Food

Brain Flotsam 6

Welcome to Brain Flotsam, the weekly digest of things I read, saw, or otherwise encountered that made my week more interesting. This week I saw five friends in person and got to interact with so many more in real time. What a great, packed week. And, the following:

  • One night this week I dreamed I had tried out for and made the high school cheerleading squad. We had to go to a tournament soon after. And I spent all of my time F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G O-U-T. Like, “I can’t do this! I have never been in a TOURNAMENT before!” And then part of me said, “Ridiculous. Why do you think they picked you for the squad? You have been training for this all your life! A tournament is just a bigger tryout! You can do this!” I like to think it was my conscious, slowly realizing I was dreaming, or do I like to think that? Wouldn’t I rather think that my subconscious, telling me that I can do whatever it is that’s coming my way? (NB: I have never wanted to try out for cheerleading, although I did rather envy the little pleated skirts and tiny sweaters.)
  • Sometime last week I stopped hitting “like” on facebook posts. (I borrowed the idea from this guy.) I think, honestly, it was because the introduction of the new “react” options tipped me over the edge into decision fatigue. Now I react only using comments. I think it’s made me a more thoughtful person. (Don’t laugh.)
  • A new museum! It’s of broken hearts!
  • I made this fish stew this week. It was delicious, and then I left it out on the counter after we’d had our second meal from it. Sad. Oh well.
  • The MFA program I graduated from is closing its doors this semester. I don’t have anything coherent to say about this yet, except this: I am sad that I won’t be able to give back to the community that gave me so much, now that I’ll be a published author soon. Lesson learned: contribute whenever you can. Don’t wait.
  • I am still reading Stephen King’s It. I would like it to end sometime soon, and it looks like it will. After this, I think I should read something rather less gothic. And shorter. The last time it took me this long to read something, it was Moby-Dick (chapter 18! Still no whale!) and I was on deployment in Malawi, and I never finished it.
_It_ feels about as big as this whale.

Stephen King’s _It_ feels about as big as this whale.

I think that’s it for this week. Hopefully by the next time we check in together, I will have finished reading _It_ and moved onto something comforting and fluffy. What did you see this past week? Tell me in the comments below.

P.S. My MFA program’s mascot is the orca whale. I think I won’t be able to look at Orcas for a long time without feeling a little bit sad.

4 Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Brain Flotsam

Here are some things I read or saw this week that I really loved.

First, some people playing Adéle’s “Hello” on a surfboard. (Thanks to Audrey for the tip-off.) I love so much about this: the way the guy on the end spots the cymbal on the ceiling before he nails with with a high kick (high hat! high kick! ha!); the voice of the girl in the middle, standing on a block to be the same height-ish as the others; the [SPOILER AHEAD] way the guy with the longer hair loses his hat from rocking out. It’s a nice five-minute break. 🙂

 

Second, here’s some interesting reading (h/t Dave Nichols) about why U.N.-spec tarps are the way they are. We use these tarps at ShelterBox, in our ShelterBox ShelterKit.

I remembered suddenly the very last breakup meal I had, in January or February of 2000, and how much I paid for it. It was at Le Zoo in Greenwich Village, and I paid $75 for the two of us, because I had invited the guy out, and I also got to say exactly what I wanted to say (we all know how rare that is). After we’d broken up–“I never said I loved you,” he said–he reached for his wallet. “Don’t add insult to injury, M—,” I said. “I invited you out.” But I still got dumped. 🙂

The McSorley’s snack. Last Wednesday I had a friend over. We sat on my floor and she brought over beets on Alouette over a bed of micro-greens; I had a brainwave, New York-related again, that took me back to sawdusty floors at McSorley’s Ale House, where some friends and I used to drink, along with the rest of the world who ever visited New York. Their standard bar snack was sliced white onions, cheddar, and a sleeve of saltines. I did mine with Tilamook extra-sharp and water crackers, but I forgot the mustard. IMG_3587 2

We went to Santa Barbara this weekend. I liked this random collection of textures:

Early in the week I saw this comic-book caption in real life (Ka-POW! Blam!):

IMG_3560

I mean, what the krunk?

That’s all for this week: Tune in next Monday for more brain flotsam.

No Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Verbagram, the Grilled Cheese Edition: A Tall Tale*

Verbagram: (n.) A thingamajibber in which I make up for my crap food photography by telling you a story about the food in question.

A few months ago, this happened:

Don’t quite understand it?
It’s okay. It has taken me lo! all these months to process it myself.
Here is what happened.
We went to our local brewery for the first of their Food Truck Fridays, which is, yes, when food truck arrives at brewery. The truck that week was the Grilled Cheese Truck. It was late getting there and late setting up, which is why Mr. Gooddirt had something like two and a half strong beers before he got into line.
Presumably the ABV contributed to some kind of food-related myopia, because when he delivered our food to the table he dropped off two normal grilled cheese sandwiches, one for me, and one for my friend, and an order of tater tots, and then he weaved a little and said, “Be Right Back,” and then he came back with another two handfuls of grilled cheese.
Well. I thought it was two handfuls of grilled cheese. Basically it was two grilled cheese sandwiches, each stuffed with mac and cheese, and slapped together. The whole thing was glued together by another layer of mac and cheese and more pulled pork.
The woman who is sitting next to Mr. Gooddirt is most likely laughing because she can’t believe he is trying to explain the thing to her and eat it all at the same time.
Also, it arrived in two containers and weighed about as much as a brick.
The next morning Mr. Gooddirt smelled like bacon and could not roll over onto his belly.
True story.
*Not really very tall. In fact, just normal height.

No Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Verbagram 2, the Raw Fish edition

Our good friend Tim came to visit. We had a packed weekend that somehow managed to include some downtime on our couch and four episodes of American Horror Story, before it jumped the shark. It was fantastic.

It also gave us an excuse to go visit Cousin Richard at his incredible sushi joint. And that gave me an excuse to think about another food-based Verbagram. Because, you know what? I am sick of people describing sushi-grade fish as “like butter.” People. That’s disgusting. Seriously, would you ever eat a stick of butter? Or a pat, by itself? This description makes no sense to me.

Here:

Sometimes, you eat something and it tastes like the place it came from. By this I do not mean that when you eat a piece of steak, it tastes like a barnyard smells. I mean that sometimes you eat something and you get an evocation, an impression. Piece of steak, again: Big, open fields, as far as the eye can see. The occasional tree, and a few lone cows, standing here and there, with a bird of prey streaking across the sky. See? Steak tastes of largesse, of generosity, and even maybe of excess, depending on whether or not you get the crumbled blue cheese on top.

Take sushi: The texture: creamy, practically, even though the fish is arguably solid, sitting there on its rice. It yields to the bite easily; maybe because it’s ribboned with fat, if you’re eating a nice piece of salmon. Or maybe, if it’s yellowtail, just because that’s the way a good fresh fish should be.

You don’t get any flavor at all, really, in that first bite. If anything, the vapors of wasabi and fine rice vinegar are the first to hit your palate; and then, finally, an absurdly clean finish, a little bit like you’ve rinsed with really cold seawater.

Your salmon should evoke the day you spent on the banks of a river in Maine, with the early-summer sunlight dappling the current. And your tuna will take you back to the day you spent on a party boat in Brooklyn. Your uni will remind you, briefly, of the time you got washing-machined by the wave you weren’t expecting, that afternoon in Rhode Island.

For Grier, a photo. Because you requested it.

1 Comment »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Instagram Rebellion

…Okay, I have a confession. I’ve never used Instagram. And I’ve never had even the slightest urge to. Partly this is down to the fact that I know I take crap pictures. Also, I have no desire to make my crap photos look like more than they actually are, which is … crap photos.

I haven’t given this too much thought, except this weekend I had the following Twitter exchange:

gooddirt

gooddirt: After incredible pea, poached egg, and crostini lunch @littledoms, have terrible craving for smashed peas!

littledoms

littledoms: @gooddirt attach pic next time. Yum!

See, here’s the thing, okay? Even more than taking crap photos and passing them off as “vintage” or whatever, I hate amateur food photography. It makes me squirm to see folks taking pictures of their food at a restaurant. I don’t understand it, however I might appreciate the results, or “like” them on facebook or retweet them, or whatever.

So I have an idea and a challenge for myself: Each time I come across a dish I like, I will, instead of taking a photo of it, take a verbal snapshot of it. That is, I will write a little ditty describing the dish. I will post the results at my Tumblr as well as here, starting with the aforementioned Little Dom’s dish, above. Here it is:

From a purely literary standpoint, there was no music to it. Even the manager of the joint couldn’t be assed to dress it up: “It sounds really weird,” she said, grimacing apologetically. “It’s peas, poached egg, and pea tendrils on crostini.”

“Hell,” I thought. “Sounds just ugly enough to be right.”

“Right” it was, like a dame in heels and seamed stockings, or coffee, black. The “pea tendrils” were wilted into the crevices of the crostini, much as the yolk from the poached egg sank into those same crevices, and the peas were smashed enough that they fit neatly over the fork tines after you’d loaded the thing with egg, bread, and veg.

For an old hand like me, sustenance could be an art form. But when flavors work well, quotidian matters like “art” disappear.

1 Comment »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

On Narrative

Some days, a good story is all you need. But to tell a story that sticks, a narrative needs more. Two critical illustrations of this crossed my desk recently, and I thought I’d share them with you.

First, let me call your attention to this spot, which ran during the Super Bowl. (You didn’t see if you live in the U.S.) It’s well worth its two minutes.

 

All right? Get your Kleenex? C’mon, blow your nose. I’ll wait.

This is a far cry from the beer commercials we’ve been subjected to in the past. There are no swiping remarks about how women age; there aren’t any animals being voiced over; there’s no bizarre new bottle or can design. (None of these has anything to do with beer, and none of these can improve on the taste of some of this beer.)

So what makes this spot work?

It’s the emotional core. The best commercials or advertisements tell a good story, but even most of those ignore the need for consumers to connect with the brand on an emotional level. The spot works because it tells a story everyone loves–an underdog story–and it gives viewers what they want: a happy ending.

Perhaps more important, it reminds us of a time when we, too, were underdogs, and when we, too, wanted to be cheered on. (What is that, like, every day?)

Most important, it locks the viewer into a time and place: a scruffy amateur hockey game isn’t the place for a high-falutin’ microbrew; it’s the place for communal cheer; for beer that everyone can afford and enjoy; for idiotic, non-cerebral joy. Budweiser has tapped into the whole point of a cheap beer: feel-good times, with your friends. This is what their brand is, and I wish they’d do more with it.

So that’s one half of narrative–getting to your emotional core. What’s the other half?

Let me tell you another story: Recently, Mr. Gooddirt and I went out to eat at a really amazing restaurant.

We’d never been there before, so why were we so sure this restaurant would be “amazing”? Well, we’re kind of sustainability nuts, so we liked that the restaurant uses only produce from one of its two farms in the northeast. We’ve also eaten at other dining establishments that use the tasting-menu concept, just like this one does, so we had high expectations that went along with the higher price points at this type of restaurant. (Once you add in the wine pairings, which we almost always do, you’re looking at a cool $300 per person.)

So in that way, the restaurant had its narrative lined up straight and true. We knew enough about it to already expect good things. We got there early, for drinks at the front of the house, and were pleased to meet a bartender whose knowledge  was absolutely in line with our expectations. He could tell us about the distilling and aging process of his whiskey, for instance.

photo: Gothamist

I anticipated an exceptional meal, and got one. Every single one of our eight courses was above and beyond what I expected; the flavors were complementary, if, in some places, totally unexpected; the quality of the food was unparalleled, without resorting to gimmick.

So what was missing? Service, service, service. We had one head waiter who depended on four or five rotating sub-waiters (?) to serve and explain the food. That’s appropriate for so many courses; but it quickly becomes an annoyance when none of the sub-waiters understands what they’re serving and has to defer to the head-waiter (who, in turn, looked harried and annoyed) for any questions.

There’s where the narrative broke down: This restaurant prides itself on the quality of its produce and its goods. They should expect that their customers will want to know more about their food and how it’s prepared (at one point, they brought out a wheat ale made from an ancient strain of wheat; and we wanted to know more). Towards that end, they should make sure that every staff person is well educated and cares as much about the stuff they’re selling as the head waiter or proprietor does.

Two final straws broke this camel’s back: First, our bill was wrong, in our favor, and we had to ask them to correct it. Second, when we got outside to our car, we found it there waiting, warm and toasty, with the seat heaters turned on. “Hunh! What a nice touch!” we said. And then we thought to check and see just how long they’d had the car idling for.

People. It’d been idling for AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES. Complete and total breakdown of sustainability narrative. We lost it. I phoned the restaurant immediately and got an appropriately contrite young lady, and the following day I got a phone call from the operations director  and the outsourced valet service. So that was nice. But who’s going to pay for my $20 worth of gas?

I digress.

Here’s the thing, okay? Story is one thing. Have a good story, and you’re winning half the battle already. But honestly, if you–and I mean you as marketer, brand executive, novelist, copy-writer, restauranteur–don’t have your emotional core built into your narrative, you’re almost bound to build something forgettable.

Likewise, consistency is key. Make sure that everyone in your organization understands your emotional core and the point of your narrative. Make them buy into it. After our experience at the bar, we were sold on the bar–we were making lists of friends who needed to see the place and experience it. It was like that until about a quarter of the way through the dinner, when we realized that only the head waiter knew what he was talking about. And by the time we got to the problem with the valet, we were seriously questioning what we’d previously believed was a real need to get our friends to this restaurant ASAP.

Our restaurant? Great narrative and emotional core; total breakdown of consistency. Budweiser? Great narrative in this instance; game-changing recognition of emotional core that I wish would happen more frequently with them.

The lesson? Find your story. Be true to it. Be consistent. You can’t go wrong that way.

 

7 Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Catching up!

I cannot think of anything worse for a blog than lying fallow. In fact, I cannot think of anything worse for a writer than not, um, writing. Anyway. Since I’ve let this go since December, perhaps best to effect a photo dump. We spent Christmas in California. We took a trip to Death Valley to scope out our wedding venue, which was gorgeous. Well, the outside was gorgeous, anyway. So we made a last-minute switch to take the whole event outdoors. We can only hope it doesn’t rain in February. Our little foursome (me, Jim, mom, and our cousin Joanna) drove up in the morning. A little technology lesson took place in the back seat. And on the way back from inspecting the venue, we stopped at Zabriski point and took a quick couple of snaps. I like this one, but Death Valley is never the same in photos. I like the little dude in the lower right hand corner of the photo. We went to Vegas, because Joanna had never been, and stayed for a night at the Bellagio. It was a very nice evening, although we were flat-out bushed when we got back. The next morning we went for a look at the Bellagio Christmas display, which was…um, big. And bright. And animatronic. The penguin opened and closed its window hatch. Cute! Back in Claremont again we spent a fair amount of time in the Village, where we spotted this lovely cactus garden: And this fascinating pudgy little baby bulldog, who would not sit still long enough for me to take a decent photo. From the top was easiest. Christmas itself was a hoot. Can you spot the two immediately related people in the photo below? Hint: They’re making the same hand signal!!

We also spent a day on the beach with our cousin Richard. Fun!

Then it was a quick jaunt back to the East Coast to see friends for New Year’s, and then back to the West Coast again for school at Whidbey. We stayed at the Captain Whidbey Inn. Lovely!

There was a lot of learning. We did some exercises that caused big breakthroughs. This is one of them: Our professor, the lovely and talented Carmen Bernier-Grand, had us make comics out of our narratives. I didn’t know where mine was going until I did my comic. It was quite a relevation. Here are the comics of the four students in our class.

This is the view from the porch of me and Cyn’s cabin. We didn’t got outside a whole lot, but spent every morning, as usual, sitting on the sofa and chatting and having coffee. Next semester we’re in a house with our good friends Steve, Stefon, and Robert.

This is Penn Cove.

And this is Mt. Baker, which you can see from the front lawn of the Captain Whidbey.

This is Steve and Cyn at Toby’s bar and grill. Steve’s fingers are very, very greasy. Cyn is listening intently to whatever Robert is saying.

I love this photo of Cyn and Robert. This was our last night at residency. Always a little bittersweet.

Robert, lighting up a cigar.

This is the fishing hut at the Captain Whidbey.

On the way back to the airport, we met our friends Meron and Rebecca from last residency. Wonderful. It’s pretty remarkable that we’ve actually made friends with these people we only knew for nine and five days, respectively. Good stuff.

And what else? What else? I got back about a week ago and have been totally nuts since then. There have been so many preparations to make! We had friends over Sunday night for the big Steelers and Packers games, and guess what. We’re getting married on the day the Packers go to the SuperBowl. I don’t have very high hopes of Jim paying very much attention to what’s happening at the ceremony!

His co-workers had this to say:

Although the groom has hair and the bride is clearly not Asian, the soccer player has a knee bandage on, there’s an Ironman logo on it someplace, and there’s also a Gatorade logo on it. I think his co-workers like him. 🙂

More later. Off to Vegas next Tuesday to meet Lara. Definitely have a bunch of stuff on my mind, but have been way too busy to put it all down! The writing, though–the writing must take more of a priority.

1 Comment »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled ‘blog

Hi there.

Coherency will now fly out the window as I update my life to my three followers.

First, some photos and a small comment on friendship:

I have known Kelsey since October 2008, when we went through our ShelterBox 3-day assessment together. Our paths diverged from there, but we stayed friends, mostly because we have the same sense of humor. Kelsey has since lived in Texas, Hanoi, Budapest. This September she will be studying in London; this summer she will be stateside again, in Boston, I think. I am lucky to have such friends through such a tenuous connection. Kelsey came to visit just before I left for Haiti.

When I returned, spring had happened. All of the trees were green and budding, and the flowering trees and shrubs were in full bloom. The park across the street from us has these gorgeous flowering cherry trees. They make lovely carpets of soft pink petals all over the ground.

Here is a gratuitous Sprocket photo.

There are lots of other pretty flowering plants in this park, including this purple one.

I wish I knew what it was. Is it wisteria? I don’t think so; somewhere my visual memory tells me that wisteria is much more delicate-looking.

Elsewhere in the park, there is a dogwood. The blooms were hanging too high for me to get a good photo. There are also dandelions.

Shortly after I got home from Haiti (and after my meander through the  park, taking photos that I have to explain because they are too bad to be explicit), I realized that I needed to write a column for the newspaper, and that my credit card bill needed to be paid, and that I had missed the deadline for registration for the MFA program I’ve enrolled in (yes, yes, more on that later), and also that…oh, God, I have to drive to Pittsburgh.

Kara got her doctorate recently, and her family and I went to see her walk. We almost missed her; there were many many students. But before that we had a day to mellow out in Pittsburgh. I bought a vintage dress to wear to a wedding later this year; and we had lunch at Enrico’s on Ellsworth, where I took this photo:

I liked the light. It didn’t seem to come through in the photo, though. Kara’s had this camera bag for awhile, and it just gets prettier with age.

Also there was this:

I really like these metal flames. There is something very primeval about it (I know, duh), and I just like the idea of an Italian joint with wood-fired pizza having an oven covered in flames.

I also liked this:

This is probably the best-tasting BLT I’ve ever had. It was very, very messy, but the taste made up for it. Alas, it was too big for me to eat all at once.

We also saw this curious substitute for a guard-dog. Hey, if you could have a dinosaur guarding your home, wouldn’t you?

The next day we putzed around the house, and we went to see the marathon go by, which has inspired me to Do Another. I love race day. I get all teary.

Then there was this:

And then there was this:

and that is the end of Kara’s long journey to her doctorate degree. V. V. exciting. Our Pittsburgh journey would take me 18 hours of driving altogether. It was not pleasant. But I got to eat Cracker Barrel meatloaf, and I also managed to leave only one peg remaining in that idiot game they have at every table. It is the first time I have ever done that (I am usually a two or three or even four-pegger), and here is the proof:

I can never duplicate this, because I was listening to Kara saying something and I wasn’t really paying attention to what I did. [Insert left-brain/right-brain commentary here.]

Ohoh. Also in Pittsburgh we saw an awesome exhibit featuring artists’ renditions of teapots. Yes, teapots, that wonderful form that instantly evokes comfort and prettiness. No, not beauty. Teapots are not beautiful. They are pretty to within inches of beauty. But they are not usually striking. These, however, were:

Tea set made entirely of cockle-burrs. Called “Tea for Sudan.” Owtch.

And I like this one. Total polar opposite of “Tea for Sudan,” it is comforting and very very easy on the eyes.

Er. I think that might be it, except ohOH on the way home I received this e-mail, as a comment on a book review I’d done earlier:
Hello, I’m [Txx Nxxxxx] and I’m a Student i need some information about Elijah of Buxton , i need background information, conflict, Rising action, falling action, climax and the Resolution. (THEME)! Thanks

First of all, student, you are lucky I am kind and am not revealing your name and e-mail address here. Second of all, you need lots of help with your capitalization. Second of all, hell, call me old-fashioned and whatever, but dude. Read The Book. And then sit and have a good think about it.

Third, man, I really have no idea what you’re asking me for here.

So here’s a neat little segue: I am not going to get my MFA because I want to teach students like Txx. I am going back to school so I can be a better writer, specifically in long-form fiction. Eventually I am sure I will teach, but I would like to publish first. And when I do teach, I would like it to be older students, who have lived a little and who need a little push. I will probably end up engaging in some kind of writing coaching, if there is such a thing.

So I’ve chosen the Whidbey Island Writer’s Association for my school of choice. After much waffling and back-and-forth, I am happy to report that I am very very excited about this. Learning things is always good. Learning things that will help you to become what you have wanted to become for years is incredibly exciting.

It is going to cost me an arm and a leg. I am a little bit worried about that. But life has been busy lately and I see no reason to slow down, really.

4 Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

‘sTrueth! A good time was had by all.

Jim and I spent the weekend at the Trues’. I had a ridiculously busy Friday that involved a ton of networking (which, it seems, could be a full-time job even if you’re not actually following up on any of the networking with anything concrete); took some time off for lunch with a friend here in White Plains; and then bolted home to throw some final few things in a bag and drive up to Boston to squeeze in an overdue visit to an old friend before heading out to Melrose via the convoluted-but-beautiful Route 1. (Evans: Are you reading this? You are next.)

(Only in Boston would a relatively straight course end up looking like a misguided bowl of noodles.)

This route goes over the Tobin Bridge, by the way, which is stunning, to say the least.

photo: Estrip.org

Anyhow. We went to visit my friend Sarah, who had her baby boy, Jesus Jr., back in late December. I don’t know why there is only this photo of me, Jim and JJ and none of Sarah, me, Jim, and Jesus Sr. It seems people disappear when there are babies involved.

Baby Jesus is cute. He is just like the teddy bear he looks to be, warm and squashy and round.

Jesus and Sarah took us to the really great Village BBQ, where I had beef brisket, and Jim had…something I can’t remember. Jesus had hot wings whose flames could only be quenched by tequila, and Sarah had an entire rack of ribs. Have I mentioned that Sarah is but a mere waif? I never understood where she put the food. For that matter, I’m not sure where she put Jesus Jr.

Then it was off to the True household for a promised weekend of mountain biking.

That didn’t really happen. I mean, Jim and Colin went, and came back suitably muddy. The story is that Jim executed an awesome endo, but there were no photographs. However, as these were the photos that happened that night, I think it’s obvious that everyone had a good time. Indeed, Jim look properly relieved to have gotten out of the afternoon with nothing more than a good endo story to tell:

We girls went to hot yoga instead. It was very, very hot, although I know it wasn’t the 100 degrees on the thermostat. It was aggressive and I had some sort of aggressive woman next to me who flexed her hands wide open when she was doing Warrior and jumped back and forth with an annoying plip plopping noise whenever our instructor said to “jump or step back into upward facing dog.” You could see her tendons and she seemed to be very competitive. Anyway, Carli lost the lid to her WaterBox and it went rolling in a lopsided confused way underneath me before she caught it, which sent me into fits of snorting laughter that, thankfully, no one but Carli heard, I don’t think. This must be why Carli and I look so composed in this photo, because all of the giggling snorts had been sweated out of us.

Lily is a right proper angel.

Most days Carli is, too. I said most days.

Later on that night there was watching of the most ridiculously gleeful movie ever, The Hangover. Bradley Cooper has incredible hair in that movie. And that’s all I’ma say about that.

Photo: David Gabber, TopNews.in

Er. What happened just now? I got distracted. Oh, right, the weekend.

Perhaps one of the most cliché-and-yet-not moments of the weekend was when Colin dragged out his home videos, made back when he was, oh, I can’t remember, eight or so. People. You’ve never seen home videos like this. To be fair, they were shot by someone I think was an aspiring filmmaker (not Colin, but a childhood friend of his). There are sound effects and visual effects and great costumes and fake fighting and everything. They are from “Peter/Paul Productions,” with a proper nameplate, and they. are. hilarious. Seriously. I think I might have liked watching clips of those better than I liked.

Bradley.

Cooper’s.

Hair.

What? Ahem.

Okay, so we knocked off to bed shortly after that, as Jim had to get up the next morning to ride in the King of Burlingame time trial race. People. Watch the video. Sometimes I cannot believe Jim rides this stuff. Sometimes I am sick with envy.

King of Burlingame Time Trial

Other times I look at that and go, “Agh, mud, trail erosion…eeeEEEeee…bridges!” In this case, I was not around to see the actual race; I was inside the car, trying to get a head start on editing the newspaper. We left shortly afterwards, and stopped on the way home to consume what would eventually be The Bane of Our Existence.

Doesn’t it look benign? And lovely?

It was, at the time. And then, four hours later, it was not, as Jim and I were rapidly overtaken with horrible food poisoning. I still haven’t decided if I can write up a Yelp review of this restaurant. Jim has fond memories of it from his days working in Groton, CT at Pfizer, but…oh, le sigh.

Anyway. So our wonderful weekend fizzled to a stop, as we both, in separate rooms, moaned our ways through the night (we didn’t know if it was flu and didn’t feel like passing it back and forth to each other). Jim gamely went to work Monday morning and I moaned my way through all of Monday and into Tuesday morning and now finally feel 100%. I am convinced that the hot yoga which made me sweat out all of the water in my system contributed to a slower recovery time for me.

Anyhow, we’re already halfway through the week, and I ahve a ton of work to do, because I have a houseguest coming Friday and things to do in the city tomorrow evening, I think, and then I am going to Haiti on Sunday.

Yes, I’m going to Haiti on Sunday. More on that later.

Bradley Cooper’s hair!

What?

P.S. Carli made this thing out of WikkiStix. I have never heard of them until this past weekend, but I was suitably impressed:

1 Comment »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Florida, and what I found there

Almost exactly a week ago I began a long trip to Florida via Philadelphia. I met my friend Bill in Philly so we could catch a plane to Florida and ShelterBox USA’s winter workshop meeting. It was terrific to catch up with Bill and spend some quality time with him, and to see other friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and meet some people I’ve been communicating with on the telephone or by e-mail.

Really, really cool stuff. Of course, today the work begins–I’m back to scheduling stuff and just waiting, waiting, to go on deployment while I steal a few moments here and there to devote to my other clients.

“Other clients”–ha! as if ShelterBox is a client! Still, I find the work they’ve set upon me interesting and a natural extension of the work I’d be doing anyway. However, now that I know I have some folks depending on some productive results, there’s an added extension of pressure. At the moment, I’m itching to deploy. It seems all of my friends are going! Agh. Nothing to do but move forward and wait for the call.

In the meantime, here’s some of what I saw in Florida.

nickjimmies

Erica picked me up from the Winter Workshop. We got locked out of her car–it was still running!–and E’s brother Nick tried to make it right. Three older folks (we were in Florida, after all) stopped by to help, and two hours later, the locksmith showed up.

This bird seemed to think it was such a good sight that it stuck around to watch how we did.

birdWe had lunch and then we went back to Erica’s place, where we walked Russell, Erica’s dog, and I met all of Erica’s various pets and friends:

erussellstarThere is no photo of either bunny, the cat, or the fish cos, respectively, I am a bad photographer; the cat and I had a raging fight and I have started to referring to it as North Korea, a la Erica’s boyfriend Kevin; and I did not want to scare the fishies with the flash on my camera.

Anyway, E and K went off to Tampa to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I proceeded to spend the rest of the night editing, watching the Olympics, and fighting with the cat.

I went to volunteer at the ShelterBox USA offices the next day. Good fun. Busy. Crazy.

The following day E and I went to the Ringling museum to check out the Norman Rockwell exhibit. It was way, way cool.

eringlingCool, right?

And then I go to meet Lindy for lunch! Lindy! Lindy! Lindy from my ARFE life! Crazy! She’s started up her own company based around Nordic Walking…we had a really lovely day on Siesta Key, and I realized that I need sunglasses if I’m going to do this kind of thing. I mean, I have them, but I’ve been wearing my spectacles a lot, and I wanted to see everything crystal clear, so I went without on this bright day. What a moron. Needless to say, I went and ordered a pair of photochromic glasses then next morning.

melindyWe walked about five and a half miles along the incredible sands…they were beautiful. I was so grateful and happy to see Lindy. It’s not that I had despaired of ever seeing her again, but I didn’t know if we would stay relevant to each other after she left her job and I left ARFE. But personalities don’t change with jobs, and I always liked Lindy. Along the way we did this:

shadowand saw a bunch of terns lined up like a runway:

ternrunwayand also discovered these things:

seablobLindy says they’re “seablobs.” Jim is informing me over my shoulder that they are actually jellyfish, and that he and his friends used to throw them at each other when he was growing up in Rhode Island. Yuck!

That night I had dinner with some ShelterBox USA board members and then drove home to hang out with Erica, read, watch some Olympics, and have a glass of wine.

Next morning, last day of my stay in FLA, Bev, another SRT, came and picked me up. We had lunch at Simon’s, a lovely little whole-food joint. I had some gorgeous haddock wrap thing with smoked gouda and a mango salsa. Yum.

mebeve

it was an hour ride to the airport filled with terrific conversation, then, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I had a great time. It was well worth the effort to go down there. If I hadn’t, I doubt I’d be either as energized or as overwhelmed by the work ahead. In the end, the added energy and sense of cohesion about the organization–and face time with key folks, friends, and admin alike–make it all worth it.

No Comments »

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.