Archive | November 2011

Feed Me

In two nights time, I will be hosting 30 hungry teenagers for dinner.

It’s the swim team carb-loading pasta party.  Not only do I have to worry about having enough food to fill 30 teenage athletes’ bellies, I am doing it with what some people would consider ethnic food.

Having grown up in an Italian house, pasta sauce isn’t that exotic to me.  I’m not talking about that shitty Hunts in a can or Ragu in a jar.   Granted, my mother used Ragu, or Prego if she was feeling fancy.  I can’t even eat that stuff.  If I want freeze dried onions, I’ll have a McDonalds cheeseburger.

My grandmother though, my grandmother would make real pasta sauce with oregano and basil.  Sauce with pepperoni and loads of spicy Italian sausage and meatballs.  Loads of fresh garlic in a sauce so thick I was quite happy to skip out on the pasta and just eat the sauce with a spoon.  It was glorious.  It would cook for days and it only got better the longer it was cooked.

My husband and I cook sauce in that vein.  In the summer we use tomatoes, oregano, and basil (garlic too if we have it) freshly picked from the garden.  When that’s not possible, we use canned tomatoes, Contadina is by far the best of the traditional grocery store options (there are some other brands that are as good or better, but they aren’t the ones in my local stores.  I have to go to specialty stores to get them).  We have fresh oregano and basil for a far longer part of the year than we have fresh tomatoes.  Sometimes we through in zucchini or yellow squash.  Sometimes we caramelize onions and make a hearty meat sauce.  Whenever I have it, I pour in a generous amount of burgundy.

Sorry, I just made myself hungry.

I have found though, that many people are not accustomed to real pasta sauce.  Many people think that Hunts, it’s so flipping nasty and bland it might as well be ketchup, is a real pasta sauce.  I love Hunts.  Whenever I buy ketchup, I choose Hunts.  But it doesn’t belong on my spaghetti. And yet, in many middle of the road restaurants, that’s exactly what is served on pasta.  Abomination!

Or, people think that the red liquid in Spaghettios is pasta sauce.  No! That’s not sauce, that is really crappy tomato soup.

There is not a single jarred pasta sauce that is any good.  I’ve tried them all.  I don’t care what you do after you open the jar, it’s still rubbish pasta sauce.  You may “doctor it up” all you like, it will always have that straight-from-the-jar flavor.  There is no love in there.

Real sauce is so easy to make.  A couple of cans of tomatoes, some olive oil, salt and pepper, oregano, basil, garlic.  That’s all you need.  A little onion salt, some tomato paste.  That’s all there is to it.  You can add whatever else you like, but you don’t have to add anything else.  Throw everything in the crock pot in the morning and when you get home from work it’s ready.  Throw it over blanched green beans, spaghetti squash, pasta, rice, or whatever else makes you happy.  It’s perfect.  And cheaper than jarred sauce.

I’m afraid though, that all that love in my homemade pasta sauce, well…. Not every child is used to so much love.  It might be overwhelming.  For those kids, I have potato chips and breadsticks.

Up on the Housetop

I don’t do Black Friday shopping.  The absolute last thing that I want to do to prepare for the holiday season is to watch people treat other people poorly just to save a couple of dollars.  Black Friday shopping, with its pushing and shoving and whatnot is the antithesis of the holiday spirit.

Ruining a Thanksgiving by plotting an early morning (or late that day) shopping trip is not my idea of together time.

Instead it is my personal tradition to do all my Christmas decorating and to address all of my Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving.   Ideally, Thing 1 and Thing 2 (my daughters), the Monkey King (or is that The Monkey King, my son), and my husband are all here.  We drink egg nog, listen to Christmas music, and try to convince the kids not to fight.

Unfortunately this year was not at all like that.  My husband had to work.  Thing 1 had her drivers’ license test (she passed which is great and awful at the same time).  Thing 2 had two friends who had spent the night.  The Monkey King was in full on puking mode, which led to a significant lessening in the amount of fighting but also led to a significant increase in the amount of cleaning I had to do.

Then there was the Thanksgiving dinner that we were having at our house.  I made a full Thanksgiving dinner the day after Thanksgiving for 12 people.  It turned out only 8 could attend, but I made it for 12.

So this year, instead of a picture perfect day of family time and egg nog and joyful decoration I had rushing and a crooked tree (oh, it’s up thanks to the use of child laborers – they were fed well for their efforts) and puking and a trip to the BMV and more puking.

It was a great day, do not misunderstand me.  I felt very grateful to my children and their friends and to my husband when he came home and made the gravy.

Unfortunately, my Christmas cards are still not done.  And try as I may, I cannot persuade myself to do them.  They are next to me now, staring with accusing eyes.  But now that I’ve missed my standard day for getting them done, addressing my cards feels like failure.  Everything else is more interesting, more important.  I’m doing all sorts of things instead of my Christmas cards.  In fact, right now, instead of doing my Christmas cards, I’m writing this blog.

Domo Arrigato

I have a confession. I have a Domo obsession.

  It all started innocently enough.  With this single Domo.  It was in the holiday section at Target.  It was only $5.99. It’s 6.5″ tall.  It’s pink.  It’s stuffed.  It was for Valentine’s Day.  How could I resist?There was no harm in purchasing this single, adorable, cuddly toy.  Or was there?
 Then at Easter, there he was again.  Same place.  He was a bit more expensive at $6.99.  And there were two of him.  This little yellow chick.  And a bunny!

Sure it was frivolous.  Sure $14 plus tax would’ve been a really nice steak.  But it was so cute and really what if I decided later I wanted it and couldn’t find them?  Whatever would I do if I didn’t have these 2 Easter-themed Domo dolls from Target?

Besides, I’d use them to decorate my office at work.  Work is so serious and joyless at times that by buying these toys I was doing my part by injecting a little bit of light-heartedness, playfulness into the work day.  And that’s good for morale.

 
 So I bought both Domos and took them to work.  They spent several months on my window sill, surveying my office and all who visited with a slack-jawed, dead-eyed stare.  The facial expression isn’t that different from many of the people with whom I work.

 

 
   Then I had a long period of Domo-acquisition drought.  I mean, if someone was creative, we could have had a Tartan Day Domo, Last Day of School Domo, Domo Uncle Sam, Fourth of July Domo with real illegal fireworks.  Back-to-school Domo with slightly too big, slighty too clean clothes, a fresh hair cut and an apple for the teacher.  So many opportunities missed.  Have the creators learned nothing from Sanrio’s use of Hello Kitty. You slap that image on EVERYTHING!!!!! No product is too silly or dangerous or inappropriate.

Why?  Why did they not supply me with a steady stream of Holiday-themed Domos?

   But then, glory of all glories, came Halloween! And with it, FOUR new holiday-themed Domos. Four!!!!

I had to buy them all.  But I did it one at a time.  I almost caved and rushed it because I thought that Target had run out of all of the styles.  But, somehow, I got them all.  What a crisis that would have been had my collection been incomplete.

And this is when I started thinking of this as my collection. I was looking forward to the next holiday offering.

Would they put out Thanksgiving Domos?  I mean, what would be cuter than a Domo pilgram?  What about a turkey Domo.  Alas, there were no Thansgiving Domos.  I was so disappointed.

   I mean how could I wait until the Christmas Domos?  I began visiting Target every week, slowing stalking down the Holiday aisles, seeking my prey.

I started searching for Domo online.  I needed more Domos.  How could my life be complete if there were Domos that I didn’t have?

I found DomoNation.  But it was just a bunch of Domo posts and blogs and fan pictures.  And who in the hell would spend their time reading a Domo blog.

No, I wanted OFFICIAL Domo information. I wanted toy release dates.  I wanted to know if there would be books, a tv show.

 

   I found out that there had been some tv show in conjunction with Nickelodeon.  It must have been killed as it was supposed to air in early 2008 and I couldn’t find any clips from it.  Nick plays every show to death so it’s not like one could miss a show that was on Nick.

There is a Domo graphic novel.  I own it.  I keep hoping for Volume 2.  I have no idea what they would do to make it entertaining, that’s not my problem.  I just want to buy it.

I found tons of other Domo info.  Like Domo was created for Japan’s NHK tv.  He has a few friends.  Blah, blah.

I found loads of other Domo products: hats, shirts, party lights, key chains, plush keychains, hoodies, pillows, slippers,etc.  I decided that it would be wallet-friendly to just stick to the 6.5″ plushies.

 Anyway, as there were no Thanksgiving Domos, I started getting excited when I saw Target putting out the Christmas stuff.  I kept looking and looking but there were no Domos.  They actually had Skelanimal Christmas plushies instead.  Skelanimals are cute, but they’re not Domo.

Target actually introduced holiday-themed Skelanimals at Halloween that year.  I bought a couple on clearance afterward.  This was the first time I’d seen Skelanimals anywhere other than Hot Topic.

So a month before Christmas I saw that Target still didn’t have any Christmas Domos. How could they miss out out Christmas?

 
 My husband looked them up online for me.  They were $11 a piece or something.  You could buy the set of 4 for $30 or $40 or something obnoxious.  I decided that this was a bit too much to spend on silly toys.  I was so disappointed.  How could Target let me down like that?

Well, wouldn’t you know, Santa brought me the set of four.

I had almost given up on my Domo collection and Santa had saved it.  By now, my collection was getting rather large.  I moved all my Domos home to bring their mouth-breather joy to the top of my upright piano.  They take up the entire top in a single file.  In fact, they have to be smooshed together to get them all to fit.

 
 They are so cute.  In front of them I have a small, disparate collection of tiny random toys:  a mini metal purse with gumballs, some 1″ Hello Kitty characters, a few little skelanimal plastic figurines.  I am becoming the queen of retarded tchotckes.

So I figured that I was done with my Domos.  I had completed my collection of holiday Domos.  They only covered the major holidays so I was done.

I still looked for Domo whenever I went to the stores.  Target had some little keychain plush Domos with various outfits.  They also had a few bigger sizes of normal Domos.  I didn’t have a plain, standard Domo.

Hot Topic had tees.  They also had various hats, a backpack and various flocked figures.  Those flocked figures are cute, but not for me.

 
 I can’t believe the amount of different colors of flocked Domos.  Now that’s a stroke of marketing genius.  To have dozens and dozens of different styles and have them numbered and limited edition.  They’re rather pricey too.  The people that collect those are just suckers (in case you don’t catch it, that’s sarcasm).

Toys R Us had small plushes of Domo and his friends Tashana and My Usagi.

I resisted any urge to collect any of this.  I was only in it for the 6.5″ plush

Then one day, I was at Borders (tangent alert, I loved Borders.  It will always be my favorite book store.  Before the economy tanked I was there with my kids once a week.  We’d buy a few books and I’d get them drinks and snacks from the cafe) and I saw it.

 
   Limited edition Wolf Man Domo. 6.5″ plush.  But it was crazy expensive.  $12.99 or something.  I spent about an hour in the store trying to decide if I was going to buy it or not.

In the end, I bought it.

Then I went home and looked to see if there were more that I was missing.

I couldn’t find anything.  The whole marketing effort is a bit disjointed.  Really, the licensing rights seem to be split over several different companies and those companies’ websites aren’t geared toward individual consumer purchases; they’re meant for wholesale sales.

 Although I should never be encouraged in my strange collecting habits.  My oldest daughter, Thing 1, does it anyway.  She bought me this 30″ Domo for my birthday one year.  He is king of the Domo collection and as such he stays on my dresser in my bedroom.  There isn’t any room for him on top of my piano anyway.

And while with her, I found Nerd Domo at Spencers.  It was outrageous, $15 or something.  I’m so stupid, I bought it.  It’s at work with my 9″ regular Domo (that was a gift).

After I bought him, Thing 1 convinced me to do a photo booth session with him.  It’s hilarious and also at work (I’m not posting my picture here anyway).

But this started something more dangerous.  I found out that now there ARE more 6.5″ Domos.  It’s only Target isn’t carrying them anymore.

 
 There’s:
 Dino Domo  Cat Hat Domo
 Superhero Domo  Farting Domo
 Moustache Domo  Braces Domo
 Panda Domo  Teddy Bear Domo
 Pink Easter Bunny Domo  Pink Nerd Domo with Heart

Then, because my holiday collection must be complete, there’s a 9″ St. Patrick’s Day Domo that I must have.
The other day I had a coupon and a gift card for Barnes and Noble. I bought this. Mostly because I couldn’t resist Mr. Usagi. Who can resist a bunny with glasses?

There’s a small series of Domos made by a company called Nanco.  It seems that this company specializes in supplying toys to carnivals and such.  They make Domos in 7, 10, and 12.5″ and produce 4 Domos that I don’t have.  There’s a skeleton Domo, and 3 karate Domos.  The karate Domos come in a red, white, or black karate uniform. I don’t know if I need to add these Domos to my list, they have smooth fur unlike “true” Domos.  And they aren’t in the proper size.  So perhaps I only need the 10 new 6.5″ Domos and the St. Pat’s Domo.

I mean, really, I NEED these things.  How can I let these little guys be without their friends?

Six Degrees of Bacon Bacon

I love bacon.  It’s one of the first foods I ever learned to cook.  I remember being about 6 or 7 and standing on a step stool in the kitchen with my dad on a Saturday morning in front of our avocado-colored stove cooking bacon to crispy perfection.  For me, bacon, real bacon not fake-on, is delicious, delicious comfort in a crispy, artery-clogging package.  J’adore bacon.

I love how bacon is one of the hip, trendy foods right now.  Certain things, I get.  Traditional bacon-wrapped filet mignon and bacon-wrapped scallops…. mmm, mmm, good.  Bacon cheeseburgers…. hell yeah.  Chocolate chip, bacon cookies … surprisingly good.  Bacon grilled cheese sandwich…. bring that on.  Bacon mac and cheese is fantastic. Chocolate almond bacon bar at Deagan’s in Lakewood is just too flipping good oh I wanted to lick the plate (and yes I realize I stopped using punctuation I’m too busy drooling).

And it’s not just food that’s getting bacon-ized.  The number of bacon-themed miscellania is immense.

But just because you’ve added bacon to something, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good.

 Bacon candy canes  great slogan “Ho. Ho. Meat”, but seriously unappealing
 Bacon popcorn  this could be interesting
 Bacon gift wrap  adorable
 My First Bacon stuffed, talking toy
 irresistable
 Bacon Lube  ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew
 Baconnaise it has the possibility of being tasty, but is wrong just because
 Bacon of the Month Club  need this immediately
 Bacon Floss  I want my mouth to feel clean after flossing, this is just bad
 Bacon gravy packets  bad. no
 Bacon toothpaste  see Bacon floss
 Bacon Today news/website This blog would’ve been much easier if I’d have found this first.  Should we really have enough bacon stuff to necessitate a website to keep up with it all?
 Bacon Chocolate Bars  Most likely a chocolate-y, bacon-y heart-destroying mistake
 Bacon lollipop  I’ll pass
 Bacon pillow  There are many, but this one manages to look cute and menacing at the same time
 Bacon trout roe  ew.
 Bacon coffee  bacon. coffee. two lovely morning items.  the should remain separate until they are united in my tummy.
 Bacon gum  icky
 Bacon soap  ugh
 Bacon tuxedo  it’s also bacon-scented……
 Bacon peanut brittle  um…. maybe?
 Bacon drink tablets  is this bacon Alka Seltzer?  Without the healing powers of Alka Seltzer?
 Bacon soda  Jones Soda isn’t making it anymore but I’m sure others are (or will)
 Bacon beer  weirdos
 Bacon wallet  well then
 Bacon mints  nasty
 Gummy Bacon  it’s strawberry flavored
 Bacon flavored envelopes  WTF?!?!?
 Bacon vodka  stop. this is wrong
 Bacon action figure  Hello Kitty is better
 Bacon socks  why is this necessary?  it’s not even clever
 Bacon air freshener  ew!
 Bacon bandaids  well, what the hell?
 Bacon shirt sure, why not
 Bacon board game  idea is hilarious, game play would most likely be painful.  who is actually paying $20 for a 20 second gag?
 Bacon USB drive  you’ll know which one’s yours?
 Bacon frosting  and again, why?

And now, after simply viewing all of these bacon things, I need this:

 

Somehow, bacon isn’t quite so comforting anymore.

Philip Glass Must Never Die

Last week, in my local paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, I saw an article about the upcoming Metropolitan Opera Live in HD presentation of Satyagraha at my local Regal Cinema. The picture accompanying the article showed these giant puppets and it was very visually interesting.  Also, I figured it might be far easier to get my husband to agree to see an opera if it was from the relative comfort of our local movie theater.

Well, I was right.  My husband did agree to attend with me.

Everything started out well.  We were able to find a seating in the middle of a row in which we were almost entirely to ourselves.  The transmission started and after the first 20 minutes, I completely dosed off.  Really.

I spent the entire 4 hours feeling like a naughty school girl because I could not stay awake.  My husband suggested that we recommend this to my brother who has had a severe lifelong struggle with insomnia.

The stage design was minimalistic but amazing.  The amount of  configurations created from the corrugated metal semi-circle was ingenious.  The puppets were awesome.  The newspaper motif was inventive.  I loved the way that titles and such were projected onto that semicircle and/or the held up newspaper pages.  The coat hangers from the ceilings, the lanterns from the ceiling, it was all stunning.

But dammit.  That opera was completely awful.  It went nowhere.  It showed Gandhi as doubtful and angry and impotent.  My husband hated that.  He says that the spirit of Gandhi was happiness.  That no matter what Gandhi was facing, he was always wearing a big smile, he was always happy. An opera about Gandhi should have captured that spirit.  Instead it was an opera that built to nothing.  Four hours of tedious repetition built to nothing.  At the end, Gandhi sang, in Sanskrit (although I wouldn’t have understood it if it was in Italian either), alone on a dark stage.  If the lights hadn’t gone out, I wouldn’t have realized that it had ended.  It was abysmal.

During the intermissions, I heard all the other attendees scolding themselves for dosing off during the performance.  I also heard them trying to talk themselves into liking it.  Why should you have to talk yourself into liking something?  You do or you don’t.  Anything that is so dull and dreary and monotonous just can’t be enjoyable no matter how much one tries to convince oneself otherwise.  Just because someone’s labeled it as art doesn’t mean it’s good.  And truly, this opera is not good.

Because I didn’t see it at the Met, because it was the Live in HD, there were interviews before and during the performance.  Not one person interviewed said that they’d always wanted to do this when asked. They all just talked about how difficult the piece was, how hard the repetitions made the piece, how frustrating practices were.  So, not even the performers enjoyed this work.  The fact that they all did such a good job is a testament to their professionalism.  I would’ve walked.

I wanted to like this opera.  With some proper editing, I would have.  But holy crap, much like a Grateful Dead live jam, this was a masturbatory experience.  Meaning only Philip Glass enjoyed this.  Didn’t anyone ever tell him that it’s not polite to masturbate in public?  Each scene was so long and repetitive and monotonous, that it only proves that Philip Glass is a chronic masturbator.

So, really, Philip Glass must never die, because then people will feel the need to stage more of his operas.  And, if this is a guide, they can only be awful.  No.  Philip Glass must live forever.  And his works should never be performed again, as an act of mercy to all the people who 1) don’t know Philip Glass is awful, and 2) the people who are afraid to admit that Philip Glass is awful (everyone else is going so it must be good) and so will attend because they don’t trust their own instincts.  Trust.  Philip Glass is a tedious, monotonous, awful composer.  The emperor has no clothes.

Christmas is Coming, My A$$ Is Getting Fat

The two aren’t related.  Remember correlation isn’t causation.  Wait! What was I saying?

I can’t believe that it was snowing on my way home.  I’m not ready.  The holidays are coming up way too fast. I’m starting to panic.  So much decorating and cleaning and cooking and buying and wrapping.

And just in time for Christmas, I saw the perfect gift.  Bacon candy canes. Really, check it out here.  Yes.  Bacon. I love Bacon.  So much so that I believe it deserves a capital b.  However…. I can’t even….it’s just wrong.  I have had Bacon-topped french toast cupcakes, Bacon-coated chocolate bar dessert, Chocolate-covered bacon. Bacon.  Bacon and Bacon.  Bacon, Bacon, syrup and Bacon.  Bacon, Bacon, Bacon, eggs, and Bacon.  Oops, sorry, wrong skit.

Anyway, Bacon candy canes are in the same realm as Baconaisse.  And that realm is wrong.  Bacon candy canes are a smirch on the Bacon flavor/name/reputation. The makers are bad, bad boys and girls and should have to sit in time out.

Total tangent… my husband made the best drink, Cherry Coconut Cake.  Pinnacle Cake Vodka, Coconut Rum, and Dark Cherry Juice and Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash (equal parts of the alcohols and juice and 4 parts of the soda).  Enough of these and I won’t care how big my butt gets. I don’t have to see it.

But Most of All I Will Not Grow Up

I’ve been making holiday lists again:

  • Holiday dinner menus
  • Christmas cookies
  • Kids’ wish lists
  • list of stuff I’m actually buying for the kids
  • list of gifts for every other person I need to buy for
  • Christmas card list
  • Holiday related chores

Normal stuff.

So is it wrong if, when making my wish list, the thing I want most – more than the new exercise ball and kettle bell, more than the new running shoes, more than toiletries that I normally use anyway – is a video game?

Is it ok to have one thing that’s so utterly useless?  such a complete waste of time?

It’s not just that it’s completely expensive;  I could buy an awful lot of St. Ives body scrub and Neutrogena lotion with sixty dollars.  It’s the sheer amount of wasted hours that I will waste if I get it.

But holy crap, this is cool:

 

I haven’t played all the Elder Scroll games, just Oblivion.  And I am way too embarrassed to tell how many hours I logged on that game.  I promise that I’ll keep up with my laundry and my exercise.  I won’t miss any work.  I’ll still volunteer at the kids’ schools.  I will most likely not cook as many meals.  And I suspect I will lose many hours of sleep to this.