Monday, November 29, 2010

Tis The Season to Post Old Blogs and Meet My Goal of Four Per Month

I'll be honest - when I saw those first couple of snowflakes today, I smiled. Although I'm no fan of snow, I do really like this time of year. Mostly it's because of, you know, The Season. I've been listening to Christmas music for a solid week and a half already. The great thing about two different radio stations being all-Christmas all the time is that if a crappy, i.e. James Taylor, Christmas song comes on, you've always got another option. And if both options suck, you can always put on the Throwback Lunch and hear Regulate.

I was looking back at my myspace blog as I contemplated (lazily, without any action) archiving it all, and I came across several Christmas-related blogs I'd written. Several meaning, like, a lot. Most of them from 2007, because I guess I was the most Christmassy that year. I really get into Christmas. So, I thought I'd resurrect (OH MAN) some of the writing and hopefully rope in some of you to my spirit of the season. Something like that. Here ya go:

Please ignore the poor capitalization and probably some curse words. Oh, how I've grown up...

okay. so if you know me in any way that's important at all, you probably know how much i love christmas. i mean for real, i absolutely love it. i know not everybody agrees with me, so here are some of the reasons i love the holiday season. maybe it'll inspire you to love it a little more. or, maybe you'll stay in your sad little shell of holiday hatred. whatever. i don't care...

*the oldies station plays christmas music 24 hours a day. even if you don't like christmas music, the chance of hearing aaron neville on the radio increases exponentially. you can't tell me that's not an incredible reason to appreciate the holidays.

*another radio-related get to hear "the sexy christmas carols." this title was created by my brilliant brother emil last december. it refers to songs like "rockin' around the xmas tree," "santa baby," "jingle bell rock," the jazzy version of "white christmas," and "santa claus is coming to town" sung by bruce springsteen (you can hear him laughing in the middle of the chorus. how adorable). the sexy christmas carols really make the season what it is, you know?

*christmas lights.

*the festival of lights at olin park in madison. there are all these businesses that sponsor "light sculptures" which are pretty half-assed, really, but still great. i go about twice a week to drive around the park looking at a santa golfing, a penguin ice skating, a dragon acting gay, or an elf-looking kid running down the stairs. this year, i pledge to include booze in this trip more often.

*i can use my new catch phrase. it works mostly if i've been at the drink for several hours. basically what i do is have a glass in my hand, preferably a martini glass, and hold it up and let a lot of it slosh about, whilst saying "TIS THE SEASON." just a note, "TIS THE SEASON" can be followed by "bitches" or "assholes," and the sloshing can be replaced by ice cubed tinkling in a highball glass. either way, i'll probably spill a lot.

*presents. i'll always be a kid about presents. sorry. materialism.

*cookies. baking cookies. decorating cookies. eating cookies. duh.

*the birth of our one and only lord jesus h. christ.

*wassail. its kind of sweet, but its tasty.

*family time. especially because this year it will involved hours of guitar hero three, played on HARD, bitches, cuz i'm so talented, AND the karaoke celebration party. AND my parents will play both games. not well, but they'll play.

still hate the holidays? maybe you should be hanging out with me more often. sorry you're such a sucker. also sorry if i've been a jerk. i may be channeling delicious food a bit at the moment. oh passive-aggression, how i love thee.

I thought of some more reasons for the season. there may be more soon. make sure you check back often. anyhow:

*at java detour (the drive through coffee place on east washington in madison), they put these little stickers over the mouth hole of hot drinks. well, at the holidays, the stickers get way cute; snowmen, candy canes, and tiny mittens! you can also decorate the inside of your car with these stickers. totals sexy.

*there are actually THREE radio stations that play christmas music! one is "Lite 107.3" which plays the cheesier music. today I heard aaron neville twice. how bout it.

*when i leave work at 9 pm, i turn all the lights off but the christmas lights stay on.

*i constantly have a slightly fluttering feeling in my stomach. tummy. gut. crap factory. as hilarious as i am, come on...that was touching.

so basically, if you're anybody who's anybody, you read my blog, you subscribe to my cannot wait for my next blog to be written. and such and such. right? after all, i am kind of known as madison' own Gossip Girl (yes, akin to the CW's Gossip Girl) and am probably most people's main source of both information and entertainment. Um...if you're not one of these people, you might want to go ahead and subscribe to my blog right now and pretend like you've been a reader all along. it will most likely be better for you socially.

you loyal readers (and millions of fans), most likely remember a few blogs ago when i wrote about how much i love the holidays. one of my top reasons was because of my new catch phrase, "tis the season." as you probably recall, it is mostly used when consuming cocktails and being charming, as my life goes about 45% of the time lately. fantastic. Anyhow, I ran into one mr. shane at monty's yesterday who informed me that he has been saying "tis the season" for awhile as well, and says it frequently, and at extremely opportune times. to shane, i give a high five of solidarity, sister, and encourage you to do the same. not only high five shane, but let's get going on this catch phrase! spread it round, fools, and help to make those who are less fortunate than you and i (in awesomeness) a little more joyous. it can be your holiday charity/volunteer work that your mom asks you to do instead of getting her a present.

already, people and businesses around the country are contributing to the greater use of "tis the season." in fact, in a conversation with my sister, aka Lady Sara of Haute-lanta, she informed me of several emails she's recently received that do use our favorite holiday phrase. here are some that she shared with me:

Tis the season to earn holiday rewards! (Best Buy)
Tis the season to save on holiday shipping (Target)
Tis the drink coffee! (Starbucks...BOOOOOO! booo to starbucks)
Tis the season to be greeting (Costco). huh? maybe it was written by a foreigner.
Tis the season to read mystery novels and drink hot chocolate! (from her local indy bookstore),
to which I replied
tis the season to curl up in a semi-modern armchair and read this month's issue of "Out" magazine

This got me thinking. If any old d-bag can send out some mass email with MY catch phrase in it, what else night be out there in the world? So i did a little research. and here are some of the things i found:

Tis the season for coupon codes!
Tis the season for controversy.
Tis the season to understand the ploys of persuasion.
Tis the season for drinking and driving.
Tis the season to deck the halls with December's critter...
Tis the season to be careful if you're buying Packers tickets.
Tis the season for parades, decorating and goodwill Main streets throughout Pickens County...
Tis the season to be nudie!
Tis the season to Photoshop Santa Claus hats onto everything.
Tis the season to shop for just the right gift card.
Tis the season to be a Marvel fan, as the Marvel Holiday Special dashes into stores with ...
and my personal favorite...
Tis the season to get stuffed with gratin ( If you're curious, click)

As you can see, others have absolutely NO qualms about using the greatest catch phrase in the world to their advantage. i suggest you do the same. Here are a few that I created, mostly that relate to my personal and work life at the moment. Just in time for the season:

Tis the season to not be a total d-bag.
Tis the season to eat a taco or burger with me tonight.
Tis the season to wear something tight.
Tis the season to take a shower.
Tis the season to buy a girl an effing drink.
Tis the season to dig my car out of the snow while I watch from inside.
Tis the season to let me watch your television because mine broke and all I do anymore is write blogs.

Tis the Season Blog - 2008

Woooo! Christmas! Tis the season, um, gentlemen. See how polite I've become in the last three years? Wow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh Hey, More Kids Stories

Work was so ridiculous today. I don't know if it's because of the short school week or the full moon, but the kids were hilarious today. Usually I can tell ahead of time when days are going to get weird, like the first day it snows, or the last day or school, or that one week in October when they kids had a 4-day weekend right before Halloween. So insane. I don't even know why I bothered to teach that day. During two separate lessons, we just colored for a good 20 minutes. Out of a 30 minute lesson. I even warned the parents and everything, and they practically shoved their kids into my studio, exasperatedly shouting "IT'S FINE, JUST GO," before going next door for a margarita. I mean, I imagine that's where they went.

There are just those days once in awhile when all the kids are a little loopy or crazy or crabby or funny, or all of the above. I love those days. I leave them exhausted and happy and full of stories from the hilarious kids I'm privileged to work with every day. Whether they're being crazy or tired or funny or just themselves, I feel so lucky to get to experience these things. Here's a few of the wonderful moments from today:

S, age 9, comes in and informs me that they did not end up naming their new kitten "Reem," which had previously been a possibility. Instead, it's named Pandora, Panda for short. I tell her I'm not disappointed, but if she gets another cat ever, she should name it "Reem is Great." She half-assedly agrees.

M, age 8, smiles when she plays her Harry Potter music. She sits at the piano and smiles while playing. It's so lovely.

K, age 13. Oh lord. K and I somehow got on the subject of the game Would You Rather. I give him my favorite one: Would you rather have teeth made of sand or hands made of plastic gloves filled with yogurt? Immediately, he chooses yogurt hands. "But how would you do anything?" I ask. "How would you play video games and take out the trash and brush your teeth?" He thinks about it. "Okay, with the sand teeth, could you buy dentures?" he challenges. I tell him no, that's against the rules. He says he'll think about it and let me know. He then inquires as to whether I enjoy other games like this, and I tell him about the game Genia made up in her dream, Gross Food Combinations (name two foods that are fine on their own but gross together). I give him the example of tomatoes and milk, to which he indignantly responds, "No, that's fine! It's just a basic tomato-cream sauce!" I had no idea he was such a gourmet cook! "Well," I answer, "Think about like tomatoes and ice cream." He shakes his head. "Naw, people totally make that. It's fine! It's kind of like a parfait. Although you'd probably call it a BARF-ait, right?" I stare at him, astonished, then immediately make him give me a high five. Tears well up in my eyes and I tell him that this is one of the most hilarious things I've ever heard. I also tell him that he'd get along really well with most of my friends. We laugh and laugh and laugh...

K, age 12, sight-reads a new piece. Right when I'm silently marveling at her intense focus, right in the middle of a complex line of music, she casually says to me, "So, got any plans for Thanksgiving?" She keeps her eyes on the music, her fingers keep playing, and she begins a conversation with me. "Really?" I ask her. She doubles over laughing and exclaims, "I didn't realize what was happening until the words were coming out of my house! NO, my mouth, not my house, my mouth!"

M, age 8 - We play a duet together. And if I do say so myself, we play it fantastically well. Right at the end, I turn to her all excited and say something like "We're so great and awesome!" She busts out laughing and pointing at my face and yells "You've got bug eyes! Your eyes are giant and buggy!" Thanks, M. She also smiles a lot when she plays. You don't even know how magical it is to see a little kid smile while creating her own music.

D, age 7 - I ask her what holiday we're celebrating this week. She answers "Piano." She then looks uncertain, but doesn't say anything else.

N, age 14 - I persuade him to try playing "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen. He gets through the piano solo beautifully and I nearly cry for the second time in 4 hours. I tell him that I'll probably be real emotional if he ends up working on this song. He responds with a smart-assy "Well, I'll see what I can do about it then."

The solo part is right after 5:30.

Oh these kids. I mean, do you get why I go to work early when I'm in a bad mood? I mean, you do understand, don't you, just why I love my job? Wouldn't you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Fills the Void

Sometimes I eat this for dinner:

The couscous is from a box...

And the tomatoes are from a can.

It takes about six minutes to prepare, there's not much nutritional value, and I add exactly zero spices, but man, it's warm and tasty and, as one Lia Carman used to say, "it fills the void."

This has been turned into a good meal on other nights; I'd probably sauté some garlic and onions, mix in some spinach, maybe toast up a Morningstar Farms Chik Patty, and sprinkle a bit of cheese on there. Delicious, right? You see, some days I actually care about food. But other days I get off work at 9 pm after I've spent the day trying to keep the attention of a zillion children whilst also making sure to cover some piano skills, talk about our love for music, and occasionally do a little therapy with them when they need it. You know, Talking Days. And my face hurts when I get home, from the talking, smiling, laughing, being tense, holding my breath... I'm halfway into my pajamas before I even put away my work bag.

It's days like this that this is my dinner. And it's so lovely. Today was lovely.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meat, Metal, and Mac 'n Cheese for the Table: Kuma's Corner

Although it seems to be all I write about anymore, I promise this isn't going to turn into a food/eating blog. I mean, yeah, food and eating take up a lot of my time, what with being a part of my damn family, living in a city with delicious and interesting restaurants, and personally feeling excitement and motivation about cooking and baking. But there are other things in life too, right? Like...nature ? I don't know. There are other things. I promise. There are already enough fantastic food blogs out there. Here are some of my favorites:

Epic Portions: I'm pretty sure one of the writers on this site is my soul mate. Maybe we'll get married. Also, he's real into "eating challenges," like when you get your picture on the wall for finishing 4 pounds of bacon. Excellent.

This Is Why You're Fat: This site is gross. But it's also entertaining and funny.

Everybody Likes Sandwiches: This woman has pretty healthy, but delicious-sounding recipes, and really cute layout and pictures.

Delicious Food: THIS one! The writer behind this site is a genius. I'm sorry, but she is. She can be kind of an ass sometimes, but she's good.

Okay. So with that in mind, here's another story about eating and food. Better yet, it's a story about eating food with my family! This family of mine, they are voracious eaters. When I was a teenager, I witnessed my cousin Samer finishing an entire turkey leg from the Taste of Chicago, which I'd never seen before. If you've been to The Taste, you know what I'm talking about; giant turkey legs, meaty and dripping, being carried around and not finished by grown ass burly men. And my little 14-year-old cousin showed them all up when he polished off the turkey leg and went back for more.

Luai and Laith will often partake in all-you-can-eat sushi. Several of us used to get a "platter" of wings (now called a "party pan," apparently), which serves 8 - 16 people, from Buffalo Joe's and eat them in my parents' backyard. Most likely, it served 8 or less. I myself ate an entire Awesome Blossom once, but to be fair, it was because of my family, and a wonderful bet, that I did it. There are rarely any Thanksgiving leftovers. I mean, look. We know how to eat.

Despite this, I was surprised to realize the group that had convened when we'd planned a big trip to Kuma's Corner in Chicago one weekend: Layla, Lameis, Emil, Mladenka, and myself. Not the biggest of the eaters, which made me a bit nervous, but I knew they'd pull through. You see, Kuma's is an adventure, a challenge, and quite an experience, to say the least. Kuma's is known for it's burgers that are all named after metal bands. They're served on thick pretzel rolls, and you get the option of a 10oz. burger, boneless chicken breast, garden burger, or chicken tenders. The plates come with the sandwich and on the side, a heap of waffle fries or homemade chips. Even the ketchup has jalapeños in it. Everything is so intense.

Have a listen to what this jackass has to say:

Since being featured on The Food Network, Kuma's is near impossible to get into - that is, without waiting for hours. And so, it was pretty dumb for us to go on a Friday night, but it was the earliest I could get to town and our only night free together. However, we went into it with a good attitude, the knowledge that we'd be waiting for a long time, and the intention to have a few drinks. And it totally worked.

A word of advice. Don't drink beer at Kuma's if you plan on eating. You'll get too full! Have a few vodkas. Leave some room in your stomach. Because dudes? Besides the famous burgers, there is an option to build your own mac n' cheese. Holy crap. I actually think this is the most delicious thing on the menu. We get an order "for the table" and add in bacon and mushrooms. Ugh. So ridiculous.

Alright, so the burgers. The Kuma's Burger has a fried egg on it. I love fried eggs on burgers and sandwiches. I'm sure it's prety much the unhealthiest thing you could ever eat, but it's so good! Here are a few views of the Kuma's Burger, which Mladenka ordered. Bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg!
Look at that wobbly yolk! Ha, gross.
And the tallness of that burger...impressive.
Emil got a burger none of us had ever ordered before: The Goblin Cock. One of my favorite moments of the night was when he looked up at the waitress, all wide-eyed and innocent, and asked, sincerely and geniuinely, "How's the Goblin Cock, in your opinion?"
It's pretty much like getting an entire hot dog on your burger: Bacon, cheddar cheese, a ¼lb. Vienna hot dog, tomatoes, onion, neon green relish, sport peppers, pickles, celery salt, and mustard.
Layla also tried a new one: the Neurosis.
This had cheddar, swiss, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and horseradish mayo. Layla commented that the burger really could have used an additional meat on it, like bacon. So proud of my cousin. So, so proud.
Lameis and I both opted for an all-time favorite: The Mastodon.
This one has BBQ sauce, cheddar, bacon, and frizzled onions on top.
You can feel and hear the onions crunch when you take a bite.
Here's Emil, good old L'il Brudder, showing off the Goblin Cock that he proudly ordered.
Here's Layla and I with our burgers. Look at the determination in Layla's eyes!
That's the wide-eyed, innocent look I was telling you about. Strange, isn't it?
One more view of the Kuma's Burger. Look at that melted cheese and egg in there! Oh god, I love layers and pictures of layers.
Here's our receipt. It does not include any of the pre-dinner drinks. I wish I had evidence of that.
The after effects of a night like this are numerous, and often unpleasant. Thankfully, we as a family have somewhat realized some limits in our adult years, and each of us only ate half of our burgers (you can eat the rest later!) and took the other half home. Nevertheless, this still happens:
We were also very thankful that Layla lives about 30 feet away from Kuma's, so we all trudged up to her place to rest for awhile. There was not a lot of talking; mostly groaning and mumbling. We couldn't even drink water for awhile. Eventually the others left and I passed out and had insane dreams, I'm sure. The next morning I woke up to a still-full stomach, a greasy wallet in my purse, and a view of this line to get into Kuma's for lunch. It was 11:00 am.

So what's the moral of the story, you ask? Well jeez, there doesn't always have to be a moral, you know. Relax. But in this case, there is. I heard a lot of criticism and judgement about the fact that we waited almost two hours to eat at Kuma's. But you know what? If you were with my awesome family, you wouldn't mind waiting 2 hours. Because we have fun, man! We have a good time! And sometimes you have to just calm the hell down and wait for awhile and enjoy your company, and then two hours later, you get the reward of a giant burger called The Goblin Cock. And a mac n' cheese for the table. And a wonderful story to tell.

Trust me, it was worth it.