Friday, July 11, 2008

Dear Pastry Chef Mike from Charlotte on

I'm sorry I'm too poor to actually afford to pay for things at the online dating service. You sound quite lovely, and I'm sorry if you think me ignoring your "nudges" is a personal insult. It isn't. Believe me, even if you were a hag -- and I'm not suggesting you are -- being a pastry chef makes you seem a lot sexier.

On a tangential note, I tried baking something calling itself "an old Southern recipe for Sundrop Pound Cake". If you don't know, Sundrop is a lemon soda from the Carolinas and Georgia, notorious for leading soft drinks in caffeine and cholesterol*. I like lemon pound cake, so I thought I might give it a spin. (I'm not going to shame the originator of the recipe with a link.)

It sucks. Even after a made up a lemon glaze for it, it still has no particular lemon taste and the texture is awful. Honestly, it was bad enough I thought I must have done something wrong, but if I did, I can't figure it out. At this point, I'm willing to concede that shitty soda makes shitty cakes. And besides, making soda pop-based baked goods is awfully 1957.

And on a note that's not even tangential: Dear Aaron, current Jeopardy! champion: I love you. You are hot, yet geeky; smart, yet awkward. And you're fooling no one into thinking you're straight by telling Alex stories about kites instead of significant others who are female. I would learn Japanese to please you.**

*For years, the single best thing from my hometown -- and yes, the point was debated all through high school and agreed upon buy Those Who Count(ed) -- was the appallingly-named but infinitely delicious Cherry Vanilla Sundrop at the local barbeque shack. Said shack created a controversy that rocked the town to its roots a few years after a left for college when it switched from Pepsi brands to Coke and had to eschew Sundrop (which is, after three or four removes, owned by PepsiCo***). People still spit on the ground rather than call it a "Cherry Vanilla Lemon Drink".

**And I loathe Japan and all it works and all its means.

***And that little reference, folks, was enough to get a mean virtual glare from the fine folks at PepsiCo. It wasn't even a mean reference to their crappy direct product. Pah. Pepsi. Fit only to be served hot to Turkish soldiers.****

****Very, very obscure reference to a Doctor Who work. Anyone (who is not the author) who recognizes it gets a prize!

Trip De-Briefing II

I was in St Louis for two days. Well, /near/ St Louis. All right, the St Louis airport. I did break out on Sunday to run over to the nearby Creve Coeur* park, the namesake for Tennessee Williams' late play A Lovely Sunday at Creve Coeur. Unfortunately the river was nigh-unapproachable.

My father wanted to go see the Gateway Arch, so as driver, I got to go too. It's located in an agreeable stretch of park surrounded by a disagreeable reconstruction of the "historic waterfront". For which read: scads of tacky tourist shops and tragic faux taverns in fake stone cladding.

If you didn't know it, you can ride to the top of the Arch. Alas, my fear of heights prevented that jaunt. There's also a museum under the Arch, complete with groovy (or creepy, take your pick) animitronic talking cowboys and indians. It's free to get in. I did go there.

I learned that the reverse image of the new(ish) nickel comes from the reverse of old Presidential medals given to Indian chiefs as a sign of "goodwill".

But my biggest occupation was gawking at the floodwater.

*My French isn't bad, so I've thought for years that it was pronounced "Crev" Coeur. It turns out -- and I have the assurance of Danni, the waitress at Pasta House, Inc. and the sales director of the St Louis Airport Hyatt -- that it's "Creeve" Coeur. Bah.

Trip De-Briefing I

I didn't take any pictures of Evansville, IN because there's just not that much picturesque there. They were busily involved with their annual (Ohio) Riverfront street fair called "Freedomfest" -- and yes, before you say it, a local told me it got changed to that after 9/11.

The third day, a local woman asked me to pay to get in (I walked in for free the first two). I wasn't trying to be insulting when I laughed and said "Really?" When she told me how much she wanted, I was trying to be insulting when I laughed and said "Really?"

Twenty bucks is a /lot/ to pay for the opportunity to pay to eat deep-fried fatty starches, get free samples of chewing tobacco or try to be recruited by all five of the armed forces.

Curiously, I did get to meet (one of) the people running for County Coroner. It suggests an odd and certainly creepy plethora of pathologists in your vicinity when there's at least enough for an election. To be fair, six people were murdered in the four days I was there, so maybe there isn't the overabundance of them I perceived.

I also stopped at the amusingly named Angel Mounds site, (fnur, fnur) the site of a Mississippian period city full of raised earth mounds. It was mildly interesting except for the ticket seller, who gave me a spiel at least ten minutes long about the State park. I suspect I was the only person she saw that day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Po-Faced or Pie-Faced?

I'm a reasonably big fan of the Kings of Convenience -- of all the Bergen Wave movement, really* -- but it's been a while since I had a good listen to their Riot on an Empty Street album. And I had one today.

Is it just me, or does the song "I'd Rather Dance Than Talk to You" song sound uncannily like a Flight of the Conchords bit?

*Even if the bastards wouldn't let me into their country.
*shakes fist t Norway

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I'm back. Unfortunately (and possibly unconnectedly, but I rather doubt it) I'm in a bit of a funk and don't feel like being awfully rakish or a la mode d'un raconteur.

That last, no doubt, stems from being right in the middle of Jane Eyre. Perhaps the rather Victorian bit of a funk is, too. That or being sucked out of the only culture I've been in for a while.

I also have pictures to post. Yes, I know. Whee and all that. Badly-made photographs. Fortunately, I'm not in any of them, so they aren't that hard to bear.

I'll end with this: I wasn't very, very impressed with Chicago. It was a nice city, but I think it's telling that long ago, Chicago self-selected to be America's Second City. It lacks a certain something*, a spark that New York has. There's a palpable feeling in New York that at any second something will happen -- good, bad, or awful. And it usually does. You don't feel that in Chicago.

Also, those fucking obnoxious Midwestern accents drove me out of my mind, in a way that never happened in New York, or even Durham.** I want to buy the entire state of Michigan elocution lessons.

*On further reflection, that something may just be New Jersey.

**I apologize to anyone who has such an accent. I don't think I know anyone who has one***, since I haven't hit anyone recently.

***Well, one girl I knew in college, who played Laura in The Glass Menagerie. As I recall, she seemed to spend at least some time fretting over her accent in the scene where Tom breaks some of the glass animals, but hers was never that bad, and I'm sure was even less noticeable by the time she graduated.