up. Put it in soup pot with some oil, and put on medium heat. Add some garlic cloves, and cook until the onions become translucent. Then add chicken stock (in a perfect world, I'd use stock I'd made myself. Second choice would be either frozen stock concentrate or that "Better than Bouillon" stuff. Since this is not a perfect world, however (which means that I plumb forget to get some of option 2 at the supermarket), I just grabbed four cans of College Inn Chicken Stock and used that. As a side note, if you keep your canned chicken stock cool, the fat will automagically harden, which means that you can cook with fat-free stock). Add two medium Idaho potatoes, cut into slices, and three large carrots, chopped (so that they'll cook faster). Add the whites of two large leeks, chopped up (I used very large leeks, where the whites were about 10 inches long. I used one of the leeks to practice cutting the leek into julienne; since leaks cook relatively quickly, it doesn't really matter what shape you cut them into); discard the tougher, green fronds of the leeks. Cook until the carrots are soft.

Then puree (traditionally, I've used a conventional blender, which works great but is a PITA, since you need a tureen to put the soup in after it's been blended, and you have to do it in stages, simply because you can't fit all that soup into a blender jar at once. This time I bought one of those hand-held immersion blenders (the Braun Multiquick MR 400, which is exactly the same thing as this model, except that it's $10 cheaper because it doesn't come with attachments), and tried it out, and I have to say that it works pretty well. It's not exactly really easy to control -- the liquid comes up through the bottom and out through the sides, which means that 1. it's easy to make a mess, and 2. it tends to attach itself to the bottom of the pot like a vacuum cleaner. Having said that, it really does do a pretty good job). After that, add cream/milk (I was going to experiment with a yogurt drink, instead of cream, but it was really sour, so I scrapped that idea. After adding some skim milk, it was still not right, so I tossed in about a tablespoon of butter (1/8 of a stick), and that really brought it together). You can actually add the dairy before you blend it. Your call. Add pepper and salt to taste (you probably don't need to add too much salt at all unless you made your own chicken stock). Serve garnished with little chopped up green onions on top for contrast.

You can actually make this soup with lots of different vegetables -- broccoli, asparagus, etc.

As a side note, the quantities described here will make a lot of soup -- probably enough for 10.

Le plat du jour
Mixed Pasta with Ginger Prawns and Artichoke Sauce

It's "Mixed Pasta" because I didn't have enough of any single kind of pasta to serve four. And even then it was pushing it, which is why I added the shrimp.

I used two kinds of pasta: some exotically multicolored pappardelle I found while I was in Paris, and some leftover pork tortellini I had sitting, sans sauce, in the fridge. The pappardelle cooked really fast -- in about four minutes, which must be some kind of record for dry pasta.

Drain the pappardelle and set it aside.

Heat some olive oil in a large pan, and add freshly grated ginger directly to the hot oil (I grated the ginger directly into the pan. Add 1 pound of shelled medium shrimp. Toss for about two or three minutes, until it's done. Take care not to overcook the shrimp, otherwise they'll turn into rubber really quickly. Also remember that they'll continue to cook once to you take them off heat. Add pepper to taste.

Take shrimp off heat and reserve. Put a small jar of artichoke sauce (you can find it at Fairway) into the pan at high heat, add the tortellini, toss, add the pappardelle, toss it some more, then add the shrimp and toss once more. Turn off heat.

Plate pasta on about 1/2 - 2/3s of the plate. Garnish with dried parsley flakes, and add an endive leaf (left over from the entree) for extra color on the side. Serve.

Le vin
1999 Echelon Pinot Noir from the Central Coast.

Good Vibrations

I think that the Beach Boys wrote the single most perceptive lyric about desire ever:

I don't know where, but she sends me there.

Now, if only she would actually call back when she says she's going to...

Ten Great Movies you haven't seen but should

  • Ikiru
    A dying bureaucrat tries to build a children's playground.
  • In the Bleak Midwinter (aka A Midwinter's Tale)
    Unemployed actors attempt to put on an unorthodox production of Hamlet at Christmastime.
  • La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc
    The trial and death of Joan of Arc.
  • Le Samourai
    Conflicted, perfectionist hitman in 1960s Paris plans one last hit.
  • Local Hero
    Texas oilman goes to Scotland to convince recalcitrant locals to sell out; arrives, finds that locals aren't recalcitrant at all.
  • Runaway Train
    Either an extended metaphysical meditation on the nature of man, or a action flick about escaped convicts on a train. You decide.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
    Buckaroo Banzai is a neurosurgeon/rocket scientist/rock star/comic book hero who saves the world in his spare time. Starring Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd before they became big stars.
  • Tombes du Ciel (Lost in Transit)
    Man loses passport on flight; is forced to live in the international zone at the airport. Inspired by a true story.
  • Trust
    A 16-year-old pregnant high-school dropout and a thirty-something sociopathic electronics genius who still lives with his father have nothing in common. Right? Right?
  • Wings of Desire
    Angel falls in love, decides he wants to be human. Infinitely better than the Hollywood remake.

Only 6 Months

Well, it only took six months for me to actually get around to doing it, but here are my pictures from after September 11.

March On

Indoors or out, no one relaxes
In March, that month of wind and taxes,
The wind will presently disappear,
The taxes last us all the year.
-- Ogden Nash

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