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Archive for December 27, 2009

Joel’s Arrival

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Joel landed in Seattle a week ago almost to the minute, ending a 48-hour journey from Grenoble. I wrote about the first half of the journey eight days ago in a post about his program in Grenoble’s having come to an end. But I never finished the story, and I also didn’t fill in some details Joel provided after he got here. Let me do so now.
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Categories: Language, Travel

Up in the Air

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s hardly news that we don’t get out to the movies much. But we did yesterday. We saw Up in the Air. And it was superb, the rare movie we see that I feel good about seeing when we walk out.

I wasn’t too happy about seeing it when we walked in. We went to one of the downtown multiplexes and found ourselves in a small screening room. I didn’t imagine that a highly regarded movie in its third week of release would be relegated to such a small room. I didn’t count, but in picturing the room now, I figure there were about 8 rows. We sat in row 4 on the aisle. If we wanted to sit off the aisle, we would have had to sit in row 2. And when the ads came on, they were blasting. You know Dennis Haysbert, the actor who played President Palmer in 24 and was the lead in The Unit? He appeared in one of those Allstate Insurance ads, 10 feet high, just 20 feet away, and shouting at us. It remains a mystery to me why we have to watch ads at the movie theater. I remember seeing Taxi Driver at a movie theater in downtown Leeds in the summer of 1977, but only after sitting through ad after ad. I didn’t realize I was seeing our future. I just thought it was one of the oddities of those quirky English.

Anyway, after 25 minutes of ads and previews, the movie did start, and what a joy it was! George Clooney was wonderful, of course, but so too were his two co-stars, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. And he was almost always on screen with one or the other of them, ensuring one great moment after another. I will happily see it again. As an added bonus, the movie makes me eager to get on a plane.

Categories: Movies

Rock Band

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

With Joel home again, his video game platforms are back in operation. And with his receipt on Thursday of one of the versions of Rock Band for the Xbox 360 — The Beatles: Rock Band — we can now pretend to be John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I had never played Guitar Hero or Rock Band or whatever other variants there are before. I wasn’t entirely clear on what it is one does when playing them.

I know now. I’ve played the drums on the easy level on several Beatles songs, the guitar on easy level for a couple of songs, and the drums on the next level up from easy once. I failed miserably at that one non-easy experience. I don’t see myself participating too much. I doubt I’ll be cranking it up to play with Gail when Joel’s out of the house. But I’m sure I’ll be playing more, especially once we move beyond the Beatles. Some of these songs I’ve listened to enough for this lifetime, and maybe for the next one as well. Let’s bring on the Stones. Or for that matter, Led Zeppelin, whom I was just reading about in Rick Moody’s review in today’s NYT of Mick Wall’s new book, When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page I’m not. Obviously. But I’m ready to give Whole Lotta Love a try.

Categories: Music, Video Games

Chocolate Gourmet

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Controlling Coconut

In the NYT last month, Marian Burros had her annual list of ten recommended ideas for food gifts available online or by mail order. (To my immense annoyance, I can’t only find a link at the moment to an all-text version of the article, here. What I’m not seeing is the version with a photo of each recommended item and a link to it. In any case … ) One of the items was an “assortment of aptly described ”damn good cookies” with silly names: overprotective pecans, material macadamia, chubby wubby chocolate, etc.” from Chocolate Gourmet in Chicago. On further investigation, I learned that Chocolate Gourmet offers three lines of product: cookies, truffles, and rugelach. Moreover, by ordering the show them you care more assortment — or the still larger show them you care a lot! and show off assortments — you can get samples of each of the different cookies, truffles, and rugelach they make. They can all be viewed by going to the site and clicking on any of the cookies. For instance, go here, and once there, click on any item to read more about it.

We didn’t want to be show offs, so we ordered show them you care more for my parents. Based on their response, and the pointlessness of showing off to ourselves, whom we already care about a lot, we ordered the same package for ourselves. It should have come Wednesday, but the snow in the midwest must have delayed it. Tracking on FedEx showed that it arrived in Indianapolis Tuesday night and didn’t leave until late Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, it arrived Thursday morning, so we have been able to enjoy its offerings through the weekend.

We’ve had other chocolate around the house. Perhaps for that reason I have confined my research to the damn good cookies rather than the ugly truffles or the rugelach. I’ve tried them all now. My favorites are the controlling coconut, described at the website as “crisp coconut encrusted cookie rolled in powder sugar.” They are probably the simplest of the bunch, but sometimes simple is all one needs. Honorable mention to overprotective pecan: “cookie coated pecan halves and bittersweet chocolate chips.” The chubby wubby chocolate might be a little too rich for me. They are “bittersweet ganache sandwiched by two soft, bittersweet chocolate cookies each studded with bittersweet chocolate chips.”

The only truffle I can remember trying so far is the hairy coconut: “creamy coconut ganache encased in white chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut.” Excellent. I have somehow resisted the gordito picante, whose description is the most intriguing: “smooth cinnamony Mexican chocolate warmed with chili spices and surrounded in milk chocolate and toasted corn tortillas.” Tonight.

If you’re looking for a New Year’s treat, give them a try.

Categories: Today's News