06.22.09: freedom trail

joe and i were required in philly this weekend, so we hopped a train bright and early saturday morning. as in april, i couldn't be bothered to take pictures of independence hall, but i did strike up an acquaintance with the mushrooms growing in front of it. may i present some of our nation's forefungus:


freedom trail?

but one life to give

the full set is here. many are out of focus, a few are strangely cropped, and i switched dimensions halfway through, but internets, they are all patriots.

06.18.09: frank


i noted as i purchased frank (at the renegade craft fair a few weekends ago) that he was a mean little ring: you could really get things done with those ears if you got into a fight while wearing him. "if you wanted to," his designer said. he looked a little dismayed.

06.17.09: if spam poetry be the food of love

each relationship has its own internal logic, and all that.

From: 1
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 4:50 PM
To: 2
Subject: Free beer on my party

we offer the easiest way to stay strong in bed
you really need rolex on your arm;
fitness and good lucks are not far
Don't touch the old bomb
I photoshopped your face

From: 2
Sent:Wednesday, June 17, 2009 5:07 PM
To: 1
Subject: RE: Free beer on my party

Woman Tells Cop She Bought 'Bad Carck'
Mistakes to correct
Join us in park

06.16.09: culture blotter {twelfth night @ shakespeare in the park}

i panicked when i heard that anne hathaway had signed on for this summer's shakespeare in the park. miss devil-wears-prada-and-princess diaries* in the comedy (twelfth night) that functions as a sequel to shakespeare in love** - and, once again, we'd be in california for a week of the show's run? man, we'd never get tickets. i continue to have great luck in shitty weather, though, and we made it through the virtual line on our first try (last thursday, the night after the elvis costello concert). i grabbed umbrellas and wine from the apartment after work, met joe uptown, and boom, shakespeare for us.

as a summer-in-the-city (especially this-stormy-summer-in-the-city) show, twelfth night has much to recommend it: it's not a midsummer night's dream,*** it's heavy on the cross-dressing and the singing, and it sends you from the theater with a marvelous and memorable "hey, ho, the wind and the rain" faux downer (feste's "when that i was and a tiny little boy;" david pittu killed it as feste, and i'm now very sorry i didn't see him in stoppard's coast of utopia). anne hathaway's voice is just as lovely as it was when she sang with hugh jackman at the academy awards this year, and her physical (stage combat for laughs, a-hath: who knew you had it in you?) and vocal (not verbal, vocal; she plays the his-and-hers role well) comedy is quite good; we were seated too far away to catch many of her facial expressions, alas, so her softer moments as viola fell a bit flat. hamish linklater as sir andrew aguecheek and jay o. sanders as sir toby belch had a didi-and-gogo, rosencrantz-and-guildenstern chemistry that played wonderfully; audra "four-time-tony-winning" mcdonald was a formidable olivia and needs to stop hiding her light under the bushel basket that is abc's private practice; hem, the brooklyn folk-rock types who played the show's original score onstage, pleased me considerably more than folk-rock types generally do. of the four shows i've seen at the delacorte (midsummer in '07, hamlet and hair last year), this was easily my favorite. LMO + 12th 4ever.

*and rachel getting married, of course, but i was thinking of films that would draw non-regulars to the shakespeare lines.

**a convoluted draw, but whatever, i was feeling vulnerable.

***nothing but love for midsummer, but we need some time apart. it has grown common to me.


101 in 1001 {II}: 008 see elvis costello in concert [completed 06.10.09]

elvis costello and the sugarcanes

my friend douglas's pitchfork review of elvis costello's latest album, secret, profane & sugarcane, had me a bit worried before last night's show: he argues that the sugarcanes, the bluegrass ringers who replace the attractions (elvis's rock band), have a hard time keeping up. though i did long for the occasional keyboard squeal, i found that i liked the net effect of this band: since i hadn't yet heard the new stuff, i appreciated the taste of EC's vocals (and the lyrics, bless that man and his clever, clever lyrics) without a lot of garnish. moreover, the show's rootsy underpinnings led to some really fantastic combinations for older and cover material - i loved his interpretation of "femme fatale,"* which he called "a folk song from these parts," and "blame it on cain" got even cooler with a little dobro and accordion sprinkled over the top. so when it was good, the show was very, very good, and when it was bad - oh, my. i wish i could forget hearing "every day i write the book" (a song that's always been a bit too proud of itself, so whatever) and "(the angels wanna wear my) red shoes" (one of my favorites, alas!); i'm sure it gets tiresome to play album versions of things night after night after night, but i can't forgive him for the drawn-out vocal flourishes he added to those songs. the "book" chorus blossomed like a rotten flower; he sang that thing for ten minutes. but! he spent plenty of time (he played for more than two and a half hours) with other, far finer things. i will forgive almost anything for a fiery "(what's so funny 'bout) peace, love and understanding" or an unadorned "alison," and i got both. hell of a guy, that elvis costello.

*props for covering a velvet underground song from the nico era, too. he could mimic lou reed in his sleep; hearing his take on big, teutonic ladyvocals was much more interesting.


101 in 1001 {II}: 027 invent a bitchin’ cupcake recipe [completed 06.05.09]

the inspiration

it's hard to argue with the dark and stormy (dark rum over ginger beer and ice, sometimes with a bit of lime; our preferred version is gosling's black seal over maine root ginger brew and ice): it's flavorful and spicy without being cloying or fussy. those sounded like decent parameters for dessert invention, too, and the skies in new york were black and miserable yesterday afternoon and evening, so: i made dark and stormy cupcakes.

this recipe sounds time-consuming and a little kitchen-sinky - because it combines two batters, it does feature everything from fresh ground pepper and molasses to lemon rind and crystallized ginger - but i am the laziest cook i know, and i firmly believe that these little dudes are worth the work.

dark and stormy cupcakes
(adapted from david lebovitz, southern living, and slashfood recipes, with advice from a friendly food editor*)

dark (ginger cake) batter

- 2 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 c molasses
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 c water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg

in a large bowl, mix the molasses, sugar, and oil; in another bowl, stir the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper together. zap the water in the microwave, stir in the baking soda, then add to the molasses bowl. stir in the grated ginger. whisk the flour mixture into the molasses mixture, then add the egg and mix until thoroughly combined (you'll have a dark, bubbling bowl, sort of like the la brea tar pits).

light (rum cake) batter

- 3/4 c butter, softened
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 eggs, minus one white
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
- 3/8 c dark rum
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 c heavy whipping cream

beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs and vanilla, then lemon rind, then rum, beating each time until blended (you'll have wee, curdled-looking chunks; don't worry, it's supposed to look like that). combine dry ingredients in another small bowl, then add to batter, alternating with the cream, beginning and ending with the dry stuff. stir until just blended after each addition.

act II: they meet

ladle dark batter into lined cupcake pans so that each is just over half-full, then top each with a big dollop (say, 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp) of light batter, like so.

dolloped and ready for baking

bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until a toothpick or fondue fork** comes out clean. cool cupcakes for about 15 minutes (or about five minutes next to a slightly open window, if the weather is as bad as it was last night), then transfer cupcakes to two large platters and poke the hell out of them with a fondue fork (or a cocktail pick, if you want to be clever), like so.

nude cupcakes

combine 4 tbsp of butter, 3/8 c sugar, and 1/3 c dark rum (gosling's again) in a saucepan over medium heat; when mixture is liquid, stick it over by the window where the cupcakes cooled for about 10 minutes. ladle a large spoonful of the cooled rum sauce over each cupcake.

for frosting, beat 8 ounces (1 package) cold cream cheese with 2 1/2 tbsp. softened butter, 1 c powdered sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla until combined. add a glug of the gosling's and stir to combine; repeat as necessary until frosting has reached your optimal level of rumminess (i used three).

give each cupcake a dollop of frosting and sprinkle with finely chopped crystallized ginger, thus:

dark and stormy cupcake


*i consulted a food editor as i invented my recipe, internets: that's how much i love you.

**i use a lot of fondue forks when i cook. it's just a thing.


i love the way francis strand (of how to learn swedish in 1000 difficult lessons, a beautifully written blog about his life in stockholm) introduces people: on his site, they are "the pop star" or "A. the TV producer," and i'm always reminded of nineteenth-century novels, with their lady w------s and dukes of b------. nicknames aren't nearly as poetic, though they're certainly useful if, say, all of one's acquaintances are attorneys (perhaps especially if all of one's acquaintances are attorneys) - and my use of actual names is, let's be honest, not sexy at all. think of the possibilities, though...

a dirty dozen: people who've popped up in my life this year

01 the feng shui specialist who urges me to keep a little pig in the upper left corner of my desk
02 the vampire bat hunter
03 the hypnotherapist (who told great stories about both his office dog and mesmer)
04 the kinky sex writer who publishes under a pseudonym and appears at her readings in character
05, 06 the politician's son and daughter
07 the esperanto expert who passed around a hip flask full of liqueur
08 the environmental consultant who met his wife watching italian films at an embassy in indonesia
09 the iconic fashion designer's confidante
10 the classical violinist who organizes die-ins
11 the attorney* with an alter ego in a bluegrass band
12 the secretly evil celebrity chef

terribly mysterious, no? what characters have waltzed through your narrative recently?

*there's no escaping those attorneys.

06.01.09: han, ma bookie

we are fond of citronella candles, especially monstrous ones that remind us of jabba's palace.

god bless citronella

almost eight hours of grilling and loafing, and not a single jersey skeeter bite. thanks, science!