Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is it just me... 

Every once in a blue moon, sequential posts on Twitter from random sources seem to create a sum greater than the whole. I give you such a case:

I mean is it just me or does this not read like a great set-up and punchline. "Canadian gives birth to a royal" followed by "Invasive species play a role in mass extinctions". Really? That must have been intentional. No? C'mon! It's too good to be true.


It's All There in Black & White 

Young Guns
Jake Rogers, Ruth Ross circa 1960

I spent a few minutes rummaging through some photo albums yesterday, picked out a handful of pictures and took them to the local pharmacy to scan them. Those Kodak photo kiosks are a real dog's breakfast of memory card slots, output trays and scanner drawers. Eventually, I managed to scan almost a dozen photos of my parents and relatives taken between 1955 and 1960 or so.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Green is Our Valley?

This green that's how.

It's almost unbelievable that photo was taken on December 29th.The big joke has been people complaining in mock-frustration that they'll have to cut the grass soon. Or that the grass looks better now than it did all summer.

Nothing is ever good enough in this place. I'm just glad it looks like there's no extreme weather in the forecast for the next few days. I might be able to travel as planned. No small feat at this end of the country.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day Three 

I'm at the end of day three of my visit home and an infection has taken a craggy hold on my throat. Sleep, Advil, hot toddies and salt water rinses have done little. It is a most frustrating thing. This hasn't been an easy visit. I don't enjoy seeing my father this way. I don't enjoy my reaction to seeing my father this way. I don't like myself when I repeat things more loudly and more slowly. I sound like a person holding back frustration. I sound like an asshole. Perhaps I am an asshole. I think I am an asshole.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Okay - I'm officially surprised that these two wunderkinds are remotely interested in both Charlie Brown's Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas never mind that they are memorizing their favorite bits.

You're a Mean One, Charlie Brown

Merry Christmas

Here's to a peaceful, happy, fulfilling and fruitful Christmas. Our big family gathering was Christmas Eve this year and I'm traveling on Christmas Day. With a wind warning in St. John's today, I hope my flight can land tonight. I've never flown on the day itself but I've heard it's less hectic than other days.

As I'm not around during Christmas week we didn't do a tree but decorated a large wreath instead. The result is pictured above.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Sextodecimo 

Consider this an open letter to year 2010 or at very least a note left on the fridge.

You think you can play me like that? Firing a volley over a disputed island without retort? That sound, Sir, is my leather dueling glove being pulled from my velvet pocket. That sting, is said glove against your face.

Merry Expletive Christmas.

Thus it was that my playlist was constructed not with an ounce of anger but with several grams of desperate resignation.

The songs of this equivocal sextodecimo are not of Christmas per se but of the season of winter whose door we have only recently passed through. What of this season and its red solstice lunar eclipse? It has had sadness, irony, incivility, laughter, ripping wind, tides and blizzards, and it is still only a few days old. A season with a colicky cry that reminds us we're stuck here together on this rock like Prospero's ship-wrecked exiles.

Here you have it. Download unto thee. Songs of awe, passion, irony, and odes to Sister Moon and Old Man Winter.

If you're using iTunes, open the ZIP file and drag the files into the iTunes window, then select File » Library » Import Playlist and choose the XML file that was part of the ZIP. That should create the playlist in its intended order.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You may not believe this but this was the most ass-kicking soufflé I've made in awhile. You may even think calling a soufflé "ass-kicking" is silly. You would be wrong. Organic, artisanal butter, with two kinds of cheese and prosciutto will kick your ass. It won't kick your ass in a UFC kind of way but more in a "I Can Taste Every Single Ingredient" kind of way. I think it was actually the first time I made one without checking the recipe every ten seconds. Of course, I don't know why you have to check the recipe at all. All you do is separate a couple of eggs, make a roux - add some milk, then some cheese, stir again. Whip the egg whites to a something like a meringue, then fold the egg whites into the roux (am I spelling that right?), pour into those little soufflé dishes and pop them in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes. I think I'm conditioned to think a soufflé is hard to make because in cartoons someone is just putting a soufflé in the oven when a pin drops and the whole thing collapses and thus ruined. Here's the secret, the thing is going to collapse anyway and it won't be ruined. Ask your stomach if the collapsed soufflé in there was ruined. It wasn't. It was probably awesome.

Posted via email from peter's preposterous posterous


Monday, December 13, 2010

Let Me Eat Bread 

I've been making my own bread for about 3 years. It's pretty much the most basic recipe.

3 cups flour
½ tsp yeast
1-½ tsp salt
1-½ cups of water

After mixing it all up, simply cover the dough and let sit over night. Do not knead.

Preheat the oven then bake in a covered dish for 30 minutes at 510°F.

Almost fool proof. I mix it up sometimes with half white flour, half whole grain (more whole grain than that and the thing never rises), or I'll add flax seeds, sesame seeds or something. One time I added olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Come to think of it, I should try that one again. Inevitably, the bread turns out great.

Yet it is not fluffy, crusty French bread for which there seems to be no shortcut. I tried the shortcuts. They do not work. I tried one this weekend. 20 minutes of kneading and eight hours of rising yielding the same bland results as eight hours of rising and 20 minutes of kneading. Okay, I know when I put it like that it makes no sense whatsoever, but believe me when I say that there was actually a difference there.

I just keep thinking it can't be that hard but the idea that it probably is keeps me from trying — especially when I have a recipe that works great? I mean, really why would I kill myself trying to make fantastic bread when I make pretty damn good bread. I will tell you the best bread is fresh bread. It's not like I'm obsessed with bread and am willing to travel to France to uncover the secrets of French bread.

I leave that kind of obsession to Chad Robertson, co-owner of Tartine Bakery with his wife Elisabeth Prueitt. Watch this "book trailer" for the cook book, Tartine Bread.

Tartine Bread from 4SP Films on Vimeo.

When did this sort of mini-featurette become a "book trailer"? Was the word "advertisement" taken? Whatever. I think it's a good idea. I've always thought stage plays should have "trailers". Live concerts get ads. Sport events get ads. Even monster truck rallies get ads. Why not stage plays and books?

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mica from the Sky 

The First Snow, Canon 7D from Reid Carrescia on Vimeo.

The cold of December has moved in this week and with it there have been a few brief moments of snow. This morning was especially lovely. Mica-like crystals formed and sparkled in the sunlight right before your eyes. Like the video above, I was reminded just how beautiful the first snow can be. Later, I had a chance to go for a run and even though I hadn't done anything for a couple weeks the run was surprisingly easy. It was a temperature range when it's cool enough to exercise but still warm enough not to freeze yourself.

It turned out to be a pretty good weekend. I finished a project, finally found a pair of eye glasses I liked, baked some bread, had a run, hit the bike, the Leafs won (albeit in a shoot-out), saw a couple of good movies (The American, Starting Out in the Evening) and tonight made a mushroom risotto and a flank steak broil. Good times. Good times.

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I Can See Clearly Now 

My new peepers being set right now at Rapp Optical in Toronto.

This spring I felt I had to get a new eye glass prescription. The script I'd had for years was causing more and more headaches and were twisted so badly that they never sat straight on my nose. They were that sort of thin wire-framed type where the bottom half was frameless. The thing I liked about them was they were almost invisible. Most people I worked with often ignored them. I wear glasses everyday, but most people didn't notice, that's how invisible they were. Yet, being so slight, meant they were incredibly fragile and bringing a hand anywhere near my face seemed to result in an instant and irritating smudge. They were also uncomfortable — which sounds crazy given how lightweight they were, but the point of contact always left red marks on the bridge of my nose. Did I mention they were also crazily askew on my face, or that any attempt to straighten them resulted in popping out a lens? Did I also mention that the prescription was wrong? Still I wore them and that stupid messed up prescription for years. I was always told by optometrists that I would "get used to them". I should have stood up and poked my fingers in their eyes and said, "Don't worry, you'll get used to it." Finally, one day I had a migraine of epic proportions that, if not triggered by the glasses, was not aided by the them. Instead of continuing to wear them I went back to an older pair with a weaker script that were as comfortable as an old pair of jeans.
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Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Almanac of General Knowledge for 2010 

For the first time ever, Roget's Almanac of General Knowledge is now available for online viewing and download. The download version is 100 per cent original content. The print version is about 70 pages longer (about 10 pages longer than last year) and is currently at the presses. In the meantime enjoy this digital sample.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Seen in November

I Am Love, image via

Boardwalk Empire
This might be the only time in the history of gangster stories that political machinations & shenanigans actually heat things up.

Bored to Death
I'm still enjoying the short humorous adventures of fictional Jonathan Ames created by the real Jonathan Ames. It feels like its own special little genre about the Brooklyn Bourgeois - or something like that.

Korean film from the director of The Host, Joon-ho Bong . A murder mystery on the surface but really the story of a mother's devotion to her 28-year-old "mentally challenged" son. Is her devotion beyond reason? As we learn more about their relationship and history we begin to see how this woman isn't considering right or wrong, only her devotion to her son. Is a mother's love unconditional, unselfish, unwavering or just delusional?

Robin Hood (2010)
Ridley Scott & Russell Crowe reunion had me hoping for a Gladiator redux but instead it reminded me of that Crusades picture Scott did a few years ago - it was dull and overwrought too. All the anti-tax & liberties talk makes this film seem more like Tea Party propaganda than art. Me thinks director Scott is either a Libertarian or a Republican who likes his tea from a bag.
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