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Archive for December, 2008

We’ve been known to go to Naked City, a new pub in Greenwood. I wanted to add a review to Yelp when I noticed an interesting pattern in the other reviews. The reviews were almost all favorable, but quite a few complained how at Naked City you order your beer at the bar.

Some of my international readers may be confused at this moment. Ordering at the bar is bad? As opposed to ordering where? I have to admit when I moved to Washington state I found it a bit peculiar that almost all pubs have table service. I don’t recall that being the case in California. It may have been more like 50/50. In Britain of course you generally order at the bar unless you’re in a restaurant that also happens to serve beer. Ordering at the bar seems to be the case in most of the places I travel to.

Personally, I prefer it. If a pub doesn’t hire enough servers then you invariably will be looking around and waiting for someone to serve you. Which can be a bit distracting.

I liken it to Oregon where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Oregon state law prevents you from doing this in order to save gas station attendant jobs. While this is a great idea in theory, gas stations are too cheap to hire the requisite number of attendants so you are invariably waiting for someone to do something for you that you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself. But I digress.

So what do you think?

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I spotted this cute little guy on Sunday. Let me tell you it’s hard getting a picture of a woodpecker. They never stop pecking. I got so many blurry images of its head pounding the tree.

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When the story about Bernard Madoff first broke, I immediately thought of the Nineteenth Century Playwright Harley Granville Barker. His play The Voysey Inheritance begins with a son finding out from his father that the family business is no more than a Ponzi scheme. The son is asked by the father to inherit the business and perpetuate the ruse. If you have the time to read the rather long excerpt from the first act, I highly recommend it. You can find it below. If not, here is the link to Google Books. Print it out and take it home. It’s worth it and very timely. It’s a comedy, I think.

I haven’t used block quotes in order to put more text on the page. I’ve done some editing to make it easier to read than what I copied and pasted it from. The scene begins in Mr. Voysey’s office.

Just after Act I begins:

———————————————————
MR. VOYSEY. Good morning, my dear boy.

EDWARD has little of his father in him and that little
is undermost. It is a refined face but self-conscious-
ness takes the place in it of imagination and in
suppressing traits of brutality in his character it
looks as if the young man had suppressed his sense
of humour too. But whether or no, that would not
be much in evidence now, for EDWARD is obviously
going through some experience which is scaring
him (there is no better word). He looks not to
have slept for a night or two, and his standing there,
clutching and unclutching the bundle of papers he
carries, his eyes on his father, half appealingly but
half accusingly too, his whole being altogether so un-
strung and desperate, makes MR. VOYSEY ‘s uninter-
rupted arranging of the flowers seem very calculated
indeed. At last the little tension of silence is broken.

EDWARD. Father . .

MR. VOYSEY. Well?

EDWARD. I’m glad to see you.

This is a statement of fact. He doesn’t know that
the commonplace phrase sounds ridiculous at such
a moment.

MR. VOYSEY. I see you’ve the papers there.

EDWARD. Yes.

MR. VOYSEY. You’ve been through them ?

EDWARD. As you wished me . .

MR. VOYSEY. Well ? [EDWARD doesn’t answer. Refer-
ence to the papers seems to overwhelm him with shame. MR.
VOYSEY goes on with cheerful impatience.] Come, come,
my dear boy, you mustn’t take it like this. You’re puzzled
and worried, of course. But why didn’t you come down
to me on Saturday night? I expected you . . I told you
to come. Then your mother was wondering, of course,
why you weren’t with us for dinner yesterday.

EDWARD. I went through all the papers twice. I
wanted to make quite sure.

MR. VOYSEY. Sure of what? I told you to come
to me.

EDWARD, [he is very near crying.] Oh, father.

MR. VOYSEY. Now look here, Edward, I’m going to
ring’ and dispose of these letters. Please pull yourself
together. [He pushes the little button on his table.]
EDWARD. I didn’t leave my rooms all day yesterday.

MR. VOYSEY. A pleasant Sunday! You must learn
whatever the business may be to leave it behind
you at the Office. Why, life’s not worth living else.

PEACEY comes in to find MR. VOYSEY before the fire
ostentatiously warming and rubbing his hands.

MR. VOYSEY. Oh, there isn’t much else, Peacey. Tell Simmons that if
he satisfies you about the details of this lease it’ll be all
right. Make a note for me of Mr. Grainger’s address at
Mentone. I shall have several letters to dictate to At-
kinson. I’ll whistle for him.

PEACEY. Mr. Burnett . . Burnett v Marks had just
come in, Mr. Edward.

EDWARD, [without turning.} It’s only fresh instruc-
tions. Will you take them?

PEACEY. All right.

PEACEY goes, lifting his eyebrow at the queerness of
EDWARD’S manner. This MR. VOYSEY sees, re-
turning to his table with a little scowl.

MR. VOYSEY. Now sit down. I’ve given you a bad
forty-eight hours, it seems. Well, I’ve been anxious about
you. Never mind, we’ll thresh the thing out now. Go
through the two accounts. Mrs. Murberry’s first . . how
do you find it stands?

EDWARD, [his feelings choking him.] I hoped you
were playing some trick on me.
(more…)

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Unusual vegetarian meats

R.J. this one is for you.

1. Vegetarian haggis. I can vouch for MacSween’s vegetarian haggis. It’s good. Perhaps better than real haggis…

(more…)

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Making tamales

I’ve been experimenting with food photography to no avail. I love to cook and I love to take pictures, but the low-light problems as well as my lack of talent suggests I need to take more photos of sceneries.

In any case, every year for Christmas I make my dad a batch of tamales and Fedex them over to him in California.

1. A good tamale starts with lard. The first year I gave these a try I used shortening. They were great I thought. Then the next year I tried lard and I’ve never looked back. Lard is better. It is on the other hand extremely difficult to clean dishes and hands that have lard on them.

More after the jump. (more…)

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Seattle Snow Photos

I realize I’m late to the party on this one. The snow has just about melted away. But my camera to computer chord was held hostage at work and I have only just freed it. I hope you enjoy them.

1. We took a walk to the pub in our neighborhood which we found to be a very popular activity. With everyone snowed in, everyone wanted to drink. On the way to the pub we came across this street that had many decorative lights as well as these amazing trees full of ice.

2. Some of the Christmas lights at this house were buried under snow.

3. I was fortunate to have witnessed the first time Jake ever tried a milkshake. Now I can say I witnessed also his first snow angel.

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Here’s an great year in sports call-out to Jason Lezak, a professional free-style relay swimmer. Lezak always swims in relays and always swims the free-style leg, so he’s pretty much remained out of the limelight. Until now.

Usain Bolt wasn’t the only man in Beijing last summer to cover 100 meters under his own power faster than anyone ever had before. The other man who made locomotive history isn’t nearly as well remembered, but he should be. Without him, Michael Phelps doesn’t beat Mark Spitz, doesn’t win eight gold medals and isn’t the greatest swimmer who ever lived.

If you watched the Olympics, you’re heard of him. But there’s a good chance you don’t remember his name. You should. It’s Jason Lezak.

The whole article is a great read. Here’s the video.

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I don’t think I’ve ever watched the movie through from start to finish, but Stephen Metcalf makes me think that I should. Is Risky Business a hidden gem? I resisted the urge to post the underwear scene.

UpdateDan Savage apparently had the same feeling. Perhaps this means it’s time for a Criterion Collection reissue?

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Freddy Mercury: Barcelona

I guess I’m behind the curve as I didn’t know about this performance for the Barcelona Olympics with Freddy Mercury and opera singer Montserrat Caballe. What a great performance.

Click here for the video.

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christmasnaziAn odd headline, for an interesting article:

‘Tis the season to gather, be grateful for what we have and share what we can. But for cinephiles, it’s awards season, and that means dreary fare – particularly with a World War II or Holocaust focus. No fewer than six are set for release this holiday season.

So why, during what’s supposed to be the cheeriest time of year, this abundance of stories from one of humanity’s darkest hours?

“Much of it is awards-driven,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, which tracks box-office totals. “Downer movies come out this time of year as a reflection of the fact that people are vying for Oscars.”

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Talking Points Memo does an annual “Duke Awards” for political scandals. I really enjoyed this video detailing the many nominees and categories. There’s something about actually hearing a journalist’s opinion that is very appealing.

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Shirtless Putin

Via 236.

Proof that Drudge polls are useless

There was always a bias there, natch. After the debates McCain or Palin was always declared the runaway winner. But today’s “Shirtless Obama vs Shirtless Putin” poll is just off the charts. Here’s where the results are at now…

For glittering commentary on Obama, Blair, Sarkozy and Putin click here. Best quote:  “Putin is going bald, which would normally be -2. But he’s going “Ed Harris” bald, which is +2. Which brings him back to 0.”

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I want to say two words to you. Just two words. Are you listening? Postal Coupons.

Ponzi eventually found his way to get rich quick using a vagary of the postal system. At the time, it was common for letters abroad to include an international reply coupon — a voucher that could be exchanged for minimum postage back to the country from which the letter was sent.

The article is a great read.

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Still snowed in

I’m loving staying at home. Watched Alexander Nevsky last night. Great film.

In today’s news I notice that the Pope is going on about his favorite target: the gays. Christ, that guy thinks about sex a lot. Which I suppose is understandably since he’s supposed to not be having any, but really? Isn’t Christmas just two days away? You’d think he’d have plenty to talk about in regard to the birth of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Gay groups and activists have reacted angrily after Pope Benedict XVI said that mankind needed to be saved from a destructive blurring of gender.

Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment.

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Via Gawker.

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I’ve got a million photos but unfortunately I left the chord that links my camera to my computer at work. I’m not going to work to get it. Snow everywhere in Seattle. Here’s a photo from the Seattle PI with a guy skiing down Queen Anne Ave. That’s got to be a hell of a ride.

The only thing of interest news wise seems to be a poll that most Americans think Guantanomo Bay should stay open. There really is no excuse for Americans sometimes.

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Sponge Bob Square Pants Man

So I’m in the pub Naked City in Greenwood last night, a place  I highly recommend. It was snowing quite a bit and we had a good view of Greenwood. We watched people walking down the street delighting in the snow, and we saw a few cars go by. At some point an older Subaru drove up and a man wearing a Sponge Bob Square Pants shirt and a top hat got out of the car. He walked into the pub and tried to start up a conversation with various groups of people, though not us. He went up to the barman, had words and then muttered something inaudible but clearly not pleasant. He then went walked out shaking his head as if to say “what a load of crazies.” He then went to the pub next door and was out of our view. Minutes later he left with clearly the same result. He then got in his car and drove off.

So here’s what I want to know. Who is this guy? What does he want? And why is he braving terrible Seattle weather to get it? I remain in the dark.

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What I love about David Horsey is the attention to detail.

See the original in full here.

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Previously I posted about attending the Dina Martina Christmas Show. One of the shticks of Dina Martina is mispronounce words on purpose. Gifts are “jifts” for instance. Dina admits that giving “jifts” is so much more fun than giving “gifts.”

Here also is a quote from an interview in today’s Seattle Times where she gets the expression wrong — another tendency of hers.

However, there’s a certain je ne sais pas about your moist region that is undeniable.

I was immediately intrigued by this strange phenomenon as it reminds me very much of my father’s inclination to mispronounce things. What’s more, it’s a phenomenon that I don’t think anyone has every openly discussed before despite being widespread. Why do people do this?

As children, we used  to shop at Mervyn’s but my dad would always say “Merlins” instead. We also used to eat ice cream at “Phipp’s” though to my dad it was always “Pipp’s.” I know he did this on purpose because as children we would harp on and on about how  the words were really supposed to be said. And it didn’t stop there. In the last few years, he’s gotten into the practice of pronouncing the L in salmon.

I think at some level my father knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s like he wants to irk other people in an extremely innocuous but nonetheless annoying way. My dad is from Texas and George W. Bush is from Texas. We all know that George W. Bush looooves mispronouncing nuclear as “nuculor,” and his father before him loved to mispronounce Sadaam Hussein though that was probably for other reasons.

Does anyone have some examples to share?

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One of our holiday traditions is seeing The Tudor Choir at Christmas. The music of this choral group speaks for itself. Embedding has been disabled, but if  you’d like to get a taste of it click here.

This year the Tudor Choir is doing a few concerts in the area including Christmas Carols at the Blessed Sacrament Church in the University District on December 27th, which I’ll be at. You can actually get into this concert for free since it is at a church, but I always buy tickets because I feel guilty. I’m not exactly religious but I love early music.

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Via the PI.

Looks like Microsoft is closed today.

Yes definitely.

I love this one.

Now I know why my normal bus didn’t come.

As you know I’m partial to cats.

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My morning commute

Well you can’t exactly bicycle in this weather. Which is a shame considering my journey took me 2 hours by bus. Am I a devoted workaholic? I know that I am not, so why did I brave this ridiculous weather to get to work? I really don’t know. Anyone care for gelato?

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How Madoff did it

This BBC article tells how a man like Madoff defrauded people in what amounts to a Ponzi scheme.

What made Mr Madoff unusual was the manner in which he recruited his investors.

For that he relied on a powerful but elementary piece of human psychology: the more someone tells you that you cannot have something, the more you want it.

Membership of the Madoff fund was very strictly by invitation only – merely being rich was not enough in itself.

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No I didn’t get stuck on a Whistler gondola. Honestly, it’s been a somewhat tough time of year. They have announced at my work that there will be layoffs sometime early next year. That news along with the normal Seattle glum weather has left me a little joy-less during this usually festive time of year.

This is one of the few Christmas songs I like. I normally just like traditional carols.

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Whistler Village

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