blogs t r e t c h

between a roux and a bechamel

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Breaking It Up

Stereogum's got another Lykke Li video, this time for "Breaking It Up." There's nobody else out there this consistently inventive and exciting. Man she is so awesome.

tsk tsk

Based on what I've been taught in proofreading courses and, ya know, college, I put spaces around em dashes. It's a point of much discussion, but that's my stance. The person who compiled this grammar checklist can't seem to make up his or her mind. (But, hell YES on burying double spaces into the ground! Preach on!)

Then, just a quick little scroll further down the page:

See, doesn't it just feel more natural to include those spaces? Clearly you want to put those spaces in there. You need to. Despite your beliefs otherwise. Let's all just put the spaces around em dashes and call it a day. Oh! I also prefer a space after ellipses too. (Only when ellipses are being used appropriately, of course. People who get all dot dot dot in the place of just finishing a complete thought often feel my wrath over IM.)

Outlook not good

So, can we all agree that at least based on the first 3 episodes, there just really aren't any good designers this year on Project Runway? Pretty O.k. is about as high as I'd rank anything I've seen so far.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Charles has an insightful and depressing post up on DCist about how the Nats & Redskins should swap ownership to bring our city's teams more success.

Also, I cannot freaking believe that it's football season again. While I hate the preseason, it's kind of teh awesome that there's a Redskins game this weekend.

Unrelated: I just got a press release promoting two bands that are coming to play in the District. Here's the subject line:

PEOPLE IN PLANES Coming to DC with Skybombers!!!

Number of times I choked while reading this: 3

(cause, ya know, I was laughing so hard, and trying to drink water at the same time.)

DCeiver's annual analysis of The Hill's hottiezomgsopretty list. Get to reading.

Why can't we record our dreams yet? Come on, science!

Recently in dreamland I have written two awesome original songs, and one Abba/M.I.A. mashup, and they were all really freakin great and I want to hear them again. But unfortunately science is slacking and hasn't yet given me the ability to re-watch dreams or put them on the internet. If it did, I'd also show you all the infestation of inch long bulldogs that I dreamt were crawling all over the plants in my window boxes they other night. OMG miniature puppies so cute.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"...a single reporter committed to doing a good job is worth a thousand sycophants."

Go read the wonderful Jason Linkins' post about Andrea Mitchell using the powers of good reporting to get the job done, like so many people should be, all the time. Also, be thankful that Jason was born.

Stand up straight/moisturize as you cleanse/add further funk with contrasting tights

Catherine: dude also you should be in our dating column

me: yeah, here's my first entry:

So, scrolling down le blog, I realize I've written very little over one-two sentences in recent history that didn't involve a list of ingredients. So, um, hi! This dadaist InStyle poem on Jezebel is pretty awesome. And, uh, wind power in west Texas is pretty cool. Not cool: people blinding themselves staring at the sun looking for Mary. Also, Spencer wrote a bang-up piece about a new counterinsurgency handbook that you should go and read right away.OH! AND!: woman kicks the everloving crap out of a man who groped her in Mt Pleasant. She is the clear winner of today's awesomeness award. If things go according to plan, I'll live in Mt P soon enough and help you deliver justice, sisterladyherofriend. Catherine and I might start taking krav maga to hone our asshole maiming skills. I'm thinking our superhero poster would read:

VAGilantes: it's not just cockpunching anymore

Whoa! That was almost a whole paragraph! Not a coherent one, but, several sentences strung together nonetheless.

I know it's unhealthy and all

But thanks to the sun I got on my face this weekend at aquapaloooooooooza, I'm on day 2 of wearing absolutely no makeup at all to work, and it's awesome.

Based on recent catalogs and marketing emails I've seen

When I store describes a top as "feminine," what that really means is, "impossible to wear any kind of bra with."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jamie recipes never ever fail

sea bass with french beans and fresh herbsI watched a few DVR'd episodes of Jamie at Home this evening, and promptly ran out of the house to Whole Foods with some fresh culinary inspiration. I decided on his monk fish and runner bean recipe, saving a couple other ideas I got for next week's dinner party.

Well, WF didn't have runner beans, so I got french beans. And they didn't have monk fish, so I got Chilean sea bass. Basically, the magic happens thusly:

Saute together in some olive oil, garlic, anchovies (they melt away and add salty deliciousness, don't worry, it's not fishy), chilies, tomato paste, rosemary sprigs, and the beans. Put a lid on it and let that cook. I added some salt and pepper right towards the end.

On a grill or grill pan, cook up your fish. Lightly season it beforehand -- I did salt, pepper, oregano.

While everything's cooking up, chop together some parsley, garlic and lemon zest.

Plate the beans, then the fish, topped with the parsley mix. Then give it a few torn up pieces of fresh basil on top and a drizzling of olive oil.

The only thing that could have made this dish more delicious was some bacon. Seriously, add some crispy broken up bacon or pancetta. It would be top notch. Also, I think my bean to tomato paste ratio was off. It should have had more beans and less paste. Just to not let the tomato overwhelm everything else. My balance was just a touch off, the dish was still amazing.

On another note, it is absolutely remarkable and never ceases to amaze me how much more expensive shopping at Whole Foods is than anywhere else. Goodness gracious did that clean out my pockets.

Procol Harum, "Whiter Shade of Pale"

You're up, bloggers!

Dear WaPo

I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but an editor really should have removed double entendres from the story about a serial rapist. In this case, "...Dusseau and his team reflected on their lengthy probe..."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cultural Shame

This is pretty good stuff. What cultural touch points have you never read/seen? As far as books go, my gaping voids are probably Animal Farm, Catch 22 and anything Russian. Film-wise, nobody can ever believe that I haven't seen Pulp Fiction. Or any Tarantino, for that matter. How about you?



The horror! My eyes! Oh holy fugging christ!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh noes. I am doomed.

A new study on laughter says that people who laugh more, die sooner:

... [I]t appears that cheerful people actually live less long than their gloomier peers, perhaps because they are too jolly to worry about their aches and pains. It may be true, as the proverb says, that he who laughs last laughs longest. But it seems that he who laughs longest does not last.

It was nice knowing you all. [via]

I work with honest people.

There's been a dollar bill sitting on the counter in our kitchen for over a week now. Nobody's ganked it. Nobody's even touched it. It remains atop the lone black plastic salad plate next to the salt water taffy Tom brought back from his trip to Maine.

(eggs in a window)

Despite an encyclopedic list of alternate names, Pioneer Woman managed to miss the one that I call it. Alyssa says that if you use some white truffle oil and some weirdo gluten-free rice bread, it's even more delicious than your standard variety.

State Bird

Via Instrumental Analysis, "I Saw The Light" by Ohio's State Bird is a good song! Give it a listen.

Granted, we bought a bottle that was "big! and cheap!"

But wasn't this the kind of wine that made us all do spit takes at beach week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So, who's comin with me?

Lykke Li at the Black Cat, 10/19

Also: Girl Talk, 10/10

Fresh meat!

Head over to DCist and take a look at a couple of new contributors — music writer Nathaniel Poteet and photographer Ryan Holloway. They did an absolutely bang up job on their first time out, covering the madness that was last night's Ting Tings show at the 9:30 Club. I'm really excited to add them both to DCist's roster.

I went to the show for a bit last night and Nathaniel's write up gets it exactly right. It did *not* feel like a Tuesday night in there. Then Jenna and I popped over to DC9 to see Catherine and Anthony and catch part of the sets from Sunfold and... whatever that band Anthony was playing in was called. It was good times! There sure were a lot of people out last night, everywhere. It's too hot to stay home! That's what the people of DC seem to be saying.


Hey, remember when I used to write about things besides whatever I am currently shoving down my gullet? Me neither, really. Here's a really simple summer salad that's delightful.

Cut a cucumber and a tomato into bite-sized chunks. Add a chopped pepper (I used a home-grown cayenne). Add lots of roughly chopped fresh mint. Flash pickle with some good light vinnegar (I used this pear-infused white balsamic fancy stuff I have, but you could use whatever). A little salt, and voila! Tasty, refereshing, and comprised of things I already had in my fridge.

Also food related: just made Restaurant Week plans for PS7's, The Caucus Room and Cafe Atlantico. Aaaawe yeah.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'll just say

That for the sheer hotness factor, I'm pretty excited about the Redskins' trade for Jason Taylor.

Macadamia Nut Pesto with Steamed Clams

This weekend's adventure in cooking came with some idle food network viewing on Sunday morning. Rachel Ray was making pesto, and it got me thinking, hey, I've got some overgrown basil plants that need plucking. Let's do this! But how to put an interesting spin on it?

So instead of pine nuts, I used macadamias. They gave it a rich, buttery, sweet tone. I also threw threw a little bit of mint in with the parsley and basil. And of course, some crushed red pepper because everything's better with a little bit of heat on it. I served it with whole wheat spaghetti and fresh steamed clams, and some sliced tomatoes on the side. Here are photos, and here's the recipe:

Macadamia Nut Pesto
1. Toast some macadamia nuts lightly in a sautee pan.

2. Roughly chop some fresh flat leaf parsley (about a cup), fresh basil (about a cup and a half), and a few sprigs of mint.

3. Put the nuts and herbs in a food processor along with about a half cup of parmesean, a few glugs of chicken stock, 1-3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper. As you begin to process them together, pour in a bit of olive oil.

4. Blend until all ingredients are incorporated.

To get the sauce spread about the noodles, I put them together in a sautee pan on low heat, with a little bit of olive oil, and a little bit of the water the pasta had cooked in. I moved it all around until the sauce was evenly distributed over the noodles, then threw in about 8-10 clams per person.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Iced Coffee Magic

I suppose if I'd been given a choice, I'd have chosen to have magical powers over something a little bit... grander. But recently, it's become very clear: I am in control of the forces around iced coffee.

When I was at the beach last weekend, we went to the coffee shop the first morning. I ordered my iced coffee (they only come in one size), took a sip and said, "man, I wish I'd ordered 2, this just isn't enough." Not ten seconds later, the other barrista (not the one who'd made my original order) called my name again and served up a 2nd iced coffee! I waited around a bit to see if there was another Amanda who ordered the same thing, but no! It was mine! Allllll mine! My wish came true!

This morning, I went to Dunkin Donuts for a morning beverage. I ordered a medium, and as soon as I had thought, "I wish I'd ordered a large. Oh well." I paid for my medium, and then, when the girl gave me my drink it was... a large! Hooray! Iced coffee dreams coming true, yet again.

If you can think of a way for me to put this power to greater use, let me know.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Tommy said

This makes me pretty sick to my stomach. Jess, it seems from your blog that you are a pretty great writer and an interesting and honest person. Might I suggest D.C.? I've yet to be disappointed by someone's offline persona, and pretty much my entire circle of friends consists of people whose blogs I read before meeting them. Smart, intellectual journalists who are also actually nice, real people! And no one I know has fucked anyone for a byline (that I'm aware of).


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Also, I can't believe they kept Trash Bags. Come on!

So, it's been established that I have a newish fascination with dance movies, reality shows, etc. So You Think You Can Dance has eclipsed everything else as my favorite show of the summer. It is seriously just quality, guys. I swear. I realize how this must sound. If I read this one someone's blog without knowing, I'd think them a silly reality show watcher with no taste as well. But it really is great.

One gripe: when the contestants have the opportunity to do solos, they keep on doing the same things over and over. We all *know* that you can wiggle and do amazing things with your hips and the splits, Chelsea. But we've also seen you do incredible things in a host of genres throughout the course of the season. Why not mix up your style a little bit and show us how you've grown? I'm getting bored of seeing everyone's favorite go-to moves, over and over.

That said: Go Joshua! Go Twitch! Go Katee!

Haleluia good Chinese!

One of the things I've lamented living in Falls Church is that I haven't been able to find any good Chinese food. Every other ethnicity: oh hell yes. But Chinese thus far has been hard to come by. So tonight, when I got a craving, I consulted Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide. Holy cow is it helpful. I decided on Hong Kong Palace. I ordered two of his recommendations — the Ma Po Tofu and the Twice Cooked Pork, as well as one he didn't mention, the North Szechwan Spicy Cold Bean Starch Noodle. You can scratch that last one off your lists — I didn't care for it. At all. But the other two were excellent. I'm not a huge tofu fan, and I am still not wild about the texture. But the flavors were out of this world. The twice cooked pork was almost as great. I can't wait to try one of the cumin dishes next time. And every other restaurant Tyler Cowen recommends in my neighborhood.

The new Walkmen album is really great

This is an opinion that I'm sure shocks all of you. But really — I know a lot of people were disappointed with A Hundred Miles Off, but this is just a gorgeous album. Sad, sentimental, spooky, beautiful. Stereogum pointed out that things are pretty shitty right now, and that's probably why nobody's landed a big summery favorite this year yet. But this album's lamentations and nostalgia are ringing pretty perfectly. I do have two complaints however.

I've been hearing a lot of this material for a while. I've heard several of these songs go through many stages of evolution. And while some of them are much improved for the time taken ("The Blue Route", what they've done by canibalizing "Today or Tomorrow" into "Canadian Girl"), two songs are not hitting the high points that they did before.

1. "Red Moon"
They slowed this song down and minimalized the horns. The horns were the centerpiece before — making it sound like more of a waltz and less of a dark and lonely corner. Now the horns sound like they're being played two floors below and happen to have landed there and the whole tone is changed. I know it's not a happy stein-swinger, but I really liked the way the two halves rubbed up against each other before. One good thing: this hits at the things we know Ham is capable of doing vocally. Unlike my 2nd and bigger gripe.

Red Moon (old) - The Walkmen

Red Moon (album) - The Walkmen

2. "I Lost You"
This song was immediately a favorite from the first time I heard it performed live. The WNYC Soundcheck version has practically worn a hole in my iPod. The beauty was in its slow pace and subtle accompaniment, letting Ham's voice boom and soar in ways that I'd never heard it before. That "I was sleepin in the backseat/when I got home" bar made an already huge Leithauser fan like myself rewind and go, "no, couldn't have possibly been as good as I think that was!" But it was! And on the album version it seems that they lost trust in his vocals. They abandoned the feeling that made that song so dreamy -- bumping up the tempo and adding prominent horns. It is, as you can see, the exact opposite problem I had with "Red Moon." Give those big horns to the Waltz and keep them 2 floors down on "I Lost You." And sign me on as a producer.

I Lost You (old version) - The Walkmen

I Lost You (album) - The Walkmen

Otherwise, this album is seriously gorgeous. There's one track that's a beautiful lullaby that I can't get out of my mind. And these songs, had I not been familiar with their prior iterations, would also be favorites. Just small objections from someone who's spent way too much time with this band's music. The album's out August 19 on their new label, Gigantic.

Things that make me have violent thoughts

this, this and this.

A much more peaceful, fun, nostalgic post about my long weekend at the shore to come.

Friday, July 11, 2008

at tha shore, bak ltr, kthxbai

I'm extremely happy right now. That's because, tonight I'm leaving for my happy place (my family's house in Stone Harbor). In an effort to try and convince Dan to come up for a couple days, I found some pics of SH through the years. Starts with me very small, still pretty darn small, slightly bigger, in college, and... last summer. Enjoy, and I'll see you all next week.

My first trip to Stone Harbor

Frolicking on the beach

Back yard at Stone Harbor

Old School002.jpg

Relaxing on the dock


Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Pioneers get the arrows and settlers get the land. We'll take a few arrows."

Chances are slim to none that it'll happen, but big ups to these brave women for taking on the backasswards thinking of their state.

Blood on the Mountain

This two part series the Post ran this week about a murderer on the Appalachian Trail is incredibly unsettling and creepy. It honestly reads more like short fiction than news, what with the ridiculously flowery ledes and all*, but the story itself is kind of fascinating and completely scary.

*"High on the mountain, the sun has to fight its way down through the thick forest. The light takes on a spectral elegance, as if yellow diamonds are falling to the ground" and "All manner of animals feast in the deep woods along this lovely stretch of mountains. There are bear and deer. Poisonous snakes and fish shimmering in the creeks. Dreams are hatched beside campfires and the stars seem almost close enough to grasp."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Accept her kindness with enthusiasm

If you're ever in a position to accept free tickets to some swanky event from Catherine, do it! All you people who passed up a chance to attend the Washingtonian Best Of party last night are suckers. There was so much amazing food — my favorites were the crab and heirloom tomato salad from Vidalia, the watermelon bourbon drink from Liberty Tavern, and the tuna tar tar cones from The Source. The music kind of sucked in a big way at first, but got better as the evening went on. And there were tons of charming people to chat with and did I mention so much food I didn't know what to do with myself?

While meandering, someone from The Park gave us free passes to the after part for the Washignton Kastels' first game. The Park = super fancy club. This event = even more free booze and food. Diana and I only stayed for one drink, but it was a great cap on a lovely evening.

I think one of the 800 things I ate may have not settled well with me, though, as I was up tossing and turning all night with intense stomach pain. But, it's late day now and I'm feeling much better. So, as I said: don't look a gift plus one in the mouth. And, thanks CatAn!

See, everybody loves Jim Vance

Even Rusty from Why I Hate DC passes up an opportunity to lay the hatred on somebody in favor of praising the magical Mr. Vance:

Worst local-news broadcast: I don’t really watch the local news, but I will say that I’ll miss Jim Vance. I love Jim Vance. The earring, the delivery, the way his upper body doesn’t move as much as it sways. I love me some Vance.

Good luck in Ohio, Rusty!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Meat, Fire and Movies

These were the bread and butter of my holiday weekend. I've already discussed the movies portion, but the rest of the weekend was much less boring than one that included 3 trips to the movie theater might sound. It started off Thursday night with some recuperative boozing at Solly's. We did our best to shed the weight of the week into high life tall boys, and did a pretty sufficient job, I'd say.

Friday was, of course, the 4th! I don't know about you guys, but I really love the 4th of July. It's the height of summery goodness. I had big plans: see Tyler & Joey & Dan, hang out at Big Bear's BBQ, head to Molly & Deepak's for more BBQing and fireworks, and go to Fight Club to see Ned's band play. I did: one of those things. You see, the festivities at Big Bear were so fun that I stayed there all day. And all night. The food was iiiincredible. The beer flowed. The dancing was... well, there was a LOT of dancing. There was even a rooftop from which to watch fireworks! Between the 360 view of official fireworks displays and unofficial neighborhood additions and things going on in the street around us, it was a spectacular show. I spent the night at Traitor's Cove and thus got to get some delicious Big Bear coffee the next morning. So: win/win.

Saturday Kate & Kay hosted yet another wonderful BBQ, full of more amazing food and more free flowing beer. It is amazing that I don't weigh 300 pounds after this weekend. The conversation was lively and so much fun in fact, that before we knew it, it was almost 1 a.m. We had chatted and eaten the night away. It was great!

After yet another trip to the movies on Sunday, I finally went to 2 Amy's for the first time ever and it didn't disappoint. I ordered something that wasn't very good (one of the specials), but everyone else's food was incredible. And the charceuterie was out of this world.

And last night, though officially outside of the weekend, I went to Fort Reno yet again to see The City Veins, who delivered a fantastic performance. They also earned some new fans.

So, basically my apartment has been a staging area where I stop in, shower, change and turn around again for the past week or so. Yglz says I need to stop this anarchic sleeping schedule of mine and either move to D.C. (I'm working on it!) or lead a more boring Virginia lifestyle. But for now, on with the trend. Tonight I will be heading to the Washingtonian Best Of party after work. Tomorrow: laundry. Oh how I so desperately need to do laundry.

I also have a new theory: beer makes my finger nails grow faster. They are shockingly long after this weekend.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I saw three movies this weekend

Hancock: As Catherine and Matt have already noted, what the hell is wrong with the reviewers of the world? I actually really loved this movie. It got so thoroughly panned by just about everyone, that I spent the whole time in the theater guessing what they could possibly do to turn everyone's opinions so firmly against it. Nothing I was guessing at happened. There were certainly a few missteps, but nothing monumental. It was smart and had great performances and a really interesting and original story line and you should totally not listen to what you've heard. Hancock is awesome.

WALL-E: Everybody loves this movie, and for good reason. I was a little bit bored about 45 minutes in, but then it totally hooked me again. It's adorable and clever.

Wanted: I knew this movie was about assassins, but I still wasn't expecting that high a level of intense violence. I mean, there were several slo-mo shots of bullets bursting through people's foreheads. It was also entirely implausible and a bit silly. But I completely enjoyed it. It was fast and sexy and big and loud and just the thing for an overcast summer afternoon.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Sommer's post on DCist sums it up about perfectly. Our friend Brian was shot in a mugging-gone-wrong late Tuesday night. He's down a spleen, but expected to make a full recovery. We can only assume that this process will lead to the development of super powers. When we saw him yesterday, he was in great spirits and doing as well as we could possibly have hoped for. In typical form, he was making jokes left and right and giving us a hard time. As Dave noted, now that we know the prognosis is good, his funny friends have been doing things like assembling Chuck-Norris-like facts about Brian Beutler. My favorite, I think, came from Julian: "When Jesus goes for a walk on the beach, the footprints in the sand next to his are Brian Beutler's." There's a benefit concert to help relieve his medical expenses in the works, which I'll be beating you about the head with details about soon enough.

One way to help is to give some blood. All donations at Washington Hospital Center given in his name will result in deductions from his medical bills upon leaving the hospital. I tried to give blood yesterday, but apparently my recent trip to Costa Rica was in the DANGER ZONE!! So anyhow: Brian is doing very well, all things considered. And for a laugh, see Ezra's graph. In the mean time, ask yourself What Would Brian Beutler do, and go drink some whiskey at the Black Cat.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy shit for a rough day

Jack White & Beck duet.

David Tennant is awesome.

Long lost Beatles interview.

Crazy Dogs

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Adventures in recipe creation

On the way home from work I realized that I couldn't go to see Wall-E without eating something first. I hopped into the grocery store on the way home and quickly invented a recipe. It was delicious! Make some pasta and toss in:

  • Olive oil
  • Generous amounts of black pepper
  • Good salt (just a bit)
  • A little red pepper flake if you like a little heat
  • Chopped up prosciutto
  • Fresh basil
  • A sliced shallot
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Fresh chunks of cantaloupe
Voila! So tasty!

Ya know, the guy with the enormous balls that dated Mischa Barton

This is one of the many things I've encountered today that are making me slowly lose a grip on reality.

Santa Monica, CA (July 1, 2008) – Meet MTV’s newest comedic ensemble as the channel premieres “Buzzin’,” a new reality series starring music artist Shwayze, his best pal and producer Cisco Adler, their partner in crime, tour manager Warren Gumpel and their manager head of Suretone Records, Jordan Schur. Beginning Wednesday, July 23 at 10:30PM ET/PT, fans can catch the misadventures of Shwayze, his wingman and music partner Cisco, best buddy Warren and manager Jordan as they define a whole new California sound. And rounding out the Wednesday night line-up, “Run’s House” returns with new episodes premiering July 16 at 10pm ET/PT.

Showcasing the long road from the trailer park to the top of the charts, “Buzzin’” follows the unlikely pair – Shwayze, the self-described “only black kid in Malibu” and Cisco, the seasoned singer/producer and regular tabloid bad boy – and their crew as their path to stardom hits all the twists, turns and bumps along the way. The music and madness get underway as the boys and their fresh Cali sound get ready to debut their self-titled album on August 19 and as their first single, “Buzzin’” continues to climb the charts. Trying to keep them on track is their tough manager and label honcho, Jordan Schur who has taken artists like Ashlee Simpson and Limp Bizkit all the way to the top. Also along for the ride is their resident right-hand man, tour manager and comrade, Warren. When they guys are in a jam, count on him to be the man with the plan – even if the plan causes more problems than it solves.