torsdag, februari 28, 2008

Acts of Theft


The above photo and the following note that went with it were sent to me by my friend John, a reference librarian in Illinois. The combo of image and note kills me. I'm posting it here without permission:

My new exercise regime: Run at a barbed wire fence, leap into full body flip, then chuck an axe at a target. Three sets of ten, twice daily.


Two matters grab me today: blogging and political insiders; and the spreading virus of celebrity endorsements in the political arena.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal's "Portals" columnist Lee Gomes published a piece about the vast availability of political news and analysis, and how bloggers decontextualize and recombine those elements to become, in essence, something of Washington insiders. He's got a fine point, though certainly those "insider" types are still few and far far between. Just try reading the crap comments on Jack Cafferty's "Cafferty Files" blog at CNN. The comments on there provide ample evidence for negative world opinions about Americans.

To judge by the obstreperous statements of those commenting on political blogs, we are as a people grossly uneducated, quite possibly illiterate, callous, self-absorbed, and reluctant to learn more of pretty much anything than just the gist. Even the gist seems exhausting for us.

(Mob mentality and mob posting are, of course, almost always to the detriment of reason.)

And in the recent election cycle we've seen an unusually high number of celebrities not just commenting on the election, and not just getting actual coverage from major media sources--and I mean news sources, not just Entertainment Tonight--but actively appearing on the campaign trail (a la Chuck Norris' "Huck & Chuck" stops and Oprah's rallies with Obama).

I love the popular interest in our politics, certainly. But I detest how it has grossly altered our media coverage.

It apparently means that newsworthy political endorsements extend everywhere. Sports Illustrated published a piece about injured rookie center Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers. What was this piece about? How's his rehab going? How does he plan to fit into the team's scheme next year now that they seem to have functioned well without him? Nope.

Oden has endorsed Obama.

Good on ye, Greg Oden, for a fine choice, but SI--stay out of politics. Really.

(I suppose this is where SI responds: then shouldn't Congress stay out of sports?)

Just pack it in, Senators Clinton and McCain. Oden hath spoken.

onsdag, februari 27, 2008


How very strange to be living with someone who plans meals. The Muse does a lot of list-making and meal planning, but not because that's the way it has to be but because it's sort of relaxing to know that some things can be depended on. It simplifies the week, of course, to know that you don't have to run out and buy some junk for lunch every day at work, for example.

This is a lifestyle I haven't had to think about for a couple years, since I work from the apartment, which means that breakfast and lunch has, for quite some time, been a pretty quick activity. Get something in my belly and keep working.

Now there are actual meals I might have at lunch because we cook dinner with leftovers in mind. I'm eating more healthily, I'm learning to plan better, and I'm learning all the things I can do with leftovers.

Thing is: I think my leftovers are weird.

Take for example the image above. That's a leftovers lunch. I fried five quail eggs, divided them between two pieces of toast, and topped it with a warm mix of spinach, caramelized red onion, garlic, hot pepper flakes, and thin-sliced ham. I did this so I could use up the spinach, onion and ham.

True: this contrasts sharply from last week when I ate a chick pea burger every day because our recipe made so many! But still: fresh chickpea burgers. That's weird. It's just that when I think of leftovers I think of curious chicken casseroles, the contents of which have become more obscure in the refrigerator-congealed cream sauce.


The Muse's headbands are super good to keep the hair off my forehead and eyes while hunched over the keyboard. It's a dorkiness I enjoy, because it makes me feel like a European or South American tennis player.

Backhand slice pose!

måndag, februari 25, 2008

Leeks, Pasta and The Draining Lake

leeks and paste
I used to photograph everything, but have since slowed considerably as I've filled a ridiculous amount of photo cards, I hesitate to put so many images on my computer, I'm ambivalent about deleting original (which is to say, large-file) images--even goofy ones--so conserve space on the camera.

But I really need to get back to photographing things, especially food.

Lord. The Muse and I like to cook, and last night she made a gem of a dish. It was a version of Jamie Oliver's "Cheat's Pappardelle with Slow-Braised Leeks." We made a number of changes, certainly. She worked from notes she took while we watched the show rather than from the recipe, and I think her version came out brilliant.

* We ignored the porcini pangrattato.
* We used three leeks, not five.
* We used fresh (albeit store-bought) fettucini
* We used chicken broth instead of white wine (but only because we drank the rest of the white wine after glazing vegetables with it the previous night)
* We braised the leeks in butter and garlic, per the recipe, but used thin-sliced ham to create the "steam" covering rather than the cured meat Oliver recommends.

This isn't to say everyone should make those changes, but just know that's what we did in case you'd like to try this recipe. I encourage you to do so, for those of you who eat meat.

It was divine. We added to it some caramelized red onion and roasted peppers (extra from the previous night's cooking) and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

I just ate the leftovers--and totally without grace. It was good cold too. If you've never tried leeks and pasta, do so NOW.


I'm currently taking a break from the outstanding Halldor Laxness novel Independent People to read Arnaldur Indridason's The Draining Lake. Indriðason's Reykjavik mysteries are comparable to Henning Mankell's Skåne mysteries. (That's the southern most province of Sweden.) My friend Terry loaned me this British-English version (as the book is not out yet in an American translation). He picked it up while in Germany. It's a good yarn, friends. If you ever want to investigate Scandinavian mysteries, I'd recommend you try Mankell and Indriðason's works.

Of course, if you truly want a good dose of it, I'd encourage you to take it back a touch and read the 10 books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The married writers wrote ten mysteries to chronicle ten years of change in Swedish society. The books are set in the 1960s and 1970s. Good reads, definitely.

fredag, februari 22, 2008

Min katt är trött, min svenska är sonder

Where ya been!? Running about like a chicken with my head cut off. The Muse has moved in so we're living out of many boxes, taxes have been sorted out (almost), weather has been brutal, but all in all life is grand.

I must get back to the blog! Enough of this feeling overwhelmed. I've got the energy again...but the cat doesn't have it.

As the title makes known (in questionable Swedish), "My cat is tired, my Swedish is broken."

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