Monthly Archives: November 2008

Green Bean Dream

Thanksgiving is fun. I mean, it’s no Christmas, but it is a lovely tradition. The notion of a harvest feast wherein you reflect on the blessings that you’ve received in your life is wonderful. Everyone has their favorite bit about the holiday: the big football game, Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, children’s school pageants, the opportunity to draw a turkey by tracing your hand, whatever…

For most of us, the main attraction is the food. And sure, the turkey might be king of the table for some, but I’m not alone in my viewpoint that it’s all about the side-dishes baby. All about the side-dishes. If Stove Top Stuffing is the king (see stove top) , than the queen of accompaniments is today’s great thing:

59. Green Bean Casserole

The soup-slathered beans are topped with fried onions and baked until scalding hot. The outcome is a casserole that is extra crunchy on top and super gloppy underneath. Perfection. The original recipe dates back to 1955. American hero, Dorcas Reilly, was a Campbell’s kitchen supervisor and came up with the recipe (one of many soup-focused dishes to come out of corporate headquarters).

I give thanks for you, Dorcas Reilly!

There’s more of the origin story available, if you care to know, in this USA Today article article. And there’s more about Dorcas Reilly, including a photo from her induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (in 2002), here: Yay, Dorcas!

When my Grandma was still feeding my massive Catholic family, this dish was always included and it was swiftly gobbled up. Since moving to Britain, I haven’t been able to indulge my casserole tooth as much. We’re lacking one basic component in our English supermarkets, Durkee French Fried Onions. I suppose I could make my own, or rather my girlfriend could give it a try (she’s the better cook and feeds us regularly) but part of what makes the green bean casserole so very delicious is its processed ease! It’s almost like, when people make it with ingredients that are too fresh, it’s not as good. It goes from scrumptious comfort food to bleh health food in a jiff. So, having everything about it come out of a can is key. I wouldn’t stray too far from the original recipe. Here it is:

Green Bean Casserole

What with all the hard times nowadays, people are hungering for this delicacy all the more. Apparently, searches on Allrecipe.com for green bean casserole are up 15%. We’re all poor and we crave the hot, easy, cheap, and creamy. Just look at it.

https://i1.wp.com/www.kraftfoods.com/assets/recipe_images/Classic_Green_Bean_Casserole1.jpg

Voila!

It’s truly a side-dish to unite us all. There’s even a vegan version (if you’re going to stray from the original recipe, this should be the only reason). Vegans click here

Happy Thanksgiving. If you’re in The States, please eat a portion for me!

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Bring me the head of Simon Cowell!

Man. I’ve been waiting ages for someone to finally post a pic of today’s great thing on-line so that I could share the joy with you. I first saw it on television a couple of months ago. I’ve been scouring the Internet ever since looking for an image that I could use to depict the otherwise indescribable brilliance. I’ve had this blog entry sitting in my files in ‘draft’ status since my witness to its glory. I knew, deep down, that I could rely on the ‘internets’ to one day help me in my quest to bring this to the masses (or at least the people that read my blog.  Hi Mom!). At last, that day has come. I have located photographic evidence of one of the most magnificent artistic achievements of the last one hundred, if not one thousand, years.

second-simon-head

Best friends!

I only wish that I had more than these couple of photographs to share. Perhaps some kind soul will post a video of its unveiling on Youtube. If that blessed day should ever arrive, you can count on me updating this post.

58.  Simon Cowell’s Papier Mache Head

The artwork made it’s debut in the audition stages of the television program X-Factor. The show is to Britain what American Idol is to America…some of the same producers and all. There are some format differences–this show breaks contestants into four categories:  men, women, over 25’s, and groups, but basically, it’s a singing talent search and show. Well, in the always-entertaining (and sometimes cruel) audition stages of the show, one contestant, Russell Baines, brought with him a homemade effigy of Simon Cowell’s head.  Apparently, he’s a fan.

They finish each other's sentences...

They finish each other's sentences.

One of my favorite details of the whole event is that Russell was carrying the head around with him in a plastic bag.  Macabre!

His skin tone looks a bit boiled red, but overall, I think the likeness is there.  The flat-top hair, for instance, is perfect.  In a more recent episode, Russell was invited by the show to bring on likenesses of all the X-Factor judges.  I don’t have a pic yet, but here’s a pic of the judges.

Trust me, the photographic evidence, when I eventually find it, will be worth the wait.  It was the best thing about the show that night.  I have a renewed appreciation for local arts and crafts.

*****Update!***********

Russell J. Baines has most kindly sent me this youtube clip featuring the segments.  Hats off to Russell!  Thanks for helping me to complete this blog entry.  I can’t believe this day has finally come.  See folks, I spent so long looking for what I needed…leaving a half completed idea in my blog drafts while the X-Factor dwindled into it’s final weeks…the cultural relevance of the moment passing me by and for what?  The moral is, you can’t just wait for it to come along.  You gotta make the universe know what you need.  You have to put it out there!  Because maybe, if you’re lucky, someone will read your blog and give it to you.

X-Factor and papier mache enthusiasts take note, Russell has also provided in the comments section, a link to his excellent facebook page that offers more details about his experience on the show and a fantastic album of sculpted heads.  Without further ado…the footage:

(or…a link to the footage at least!)

Watch and believe!

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Filed under Hobbies, TV

Thwip!

My friends Paul and Steph bought me a used GameCube for my birthday this past year. The GameCube is the pre-Wii Nintendo platform. So, even though it’s been phased out, it’s still pretty current and it’s definitely quality. In fact, because it’s being pushed aside for the Wii, I find that I can get most games for the GameCube verrrrry cheap on Amazon. One of those games is today’s great thing:

57. Spider-Man 2 for GameCube

Released in 2004 by Activision, the game was a tie-in of the film of the same year.  While some movie tie-ins can be a bit dull, this game ups the ante by granting you more freedom.  Beyond the linear story and missions of the game, lie side-missions and down time where you’re free to explore Spider-Man’s Manhattan (and some of the surrounding islands).  Basically, you can fart around ad infinitum before doing anything of consequence or importance.  It’s like an allegory for my life! 

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

 

Bruce Campbell, he of the chin, provides snappy narration and some players from the film return for voice-over duties (including Maguire, Molina, and Dunst).  My only complaint is that J.K. Simmons didn’t reprise his J.Jonah Jameson.  Rosemary Harris doesn’t do Aunt May either.  I do enjoy Mindy Sterling, however, and am glad to see her get the work!

Frau May

 The city of New York looks fantastic.  No, it may not feature your favorite corner deli or massage parlor, but the programmers have done a commendable job capturing the map, the neighborhoods, and several iconic buildings.  You’ll see The Chrysler, The Woolworth, The Empire State, and–my favorite–The Flatiron (doubling as The Daily Bugle’s HQ).  It’s even endowed with a vast Central Park, wherein you can beat up muggers and return purses to their rightful owners.  Fun!

The real highlight of this game is the spot-on harnessing of Spidey-mobility.  It does web-swinging right.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt such joy during game-play.  The sensation of swooping in between buildings at break-neck speed, climbing up walls, and fearlessly jumping off skyscrapers is utterly fantastic.  Years of reading Spider-Man comics and salivating over the films has truly paid off.  Here’s the trailer for the game.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it.  I think this game has even enriched my comic-reading.  I feel, and I fully understand how geeky this sounds, that I can identify more strongly with the Spider-Man experience now…all thanks to my game play.  It has improved my ability to be a fan.

Games, as opposed to most films, can go on for hours.  As such, this one takes advantage of the run time and features more villains than just the one (Doc Ock) from the Spider-Man 2 film.  You’ve got Rhino, Shocker, Black Cat…It even manages to make Mysterio a tad threatening.  I’m hoping he’ll make an appearance in one of the next films.

Lately, I’ve been going to sleep experiencing a Spidey-version of the Tetris effect.  Instead of seeing blocky puzzle pieces descending down the backs of my eyelids, I’m left with the visual imprint of Spider-Man swinging around like an urban Tarzan.  It makes for nice dreams.

With two more Spidey films in the works, it’s likely that I’ll be entertained by future game adaptations as well…  The bar is set now.  Don’t let me down, programmers.  Cuz, you know…with great power….

 Here’s Michael Buble to sing us out.

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Filed under Comics, Hobbies, Movies

Is It Cool For Me To Laugh At This?

You wanna talk about guilty pleasures…man, do I feel awful for enjoying today’s great thing.  I’m hoping that this doesn’t make me a secret racist. Today’s great thing (and possible incriminating interest of mine) is:

56. mymomisafob.com

The website, founded by Serena and Teresa Wu (no relation) is a compilation of humorous anecdotes regarding first generation Asian kids and their endearing but hilarious Moms. So, yeah…that’s why I’m feeling a bit of guilt here. I’m a white girl laughing at broken English and cultural misunderstanding.  Even worse, ‘fob’ is actually F.O.B., which is a derogatory acronym for ‘Fresh Off The Boat’. 

The most influential bit of fobbery (at least of recent years) is most likely Margaret Cho’s stand-up routine.  Here we have a Korean-American who is completely assimilated into American culture making light of her Mom.  Probably half of her material, if not more, is based around impressions and sound-bytes of her Mother.  All good stuff.  I never seem to grow tired of it.

Here’s a sound clip from her stand-up wherein she employs a hilarious Korean Mom voice:

Am I allowed to laugh at these? Cyndi Lauper likes it.  Cyndi and Margaret Interview  I mean, look,  Moms are funny regardless of their ethnicity. Especially when they try to use computers or cell phones. Adorable!

https://i2.wp.com/www.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/1764217/2/istockphoto_1764217_grandma_with_cookies.jpg

Can you enable my cookies?

The grammar issues and cultural misunderstandings? Just icing on the cake. 

There’s also the argument that you don’t have to be Asian to be a fob.  In fact, from a historical perspective, the first F.O.B.s were of European descent–you know, the oft-maligned Irish and Italians of the early 1900s.  My friend Alan, who grew up in Coney Island and is descended from Russian Jews, has a hilarious story that he uses in his own stand-up routine…  The gist is that his Russian-speaking Dad was trying to describe puberty to Alan when he was a boy and told him.  “Son, soon your body will start to mutate”.  Which, for Alan, as a comic-book fan was an awesome promise that failed to deliver.   This all sounds better, of course, in a Russian accent.

At any rate, there’s something just so very CUTE about the whole enterprise.  Moms being all Mommish in American-English is already unintentionally funny.  Add in technology and the foreign language/culture barriers?  It’s the perfect storm of adorable comedy.

Here’s an example directly from the website:

Honesty is the best policy

I saw some pictures that is we took from Bao-Bao’s wedding party.  You
looks very, very fat especial your arm and leg.  I will e-mail you when I
figual out how to e-mail you.
I know you don’t like to hear that but I think you really need to do weigh
watch out and stop to eat any sweet foods.  When you age go up that will be
very difficult to do diet.  Trust me.
I am you mother I always tell you truth.  You need do some excise expecial
for your arm and leg.

Love
Mom

 

 Here’s another:

Super spies

hello, Miss secret agent:
where are u now?
how is the weather there?
have u eat yet?
do u think that 23th cruise, from Boston, is good deal?
well, it look like going to rain.
ok, movie time ………….
Bye!
—-======33333333——-=======7777777((((()))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))——–heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
that is the secret code for ur next assingment…………………..

 

 I’m loving it.  Here’s a direct link to the website if you haven’t already figured it out.

My Mom Is a Fob

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Filed under comedy, website

A Bit of Buzz

Where the hell have I been? We’re about halfway through the month of November and all I’ve got up here is ONE stinking blog entry. In my defense, I’ve been away to the blustery Scottish Highlands over the last four days. What of the other 9 days in the month? All I can say is that watching the on-line clips of Rachel Maddow’s show has taken up far too much of my time. Damn that lesbian! Why does she have to make political commentary so engaging?!!

OK. A little focus here. Let’s just get straight to today’s great thing before I distract myself further:

55. The Bird and The Bee

The Bird and The Bee are a musical duo out of Los Angeles. Apparently, there IS more to the music scene than American Idol in Hollywood. They are Greg Kurstin and Inara George to be more specific. The reason I like them is that they have a style of pop music that is both marketable and legitimately quirky. Though their tunes have been used on several shows and films like Grey’s Anatomy and Sex and The City, they seem more suited to something like Pushing Daisies or Six Feet Under. They have both whimsy and edge somehow.

I’d heard their single “Again and Again”–they were a band with a bit of alt-scene buzz and I’d bought the track on-line to give them a taste test. I really liked it. I got super excited every time it came up on my Mp3 shuffle, made my girlfriend listen to it, put it on a mix CD for a friend… and then kind of forgot about them.

Here’s that tuneful tune:

I’m embarrassed to admit that I only re-discovered them through the vehicle of an ITunes celebrity playlist. To compound my shame, it was Sarah Jessica Parker’s playlist. And I had always vowed to never support the musical tastes of someone who had marketed their own fragrance. I’ve compromised my principles!

Man…I’m coming off like I hate SJP and Sex and the City. I totally don’t. I am a girl after all.

A bit about the two people that make the band

–‘The Bird’ is Inara George. She’s the daughter of Lowell George (of Little Feat) and is married to director Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence Kasdan). Besides performing alongside ‘The Bee’, she’s a member of two other groups, Merrick and the trio The Living Sisters. She’s also cut a solo record. Active! She’s got a nice voice.

–“The Bee” is Greg Kurstin. He’s a music producer and he plays the keyboards. Interesting fact, at the age of 12 he performed in Dweezil Zappa’s band and wrote song I’ve never heard of ‘Crunchy Water’. I like the potential of that song solely because it reminds me of the movie within the movie Bowfinger–“Chubby Rain” . He’s well schooled in jazz and has played on the NYC jazz scene as well as on the NYC Brazilian music scene. Kurstin has also written and produced for loads of artists in the ‘top 40’ set, including Pink, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Natasha Bedingfield.

The Bird and the Bee also do some killer covers. You can find their live version of “Psycho Killer” on-line and it was their fantastic cover of “How Deep Is Your Love” that made the Sex and the City soundtrack as well as SJP’s playlist. That track, incidentally, features backing vocals by Sia–the Aussie songstress. Recently The Bird and The Bee released a cover of the old Billy Rose and Lee David track “Tonight You Belong To Me”. My pal Stu loves the version that Steve Martin does with Bernadette Peters in The Jerk. So Stu, if you’re reading this, I hope that endears them to you. Here’s their website: The Bird and the Bee

Their track “Fucking Boyfriend”, actually made it to the top of the dance charts. To be fair, it was a dance remix version of the song. And, as we know, hopped up club-goers will listen to anything.

If I hadn’t already bought into their pop-lounge stylings, their choice of Christmas cover would’ve pinned me down. I flippin’ love “The Carol of the Bells”. I mean, come on! All the Christmas tunes in the world and they pick one that–if it’s not my fave, it’s definitely top five. That’s a sign. Excellent.

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Newsboi

As an American living in Britain, you’re bound to miss a few things from back home. As good as the chips and gravy are, even the most traveled globetrotter must get homesick sometimes. I know I shouldn’t complain. I’m lucky in many ways. First of all, I’ve wound up in a socially progressive country–one which lets me live legally with my partner AND receive health care! I also get the rich experience of living in another country. It’s widened my horizons and I’ve learned to love the bits and pieces of another culture (hello Twiglets). But, as comfy as I get, I still seek out my American ‘fixes’ wherever I can. Fortunately, I can still get all of my American comic books. I can catch “The Daily Show” on basic cable (it’s called Freeview over here and for a one-off fee, you get a cable box and 30 or so ‘free’ channels). I can even find Oreos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in upscale grocery stores. I nearly collapsed the other day when I saw a copy of Geek magazine on the stands. Sure, as it was an import, I had to shell out the equivalent of about 8 bucks for it…but it was worth every shilling for the joy it brought me.

One thing that I can’t get over here and I feel like I’m missing out on a bit is today’s great thing:

54. Rachel Maddow (and her self-titled show)

rachelmaddow2

Maddow is the first openly gay (clearly–look at the pic) anchor of a prime time show at a major cable news network. It’s a cultural landmark and from what I follow on-line, everyone loves her. So, I’ve done a bit of catching up. Mercifully, we’re living in the nuclear age and I can watch bits of her show here: Maddowat MSNBC

Like the conservatively-skewed Hannity and Colmes , the show has a bias–it’s a liberal one. Naturally, that slant appeals to me, but what makes this show better than the other meager liberal offerings out there? First of all, there’s the notion that whilst she eschews liberal opinions, she’s not a slave to the Democratic party. If they have it coming, she’ll debate their decisions just as she would those of a conservative Republican. It just so happens that Republicans make the plays that cross her particular radar more frequently. In her own words she’s liberal but not ‘partisan’. A recent article in New York magazine hypothesized that besides being smart and funny, Maddow is generally NICE to people. She even has a semi-regular segment called “It’s Pat”, wherein she debates arch-conservative hosebag Pat Buchanan–he of the early-90’s ‘culture wars’ bile. When a self-confirmed butch lesbian can sit down and host a civil conversation with someone whom she clearly disagrees with, instead of threatening to turn off their mike or telling them to shut up, which seems to be standard practice on Fox News, we know that something fresh is being offered to us. Something better. Here’s a clip from the show (I especially like when she accidentally calls Pat ‘Joe’–watch for it. It’s cute.):


The segment is a chance for Rachel to confront her fears, in a sense. Buchanan’s ‘culture wars’ were terrifying–a rallying cry to the religious right to renew their hatred of gays and lesbians. The fact that she offers the guy so much airtime is astounding. Rachel is generous and she deals with his contrary politics with grace and humor. Other like-able segments include “Talk Me Down”, wherein Rachel deals with her political anxieties by inviting an expert to ‘talk her down’ from whatever is bothering her that day. But, my favorite segment is the lighthearted “Just Enough”. This is where Rachel invites a friend, Kent, to fill her in on the pop-culture and odd news items that she doesn’t typically pay attention to. Hosting her own radio and television show, she probably just doesn’t have the time. Most annoyingly, the video won’t upload to my page. So, here’s a link to watch a recent clip:

Just Enough

She’s beyond a hit at this point. It’s been suggested that her rise to fame was aided by our insatiable need for election coverage. I’m sure that’s true. But there’s more than just her verbage, there’s her gayness to talk about here! Yes, she’s has her own radio show, yes she’s a Rhodes scholar, yes she’s a bit of a comic geek (awesome), let’s not gloss over the fact that she’s a big old butchy lesbian. In fact, here’s a direct quote about Rachel from the comments section of a Maddow show clip that I found on Youtube:

“stone cold bulldagger…with a crooked mouth”

Yes, just those seven words in total. Not quite a haiku, but poetic nevertheless. I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a compliment. In fact, I’m almost positive. But, those words, conversely, explain her appeal. I love ‘openly gay’ anything, but I especially love Rachel Maddow. She is an unapologetic Lesbo. Yet, she is beloved by millions, just like Bridget Jones, for being who she is.

Sure, she pastes a bit of the old slap on her face for the cameras ( the apparent insistence of her girlfriend), but when she’s not on company time, it’s back to hoodies and sneakers. She’s like a kid racing home from church to peel off their itchy dress, kick off the maryjanes, and get back into her dungarees. I can relate to that. A recent article from NYMag online focused on her shoe-stylings (see the pic below). They also compared her looks to those of NPR gab-champ Ira Glass. I think she’d take that as high praise.

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I'd argue that it's a GOOD look.

https://i2.wp.com/img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/070326/ira_l.jpg

NOT Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow is the trifecta–intelligent, funny, different. She’s exactly what we’ve all been looking for in our commentary. I’m glad she plays for my team–politically and otherwise.

For your enjoyment, here’s a recent article from New York magazine: Article

And, here’s a clip from her Leno interview:

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Filed under People, TV, Uncategorized