Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Monday Quiz LXXV

Name That Country!






6. Extra-bonus Showoff Map!

Submit your answers in the comments.

Mrs.5000 is Famous

Veteran readers know that Mrs.5000 is an accomplished book artist. She works under the name of "Susan Collard," and in my own humble opinion is Better Than Joseph Cornell.(tm)* She recently emerged from three or four months in the Castle basement with a new piece called A Short Course in Recollection. Here are some images!

Now, what may not be immediately apparent in these pictures is that Short Course is a functional gravitron, or marble raceway. There are steel balls that run through a course of ramps through the structure of the book, running through switches and levers and whatnot. It's all very cool. You can see some of the ramps in this detail.

Now you're probably saying to yourself, "Dude, where can I go to check this out?" Well, if you live in the happy cities of Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake, Denver, Cincinnati, Easton PA, Hanover NH, or Atlanta, you are in luck: it, and the rest of the "Marking Time" exhibit from the Guild of Book Workers will be coming to an accredited cultural institution near you! Here's the schedule, and here's a blurb on the show from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

* She will want me to have made it clear that she does not herself share in this opinion.

In Other Art News

After seven years of highly sporadic effort, I am happy to report that I have finished my libretto. We shall for the moment leave aside such questions as "why?" and "do you really know anything about writing for vocal composition?" and "what the hell is wrong with you, anyway?" and get to the heart of the matter: if any of y'all happen to be friends with any big famous opera composers, ask them if they'd be willing to look at my manuscript, k? K.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Michael5000 Kitchen #13: Improvisational Lasagna

Today's Post is Brought to You by:

Abundantia -- Roman goddess of good fortune and prosperity!!

Improvisational Lasagna

Provenance: Contemporary. This recipe was developed only last fall, and is derived very loosely from the recipes on the side of the Trader Joe’s lasagna noodle box.

The Recipe:

Several Lasagna Noodles
A couple of bottles of any Spaghetti or Pasta Sauce (preferably without high-fructose corn syrup. You know what they say about high-fructose corn syrup).
Whatever veggies happen to be in the fridge
Whatever cheeses happen to be in the fridge, within reason.

Chop up the Veggies. Grate up what seems like enough Cheese, but then keep the Cheese out because you’ll probably end up wanting to grate up some more.

1) Use either two 8 1/2' x 5'ish baking pans or one 9' x 9'ish baking pan. Put a thin layer of Sauce on the bottom of the pan, and then put a noodle or noodles on top of it.

2) Sprinkle some Veggies on the Noodle(s).

3) Pour some Sauce over the Veggies.

4) Sprinkle some Cheese over the Sauce.

5) Put down another Noodle layer.

If you still have Veggies and room in the pan(s), return to Step 2. Otherwise:

6) Pour the remaining Sauce on the top Noodle layer.

7) Sprinkle the remaining Cheese on top of the Sauce.

8) Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.

The Results:

This recipe embodies some of the greatest virtues of casual cooking. It is, as you would expect from the ingredients, yummy. It is very easy to make. It is reasonably nutritious, and inexpensive. It is good for using up ingredients that are reaching the end of the road. And, unless you are feeding many mouths, it can be stretched over a week to ten days worth of occasional meals. Excellent!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Thursday Quiz LXXXIV

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is a twelve item is-it-or-isn't-it test of your knowledge, reasoning, stamina, and moxie!

Remember always the Fundamental Rules of the Thursday Quiz:

1. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. Violators will never be able to look at themselves in the mirror again.

2. Don't get all stressed out about it! It's supposed to be fun!

Gods and Goddesses II

Some of the following are gods and goddesses of various cultures, more or less accurately described. Some, however, are not! You must endure the tedium of separating the Is from the Isn't!

1. Aberystwyth -- Greek goddess of the hunt and wild things, and the moon.

2. Abundantia -- Roman goddess of good fortune, abundance, and prosperity.

3. Alerick -- the Norse god of mischief, chance, and war.

4. Amaterasu -- the Shinto goddess of the sun and, according to strict Shinto belief, ancestress of the Imperial Household of Japan. She is often thought of as the unofficial primary god of Shinto.

5. Anubis -- Greek god of war, murder, and bloodshed.

6. Aphrodite -- the Greek goddess of love, lust, and beauty.

7. Apollo -- the Roman god of god of light and the sun, archery, medicine and healing, music, poetry, and the arts.

8. Apollo -- the Greek god of music, prophecies, poetry, archery, light, and truth.

9. Ares -- Egyptian dog or jackal god of embalming who watches over the dead.

10. Astarte -- Eastern Mediterranean goddess of fertility, sexuality, and war. She was was the principal goddess of the Phoenicians, but regarded as a female demon of lust in Hebrew monotheism.

11. Aten -- the Egyptian sun god worshipped as a monotheistic deity under the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who took the name Akhen-aten.

12. Axelqlatl -- Aztec god of mercy and the harvest.

Submit your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Fear: michael5000

I was recently discussing the various editions of Shakespeare plays with a friend, as one does, and learned about an exciting new product from the folks at Barnes & Noble called "No Fear Shakespeare." The No Fear Shakespeare series, as its website chirpily informs us, features the plays of our language's most important wordsmith converted "into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today." So, they allow you to get right to Shakespeare's revolutionary plots, without all of the wordplay and poetry getting in the way!

To get a feel for this, I picked a few lines at random from No Fear: Hamlet. I think you'll agree that the No Fear writers have conveyed the flavor, the spirit, the essence of Shakespeare almost perfectly.
HORATIO: I don't know exactly how to explain this, but I have a general feeling this means bad news for our country.
CLAUDIUS: Although I still have fresh memories of my brother the elder Hamlet's death, and though it was proper to mourn him throughout our kingdom, life still goes on—I think it's wise to mourn him while also thinking about my own well being. Therefore, I've married my former sister-in-law, the queen, with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness.

CLAUDIUS: Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I've wanted to see you for a long time now, but I sent for you so hastily because I need your help right away.
Having read these gems, naturally I was eager to read Ophelia's flower speech as I'd never read it before!
OPHELIA (to GERTRUDE): Here are fennel and columbines for you—they symbolize adultery. (to CLAUDIUS) And here's rue for you—it symbolizes repentance. We can call it the merciful Sunday flower. You should wear it for a different reason. And here's a daisy, for unhappy love. I'd give you some violets, flowers of faithfulness, but they all dried up when my father died. They say he looked good when he died. (sings) For good sweet Robin is all my joy.
And how about Hamlet's most famous soliloquy -- but finally in the kind of English people actually speak today!
HAMLET: The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all?
Dying, sleeping—that's all dying is—a sleep that ends all the heartache and shocks that life on earth gives us—that's an achievement to wish for. To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to dream.
Ah, but there's the catch: in death's sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come, after we've put the noise and commotion of life behind us. That's certainly something to worry about.
Really, this is all almost too good to be true. Think of an impassioned actor uttering the line "To sleep! Maybe to dream!" and you notice right away just how darn fussy and complicated Shakespeare had to make everything. I mean, "perchance"? Nobody talks like that. So, inspired by the pure clarity of that last line -- and you have to admit that, for sheer dramatic impact, it doesn't get much clearer than "that's certainly something to worry about" -- I tried some of my own.

Caesar’s Last Words, from The Assassination of Julius Caesar and the War That Happened Afterward:
"Even you, Brutus?!?"
or, perhaps:
"Dude! Lame!"
Introduction to Henry V: England at War
Oh, if I only had an inspiration that was, you know, fiery!
The climax of Humpbacked Villain: the Richard III Story
I'll trade you my kingdom for a horse! Really!
Ferdinand gets some bad news in Survivor: Tempest
Your dad has drowned and he's on the ocean floor, about 36 feet down. The creatures and chemicals in the ocean water have done a number on his body, and there's not much left that's recognizable.
Personally, I see no reason to stop with Shakespeare, and look forward to having some of those other hard old books rendered into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today. Just think how many people have been frustrated by James Joyces' Ulysses, for instance, which is SO TOTALLY not written in the kind of English people actually speak today! Just think how empowered and literary they are going to feel when they reach those famous final lines of No Fear: Ulysses --
And then Molly thought for awhile about the first time she had sex, until she drifted off to sleep.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Great Movies: "On the Waterfront"

On the Waterfront 
Elia Kazan, 1954

One of my personal rules in the Great Movies project has been to view each movie on its own merits, ignoring so much as possible things that are external to the film. It’s not Martin Scorsese’s fault that a nutjob wove Taxi Driver into the world of his delusion, for instance, so I think it’s best to set that whole story aside when looking at what’s actually happening on the screen. This is a challenge when it comes to On the Waterfront, a film that Elia Kazan made out of reasons so contemptibly self-serving and hypocritical so as to make watching it, for all of its technical mastery, fairly unpleasant to anyone familiar with the backstory. But, I did my best.

It really is a beautifully made film. The acting is suburb, starting with the young Marlen Brando but running deep into the cast. Even the extras, working-class Joes recruited to essentially play themselves, do a fine job of acting naturally, which speaks to what must have been great coaching by some assistant director. Scenes are framed and composed marvelously, and the photography is so very good as to almost overreach its mission, as we are occasionally jarred out of the movie when distracted by an especially amazing shot.

The movie achieves a rare psychological depth for about four-fifths of its running time. The characters are remarkably plausible, all in their own ways deeply flawed and profoundly selfish, all more or less destructive to themselves and the people they care about, and all deeply convinced of the rightness of their own actions. Which is to say, they're very true to life!

There are also some real liberties taken with realism, however. My favorite is a scene deep in the hold of a cargo vessel – did I mention that this is a movie about longshoremen? – where the female lead, a neighborhood girl home from college, suddenly appears among the workers as if this was the most normal thing in the world. How the hell did she get on board?

The final scenes deteriorate into a real mess, as things begin happening for no other reason than to propel the movie to a tidy ending. In the final scenes, people act not only implausibly but downright unnaturally. The movie is wedged into something that looks like a conclusion, but even after hashing it over at some length with Mrs.5000 I’m not really sure what we were supposed to think happened there.

Plot: After unwittingly setting an acquaintance up for a mob execution, a young tough falls for the victim’s sister. Meanwhile, a hapless priest tries to get the dockworkers to break their code of silence and speak out against the crime racket that controls the waterfront. These two forces set in motion a chain of events that can only conclude in an incoherent final reel!

Visuals: Terrific.

Dialog: A lot of the dialog is pretty expository. Although the film is chock-full of memorable lines that have been quoted into the ground, I’m not sure that the script would have been anything special in a less careful production. Most people, when they say that they could have been contenders, sound kind of dumb. When Marlin Brando says it, it sounds like the accumulated lament of a lifetime full of betrayals.

Prognosis: I’m going to recuse myself from any summary judgment of this movie.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Monday Quiz LXXIV

The MQXXIV was on The 1950s in the United States of America....
The MQXXXIV was on The 1960s in the United States of America....
The MQXLIV was The 1970s in the United States of America....
The MQLIV was The 1980s in the United States of America....
The MQLXIV was The 1990s in the United States of America.... now, very possibly wrapping up the "decades" slot in the rotation, it's...

The 2000s in the United States of America

...with the usual apologies to those readers who do not happen to live in the United States of America.

1. Yikes! What's going on here?

2. Who is this guy?

3. This map of a much shows the prevalence of _______________ in 2008.

4. Why so many people on this winter day?

5. What words have I covered up on this 2004 sign?

Submit your answers in the comments.

The Complete FaceBook Quizzes

So, as you know, a couple of weeks ago everybody and their dog started taking these little personality quizzes on the Facebooks. "What City are you?" was maybe the first one I saw. "What animal are you?" "What movie are you?" And the obvious variations.

Never one to buck a trend, I decided to get in on the action, and started taking some quizzes myself. Here, ripped straight from the Facebook stati, are my highly revealing results!

Michael5000 took the quiz "Which Former Mongolian Prime Minister Are You?" Michael is SHARAVYN GUNGAADORJ. With only a short term of office, you represent the transition from a totalitarian client state to relative democracy. After elections, you work in the private sector and take occasional parliamentary and ambassadorial posts.

Michael5000 has taken the quiz "What Varietal of Papaver Orientale Are You?" Michael is P. ORIENTALE 'CEDRIC MORRIS'! You bear very large, soft pink flowers, each petal with a black basal mark. A hardy perennial in cooler areas, you are usually short-lived or even treated as an annual in climates where winters are warm.

Michael5000 took the What Early Medieval Germanic Proto-State Are You? quiz and the result is THE SECOND BURGUNDIAN KINGDOM. An ally of the last remnants of the Roman Empire, you were the first of the Germanic societies to develop an indiginous code of law. Intradynastic violence and intrigue weakened your administrative institutions, however, which contributed to your being crushed by the Franks in 534 A.D.
At this point, Cartophiliac reprinted these first three in a note titled "Michael5000 takes better quizzes than you do." One of his commenters expressed some sadness that there were no quizzes about main-belt asteroids, so I went and found him one:

Michael5000 took the What Main-Belt Asteroid Are You? quiz and the result is 10356 RUDOLFSTEINER. You are pretty much like all of the other thousands of main-belt asteroids, a bleak and barren thing consigned to an enternal and pointless journey around the sun, year after year after year.

Michael5000 took the quiz Which Oregon Revised Statute Are You? and the result is ORS 461.030 LOCAL LAWS PREEMPTED, APPLICABILITY OF OTHER LAWS; SEVERABILITY. You prohibit local governments in Oregon from creating laws regulating gambling. You exist in order to make sure that nobody tries to mess with the lottery!
Somewhere around here, MyDogIsChelsea made the remark "Michael5000 took the How Nerdy Are You? quiz and the result is OFF THE CHARTS" which I took as high praise, coming from her.

Michael5000 took the quiz "Which Avignon Pope Are You?" and the result is POPE JOHN XXII. You are outgoing and ambitious, often clashing with the Holy Roman Emporer over issues of church versus secular authority and over his support of the Franciscan orders. Like most of the other Avignon Popes, you are generally considered to have been more or less in the pocket of the French crown.

Michael5000 took the quiz "What Metalloid Element Are You?" and the result is: You are ANTIMONY. You are a silvery white solid that doesn't conduct either heat or electricity very well. You tend to vaporize at low temperatures, but you are valued as a fire retardant in many manufactured products.

But that's the last of 'em. But not, as you might think, because I would worry about beating a joke to death. Rather, because it's just getting too hard to stay ahead of the curve.

The Weekend WTF!

It has been really inspiring to watch the American food industry respond with such intelligence, responsibility, and forethought to the crises of obeisity and lifestyle diseases that have struck our society.

"The NEW limited edition BUTTERFINGER® Buzz bar," according to its website, "combines the BUTTERFINGER® taste you love with as much caffeine as the leading energy drink."

For the curious:

The most interesting statistic for me is the 2 x 52 grams sheer SIZE of this sucker. That's basically a quarter pound of pure candy. Normally, of course, that would knock you down like a tranquilizer dart -- except, not with the caffeine! Hell, have another!

The marketing campaign for this food product, clearly designed by clever, clever things who know all about the concept of "viral" and "social engineering" and such, is to encourage people to get a very close haircut (a "buzz," get it?) and then stencil the product logo onto their hair in orange paint. (note to fingerstothebone: Go for it! You are already halfway there!). If you do this, you are paid for your trouble with a coupon for a free candy bar! And the sinking realization that you are among the most pliable tools on the planet!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the Town With the 5000s

Molly Gloss/Ursula LeGuin

Last week was the Friends of the Library annual meeting, and boy oh boy did we have awesome speakers this year. We had Molly Gloss, who mostly writes books set in the frontier West but whom I know from her science fiction novel The Dazzle of Day (which I discussed here). I was nominally her “personal assistant” for the evening, which mostly involved pestering her for a book signing once during the reception. She was very gracious about my admission that I think of her book not as "The Dazzle of Day," but as “Quakers in Space!” “I get that a lot,” she said.

Appearing with her on the program was her friend Ursula K. LeGuin, probably the City of Roses’ most famous author and, for my money, one of the greatest voices in American fiction. I got to meet her and shake her hand and everything! And ask a question that she dismissed as na├»ve! It was awesome.

Mike Doughty

We had to blow out early, though, because we had tickets to a Mike Doughty show over at the new Mississippi Studios. While we were making our exit, another Friends director who is considerably younger than me could not contain his amazement. “You’re going to a concert that starts at TEN?” he asked, pronouncing the word “ten” as if it signified truly rare daring-do. “That’s just the way they roll,” someone else answered for us, and the magnificent feeling of being young-for-our-age lasted until we arrived at the venue and the doorman joked about how he didn’t need to card the two of US, obviously.

Mr. Doughty is a terrific songwriter and a highly entertaining showman, and he is touring in a two-man setup with his buddy Scrap playing bass lines and accompaniment on a cello. Stripped-down arrangements generally work really well when songs are well-crafted, and that was certainly true in this case. We whooped it up until – hang onto your hats, now – well after midnight. Afterwards, we got to meet the man and make a few sentences of inane fan conversation while buying a live CD, Busking, that he recorded in the New York subway tunnels. It is awesome for good performances, for the ambient noise of trains and passers by, and for the conspicuous lack of response that street musicians have to endure at the end of every song. I highly recommend you go out and get a copy…. but you can’t. It’s only for sale at the shows. Sorry, man.

Portland Columbia Symphony

The week before last, we caught the season closer for the Portland Columbia Symphony. The program featured Smetana’s warhorse “The Moldau,” which was appallingly beautiful in live performance, as well as Mahler’s “Songs of the Wayfarer,” which had some minor balance problems but otherwise came off very nicely indeed. The third piece was my least favorite Dvorak symphony, the 8th, which was given a rich, warm performance that reaffirmed that the worst Dvorak is better than the best of most other composers out there.

We continue to not only really dig the great sound and performances of the PCS, but also how close you can get to them, and frankly for how little money. We already have tickets to three shows for next season, for which we will be able to sit as close as we want, for about as much as it would cost to go to a single Oregon Symphony concert and sit so high up you need supplemental oxygen. The second weekend in October, they’ve got Sibelius’ Second on the docket, as well as the Fourth Beethoven Piano Concerto. Awesome!
photos cheerfully nicked from other bloggers who apparently thought to bring cameras

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Thursday Quiz LXXXIII

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is a twelve item is-it-or-isn't-it test of your knowledge, reasoning, stamina, and moxie!

Remember always the Fundamental Rules of the Thursday Quiz:

1. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. Violators will never be able to look at themselves in the mirror again.

2. Don't get all stressed out about it! It's supposed to be fun!

Cities of Africa

Some of the following are large African cities correctly matched with the countries they are located in. Some, however, are not! As is the custom, you must sort out the Is from the Isn't!

1. Abidjan, Somalia

2. Accra, Ghana

3. Cairo, Egypt

4. Dakar, Senegal

5. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

6. Jakarta, Tanzania

7. Johannesburg, Kenya

8. Kinshasa, Ghana

9. Lagos, Nigeria

10. Luanda, Central African Republic

11. Montevideo, Morocco

12. Nairobi, Kenya

Submit your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And Now a Bible Story From Niece #4

Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-foot/left-foot? The story of good and evil? H-A-T-E! It was with this left foot that old brother Cain planted the kick that laid his brother low. L-O-V-E! You see these toeses, dear hearts? These toeses has veins that run straight to the soul of man! The right food, friends, the foot of love. Now watch, and I'll show you the story of life. Those toeses, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin t'other. Now watch 'em! Old brother left foot, he's a fighting, and it looks like love's a goner. But wait a minute! Hot dog, love's a winning! Yessirree! It's love that's won, and old left foot hate is down for the count!


It's from Night of the Hunter. Here's the scene, if I got the link right:

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Great Movies: "Woman in the Dunes"

Woman in the Dunes
Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964

I had no idea what to expect from this 1962 Japanese art film. The DVD cover said “Suspenseful! Erotic! Unforgettable!”, but all hard-to-market foreign films have that or something very like it on their covers. What I certainly did not expect was an absurdist existential parable with a Stephen King plot, an elegant horror movie in which the characters must fight for their lives against the terrifying, relentless, nearly malevolent force of…. sand. Yes. Sand.

Plot: It’s a common horror plot – a stranger stops for the night in a village that seems friendly at first, but soon discovers that it has a dark secret. In this case, the secret is that all of the houses are at the bottom of inescapable pits of sand, and that all of the inhabitants are forced to dig eternally if they are to survive.

Visuals: Freaking fantastic. The photography of the sand, in its shifting dunes, as individual grains, and as grit stuck to human bodies, is fabulous, bringing the force of nature to life as the third character in this highly claustrophobic drama. The main set, the house half-buried in its sand pit, is a lovely piece of surrealism. The whole setting is literally absurd – it is physically impossible for sand to settle at an angle that can’t be climbed. But then anyone watching this movie for its existentialist message would understand that all of the “sand pits” in which we make our “homes” are “absurd.” Dude.

Dialog: In Japanese, and not a lot of it either. This is the kind of art movie with long soundless stretches. There is also a lot of often abrasive soundtrack music, much of it percussive or imitative of the constant howling winds that sandblast the strange village.

Prognosis: Personally, I thought Woman in the Dunes was terrific. To be sure, this would not be a great movie for those evenings when you want to be swept away by some mindless diversion. This is more for those nights when you want some thinkin’ with your filmed entertainment.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Monday Quiz LXXIII

Rock: the 1970s

The 1970s was when the greatest rock music ever made was being made, at least if you are a fan of the rock music of the 1970s! I have cleverly removed identifying information from some (more than five, as I was enjoying myself) of the landmark album covers of that decade. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to identify the artist name and the album name.









Submit your answers in the comments.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Weekend Flashback: A Decemberists' Tale

The original version of this post appeared on August 23, 2007.

At the recent Family5000 Reunion, Niece #2 went out shopping and came back with a copy of the concert video The Decemberists: A Practical Handbook.

And really, that's a pretty good story right there. Because YOUR nieces probably listen to, what? The latest crippy-crap Brittney Spears clone that Central Marketing has mandated as this year's teen sensation? Or, if you're lucky, thug hiphop lite? Well, MY neices listen to the Decemberists. Envy me.

Anyway: Nieces #1-3 troop off to screen the video. But then, Niece #1 reappears almost immediately to tell me I better come take a look at this. So I follow her upstairs.

In the screening room, my brother-in-law solemnly restarts the video.

I see the following:

  • The opening shot: the Roseland Theater's sign reflected in a mud puddle.
  • The second shot: the Roseland Theater sign, right side up.
  • The third shot: A caption reading "The Roseland Theater, Portland, Oregon, November 2005"
  • And then, the surprising fourth shot: Myself and Mrs. 5000.
Granted, we are seen at the beginning of a pan across the crowd. We are two people among many. But, we are easily the most prominent people in the shot. We are visible for litterally seconds.

Now, it must be said that several times during the reunion, my nieces witnessed me doing things that were not only solidly adult, but arguably quite square. For example, I was visibly excited to receive a water filtration system as a birthday gift. I demonstrated concern about safety on several occasions. I may have discussed property values. I occasionally used the word "square."

Given this kind of thing, and yet that one always hopes for some quirky-but-maybe-kind-of-cool-uncle cred with the nieces, it certainly can't hurt to show up in their rock videos.


Back here in 2009, I'm putting this post together while listening to the new Decemberists' album, The Hazards of Love. You likely either already know about it, or don't give a damn. For the record, though, it is growing on me almost immediately despite its proggy indulgences.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The michael5000 Kitchen #12: Ex-Girlfriend’s Granola Revisited

Provenance: Digging further into the recipe box back on LiveBlog Sunday, I discovered an index card with a recipe that seems to derive from, but be somewhat more exact than, the Ex-Girlfriend Granola recipe we have discussed before. Sometime between 1991 and, at the latest, 1999, I must have codified a working version of the recipe. As usual, I have no memory of this.

The Recipe:

Set oven to 300 F.

Melt in a large baking pan:

A stick of Butter
½ cup Honey
½ cup Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Vanilla
2 Tbsp Water
Mix in:

5+ cups Oats
½ cup Wheat Germ
½ cup Sunflower Seeds
1 cup Nuts
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Allspice
Cook an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

The Results:

With 5 cups of Oats, the recipe is much more manageable to work with than with the vast volume of oats I tried last time. Indeed, this seems like maybe too FEW oats – it’s a pretty rich cereal in these proportions. Also, the Cinnamon-Nutmeg-Allspice combo strikes me as unnecessarily complicated, and probably just reflects my college self throwing in everything at hand. I’m thinking maybe go up to 7 cups of Oats, and eliminate the Nutmeg?

Incidentally, it doesn’t seem to matter too much for this recipe whether you use whole or rolled oats.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Too Cool For the Thursday Quiz

Hey, it's time to skip the Thursday Quiz while everybody's brains, bodies, and self-esteem heals up from the Decathlon!

But first, some late-breaking Decathlon news -- turns out that la gringissima was not an Octathlete, but a Nonathlete. Her cartoon entry was sent in well before the deadline, but through the vageries of the intertubes took a full five days to arrive, with one of the images damaged, in my inbox. Yes, it would have been quicker for her to put it in the mail. What this means is that la gringissima actually placed 9th in the Decathlon!! Except in a magic sort of way that doesn't change that gl. and Elaine still finished 9th, too!


I've been desperately, desperately trying to avoid blog bankruptcy, and am happy to report that I've managed to catch up all the way to the day before yesterday on my Reader! And here, in no particular order and for no particular reason, except that we've got the gaping hole of the missing Quiz to fill here, are links to some of the posts that appealed to me.

Ooh, The Rag and Bone Blog has a piece about a paper artist (Jill Sylvia) who has a new concept that's pretty killer....

This Bioephemera post, believe it or not, cracked me up. But then, I'm a sucker for a "damned souls" joke.

Found in Mom's Basement delivers the eulogy for Pontiac with a look at some great midcentury magazine ads.

Here's another cool artist, this time somebody named Hiroshi Fujishiro, this time on Bioephemera.

Strange Maps has an interesting bit on the old White Australia policy....

An especially good Comics Curmudgeon -- although the Comics Curmudgeon is one of the few reliably funny things on this old Earth.

It's a Rebel/Cartophiliac mashup!

Meanwhile, the Bloggess, also reliably funny in a seriously messed up suburban-mom-on-PCP sort of way, has branched out and is now reviewing clown porn. Or at least trying to.

Business or Leisure? posted a fine example of the dark, strange, disturbing, and oddly hilarious (to me) fare that is his metier. And it's about the beloved Peanuts character Snoopy! Kind of.

Some supercool Cyrillic Manuscripts at BibliOdyssey.

Blythe gives us the most disappointing blog post ever, "Semi-Nude Pictures of My Friends Playing Twister."

And Elizabeth made me laugh, and feel just a little silly, with her post about the Decathlon.

AND: both The [Cherry] Ride and Karin have actually posted again!! So, after absences of many months, we welcome them back to the faded, dying social phenomenon that is blogging!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Library Book Sale Swag

So the Friends of the Multnomah County Public Library had our East County booksale a few weeks back, and it was all very successful, thank you. When you are working a booksale, you tend to take a lot of breaks, and gradually you develop a little stack of your own books, and before you know it you are carrying three boxes of books home, from which you will over the next year gradually donate 2/3 of your scores back to the booksale. But that's cool. And as usual this year, I felt my own harvest was brilliant. Here are three highlights.

Very Bad Poetry

Although finding a volume's worth of bad poetry is rather shooting fish in a barrel, this collection is a particularly impressive collection. Picking a few verses out at random:
What on this wide earth,
That is made, or does by nature grow,
Is more homely, yet more beautiful,
Than the useful Potato?
Or here's one from Canto IV of a two-hundred-page poem on the steam engine:

Lord Stanhope hit upon a novel plan
Of bringing forth this vast Leviathan
(This notion first Genevois' genius struck);
His frame was made to emulate the duck;

Webb'd feet had he, in Ocean's brine to play;
With whale-like might he whirl'd aloft to spray;
But made with all this splash little speed;
Alas! the duck was doom'd not to succeed!
(The book does not contain the full two-hundred pages.)

But it's not all potatos and steamships. There's pathos!

Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one good grave,
But I hope God is His goodness their souls will save.

The Poetry of Rock

Dating, like michael5000, from 1968, The Poetry of Rock is an early assay into the idea that rock lyrics can be, like, ~poetry~, man! It is very groovy. And certainly, it managed to collect some of the songs that have come to be considered poetry, or at least poetic, over the years. "Desolation Row" and "A Day in the Life" and "The Sound of Silence" are all here, as are, well, things like "Horse Latitudes" and "A Whiter Shade of Pale." But as you'd probably expect most of this poetry ranges from the just-barely plausible... the ridiculous.... the sublimely ridiculous.

I particularly enjoy the subtlety of the last verse of Van Morrison's poem, "Brown-Eyed Girl."
Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la
la la la la
la la te da
Sha la la la la
la la la la
la la te da
la te da

" 16 pages of freaky, familiar Rock heads!" Rendered in unbelievably hokey 60s line-drawing and photo art!

Plus, a decent 100ish year old binding of Don Quixote in two volumes

I doubt there's anything particularly special about this printing, but it's fun to have an old-school copy of the Cervantes, which I am reading right now in the Reading List project.

It's kind of instructive to compare the translation I'm reading with the nineteenth century tranlation in these volumes. Mostly what it instructs is, don't try to read a classic in an older translation!