Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Of Pork Bellies and Lardon

I am an avid watcher of Anthony Bourdain  on the travel channel (Update...1/27/14...He's now on CNN). He amazes me by what he eats. He had a wrap up show not too long ago where he asked viewers to send in questions in print or in video form about his culinary adventures. One viewer asked," what is the one thing you ate that made you really really sick?" If you saw one of his trips to Africa, I think it was Namibia, he goes out with cow herders and they cook, well there's no other way to describe it, a cow's ass in ashes. He said he got a bacterial infection of the intestine that left him sick for a long time. 

Now, I'm a somewhat adventurous eater. I've eaten a 100 year old egg in the "new territories" outside of Hong Kong, drank squid ink in Tokyo, eaten with dismay the Venetian speciality of cuttle fish (leaves your mouth black), and fried grasshoppers in  London. So, when I sit down and look at a menu, I try to look at it with an open mind. My daughter and I decided to treat ourselves to a post shopping lunch at Tom Colicchio's Craftbar. If you're a follower of Top Chef then you know of Tom Colicchio. If not, he is one of the top restaurateurs in the US with a minimum of 8 restaurants throughout the country. Plus, he's the top judge on Top Chef. By watching Top Chef and Bourdain you become very familiar with edibles you normally wouldn't touch. Now, I grew up on a ranch in south Texas (I probably already mentioned that) and when my dad killed a calf, it was butchered, then different cuts separately wrapped and frozen. We'd eat the whole thing. Except my mom didn't cook up some beef cheeks or roast up some bones so we could suck out the bone marrow. And that is what you eat at today's top restaurants. So, me being me, here's what I ordered: roasted bone marrow with grilled olive oil brushed peasant bread, then pork belly, apple, curry, maple syrup and served with pickled veggies and a beautiful golden beet/red beet pear salad with blue cheese. My daughter played it safer with an arugula, Parmesan, pine nut salad in a lemon vinaigrette, grilled oysters, herb butter, bacon, and spinach and a wonderful Tuscan inspired white beans, prosciutto, and cabbage soup. OK, you might ask, what is bone marrow and as you ask you might add an oh yuck. It is literally a bone that has been roasted with the "marrow" left in side (it is the flexible tissue inside the bone). You put it on bread like butter. It's served with a teeny tiny spoon to extract the marrow. Bourdain sucks it right out. Would I order it again? No. There wasn't enough there to get a really good sense of the flavor. What is a "pork belly", Hairball? It literally is the belly of a pig. It's the part of the pig, at least here in the US, where we get our bacon. It was fried girls and boys. You have a layer of pork and then a layer of fat, pork, fat, pork, fat. Oh my goodness. I heard my arteries clog. One big fat piece of bacon. Fried. We didn't stop there, oh gentle readers. We had 'smores and butterscotch pudding. And, of course, wine was imbibed (only one glass, I was driving). It was a delicious meal but mine was so rich. I'd order the pork belly again if someone would share it with me. The oysters were delicious. The beets I'd eat forever. Everything was incredible. It set me back a few $$$ but was well worth the adventure.

Oh, and about lardo, it's Mario Batali's favorite ingredient. 2009_03_04-Lardo.jpg It's the layer of fat found between the skin of the pig and the meat. Cholesterol check anyone? Oh, and if there's ever "beef cheeks" on the menu, order them. They are so succulent and moist. On to pig cheeks and fish cheeks and....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Safeway Gift Certificate

Back in the late 80's I moved from Austin to Arlington, TX. It was for a great job opportunity but also had the double benefit of the job being in the same city as my boyfriend. I made the move and my guy (later my hubby) comes over to give me a housewarming gift. Auuhhh how sweet. A gift certificate to Safeway. That's very practical. He thought I could use it to buy cleaning supplies. Was he trying to IMPLY something? OOOkkk. After we got married, for my birthday, he gave me 50 clothing hangers. Now, they were the padded scented ones. The guys out there are saying, hey what's wrong with that. Apparently you needed them. Was he trying to IMPLY that I didn't hang up my clothes? Read more...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon...

My blog is about Groovin' On A Sunday Afternoon because I'm bored out of my gourd on this post Thanksgiving Saturday. I'm watching on Georgia PBS Ed Sullivan and rock and roll of the 60's. I remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and my dad ranting about their hair. Listening to it now, I must say, the Beatles were really bad. But they have said that in those early days, pre earbuds, because of the screaming, they could barely hear themselves sing. Good Vibrations is on right now. Just look at the top 25 songs of the 60's:   Read more...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love Jeopardy? Here are Some Factoids for You

1. More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska ..

2. The Amazon rain forest produces more than 20% the world's oxygen supply.

3. The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States ...

4. Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.

5. Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica .. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it, ice.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert. Read more...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Should I Wear Panty Hose?

The panty hose...the torture device created by a man. Really? Yes, really. Why am I contemplating the essence of panty hose when Iran has now announced they've got another nuclear facility? Because I'm still thinking about my Russia trip and the fact that all of those beautiful women over there had on panty hose.
I haven't put on a pair in years(Think about it. Why would you still call them a pair? ) Now you can get panty hose that go from the tip of your toe practically to your neck i.e. Spanx. So, I began my musings by wondering about the creation of these delicate beauty enhancers. Here's the story behind panty hose (from the Smithsonian): 

"The year was 1953 and if you were a woman, a night on the town meant either squeezing into a girdle or slipping on a garter belt. Formal dress dictated that females wear such intimate, and often uncomfortable, articles of clothing. How else could you hold up your nylons? Allen Gant Sr., then running textile company Glen Raven Mills, was inspired by his wife’s lament. “How would it be if we made a pair of panties and fastened the stockings to it?” he asked Ethel. She stitched some crude garments together, tried them on, and handed the products to her husband. “You got to figure out how to do this,” she said. Allen brought his wife’s experiment into the office, and with the help of his colleagues Arthur Rogers, J. O. Austin, and Irvin Combs, developed what they later called “Panti-Legs.” Their product—the world’s first commercial pantyhose—began lining department store shelves in 1959. “It was wonderful,” a 74-year-old Ethel Gant told the Associated Press 30 years later. “Most people my age loved them from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to get a hold of them. I don’t think we’ve ever changed our minds,” she said. Allen Gant Sr. had at least one satisfied customer, but the panty-stocking combo did not grab most women’s attentions at first. Though the convenience of not having to wear a girdle or garter belt was a plus, what helped pantyhose take hold was the rise of the miniskirt in the mid-1960s. For the fashion-conscious woman looking to wear a skirt shorter than stockings are long, pantyhose were the perfect fit. When iconic models such as Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy donned their mini skirts, demand for pantyhose exploded and women flocked to the stores for pairs of their own.  

By the 1970s and 1980s, pantyhose were a staple in every teen and woman’s wardrobe. As more women headed into the workplace, sales of pantyhose only grew. In return, hosiery manufacturers continued to market new colors, textures, sizes and technology. “The silkiest ever,” teased one Hanes advertisement. “No one knows I’m wearing support pantyhose,” declared another.

Those glory days came to an end in the 1990s, a shift that Hosiery Association President Sally Kay attributes to a more relaxed work environment. “You saw the fashion pendulum swing more towards the casual,” she says. The industry witnessed a decline in pantyhose sales, and an increase in other products, such as tights and—with the rise of pants in the workplace—trouser socks.

Today, many women no longer feel pressured to don hosiery at all. First Lady Michelle Obama, considered a fashion trendsetter, has placed the garment in the retired pile. “I stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago because it was painful. Put ‘em on, rip ‘em—it’s inconvenient,” she said on talk show, The View, last year. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is also not a fan. “It does not look good for pantyhose,” she says, “The long term trend is for people to dress more and more casually.”

Though numbers are down, with 1.4 billion pairs of pantyhose sold in 2008, it does not appear that pantyhose will go extinct anytime soon. For women in more conservative work environments, pantyhose are still a must. Some others still prefer the more traditional option. “Today’s consumer envisions hosiery as more of an accessory,” Kay explains.

Although Allen Gant Jr. doesn’t distribute pantyhose through Glen Raven Mills, his father’s legacy remains. “I don’t think he had any idea pantyhose would change fashion the way it did,” Gant Jr. says. From the runway, to the office, and now stored away in women’s dresser drawers, the garment has gone through several life cycles. But that’s the order of things in the industry. As designer Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is made to become unfashionable.” 

So, there's your history. I started asking some of my girlfriends if they still wore hose and most said "not in years" unless you're going to a wedding or live in a cold part of the country. Put your one foot in then the other foot, pull them up around your knees, stand up and try not to fall over, don't let your nails rip a hole in one, suck that stomach in for the appropriate muffin top, unless of course you've got on Spanx to the bosom line, pull, tug, wiggle, uh oh, wrong size. The crotch is still at the knees!!! ASSETS® Red Hot Label™ by Spanx® High-Waist Shaper with Built-In Panty - 1841

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Math: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I am not a math genius. My math teacher in high school just wanted me to add and subtract even though I was in an advanced math class. There were two girls in my class. One was a math genius and the other was me. We're talking the 1960's here folks. Just the beginning of the women's revolution and the Natl Organization of Women. The math teacher, God rest his soul, did me no favors. During exams he would have this other girl and me grade the papers of the guys and in return, not have to take the test. He always gave us A's. At the time, I thought, how sweet is this...Not now. The students of the United States always rank behind other countries in math proficiency scores. I previously wrote a scathing blog on the Dems wanting to cut back on Charter Schools. It now seems PreBo has finally come around and will support Charter Schools. Hurrah for you Mr. President! The Washington Post: "The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries."

Here's something that I found on the internet to try to make heads or tails of this dilemma. The story is as follows:

Last week I (not me but a fictional person) purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there , holding the nickel and 3 pennies , while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters , but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her , she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1. Teaching Math In 1950s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?
2. Teaching Math In 1960s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math In 1980s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990s A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying , it's ok.)
6. Teaching Math In 2009 Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Anybody out there remember the slide rule?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

блокада Ленинграда: The Siege of Leningrad and Other Observations About Visiting Russia

No, your computer doesn't have a virus. The above is "the siege of Leningrad" in the cyrillic alphabet of Russia. When traveling in western Europe, where most of the languages are based on Latin, you can pretty much figure something out. Not in Russia baby. Here's what I learned/experienced on our trip:

* After visiting Peterhof (the place built by Peter the Great to emulate Versailles)
, Catherine the Great's palace and The Armory (it houses all of the jewels, gowns, carriages of the Tsars) and learning of the serf system they had set up, there is no wonder there was a revolution which toppled the Tsar system. After having been to Versailles and knowing what I know about the French kings, no surprise about a revolution there either.

* Much of what you learn on your tours revolves around either Tsarist history or WWII. There are monuments all over both St. Petersburg and Moscow honoring their war dead and the great achievement of the "red" army.

* "Red" in Russia signifies beauty.

* The siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by the Germans lasted 872 days with 1 1/2 million people and soldiers perishing. After all the birds, rats and pets had been eaten, there were stories of cannibalism. 27 million Russians died during the war.   Read more...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Greetings from Yaroslavl, Russia!

Some interesting facts I've learned about Russka. The birth rate is 11.6 per 1000, the death rate 16.5 per 1000. Women live to, on average, be 73 while the men? Just 59 is the average age.
I guess too much vodka and cigs. Another thing that has fascinated me is that the majority of what they take us to see are monastaries, churches and convents.
Most of which are under renovation. During communism, as you know, religion was banned. But apparently the "workers' of the country never abandoned it. Yesterday, we had to wait 3 hours for fog to lift before we could continue down the river.
What did we miss? Another monastary. Today, the countryside is dotted with numerous onion domes of churches. As far as the ship, we are disappointed. The ship is older and needs renovation. The food is not very good and the choices are limited. Yesterday we had a true Russian tea which basically is tead made in a samovar and lots of pastries with Russian fold music. We have asked other passengers if this is the standard for Viking and they say it is not. The other ships have TV's in the rooms, workout rooms etc. Let me just say that I am the youngest person on board. Drank all of our vodka and have got to find another store to get more. Hope all is well and the weather beautiful. The weather here is gorgeous!

Hello From Goritzy Russia!

Vinnie is about ready to throw himself overboard! The ship has no TV, Internet connections take long minutes and there are people knitting and playing mahjong. Actually, we saw an unbelievable wooden church on the island of Kizhi yesterday. The spires are all wooden.
A very peaceful and pastoral scene. We will be traveling from now on up a canal system and we went thru 8 locks last night. The scenery reminds me of the Northwest. Read more...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello from St. Petersburg, Russia!

We are here in St. Petersburg and I just went to buy some vodka, surprise, and almost got in to it with the proprietor. She wanted to charge me 2 rubles for a bag to put the vodka in. She was RUDE. Well, that's less than 2 cents...ah, I guess I gave her the two rubles..Didn't want to get thrown in the gulag!

St. Petesburg is very beautiful and very clean. One thing we noted...remember the Beatles in Back in the USSR where the Urikraine girls really knock me out? The women here, at least the young ones, are very very good looking. Thin, long legs,  mostly long blond hair. What's interesting is that there are so many weddings in the middle of the week. Lots of white dresses, limos and tuxs. But it seems that as the Russian women get older, babuskas all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Middle Aged Man's Angst (Do we really care?)

Considering all that women have to go through in middle age, should we care about a middle aged man's angst? Well, Richard Russo does in his new book, That Old Cape Magic. His main character has angst out the ying yang. His name is Jack Griffin and is married to Joy and they have a daughter, Laura. And Jack has one hell of a set of parents. College professors as snobby and uppity as one can be without having any money. They always vacation on the Cape. When they're crossing the Sagamore Bridge, they begin to sing "That old cape magic" to the tune of "that old black magic". They always looked for a summer home but found them to be either "wouldn't take it as a gift" or "can't afford it!" Joy comes from a large, loving family where all of the children's names begin with "J". Jack can't stand them and they can't stand him. Jack never lets Joy and Laura have anything at all to do with his parents. Then Laura's best friend gets married and then Laura is to get married, and the marriage that Jack and Joy have cobbled together, gets uncobbled, or as Griffin puts it, "that he and Joy where now out of plumb". Read more...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cause of Global Warming? Hot Flashes

No, this really isn't about global warming but about middle aged women and life as we know it. But I do believe that if you put all of the pre, post and the mist of, menopausal women together, you would see a sharp increase in the heat of the earth.  And if a man were to stumble on this gaggle of sweating, red faced, grouchy women, I'd get the hell out of there! But back to the topic of middle aged women.  Someone sent this to me and I thought I'd pass it along. But I don't know who wrote it. So, I can't give credit where credit is due. Life as middle aged women know it

Mid-life is when the growth of hair on our legs slows down. This gives us plenty of time to care for our newly acquired mustache.

In mid-life women no longer have upper arms, we have wing spans. We are no longer women in sleeveless shirts, we are flying squirrels in drag.  Read more...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Creeper, The Pusher and The Miscreant: Terrible Drivers

I'm going to try and distract myself. I'm scared to death about what Congress is trying to do regarding health care reform (excuse me. PrezBo realized that people get negative connotations from "health care reform" so he's changed it to health INSURANCE reform). So, here's what my blog is about: driving habits and miscreants. What are you talking about, Hairball? Over the years I've had a few fender benders. Two of them involved the "creeper" and the "pusher". My husband is a creeper. Coming to a red light he stops about 10-12 feet behind a car and then slowly "creeps" forward. Foot off the brake, foot on the brake, foot off the brake, foot on the brake. It drives me CRAZY! I was stopped at a red light but was in the right turn lane with a yield sign. Through my review mirror, I saw this guy pull up behind me in his big car. He's got another person with him and he and the passenger start to fiddle with something in the car. The car is stopping and creeping and stopping and creeping. You can guess where this went. He "bimped" me, as Inspector Clouseau would say. I got out of the car, hit my hand on the hood, yelled at him to pay attention, looked to see if there was any damage, got in and drove off. That's the creeper. The moral of the story? Don't be a creep! Read more...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Liberal Education-Not A Treatise but a Memoir

I remember when I told my mom and dad that I wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin. I had been offered a full scholarship at a small Lutheran college and they couldn't understand why I would want to choose such a huge university when the other school would have been free. Now I understand their thinking, free versus not free. Well, at that point in 1970 tuition was $500 a semester plus room and board. The first thing, though, that my dad said was, "you do realize that that school is very liberal." Liberal, schmiberal. What did I care. I was going to THE CITY! No, I said. It's UT I want.  I wanted to get AWAY from small town life. If you wanted Italian food, you ate it out of a can (Chef Boyardee and I were good friends). If you wanted Chinese, that's right, out of a can. I didn't want to drive an hour and a half to go shopping. I had taken the SAT and ACT and had done Ok but nothing to write home about. As you know, one criteria of the acceptance process is what percentile you are in your class. You needed to be in the top 10%. Well, golly, I was 3rd in my class, out of thirty! When I told my parents that I had been accepted, they were ecstatic but leery. Remember those liberals? My first semester was in Sept. of 1970. We were in the throes of the Vietnam war. Riots on campuses, riot police. And here I am. The small town girl who doesn't no shit from shinola. Yes, I had, maybe, if my memory is correct, inhaled, but I don't remember (we actually had a "paraphernalia" shop within walking distance from our apartment) . What I do remember is my first day of classes. I make my way to an English class of some kind, seat myself, and before you know it, a Black Panther comes screaming into the room. Oh gentle youthful readers. I am not talking about the feline black panther. Read more...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lisa See's New Book, Shanghai Girls:A Novel

I just finished Lisa See's new book, Shanghai Girls. I really enjoyed the book. It is a departure from Peony in Love and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in that it takes place in the 20th century and 75% of the novel takes place in Los Angeles. It is a story of two sisters who, like most sisters, have a loving but at times, tumultuous relationship. The older sister is Pearl. She is well educated but feels unloved while, she believes, her parents dote on her younger sister, May, who is playful and beautiful. They are the elite of Shanghai in the late 1930's. They are "the beautiful girls". They pose for an artist that paints them to sell their pictures on calendars and advertisements. But their father is a heavy gambler and loses all. He then sells his girls to Golden Mountain men (Chinese men who have immigrated to the US, made money, and now want to marry Chinese women). Then the Japanese invade and the rape of China takes place. Through horrid conditions and true terror, the sisters make their way to LA to begin their arranged marriages. Read more...Shanghai Girls (2009)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Is It About Men, Power and Their D*cks?? And, I Don't Mean Ducks.

I had originally written this story about Gov. Mark Sanford of SC who supposedly went on a hiking trip but was actually in Argentina with his mistress.  His wife divorced him and now I hear he's marrying the "other woman".  Now I'm going to rewrite this because of the ever salacious news about Gen. David Petraeus.Paula Broadwell  I certainly can understand an older man being attracted to a younger woman who, apparently, could keep up with his stamina...Ok. Who came on to whom hasn't been stated.  She was ready, as she entitled his book, to go "All In".  After listening to some of the news, there seems to be military "groupies". Never would have thunk it. The crux of the biscuit, though, is that he didn't HAVE to have the affair, but yet he did.  It was his choice.  Petraeus  had everything to lose with this affair, status, power, family and loss of integrity.  Oh but he's just another guy who had an affair. No biggy.   Is it really that important?  When you're head of the CIA, you really don't need to think with your d*ck.  As one commentator said," Since when do generals take orders from their privates?"  Now there are conspiracy theories running rampant about all kinds of stuff. You've got the President defending this person and that person, all kinds of  misinformation regarding Benghazi, are you tainted enough so that your congressional testimony can't be believed, and/or were you set up to take a fall... Petraeus, remember when someone bought a full page ad in the NYT and called you "Be-traeus"?  Well, I'm just going to call you a 4*-d*ckhead.  I appreciate everything you've done for your country, but really, under military law, you could have been court marshaled.   Ever hear of Mata Hari, who spied for the Germans during WWI? She was Dutch, slept with British officers and sold their info to the Germans. Hey, it COULD be possible. Read more...

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'll Give You 12 Camels for Your Wife

I'm reading Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. I can see your heads going back and forth asking "is she crazy?" But let me tell ya, his descriptions of London, Paris, Italy, Morocco, Turkey etc, could still be used in guide books today. There is one section that had me laughing out loud. My husband came up to the library to see what I was laughing about. Mark Twain and his "group" had discerned that guides get "off" on making Americans oooh and aaahh. So, he and his buddies deliberately try not to show any enthusiasm. When the unsuspecting Genoan guide shows them something written by Christopher Columbus, they ask, "who is that?" And "why is he so important?" And, "is he still alive?" "No". Then, "how did he die?" "Measles?" "Are his parents still alive?" Keep in mind, The Innocents Abroad  was written in 1867. Columbus? 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...They had the poor guide so flummoxed, he kept trying harder and harder to get them to squeal in ecstasy. And they called every guide, every guide no matter where they were, Ferguson. Maybe this is where the term "ugly American" began. I'm enjoying the book tremendously. He brings up many topics that I, as a traveler, have pondered. For example, all throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the British Isles one can see magnificent, towering cathedrals and castles and fortresses that are gilded with gold and silver with swords and crowns glittering with precious stones. But I, as did Twain, question how could the "powers that be" that had these churches etc built, gild the churches etc while their parishioners were living in abject poverty (and in many cases, still do)? And, they themselves living an elite life? Just something to ponder.  Read about my travels to Tahiti and Istanbul...

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Proms

I was listening to the radio (oh, she must be one of those right wingers, if she's listening TO THE RADIO), and one of the talk show hosts mentioned that a young man in Ohio was prohibited from attending his high school graduation because he attended a prom DANCE at another school. You see, he goes to a Christian school that has asked all of its students to forgo dancing. Look. I'm not going to make too much of that part. What it did, though, was bring up memories of proms and my experiences compared to that of my husband. You see, I'm German and Czech and from South Texas  and my husband is I-talian and from New York City. NEW YORK CITY? Now, that's a combo plan, wouldn't you say? Let's talk about proms in south Texas in the 1960's. Or, specifically mine in 1969. In my hometown, while in HS, you actually attended two proms. The juniors "hosted" the prom for the seniors (so, I was a junior in 1969) and then my own, as a senior (again, hosted by the juniors.) The year I was a junior, I remember the theme was Gone With the Wind. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. How politically incorrect is that? And looking back, how politically incorrect was that? But, it was 1969. It was also the time of the hairpiece. Not for men. For women. You took this false piece of hair to your stylist and they "styled" it for you. I had long hair and we tied it up in a knot and the stylist had made this hairpiece into lovely, cascading curls. Since we were in the land of Tara, I had it done "southern belle style". It cascaded half way down my back. At about 2am, it was cascading out the window of my boyfriend's car. But, let's progress. Proms in the 1960's in rural Texas.  Read more...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Inquisition, The Inquisition....Torture Museums London and Tuscany

sings Mel Brooks as a monk in History of the World Part One. Only Mel Brooks, with his inimitable style and schtick, can make fun of so tragic a time. In today's world and politics, torture and the possible use thereof, is taken very seriously. Witness Fox's Shepard Smith's Shepard Smith rant on the US and our possible use of torture (water boarding specifically). If you haven't seen it, here's the link. Caution, funny Mr. Shep uses a few choice expletives to make his point: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/22/shepard-smith-torture_n_190350.html.  (Update...1/28/14...the link is still active).

This rant led me to remember two places in the world where I've been that had (has) torture museums...Read more...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Memories of 4th of July Fireworks Part One

Part One, a memory of Willie Nelson and a rural south Texas ranch in 1976 (keep your minds clean) to Part Two, a memory of extravagance and opulence in 1996 at the Villa D' Este on Lake Como in Italy. Yo yo dog. That is some difference. I have a memory chest that has things in it from my childhood up thru yesterday. I was looking for something for my husband and came across a ticket from the 1976 Willie Nelson "picnic" at Sterling Ranch in Gonzales, Texas. Gonzales is the birthplace of the Texas freedom movement from Mexico. Willie began these "picnics" in 1973. It was supposed to be a way to get a bunch of people together, drink a little beer, smoke a little pot and listen to great country music. That's the way it started out anyway. In the beginning they were 3 day-ers and so was the 1976 shindig. Because the good people of Gonzales really didn't want 100,000 drunk hippies and rednecks tearing up their town, they fought the permits for the picnic tooth and nail. They finally gave in and said, OK, one day only. Willie says 3 days. So, three it was. Since approval was given so close to the holiday and it was the country's bi-centennial year, most of the port-o-potties had already been rented. This was a huge problem. Read more...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Room Without a Book Is Like a Body Without a Soul: The Love of Books

Some philosopher named Cicero said something to that affect. I am a true believer in reading. To learn, to stretch the imagination, to boldly go where no man has gone before (oops, that's Star Trek). So, I am going to be so bold as to suggest to you some writers that you have not heard of, may have heard of and not yet tried or also love as an author, as I do.

So, here goes:

Mark Bowden: I got hooked on his writing after I read Black Hawk Down. I then read Killing Pabloabout the US's involvement in trying to track and kill the infamous drug dealer, Pablo Escobar. It is a fascinating read, very much a true life thriller. Then, to learn more about our hostilities with Iran, I read Guests of the Ayatollah about the hostages taken during the Carter administration. Yep, there's old Ahmadinejad right in the middle of the fracas. Read more...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We'll Always Have Paris: A Visit to Paris Staying in a Two* Hotel

I first visited Paris in 1978 as a chaperon to 8 high school kids on a "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" type of trip. What do I remember about that trip after all these years? One evening I saw a priest peeing in the street and that same night, a couple in an apartment across the street from our 2 star hotel, was making love with the window wide open and with the lights on. The four boys in my group were the ones who saw them first and came running down to my room to make sure I saw what was going on. Trying to get them to stop watching was like trying to keep a male lion away from a female lion in heat. Ah the French, so uninhibited. Over the years, I've had the good fortune to have returned to Paris a number of times. The one I want to tell you about is more of a travelogue story rather than a "oh my God, you won't believe what happened" kind of story. Our daughter had just spent 3 months studying Spanish at the University of Seville  (to say "studying" may be stretching it. I think studying partying was more like it). Since my husband and I hadn't been to Europe in a couple of years, we decided we would meet her in Paris and then she could fly home with us. Well, the best laid plans...We had chosen the weekend of the French Open and there were few hotels available. We had two choices, either the Ritz Carlton at $800 a night or the 2 star Hotel Des Deux Avenues  at $120 a night. Read more...