Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Only a year late.

Last year, a sadly now-defunct blog called Videotech put out a list of the 65 best music videos of 2005. I've already linked to several of their selections in other posts, but here are some from that list that I missed.

Glosoli - Sigur Ros. Beautiful children, breathtaking cinematography and haunting themes are always prevalent in Sigur Ros videos, and this is one of the best.

The Irish Keep Gatecrashing - The Thrills. Great song with a Ben Folds/Death Cab feel, backed by excellent stop-motion photography make this one quite enjoyable.

Us - Regina Spektor. Washed-out color and stop-motion photography give this video a fantastical quality and nostalgic feel.

Middle of Nowhere - Hot Hot Heat. The camera reveals what we cannot see. Very well executed.

Chocolate - Snow Patrol. This is one of my favorite bands. This video captures the spirit of the song, with the swirling chaos surrounding the calm of the singer's voice.

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists. The band runs from a guy in a bear suit, directed by The Lonely Island (the guys behind SNL's digital shorts).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Link ‘Em Up

MaryAnne aka Ysabella Brave - She sings, she swings, she's adorable, and she's incredibly talented. I really like her voice and style, and hope she becomes wildly successful someday.

Smart or Stoopid - A quick intelligence test to see how you stack up. My score confirmed that I am a smarty-pants.

Stuff + Cats = Awesome - We put stuff on Rags all the time, so maybe I should submit a picture?

The Joy of Tech - Great comic along the lines of Red Meat, only with more technology and less Milkman Dan.

b3ta Phallic Logo Awards - "The game designers across the nation are playing is, can they design a logo and get it approved without the client realizing it's a big, spurting penis?"

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Poison Tree by William Blake




I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole.
In the morning, glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Read more about William Blake here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Good grief.

Don Crowdis, a 93-year-old blogger from Canada wrote a poignant entry the other day titled, It Bothers Me That I Have To Go.

Yeah, me too.

I'm barely into my thirties and I am already sensing that there are things I want to do that I won't get around to doing, places I long to see that I will probably never see, and this saddens me. I suspect that this is one of the reasons why people have children - so that a part of them may someday do and see the things that they never got to do or see. If I carry the memory of my grandmother with me when I do something that she never got an opportunity to do, then, in a sense, she can have the experience too, through my experience. i don't know... I'm kind of rambling. How can I eventually come to terms with death if a 93-year-old man is having trouble?

There is this idea that those of us with feeble loved ones like to perpetuate - that after you have lived a long while, you are eventually somehow "ready" for death. That you just get "tired" of living and are ready to go to sleep and not wake up anymore. When my grandma was in the hospital, dying from complications from a stroke, she told us, through wheezes and bouts of consciousness, that she was "so tired." Her body had failed her, her mind was like a foggy window through which she got occasional clarity, but mostly just hazy memories... that she was "tired" of all that she was going through comforted all of us and allowed us to accept her fate.

But this idea I think works only if the loved one in question is unhealthy. It falls totally flat if they are, like Don, still able to enjoy all that life swirls in their direction. If my grandma had not had the stroke, she would not have been "tired" of living. There were still things she wanted to do, needed to do. It was the failure of her body that forced her to concede her mind.

Maybe it is through exercises like Don's, by admitting that you are bothered by the notion that life ends and this is all there is, that we gain a sort of acceptance of our fate. "Yes," you say, "I am bothered by my own eventual demise, because there is so much that I will miss." Maybe this admittance is the first step in a grieving process for ourselves.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fog by Carl Sandburg



The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Read more about Carl Sandburg.

Geek Speek.

Just because I haven't mentioned it in a while doesn't mean that I stopped playing World of Warcraft. Oh no, just like Michael in Godfather III, "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," with the release last week of The Burning Crusade expansion. I hate to get really geeky on you, but just for documentation's sake, Mr. Awesome and I switched characters and I am no longer playing Persia, my priest. We transferred both his mage, Holle, and Persia to a non-PvP server to make leveling easier. The name "Persia" was taken, so Persia is now named "Halle." So I play Holle the mage and Mr. Awesome plays Halle the priest. So far, we're loving the speed at which we can level on the non-PvP server, and since there are battlegrounds, we can still kill all the horde we want. I'm not quite as obsessed as I have been in the past (last night we only played for about an hour before deciding we wanted to watch Studio 60 on the DVR instead), but the expansion has definitely rekindled my love of the game.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Otherwise by Jane Kenyon



I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Watermelons by Charles Simic


Watermelons by Charles Simic

Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smiles
And spit out the teeth.

Read more about Charles Simic at poets.org.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is love?

There is a fundamental difference between Mr. Awesome and I - he knows what this means, and I don't. Conversely, I know the names of all of the shows playing on Broadway at any given moment, and he would rather have someone punch him in the face than have to sit through one act of a musical.

I love that he can explain those lines of gibberish code to me in a way that makes me understand, and he loves that I don't make him sit thorough musicals (very often).

Lunch.

We ate at Room 39 for lunch today. I could eat there for every meal. In fact, if I won the lottery or some huge lawsuit, I would eat there for every meal. Anyway, here's what we had today:

I had prosciutto wrapped quail with pancetta white beans and wilted arugula and a side of their incredibly amazing Brussels sprouts with bacon. When I was a girl, my grandma would make ham and beans, and people would rave about them. I, being young, finicky, and stupid thought ham and beans were "gross." This dish reminded me of her ham and beans, and also of my youthful ignorance. Also, I don't think I have ever had quail before, so this was adventure eating. It tasted like dark meat chicken or duck, only a bit firmer.

Mr. Awesome had pan-seared Campo Lindo chicken breast with gingered jasmine rice, chicken & shrimp firecracker and a sesame Asian salad. He gave me a bite of the chicken, and it was the best tasting chicken since the now-defunct Paradise Grill's infamous (to us) Chicky-Chicky. A helpful server informed us that Campo Lindo Farms, a local, family-run farm in Lathrop, MO, provided the chicken and also sells eggs at some local supermarkets. The chickens are free-range, meaning they have the freedom to roam about the farm, enjoying their little chicken lives, and eventually providing us with exceptionally delicious chicken meat and eggs.

Both dishes were delicious and perfect, as usual.

Friday, January 12, 2007

High Flying, Adored.

I left work yesterday around 4pm and was driving north along I35. Just as I was about to cross the Paseo bridge, I look off Isle of Capri way and a huge bird catches my eye. At first I thought it was a vulture (yes, there are vultures in this part of the country), but as the bird got closer to us and I could get a better look, I see this huge brow body and... a white tail? Yes, the tail was white, so I looked closer and not only was the tail white, but so was the head! Just to seal the deal, I caught a glimpse of a bright yellow beak just as the enormous creature sailed past my car, over the Isle of Capri, and headed for the treelined bluff just south of the bridge. Mr. Awesome was driving at the time, but he saw it, too, so I'm not seeing things.
I shit you not - I saw a bald eagle by the Paseo bridge yesterday.

I know that they are not unheard of to the north, and lots of people head to Mound City every year to see if they can spot them. But the only time I had ever seen a bald eagle in person was in the 6th grade, when some conservation group brought one to a school assembly.

Maybe I am a little too excited about this, but I think this is pretty damn cool.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Now Showing… or not.

Although I don't go to the movies very often anymore, I couldn't wait any longer and went to see Children of Men last night. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend that you do. It's the most realistic vision of the future that I've ever seen put on film. It's gritty, sort of violent, and haunting. It's also very moving, and uplifting in a strange way. I can't recommend this movie strongly enough.

I am, as someone recently said to me, a high-definition snob. If it ain't in high-def, I don't want to watch it (unless it's music videos, which are my guilty pleasure and thanks to the miracle of the DVR, I can fast-forward through all the crap aka anything with JayZ in it). There are some great high-def channels through Time Warner and I've been taping some old movies that I never saw for one reason or another, or haven't seen for a while. My recent viewing has included:

  • The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - My first foray into the world of the spaghetti western. Less dialogue than I expected, which wasn't a bad thing at all.

  • Beetlejuice - A personal favorite made all the better through high-def. You can't go wrong with Catherine O'Hara, Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder and Tim Burton.

  • It's a Wonderful Life - High-def breathes new life into this seminal classic. Bedford Falls looks happier, Pottersville looks grittier, and Martini's looks boozier than ever before.


But it isn't all sunshine and roses between me and my Time Warner DVR. Last night, while sitting down to watch the last quarter of Serpico (another classic I hadn't seen before, but was absolutely loving), I hit "play" and the damned thing locked up. After about 5 minutes, it rebooted itself, and in the mean time I decided I'd watch the latest episode of House, which I taped on Tuesday. I hit "play" and again, the fucker seizes up on me. This happens two more times before I finally resign to the fact that the DVR is hosed and I will not be seeing the end of Serpico or the latest House any time soon. I've got to take the DVR back to Time Warner later tonight and get another one, which totally sucks because I'll have to try to remember all the shows I have season passes for, which pisses me off, because I have season passes so I don't have to remember what I want to record.

In summation, Children of Men - better than good. Also, fuck you, Time Warner DVR.

Drawn Together

The art of Jen Wang.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Willpower.

Sticking to a relatively sane diet since the new year has been easier than I thought. I've eaten a lot of sushi, and salad, and as long as I don't look at this a "diet" so much as a "life change," I'm okay. The word - diet - is so restrictive, so cringe-worthy. So I'm not "dieting" so much as cautiously considering what I choose to eat. So far, so good.

But - this morning has been difficult. Every Friday, my boss brings in bagels from Panera. I get so bored with bagels that I don't normally touch them. This morning though, I was actually looking forward to a wheat bagel. But instead of bagels, she brought in a danish ring and brownies. Last year, I would have been thrilled - elated - that there were chocolaty goodies to be had on a Friday morning. But today, now that I am "cautiously considering," it's taking a great deal of willpower to ignore those caramel pecan delights sitting not 50 feat from me.

This is a test, and so far, I am passing. I have to be strong this morning because I am going out for lunch and will probably end up at Chubby's (cheap breakfast food=happy Friday).

Update: We ended up at The Cheesecake Factory. I had a lunch pasta dish with bowtie pasta, chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. I also had a couple of small pieces of bread and an iced tea. I think I did pretty good - no cheesecake, so that's not too bad. :) Also, I have resisted the call of the chocolate brownies all day and am living to tell about it. This is progress, people.

Link Rodeo.

A Ninja Pays Half My Rent - "He's the perfect roommate - he's neat, he's quiet, he can kill somebody with his bare hands."

Wesley Autrey: Real-life hero. I'm pretty sure that as much as I would like to think I would do the same thing, I don't think I could.

How to talk to a real person for hundreds of customer service hotlines. Probably one of the most useful things to ever be published on the 'net.

Michael Wolf's 100x100. One hundred photos of Hong Kong apartments, each only 100 square feet.

Recap of the Heroes graphic novels. For those of you who watch Heroes, these recaps are a must read, as they reveal much about the series that hasn't been mentioned on the show.

Prosper. Bringing the loan business back to the people. Great concept that I am thinking of trying one day.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Cooky Monster

I forgot to mention another resolution for the upcoming year: cook more, and better.

Panera now has this incredible butternut squash soup on their menu. It's thick and smooth, slightly sweet with just a hint of curry. Mr. Awesome says it's the perfect soup and could probably be paired with just about anything, and I agree. Since we both like it so much, and I'd like to use my immersion blender more, I resolve to learn to make my own delicious butternut squash soup in the coming year. So far, I've found this recipe to be rather intriguing:

South African Butternut Squash Soup


Ingredients:
Serves 6 - 8

1 butternut squash, cleaned, peeled and diced
2 T. dark brown molasses sugar or dark brown sugar
2 T. honey
4 T. unsalted butter
1 ripe banana, unpeeled
½ medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. coconut milk
1 c. chicken or vegetable stock, plus extra
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt and freshly group black pepper to taste
garnish: fresh cilantro, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle diced squash with brown sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons butter and roast in 350-degree oven until caramelized and soft to the touch, about 20 minutes; roast the unpeeled banana in the oven at the same time.

Melt the other 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan on medium-low heat and sweat the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes until tender and onion is translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon and cook slowly for a few more minutes.

Remove the banana from its skin, slice and add it with the butternut and its juices to the pan, along with the coconut milk and chicken (or veggie) broth. Simmer until hot. Remove from heat and ladle the soup into blender in small batches. Blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust to consistency desired with more broth, if necessary. Add fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend again until smooth and if you want a very delicate soup, pass the soup through a chinois or household strainer using a rubber spatula to press the soup through the strainer.

The soup should be served hot, so return to stovetop and gently reheat if necessary. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, a few toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

I also would like to learn how to make really good brussels sprouts. About a year ago, after having some really awful frozen brussels sprouts, I decided brussles sprouts were inherently awful and worth avoiding. Then, about 2 weeks ago, while having brunch at Room 39, I ordered their side of brussels sprouts with bacon, on the notion that if I didn't like brussels sprouts from Room 39 (a place that cooks everything beyond perfectly), I would never like brussels sprouts and therefore my avoidance of the vegetable would continue. Needless to say, the brussels sprouts were, as Mr. Awesome has been saying lately, fuckin' yum, so now they have been added to my short list of items to master this year in the kitchen.

A quick search turned up this: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (and pictures). I think it looks quite promising.

Tonight we're making stuffed peppers. Target was out of red and green peppers, so we're stuffing orange peppers with a meatloaf made from ground turkey and Italian sausage. Fuckin' yum? We'll see...

Another year, another bit of my brain lost to trivia.

Here's a list of 100 things we didn't know last year, which includes links to the news articles relating to the items on the list. Neato.

Bad Words

Lake Superior State University has published their annual banished words list.
HEALTHY FOOD -- Point of view is everything.

Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch "sounded healthy." Her reply: "If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it's 'healthful.'"

Resolved

Today is my first day back to work in 10 days. I miss vacation already. According to my internal clock, I really shouldn't roll out of bed much before 8am, but I have to be at work at 7am, so screw you, internal clock.

Our holidays were typically wonderful, with much time being spent with family and friends, and much shopping and exchanging to be done. Some of the highlights:

  • Christmas eve with Mr. Awesome's parents and his brother's family. Everyone loved their gifts, and we loved giving them.

  • Christmas dinner with my mom, Steve, Danielle, Mr. Awesome's parents and Charlotte. Dinner was amazing - my mom is truly incredible (and made the best stuffing ever).

  • Dim Sum for the first time. We met friends at the Bo Lings at 90th and Metcalf for Taiwan-style Dim Sum, which included some fantastic eggplant and shrimp, pork puffs and coconut buns.

  • Sushi at Sakura. Sushi trains are really the way to go. They make it possible to try lots of different things without making a whole roll commitment. I'm crazy about the mango roll, seawed salad, flower shrimp and salmon pieces. Yummy.

  • Shopping at Legends. This was our first visit to the new Village West Legends shopping development, and we were pretty impressed with the place. The landscaping is nice, and there are lots of pathways that take you out of the normal hectic flow of traffic and into green spaces or fountained patios. Harry and David had their pumpkin and pecan butter on sale for 3 bucks, which made the trip even better.

  • After-Christmas sales at Bath and Body Works. I am in love with the 3-in-1 Temptations line. Smelling like caramel corn totally rocks. As does buying gift baskets for next Christmas at 40% off.

  • New Year's Eve with Brian and Courtney and friends. Lots of food, spirits, music and laughter. It's become a welcome yearly tradition.

  • Houlihan's happy hour. While we enjoyed this long before the holiday season, it's worth mentioning again. Last night I had a small Caesar salad, tuna wontons and an iced tea, all for under $10.


Now that vacation and 2006 are both officially over, it's time to make resolutions for 2007. I've decided to actually be serious about these this year, as opposed to every other year where I casually make a resolution to not make any resolutions. So here's my list:

  • Lose some weight. That's a biggie, I know, but it's gotta be done and I'm gonna try to do it. Thankfully, sushi is pretty healthy.

  • Not shop at Wal-Mart. We've been trying to avoid this place all year, and once we use the gift card that we got for Christmas, no more Wal-Mart for us. This guy has it all right, and I really do enjoy shopping at Target (except for the out-of-date dairy - that's icky and I hope they stop stocking stuff that's over a month out-of-date).

  • No more fast food. It's not like we eat at a burger joint every day (or even every week) but occasionally one of us will crave a McDonald's hamburger or McNuggets, or a quick and cheap breakfast from Burger King, or even something from Taco Bell. This year, we are going to make an effort to not eat at a fast food restaurant, no matter how bad the craving. The exception to this are places where you actually see what is going into your meal - Subway, Panera, etc. I don't think this will be too difficult, but we'll see.

  • Eliminate the clutter. We finally tackled the cluttered mess that was our third bedroom. After throwing out 6 bags of junk, we turned the room into a computer/tv/gaming space complete with reclining loveseat. Next we need to get in the rest of the house and say goodbye to all the stuff we don't need/want/use anymore.


I'll post about my progress with these resolutions throughout the year, and hopefully next year I'll be able to say I was successful with some, if not all of these.