Aug 31, 2007

Copy Cat Bloggers

I've had this conversation with a few fellow bloggers. Every once in a while we may borrow an idea or picture or two from some blogger and use these on a post. Usually we admit the 'pilfering' by courteously emailing the pilfered and thanking them for their contribution. Done with a touch of humility and bragadacio, we are able to spark the admiration and gratitude of said pilferee. In fact, quite often I'll just write a post called "Seen on the Blogosphere" and let other bloggers do my entertaining for me.

But what can one do when one's blog has been copied? Not word for word, perhaps. But what if one strolls through the blogosphere to find a newly minted blog that looks and feels like yours, from the choice of template right down to the subject matter, add ons, site meters, and blog rolls you are using?

I was quite flattered at first. Now I am becoming stinking mad. It has taken a year of hard work to find my voice and audience (no, I am not talking about this blog). Reluctantly I will be transferring my other blog to a new look and format. This will be an enormous undertaking, as I will have to migrate nearly 300 posts and approximately 500 researched links one at a time to a new platform. I also risk losing my audience, since my old blog sits on Google's first or second search page. My new blog's URL will not enjoy such a prominent placement for a long while.

So, for you copy cats out there - stop leeching off other people's ideas. You may be within the boundaries of copyright laws, but you're still sucking us original and creative people dry.

Leave us alone already!

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned

I'm sure there are tons of male examples of fury, but I'll stick to one subject on this post. Beware the cheated wife or girlfriend. We all know what Glen Close did to that poor bunny in Fatal Attraction. Well, here are some real life "bunny boilers."

These women performed the ultimate revenge act

But there are other ways to skin a cat

Aug 30, 2007

Need some good insult words?

I love these. Every year The Washington Post announces the winners of its various word contests. This one is my favorite. Readers are asked to take any word from the dictionary and alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter. They are then to supply a new definition.

This year's winners are:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

Last but not least:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an @#&+*@!%!

Diana Remembered

Dahlings, ten years ago today Diana, Princess of Wales, lived her last full 24 hours. She died on the evening of August 31, 1997 and I must admit I spent the following days in mourning.

I've always identified with Diana, watching her romantic wedding on television and admiring her aristocratic and uniquely English beauty.

Click here to continue ...

Aug 29, 2007

Katrina Remembered

I was there, ladies and gents, just four months before Katrina hit. We saw the Gulf Coast in all its glory. It was a beautiful lush, rich, and newly prosperous land. Two years after the disaster, it's still a wasteland. My fellow blogger Big Ass Belle tells the tale better than me in We Came, We Saw, We Cried, and We Left. Click on the link to see a sad but true video, and support When the Saints Go Marching In!

No Top Chef 3 Tonight, What'll We Do?

1. Review my Top Chef 3 posts again looking for hidden signs.

2. Bet on whether Brian will ever cook anything other than seafood.

3. Help C.J. look for leadership skills.

4. Give Casey lessons on Cooking Basics 101.

5. Take Dale to Tim Gunn for a makeover.

6. Help Hung train his monkey.

7. Let Howie simmer in his own stew.

8. Give Sara free reign in the kitchen.

9. Thank Anthony Bourdain for his snarky, insightful blogs.

10. Wish we'd see more of Gail.

The Brits: Dame Maggie Smith

Dame Maggie Smith. Every time I see her name associated with a movie, I make certain to see it. Who can forget her sterling performance in an otherwise forgettable film, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, where she teaches her 'gairls' about truth, beauty and romantic history, and for which she won her first Academy Award?

Maggie's been mature for so long, one forgets what a delicious British babe she once was, playing Desdemona to Sir Laurence Olivier's Othello in 1966.

I loved her in Travels With My Aunt (where you can see a very young Cindy Williams hold her own with Maggie), the irritating chaperone in A Room With A View, and as the perpetual poor relation in Gosford Park.

Her youngest fans know her best as Minerva McGonnegal in the Harry Potter movies.

Thinking about the variety and scope of her roles I am left to wonder: What can't she do?

Maggie below, relaxed and as herself.

Aug 28, 2007

Bitch Slap Fest

"I enclose two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend ... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

Aug 27, 2007


What do these cities have to do with me? I've lived in all of them. Enjoy this mute Monday theme!

Baltimore, Maryland

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Den Haag, The Netherlands

Charlottesville, Virginia

Buffalo, New York

Boston, Massachusetts

Utrecht, The Netherlands

Austin, Texas
Athens, Georgia

Richmond, Virginia
Jakarta, Indonesia

Aug 26, 2007

Top Chef 3: Stalled En Place On the Chopping Block

We did see this one coming, didn't we dahlings? Tre's gone and Sara stepped up to the plate. How ever did this happen? Upon careful observation and analysis, here's how:

After a surprise reprieve last week, a somber Padma and Tom announce the new quickfire challenge: a Mise en Place Relay Race.

"Ms. Place race?" Thought Casey, "That's not brain science. I'll wup her fat Dutch ass."

The two teams are to compete against each other, shucking 15 oysters, dicing 5 onions, cutting 4 chickens, and beating 3 egg whites. Brian and Howie start off shucking oysters, and Brian handily beats Howie, giving Casey a huge lead over Sara.

"Let me see," Casey thought, carefully arranging the onions in order of size and patting them like babies. "Wonder if I should cut the large one first or start with the smallest? Mmm?"

As Casey pondered the perfection of her onions, Howie finished shucking his last oyster. Sara, rolling her sleeves past her elbows, began slicing and dicing onions with the speed of a $19.95 veg-o-matic. Oblivious to bits of onions being maniacally flung all around her like chopped liver in a Jewish Deli, Casey gently lifted one up. "They're too deliciously cute," she thought, "I don't want to bruise them."

As Sara finished chopping her last onion, Speedy Gonzalez Hung, fangs flashing and teeth bared, began deconstructing four chickens. In two minutes flat he'd cut all four in nugget sizes, wrapped them in styrofoam meat product packages and sealed them in cellophane wrapping.

Casey, starting on her first onion, began lining up her cuts. "1/8 inch cubes," she thought, "Each must be precise and cut at exact 90 degree angles."

In the background C.J. and Tre were jumping up and down, either from having to pee or from frustration. Howie, Sara, and Hung were draped all over each other, tears streaming down their cheeks as they whooped with laughter. "Wegonnawin Wegonnawin Wegonnawin," they chanted.

Before Dale whipped his egg whites to a stiff peak, he decided to take a nice long nap. "I got plenty of time," he figured, watching Casey measure and mark each onion with chalk before attempting her cuts.

"Gawd," said Tom in admiration as Dale held his bowl upside down for a full 50 minutes. "You wupped their assess bad. This was slaughter."

Oblivious to her team's frustration and the fact that the competition had ended, Casey continued to gently cut each onion, lovingly carving perfect cubes from their succulent round forms. Tears of joy filled her eyes. "I was put on this earth to do this," she thought, "and no one's gonna stop me."

Meanwhile, the two teams meet with their new interior designer, Madonna's obnoxious brother Christopher Ciccone.
"You the jerk that dissed us, our food, and our mothers and apple pie?" asked Dale.

"Yeah, whatyougonnado about it, High Tide Pants? You can't touch me. You lift one finger and my sister will sic Scotland Yard AND the London Bobbies on you."

"Like that scares me. I like Bobbies. In fact I love men in uniform. What I don't like is your Valentine vomit theme and you lording it over us when all you can do is ride your sister's coattails."

"Whatever," replied Christopher. "It got me this gig."

Telling the Dream Team she trusted their judgment, Casey stayed behind in the kitchen as Brian, Tre, and C.J. consulted with Christopher. She'd just completed chopping her first onion and was beginning to work on her second.

The two teams spent the night discussing a new plan of action. The following day, Sara began lording it over her chefs in an autocratic fashion.

"What you think ... ?" began Howie, holding up his dish.

"Do them over," she barked.

"Hey, Sarah," Hung called out.

"Shhhh," she replied.

"Do you think ..." Dale said.

"Don't think. DO! Then toss it out and do it again. We gotta be perfect this time around. We're not letting anything out of this kitchen that isn't up to my impeccable standards. The only one who's more obnoxious about being a perfectionist than me is our sommelier Stephen. So y'all leave him alone and let him do his shtick."

Observing Sara from the sidelines, Tom Coliccio raised his eyebrow. "Bitch has balls," he thought. "And they're each bigger than C.J.'s single humongous one."

In the other kitchen, Tre ran his Dream Team as a democracy. Each chef had equal say. "We all liked what we did last time. Those judges were dead wrong. Our food was good and their palates were bad," they said in unison.

"Yeah, but now we gotta offer two choices for each entree," said Tre.

"So we'll add raw salmon and salty lobster," said C.J. from behind a column. He was hanging back just in case his enormous cojoine got in the way and tripped someone up. Casey murmured in agreement. She was working on some geometric equations for her knife skills before she attempted to chop the rest of the onions.

We fast forward to the restaurants at the moment guest judges Geoffrey Zakarian, Padma, and Ted enter Quatre. As Dale and the servers passed around each entree, the judges and guest diners Joey and Sara N. oohed and aahed with delight. Finishing up dessert, Ted even forgave Dale for dressing like a Denny's line cook. But when the time came for the judges to taste Restaurant April's food, they didn't ooooh and aah. In fact, they nearly barfed up one of the entrees.

"That raw salmon tasted like rotting cow's gut inside whale blubber," said Geoffrey.

"The dish, like Dale's outfit, should never have left the kitchen," said Ted.

Since the rest of Restaurant April's dishes didn't outshine Team Quatre's, Sara and her team won handily and Sara won her first elimination challenge.

Back at the judge's table, Geoffrey summed up Restaurant April's salmon with one well-placed barb: "That salmon was like a car wreck in Times Square."

"Where were Casey and C.J?" asked Tom. "They didn't watch Tre's back."

"I believe Casey was taking an advanced calculus class to figure out the trajectory of the final cuts for her fifth onion," said Ted, "so she had an excuse for letting Tre trip up."

"But there was no excuse for her dry monk fish," said Geoffrey. "That fish was already dead; she shouldn't have killed it again."

"What about C.J.'s poor performance?" asked Padma.

"He started thinking about his remaining nut," said Tom. "That can be very distracting."

Tre was asked to pack up his knives and go much to everyone's surprise except mine. The previews had Tom portending Tre's ouster, so it was just a matter of finding out why they gave him the boot.

We'll have two weeks to ponder who will go next - two long weeks. I'm beginning to suspect that Bravo is overseeing a scientific inquiry: How many Top Chef reruns can we be force fed to see before our minds turn to mush?

Aug 25, 2007

Hell's Kitchen: Now That the Debacle is Over, You and Others Can Weigh In

A.E. wrote to ask me these questions regarding Hell's Kitchen. I shall answer them as best I can in my comment section, but please feel free to weigh in and give your opinions as well. Meanwhile, I have provided links to articles and other blogs that address A.E.'s concerns. The best summary of this show was written by Anthony Bourdain on Ruhlman's blog a few months back and there is very little I would change about his opinion.

After seeing your posts of Hell's Kitchen, which I could not stop watching despite my usual hate for reality shows, I did have some inquiries. I think shows along the lines of American Idol and Survivor need to be outlawed altogether, so it's rather odd how I along with many others managed to find HK as addicting as I did, but whatever.
Yeah, you and I weren't the only ones, A.E. This show was a hit, as this article in USA Today attests.

I was curious, what did you think of how the show was organized? Did you find Gordon to be really that over the top and excessive? I've heard he's quite tame compared to most other French and English top chefs, and a pacifist compared to his early restaurant days.

Here's one blogger's take on the show, and it isn't pretty.

I find that the Chowhound boards are the most insightful.

And Television Without Pity provides good recaps, however, I liked the premise of the show. I think most restaurants behind the scenes are pressure cookers and chefs have to work as teams, or else the cooking won't get done.

Also, what did you think of the casting job? I think the one major let down was that Fox apparently flat out can't cast worth shit. Hence we were left with so many ridiculously under qualified contestants that their only real value was clearly to be shot down by Gordon in a sadistic sort of experiment. In some cases in season 3, the contestants were put on and allowed to last as long as they did solely so that viewers can enjoy watching their failures: seeing someone eliminated mid-service (Josh) or in some cases even trying to push forward negative stereotypes of those like Asians and disabled people (Aaron and Eddie).

This article answered the question: Are Hell's Kitchen contestants hired actors? But, yeah, I felt that Fox's casting sucks. One really questioned how qualified these contestants were, whereas Top Chef actually casts good cooks.

The only contestants I imagine could ever genuinely see being able to get to the point where they can run a top level restaurant are:

Season 1: Ralph who from what i've heard actually did pretty well for himself on
Iron Chef against Bobby Flay, though like virtually everyone else he did end up losing, and Michael.

Season 2: Heather, Virginia if she could learn not to crack like an egg, and Keith if he underwent a substantial attitude adjustment and REALLY understood his potential.

Season 3: Rock-NO, I don't believe all the crap about how he won solely cos he's black, Bonnie, Julia if she got more experience at places other than Waffle House and possibly Brad.

See the comment section for my answers.

Hear this audio clip of Rock on National Public Radio just after he won Season 3.

Read this local news article about Rock before he heads to Nevada

What would you say about that? And have you heard anything about what HK contestants like Michael, Ralph, Heather, Virginia and Keith have been doing since they left?

Click here for epilogues for Season 1 and Season 2 contestants. Scroll down to the bottom of the pages to find out what some are doing now.

Here's a review of the three winners of the three shows...

And an old link to Michael's (Season 1 winner) plans and a new link talking about what happened to Michael's and Heather's careers.

I'm off to party

It's a birthday bash that will be held outdoors with a younger crowd than I'm accustomed to. It starts at 1:00 p.m and the heat index promises to rise above 100 degrees, so I hope to Gawd they'll serve beer underneath the shade of an oak tree or veranda.

In honor of all that is good about hops and grains, I salute the beer girls, a beer hunk and my favorite frat party song of all time: Beer by Reel Big Fish. Stay cool, dahlings. I intend to. Anyone want to volunteer to be my designated driver? Click here to hear BEER.

Aug 23, 2007

Top Chef 3: RVA Foodie's Recap of Last Night's Episode

Dear Readers: RVA Foodie is the coworker with whom I discuss all things foodie! He has graciously agreed to write a guest blog about last night's Restaurant Part II Epidsode. Here goes.

Bad News Bears rise to the challenge while the all-star team suffered from over-confidence. Could this be a theme for this season? Personally, I have to wonder about matching relatively raw salmon with pesto. I mean, I could eat pounds of those things separately, but together in my mouth... no. Like those two ingredients, the talented members of the Restaurant April just didn't compliment each other, and their leader underwhelmed while serving up two flops. Sorry Tre. Playing it smart and conservative can sometimes leave you in the dust if imagination is what is called for. A little more creativity and I saw you in the finals. Now, how about that cameo.

Part of me really wanted to eavesdrop on Stephen's didactic and verbose tableside seminars, but he's not part of the competition this time around, so it's probably appropriate that they edited him down. Nonetheless, he nearly stole the show, certainly whetting our appetites for that certain something that we're not quite seeing in this season's line-up of chefs.Okay, the quick fire challenge. It was really painful watching Casey muddling through those onions. Foreshadowing for sure. She'll get the ax soon, unless the producers want to preserve some element of gender equity. Anyhow, she used the a chopping method that I've seen on countless cooking shows (leaving the end of the onion intact), but she never got a rhythm going. In fact, she never looked confident or competent with the knife. Really weird.

Meanwhile Sara, Howie, and Hung stepped up and knocked out their prep tasks. But I don't remember Dale's role. I just keep seeing him dressed like he's shopping at Target when in fact he's competing in a fine dining contest that is broadcast on national television. Yeesh, he musta shaved a little too close to the scalp this week.
1:31 AM

RVA Foodie said...
One last thing... Ms. Place asked me and one other coworker to drop in and guest-blog. So, I'd like to mention one or two more items.Tom dropped a bomb on the chefs when he announced that he'd be looking over their shoulder during the whole service. I thought that was great. Tom's reserved inspection is one of the weekly highlights that I enjoy most. This time, he was all up in their... business. Too bad the producers didn't highlight his behind the scenes observations during the judging. He looked so serious throughout, he shoulda schooled them about XYandZ.

Hats off to Sara for exhibiting commanding leadership when the chips were down. That's what it's all about in the kitchen (according to the Bourdain books, anyhow). It just goes to show that you can do better with a well led group of second choice scrubs than a bunch of prima-donnas running in different directions.

Okay, I forgot to mention the Dale diss on Stephen during service. He asked him not to over-talk the guests and basically keep it pithy. That was a long overdue critique that probably spoke for scores of viewers who reluctantly love Stephen's refinement. Of course, Dale could learn a few wardrobe tricks from his fellow redhead.
1:47 AM

Aug 22, 2007

I'm off for a few days to stay in ...

... a monastery as I train volunteers in a church and visit a few nonprofits in Northern Virginia. According to Wikipedia, monastery denotes the habitation and workplace of a community of monks or nuns or other people set apart for a religious purpose. Mine is peopled with nuns. Curfew is 8:30, but apparently the luxury suite has been reserved for me. (It has the en suite bathroom.)

Dahlings, when I made the announcement at work, people snorted coffee through their noses from laughing. "Where are you going to hide your medicinal wine?" asked one thoughtful person. "How you gonna keep your mouth clean?" asked another.

"What will I do about Top Chef?" I lamented. Ah, the things we do in order to bring home the bacon! See y'all on Saturday. Thank Gawd Bravo provides endless reruns.

Would Anthony Bourdain Wear Crocs or Flip His Wind Up Doll?

I think not. But Mario Batali would. Oh, dear.

Thank you for this image, Manolo's Shoe Blog.Here's a photo of Food Flippin' Mario. It's a toy, dahlings, but who would purchase such a ghastly thing?

And here is my other take on Mario in my Bitch Slap Fest post earlier this year.