Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Was That?

So, when it comes to music, I'm a lyrics girl. I mean, obviously, there has to be a beat and some kind of melody, and all that; I'm not really up for grooving to spoken-word on the bus, or whatever. But I've never gotten people who say they don't listen to, or never learn, the words of the music they listen to. The lyrics may not come first, but sooner or later...right?

But sometimes, I have to say, the lyrics ruin it all--I was listening to a song the other day, and it's a song of which I've recently become quite fond. It's cute, and funny, and it plays like a sweet little romantic comedy in my head. And then I heard this one line clearly for the first time and was all, "Wait, what did you just say? See, now, you are not nearly as cute as you were ten seconds ago."

(Notice that I'm not telling you which song by which band, so as to not spoil your own enjoyment. I am nice.)

This may happen to me a lot because I listen to a lot of bands fronted by mumbly boys, so that actually learning the words is a kind of continual journey of discovery. Apparently, bad diction covers a multitude of sins; this is, I guess, why we have "Inna Gadda da Vida" and "Louie, Louie." And maybe it's for the best--for all I know, all the cute boppy indie bands I like are singing about kicking puppies and stealing candy from small children, and all I can think is, "Awww, he really loves his girlfriend!"

Go back to your mumbling, boys.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend in

I spent most of this weekend at home. I mean, I did go out--I saw The Reader with a friend; I went for a run; I grocery shopped; I went to church--but mostly I've been indulging my inner homebody and hanging out with the cat. (Don't worry: Glenna visited last weekend to make me get out. Proof here and here!) Let's just say there's something to be said for the joys of a little at-home time, as follows:

This is not a cooking blog. I'm an avid consumer of other people's writing about food (Orangette and Smitten Kitchen keep me in recipes), me. From a girl who eats either sausage/onion/apple stir-fry or boiled kale as weekly standbys, you don't really need to know what I'm eating all the time.

But then there's this recipe, one I've been using forever, one which never lets me down. This is the kind of recipe you could make when, say, the entire population of a small country is coming to your home, or when you simply own more Tupperware than any normal human should. It's a little time-consuming--brown rice! From scratch!--but it's worth it, especially if you want to have lunch taken care of for the next two weeks, at least.

Curried Brown Rice with Chicken and Apples

1 TBS oil
2 lb. chicken, chopped
3 medium granny smith apples, chopped
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS curry powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 c raisins
5 c chicken broth
2 c brown rice
salt and pepper

In a large (no, really, LARGE) pan, heat oil. Salt and pepper chicken, and brown in oil. Remove from pan. Add apples, onions, garlic, curry, and cumin; saute five minutes. Add broth and raisins. Bring to a boil; add rice and chicken. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is tender, about 60 minutes.


I started a new sweater, the February Lady Sweater, a couple of weeks ago, but I've been cruising through it this weekend with the help of Friday Night Lights, Dollhouse, season four of Doctor Who, and (and now for something completely different) Harvey. It turns out that this kind of bulky lace is really fun to knit, and zooms past--all those holes! I despair of the time when it will actually be warm enough to wear this, but others have assured me that the day will, in fact, come.

The victory here is that the in-progress version actually fits; this whole "trying things on" concept is the joy of the top-down sweater. I am not sure that my spatial brain really gets how top-down raglan sweaters work (starting with a single row and ending up with the three-dimensional shoulders of a sweater is clearly magic and has no basis in rational geometry), but I am all for it.

So...there's that. Health food and handknits.

And, in conclusion, a gratuitous shot of the cat:

He has no shame. Ah, well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why didn't I think of that?

Things Dove Chocolate thinks I should do or know about love, gathered from the wrappers in one bag of milk chocolate hearts:

- Believe in those I love
- Celebrate family and friends
- Be a little mysterious
- Sleep under the stars tonight
- Listen with my heart
- A gentle touch speaks volumes
- Hold hands firmly, hearts gently
- Discover how much my heart can hold
- Remember my first crush
- Laugh until my heart overflows
- Share a sunset

And one thing I can't really dispute:

- Chocolate. Always my valentine.

Happy St. Valentine's Day to all. (See how I appreciated you just there? This TOTALLY WORKS.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

12 of 12: February

February 12 of 12, wherein I post 12 pictures of my February 12, and lots of other people do the same. For more, see Chad Darnell's blog--it's his baby.

On with the photos!

6:51 - How I feel waking up in the morning when I know I'm off to work.

6:53 - How Sherlock feels waking up in the morning when he knows he's going back to sleep for 18 hours.

7:07 - Taking a minute with Hebrews and my trusty cinnamon-spice oatmeal. Sherlock supervises.

7:48 - I never get tired of the National Cathedral. It's always there, and it never gets any smaller, and that is amazing to me.

7:50 - A sunny morning on the N4. I like my bus commute.

12:15 - Yes, my cup of chocolate pudding is basically bigger than my cup of soup, which is...the proper order of the universe, right?

1:05 - Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't been rained on, snowed on, or frozen to the core once this week? (This girl!)

6:08 - Walking home from the bus in the last moments of daylight.

7:00 - Sherlock takes out the pink feather monster, which is probably very satisfying but also leaves him picking pink fuzz out of his teeth for like a week.

7:19 - Staring blankly at my Confessions of a Shopaholic review for

7:45 - Assembling leftovers of my favorite winter dinner. It's a good thing this stuff's healthy, because I eat it constantly on account of its being totally delicious.

7:55 - For an upcoming writing project, I'm collecting all the jerk things Alex Trebek says to his Jeopardy! contestants. Part of me thinks the Trebek thing's been covered by SNL; the rest of me thinks his supply of smarmy condescension is simply endless. Oy, Trebek. OY.

That's it; thanks for stopping in. Next month: same bat time, same bat channel!

Today on This American Life...

No, I haven't been kidnapped, taken to the Caribbean, and used as bait at a shark-themed amusement park. I haven't run away with the circus as the world's least flexible contortionist. I haven't disappeared from Rock Creek Park, assumed a secret identity, or joined a cult.

I've just been busy. Busy and boring: the supervillains of the blogging world. Did you really want to hear about how my new faux-Aveeno CVS-brand hand lotion smells oaty and yet kind of like barbecued snack foods? Or how I've decided that my true love is a Roomba (Happy Valentine's Day to you, too)? I didn't think so. Also, I've been struggling over my next What I'm Watching post for an embarrassing amount of time. You can blame that, if you want to.

I did go to Borders last night to hear Ira Glass speak. If you're not hip to Ira--and I do mean hip; the audience at this thing was hilarious--you clearly aren't listening to enough public radio. He's the host of This American Life on NPR: a reporter, a storyteller, and a hero to radio fiends with nerdy glasses everywhere.**

The strangest thing was hearing Ira and seeing him at the same time. You have to understand: I spend a lot of time with this guy's voice. I listen to his show all the time--at work, on my commute, in airports, in the car, sometimes when I'm cooking. It's a distinctive voice, a reedy voice, and not really what you'd expect to hear on professional radio in the first place, but it sort of sinks into your consciousness after awhile. And so there I was last night, and the man on the dais opened his mouth, and he sounded just like Ira Glass! I felt like he was lip-synching, and like I should shut my eyes.

It was great, though. This American Life is first and foremost a radio show, but Ira was there to promote the second season of the their recent foray into TV (also called This American Life). He talked about radio and television, and his genuine surprise at the usefulness of visual storytelling. He took questions and told crazy stories--his forte and his livelihood, after all--about the making of the show(s) and about the relationships he forms with his interviewees and about what it's like to look like Rachel Maddow and be a guy. The best thing was his obvious passion for what he’s doing; he clearly loves the stories and the people of This American Life, which is awesome, because I do, too. He was nice, and funny, and I like him even better now than I did before.

I am charmed.

I think I'll go listen to the radio now.

**If you're not familiar with This American Life, let me introduce you to its glory. TAL is an hour-long weekly radio show on NPR (find your local station here), and it tells stories about people. That's it. Crazy stories, funny stories, sad stories, everything stories. Each episode has a theme, and a varying number of stories on that theme--sometimes it's just one long story, if it's a really good one; usually they're in the range of three or four, though one episode is called "Twenty Acts in Sixty Minutes," for obvious reasons. If you've never heard TAL, check it out: you can download it for free on iTunes, stream it for free from the TAL website, or try to find it on the radio. AND! The most recent podcast (the podcast version runs a week behind the live version) is a rerun of one of my all-time favorite episodes, "The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar," which is one of those stories I will never forget. One warning: if you do listen, you may become one of those people who starts every other sentence with, "I was listening to NPR the other day, and..." but it'll be worth every pretentious second.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Are you ready for some football (and social wrangling)?

I went to a Superbowl party last night.

It's funny, when you're far from home, the things that make you realize that you're alone--I didn't care so much about about the Superbowl itself, and have skipped it altogether in years past, but it was the principle of the thing. I didn't have anybody to watch it with, if I wanted to. Which is how I ended up in my ("my" in the sense that I have been there three times now) church basement at 6:00 Sunday night, surrounded by strangers and snack foods.

I think I'm glad I went--I met some people around my age, and a couple of the girls invited me to their Sunday night "alternative" service and to their Monday-night dinner group in Arlington. And there's something to be said for just going, for getting out of the house and making an effort, just to say I did. But man--there is also something about walking into a room and not knowing a single person, and having to make something of it or just stand there and be awkward, that is horrifying. I'd forgotten what that's like, and if I'd given it any thought beforehand, I frankly might not have gone. Which, of course, is totally the wrong tack to take--it's painful, but it's necessary if I want to get a handle on my life here and actually meet some people (so as to avoid this same situation in future). I am pleased with myself for going. I also left during at the beginning of the fourth quarter to go home and recover from the sheer social exhaustion I'd brought on myself (...and to watch The Office; who am I kidding?).

It'll get easier soon. Right? Right.