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August 4, 2006

Q. Why is there a hole in the upper left hand corner of 'The Old Farmer's Almanac?'


A. So it can be easily hung on the wall of a an outhouse.

I learned this from Henry Alford's entertaining essay, "Chamber Plots," which appeared on the final page of the July 23 New York Times Book Review.

Alford pointed out that back in the day ("The Old Farmer's Almanac" first appeared in 1792) — and for all I know still, in some places — the pages marking days passed were repurposed from purely informational content into carriers of, shall we say, a more defined form of content.

I noted, as the crack research team prepared the materials for this post, that most websites Photoshop the hole off the cover (below)


so as to present a more attractive visage to the viewer.

It took much searching indeed to find the actual, unretouched photo mit hole up top.

August 4, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's Best Flag?


That's what Wil Grewe-Mullins declared yesterday when he featured it (above) in his blog, Black Is The New Black.

I don't recall ever having seen Greenland's flag before but I'm inclined to agree.

According to WorldAtlas.com, "The flag of Greenland was officially adopted in 1985. It was designed by a local artist and features the Danish colors. The white is symbolic of the ice and snow that covers most of the island, and the red is symbolic of the sun."

Anyone else have a contender?

Note: what with global warming uncovering more and more of the once ice-covered island every day, look for Greenland, sitting prettily atop the newly opened (also due to warming and thawing of once icy seaways above the Arctic Circle) Northwest Passage, to be one of the world's most powerful nations circa 2100.

I wonder if anyone reading this will be around then.

Besides me, that is.

Gee, I hope Wil doesn't pass out when he sees this post.

I mean, his blog's subtitle is "Because nobody will ever see this, trust me."

Sorry, Wil.

August 4, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

David Bouley is 'The Anti-Martha'


The great chef (above), in the spirit of those for whom more (money) is never enough, now gives $175-a-session cooking classes to anyone who's got the cash.

Class size is limited to 30 people so as to best absorb the lessons of the master.

David Blum of the New York Times recently attended a four-hour class, billed formally as "David Bouley Cooking Demonstrations," and wrote about the experience in the July 26 New York Times Dining In section.

His most entertaining piece follows.

    On the Stage, Not at the Stove: Bouley, the Missionary

    David Bouley bills his latest business venture as “David Bouley Cooking Demonstrations,” but his $175-a-session cooking classes for the common folk function less as a learning experience than a religious one.

    After an evening in the presence of the celebrated chef, even the most cynical foodie may feel swept up by the messianic Mr. Bouley and his passion for fresh food and organic ingredients, not to mention his miso-marinated salmon with arugula and miso-soy vinaigrette.

    Last month began a new round of Mr. Bouley’s latest effort to spread his love of local farm-grown foods, an enthusiasm Mr. Bouley has embraced ever since he ascended to stardom with the restaurant Bouley, his solo debut on Duane Street, in 1987.

    In his spanking new Test Kitchen, on the fifth floor of a West Broadway loft building with a Jamba Juice in the lobby, Mr. Bouley has merged that mission with one of his most enduring dreams: to teach. Or, if not to teach, at least to impart his food philosophies to anyone with four hours to spare.

    It’s an unlikely role for the famously mysterious Mr. Bouley, whose high-profile business collaborations have sometimes failed and who typically shows up late to public appearances. But in his new capacity as teacher-preacher, he may have at last found the perfect way to promote his message.

    He is the anti-Martha — less likely to suggest recipes for the perfect dinner party than to proffer names of obscure, top-quality ingredients, and secret tips for the best places to buy them. You will hear him rhapsodize about the properties of imported brown sugar, sing the praises of commercial blast freezers and devote several minutes to the inspired taste sensations of the current crop of sugar snap peas.

    “This is the season for peas,” Mr. Bouley explained. “They’re so delicious, you can’t ruin them.” He’ll make you think you can cook peas as well as he does, at least until you get home.

    At the latest cooking demonstration in mid-June, 10 students, including this reporter, gathered at three rows of tables facing Mr. Bouley’s sparkling copper-and-stainless-steel private kitchen for a class about fish. (Advance registration: davidbouley.com).

    Against a long wall of slate — “I bought it in Massachusetts,” Mr. Bouley told us, in case we might be in the market for a 200-square-foot blackboard — he and his colleagues had written, in chalk, a huge display of possible menu items being tested here. On this night, seven men (including an amateur fisherman and a college professor) and three women (including a financial advisor and a museum curator) sat in rapt attention, scribbling detailed notes on the chef’s rambling sermon.

    The scheduled 6 p.m. class began, by Bouley standards, remarkably promptly at 6:20 p.m.; having never arrived anywhere early in his life, he would find it illogical to change now.

    As he swept into the room from behind, he was greeted by two students who had heard rumors that the 53-year-old Mr. Bouley, a longstanding bachelor whose salt-and-pepper hair has turned mostly salt, is engaged. The chef’s green eyes twinkled as he confirmed the news that Aug. 24 is his wedding day.

    He then began a commentary that would not stop for four hours. It was a tilt-a-whirl of tips, opinions, tastes and philosophy accompanied by an unlimited supply of white wine — a Neil Ellis 2004 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, a classically quirky Bouley choice — and a four-course Bouley fish menu of dishes loosely based on recipes provided to students inside a lovely Bouley menu sleeve.

    “Recipes?” Mr. Bouley replied incredulously to one student, who asked him to explain why his chefs don’t seem to be following them. “I don’t follow recipes. I never had a friend who became a good chef by following a recipe. You’ll never make it to Page 2, with recipes.”

    For most of the class, Mr. Bouley stood in front of his kitchen. Three young chefs labored nonstop for two hours over pans and cutting boards in the background to prepare his dishes.

    Every so often, Mr. Bouley picked up a platter and carried it around the room like a proud papa, but most of the evening he was too busy trying to remember the name of the New Jersey store where he buys his soy sauce (Mitsuya, in Edgewater) or the downtown grocery where he gets his Thai ingredients (Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco Street).

    That didn’t deter students in search of useful cooking tips. One asked Mr. Bouley point-blank what he should do with a piece of salmon for 10 guests next weekend.

    “Do you want to spend the evening cooking or talking to your friends?” Mr. Bouley asked, flashing his crooked smile. Without waiting for the reply, he offered the closest thing any student would get to a real recipe that night.

    “Fillet it and roast it,” he said.

    It is at such moments that students may feel that Mr. Bouley’s professional skills and fancy kitchens give him a slightly unfair advantage over hoi polloi. I mean, when he instructed his chefs to cook the salmon with a blow torch, I had to say to myself, that isn’t happening in my apartment.


Full disclosure: I dined at his signature restaurant, Bouley, back in the 90s; it was superb.

For those who would like to attend one of Bouley's demonstration-lessons, you need to:

1) Click here

2) Next, click on "Test Kitchen"

3) Next, click on "Demonstration Classes"

4) Follow the instructions

August 4, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Throwback Entertainment Center — Play 45s, 33-1/3LPs, 78s, Cassettes, CDs and AM/FM Radio


Can your iPod do that?

From websites:

    Old-Time Crosley® Turntable will delight music lovers!

    Dust off those precious 45, 33-1/3 and 78 RPM records and start enjoying the rhythms of your youth.

    Features a cassette player capable of recording all of your vinyl records and CDs, AM/FM radio, programmable CD player and remote control.

    Comes with full-range speakers and outputs for external speakers.

    Finely-crafted wood-veneered turntable cabinet is 18.5"W x 14"L x 9.5"H.

    Matching wood stand is 19.5"W x 15.5 "L x 25"H.


The entertainment center, in Paprika (top) or Oak (below),


is $179.99.

A matching




is $79.99.

August 4, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: The guy in the suit who walks around an empty football stadium in the Progressive Insurance TV commercial needs an orthotic in the worst way


I see this commercial on MTV about once an hour, x 10-12 hours = 10-12 times a day, seven days a week, so I know whereof I speak.

And since there's no audio accompaniment I can concentrate on the picture and, in this particular case, his gait.

Just after he passes through the entry turnstile and enters the stadium, there's a shot of him walking through the stadium's cavernous passageway on his way to his seat up in Bob Uecker ("I must be in the front row!") country.

It lasts about five seconds, does this shot, of him walking toward the camera and blabbing about who knows what.

The guy's right shoulder (that would be on the left of your TV screen, in case you're directionally challenged) dips with every step, quite noticeably.

Moreover, you can see that his right shoulder, even midstride, when it should be level with his left, is in fact at least two inches lower (top).

This guy's heading for a total joint replacement or spinal fusion for sure if he doesn't see someone.

Of course, that's assuming you think an anesthesiologist is competent to evaluate walking function and diagnose dysfunction therein.

But before you say to yourself, "Yeah, joe's right, he doesn't know jack about orthopedics and all," consider this: I'm a poster boy for the merry crew laboring day and night here to put the fun back in "dysfunctional."

As to what that has to do with my credibility as a gait diagnostician: I haven't a clue.

Here, watch the commercial for yourself and see what you think (it's the top one).

August 4, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Removable Propane Tank Gauge



From the website:

    Removable Propane Tank Gauge

    Easy-to-use, removable gauge won’t leave you guessing!

    Changing color shows exact level of propane remaining in your tank.

    Lets you know when it’s time to refill before you run out.

    Magnetic strip can be moved from tank to tank.

    Lasts for years.

    A must for gas grills, RVs.

    11"H x 3/4"W.

$4.98 (propane tank/propane not included).

August 4, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Back in the U.S.[A.? — or S.R.?]


For years I've been reading about how thieves in Russia raid construction sites and make off with building materials to be resold for scrap, especially copper wiring.

Last week I read in my local paper (the Charlottesville Daily Progress) of similar thefts occurring around here as the price of copper soars, making it more and more profitable to steal and resell it.

The problem has spread beyond copper to aluminum, judging by David Nakamura's July 19 story in the Washington Post about the theft of an entire section of bleachers from Fort Greble Field, home of the Ballou High School Knights, in southeast Washington, D.C.

Sometime during the past month thieves have removed all the seats, leaving behind only the metal frame (above), which has since collapsed.

Turns out the same thing happened in Lorain, Ohio in April.

Here's the Post story.

    Theft of Aluminum Wrecks Ballfield Bleachers

    Site Was Renovated For Ballou Games

    The price of aluminum, at a 20-year high, apparently has led to a new low in the annals of inner-city baseball in Washington.

    Thieves, apparently seeking a quick payday, found an unusual target: the aluminum bleachers at Fort Greble Field in Southeast, home field of the Ballou Senior High School Knights.

    The $14,000 aluminum bleachers were installed as part of a renovation of the field by the D.C. government and Major League Baseball. In May, fans crowded the seats as Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) threw out the first pitch at Ballou's home opener. But sometime in the past month, thieves carted away the seats, leaving only the metal frame.

    "When I saw this, I was like, 'Oh my god!' " said Clark Ray, who oversaw the renovation for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission.

    Ray said he discovered the theft during a recent lunch trip to the nearby Martin Luther King Deli. Ray photographed the stripped frame and informed police. "This field is my baby," he said. "I couldn't believe it."

    The frame has since collapsed into a tangled heap, surrounded by discarded nuts and bolts and spent fireworks casings. Under a hot midday sun yesterday, Leckie Elementary School next door was shuttered for summer vacation, and no one was around. The rest of the baseball complex -- with its outfield fence, backstop, two dugouts and lush green grass -- looked fine.

    Last summer, the scene was triumphant when Ballou players joined the mayor and former Washington Nationals outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $500,000 project, funded in part by a $100,000 grant from MLB's Baseball Tomorrow Fund, was intended to promote D.C. high school baseball, which is saddled with low interest and poor facilities.

    D.C. police, who are dealing with a recent surge in violent crime, said they have no leads in the bleachers case.

    Bryan McGannon, a spokesman for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, said rising scrap aluminum prices have led to an increase in thefts of light poles, highway guardrails and other items. For example, in April, thieves made off with $4,000 worth of aluminum bleachers from a park in Lorain, Ohio.

    The amount of aluminum stolen at Fort Greble was about 750 pounds, said Anthoula Gianniotis, an architect with Alphatec, which installed the bleachers for the sports commission. Aluminum is selling on the commodities market at slightly more than $1 a pound, although McGannon said recyclers would offer well below market value if they took the scrap at all.

    "Whoever did it should be ashamed," said Noel Cyrus, Ballou's athletic director. "It was there for the whole community. For a few people to take it upon themselves to make a few bucks -- if they're from our community -- they need to move out."

August 4, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'World's Biggest Mug'


From the website:

    The World's Biggest Mug!

    This ought to keep the serious coffee or tea drinker happy all day — oversized ceramic mug holds a full quart of their favorite beverage (that's a lotta latte, folks!).

    Its size isn't for sissies, yet this mug's easy to grip and drink from.




You gonna let them call you a sissy?


A note on usage: the word "sissy" applies only to males; why, then, is a female used in the ad copy (top) to visualize a hypothetical throwdown/challenge?

August 4, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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