Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Straw Birds

I purchased these birds made of natural fibers from Williams Sonoma back when they marked their Easter items down. I did not pack them away when the season ended. Since we have had such a bleak, cloudy month they have provided a touch of vibrate color to a rather gloomy introduction to summer. The hand is a ceramic rubber glove mold that I purchased for $7.00 at the Brimfield Fair.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Thriller Experience

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

My first cassette was Thriller but I was a bit late joining the phenomenon that swept the nation. The setting was fourth grade in a crumbling southern classroom that was a year away from being replaced by a brand spanking new school. I still recall friend - not famous - Tammy Baker swooning over the Thriller album center fold of Michael Jackson having fun with two tiger cubs. Carlos Lewis did the moonwalk better than any other fifth grader could. A feat of expertise that he performed on a dusty kick ball field framed by swings and a jungle gym. Babysitter Jackie Johnston's brother, Donald, wore the Beat It jacket to school and the roller rink. There were puffy Michael Jackson portrait stickers in My Sticker album. The beat of the music shaped these memories because I never was quick to pick-up on lyrics.

The cassette player was second hand. The small device was a hand-held model with wrist cord and a single speaker. Immediately upon receiving the gift I begged to go to Wal-Mart to buy the Thriller cassette. The cassette cost more than the player. Eventually, I moved up to a single speaker boom box and then to a two speaker/two cassette deck boom box. The Bad cassette made its premier listen on the latter. In high school, as Jackson's cultural hold faded, I purchased the Dangerous CD on the day it was released. After that Jackson began his decline that sadly ended this past week. His music immediately recalls memories with exacting clarity.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Academy Rules Allow 10 Best Picture Nominees

"The 82nd Academy Awards, which will be presented on March 7, 2010, will have 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category, Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announced today (June 24) at a press conference in Beverly Hills."
Last year there was a brush up regarding the omissions of Wall-E and The Dark Knight. Many thought that The Reader unjustly took the spot owed to the Batman blockbuster. I did not hold that view since The Reader fit the mold of usual Academy honored films. Also, it was a very good film from a director with an excellent track record.

The 10 nominated films in 1939 mentioned in the press release pose a hefty - impossible - feat to duplicate. Eight of the 10 are well known classics today. Many will also call at least one film from this nominated group as one of their all-time favorites. Also, there were more than five nominees in other technical and artistic categories then too. The situation may arise were several films will only have one nomination (Best Picture) under the current voting rules.
1939 Nominees

Dark Victory -- Warner Bros.-First National
Gone with the Wind -- Selznick International Pictures
Goodbye, Mr. Chips -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Love Affair -- RKO Radio
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington -- Columbia
Ninotchka -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Of Mice and Men -- Hal Roach (production company)
Stagecoach -- Walter Wanger (production company)
The Wizard of Oz -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Wuthering Heights -- Samuel Goldwyn Productions

I don't blame them for wanting to invite more people to the party. With this many nominees, you may actually see a Best Picture producer coming down from the balcony of the Kodak Theater to accept the trophy. However, in recent years the audience for the ABC broadcast of the annual awards show has shrunk in size. The exceptions for the recent trend were years when blockbusters like Titanic or Return of the King were front runners for trophies. ABC pays a hefty licencing fee to the Academy for the exclusive rights to the show. I feel the reason for the change has as much to do with the money the Academy counts on for operating income as it does for the need for added inclusion. The Golden Globes already nominates 10 films (5 Drama, 5 Musical/Comedy) per year. The pressure is now on for the fall to put out some stellar films.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia

Recently the first season of Designing Women was released on DVD - for the very first time. The show has not aged as well as a show like The Golden Girls. Girls had their topical/current event moments but the humor was less based on it. You also had four performers in their prime knocking it out of the park week after week. The Designing ladies, though well trained, were still growing as actors as the seasons evolved. Dixie Carter, however, delivered the Georgia speech in the season's second episode. Apparently, Carter, a Republican, did not always agree with her characters politically charged speeches. To appease her, the producers allowed her to sing from time to time. The speeches are legendary. And in case you had forgotten, the show will remind you that both hair and polyester were big in the 1980s.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sadie as a Puppy

I happened upon this puppy photo of Sadie today. She won't be this happy tonight when she sees that it's raining out. Low to the ground dogs are not fond of wet grass or pavement. Too bad I didn't have the camera last night to capture her standing on hind legs to be tall enough to kiss a greyhound.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New England Books: The 100 Essential New England Books Boston.com

New England Books: The 100 Essential New England Books Boston.com - Books - A&E

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All of the books featured on this list are either about New England or written by authors who either currently live or have lived in the region. Many classics make the list. Go vote for your favorites or become inspired to rediscover a classic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

O Summer Reading List

O, The Oprah Magazine put together an interesting list of new books and summer reading - not that the weather here has been warm enough to even consider a trip to the beach. Oprah does well placing an important emphasis on reading and reinforces the relationship between reading and healthy living. Other aspects of her magazine either do not relate to me or I find annoying. Dr. Phil has a monthly column and continues to dispense his cracker jack/medical advice. In this month's issue Oprah walks around her multi-million dollar estate taking photos with her personal camera of the "little" things that make her happy. All I do when I see her enjoying roses or fields of lavender at her estate is think about her $$$$ landscaping bill. Isn't it precious that one must have a large estate to find the "little" things in life to enjoy. How about this? Let's all follow the Sense and Sensibility model and find a nice cottage. If the place is small enough, can one then enjoy the "big" things in life? Would a pot of lavender placed on a porch at a busy intersection with a high trash /noise ratio be as enjoyable? Or would we have to have another article on meditation to teach us to block out the annoying distractions and to focus on the beautiful minute garden? I don't think I was meant to look beyond the surface of what Oprah wanted me to see. The book suggestions - almost - make up for the annoying bits. I hope they will mute - partially - my annoying aside.

Two titles on the list caught my eye - yes, back to my original intent. Heroic Measure by Jill Ciment. I was drawn to this one because the couple have an elderly dachshund that is one of the centers of their life. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith was also brought to my attention. How did I not hear about this one?


NY Times Week in Review

I Was a Regency Zombie
Published: February 22, 2009
These days, America is menaced by zombie banks and zombie computers. What’s next, a zombie Jane Austen? In fact, yes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NY Times, Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest

Fashion & Style

Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest

Published: June 7, 2009
Why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?

What will the fate of this one be? I have no delusions of grandeur about it. Yes, I too write for an audience of one - me. So far, I like being able to keep track of events or daily impressions.

Reading Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink

While reading this morning on the train - not very far into - Bernhard Schlink's Homecoming I caught a line I thought I would share. One that I wanted to reread. I enjoy his simple style that very accurately conveys emotions and describes characters. The Reader persuaded me to read his follow-up novel. The film version persuaded me to read the book. Kate Winslet persuaded me to see the film. A chain like this linking events and choices could go on forever

"I learned to submit to her happiness and crossness like the weather, which one could not count on, only accept with joy or sorrow."

It is rainy and dreary here today. There is little wonder as to why I should be so sensitive to a sentence regarding the weather.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Poached Salmon / Patties & Croquets /Carol Burnett

I admit it that before the previous weekend that I had never poached salmon. There...it's out in the open and I'm not ashamed anymore. What was I waiting for/what was I scared of? After doing the deed, I found that I denied myself a valuable way to prepare fish at home. I used an Everyday Food method.
The flaky salmon was then used for a fresh take on the classic - mom used to make those - salmon patties made from the canned salmon. The salmon was in the same shape as canned cranberry sauce when if flopped out of the can. Remember the soft bones were included too. Nothing wrong with that but using fresh salmon and breadcrumbs (instead of cracker crumbs) rocked the boat. Now, we are talking croquettes and not patties. Carol Burnett in her vivid memoir, One More Time, wrote about growing up on salmon patties in a tinny Hollywood apartment with her Nanny and sister. She grew sick/tired of the fried protein patties courtesy of a low budget pantry. Does she ever crave one today?

After poaching the salmon, cook one medium chopped onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes . When cool add onion, egg, salt, pepper and bread crumbs to combine salmon. Form into patties then coat in breadcrumbs. I placed them in the fridge until ready to fry in a healthy oil. Brown on each side and serve on a bed of arugula. Everyday Food suggests serving with a yogurt sauce - yummy -with a grated granny smith apple, and tablespoon each of mint and cilantro. Your patties are now croquettes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Dog and Mr. President by HERMANN-Spielwaren GmbH

These pieces are sold individually and imported from Germany to commemorate the inauguration of Obama and the arrival of First Dog, Bo. HERMANN-Spielwaren GmbH is one of the oldest manufacturer of fine bears. Both pieces are made of mohair. Mr. President is stuffed with the traditional wood shavings.

The bear captures Obama's cool suit jacket-less style. Both are made of mohair. You can position Bo's ears and tail to resemble an active Portuguese Water Dog.

I have no idea if these will obtain the status of collectible presidential buttons, spoons or plates. However, they are fun and remind me how I had such a different feeling this time last June when the Democratic Primary was drawing to a long, bitter close. Now we have a great President and a great Secretary of State. They will fit in nicely with the Steiff and R. John Wright bears. I promise that politics will only be limited to fun stuff on this blog. There is already enough "noise" out there to make you "mad as hell". Network should be required viewing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

JULIE & JULIA, The Movie. Will it be Heartburn Again?

Release Date: August 7, 2009. First look.

At first glance, I don't know if I buy Meryl Streep as Julia. I know it must be hard to tackle an icon like Julia Child . . . but it's Meryl going for her 100th Oscar nomination. There is a resemblance but the voice and robust-take-no-prisoners body/presences is not quite there. It could be the preview is just bad. The last film Meryl made with Nora Ephron co-starred starred Jack Nicholson and was titled Heartburn (screenplay by Ephron). You can imagine the reviews if they both don't nail this one. I hope they do. I would like to buy her as Julia like I bought Angela Basset as Tina Turner in What's Love Got to do With it. I cannot wait to see this one and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will not disappoint.

Film is based on these two books.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mixed Container Gardening Update

On April 30th, I posted some photos of some new container plantings. Here is how they have progressed in a little over a month. A couple of other recent additions to my plant menagerie are also included.

These new additions will hopefully thrive. They have more height when compared to first round of plantings.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Strawberry Icebox Pie

We served this cold and berry fantastic desert this past weekend. Recipe is from Everyday Food (I actually made the whole meal using the recent issue - more on that latter). It is a very good pie and does not taste like the fake fillings contained in Hostess Fruit Pies. Of course, I do crave jellied manufactured fruit textures from time to time but not when using pristine in-season strawberries. The recipe recommends letting the pie set-up in the fridge from 4 hours to overnight. I would recommend going the overnight route. If you use a larger pie plate than recipe calls for, be certain to make extra crust and filling. One item that may be hard to find or expensive in the recipe is the unsweetened cranberry juice. I cheated and used the kind only sweetened with apple juice. To justify the expense of the better cranberry juice make Cape Cod cocktails for pre-dinner or pre-guest fun.

Note: Remember not too cook some of the strawberries for added texture.