July 23, 2012
"Swimming Studies" — Leanne Shapton
What an interesting person is Leanne Shapton, now 38.
She grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, became a nationally-ranked swimmer who twice made Canada's Olympic trials (though she never made the team), then dropped swimming to pursue a career as an artist and illustrator which culminated in her becoming art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page from 2008 to 2009.
Her third book and first novel, "Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Dooley and Harold Morris," published in 2009, became a surprise best seller.
Her autobiographical "Swimming Studies" is sui generis.
It's the first book I bought (via the Kindle bookstore) to read on my Nexus 7 tablet, and I'm currently about a quarter of the way through, having slowed down my progress so as to have it last longer.
I only do this with books I like a lot.
Read a representative extract from "Swimming Studies" here.
Pick any letter(s) in the alphabet.
Comes with low-watt bulb.
10 inches high.
Made in Italy.
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Atomic Radiation
Sounds like something from a fever dream but in fact it's the title of a book by Margot Bennett, published in 1964 by Penguin.
You could look up.
Cover design by Bruce Robertson.
Ah, memories of the Cold War, when things were simple — either red or red, white and blue.
FunFact: Another volume in this little-known Penguin series is George Bernard Shaw's "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism."
From 7 Gadgets: "Chopsticks modeled after Aliens creatures; Highly detailed sculpts and paint make these amazing works of art; Eat with them! Use them as hair sticks! Sword fight with them! Hand wash for longest life: these are tiny pieces of art!"
Choose from Facehugger, Big Chap, or Chestburster.
Per pair, $9.99.
Fair warning: These will be sold out before you know it.
All I'm saying is, don't put them on your list and then come crying to me when you can't get any.
After six years of lawsuits and back-and-forth about the length of the film (Lonergan's version ran three hours), it was released in September 2011 in two theaters — one in New York and one in Los Angeles — with almost no promotion, resulting in a gross of $46,495 for a movie that cost over $12 million.
When critics urged it be released in a few more theaters, it was.
Finally, on July 10 of this year, it was released on DVD and pay-per-view, which is where I happened on it (Apple TV).
Anna Paquin's portrayal of a conflicted high school student who caused a tragic death, and her subsequent attempts to come to grips with what she'd done, is Best Actress Academy Award-worthy.
Press-To-Open Split Key Ring — Episode 2: Now Available
When I originally featured this fantastic advance in the split key ring space on February 11, I was hoping against hope that it might actually one day be available.
Lo and behold, it exists.
My order's in.
Read a rave review here.
More on the invention here.
There's a reason the original is called a split key ring: Who hasn't broken a nail trying to use one?
Experts' Experts: All About Tomatoes
In the July & August issue of Cook's Illustrated appear two pages of tips and advice about tomatoes.
Choose locally grown
The most important way to help ensure a flavorful tomato is to buy a locally grown one. Why? First, the less distance the tomato has to travel the riper it can be when it's picked. Second, commercial high-yield production can strain the tomato plant, resulting in tomatoes without enough sugars and other flavor compounds to make them tasty. Third, to withstand the rigors of machine harvesting and long-distance transport, commercial varieties are engineered to be sturdier with thicker walls and less of the jelly and seeds that give a tomato most of its flavor.
Don't refrigerate. Cold damages enzymes that produce flavor compounds and ruins texture by rupturing tomato cells, turning the flesh mealy. Even cut tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and used within a few days. [I am always surprised when I see tomatoes in the fridges of people who pride themselves on their cooking and love of things cuisine.]
Store stem end down. Place unwashed tomatoes stem end down at room temperature. We've found that this prevents moisture from escaping and bacteria from entering through the scar, prolonging shelf life. An exception: If the vine is still attached, leave it on and store tomatoes stem end up.
Bag 'em with a banana
If you find yourself with hard, underripe tomatoes, store them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple, both of which naturally emit the ethylene gas that hastens ripening.
When we can't get tomatoes at our local farm market, we look for the following varieties at the grocery store.
• Kumato: These startlingly green-brown European imports have more fructose than conventional tomatoes, which makes them taste sweeter. Tasters also found their textures meatier.
• UglyRipe: These knobby-looking fruits are left on the living vine longer than most other commercial varieties, which explains why our tasters found them sweeter and juicier. Because of their delicateness, each fruit is individually packed in protective foam netting.
Don't be fooled by "Vine Ripened"
This term indicates only that the tomatoes were picked when 10% of the skin started to "break," or turn from green to red. Since most of their maturation happens off the vine, they'll never taste as good as naturally ripened fruit. That said, we prefer them to regular supermarket tomatoes, which are picked when fully green and blasted with ethylene gas to develop texture and color.
Test Kitchen favorites
Whole: Muir Glen Organic
Puree: Muir Glen Organic
Created by Aimée Wilder.