28 July 2009

You can have Mr. Darcy . . .

I'll take Captain Wentworth from Persuasion. I'm all set to read it again after finding the 1995 film version (the best in my opinion) on YouTube recently.

And yeah, this is the final scene, so here's your warning: spoiler alert. But seriously, if you've neither read or seen it, shame on you.

19 July 2009

Who knew . . .

. . . that Buzz Aldrin was so cool??

Update: Broken link to YouTube video replaced with the link to Funny or Die.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

There are some things that are just wrong.

Pre-cooked, shrink-wrapped pancakes are an excellent example. If you don't have time to make some batter (10 minutes?) and drop it in the pan, eat something else. No, seriously, eat something else. In German, pancakes are called Pfannkuchen and when they're freshly prepared they're wonderful. The pre-cooked version that you heat in the skillet? An unlimited residency/work permit couldn't persuade me to eat them again.

Okay, that's probably a lie, but you get the point.

In any case, I spotted what appeared to be nice blueberries yesterday when I went shopping, and so I bought them along with some vanilla yogurt for Sunday breakfast.

. . . and so good for you, too!

As fate would have it, my flatmate also spotted blueberries when she went shopping and having heard me go on and on about how my pancakes were much better than those pre-cooked Pfannkuchen things--especially my blueberry pancakes--she bought a tub of blueberries, too. When I got home from the market, she suggested that I make blueberry pancakes for Sunday breakfast.

Now it's time for a small confession.

Previously, I had only ever used Bisquick to make my pancakes. I'm not referring to the shake and pour stuff I just saw on the Betty Crocker website, but the pancake and baking mix. Okay, not a huge difference, but still! In any case, I recently had another experience with forgoing stuff out of a box I had grown up with and learning to make that stuff from scratch, and now I can truly say goodbye forever to Jiffy's Cornbread mix, because my own cornbread is superb. With that experience behind me, I was definitely ready for the no-Bisquick pancake challenge.

So, after scouring the web for a Buttermilk Blueberry Pancake recipe that made sense and didn't involve beating egg whites, I ended up with this one from Elise at her Simply Recipes blog. The only tweak I had to make was to add a bit more milk. A good tip I got from Elise was to drop the blueberries in the skillet on top of the batter, rather than mixing them into the batter itself. This prevents the blueberries bleeding and turning the batter completely purple. No big deal, but I liked the way they turned out. It also certainly helps that one of the few things I always insist on bringing with me when I move back and forth from the US to Europe is a standard set of measuring equipment for US recipes. A half a teaspoon of baking powder? A cup of milk? No problem.*

Nick, my flatmate's nine-year-old son, was all the proof I needed that the pre-cooked Pfannkuchen debate had been positively decided in my favor. After the first bite, he gave me the look every cook wants to see after trying something new, and then exclaimed how delicious they were.


Before they were drenched in maple syrup

With all of that leftover buttermilk, perhaps it's time to try some homemade ranch dressing. Who needs you Hidden Valley?

*And yeah, I learned this the hard way.

11 July 2009

Supermarket Assclown

Okay, you know how it is:

You're waiting patiently in a long line in the grocery store. You're in the middle of the line just behind the barrier that separates one line from the next. You're chilling and thinking about how grocery stores are practically the same all over the place, since the line immediately to the right is empty and with that many people waiting why don't they open it up. Suddenly it does open up and the cashier beckons for people in your line to move over to her.


But before you can take a step, some assclown from the very back of the line runs up and starts putting his stuff down on the belt.

What to do, what to do?

Well, in the little story that just unfolded in my neighborhood supermarket, the guy in front of me calmly walked over and put his stuff down on the belt in front of the assclown's stuff . . . To which the assclown graciously replied, "Sure, go ahead."

I was already behind the guy in front of me (and way the hell in front of the guy from the back of the line), so I placed my things on the belt behind the guy who was in front of me and in front of the assclown . . . To which the assclown not-so graciously replied, "I didn't mean you, but go ahead."

Ah Berliners, famous throughout Germany for their politeness . . .

What to do, what to do?

Well, first I gave him "The Smile." Then I replied, "But since I was already ahead of you I don't actually need your permission, do I?"

Flawless delivery . . . Goethe Institute style, baby . . . yeah!

Stunned, he could only nod and utter a weak, "Ach so . . ."

"Ach so" my ass . . .

You clown.

For Julie!

03 July 2009

Midlife Crisis on a Budget

After jokingly using the term "midlife crisis" yesterday on Facebook (I was wondering if rearranging the furniture was the extent to mine) an interesting discussion ensued about hot convertibles and steaming twenty-three-year-old toy boys. And as I pondered the madness of middle-aged people losing themselves in conspicuous consumption and meaningless sex in order to escape the inevitable decline that comes with aging, I decided that I'm just not having it.

According to that fount of all human knowledge, Wikipedia, I am not alone.

There is a fair amount of skepticism associated with the idea of a midlife crisis. As typically defined, however, it is a period of transition, let's call it, for people who are between thirty and sixty and experiencing "self-doubt . . . as a result of sensing the passing of youth and the imminence of old age." Okay, the lower figure strikes me as a bit silly . . . as does the upper one, but I'm not going to judge anybody. Hey, if you're thirty and experiencing the imminence of old age, my condolences. And if you're sixty and just catching on that your youth is passing, my respect. More interesting though, is that according to Wikipedia, only 10 percent of middle-aged adults actually go through midlife crises.


As I considered how it's possible that only 10 percent go through it, but EVERYBODY accepts it as a normal passage, it occurred to me that its relative "fame" is related to the segment of the population that has overwhelmingly come to define the 10 percent. In other words, if the general association with midlife crisis is fancy cars and much younger sex partners then clearly a bunch of affluent men have convinced us that midlife crisis-ing is as much a part of our experience as human beings as puberty.


Interestingly, the Wikipedia piece also acknowledges the extent to which midlife crises are cultural constructs, offering that this phenomenon is not apparent all over the world:
Some studies indicate that some cultures may be more sensitive to this phenomenon than others. One study found that there is little evidence that people undergo midlife crises in Japanese and Indian cultures, raising the question of whether a midlife crises is mainly a cultural construct. The authors hypothesized that the "culture of youth" in Western societies accounts for the popularity of the midlife crisis concept there.

Now I don't mean to suggest that there aren't serious issues involved with aging. My own head is full of questions, doubts, and fears . . . mostly related to menopause and when the hell will it finally get here. So it's important to point out that midlife crises in women are generally different than those in men. Whether or not there are also differences based on race was not discussed, nor was the issue of social class, but I am inclined to think that a broke black woman is going to have a different midlife crisis than an affluent white male.

Is that even fair?

Yes and hallelujah!

It is probably a good thing that I don't have money or else I might be rolling through Berlin in something like this:

With something like this in the passenger seat:

So yeah, I'm like totally happy that my midlife crisis will consist primarily in reading up on hot flashes and screaming at people for no apparent reason.


And to the affluent guys out there, I just stopped judging you.

01 July 2009

Happy 20th Birthday DTRT!!

It's hard to believe that twenty have passed since Do the Right Thing slammed into movie theaters across the United States. Whether you loved it or hated it, you damn sure couldn't ignore it.

For the crazy-ass dialogue about race it forced on an unwilling public, I salute Spike Lee for his masterpiece.

The infamous race rant

And no, this post would not be complete without Public Enemy's contribution to the film. "Fight the Power" came to define both the film and the summer of 1989.