Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Addendum #2, from Jenny's Comment

Jenny's additions can't just stay buried in the comments, so here they are:

Five things I must add, darling:

1) The NYU party being broken up, cuz we're all a buncha derelicts;

2) Allen's belt buckle that opened all our beers (please, Santa, can I have one for Christmas??);

3) Me getting in a fight with the hotel bartender;

4) Cleen's nickname for the weekend: Dirty Schrey;

5) Many awesome intomollectual conversations in our hotel room, over pints stolen from the hotel bar.

Good times.

We also had fun brushing our teeth:

...and saw this BIZARRO poster advertising the "Chocolate Nutcracker" in Columbus in November:

Monday, October 29, 2007


When I was writing that last post and made all those shout-outs, I momentarily forgot Bill's and Scott's papers, both of which were top-notch. I didn't manage to see Dan's or MBQ's, but I hear both were good. And I think that covers all my fellow students.

Back to Civilization

As y'all probably guessed, we did eventually make it to Columbus--our flight Thursday morning went without delays, though the aircraft we were on felt (and looked) fairly decrepit--as J said, like riding a big Chevy Nova through the sky. We arrived to hear how good the morning papers had been, and, as Nicol describes on her blog, that the hotel had given away our room with two double beds, so we had a king and a foldout for four of us. Oh, well--better roommates no one could wish for, and we had several fun room-picnics. In fact, J & I didn't eat any dinners inside a restaurant!

So--as for food (in case anyone gets stuck in downtown Columbus and needs to know): we actually did pretty well. Indian the first night from Indian Oven, which was a little overpriced but fresh and good, with lots of vegetarian options. The only problematic dish was Cleek's rice pudding. Then, Friday night, some acceptable but not exciting pizza from a place in the dead mall attached to the hotel. Saturday night Jenny & I had been planning to have a nice quiet dinner in an Italian restaurant called Due Amici, but inertia set in and we didn't get there in time, so we got takeaway sandwiches from Tip Top, a bar and restaurant with a delightful selection of vegetarian food. We returned there for lunch yesterday before our flight, and I got some spectacular corn chowder: nice and creamy, with all the usual ingredients, plus a kick of chipotle peppers. I almost got a second bowl. Their sweet potato fries were also very well-done: the oil was fresh, and clearly at the right temperature. I wish I'd known about Tip Top sooner--as well as Cafe Brioso, where several of us had sandwiches for lunch on Saturday.

So this SEM (Society for Ethnomusicology) can't compete with last year's in Honolulu for creature comforts, or even with Atlanta for all our trips to the Flying Biscuit, but I believe the meals I had in Columbus were more consistently edible and cheap than in previous years. Who knew?

From all this, you'd think I didn't do anything in Columbus but eat. Of course that's not true--I ran my mouth a great deal, and consumed a fair amount of beer. Saw some good papers--here's a shout-out to Jenny (doin' the good work and speaking out from American silence), Nicol (speaking out from Afrikaaner silence and setting some records straight), Allen (rockin' the new organology), Sean (CUNY piano sleuth extraordinaire), Ben (keeping it real in the 'hood), and Brett (never listening alone). I hope I'm not forgetting anyone!

SEM was (and always) is a great chance to make new friends and to deepen existing friendships. Particularly exciting was the chance to get to know some of the UVA people--it turns out we share more than several migrant faculty--and some of the Columbia crowd, some of whom are very cool. And it was great fun to hang out with several awesome prospective students--Cleek, of course (whose nametag initially read "CLEEN"!), Ben K., and Jeremiah.

And on top of all this, the Macy's in the dead mall was having a closing sale, and I got a new set of 300-count sheets for $15, a new dress, and a sweater.

So all in all, a successful weekend--but now I'm exhausted and have piles of work to do. Alas.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Er, "Off to Columbus" Indeed!

Delta sucks. Somehow, the weather seemed to selectively affect both flights we tried to get on--but very few of the others leaving JFK & LaGuardia, and few of the planes arriving in Columbus. Weather, my ass. Not to mention that we wound up having to go to LaGuardia for the failed second flight. So here I sit, in our living room in Brooklyn, and we'll miss a couple of great paper sessions tomorrow morning--that is, assuming Delta gets us to Columbus at all!

The good part of this wasted day at the airport is that there were six of us from the music department all in the same boat...or rather, not in a plane at all! So we had fun hanging out and finding strength (and bitchiness) in numbers. So tomorrow we get to do it all over again. The car service is supposed to pick J & me up at 5:45am, then stop at Allen's for himself, Nicol, and Brett (who had arrived from South Africa this morning!), and then finally for Jessica. If we're cranky when we arrive at the conference, you all, at least, will know why!

Random Bits and Pieces

Life has been a little hectic lately, with one trip down to DC & Virginia for a friend's wedding last weekend, and leaving for Columbus, Ohio this afternoon for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference this weekend. Nevertheless, I must blog about a few events, however briefly:

1. I got my hair cut yesterday. By my reckoning, this is my first professional haircut in about ten years. For those of you who have seen Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, my hair is pretty close to Jennifer Jason Leigh's hair in the film. A simple bob, but done with more layering than I've ever had.

2. Speaking of films, it's been a great few days for watching good movies. First, we watched Inside Man, which we both loved. Even though Jodie Foster didn't appear on screen enough for my taste, the concept of her character--a woman who nearly controls a city behind the scenes--is brilliant. Then The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) came on tv. Great stuff altogether.

3. I made a great cd haul this weekend in Charlottesville. I haven't even listened to everything yet, but standouts so far are Sepultura's Arise (which I got used for $6) and the reissue of Pylon's Gyrate. The In Tenebris album is growing on me as well, despite what I hear as some mixing issues (the voice is way too disconnected from the rest of the band in the mix). But that's a fairly small complaint, and I get warm fuzzies thinking that Christina, the singer, has done several of Jenny's and my piercings (she's an excellent piercer). Shame the band broke up, though.

4. Last night, we got takeaway from Joy, our old favorite Indian restaurant in Prospect Heights. When we went in to pick it up, one of the employees was rather over the top, saying that of course they deliver to our end of the neighborhood (as of a few months ago, they didn't), asking us to take menus to give to our friends, etc. Then, as we were waiting for a car service to get home, he brought us mango lassis to drink while we waited. All this was fine and good, and definitely inspired good feeling...BUT when we got home, the food was a mere shadow of its usual self. So we're hoping they were just having a bad night, and not that they've changed cooks or management, and that the food returns to its usual high standard. The employee did have an air of desperation about him, though, and when we arrived they had exactly three eat-in customers--not surprising, since the restaurant itself is depressing and badly in need of renovation.

Now--off to Columbus!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hack, Hack

Luckily this post is all about me and not about the kitty, since "hack hack cough cough" was Garfield's signature hairball noise, if memory serves. And actually, I'm not coughing, though I've finally gotten the cold that has been going around. Just as long as I can make it to a few appointments tomorrow and Wednesday, and am in form for my trip down South at the weekend, I don't mind some congestion.

Anyway, all the gratuitous info about my cold is only to introduce what I've been *doing* in my current dragged-out, brain-dead state: revisiting Hack (Nethack), a favorite game from my teenage years that I rediscovered online a couple of years ago. And by now, there's a Wiki that goes along with it. I'm sure some of you have known about this game for years, and also whiled away countless hours as a 15-year-old at it, in that year before the driver's license changed everything (in my case, it made sneaking out of the house with friends for 2am trips to Dunkin' Donuts de rigeur).

Lately, J and I have also been revisiting another fun thing from my past: repeated watchings of Broadcast News. She's got a knack for remembering William Hurt's character's lines, which is nice, since I'm best at Holly Hunter's, with Albert Brooks' a fairly close second. But--as Ann will be happy to hear--we have not gotten up to any related antics, like putting Barbie dolls in Mason jars and labeling them "Paul canned me"! Now we're wondering if there's a Facebook group for BN fans--but I'm too busy procrastinating in other ways to join it, even though several folks have 'invited' me to.

You would think from all this that I'm not doing any schoolwork at all at all--but in fact, I have been working on a new draft of my dissertation proposal, and cold willing, have a meeting about that tomorrow. I've also been reading Hayden White's Metahistory, though I doubt I'll bother with the whole thing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

The headline: "Lessing Not Impressed by Nobel Prize" (AP, 11 Oct 2007).

It doesn't seem to happen very often, but it's delightful to see a famous person react to an event in public in a way that exposes the scaffolding of the whole system--in this case, the accepted scenario of "Author writes all her life, is successful, makes bold statements, and eventually wins Nobel Prize--at which time, she accepts gracefully and says all the right things."

Lessing wasn't having any of that:
"I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks," she added with a smile.

Lessing, who turns 88 this month, is the oldest winner of the literature prize. Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.

Asked repeatedly if she was excited about the award, she held court from her doorstep and noted she had been in the running for the Nobel for decades.

"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."

Surrounded by members of the international media in her flower-packed garden, Lessing was dismissive of the Nobel — calling the award process graceless and saying the prize "doesn't mean anything artistically."

You go, girl.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tweaking the Roasted Red Pepper Soup Recipe

Maybe I should subtitle this blog "All About Roasted Red Pepper Soup"--it's definitely a popular topic here in blogspace, and a very popular dish here in physical space.

Anyway, last night's was the best yet. What I changed:

1. Lower potato-to-pepper ratio.
2. Red pepper flakes at the beginning.
3. I included one roasted tomato, with peel and seeds removed (obviously).
4. I fecked some marjoram--my new favorite herb--into it early on.

It kicked ass.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Apologies to Platinus

Ever since we went to the Renaissance Italian cooking class in May, I've wanted to go back and try some of the recipes we did there. So Saturday night, despite unseasonably hot and sticky heat, I decided to try the chard torta. I'm pretty sure Chef Kaufman or Platinus (the source for the recipe) would have recognized this quiche as "inspired by" the original, but the original it certainly was not!

First, I decided not to make a crust. Rather than do the lazy and cheap thing of using a bought pie crust, I lined my new glass pie pan with sliced potatoes. Next, I used soy mozzarella so Jenny could eat it (the recipe calls for ricotta and fresh mozzarella). I don't need to be told how much better that would have been, but given the choice I made it so J could enjoy it as well. Third, since I was leaving out the ricotta, I used 3 eggs instead of 2, and a cup of milk rather than 3/4 cup. Finally, I added some garlic to give it a little bite and to distract a little from the soy mozzarella.

Other ingredients: a bunch of chard, a small handful of marjoram, and two handfuls of Italian parsley, plus salt and pepper to taste. I sauteed the chard and garlic, added the herbs at the end, and folded that into the egg and milk mixture. I poured that over the potato "crust," adding slices of the soy cheese in the middle.

I thought it delicious and light, and the marjoram was wonderful. I'd never cooked with it, but I think this is only the beginning. The potatoes could have been a bit crispier, and in the future I think I'll put the cheese on top instead of inside, which would also mean I could put real cheese on half and soy cheese on the other half!

We followed the quiche with apple crumble, and were joined by our friend Nicol and her new girlfriend Stephanie, who brought ice cream to go on top. The crumble was pretty much as I'd blogged about before, except that I added a handful of blueberries to it just before putting the crumbles on top. I didn't have quite enough brown sugar and only had quick oats on hand, so the texture was a little smoother than it usually is, but it was still a hit.

In other news, the Yankees just lost to the Indians. There goes Torre and A-Rod, I guess. J and I have to go to Columbus, Ohio for a conference in a few weeks, so we've decided to take Yankees gear, just to represent.

In other, other news, I had yet another migraine today, which meant that a lot of books went unread. Alas. But after all, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pesky Squirrels, Part 2

Arrrrrgh! The cayenne pepper didn't work at all. Next try: some sort of screen, or maybe bars (perhaps from old grills?). The plants do need to achieve their height, after all.

What really rankles is that the squirrels don't even seem to be using anything from the pots or plants, nor do they seem to be using the pots as toilets (thank goodness). They just seem to want to get in there and scrabble up the earth out of pure devilment!

I bought some mint today--hoping to get that going before I bring it inside. Fingers crossed that the squirrels don't 'molester' that too!

A Need for Bookends--The Non-Metaphorical Kind

Now we know what Art Garfunkel was buying at Scarborough Fair--never mind the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme: he was buying the old classics. The funny thing is that he and I were reading some of the same books at the same time--I guess he was a late bloomer.

Thanks to "Little Friend" for sending along these links--Garfunkel's favorite books, and his library.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pesky Squirrels

I'm attempting to make something of the last little bit of Indian summer weather by getting some thyme growing outside (which I plan to move inside under a grow light), as well as nursing Jenny's little pepper plants along in hopes they'll bear (one finally has a tiny pepper! woo hoo!--though I don't think it'll amount to much before it's too cool for it), and letting the marigolds go to seed so that maybe I can get them to grow from seed next year. But the squirrels around here--"skrats"--won't stop digging in the pots! Does anyone have any good solutions?

Yesterday I sprinkled a little cayenne pepper on the soil in the thyme pot, since that seems to be the most popular with the "rats in cuter outfits"--we'll see if that does anything. They didn't really bother the basil that much--I wonder if they avoid certain smells....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sexy Abe Lincoln!

One-stop Halloween shopping: watch the video here.

...and this old favorite, the Starbucks Guy. "Whaddathey think they're selling over there? Fuckin' liquid gold?"

Unlikely Bedfellows

Did y'all see this?

Secessionists meeting in Tennessee

By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press WriterWed Oct 3, 3:15 AM ET

In an unlikely marriage of desire to secede from the United States, two advocacy groups from opposite political traditions — New England and the South — are sitting down to talk.

Tired of foreign wars and what they consider right-wing courts, the Middlebury Institute wants liberal states like Vermont to be able to secede peacefully.

That sounds just fine to the League of the South, a conservative group that refuses to give up on Southern independence.

"We believe that an independent South, or Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont would be better able to serve the interest of everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity," said Michael Hill of Killen, Ala., president of the League of the South.

Separated by hundreds of miles and divergent political philosophies, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention starting Wednesday in Chattanooga.

They expect to attract supporters from California, Alaska and Hawaii, inviting anyone who wants to dissolve the Union so states can save themselves from an overbearing federal government.

If allowed to go their own way, New Englanders "probably would allow abortion and have gun control," Hill said, while Southerners "would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now."

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession, but few people think it is politically viable.

Vermont, one of the nation's most liberal states, has become a hotbed for liberal secessionists, a fringe movement that gained new traction because of the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of several pro-secession groups.

Thomas Naylor, the founder of one of those groups, the Second Vermont Republic, said the friendly relationship with the League of the South doesn't mean everyone shares all the same beliefs.

But Naylor, a retired Duke University professor, said the League of the South shares his group's opposition to the federal government and the need to pursue secession.

"It doesn't matter if our next president is Condoleeza (Rice) or Hillary (Clinton), it is going to be grim," said Naylor, adding that there are secessionist movements in more than 25 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas.

The Middlebury Institute, based in Cold Spring, N.Y., was started in 2005. Its followers, disillusioned by the Iraq war and federal imperialism, share the idea of states becoming independent republics. They contend their movement is growing.

The first North American Separatist Convention was held last fall in Vermont, which, unlike most Southern states, supports civil unions. Voters there elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate.

Middlebury director Kirpatrick Sale said Hill offered to sponsor the second secessionist convention, but the co-sponsor arrangement was intended to show that "the folks up north regard you as legitimate colleagues."

"It bothers me that people have wrongly declared them to be racists," Sale said.

The League of the South says it is not racist, but proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner.

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups, said the League of the South "has been on our list close to a decade."

"What is remarkable and really astounding about this situation is we see people and institutions who are supposedly on the progressive left rubbing shoulders with bona fide white supremacists," Potok said.

Sale said the League of the South "has not done or said anything racist in its 14 years of existence," and that the Southern Poverty Law Center is not credible.

"They call everybody racists," Sale said. "There are, no doubt, racists in the League of the South, and there are, no doubt, racists everywhere."

Harry Watson, director of the Center For the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was a surprise to see The Middlebury Institute conferring with the League of the South, "an organization that's associated with a cause that many of us associate with the preservation of slavery."

He said the unlikely partnering "represents the far left and far right of American politics coming together."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Egg Thing #30 Zillion

I just made the most fabulous lunch, and y'all don't get to see a picture of it because I devoured it before I could look for the camera.

This wasn't rocket science, nor was it all that different from other Egg Things I've made in the past, but it was delicious, so I'm going to tell y'all about it:

First, I sauteed a handful of button mushrooms, a couple of maverick shitakes I had lying around, and half a medium onion. Seasoned that with dried thyme and oregano and a little salt, and then poured 2 beaten eggs over it in my little frying pan that's the perfect size for a 2-egg omelet. Almost immediately I put enough chopped Italian parsley on it so that I couldn't see much egg underneath, and then a generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese. Stuck a lid on that sucker so the top would get done and melt the cheese (something I rarely do, and now I'm not sure why not!), and garnished it with the remainder of an orange heirloom tomato from the Bartell-Pritchard Square farmers' market (the Wednesday one, so it was nearly a week more ripe than when I bought it, which meant it was in that state of sweetness before disintegration).

The only problems with it were that (a) I wish I'd had more tomato; and (b) I wish I'd had more of the dish in toto.