Tuesday, April 29, 2008


From Timesonline:

Heston Blumenthal Invents Chocolate Wine

"Heston Blumenthal, the Michelin-starred chef and kitchen chemist who gave the world egg and bacon ice-cream, has won another award for his latest Frankenstein food — warm chocolate wine.

"The velvety, frothy drink is made by whisking a £48 red dessert wine with sugar and chocolate.

"A spokeswoman at the Condé Nast Traveller Innovation and Design Awards said that judges had been seduced by the unusual combination.

“Splicing grapes with cocoa beans and coming up with a surprising chocolate wine has proved a winning formula for Blumenthal,” she said.

"Chocolate wine, which dates back to 1710 and used to be made by whisking claret or port with sugar and chocolate, has been a favourite dessert at The Fat Duck, Blumenthal's restaurant, where it shares a place on the menu alongside other palate-puzzlers such as salmon poached in liquorice gel, snail porridge and mango and Douglas fir purée.

"While other dishes are developed with the help of petri dishes and a dash of liquid nitrogen, Blumenthal uses a centrifuge to separate the solids in preparation for the chocolate wine.

"Aspiring molecular gastronomists can attempt the dish at home by bringing the wine to the boil until it is a syrupy reduction. Adding grated chocolate and milk should produce a dessert with a difference."

Mystery Mood

DIH has been feeling a tad low lately, and she is trying to figure out why.

Maybe it's because Pope Benedict went home. WIthout my seeing him. I came close, actually. A good friend wangled a ticket for me to see His Holiness on the outside the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. But the airlines refused to cooperate and I couldn't switch my flight home, and the Papal crowd refused to change their schedule, too, so DIH was feeling very left out.

Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing the expression on our very cultured Pope's face when he got a good look at the faux-Byzantine monstrosity that is the Shrine. You know the joke: when the basilica was dedicated Our Lady appeared to the faithful and said, "If people are good, some day I will build a beautiful church on this site."

I guess nobody's that good.

Or it could be the weather. We hope to get above freezing today. Woo-hoo. Hey, Global Warmers! You guys are IDIOTS!!

Or -- and I think this one is the front-runner- it could be the fact that --oh god, I can hardly type it...


I agreed to write another novel yesterday.

I know, I know, I'm a fool. A glutton for punishment. Addicted to pointless frustration. Ech. I could go on, but I don't have the heart.

Oh well. A deal is a deal. So I've got to get started on my novel. I wonder if I'll respect myself in the morning.

Probably not.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chaucer Was A Jerk

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage...

..or maybe those "pilgrimages" were to Florida. It is snowing here today.

I love Minnesota. I really, really do...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In the "Go Here Now" Department:

"A Colbert Blog for Catholic It-Getters."

A blast. And all my readers are It-Getters, right?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008. P-Day.

Or more accurately, P-P Day.

That's right, it's the moment we've all been waiting for: the Pennsylvania Primary takes place today. By eight o'clock tonight we should know who's going to get the Democratic nomination.

No, wait, that's not right. By eight o'clock tonight we'll probably know pretty much what we know now. Barring a realignment of the planets Hillary Clinton will still be at best just scraping by, and Barack "I'm-Not-An-Elitist-But-I-Play-One-On TV" Obama will still be ahead. And Hillary and her minions will stop making little squeaky noises about an Obama-Clinton ticket and start roaring about it.

DIH has to say the Obama-Clinton bickering has not only been entertaining, but world-changing. Who could possibly have imagined, a year ago, that John McCain might actually start looking kind of attractive? Compared to the Hl-Bar show McCain looks like a- a- I don't know what. A gentleman. A class act. A doll. It's like we've entered an alternative universe.

Watch out for four horsemen, America. And fire up the popcorn machine. It should be an interesting night.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Martial Arts Wisdom

Whatever you do, keep breathing.

Trotting confidently across the padded floor is one of the best ways to stub your toe and be sent sprawling.

Folding one's foot in half is painful, no matter how you look at it.

Never attend the children's class.

Practice every day and the secrets of the universe will be revealed to you. Why God made ibuprophen, for instance.

Persevere. Focus on your goal. You goal is to earn the right to ditch the white martial arts costume and don the black. Remember, white makes you look fat.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Good To Be Back! Really!

DIH has wrapped up her travels and returned home. The house is trashed, the bills are unpaid, and the plants are dead. Oh, and the car's been towed. I have no idea where it is right now.

It's a good feeling to know that when you really need to write uninterruptedly to meet a deadline you can escape the responsibilities of home life and lie low at a friend's place until the task is completed.

It's a bad feeling to think what one might be returning to back at the ranch. Ripped-up pizza boxes all over the place and the dog yakking up bits of cardboard. Dishes piled a foot high in the sink ("You have put them in the dishwasher." "But the dishwasher was full!"). The bowl of oranges you set on the table is still there, still full of oranges, covered with a patina of mildew.

I'm telling you. There's no place like home.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

German Pope Arrives in Pomp and Splendor

It's the 15th of April. Your taxes are due, and Benedict XVI- Papa Ratzi- arrives in the United States for his first visit as Pope.

While he is here America will be inundated with special reports, eyewitness accounts, photo essays, in-depth analyses, and whatever else the jawboning classes are calling their output these days. DIH provides a lexicon for deciphering the upcoming coverage.

"Rigid." What Christ actually taught on any given matter. E.g., "he has a rigid interpretatin of 'sin.'"

"Reactionaries." 1. Priests who actually teach what Christ actually taught. 2. Referring to Catholic laymen: those who accept such teachings. (See related "fanaticism.")

"Fanaticism." The belief that the Commandments still count.

"Extremism." All ten of 'em.

"Academic freedom." An ancient chant. Translates as "give Charlie Curran his job back."

"Medieval." Anything that suggests you only get to sleep with your spouse.

"Oppression." This is a nifty word with a myriad of interpretations. It can mean anything from having babies to "do you think, Father, you might consider doing what the rubric says at this point in the liturgy?" Also known as "clamping down."

"Thinking Catholics." An old New York Times, phrase, meaning those Catholics who take their formation from the New York Times.

"German," "Germanic." Bad. Mean. Boring, Awful food. Everything "Thinking Catholics" should despise. Especially the food. Which this "German pope" is secretly plotting to force you to eat. Really. It's true. And don't think he's gong to make it up to you by letting you drive a fabulous German automobile, either. He's probably going to make owning a BMW or a Benz one of those new sins we've been hearing about. Unless he plans to make it mandatory. In which case he's being "Germanic."

"Pomp and Splendor. The pope's traditional red shoes. THe left one is "Pomp," the right one is "Splendor." Will probably be menioned a lot, as the Holy Father rarely goes about barefoot.

"Indulgence." What Catholics are gong to have to give the pundit classes a lot of over the next few days.

Friday, April 11, 2008

On The Road Again

Blogging will be light as DIH is travelling, with a deadline. But she has some advice: never, never, NEVER try to pack smart. Always when travelling bring everything you can think of: boots, shoes, sandals, sunblock, snow shovel. You will need them all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

China Si, Communism No

DIH is not sure what to think, really, of trade with China. On the one hand they're a bunch of Commie bastards; on the other hand, the more prosperous the average Cho gets, the less power the party bosses will have over him. Help the Ma and Pa businesses and screw Wen Jiabao, ultimately. I hope.

On the third hand...

My gorgeous daughter is making her First Holy Communion in a few weeks. In the dog-eat-dog world of First Communion shopping DIH was finally able to find a nice one that was a) in her size, b) not laughably over- priced and c) not make in China. Chinese-made mp3 players are one thing. But receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time in a dress made where believing in the Eucharist can land you in a concentration camp- no. Not going to happen in this family.

So this morning I'm sorting the laundry and listening to the Laura Ingraham Show, and Laura's talking about the Chinese crackdown in Tibet and does it make sense tobuy Chinese goods, and I think: Not me, girlfriend. I am righteous. I picked a dress made in South America, thank you very much. And then I found a veil, and--

And it dawned on me I didn't know where the veil was made.

So I checked the label.

And sure enough: "MADE IN CHINA."

I'm no saint, God knows. But I can't send my daughter up to receive Our Lord for the first time wearing a pretty white veil that for all I know was made by slave labor somewhere in the Laoghai.

So, Sophia and I are going to have to have a talk. (She loves the veil we bought. It has little fake pearls and don't have those nasty plastic combs that dig into your scalp.) We will talk about despicable things, like imprisoned bishops and murdered missionaries. And thenwe will throw the veil in the trash.

ANd then we'll go shopping again. And if we still can't find a non-Chinese First Communion veil-- uh-- is anybody out there good at arts and crafts?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hillary's Woes Just Never Seem To End

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Mark Penn, the pollster and senior strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid, left the campaign Sunday after it was disclosed he met with representatives of the Colombian government to help promote a free trade agreement Clinton opposes.

"After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the Clinton Campaign," campaign manager Maggie Williams said in a statement released Sunday. "Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign."

Communications director Howard Wolfson and pollster Geoff Garin will direct the campaign's message and strategic efforts for the campaign going forward, Williams said.

Penn's departure comes as Clinton, considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination last year, trails Barack Obama in delegates and the popular vote with a must-win primary in Pennsylvania April 22 and nine other contests remaining. Clinton almost certainly will end the primary season narrowly behind Obama in the popular vote and pledged delegates unless the nullified primaries in Florida and Michigan are counted—a scenario that seems remote. Her challenge will be to convince some 800 superdelegates to back her despite the numbers.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston has died at the age of 84.

There are few actors DIH admired more. Moses. Ben-Hur. "Take your stinking paws off of me, you damned dirty apes." And who could forget his hilarious hosting of Saturday Night Live, where he did the "vengeful God" thing to perfection?

And talk about having the courage of one's convictions. This is a guy who marched with Martin Luther King in '63, then resigned from Actors Equity twenty years later because they wouldn't allow a white actor to play a Eurasian lounge lizard in "Miss Saigon." Racism is racism. Heston knew it when he saw it, and he acted on his beliefs.

If you're looking for a supporter of fashionable causes you canlook somewhere else. Heston was president of the NRA. He spent years raising awareness of our Second Ammedment rights, giving speeches, shaking hands and making an obvious liar out of the likes of Michael Moore.

Still looking for fashionable causes? Check this out:

"In an address to students at Harvard Law School entitled Winning the Cultural War, Heston expressed his disdain for political correctness, stating "If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys - subjects bound to the British crown."[29] He stated "Political correctness is tyranny with manners".[30] He went on to say that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride.
"Heston opposed abortion and gave the introduction to a 1987 pro-life documentary by Bernard Nathanson called Eclipse of Reason which focuses on late-term abortions. Heston served on the Advisory Board of Accuracy in Media (AIM), a conservative media watchdog group founded by the late Reed Irvine.[31]" [h/t Wikipeida]

Take that, fashion queens.

Charlton Heston was right up there with Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley. If it werent' for people like them we would have kissed what's left of our freedoms goodbye decades ago.

On Friday a memorial service for William F. Buckley, Jr. was held in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. DIH's spouse was there, along with some 2,000 other of WFB's friends and admirers. Heston, as anyonewith even a nodding acquaintance of conservatism in America knows, was one of those friends. He was a generous supporter of National Review and an outspoken friend of the magazine when it had few, especially in Hollywood.

It was through NR that DIH met Heston, at a black-tie party in New York years ago. Back then DIH was not a mommy and so could still sit up watching the late-night talk shows. Heston had just appeared on one. He was charming and hilarious, talking about his early days as an artists' model when he and his wife were struggling to make it in showbiz. It was a great job, he said. Except it could be a little chilly sometimes, since he posed in the nude, with a little fig-leaf kind of thing strategically placed. But it kept food on the table, and he had no complaints.

So DIH, in her 20s and ga-ga at the thought of meeting Ben Hur, is standing on this receiving line, waiting her turn to shake hands, and all she can think about is loincloths. And Ben Hur. Naked Ben Hur. You can imagine the excitement/awkwardness/"damn- why -didn't- I- bring- my- camera" of it all.

So finally it's my turn and Heston says, "Hello, Sue, great to meet you"and DIH blurts out "Oh Mr.Heston ,was it true what you said on TV the other night about the modelling job?"

For a second Heston looked puzzled, Then he puffed out his chest, held his head high and raised himself to his full, glorious height. He smiled. "You bet it was, sweetheart!"

It was a happy evening.
I like to think Chuck and Bill are wonderful times in heaven, together, right now.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

...But Is He Really One Of The Girls?

"At the Wilbur chocolate shop in Lititz Monday, [Barack Obama] spent most of his time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline. The Times’s Michael Powell reports that, after watching five plump, white-haired women in plastic hairnets spin the chocolate into such confections as “Phantom of the Opera” masks and pink high heels, he ventured: “Do you actually eat the chocolate or do you get sick of it?” They giggled at his silliness.He looked even more concerned when he was offered a chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting. 'Oh, man.' he said. “That’s too decadent for me.'"
[Maureen Dowd, New York Times, April 2]

Hm. I wonder if Barack's starting to remind me of something.

In the meantime...

Birds Of A Feather

A retired schoolteacher who died in 2006 at age 85 left her savings of $1.8 million to the Minnesota loon.

"Iva Weir loved loons so muych that she left all of her cash- about $1.8 million- to help protect Minnesota's official state bird," The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported yesterday. About $1 million of the bequest has already been spent by the Minnesota Nature Conservancy.

"Overwhelming generosity? I'll say it is," said Peggy Ladner, director of the Nature Conservancy. "I was thrilled."

No reaction yet from Ms. Weir's niece, Chris Weir-Koerter of Bemidji, Minn., who according to the report often took her aunt canoeing.