Friday, October 31, 2008

Point: All kids are effing adorable no matter what they are singing

Counterpoint: No, no, clearly that is not the case.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Delicious Cheese Plate

This a a good thing to eat when you've just been to a funeral for the mother of one of your very closest friends. It's not that cheese actually makes the situation better or less raw and painful, per se, but it is very comforting to spend time together and try and laugh about the good things in the world.

Arrange on a plate the following items:

Rogue Creamery Garlic Cheddar
Pepper Jack
Cranberry Wensleydale
Sliced Salami
Very stinky Camembert style goat cheese
Safeway Select Whole Wheat Crackers

Consume the following items with a selection of microbrews, for example, NewCastle, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale and New Belgium 2 Below. Because you are in California, you can sit outside in the backyard drinking beer and eating cheese, which is pleasant even in these unfortunate circumstances.

When your cheese and beer party is over, your friend may give you the very stinky goat cheese to take home because it is too pungent for her taste. Whatever you do, do not leave this stinky cheese in the backseat of your brother's car by accident. If you do, he will call you three days later with some choice expletives directed towards you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sarah Vowell's new book, The Wordy Shipmates, a history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was released this week, and seeing as Vowell is, hands down, one of my top five favorite authors living today, this is great news. After spending two weeks in Massachusetts five summers ago traveling around the state in an oversized van taking in the sights and experiences of our crazy Puritan forbearers, I can hardly think of a topic that would make me more psyched. I started reading Sarah Vowell when my mom gave me The Partly Cloudy Patriot one year for Christmas, and was instantly struck by by how she is able to articulate all the things I love intensely about history and the world and express those things in a way that is wry and clever and emotional. The history in Sarah Vowell's books contain the kind of enthusiasm for history and its fascinating strangeness that propelled me through an undergraduate degree and caused me to erroneously think for about eighteen months that I was destined to attend graduate school and work towards my phd in European History. And clearly, that would have made me intensely unhappy in the long term.

Sarah Vowell writes the books I would want to create if I were smarter, funnier and a much better writer. I admire her because she obviously loves to write, but hates to promote her books; I've seen her speak at least half a dozen times and she always seems uniformly uncomfortable and exhausted. I think it partly the fault of how much she clearly hates being in front of auditoriums and mostly the fault of my own fangirl awkwardness that I have had at least two extremely strange and embarassing encounters with Sarah Vowell. The first was your run of the mill clumsy book signing where we were being bustled through the line and I stood there tongue-tied trying to think of something funny to say, when quite obviously she just wanted to go back to her hotel room. The second was painful though; at a 826 Valencia fundraiser in San Francisco, she was "selling" firm handshakes and friendly punches on the shoulder (Dave Eggers was selling hugs, but Sarah and her personal space issues quite clearly don't play like that) during the intermission.  
My mom and I were out in the lobby, and there was no way that I wasn't going to donate ten dollars to 826 in order to have my hero, Sarah Vowell, deign to punch me in the arm.  It was a win/win situation.  We were standing in line for my shoulder punch, and I was growing quickly more and more nervous.  What clever thing would I say to Sarah Vowell?  How could I express to her in a quick sentiment that I knew she was hating being there, rubbing shoulders with the yuppie, liberal masses of San Francisco, but that 826 was a great cause and I totally respected her for that?  When it got to be crunch time, I handed her my ten dollars, and my mom helpfully said "Oh, you should have brought a book to get signed."  And I, suave wordsmith I am, uncomfortably stammered and looked at the ground, "It's okay, she signed it already."  My shoulder was punched and it was seriously weird for everyone involved.  Given these facts, if I had Sarah Vowell's best interests at heart, maybe I would stop buying tickets to her readings in the hope that everyone else in America would have the same idea and  he wouldn't have to go on book tours anymore. Unfortunately, I cannot not go see her at Town Hall next Monday, because it is likely she will say something as funny as she did on The Daily Show this week.  I told Cody that we wouldn't have to wait in line to have my copy of the new book signed, but if I am inspired to try and make a better impression on Sarah Vowell, then, well, all bets are off.  I'll let you know how that works out for me.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The world in terms of the number of mopeds and motorcycles per country (big ups to Greece, where one in five citizens owns a motorcycle):
The Telegraph has posted an awesome set of maps depicting "real world" demographics and facts such as land mass (I'm still shocked that this is such a new concept and that the deeply flawed Mercator Projection is still so prevalent), wealth by country, projected wealth in the future, carbon emissions, immigration and tourism. I can't remember when I started loving maps and whether it was because I found them fascinating or because I found them beautiful, but, man, the maps in this book are a just an excellent example of both. This is my perfect coffee table book.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because I eat a lot of yogurt in my daily life, the stupid Yoplait commercial with the woman talking on the phone to her friend about all the "desserts" she eats hits embarrassingly close to home. The woman is talking about "apple turnovers" and "boston cream pie" and you see her husband in the other room frantically rummaging through the fridge looking for these delicious things, but get it?! It's yogurt! Blerg.

Despite this, I've bought into the ruse far enough to consider plain fruit yogurt to be fine and good, but "lemon cream pie" yogurt to be a treat! I know, it's dumb. But you can imagine my glee at QFC this weekend when I saw the new flavor of Yoplait Light: Strawberry Shortcake. I promptly bought four little 6 oz tubs of it and thought about the wonderful treats I would have at work this week. Yesterday, my anticipation built all morning long. After lunch I would get to eat my Strawberry Shortcake yogurt. I rushed through my leftover sausage and mashed potatoes and gently braised brussels sprouts to get to the moment when my life would be changed by a yogurt dessert potentially more delicious than the real thing. Unfortunately for me, it tasted exactly like regular strawberry yogurt. Seriously. I think it's the same yogurt in a different tub. I feel that Yoplait has made a fool of me.