Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Desperate Last-Ditch Efforts

Back on May 3rd, I wrote an impassioned plea to save "Arrested Development," the show that was fearing cancellation despite its superior comic writing, great casting, and all around greatness. Well, it's that time again, as FOX is yet again threatening to cancel the show (in fact, they all but have already). There is a small, thin thread of hope however. The programming director at FOX has said they plan to put the show on the air in December and "see what happens." It's on Monday nights. Watch it, especially if you have a Nielsen box. In the meantime, go sign another geeky petition just to mollify me:

A loyal fan

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Madness

I am having 17 people over for Thanksgiving dinner and/or dessert on Thursday. I offer to you a list of what I am making as a way to explain my absence on the blog lately:

Cranberry Mimosas
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Port Reduction Sauce
Shrimp and cocktail sauce
Sweet Onion, White Bean, and Artichoke Heart Dip with pita chips
Salami, cheese, crackers, olives, grapes
Butternut Squash Soup
Apple and Pomegranate Salad with Cider Vinaigrette, Spiced Walnuts, and Goat Cheese
Cider-Brined Turkey and gravy
Spiral Ham
Clementine Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Sourdough and Country Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Honey Ginger Carrots
Flaky Dinner Rolls
Asparagus with Parmesan Butter
Mulled Apple Cider
Nutcracker Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Raspberry Sauce
Spiced Pumpkin Dip with Gingersnaps and Apple Slices

As I look at this list written out, I realize again how ridiculous I am and how very much Martha Stewart is in the house. I also realize how very adept I am at undertaking large Herculean tasks in lieu of dissertation-writing. How much I love huge, organization-heavy tasks that have nothing to do with Irish poetry or transnationalism.

You wouldn't believe how many countless hours one can spend in seeking out recipes, planning a menu, grocery shopping in various specialty shops for things like candied ginger, reorganizing the living room, baking pies from scratch, making vats of ice, ironing napkins and tablecloths, and other sundry and unnecessary tasks involved in making The Perfect Thanksgiving. I imagine every year it will get worse and worse, until by 2028 I will start cooking around Halloween. Oh well, it is my favorite holiday. And this year, my very favorite procrastination tool.

What is everyone doing for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Book Club

With much fanfare, Oprah has re-opened her Book Club (after closing it down two years ago over hurt feelings that Jonathan Franzen would not let her select his novel "The Corrections" for her monthly pick. That bastard).

If Oprah can do it, so can I. I'm thick in the middle of the doldrums of the fall semester: buried under papers and student conferences, but I have had a little time to read on the bus I take to Cambridge, so I thought I'd pass some (non-fiction) recommendations your way.

Speaking of Oprah, I finally checked out Michael Moore's Dude Where's My Country, which is pretty funny (although not as funny as Al Franken's Lying Liars and the Lies they Tell) and contains the compelling argument that Oprah should be our next president. He's not kidding about this either. He thinks Oprah is the only person that could win, hands-down, when running against anybody, based on her widespread appeal, name recognition, and the general respect she commands in this country. When I see her passing out free Christmas gifts to a screaming audience of hysterical housewives, I'm not so sure. But most of the time, I have to agree. Who doesn't like Oprah?

Moving away from politics (reluctantly), I found Freakonomics (by two science-y guys) really interesting. It's that book that has the green apple on the cover, sliced into so that you can see it's an orange inside. So right away I was intrigued. Basically the book breaks complex issues down to their nitty-gritty by using math and statistics. It's actually MUCH more entertaining than I just made that sound. For example, authors Levitt and Dubner debunk all sorts of commonly-held beliefs--like, crack dealers make lots of money and reading to your kids will make them smarter--and they show you how your swimming pool is much more likely to kill your children than the guns you might have in the house. It also has a really fascinating chapter on the long-term effect of the name you choose for your baby.

I also recently taught an excerpt from Nicked and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich to my Harvard Extension students. It's an interesting case study. This journalist, a middle-class, middle-aged woman, slips into the low-wage workforce (as a waitress at a charming family style restaurant called "The Hearthside") for a few months to see if you really can survive on minimum wage (without welfare). The results are pretty illuminating, making fools of those Republicans who led all that welfare reform in the late '90s. Oh look at that, we're back to politics again.

And finally, one book that everyone should read that owns a trash can: Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte. It shows where your garbage goes after you throw it away. It is never preachy or depressing, more of an interesting look at something you never think about...sort of like when Mr. Rogers would visit those factories that make toothpaste or drinking straws to show you how it's done. I always loved those factories.

Okay, so no more saying "I don't have time to read" then spending four hours watching that Desperate Housewives/OC/Lost cocktail you recorded to DVR. Now you have some good options. And, if you've read anything interesting yourself lately, do post it up here for our collective benefit.