My cousin from Ireland Brendan and his Anne, came to visit this past week. Here are some things I learned:
1. Whenever anyone from Ireland is involved, you will end up drinking far more than anticipated. (Unless that person is a Pioneer...there's an Irish club for people who don't drink...apparently they get discounts on auto insurance and all sorts of other strange benfits. One of my cousin's friends is a Pioneer and when he told us about it we thought he was putting us on. But it's real.)
2. Females make lovely houseguests. They bring presents, they leave thank you cards, and they tidy up before they leave.
3. "Whom should Eileen date?" has become a new favorite family conversation topic.
Kerry (sister): What about Guy From Our Hometown?
me: I think he's too young for me.
Kerry: But you're really immature.
Adam (brother-in-law): Whoever it is, he has to be rich. You're the family's only hope.
Anne (cousin's girlfriend): What about an Irish guy?
Kerry: Know any rich ones?
Anne: Irish Guy has got loads of sheep.
Brendan (cousin): What about Other Irish Guy? He drives a digger!
So there you have it.
The photo of us is from trivia night at the Junction in Southie. We won 2nd place. Hooray!
A friend of mine sent me this helpful link, which lets you find your election polling site and gives you a preview of your ballot, with information on local candidates as well as the three statewide ballot questions. And in case anyone is wondering, I'm voting NO on repealing the state income tax, YES on reducing criminal penalties for one ounce or less of marijuana, and YES on banning dog racing.
On Saturday night, Lisa and I went to the Bruins game (yes we wore matching outfits). Last year, I was too caught up with Celtics fever to catch any hockey games, so I had forgotten how much fun they can be. The Bruins were down 2-0 in the first period, at which point Lisa and I decided abandon our balcony seats and sneak down closer to the ice. We ended up right behind the goal, which was nice because the Bruins kept things exciting by tying up the game and eventually winning 5-4. I also witnessed my first hat trick- by the Bruins' Milan Lucic- and wow, like 200 people threw their hats on the ice. They had to stop the game to clear them all out of the way. Here are some photos from the game: two hockey fans who heckled the opposing goalie the entire game, an action shot, and the post hat trick clean-up.
1. Local Salad Dressings Make Good. Framingham, in addition to being both my hometown as well as the largest town in America, is also the Salad Dressing Capital of the World. The first is Ken's Steak House Lite Caesar. Ken's distributes nationally, so many of you are probably familiar with their tasty products. The second is Fanny's Lite Salad Dressing, which is a basic Italian dressing that goes well on salads and also makes an excellent marinade. I've actually never been to Ken's Steak House, but the restaurant that makes Fanny's dressing, La Cantina, is one of my favorites.
2. Local Peanut Butter Makes Good. I started buying Teddie's Peanut Butter several years ago, when I noticed that it's both all natural (ingredients: peanuts, salt) and cheap. Turns out it's manufactured at a peanut butter factory in Everett, MA. Unfortunately, they don't give tours. Because I, for one, would like to tour a peanut butter factory.
3. Tofutti Cream Cheese. I became lactose intolerant during college, and I haven't eaten real cream cheese in about ten years. Sigh...However, the other day I spotted a non-dairy cream cheese and decided to try it out. And it was surprisingly good! So, for my fellow dairy avoiders, I'd highly recommend it. I had forgotten how delicious a toasted bagel with cream cheese is.
4. The other night, I tried out Trader Joe's Curry Simmer sauce, and it was excellent! All you do is add the contents of the jar, a cup of water, and cut up chicken and vegetables to a saucepan and cook for fifteen minutes. Very easy and very flavorful- it's a tomato based curry, which is nice. A lot of the other simmer sauces they stock have cream in them. Although I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's, I also recently discovered their most disgusting product- High Fiber Joe's O's cereal. It is The Nast. Tastes like cardboard. And you might as well save yourself the trouble of eating and just throw it directly in the toilet. Well, on that note, have a great weekend, everyone! If you have any favorite food products of your own, feel free to list them in the comments.
Those of you who know me in real life or through this blog are probably aware of the fact that I am a liberal Democrat. I try not to get too political here for various reasons- I’d rather keep things light, and I don’t want to alienate friends and readers who don’t share my views, and there are plenty of well-researched and thoughtful political blogs out there (here’s a good example). That being said, I’m voting for Barack Obama and I urge you to do the same.
Before the campaining began, I was a Hillary supporter, but the more I listened to and read about Barack Obama, the more I became convinced that he is the person whom I want to lead my country. A couple of endorsements carried special weight with me- the first, from my Senator and a champion of liberal ideals, Ted Kennedy. The second came from someone in my own life whose politics I respect and admire: my father. Today, Colin Powell gave his own endorsement, and it’s great. Watch the video. Seriously, take seven minutes and watch it.
Let’s be honest, the Bush administration has been a complete shitshow. The crumbling economy, the war in Iraq, the chipping away of our civil liberties….take a look at this striking political poster by ad executive Rich Silverstein if you need a reminder. A few months ago, I thought this election was a win-win, in that even if John McCain won, he would make a decent President, certainly better than Bush. Now, I have my doubts. First came the Palin pick. The woman doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming, tried to fire a librarian who refused to ban books, and thinks that proximity to a foreign country makes one an expert in international relations. I’m sure she’d be a nice person to talk to at a barbeque (I bet her moose jerky is delicious!) but Vice President of the United States of America? No frickin way.
Second came the recent change in McCain’s campaign tactics- the attempts at painting Barack Obama, a United States Senator, as someone to be feared, a terrorist. It’s offensive, it’s divisive, and frankly, it’s dangerous.
Luckily, these negative tactics seem to be backfiring. Maybe I’m too biased, maybe I’m too optimistic, but I’m sensing a change in the air, a growing hope. It seems like more and more Americans are ready for a positive change for our country, and more and more people are looking to Barack Obama for that change. He’s intelligent, inspiring, informed, and a true leader. During the VP debate, Joe Biden said that “this is the most important election you've ever voted in your entire life.” Most of you have probably made up your minds already, but if you haven’t, or you are considering just sitting out and skipping the whole thing, I encourage you to think deeply about what you want in a President. I want someone whose administration will work to make life better for the average American. Someone committed to the notion of liberty and justice for all. Someone to work with diligence, thoughtfulness, and collaboration to tackle our problems, both at home and abroad. With great enthusiasm, Divine Comedy of Errors endorses Barack Obama for President!
I'm a big fan of one dish meals...they tend to be easier to make, and I divide the leftovers up into portion sized tupperwares and bring them to work for lunch. Here are a couple of recipes I've tried over the last couple of weeks.
1. Zucchini Risotto. I had never made a risotto before (all the required stirring intimidates me), but I decided to give it a whirl. I used a vegetarian stock and substituted oregano for thyme (because I didn't have any) and margarine for butter (no lactose, thanks). I also added sliced portabellos, which were delicious. Basically, to make a risotto you start by toasting arborio rice in margarine.
Then, slowly add warm broth to the rice, stirring constantly. The rice cooks and the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
Once the rice starts to soften, add in the veggies.
Yum! Really, it's not difficult at all, so I have overcome my fear of risottos. This was also the first time I cooked with sundried tomatoes, and I found them annoying. Did you know that you have to rehydrate them with boiling water before you can use them? I mean, if I wanted something that tasted like a tomato and was mushy like a tomato, I'd prefer to use a regular tomato and save myself the trouble. Also, they are really, really chewy which makes them cumbersome to eat. Sundried tomatoes, it's been fun, but I think we both know that this relationship isn't working.
2. A while back, my old roommate posted a recipe for Artichokes, capers, olives, lemon zest, and Italian tuna on pasta shells. (Wow, that's like the most descriptive title ever. Hey, what do you think is in it? Artichokes, capers, olives, lemon zest, Italian tuna, and pasta shells, perhaps?) It was incredibly easy (like, take a bunch of stuff out of jars and mix), and quite tasty. I also added cherry tomatoes. Here's the finished product:
1. If you are a fan of Star Wars, legos, or Eddie Izzard, than this link is a must-see. Jeff Vader. Snort!
2. Where the hell is Matt? Some dude named Matt travels the world, dances, and catches it all on video. A simple concept with joyful results: I think it's impossible to watch the video and not smile. Here's his website.
3. Interspecies friendship alert! Chimpanzee and white tiger cub, friends for life. Thanks for the tip, Eric and Jess. (The last time two people emailed me the same news story was when it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I don't know what that says about me.)
Friday- My roommate Ern and I headed up to Maine to visit friends and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Friday night, we arrived at the house of our friends Allison and Dan in time for a late dinner and copious amounts of wine.
Saturday- We went out to downtown Brunswick for a tasty breakfast, and then headed north to meet up with Jason and Sarah and Phil and Sue in Bangor. We spent the afternoon at Acadia National Park- I had never been there before and really enjoyed it.
Cadillac Mountain (no relation to this place) has amazing views of the Maine coast. Here are a couple of pictures taken from the top:
We walked around the summit for a while, and then headed to Jordan Pond to do some peeping. At leaves, not through windows. Once the sun started to go down, we left Acadia and drove back to Bangor for beers and appetizers at a local brewery. The rest of the evening included many more beers and laughs, a disappointing Red Sox game, and lots of fun creating vanity plates on the Maine DMV website. In case anyone was wondering, ASSMAN isn't available, but ARSEMAN is ripe for the picking.
Sunday- In the morning, we went shooting with Jason's uncle and cousins. As in firing real shells from shotguns and rifles. I channeled my inner Sarah Palin and shot the shit out of some clay pigeons. AWWW YEAH! Well, most of them got away, and my arm is a little sore from the kickback, but Jay's uncle was a great instructor and we all had a lot of fun. After shooting and lunch, we headed southward and met up with Allison and Dan for outlet shopping and dinner in Freeport. I really needed some new clothes and ended up buying jeans, boots, socks, sweaters, and shirts. Out with the pastels, in with the jewel tones!
All in all, I had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and taking advantage of a perfect New England fall weekend.
I went to Maine this weekend (more on that later), and was astounded by the number of Maine drivers who have vanity plates on their vehicles. Turns out it only costs $20 a year to get a personalized plate, and the people of Maine have chosen to indulge. We started keeping track, and counted a total of 47, not including boring ones. And now, without further ado....
Last night, I saw one of my favorite bands, the Heartless Bastards, play at TT the Bear's. They are a bluesy rock band who sort of sound like The Black Keys, if the Black Keys had a badass frontwoman: Erika Wennerstrom is an amazing musician who sings, plays lead guitar, keyboard, and writes most of their songs. I had never seen them live before, and they exceeded my expectations with a loud but crisp performance highlighted by Erika's vocals. TT's was packed but the crowd kept quiet, in an awed "wow, this band is really frickin good" sort of way. The only downside is that the H.B. were one of three bands playing last night, so their set was pretty short. I ran into Boston music blogger Ryan from Ryan's Smashing Life at the show, and he has a couple of tracks posted at his site, if you want to take a listen. The H.B. are currently touring the US, and they have a new album coming out in January. If you're a music fan at all, I'd highly recommend checking them out. Oh, and I totally did the embarrassing fangirl thing and went up and talked to Erika after the show. She was very nice and spoke with a surprising southern twang.
In other news, I had a fun birthday weekend. Friday night I was in a crap mood and fighting off a cold, so I made some tea, camped out on the couch, and watched All About Eve, the classic 1950's film starring Bette Davis as a star actress who takes in a devoted fan (Eve) who turns out to be far more conniving and ambitious than she originally appears. It's fantastic! I haven't been so keen on classic films ever since I watched Citizen Kane, which despite the fact that it's commonly lauded as the Best Film Ever, is fucking boring as shit. Seriously. All About Eve, on the other hand, features fine performances, a simple plot, and a group of characters who are both believable and interesting. It's even got young Marilyn Monroe. Also, as opposed to Citizen Kane, the female characters had actual personalities! Bette Davis is great in All About Eve, and now maybe when I hear her name I'll think of something other than this Eddie Murphy skit.
Saturday night, I ate some very spicy and delicious Indian food with friends and then ended up going out to a bar for beers, billiards, Buck Hunter, and jukebox fun. A worthy celebration indeed.
Tomorrow, I have another thesis committee meeting, so cross your fingers for me. Every time these come around, I always think to myself "Well, there's no possible way it can be worse than the last time." and then discover that yes, yes it can be worse. So, although I've done the experiments and I feel adequately prepared, I've set my expectations low and watched Red face his parole board for inspiration.
Today is my 31st birthday. So, I guess this means I really am in my thirties, doesn't it? I'm starting to feel a bit like the American version of Bridget Jones, a lovable screw-up full of bad habits, only without Colin Firth telling me he likes me just as I am. Nevertheless, getting older has never really bothered me, especially since I came to the realization a few years ago that I'm never going to wake up one day and have it all figured out. Besides, birthdays are a great excuse to get together with friends and family. Unfortunately, I'm battling a nasty cold and I have my next thesis committee meeting (um, the one that decides whether or not I'm getting kicked out of my Ph.D. program) on Tuesday, so this weekend will be kept low-key. I am planning to go out for sushi and karaoke tonight, and hey, maybe someone will sing this. I've already picked out my own song- since I'm a sucker for duets, and it's also one of my co-worker's birthdays, we've decided to sing (I've had) The Time of My Life. We've be practicing the lift in the lab all week.
This picture certainly doesn't do it justice (it was taken with my phone through the laboratory window), but today around 5:00 the most spectacular rainbow I've seen in years arched over the city of Boston.
Hello all. Busy week for me, but here are a couple of links to satisfy your cravings for internet-induced procrastination.
1. For you Red Sox fans, even wonder who is behind the patterns in the grass at Fenway Park? Here's an article from Boston.com about groundskeeper David Mellor. It's kind of cool to see how much creativity and pride the man has in his work.
2. The New York Times has a puff piece on Michael Cera, who frets about the possibility of becoming famous. Don't worry, Michael, you'll always be George Michael Bluth to me, even if I do have a bit of an inappropriate crush on you.