Monday, December 22, 2008


It is weird that my parents live in Pennsylvania, and that all of their furniture is in a rented house, but we had a great weekend anyway. It snowed a ton, and my parents' new property is basically one big hill, so we did some badass toboganning. Observe:
My dad is a toboganning connoisseur, and he has big plans for a run with bumps and embankments and other Xtreme things.

My family is very much in flux - from the move, from losing my grandma and then our dog Lucy - but the bedrock of the Brennan family is solid as long as there is booze. And Skip.
And now we're back in the city, living in Stef's apartment while she is in Canada. Our own little East Village pied a tierre! Or something. Anyway, we are seeing people one last time, getting last-minute gifts, etc. Then we head to Houston on Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What is UP

NYC was fantastic, mostly because my friends are so great and fancy. We went to the MOMA staff party on Monday (at MOMA, of course - so awesome), then stayed at Dave's ridiculously nice apartment with his gazillionaire roommate. Mike headed to DC on Tuesday, and I had dinner with Ariel in Union Saure - and it snowed! 

THEN, on Wednesday, I hung out with Nicole at the Public Theater. We went to the lobby to grab our falafel delivery and, since people were arriving, took a back way up to her office. A back way that included walking right over the stage! I can't say I know Pandy Matinkin's work very well (Nicole's tip: mix up names in case they have a Google Alert out), but it was still pretty cool. Then I headed to the East Village to see Cori, and eventually went to the Upper West Side to crash with Meg. It was nutty, but we're back in the city on Sunday, so it wasn't as hectic as it would have been if this was the only chance to see everyone.

Yesterday was our work bowling party. We started drinking (and bowling) at 11:30 a.m. I am a completely shit bowler, but it was still a freaking entertaining day. This is how I know I am working with the right people:
This morning I met with a guy from Highlights Magazine, because - crazy - it's based in the town where my parents are renting a house. Good old Honesdale, PA. They have a book publishing arm, and I manage their account. Highlight (ha!) of the meeting? Walking out with issues of the magazine, love of my youth.

Right now I am sitting in front of my parent's fire, and it's snowing outside. I'm eating a black and white cookie and my dad just put Lucinda Williams on the stereo. My parents are already drinking, and I will likely join them soon. Tommorrow Mike and Ian get here, and we are going tobogganing!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If you ever lose faith in humanity... this article.

Whale joke

I am pretty sure that a kid on the subway this morning was telling the whale joke. I didn't hear the beginning, or the end, but if he wasn't telling the whale joke, his mom needs to get that shit checked out.

(And if I haven't ever told you the whale joke, remember to request it, from me or from Hartz. In public.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I read this NYT article on giardia while tipsy yesterday, so I just reread it to see if it is as amusing when one is sober. It is. 

"If you return from a trip abroad to find you have projectile vomiting, roaring flatulence, sulfurous belching and explosive diarrhea, the bad news is that you won’t die."

A possible way to create a vaccine for giardia would be "forcing expression of all coat proteins simultaneously" so that the 140 kinds of giardia protein coats can be identified and treated. I love this use of "expression" - it is so damn satisfying.

"In an experiment that has not yet been published, Dr. Luján has tested gerbils, the laboratory animal often used in giardia work, with a vaccine consisting just of giardia with its RNA interference system blocked. “We saw complete protection,” he said."

So basically, the gerbils in this test were lucky not to poop themselves to death. Animal testing is tough moral call - torturing animals is awful, but the advancements for science are undeniable. However you feel about it though, there is something funny about dozens of pathetic pooping giardic gerbils.

The article also contains lovely bits on royal giardia, and the excavation of medieval toilets for giardia research. This writer is a genius - sophisticated writing about poop!

"Dr. Luján’s discovery may be a critical step in curbing giardia’s merciless torment of its fellow eukaryotes."


Monday, December 15, 2008

WTF Weather

Mike loves bad weather; I, like the rest of humanity, enjoy good weather. So I am happy to be in New York when it is not so cold that I want to set myself on fire to find some relief. Mike wants to freeze his toenails off. 

And behold, a report from San Francisco:
Sarah:  you wouldn't have believed it. it was like pencil eraser sized hail
and coming down so hard, it clogged the sewer drains in my neighborhood
 me:  holy crap
is that normal?
it can't be
Sarah:  no
i've been here for 10 years, and that's never happened.
i'm going to have to go to church and make sure i'm right with god.

Poor Mikey!

I'm in New York!

Got in on Saturday, and have gotten to see so many people. Mike and I are staying with Stef and Nate, and we held court at a bar on Saturday night so that everyone could drop by: Morgan, Craig, Dooner, Ariel, Meg, and a whole lot of people I don't know. We played Fingers! We are Fingers evangelists. If you have not yet played Fingers with me, you should. Just so I can say Fingers again.

Then last night we had an impromptu Dead Serious reunion at Erin & Ailin's comedy show (which was AMAZING). It was exactly what it should have been - raucous and exciting and funny. This is us pretending to be proper Wellesley ladies:

Today it's pretty warm - I just ate out on the deck on the 8th floor, and had a great (if grey and leafless) view of the city. The food here is insane - I went light with a tuna tartar and some salads, but then ate my face off with bubble tea, apple strudel and a mango creme brulee. Delicious, but kind of gross.

Which has pretty much been the theme of the last few days. I need a nap before tonight - we're going to a staff party at the MOMA and then staying with Dave in his fancy apartment. 

At least I have all my Christmas shopping done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ew ew ew

I just got a cavity filled and the left side of my face is numb. EXCEPT for a part somewhere deep in my chin that has come back to life with a terrible itch - and itch that cannot be scratched because the skin is still numb.

Ew, ew, ew.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The magazine digitization initiative launched today! I freaking love it, maybe even more than the newspaper archives - mostly because magazines have the best full-page ads. You can read Popular Science all the way back to 1870! And they're all 100% viewable and searchable.
So exciting.

Monday, December 8, 2008




To be honest, I wasn't too jazzed about most of the cookbooks that the NYT reviewed for the holidays. There's a big emphasis on animal fat (and not just in that first book review), and the odds of me taking on a Martha Stewart recipe are not worth betting on.

But...there is a Godine book on the list! Elizabeth David's Christmas, which we had just acquired when I left. I wasn't too jazzed aboout the idea of us publishing a cookbook; I thought that we should stick with essay-style food writing a la MFK Fischer, with a few recipes thrown in here and there. My reasoning was that the big full-color photography cookbooks are what sell, or the encyclopedic books like The Joy of Cooking and their ilk. Hopefully this review will give the Elizabeth David title a lift. It sounds pretty awesome, if very British.


I done redid my kitchen, folks! We have a bamboo theme going on in our apartment, and since I can't paint, when we moved in last year Iused bamboo wall stickers from Ikea to spice up the kitchen cabinets.
In true Ikea fashion, though, the stickers were kind of crap - they started to fade and peel. So I hit up Etsy for a new design - birds! 
I feel like I could have done a better job with these photos, so I'll retake them in sunlight. Even though it may not appear so here, the birds are a big improvement. And there were enough to put a flock up in the bathroom as well, for two times the adorableness.

Happy Anniversary!

Three years ago today I got drunk at a Waxfire show at the Hemlock and hooked up with my roommate. So romantic! But here we are three years later, still having an awesome time.
Love you baby!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


My mom just called me from their rental house's new landline, so I deleted our Montomery number from my phone. There's something symbolic about erasing "Home" - melodramatic, but important.

I've still got my grandma's number in there, even though we sold her house last year - not giving that one up.

Hometown pride

From the CBS News website:


(AP) A standoff at a New Jersey bank is over after police learned a "person" seen inside was actually a full-size cardboard figure.

Officers went to the PNC Bank in Montgomery Township on Thursday night after an alarm went off. They saw what they thought was at least one person through the windows of the bank, which had its blinds drawn.

The area was sealed off and three nearby apartment buildings were evacuated as a precaution. Meanwhile, authorities used bullhorns and made telephone calls in a bid to make contact with whoever might be in the bank.

After repeatedly failing to get a response, a SWAT team entered the building and discovered the cardboard figure.

It was not immediately clear what set off the bank alarm.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I am newly obsessed with chestnuts. When I was staying with Amanda and Joschi in Germany, there were piles of them around, because Joschi is an excellent forager. I felt emboldened to order chestnut soup at a work dinner, and it was by far the best soup I've ever had.

Then, while hiking in Pinnacles last weekend, we came upon a bunch of chestnuts on the trail. I collected as many as I could before Mike said I was embarrassing him, and on Monday night I attempted to roast them for a soup. And they totally sucked. They were bitter and mealy and gross. You know what the lesson is there? Don't try to scavenge for food. Be a real modern disconnected-from-the-earth human and buy your chestnuts in a plastic carton like all the other good Trader Joe's shoppers.

I redeemed myself on Tuesday by making a really freaking good Mark Bittman chestnut soup. Just celery, onions, chestnuts and vegetable stock - that's it! So healthy! And tasty. It was a little chunky because my food processor is tiny and starts hiccuping after 15 seconds, but still. It was delicious.

And the chestnut love just keeps on coming. Today I found this article today on my beloved nuts. I don't doubt that the cream in that recipe would make the soup taste richer, but since I am a fatphobic cook, the Bittman recipe made more sense for me. 

Also, someone in the comments section called them "Hateful little yuletide horror-nubbins!" Which is too amusing to be insulting.

I'm not cutting edge, exactly

I'm more an accidental early adopter. From this NYT article on "Big Lebowski" fests:

"Several people were dressed in character, including four men who showed up as white Russians: white painter pants, white T-shirts, brown fuzzy hats. Each drank their namesake."

Boo yah!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Consumerism is love

I don't go in for any of that Black Friday nonsense, no way. I bet those people are buying gifts for others, which is wack. Yesterday I went shopping for myself, and it was ridiculous. I used the Behind the Post Office gift certificate that Mike got me for my birthday and got an insanely expensive pair of jeans. Why? Because everything in that store is insanely expensive. And lovely.

Anyway, I'm not sure I understand the expensive jeans phenomenon. What makes them so great? I understand that you want your butt to look good, but $200 is a serious investment for some butt contouring. Perhaps I am insensitive to this because my butt is already rotund, and while I can't say I like the look of it in a bikini, it tends to do all right when harnessed under denim. 

I also went to Bed Bath and Beyond, which is the handy dandiest store ever. They have all these items! That you never knew you needed! I ravished the mini things aisle (I am never going to need to check luggage again, no sirree) and got a lighter that goes into 3 different positions so that you can light those Jesus candles without burning your fingers, and a shoe rack so that I don't need to store all my boots in a tupperware bin! Yippee!

And then, and then...I went to Trader Joe's. And I went nuts. I got all the little jarred and frozen and tasty thingies that I normally deny myself. Cornichons, frozen chocolate souffles, artichokes! Oreos with peppermint candy cream filling! They are transcendental.

Anyway, I'm on the shuttle, and I'm hungry, and I'm excited to put on my worth-more-than-gold jeans and eat things out of jars. I am also pretty sure there is something wrong with me, but I'm going to leave that up to you to worry about.

See "Milk"

It is so good!