Friday, May 29, 2009

My song is better than your song


Here's a fun song by Norwegian singer Ida Maria. She's very spunky and sassy and I have been diggin this song ever since my friend Mulv sent it to me last week:

I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked (right click to download)

Oh, and she's playing an WFNX show in Waltham next Wednesday, and you can only get tickets by winning them through the station. So in case anyone nabs a pair, remember that I like you even when you aren't naked.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Movie Reviews

I've been slowly working through my massive Netflix queue, and here are the last two movies I've watched.

The Power of One (1992), based upon the novel by Bryce Courtenay, tells the story of P.K., a white British South African boy growing up during Apartheid. P.K. suffers are very sad childhood- orphaned at a very young age, he is sent to a boarding school where he is brutally bullied by the Afrikaaner students. He eventually comes under the tutelage of a German professor, imprisoned because of WWII, and P.K. visits his friend daily for music and schooling. During these visits, P.K. takes boxing lessons from an inmate (played by Morgan Freeman) and witnesses the brutality and injustice with which the black South Africans are treated. In the last third of the movie, the high school aged P.K. (Stephen Dorff) progresses as a boxer and joins the anti-apartheid movement. Before watching The Power of One, I thought it was a Stephen Dorff movie about boxing, but it's much more than that. Dorff only appears in the last third of the film, and the boxing is often present but not the central theme of the movie. The Power of One portrays the cruelties of an oppressive and fundamentally unfair system and the inspiring tale of one person who refuses to accept it. My favorite section of the movie was the middle third, in which the 12-year-old P.K. spends time in the prison, making friends and learning languages of the differing tribes. Oh, and a skinny and young-looking Daniel Craig plays the neo-Nazi bad guy. I really liked the movie- it was interesting in that I knew about Apartheid but wasn't really aware of the animosity between the British vs. Afrikaaner populations of South Africa. I haven't read the book (which is supposedly great), and I'm sure parts of it were Hollywooded up, but the movie does benefit from the excellent casting and remarkable scenery. I liked it a lot and would definitely recommend it.

I also watched Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I had never seen before despite the fact that it spawned one of the most iconic images of all time. I had absolutely no idea what it was about, other than the fact that it starred Audrey Hepburn. This 1961 movie is based on a novel by Truman Capote and Hepburn stars as Holly Golightly, a society girl and gold digger living in an apartment paid for by an imprisoned mafioso. She forms a fast friendship with a handsome new neighbor with whom she has something in common- he's a kept man, financed by his married lover. He soon falls for Holly, but she's not interested in love, she just wants to be rich. And you can probably guess how it ends. It's Hepburn's movie, and she charming enough to portray Holly as somewhat of a sympathetic character. She's also stunningly gorgeous in every scene- not to mention painfully thin (she's almost my height, but barely 100 lbs). I feel like Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of those classic movies everyone should see at some point, and Hepburn and George Peppard did have great chemistry, and the clothes and the glamour are fun. Nevertheless, I didn't love it. As a critique of high society and people with money, I think The Great Gatsby did it better (the book not the movie). And Holly's a real spoiled brat sometimes- I mean, there's a definite tinge of Paris Hilton/Anna Nicole Smith in the character, and that's not what I generally look for when it comes to movie heroines. One aspect of the film certainly hasn't aged well- Mickey Rooney playing the slapsticky Asian neighbor is just flat-out racist. Yikes.

So of these two movies, I'd definitely recommend The Power of One. (even if that might seem like heresy in some circles)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Links! recently ran a story about the potential demise of the Boston institution and my all-time favorite place to shop, Filene's Basement. For years and years, the Basement has been my go-to locale for winter coats, suits, and evening bags and shawls. It's sad enough that the famous flagship store is now a giant, gaping hole in Downtown Crossing, but now the rest of the chain might close down as well? Booo to that. Next time you see me at a wedding, if I look poorly accessorized, you'll know why.

In case you were wondering, here's how to pronounce the name of the newest Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonya Sotomayor. So now you can discuss her without fear of sounding like an idiot.

And on to the funny stuff: 11 Points is a blog of lists with...wait for it..11 items. Oh, and these lists? Are awesome. The current police blotter one cracked me up. (via Tom)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fiddle me this

Every year around this time, bins of strange, curly, snail-looking greens appear in the produce section of the grocery store. They are called fiddlehead ferns and are considered a northern New England delicacy. And every year I think to myself, "I should really buy some of these crazy doodads and try them." but for some reason I don't, and the next time I go grocery shopping they've disappeared. Not this year!

I thawed some tuna steaks from Trader Joe's and seared them after marinating them according to this recipe. Holy hell, these tuna steaks are to die for! For reals. Absolutely delicious. I was excited that the marinade contains sesame oil (aka my new favorite ingredient). It's a little salty, so I might omit the added salt next time and just let the soy sauce provide the NaCl (that one's for all you nerds out there). But really, the tuna steaks came out so well and were very easy to prepare- it's definitely a dish I'll make when I have dinner guests.

As for the fiddleheads- I liked those, too. I had heard that they were bitter, but I munched on a couple raw ones and discovered that I really liked them raw. They didn't taste bitter at all- they had a light, fresh, crispy flavor. Imagine if an asparagus and cucumber mated and had babies, and their offspring looked like green snails and didn't make your pee smell. That's how I can best describe fiddlehead ferns. While browsing about fiddleheads online, I saw mentioned in several places that they shouldn't be eaten raw because of toxins. So I sauteed the rest of them in the tuna marinade. They were still good but I prefer the raw ones. So if tragedy strikes, now you know that the fiddleheads did me in.

The finished product:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fort Revere in Hull

Last week, my friends Buddah and Molly were visiting and we decided to take a little jaunt out of the city and drove to Hull- it's a little stick of land that curls up into the harbor, and I've always wanted to go check it out. During our exploration of the town, we noticed a tower on top of a hill and climbed up to investigate. We ended up cutting through a cemetary to get there, which is where we spotted The Best Epitaph Ever. When we reached the top of the hill, we discovered a huge old abandoned fort- Fort Revere. Set into the top of the hillside, the old fort is full of cement bunkers and brick cavernous rooms, all thoroughly tagged by spraypainters. During the day it was a slightly eerie, but fun to climb around and rooms. At night, however, it would be downright terrifying. It looks like the sort of place where high school kids go to drink....only to get attacked by zombies.
Here are some pics:

A word to the wise: when posing for a picture on a graffiti-laden wall, be careful where you sit. You might end up giving people the wrong idea.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My song is better than your song

Here's a happy tune from the Talking Heads to kick off your holiday weekend:

Love-Building on Fire, by the Talking Heads. Right click and save as to download.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Field Trip: Fruit or Breast?

The second DCoE field trip was quite an adventure. Thanks to loyal DCoE reader Kurt, I got a spot as contestant on a local gameshow called Fruit or Breast? filmed at Somerville Community Access Television, aka SCAT. SCAT is a pretty cool organization- for only $40 a year Somerville residents can have access to all sorts of media equipment and even their own weekly show. My fellow contestant and coworker Vibhu and I met up with our friends and the host Adam at The Independent for a couple of drinks before the show. The libations helped to calm our nerves before our big local access cable debut. About five minutes before showtime, we headed to the studio- it was pretty small but we all packed in. The show airs live, so Adam and his cohost bantered for a bit, a couple of local comedians performed brief stand-up routines, Adam's dad called in with a dental tip, and then Vibhu and I came on for the last ten minutes or so and played the game. Oh, and the whole thing is ENTIRELY ABSURD, complete with costumes and raunchy talk (no swearing or clamoring for the violent overthrow of the government, but everything else is kosher on SCAT). We competed against each other in the Match Game- a sentence is given with a missing word, and six panel members from the audience each write down a word to fill in the blank. Vibhu and I read our words, and we get a point each time our word matches one of the panelist's. For example, "Mrs. Robot treats Mr. Robot very well. She always _________ his nuts and bolts when he comes home." I said "oils" and scored two points. Oh, and I won...handily, I might add! I had a blast on Fruit or Breast? and it was really fun having a bunch of friends there for the taping. We all cracked up several times, like when Adam embarrassed my friend Jen and during the game when two of the panelists *cough*mulveyandlauren*cough* assured Adam that they had written down their words but then held up blank pieces of paper. I don't think the show has been uploaded onto the F or B website yet (and it's definitely NSFW) but here are a bunch of pics from the taping:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Last Word

Morbildy awesome gravestone in Hull, MA.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Two for Friday

1. My song is better than your song:

Use Me, by Bill Withers. You're welcome.

2. This weekend, President Obama is giving the commencement address at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. His appearance has generated controversy among those who think that the choice of Obama does not reflect the University's Catholic values. I strongly disagree and am proud that our President has accepted the invitation to speak at Notre Dame. Here's an editorial by a recent alumnus that sums up a lot of my thoughts about the issue. First of all, Obama is at odds with the Catholic church on only one major topic, abortion. The rest of his beliefs are pretty well aligned with traditional Catholic values. Secondly, Notre Dame has often invited presidents of our country to the university, and all of them have held positions contrary to the church's teaching. The last President to visit was George W. Bush, who is at odds with the church's staunch opposition to the death penalty. Lastly, Notre Dame is a Catholic university, but it's an univeristy and not a seminary. Students who aren't Catholic receive diplomas, and many non-Catholics are on the faculty. Should President Obama hand out communion at the basilica? Of course not. But should the elected President of the United States give the commencement adress and receive an honorary degree? Absolutely. Frankly, I find the backlash against Obama's visit embarassing. But hey, at least we don't look as foolish as Arizona State!

(thanks to DBC for the links, and a belated thanks to Tom and My Friend Neal for the links from earlier this week!)

Update: Father Hesburgh agrees with me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Photo Shoot

My friend JR owns an array of shirts that were given to him by our friend Buddah. Some might call these shirts ugly, while others might describe them as having a good personality. They certainly do have character. Inspired by the Awkward Family Photo blog, we ended up having a little impromptu photo shoot of our own (c'mon, like you've never done that on a Wednesday night?). I present you the Over the Shoulder, the JR in Repose, and the Team Picture. However, the last of the bunch is far and away my favorite. The Lean. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Okay, I have two new favorite blogs:

Awkward Family Photos. I could spend all day looking at these, and it would be a glorious day filled with laughter and mockery.

And OMG an entire blog devoted to interspecies friendships? Let's Be Friends. How have I missed this for so long? Too bad they haven't updated since 2007.

And on a more serious note, here's a sad and fascinating article from about John Nathans, a baseball catcher who was hit in the head with a bat by Jose Offerman. After being hit in the leg with a pitch Offerman charged the mound with bat in hand (Roid rage much?), swinging twice- one swing broke the pitcher's finger and the other one hit Nathans in the back of the head, causing a severe concussion. The injury ended Nathan's career and left him with permanent vertigo, headaches, and nausea. Offerman was arrested for assault but granted probation, and Nathans is now suing him for $4.8 million dollars. I'm of the belief that American society is far too litigious and if it were up to me, I would probably dismiss 90% of all lawsuits. However, in this instance I think Nathans deserves every penny.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Help Kelly throw out the first pitch at Wrigley

Some of you know my college pal Kelly McMahon and are aware of the facts that she is
A. bananas and B. a die-hard Cubs fan.

She's currently trying to win this contest:

The new Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field is having a contest to see who can get the most people to sign up for their email newsletter by May 31st. The winner gets to to throw out the 1st pitch at a Cubs game. If you want to help Kel fulfill a lifelong dream, please go here and sign up for the Captain Morgan Club's newsletter. Make sure you put in the "Who Referred You" field. You have to click a confirmation email they send back to you in order to activate it, but you can easily unsubscribe later (or use that email account you use for junk all have one, right?).

So please take a minute to help Kelly win! Last time I was in Chicago she brought me to a Cubs game so this is my way of showing gratitude.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yet another recipe

Apparently I haven't been doing much of late aside from cooking and eating. I'm still crushing on the April 2009 issue of cooking light and made this cilantro-lime chicken with avocado salsa. Holy yum, Batman. And extremely easy and quick to make. You can't go wrong with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and avocado. Unless you put it on your cereal, because that might be weird. Oh, and in case you're wondering about the melons, I used them to make this fruit salad from for a Mother's Day brunch.

And speaking of melons...I have an annoucement! The next DCoE Field Trip has been arranged. On Wednesday, May 20th I will be a contestant on the Somerville Cable Access game show Fruit or Breast? It's sort of like 25,000 Pyramid, but all of the words you try to get your partner to guess have to do with ... fruit or breasts. (Thanks to Kurt for the brilliant suggestion.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

My Song Is Better Than Your Song

I don't listen to the radio all that much, but I do occasionally tune into WFNX's morning show, The Sandbox. One of the bits they do is a competition called My Song Is Better Than Your Song, in which two participants each pick a song and give a brief description of why they chose it and what makes it special, and people call and email in to vote on which song is better. I have great confidence in my ability to pick kick-ass songs and have signed up for the contest, but in the meantime I'll post one of my favorite songs every Friday here on DCoE. It's a win-win... you get a free song and since no one's competing against me I win every week.

Song of the day:

Paranoid Android by Radiohead.

One of my favorite tunes from a great band...I have a soft spot for songs with tempo changes (my friend Teri calls them explosion songs) and Paranoid Android does this several times, vacillating between soft and slow Radiohead and guitars out rockin' Radiohead.

New recipe

I generally avoid recipes that require a trip to a specialty grocery store, but this recipe for Soy Citrus Scallops with Soba Noodles looked really good and easy to make, so I ventured to the Super 88 Asian grocery store to pick up the two items I didn't have on hand- soba noodles and dark sesame oil. The sesame oil adds a nice flavor, so I'll be on the lookout for more dishes in which to use it now that I have a bottle. Because the scallops were wet from the marinade, they didn't sear, but they still cooked quickly and tasted delicious. This was my first time making soba noodles (they're made of buckwheat and not rice) and I may have slightly overcooked them, because they got sticky and clumped together. No matter- they were still really good, but next time I make them I will try tossing them in a little oil. Sesame oil, perhaps.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Today's Trivia

There are 102 of the world's most famous people depicted in this painting (click on it to enlarge). How many can you identify?

I got around 40 on my first pass. I had trouble with men in robes/togas, the Asians (except for the obvious ones, like Mao Zedong), and I swear I saw Genghis Khan like four times.

The whole lab is working on it now, and I have a feeling that by combining forces we'll be able to get almost all of them.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In the news

Looks like Jack Bauer's at it again: Kiefer Sutherland headbutted a designer in some sort of altercation involving Brooke Shields.

The original formula for Dr. Pepper discovered in a Texas antique store. Neat!

Lastly, I've been meaning to utilize my microbiologist training to come up with a well-researched and informative post all about the H1N1 swine flu, but I've been to busy working on my actual thesis project to devote the time to write something worthwhile. That being said, here are links to the official H1N1 pages from the CDC and the WHO. My advice? Wash your hands frequently and don't panic. I'd much rather people focus their efforts and energies on diseases that currently kill millions of people each year, like tuberculosis and malaria.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Field Trip: Sam Adams Brewery

With everyone on Facebook and Twitter these days, I feel like blogging is headed the way of the dinosaur. To spice things up around here at DCoE, I've come up with a new segment: the field trip. I mean, who doesn't love field trips? Back in the day, piling in the bus to go to Old Sturbridge Village, Museum of Science, or the USS Constitution was the highlight of the school year. Just the simple change in routine was enough to whip us all into a frenzy of excitement. I once had to stay home sick on field trip day, and even though it was like the lamest field trip ever- a visit to some quasi-planetarium at Natick High School- I'm still kind of bummed that I missed it. Even on television, field trips were fun. Remember Mr. Rogers touring the crayon factory? That was the shit.

For my first blog field trip, a few friends and I took a tour of the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain. Despite the fact that I have been enjoying their delicious brews for years, I had never paid a visit to their local facility. It's actually not their main brewery- they brew test batches and kegs for local establishment, but all mass production and bottling operations take place at two larger breweries out of state. So I have yet to fulfill my lifelong dream of sticking a glove on a conveyor belt of moving beer bottles, Laverne and Shirley style. Alas. However, the tour was free and informative- we tasted different varieties of malted barley and rubbed fresh hops to release their scented oil. I also learned about a spice I had never heard of, Grains of Paradise, which are used to flavor the Summer Ale (my fave). The best part of the tour came at the end, when we sampled three Sam Adams products. They give out small souvenir glasses and pass around picthers, but if you're alert enough, you can consume 2-3 pints worth of ales and lagers. It was pretty crowded on Saturday, but the tour proceeded smoothly with plenty of beer to go around. I'd definitely recommend it, especially as a fun activity for out-of-town visitors. We saw several groups who looked to be families in town for college graduations. Okay, onto the pictures.

Ern inspecting a big metal tank:

These big copper kettles are where the magic happens:

And finally, the tasting room, and people who like beer:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Celtics vs. Bulls!

Who would have thought that the most exciting series in the NBA in years would be the KG-less Celtics versus the young and relatively unknown Bulls? (Okay, I guess Bill Simmons got it right this time.)

Last night's game was unbelievable- 3 overtimes! Ray Allen with 51 points! (I think he knew that I recently watched He Got Game in tribute.) Unfortunately, Chicago came away with the win, but I've been enjoying watching these to teams battle it over the course of the series, with 4 of 6 games going to overtime. I've always found basketball to be the most exciting sport to watch, and these games have exemplified the my favorite aspects of the game: phenomenal athletes, constant action, no padding or helmets to obscure the players, etc. One of my favorite parts of basketball is the fact that the best players compete directly against each other. You can discuss Brady vs. Manning or have a pitcher's duel in baseball, but it isn't the same as Rondo and Rose actually marking up on and guarding each other. I love NBA basketball so I'm glad that this series has encouraged a lot of sports fans to tune in. And I can't wait to watch Game 7.