Archive for July, 2008

Remove your Banana from the Car…Slowly

July 8, 2008

Some people always leave things behind-an accidental reminder of your time together.  I am one of those people. I leave underwear, jackets, toothpaste, blackberry jacks, and you name it.  I have left things behind in homes, hotels, cabins,  cars, and offices. I’m sure this has some psychological reason attached to it, like I don’t want anyone to forget me, but while the sentiment is sweet, it wears thin from constant use. 

When a banana takes over your car

When a banana takes over your car

My closer relatives have gotten into the habit of doing a sweep search right before I leave, knowing that otherwise, they will end up mailing the oddball item back to me.   The thing that seems to bother them the most is when I leave behind food stuff.   I tend to buy “exotic goods” from the local deli, supermarket, or specialty store -most of which I will not eat during my stay. 

When I visit my sister, a typical call following the trip might be…”Did you mean to leave this rice milk in the refrigerator…there are unopened boxes here.”  I will respond, “Oh, you can go ahead and have it.” Followed by her saying, “Well, what do you want me to do with this five-year aged gouda ?” To which I will make some comment about how her sons might enjoy some quality cheese. She will then roll her eyes (or so I imagine over the phone line) and remind me that the boys are under the age of seven.  They don’t do rice milk and gouda.

Refrigerated products do not compare to items left out in the sun.   I leave food behind in my car as well, believing I will actually eat it before it spoils.  Why carry that heavy banana inside?  But bananas are by far the worst item to leave, after maybe rotting meat.  With the amount of bananas I have left on my passenger seat, I have also fought more fruit flies while driving than I care to admit.  Drivers in other cars probably think I have some condition, swatting the air as I drive and rolling the window up and down, up and down, while talking to the little insect on the precipice of flying out.  When all else fails, I just start smashing everything with my hand or a rolled up newspaper.  Yes, I’m the poster girl for safe driving.  Fruit flies are much more dangerous than cell phone usage, but no cop is going to tell you to make sure to take all old fruit out of your car before operating the vehicle. 

Worse than the fruit flies is the removal of the banana itself.  It’s fine if the banana has completely dried up, but you can’t count on that process to happen quickly.  Sometimes, the banana has gotten so mushy and ripe, one must wipe it off the carpet or seat, leaving a ripe banana smell that won’t come out of the car until cleaned thoroughly, by a professional.  And even then, they have missed or left bananas in my car, thinking for some reason that I actually wanted them.  Maybe for a snack with my two month old, half drunk Sierra Mist?

The point of all of this?  If I don’t offer to drive next time, please don’t take it personally.  I’m likely worried about some old fruit I have left somewhere, that I can smell, but can’t exactly find….yet.

Advertisements

Fast Food Fodder: McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Sandwich versus Chick-fil-A

July 6, 2008
Pic stolen from LAist but good comparitive of the two

Pic stolen from LAist but good comparitive of the two

When I saw the billboards around town introducing the new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, I was curious.  Were they really trying to compete with my beloved Chick-fil-A?  For those of you unaware of this chicken fast food mecca, Chick-fil-A, a primarily Southern chain with a few outposts (including Palos Verdes I’m told) is the best fried chicken sandwich known to man.  The perfectly tender, juicy and crisp chicken fillet is protected by a fresh, soft bun, buttered on top, with two pickles, and a dollop of mayo.  Get the waffle fries and lemonade and you have a masterwork of fast food eatin’. 

Every time I visit my sister in Alabama, we have to go to Chick-fil-A. As it is a Christian owned entity and therefore has an owner who believes in giving his workers Sundays off, any visits over a weekend typically include picking me up at the airport and driving directly to the nearest location.  I love flying Delta in that Atlanta has a Chick-fil-a in it’s terminal, DFW does not.

But I digress. When I saw the billboards for not only the sandwich but the chicken biscuit, I could not get to McDonald’s fast enough to determine if this was the real thing.  So, in my neverending quest to eat food I love, I compare the two using my own research method.  Item for item comparison.

Buns-  McDonald’s is a little stale and the “butter” product is a bit greasy making holding the bun greasy as well, but not bad.  Chick-fil-a wins.

Pickles- McDonald’s are a little wimpier and more thinly cut.  I’m guessing they are tied.

Chicken breast- McDonald’s is a little greasier but both have good flavor.  Chick-fil-a is probably a bit bigger.

Mayonnaise- At least in LA, they don’t have packets of mayo or lite mayo to add on your own so Chick-fil-a wins this. 

Overall, I can handle the McDonald’s version in a pinch, and I have stopped more than one time over the last month with a need for the sandwich (sometimes the Cinnamelt wins out) but Chick-fil-a still has my devotion.

For other opinions on this matter visit LAist at http://laist.com/2008/05/06/mcdonalds_new_s.php.

Books I Loved: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Pulitzer Prize)

July 6, 2008

Junot Diaz recently received this year’s Pulitzer for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  The book will also be made into a movie by Miramax.  The tale is a sweeping multi-generational epic replete with quirky character driven humor and family tragedy on a monumental scale. We are taken back and forth in time and place, from the tumultous and violent past of the Dominican Republic, reigned by dictator of terror Trujillo, to a New Jersey Plymouth Rock where Oscar’s family has landed.

A fuku (curse) haunts the family after its patriarch, a doctor, decides to not grant the dictator’s lascivious wish- meeting the man’s underage daughter.  The doctor’s naive belief that, as a man of means, he will not suffer at the hands of Trujillo, proves deadly wrong. The author’s casual writing style, supported by historical and humorous footnotes, craftily and comfortably reels the reader into this literary juggernaut of a novel.

I first heard about the book when The Colbert Report featured Diaz on the show.  Colbert, being his usual “hard hitting reporter” self, wanted to know if the “disastrously overweight ghetto nerd” in the story was anything like him.  DIaz’s abaility to reference Triphids, Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien, and Star Wars with a science fiction lover’s alacrity, had the mark of a diehard fan.  But the book is obviously more than great pop references.  It reminds me in many ways of The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, another Pulitzer winner.  Both authors have the ability to take you into another world, with one foot on United States soil and one in the homeland, while leaving you with a sense that you truly know these characters.

Love and sex, power and violence, belonging and acceptance are dual themes interwoven into this story of people searching for their identity and self-worth in places where the rules have been established for them.  The fuku becomes each character’s personal struggle with a choice- fighting and dying for what you love and believe in, or accepting what “is” with great personal loss to your soul. 

The characters are vividly and honestly brought to life in this book- one can only reflect on the fukus each of us believe we have in our own life.  Do we cling to the past and blame God for our misfortune, cursing the world for what it has made us, or do we take life as it is and thank God for giving us the tools, an internal compass and a pat of self worth, to find our own love and happiness?  And as Americans, do we believe that the American dream is something every human deserves, or has that just become a rhetoric we propogate?

Books I Want to Read: The World in Six Songs

July 6, 2008

Knowledge, friendship, ceremony, joy, comfort and love – these are the six evolutionary musical forms that provide a window into the human soul. In his recent book, “The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature,” musical neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel J. Levitin tunes readers in to his theory of “six songs” and how our brains listen and play music today. Blending music and science, Levitin shows how human culture has evolved through the relationships and social ties that result when music and dance intertwine. 
This link has a great interview with the author by KPCC’s Patt Morrision.  Patt Morrison show 
Daniel J. Levitin, author “The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature.” He runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University.

My Next Boyfriend is a Superhero

July 4, 2008

I’ve decided, forget Match.com, my next boyfriend will be a superhero.  With this summer’s crop of overly endowed gentleman protecting Hollywood, I feel like I have a lot to choose from.  I have never seen myself with a Hancock type–men with superhero powers from birth aren’t really my demo, always trying to reconcile their issues with someone or something from their past.  The Incredible Hulk is too angry all the time.  Come on, control your feelings muchacho.  I haven’t seen Hellboy II but I’m just guessing I won’t feel the heat from him either.

#1 Choice for My Next Boyfriend

#1 Choice for My Next Boyfriend

Iron Man however- he is so smart,  clever, and cocksure….he is seriously in the running.  Yes, he has issues, and I think he might have trouble staying out of his head, but he came up with that whole suit himself, under duress!  And his place in Malibu is magnifique!

Double dating is also a possibility. Iron Man and the Incredibile Hulk’s nemesis just met in an LA bar (looked like the new London Hotel).  If you saw IH you know what I mean.  It sounds like those two will be going at it soon in the City of Angels.   And, Hancock lives in LA too, a perfect trifecta.

No real girl threats either, really.  I mean Liv Tyler’s fake resume as a cellular bioligist will surely be found out soon so I’m not counting on her and the Hulk staying together.  Hancock’s girl can’t even get close to him or they both become mortal, and Iron Man’s Pepper Potts a.ka. Gwyneth Paltrow is likely a wet noodle in bed, I just have a feeling.

So, that leaves three potential superhero boyfriends, living in LA.  Where would one hang out?

The 38 Year Old Co-ed

July 4, 2008

Friends joke that I am always taking a class.  Yoga Thai Massage, Aerial Basket Weaving, the History of the United States….you name it.  But I have taken it to another level this summer, social psychology at UCLA.  My class has kids (kids!) almost twenty years my junior-I have more in common with the professor and her references to pop culture (George Carlin’s “seven dirty words you can’t say on television” anyone?) than I do the students. 

So I try to blend in.  My comments in class are peppered with references to the latest celebrity high-jinks and I am underdressing-jeans, t-shirts, flip flops. I have started bringing Cheetos and food from the vending machine to class. (Some of you might say that doesn’t sound like anything different than I always do.)   I like to think they don’t see the grey hairs, tummy bulge, or creaky movements as I unfold my body out of those annoying chair cum desks.

Ms. Richards and Mr. Sambora

Ms. Richards and Mr. Sambora

I turned in a 3 page paper yesterday which involved me observing persuasive attempts in every day life.  I watched TV for 2 hours.  Denise Richards- It’s Complicated and Desperate Housewives were the main heady topics of my analysis.  I brilliantly argued that DR uses the two-sided persuasion tactic to innoculate its doubting audience.  Basically, by preemptively using negative stereotypes in the introduction, like Daddy’s Girl, Husband Stealer, etc,  followed by the “real Denise” as the mom who never goes out, the sweet innocent with a little quirky in her, the audience will not side with Denise’s ex-husband.  They will be innoculated from being swayed when they hear stories about her requesting her ex-husband’s sperm to make more babies and the dubious Ricky Sambora choice as the sane follow up to Charlie Sheen(??). 

For the assignment I slaved-no B+ permitted.  I suddenly had sympathy for all those students I taught at USC who didn’t understand what it took to get an A based on my essay grading system.  Sometimes based more on a feeling than anything else.  It’s experiences like this that bring out the schiz girl in me.  While I want to blend in, I also want them to know of my years of experience….so I think I come off as the know-at-all in the back of the class who overshares.  The difference is, when I was in this class twenty years ago, I would have cared more what the students think, and would have made sure I didn’t say anything that made me look uncool.  Today, I always have a comment, I think primarily to have a little dialogue for the professor to bounce off.  I do know how it feels when the class looks at you blankly.  Now they look at me blankly too.

In the end, I posit, I will learn probably even more about myself by how I operate in this class, a kind of social psychology experiment if you will!  Just as long as I get an A.

SINGLE DINER: Little Love Pockets from Heaven or LA-Italian Style

July 4, 2008

Maybe because it’s summertime, your intrepid and starving SINGLE DINER is feeling a little in need of a good European vacation.  With travel across the pond more than expensive, eating well in LA, especially at some of the highly lauded Italian restaurants, seemed like an affordable solution.  Rules of thumb for us, we always eat at the bar, bring a book and focus on the food at hand. 

SINGLE DINER revisited two great restaurants, Osteria Mozza on Highland and Melrose, late on a Tuesday night, and La Terza in the Orlando Hotel on 3rd Street at 5 PM on a Thursday.  Both have wonderful pedigrees.  O. Mozza has been turning the heads of the most discriminating eaters with Nancy Silverton behind the counter and Mario Batali on board (if only in name?) while La Terza, sister osteria to Angeli Osteria, certainly comes from good stock-I hear Silverton used to do Mozarella Nights there before moving to the Mozza duo. 

While my methods of observation are not necessarily scientific, there are summer Italian food items I always have to have.  I started with the Prosciutto and Melone at both.  The portion and presentation at Osteria was a little more “controlled” with a perfect addition of olive oil gracing the perfect melone and charcuterie.  La Terza’s had wonderful melone as well and both were similar in standard, but La Terza just wasn’t quite as graceful.  But one thing, both still needed a bit of fresh cracked pepper which was never offered.  I ordered the $38 glass of Brunello at Mozza and started with a Chianti at Terza but my wonderfully enthusiastic bar tender Greg, steered me to a Barolo that had alot more going on.  Both were lovely, complicated enough, the Brunello more so, and balanced well, not to much alcohol overload (the Chianti was not balanced, thanks Greg for taking it away!) 

My main courses were similar-Francolli di Brasato at Mozza and Agnolotti with lamb and parmigianno reg. sauce at Terza.  Both daintily al dente although I felt the Mozza dish needed a bit of salt and maybe some pepper.  I’m all for subtle and light but the pureed meat in the raviolis was a tad too bland.  The Agnolotti at Terza was perfect though.  I ordered a half portion to not go crazy and little love pockets from heaven is my best description.  Perfect proportions of the lamb combined with the pasta and the cheese sauce.  Lovely. 

I can’t not say anything about the bread and the service.  These items for me are always what put the cherry on the top of the sundae.  Let me say it was a close race on service, with La Terza winning by a hair, but considering that I was the only one at the bar at 5 PM, let’s call it even.  Bread though? La Terza, how do you know we love our bread warm with a little olive oil and grilling?  Ms. Silverton, you are a bread genius but I hold you to the highest standard always…this night didn’t cut it.

I didn’t have an official dessert at La Terza, my lemon drop started the evening and so I guess let’s say that was dessert.  Sugar rim was a little rocky, but good enough.  The Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes with gelato and glass sugar accompaniment had been sold to me at Mozza because of their simplicity.  Sadly, while I was a little overstuffed at that point, the salt inclusion which started off as an interesting play against the ice cream and the little cakes, became cloying very quickly.  I just couldn’t finish it. 

My total bill at both was in the $75 and up range for one person.  I do recommend considering half portions when you order pasta…you really get away from feeling it’s a horse race to finish everything and you aren’t so overstuffed later.  Both get my SINGLE DINER stamp of approval with the following SINGLE DINER ratings:

SINGLE DINER COMFORT RATING:  28 of 30 for both.  Didn’t matter if I was there with someone or by myself.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE:  Osteria M. The bar is very large and more of a party crowd.
BEING TAKEN CARE OF: Both tie.  Osteria M. had great service, hard to tell with Terza as I was one of two at the bar and the bartender talked to me the entire time.
BEING LEFT ALONE: Osteria M.  Too busy for anyone to notice you unless you want to be noticed.
QUIET FOR WORKING OR READING: I would not give marks on this to either, La Terza can get pretty loud and it’s a small bar.

Hugs and kisses….

SINGLE DINER (E)

How do you feel?

July 4, 2008

Ulterior Motives explores Los Angeles and beyond from a sensory and sensual level.  Events, objects, ideas, artistic expression, and sustenance are discussed with aplomb in this space.