Saturday, December 31, 2005

Just In Time For The New Year: Shutdown Across The Pond

Subway workers in the London Underground walked out today in a 24-hour strike timed to cripple the subway system on a night when tens of thousands of revelers were planning to celebrate the New Year in the city.

Guards and ticket office workers began leaving their posts from noon and the service was expected to slowly run down into the evening as others finished shifts and were not replaced.

And as a carpooling/walker/bike riding New Yorker who just went through this -- in sub-freezing 20 degree F temperatures for 3 days recently, the only advice I have for the London tube riding public is to dress accordingly, and hope management and the transit workers reach an agreement soon.

As we've already seen, leverage, i.e., pulling these strikes at the most inopportune times, just before Christmas, New Years Eve, etc., does indeed carry a strong message on many levels, with the riding public (somehow) being left to carry the brunt of the most readily seen hardships involved.

But hey, as long as everybody's happy once it's over (um...we're still talking about management and the workers here, right?), well...

In any event, Happy New Year, one and all. Health, peace, and happiness in 2006, and always.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Season's Greetings

However you say it, and whichever holiday you actually observe, as the recent politically "correctness" and separation-of-church-and-whatever-else thing these days is just about to give me an unnecessary pain in the...

Anyway, have a very Merry (feel free to fill in here) and I'll talk to you again soon.

Until then, as always, may *peace* above all continue to be yours.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Books For The Holidays


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Still undecided on the perfect holiday gift as the shopping days slowly dwindle down to a precious few? NPR reporter Karen Grigsby Bates shares her list of books that would make great gifts for the holidays in her Day To Day column, dedicated to making the decision a bit easier. And, I don't mind saying that City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt and Anton Chekhov: The Complete Short Novels have already been purchased -- and wrapped -- for placing under the tree by yours truly, from this list of what I think are some excellent literary gift-giving suggestions.

And don't forget that these days you can also read with your ears (and no...it's not considered cheating, or at least, it shouldn't be). Downloadable books are great company for travelers and people who spend a lot of time going about their daily lives, where their eyes need to be focused in other places, rather than on a page. Without a doubt, few would argue that no matter how old we get, most of us still enjoy being "read to." As a result, the latest audiobook companies provide high-quality audio with great readers (often actors) that make the pages fly by. Audible.com, Amazon and iTunes all offer downloadable titles that you can play on your computer, burn on CDs, or send to your MP3 player, so your chosen story travels with you.

I've found that for long-distance driving especially, nothing can beat a good story, told in an engaging, made-for-good-storytelling voice. Therefore, books on audio, when necessary, certainly get my vote.

Happy shopping, and an even happier pre-holiday weekend. Peace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Emeril Returns

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Nearly three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, chef Emeril Lagasse has reopened the doors of his Nola restaurant yesterday, just after reopening his flagship restaurant there last week. No word yet on the reopening of Delmonico's, the third of the three he runs in the Big Easy.

"There's been a lot of tough moments for me personally," Emeril said recently. "There have been a lot of personal losses; a lot of personal friends lost everything. I'm still here. I'm still smiling. I'm still determined. And we are going to help and do our part to build the city back."

Read more here about Emeril's recent 1.4 million dollar celebrity fundraising effort for further Katrina recovery.

Way to go, and glad to hear you're back.

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Legend Also Wrote

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1940 - 2005

Few people know, that in addition to being one of the greatest comic geniuses of modern times and the forerunner for scores of comedians who came after him, he was also a talented and prolific writer. From his noted credits for such hit movies as Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles to his work on TV shows such as The Flip Wilson Show and Sanford & Son, he wrote just about as well as he stood in front of a microphone and entertained us for over 3 decades -- starting with his very first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the 60s.

He made us laugh, cry, and sometimes even mad as hell at some of the outrageously destructive things he did, often to his own detriment. But more than anything else, through his comedic observations and constant pushing of the "censorship" envelope, he made many of us…think.

And for that, we'll truly miss him.

Rest in peace, Richard.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Jamie's On The Phone


The UK mobile (cell phone) service known as Vodafone has partnered with mobile content firm Inventa to offer film clips of Britain's premiere chef and cookbook author, Jamie Oliver, making over 100 of his top recipes as downloads exclusively through its 3G Vodafone live! service.

The service allows users to search for a recipe according to event or by ingredient. Picture messages providing a list of the ingredients can also be downloaded to the phone.

Inventa has used the original film footage from Oliver’s Twist, a show Jamie filmed for the US which has never been seen before in the UK. Read more about it here and be sure to catch Jamie on Oliver's Twist on the Food Network Channel. Also, don't forget that here in the US, Jamie's segments along with several other Food Network programs can be seen regularly at the checkout counter of many of your local supermarkets. A perfect example of this would be just last night as I stood on the checkout line at my local Pathmark Supermarket here in New York, and watched a few minutes of these programs on a small video screen through a new customer service called Pathmark TV. Either way, you've gotta admit that it all makes the age-old question of "What's for dinner" these days -- a bit easier. Doesn't it?

Have a great weekend, all. Peace.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Proud Knights



Ted Danson

For a handful of gifted-yet-underprivileged fourth grade students in the South Bronx, their future clearly began when substitute teacher and part-time chess master, Richard Mason, taught them to "pick up the pieces."

Delivering what I personally think is a far cry from his "Sam Malone" days on the hit TV series, Cheers, for me Ted Danson gave the absolute best performance ever in last night's premiere showing of The Knights Of The South Bronx on the A & E cable network. Playing the role of an out-of-work former member of the corporate world, Danson's character, Richard Mason, takes on the job of a substitute teacher in the Bronx to keep some of the mounting bills paid on his comfortable life in the suburbs. But soon, while trying to reach a classroom of black and Hispanic students who have apparently lived more "life" and hardships in their few years here on earth than he could ever imagine, he finds that the best way to reach them on an academic level is to introduce them to his greatest personal love -- the game of chess. And through this, he also manages to teach his students, that like chess, there are some things in this life where what you look like or where you might come from, matters less than zero. Certainly, as far as the game of chess is concerned -- all that matters is the sharpness of your mind and nothing else. As he constantly reminds his students: "No one can ever call you stupid if you can beat them at a game of chess."

If you never see another made-for-TV movie for the remainder of this year, I strongly recommend that you see this one. And needless to say, I'm already a die-hard fan of young Antonio Ortiz, who played the role of five-year-old, Dawson, the younger brother of one of Mason's students, and the very first of his protégés to win at a championship chess match -- against an opponent *twice* his age.

Clearly, guys, this movie is a must-see, so check your listings and DON'T miss it!

Have a great Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, December 05, 2005

New Rule


Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute, will be tightening its rules for submitted entries. This change comes less than a week after John Seigenthaler Sr., who was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s, wrote an op-ed article revealing that Wikipedia had run a biography claiming Seigenthaler had been suspected in the assassinations of the former Attorney General and his brother, President John F. Kennedy. As a result of this and other past discrepancies, Wikipedia will now require users to *register* before they can create articles.

(And somehow...for the longest while now, I could just smell this new rule coming.)

In any event, if you're a frequenter of Wikipedia like I am, you can read more about it here

Make it a good Tuesday tomorrow, all. And by the way, there are only 19 more shopping days left 'til Christmas, just in case anyone needed reminding, 'kay? (Insert serious eye roll here if you like, followed by a petulant groan and muted "Bah, humb...")

Oh, never mind. Peace.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Discovery's Inner Chef

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Executive chef and author Marcus Samuelsson

I've been looking for this one throughout the month of Novemeber (its proposed debut month), but never seemed to be able to catch it. In any event, the Travel Channel has its chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain, and now it looks as if the Discovery Channel has its very own four-star chef and cookbook author, Marcus Samuelsson in a new series titled, Inner Chef.

A native of Ethiopia who was orphaned at the age of three, Samuelsson eventually found his truest passion -- in cooking. Influenced by his adoptive Swedish grandmother, a professional cook, while growing up in Sweden, Samuelsson began helping out with family meals by the time he was six. When he turned 16, he decided upon a career in the culinary field and attended the Culinary Institute in Goteborg, Sweden.

After graduating, he apprenticed in various countries including Switzerland and Austria. In 1992, he was selected to apprentice for eight months at Aquavit in New York City. At the time, Hakan Swahn, owner of Aquavit, was working to establish an unprecedented identity for Swedish cuisine in the United States, and he recruited Samuelsson to help him achieve his goal. After his apprenticeship at Aquavit, Samuelsson traveled to France to work for world-renowned Georges Blanc at his three-star Michelin restaurant. In 1994, Samuelsson returned to Aquavit and worked his way up through the ranks to become the executive chef.

Since then, he has received numerous accolades including a three-star review from The New York Times, an award for "Rising Star Chef" in 1999 by the James Beard Foundation, a four-star rating in Forbes and an award for being one of "The Great Chefs of America" from the Culinary Institute of America. Samuelsson has also been featured in Gourmet, USA Today and has appeared on CNN, ABC's Good Morning America. And now, the Discovery Channel is bringing his award-winning talent and unique creativity to kitchens like yours across America in the new Discovery Home series Inner Chef.

In the series, Samuelsson visits a different homeowner in each episode, getting to know the homeowner and identifying their hopes and fears in the kitchen so that he can help to discover and unleash their "inner chef." In the process, he brings creative and practical solutions to the problems of an average kitchen and an average cook. Having once lived in Sweden, France and the United States, he draws upon several culinary traditions to surprise and delight his trainees. Samuelsson cooks side by side with the homeowner, planning and organizing a special meal event — a dinner party or a special dinner in someone’s honor — while his apprentice learns a whole new way to utilize the kitchen.

First, he familiarizes himself with the homeowner's personality and lifestyle, inspecting the cupboards, pots, pans, accessories and appliances and noting what the kitchen lacks and what changes could improve the cooking experience. After outlining what is needed to plan the menu and prepare the meal, he cooks alongside the homeowner and demonstrates ways to spice up dishes and simplify cutting and cooking techniques. After preparing the meal, he presents the food like an artist, making certain dishes are beautiful to the eye. If a homeowner doesn’t have the perfect table setting or a complete set of serving dishes, he shows how to improvise, borrowing from the homeowner’s different collections.

So do check your local listing for exact times to watch this young culinary artist work his magic -- while I also continue to look out for the best time (?) to catch it in my own neck of the woods.

As I've already mentioned, Marcus Samuelsson is the author of Aquavit : And the New Scandinavian Cuisine . One of the treasures I'm proud to say that I have on my cookbook shelf, Aquavit is illustrated with vibrant color photographs that echo the pleasures of the food they display. Without any doubt, this book is as special as its innovative and worldly author.

Well, it's for certain that this weekend will be a non-stop busy one for me, but I do hope yours will be a great one wherever you might be. So whatever the case, let's all make it a good one. Peace.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Butt Out Of A Classic

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Some might be calling it a censorship of "image," nevertheless, the publishers of Margaret Wise Brown's 60-year-old children's classic Goodnight Moon have created a firestorm by making the little book smoke free.

The son of illustrator Clement Hurd, Thacher Hurd has been recently pressured by HarperCollins to let the publisher digitally alter the picture of his father in a newly revised edition of the book, removing a cigarette from his hand.

The doctored photo has come under fire from a group of children's booksellers and one has even mounted a campaign to have the original picture restored.

HarperCollins Children's Books Editor Kate Jackson said it was nothing more than a "quick fix" to what was viewed as a "potentially a harmful message to very young kids."

Hurd said the doctored photo of his dad with nothing but air between his extended fingers looks "slightly absurd to me," adding Brown and his father "would be thoroughly amused by this."

Amazing how far we've come from the days of Father Knows Best, et al, where "dad" solved all the problems of the world from the comfort of his armchair during a 30-minute episode with his slippers on, and his trusty smoking pipe well at hand. : )

Goodnight Moon celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2007.

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, November 28, 2005

New Release



Eminem

Although I've disagreed with many of his lyrics, I can also use this opportunity to point out that I have been known in the past to disagree with many of the greatest poetry masters of our time as well -- so therefore, like er...whatever. But all that aside, I'd just like to say I'm truly happy to hear that this multi-talented artist, who in my opinion clearly managed to dispel the myth that only *one* race or ethnicity can perfect a given art form, has sought help for his prescription drug dependency, and is now ready to reach out to others through his latest video titled When I'm Gone

And needless to say, my very best wishes go out to Mr. Marshall Mathers (his real name), his words, i.e., his rhymes, and his music. You have done something that many in the entertainment profession have not yet had either the heart or the guts to admit -- or to do. Therefore, much continued good health and success to you, sir.

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 25, 2005

T'is The Season



Mark Geragos and company

Convicted murderer and San Quentin death row inmate, Scott Peterson, is attempting to halt publication of a book written by a lawyer who was kicked off his murder case for violating a judge's gag order.

A Superior Court judge declined to grant a request for emergency relief during a hearing Wednesday, likely pushing the case before an appellate court next week according to Peterson's attorney, Mark Geragos.

The book's author, Matthew Dalton, was employed with Geragos & Geragos during the early stages of the Peterson case. He was removed after violating a judge's order not to speak with the media. In an August 2003 conversation with reporters, Dalton floated a "human sacrifice" theory in the killing of Peterson's pregnant wife, Laci. The book, titled Presumed Guilty, is scheduled for publication Dec. 13 by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Ironically (or -- maybe not), the book's subtitle is: "What the jury never knew about Laci Peterson's murder and why Scott Peterson should not be on death row."

And for once (horror of horrors) I'd have to say that I agree with *both* Mark Geragos and his "famous" client. Enough already. No more books, reminders, dredging up, or putting this convicted wife and child murderer's name first and foremost -- as well as constantly in the public's eye. ENOUGH.

May the names of Laci and Conner Peterson be the primary names we remember from this horrible American tragedy, and may they continue to rest in safety and eternal peace.

On a lighter note, today marks the official Black Friday opening of the Christmas shopping season. Here in New York, shoppers from as far away as Washington, D.C. stood on line outside of Macy's Herald Square department store to be among the first to enter the world's largest department store's entrances when they opened at 6 AM sharp. However, things got a bit out of hand at a Wal-Mart store down in Orlando, Florida this morning where a man who allegedly cut in line to get a discounted laptop computer was wrestled to the ground, according to a video shown by an ABC affiliate, WFTV-TV. The store's manager referred questions to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., where officials were said to have "no immediate comment."

Yep, t'is the season, all. Have a great shopping weekend, and may you find everything on your list -- at the best bargain prices. Peace.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So Long For A While

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Week here in the U.S., and I'll see you back here soon after.

And remember: Give thanks for all things, either big or small. In the grand "scheme" of life, trust me...it ALL counts.

Peace, love, happiness, and eat hearty, all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner Out



Okay, who's up for doing things a little different this year? Come on now, you know what I mean. The welcomed change of pace from having to force down Aunt Lola's chestnut and rhubarb dressing with a smile. Or, better yet, having to sit next to Cousin Barbara at the family table, whereas the two of you haven't spoken to each other since Christmas of 1987 -- and -- the two of you would really prefer to keep it that way. Well, if you live in or around the New York City metropolitan area, perhaps I can help.

You can definitely do it a bit differently this year by making a reservation at one of several restaurants throughout the city that are serving dinner in distinctive styles— traditional, vegan, modern Italian, and more. Here's where to book your table...out

Turkey-to-go, perhaps?

Certainly, for those who would prefer the same delectable feast, however, in the privacy of their own home, no other meal is as rewarding to eat—and time-consuming to make—as the annual turkey dinner. So here again, city caterers will prepare you a grand feast, and even deliver it to your door. Here's where to book your holiday table...in

No doubt, in a day and age where things are far more available and/or accessible than they used to be, the traditional "holiday feast" can indeed be a pleasurable one for ALL. No muss, no fuss, no arguments or glaring looks from across the table, no bicarb taking at the end of the meal, etc., etc., and so on.

So here's to good eats for all for the holidays. Here's also to having a choice in the matter.

Make it a good Wednesday. Peace.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Turning Point



Kathleen Turner

A famous New Yorker for many years, as well as one of my favorite screen actresses, Kathleen Turner has now made it official that she's saying goodbye to the US, and moving to Italy to escape what she terms as Hollywood's "obsession" with youth.

In an exclusive interview published in the Sunday New York Daily News, Turner said Europe looks at an actor's entire career rather than "simply how you look today." She said she still plans to work on the New York stage occasionally, but her Hollywood career is all but over.

The star of the 1981 hit film, Body Heat (among many others), recalled how she pretended to be an alcoholic to try and hide her horrific bout with rheumatoid arthritis from the U.S. film industry.

"I was afraid I wouldn't get work," she said. "My hands were very crippled for a while, so I kept dropping glasses and things because I couldn't grip them. Some of the medications make you blow up and puffy, so the rumor was that I had a drinking problem. The point is, it was safer for me to let people think I was drinking than to tell them that I had this. They always hire drunks, all the time. But they wouldn't hire someone with a disease...they didn't understand."

And to my own knowledge, Turner's words are sad -- but nonetheless true. Especially when I remember hearing almost these very same words from former child star, Annette Funicello, during an interview some years ago when it was revealed that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis.

In any case, I'm wishing you the very best of health, happiness, and all the other *positive* aspects you wish for yourself in your new home in Italy, Kathleen. May you continue to prosper, thrive, and most of all...may you always continue to simply be Kathleen Turner.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Purple On Broadway


Alice Walker's diverse and unforgettable characters come vividly to life on stage, blending dance with blues, gospel, jazz, swing, rural roots and African music at the Broadway Theater here in New York these days in an Oprah Winfrey backed stage adaptation of The Color Purple

And as I've heard, the show's most gargantuan task to date belongs to costume designer, Paul Tazewell, who has created nearly 250 outfits for the cast. "There is such great joy in doing a piece like this, where there is such variety in body types and so many different time periods," Tazewell said recently. "The show covers 1909-1945. And because of how the production is designed, the costumes have to give some of the information that supertitles might give in a film, such as when the day changes, or when we're in a new time period."

All of which, as a lover of both Alice Walker's best-selling novel and the movie version of the same name, has me literally on pins and needles to see it this weekend, after my hub was able to snag two rather nice orchestra seat tickets. (Thank you much, babe!)

In preview performances from November 1 until its official opening on December 1, this is certainly one stage performance NOT to miss.

Enjoy the weekend, all. Wherever you might be, and whatever you might be doing. Peace.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A New Light



Anne Rice

After 25 novels in 25 years, author Anne Rice hasn't published a book since 2003's Blood Chronicle, the tenth volume of her best-selling vampire series. Many may have heard she came close to death last year, when she had surgery for an intestinal blockage, and also back in 1998, when she went into a sudden diabetic coma; that same year she returned to the Roman Catholic Church, which she'd left at 18. Many of Rice's fans also knew that Stan Rice, her husband of 41 years, died of a brain tumor in 2002.

"For the last six months," Rice said in a recent interview, "people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'."

In any event, we'll all know soon now that Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, has come out with her latest offering titled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord."

Rice knows Out of Egypt and its projected sequels—three, she thinks—could alienate her following; as she writes in the afterword, "I was ready to do violence to my career." But she sees a continuity with her old books, whose compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers reflect her long spiritual unease. "I mean, I was in despair." In that afterword she calls Christ "the ultimate supernatural hero ... the ultimate immortal of them all."

Sounding like a complete writing "makeover" for Rice at this stage of the game, still it's something many are interested in seeing for themselves—whether it be for the best—or otherwise. So needless to say, I, too, am anxious to break open Rice's most daring book yet, and soon.

On a different note, it's certainly great to hear that she's feeling a lot better health-wise these days. All the very best, Anne.

Make it a good Thursday. Peace

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So That's How It's Done



I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

Finally, the secret to success along the arduous road of becoming a best-selling debut novelist is out, thanks to the former top vice-presidential aide. In a word...indictment.

A steamy novel by Lewis "Scooter" Libby has become a hot item now that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff is, in fact, presently under indictment. An inscribed copy of The Apprentice: A Novel, which Libby wrote in 1996 when he was a relative unknown outside Washington, was on sale on online bookseller Amazon.com on Monday for $2,400. Unsigned hardcover copies were going for $700.

Now out of print, the novel tells the story of an innkeeper apprentice in a bizarre coming-of-age story set in Japan in 1903. It is also said to be generously peppered with some rather edgy sexual material and strong language to boot.

"Wow, who would have thought that clean living, family values man Scooter Libby was capable of writing such filth," was one reviewer's not-so-humble opinion on Amazon. Another Amazon reviewer noted its "lavish dollops of voyeurism, bestiality, pedophilia and corpse robbery."

And of course, the only thing yours truly will say to all this is: "Thanks, Scooter." For indirectly (this time) spilling another tidbit of "secret" information, thereby setting us straight on exactly how to get our well-written, well-crafted labors of love to literally fly off the shelves -- at record prices.

Scooter Libby, you old rascal, you!

Make it a good Wednesday, all. Peace. : )

Monday, November 07, 2005

Revisiting Truman


Talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a very convincing performance for me when I temporarily slipped away from my own writerly duties on Saturday to catch this movie. The film itself focuses primarily on author Truman Capote's research and writing of In Cold Blood, the book that skyrocketed him to that obscure kind of A-list notoriety status which pretty much makes a celebrity famous for simply... being famous. This movie's outstanding supporting cast includes Catherine Keener as a young writer named Nelle Harper Lee and Chris Cooper as sheriff Alvin Dewey.

In 1959, Capote is stunned into silence by a newspaper article detailing the brutal murder of the entire Clutter family in rural Kansas. Two men, and strangers to the family, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, are arrested for this savage crime which only netted the criminals a few dollars for their efforts. Capote decides he must write about the case and convinces his close friend Harper Lee, who will soon have her bestselling book, To Kill A Mockingbird published -- to be his "researcher and bodyguard." They immediately travel from the literary salons of New York to the dustier, more out of the way farmlands of the Midwest.

Capote sincerely sympathizes with the convicted killers, and just as he does, they begin to stand out like freakishly sore thumbs in the wholesome town of Holcomb, Kansas. He also identifies strongly with Perry, who is soft, sensitive and creative like himself and is dominated by the more "calculating" Richard. But the book that will cement Capote's reputation, it turns out, is more important than his blooming relationship with a poor, weak young man in a death-row cell.

Clearly, if for no other reason, if you're an all-time lover of Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird like I am, it would make it well worth your while to see this movie. So check your local listings for exact times and showings of Capote...and go check it out.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just Write




And needless to say, that's what I'll be doing lots of this weekend -- as my next novel length offering organizes itself (we hope!) into "outline" form, characters are finally given names, and hopefully, it all manages to come together eventually in story form.

In any event...we'll see, won't we? Or, to put it a bit more realistically, we'll at least try. : )

I'll be kept company once again with the likes of one of my favorite CDs, Michael McDonald's Motown. This is one that I'm never too far away from, whether at home or in the car, and for me, is one of McDonald's best works to date. So if you're a lover of that great era of musical yesteryear, by all means pick this one up (the DVD audio)and give it a listen.

Let's make it a great weekend, all. Peace.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Michelin: The New Kid On The Block

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The long-time "Holy Bible" of the best places to eat in Europe, Michelin will launch its first-ever MICHELIN® Guide in North America, the Michelin Guide New York City 2006, hitting stores here tomorrow, November 4th. The announcement was recently made by Edouard Michelin, CEO of The Michelin Group.

The Michelin Guide, whose prestigious rating system is internationally recognized as the height of culinary success, is already published in 12 editions covering 20 European countries. For its much-anticipated debut in North America, the MICHELIN Guide is said to be providing a comprehensive selection and rating, in all categories of comfort and prices, of some 500 New York City restaurants and 50 hotels, in a reader-friendly layout adapted to the American market and unique New York City culinary and hotel landscape.

So move over, Zagat's (even though I think by and large, Tim and Nina Zagat, its co-founders, still put out the best American restaurant guide around). Looks like there's a new guide in town.

Good luck, Michelin.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sweet Success



Former Capitol Hill lawyer, Warren Brown

Guaranteed to plaster ten pounds on you by the "power of suggestion" whenever you tune in to watch his new show called, Sugar Rush on the Food Network Channel, four years ago, pastry chef Warren Brown walked away from a job as a federal litigator -- to bake cakes. It all started on New Year's 1999 when Brown, an able cook, resolved to become an expert baker as well. After work, he began to whip up cakes. He found that baking provided release from the workaday stress.

Soon, Brown fell into the habit of throwing dessert parties -- "Friends were jumping on the bed," they were so happy, he recalls. Their joy combined with his job dissatisfaction led Brown to take a leave of absence in 2000. He wanted to see if he could support himself as a baker. He subleased a small commercial kitchen and found customers mostly by word of mouth. This went well enough that he moved into a 600-square-foot storefront that he christened Cake Love. He funded the business with credit cards and then a $125,000 loan backed by the Small Business Administration. When Brown officially left his day job, Emily McCarthy, Brown's friend since college, says she wasn't shocked but did think it was brave.

Today, Cake Love sells around 40 cakes per day at about $55 each. The sweet-smelling bakery's walls are painted a warm yellow, and a huge picture window allows a view of the kitchen from the sidewalk, drawing in customers. The surrounding U Street corridor neighborhood is being rapidly gentrified, and the business seems to embody the vitality and style of the young new homeowners who are moving in. McCarthy believes Brown's background further helps the business because in D.C. it seems that almost everyone is a lawyer. "They can live vicariously through Warren when they go to the bakery," she explains.

And, my only hope is that the good people at Food Network will extend Brown's original 13-week Sugar Rush showcase so that it will be around -- for a lot longer. In each installment, Brown meets and trades secrets with award-winning pastry chefs, to discover the tips and tricks behind incredible desserts. From designer cookies to decadent truffles, four-foot tall cakes to flaming tableside treats, Sugar Rush showcases the most sinful, the most artistic, and the most theatrical desserts on the planet, complete with tips and recipes from Warren himself.

This one is definitely worth watching for all you sweet-treat lovers, so check your local TV listings for the exact times to tune in.

No doubt, it's a GREAT feeling to walk away from a lucrative career as Warren Brown did, in order to do something you truly love.

Much continued success, Warren.

Make it a good Tuesday, all. Peace.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Gordon's Word

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Celebrity Super Chef Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay is back...well, sorta. The hot-tempered, fiery-tongued, grill-master and gastronome of last season's Hell's Kitchen is on the small screen again, and luckily for many of us who were neither amused nor entertained by his weekly reality rantings on the Fox TV network -- not here (thank you God for sparing us this time around!) Instead, Chef Gordon Ramsay's brand new UK TV show The F Word which debuted there this past Thursday, brings you food with attitude. Gordon will not only be cooking delicious food for the guests at The F Word Restaurant, he'll be talking food, food, and more food with restaurant critic Giles Corren. From how to grow food, celebrity food fads, and what’s going on in kitchens around the country, The F Word will be cooking up a storm.

However, Gordon has been up and down the country visiting women who can't cook. He's convinced that more women than men find cooking a chore, so he's launched a campaign to get more women back in the kitchen.

The former professional footballer said that while more and more men were making their mark in the kitchen, far too many women were surviving on a daily diet of expensive and unhealthy ready-made meals.

"I have been visiting ladies' houses up and down the country with our film crew and you'd be amazed how little cooking the girls are doing," he said. "When they eat, they cheat - it's ready meals and pre-prepared meals all the way. Seriously, there are huge numbers of young women out there who know how to mix cocktails but can't cook to save their lives, whereas men are finding their way into the kitchen in ever-growing numbers. Trust me: I am only telling you what I've discovered."

Of course, the absolute topper for all the comments made above, appears to be the fact that they might be coming as a bit of a shock to Ramsay's wife, Tana, who is said to be the one doing all the cooking for their four young children in a separate kitchen at home.

????

Therefore, I'll just stop right about here and allow you guys to draw your own conclusions about Gordon, his views, his...oh, well...here

And that's about it for me today.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reality Writing

With all the recent reality TV show subject matter out there, from hairdressers, to clothing designers, to lawyers, to Martha Stewart and Donald Trump wannabe apprentices, the area of journalism has yet to be explored. To date, there have still been no reality TV titles such as:

My Big Fat Obnoxious Editor
Plagiarism Island
or...
Who Wants To Date An Agriculture Reporter?

However, in the newspaper business, these days it's a whole different (don't you smell this pun coming? Yeah...you do)... story.

The St. Paul-based Pioneer Press has launched a second version of its "Average Joe Columnist" contest, a 16-player, tournament-style competition that pits wannabe writers -- and their opinions on the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings -- against each other in the paper each week.

The winner will be given a chance to analyze a Vikings home game in December - on site and on deadline, to be printed in that Monday's editions along with all the staff-produced copy. Hoping to have enough for 16 quality finalists, the paper received more than 300 entries last year for the contest's first edition. Everyone from social workers, to military men, students, lawyers, financial advisers, and teachers—all sent in their prose for a chance to play. (Pioneer Press employees and professional journalists were ineligible.) A first-round entry by Hanna Loberg , a senior at the University of Minnesota will be featured in this Sunday's paper.

Also, to preserve authenticity, submissions are not edited for spelling, grammar or style. Any blemishes in those areas mean big trouble, as do factual errors or the ultimate sin: sending the article in late. (No doubt, the Simon Cowell-esque judge on the panel will have lots to say about that.)

But in any event, good luck to all these journalism hopefuls. Hey, who knows what journalism paths this might actually lead to—in the future?

Anyway, that about does it for me here this week. So enjoy whatever it is you'll be doing this weekend, and as always, let's all try to make it meaningful as well as fun. Peace.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Al's Back !



Just picked up my copy at a local Barnes & Noble here in NYC today, thankfully, before being told by one of the floor clerks (with regrets, of course) that they were "all sold out."

And although all his recent books have been political, The Truth is said to be probably his most frontal attack on our present administration and its policies to date.

Oh, and by the way...there's also a phony blotter of LSD on Page 193, which Franken claims is the only way you could possibly understand the present contorted, deceptive, and ever-changing Social Security policy.

Clearly, ranking way up there with the likes of Bill Maher on my list of free-thinkers with the propensity for razor-sharp wit and spot-on truisms, Al Franken is back yet again with this, his latest must-read offering since his recent bestseller: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Can't wait to break into this one tonight, Al.

Also, be sure to catch Al Franken's daily radio show and blog here

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Where It All Started



Rosa Parks

As recently stated, it was indeed this wonderful warrior who started it all. From Tiamamin Square, to Soweto, to Cesar Chavez and the migratory farm workers, to the fight for equality for women, clearly, it was Rosa Parks' decision to take a STAND against injustice on a segregated bus in 1955, that was the truest prototype for change in modern times. In addition, it can also be said that it was this great champion who formulated my decision in later years to work in several different capacities for the NAACP, an organization she was already a faithful and full-fledged member of on that history-changing day of her bus ride home from work in Montgomery, Alabama.

And, as a side note, after meeting and chatting with her on several occasions at functions over the years, I'm sure that few people know Ms. Parks was also an *excellent* storyteller with a sense of humor that was... unparalleled! So certainly, this above all, endeared her to me forever, and will be my most cherished memory of all.

No doubt,in a world that can sometimes be filled with insignificance, both in people as well as events, she was truly one who mattered so much, to so many.

Rest in peace, dear one. You have opened more doors for change in our society...than can ever be counted.


1913-2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gourmet Fare At Pushcart Prices



Celebrity Superchef Mario Batali

This might still be the year of the $500 omakase meals in the Time Warner Center, but it’s certainly also the year of the $2.50 Chicago-style hot dog, the $6 Philly cheese steak (for sure), and Astoria’s first $7 tarte flambée.

It all has to do with certain big name chefs and restaurateurs moving in a downwardly mobile direction. One of them, is renown Chef Mario Batali, who in recent years has been scooping gelato from a cart in Washington Square Park, along with Adam Perry Lang bringing his fleet of barbecue carts up to nine, and Tom Colicchio of Craft and Gramercy Tavern opening two new branches of his gourmet sandwich shop, ’Wichcraft.

It seems that in the most democratic of dining cities, even elite chefs love nothing better than a good deal. This was even confirmed when New York Magazine recently sent four of them out to spend the cost of their tasting menu or prix fixe on cheap food for a day. All four reportedly came back happy and full -- and under budget, as can any smart-spending diner these days. Therefore, the trends are now dictating that the general rule of thumb is simply to name your price.

By the way, taking a few minutes off from our Big Apple Conference here in NYC this weekend along with a few out-of-town writer friends, I got to sample a chocolate/peanut butter flavored gelato from Chef Batali's Washington Square Park pushcart mentioned above -- and I can tell you it's absolutely to die for! Also, clearly beating out the age-old "pushcart" fare that was once the world-famous "dirty water dog" more commonly known as the NYC hot dog.

Ciao, Mario! Yummy stuff, indeed.

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Carpal Tunnel Redux?



The BlackBerry, which debuted in 1999, employs a full QWERTY keypad for thumb typing to automatically send and receive e-mail. About 2.5 million people currently use Blackberries, more than double from a year ago. Now, it's been reported that repetitive motion injuries similar to carpal tunnel syndrome which has long afflicted desktop computer and laptop users, are invading the mobile handheld world. So much so, that there's even an informal name for this new condition called BlackBerry Thumb - a catch-all phrase that describes a repetitive stress injury of the thumb as a result of overusing small gadget keypads.

Business executives and tech-savvy consumers are increasingly using BlackBerries, Treos, Sidekicks and other devices with miniature keyboards designed for thumb-tapping to stay connected while on the go. And that has some ergonomic and hand experts worried about injuries from overexertion. However, there are some experts who feel it can easily be avoided, and with the exception of attempting to type 'War and Peace' with your thumbs, you should really have no problem.

Still, there are no national statistics exist on how many people suffer from this type of thumb ailment, but some doctors say they are in fact seeing an upswing in related cases, according to Dr. Stuart Hirsch, an orthopedist at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. "It's mostly the road warrior who prefers to answer e-mails on a thumb keyboard," said Hirsch. "However, if all you did was employ a simple 'yes' and 'no' answer, it wouldn't be a dilemma."

Oh, the woes of modern technology, eh? In any event though, instead of completely "thumbing my nose" at this new warning, as the mother of an adult son who happens to be a die-hard BlackBerry user, I'll be sure to pass the info along.

And that'll just about wrap things up here for me this week, gang. Don't forget to come see us at the IWWG Big Apple Writers Conference and Workshops at the Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave. (at 38th St) here in NYC tomorrow and Sunday if you happen to be in the area. Otherwise, have a great weekend wherever it is you happen to be. Peace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Newest Light On Broadway



The August Wilson Theater

An honor that so far has only been bestowed upon a small list of names in the history of the Broadway theater, this past Sunday, The Virginia Theatre here in New York was renamed the August Wilson Theatre .

In a move which was decided upon by the Jujamcyn Theater Corporation, owners of the former Virginia Theater, it serves to recognize the contributions made to the American theater by the renown Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died of liver cancer on October 2nd, and whose in-depth and poignant looks into our society through his plays will live on in my memory forever. And as one who cherishes every Playbill program booklet and matinee ticket I've ever held in my hand for an August Wilson play on Broadway, needless to say, for me, there will never be another one like Wilson, whose stage plays have also managed to showcase new talent -- as well as keep many black actors and actresses working and earning a paycheck. Something that has been attested to by many who have had the honor of portraying one of his complex yet immediately identifiable characters.

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, August Wilson started writing in 1965, upon acquiring a used typewriter. His initial works were poems, but in 1968, Wilson co-founded Pittsburgh's Black Horizon Theater. Among those early efforts was a play called "Jitney," which he revised more than two decades later as part of his 10-play cycle. Wilson was largely self-educated. The public library was his university and the recordings of such iconic singers and musicians as Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton, and the paintings of such artists as Romare Bearden his inspiration.

In 1978, he moved to Minnesota, writing for the Science Museum in St. Paul and later landing a fellowship at the Minneapolis Playwrights Center. In 1982, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" was accepted by the National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. It was there that Wilson met Lloyd Richards, who also ran the Yale School of Drama. Their relationship proved fruitful, and Richards directed six of Wilson's plays on Broadway. The first was "Ma Rainey," which opened on Broadway in 1984. Wilson's reputation was cemented in 1987 by the father-son drama "Fences," his biggest commercial success. The play, which featured a Tony-winning performance by James Earl Jones, ran for more than a year. It was followed in New York by "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" (1988), "The Piano Lesson" (1990), "Two Trains Running" (1992), "Seven Guitars" (1996), "Jitney" (2000), "King Hedley II" (2001) and "Gem of the Ocean" (2004).

"August's work is like reading a rich novel," says Anthony Chisholm, a veteran Wilson performer in such plays as Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. "It conjures up vivid images in the mind, and it makes the actor's job easier because you have something to draw upon to build your character."


August Wilson
1945-2005

With so many characters and stories left to show us, indeed he will now be missed.

Peace.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The IWWG

Needless to say, a busy week is on tap -- because it's that time again for our fall semi-annual International Women's Writing Guild BIG APPLE WORKSHOPS Conference that will be taking place this weekend:

Where: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (at 38th Street), New York City
When: October 22nd & 23rd, 2005

All the info there is to know is here, and several of our regular AAR member literary agents and traditional publishing house editors will be on hand and taking your questions at our usual agent/editor discussion panel on Sunday. So if you're in the NYC area, do come out and join us this weekend (many session fees are payable at the door).

Hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, let's all try and make it a good Monday. Peace.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rachael Goes Glossy With Every Day



The host of Food Network's Inside Dish with Rachael Ray, 30-Minute Meals, and other shows launches her very own magazine tomorrow, Oct. 15, titled Every Day with Rachael Ray.
"We offer easy recipes, plus practical advice on food destinations and entertaining," says Ray, who also markets cookware and cookbooks.

Catch more of Ray's chat with USA TODAY about the joy of cooking, Rachael Ray style.

And yes…for all those who complain bitterly that this food expert who was BORN into the restaurant business and has paid her OWN dues in the gourmet foods industry over the years is not a real chef, clearly, after this launch of her new magazine, even more people will accept and acknowledge the fact that she certainly IS one, in every sense of the word.

Way to go, Rach! Much continued success with Every Day.

So pick up Rachael's new magazine if you can this weekend and have a great one, all. Peace.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In Their Shoes



Food Network Chef Cat Cora and her signature stiletto

A newly formed partnership has been forged between the Food Network Channel and shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, involving several pairs of exclusive, one-of-a-kind shoes that have been designed and autographed by Food Network personalities. The crafting of each shoe reflects the creator's culinary style, as well as the personality that has made him or her a household name. Auction proceeds for this project will be donated to the Cancer Research Institute which funds leading immunologists in the fight against breast cancer. Each presentation is an original piece of artwork using a 1/2 pair of Stuart Weitzman’s signature stilettos. And, shoe lover that I am, needless to say, for those who can afford it (after checking out the price list below -- you'll see what I mean) I think this is a wonderful approach to aiding in the fight against breast cancer.

Click here for the actual pictures of these shoes and the Food Network personality whose name they bear.

I gotta say... I'm really loving that pair of Mario Bateli stiletto pumps already. Looking fabulous, Chef Mario!

Mario Batali $450.00
Alton Brown $800.00
Warren Brown $250.00
Michael Chiarello $502.00
Cat Cora $600.00
Paula Deen $2,100.00
Giada De Laurentiis $2,502.00
Gordon Elliott $500.00
Bobby Flay $402.00
Emeril Lagasse $520.00
Sandra Lee $860.00
Dave Lieberman $325.00
Rachael Ray $2,050.00
Al Roker $1,002.00
Marc Summers $600.00
Dan Smith & Steve McDonagh $250.00
Robin Miller $302.00

Good Wednesday, all (with a thoroughly soppy and wet one on tap for us here in the New York area today. Yick!). Peace.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Food And Wine Expo, New York Style



Peter Xavier Kelly

He's a respected restaurateur with over 25 years of experience in the industry, and Peter Xavier Kelly operates the most critically acclaimed restaurants in New York State, all located in the Hudson Valley. Among them are his Xaviar’s at Piermont, The Freelance Café, Wine Bar and Restaurant X and The Bully Boy Bar, which have all received the industry’s most coveted awards. And on October 22nd through the 23rd along with Tyler Florence of Food Network's Food 911, and several other noted chefs, Kelly will be working his culinary magic through live demonstrations under the Chef's Tent at The Greater New York's Food and Wine Expo

Returning for its second exciting season, this year's expo will be held at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York, one of the leading cultural centers in New York State. It's also the second year for the opportunity to sample over 1,000 wines from around the globe. The Grand Tasting Tents feature over 150 domestic and international wineries pouring their greatest vintages while area restaurants provide samples to accompany the wines you taste.

I can tell you from personal experience that last's years was phenomenal, and if you're in the area, do check out the ticket prices and event schedules in the above link for this year's event --and don't miss it.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Power of Hope to aid in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Saying Goodbye To Nightline



Ted Koppel

Yes, it's really been that long, as well as being yet another thing that I can remember when it first arrived on the scene in 1980. But sadly, Ted Koppel will anchor his last edition of "Nightline" on Nov. 22, with the first post-Koppel edition of the ABC newscast airing Nov. 28, the network said yesterday. At the time it was TV's main showcase, which delved into what was happening in the Middle East. Koppel has anchored the late-night news show since its official launch in March 1980. The show itself, basically grew out of a series of special reports about the Iranian hostage crisis that began the previous November, and it turns out, Americans have been staying up to watch it ever since. Clearly, both Koppel and this informative news program that has been bidding us goodnight for the past 25 years, will surely be missed. Best of luck with all future endeavors, Ted.

As promised, I'm pleased to post another effort being put forth by the food industry in a time when it is still very sorely needed:



COUNTRY’S 50 BEST CHEFS COME TOGETHER FOR ONE NIGHT
TO AID VICTIMS OF HURRICANE KATRINA

NEW TICKET PRICE ANNOUNCED OF $125


WHAT: Share Our Strength, the nation’s leading anti-hunger organization committed to ending childhood hunger, will host a Restaurants for Relief Gala in Washington, DC on October 17. Fifty of the top chefs from around the country will create a southern tasting extravaganza as a tribute to the affected region to raise much needed relief and recovery funds for Hurricane Katrina. The event will feature special entertainment as well as exciting silent and live auctions.

WHO: Fifty of the top chefs from around the country, including Todd Gray(Equinox, Washington, D.C.,), Roberto Donna (Galileo, Washington,DC ),
David English (New Orleans, LA), NormanVan Aken (Coral Gables, FL),Mary Sue Milliken (Santa Monica,CA) and many more.

WHEN: Monday, October 17, 2005
7:00 – 10:00 pm

WHERE: The National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

WHY: One hundred percent of the proceeds will support the efforts to rebuild the food banks inthe Gulf area with whom Share Our Strength has long standing partnerships and whose services will be in greater demand than ever. These funds will ensure that desperately needed aid for both immediate and long-term care is distributed to the thousands of families impacted by the hurricane.

TICKETS: General Public- $125.00. To purchase tickets, go to www.strength.org.
(please note – this is a new price)
____________________________________________________________

Share Our Strength, one of the nation's leading anti-hunger organizations, is committed to building the first hunger-free generation in America. More than 13 million children face hunger in our country and through innovative fund-raising opportunities - from holding volunteer-led special events todeveloping unique corporate partnerships - Share Our Strength is working towards ensuring these children have access to nutritious food that enables them to learn, grow and thrive. Since its founding in 1984, Share Our Strength has raised more than $188 million supporting more than 1,100 anti-hunger, anti-poverty organizations worldwide. For more information please visit the SOS website .

The first weekend in October -- can you believe how fast this year has literally blown by? A rainy one has now been forecast for NYC and the outlying areas, but as always, try to make it a good one...wherever you might be. Peace.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Desperate Call For Further Education



Former Secretary William J. Bennett

I'm finally getting around to this, I would imagine, after having to pick myself up off the floor after hearing it.

However, as of today, former U.S. education secretary (yes, that's right…I said, "education") turned talk show host, William J. Bennett remains under fire for his remarks last week which stated: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett then quickly added that: "Such an idea would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but..." he added, "your crime rate would go down."
Still maintaining that he will stand by his remarks, Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders have denounced the conservative commentator for suggesting on his syndicated radio show that aborting black children would reduce the U.S. crime rate.

Which of course, now brings us to the question(s): Would not this proposed "solution" also be *lessening* the chances for the next...er, I don’t know, say Supreme Court justice perhaps (the names Thurgood Marshall or in more recent times, Justice Clarence Thomas ringing any bells here?), or, the next Nobel prize winner perhaps (gee, I wonder what the inimitable Ms. Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature AND a Pulitzer Prize to boot, would have to say about her mother having contemplated such a decision...hmmm), or possibly the next scientist such as Dr. Charles Drew and others whose contributions to this society have truly made a difference -- as opposed to the committing of low-level street crimes that rip people off? Or, perhaps, the sheer disparity in the idea of genocide as the solution for a future population based merely on the belief that they might share the very same "skin color" as someone you might have seen committing criminal acts, so therefore, kill 'em before they spread? And of course, for those "darkies" already here, how's about a 2005 version of Auschwitz, perhaps? Or, do we simply just call out the Orkin Man?

Clearly, and in case no one ever told you, babies, for the most part, are born innocent into this world, Herr Bennett. And whether or not those babies make it into this world should be left soley to the owner of the womb they occupy at the time of conception and gestastion -- and NOT to any of your insightful and/or "contextually" misconstrued suggestions, dear sir.

And so ends my rant for today.

Make it a good Wednesday, if you can, all. As we continue to learn how to peacefully co-exist... somehow.

Monday, October 03, 2005

No Reservations



Executive Chef Anthony Bourdain

Often dubbed the Hunter S. Thompson of the culinary world and "the bad boy" of cuisine for his rock star look and blunt observations about the world of restaurants, chefs and cooking, Anthony Bourdain, who is the autobiographical subject of the new Fox series titled Kitchen Confidential mentioned here last week, is certainly not your typical celebrity chef.

The executive chef at New York’s famed bistro, Les Halles, and former host of A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network, Bourdain is the author of three crime novels and the bestseller, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

And now on Monday nights on the The Travel Channel, the renowned literary chef is back with a new series titled: No Reservations, which urges us for the most part to be "adventuresome" travelers. In the debut episode, he set out to prove why France doesn't suck by getting buzzed on absinthe and eating red meat for breakfast. Cool!

However, Bourdain's disillusionments about the way many of us eat is quite simple -- and he's not afraid to share it with the world. He hates processed and pre-packaged foods. He loathes TV chefs who reduce classic cuisine to a series of easy to follow steps and perky soundbites. He argues for the purity of ingredients and the classicism of cultural culinary expression. But mostly he is mad at us, for allowing our taste buds to be tainted by fast food and microwaved mediocrity.

In a recent No Reservations trip to Viet Nam, Bourdain showed us the pleasure of eating at the smallest of roadside shacks and made a trip deep into the mountains to a village of one of Vietnam's 50 mountain-dwelling ethnic minorities. And along with his tough guy persona, he occasionally manages to be funny, entertaining, and insightful.

Clearly, this is an "extreme-eating" show that's a must-see, so do check out No Reservations tonight if you can on The Travel Channel. Check local listings in your area for exact times.

And beyond that, let's make it a good autumn Monday overall, gang. Peace.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Kitchen Confidential



The cast of the new series on Fox

After making its debut last week on the Fox Network and based on renowned chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain’s best-selling autobiography Kitchen Confidential, I've been hearing some rather mixed buzz about this new show in Fox's fall lineup that exposes the secrets of the restaurant business through the story of a chef who’s determined to climb back to the top of the food game.

However, and putting aside the fact that I happen to be a die-hard fan and admirer of Bourdain's writing (especially his well-crafted novel-length fiction), as well as his extreme eating Travel Channel adventures to the remotest places you could ever think of for sampling the local "cuisine," I personally think this slightly Botoxed and bikini-waxed version of what really happens in a New York City restaurant kitchen, might just be a keeper after all...at least, for a while. In any event, we'll see. Check local listings for exact times for Kitchen Confidential on Fox Mondays.

Meanwhile, I would strongly recommend reading a copy of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly for a truer sense of his autobiographical life as a New York Chef, as told in his own words.

Well, the weekend's finally here, gang. I promised the hubster that we'd jump in the car tomorrow and check out some of the early fall foliage just north of where live – so it looks like that'll be high on this weekend's to-do list. So wherever you might be, make it a good weekend as well -- and as always -- try to make it fun if you can. Hey, after all, life's short -- so why the hell not, right? Peace and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

His Writing Lives On In A New Feature Film



Tupac Shakur

A screenplay written by slain rapper Tupac Shakur is being produced as a feature film "Live 2 Tell," a script Shakur wrote in 1995 about an inner-city black youth, was acquired by Insomnia Media Group, which plans to begin production next March. Insomnia acquired the rights from Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, who will be a producer on the film.

And, in addition to a documentary of home movies narrated by the slain rapper that is currently being shown on TMC(The Movie Channel) cable network, I think this will be yet another opportunity to get a closer glimpse of this young man who was gunned down in Las Vegas in 1996 -- through his own words. And, let us also not forget what an exceptional acting talent Shakur was, as exemplified in the movies he made during his career. Often overshadowed by his mega Rap persona, few people know that Shakur had also received formal training as an actor.

Hence, I'll be looking very forward to this new film's release.

Make it a good Wednesday, all. The weekend's not too far away. Peace.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More Katrina Relief




On Tuesday, September 27th, restaurants across the nation will donate a portion of their dinner sales to Share Our Strength's Hurricane Katrina Fund.

How You Can Participate:

Simply make a reservation at one of the participating restaurants listed in the Share Our Strength link above for the night of the dine around and enjoy. Each restaurant may vary in its menu options, but the proceeds from sales will be donated to the relief efforts. Therefore, you get to enjoy a fabulous dinner -- and know that you're also helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina in the process.

So do it, if you can.

Good Sunday, all. Peace.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Mass Mess



Yesterday's mass evacuation from Houston

As they joined a vast, traffic-snarled exodus from Houston
and the upper Texas Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Hurricane Rita were stuck in their cars throughout much of Thursday, with many running out of gas and sweltering on roadsides in 100-degree heat as they waited for authorities to bring them gasoline. As was also reported, many with a drop of gas in their tanks left to spare, became so fed up with the situation they politely turned themselves around -- and headed back to the homes they had evacuated.

Houston Mayor Bill White said he had been imploring federal and state officials since early Thursday to reverse traffic flow on the inbound lanes, but that it had only begun to occur by mid-afternoon -- along with the fuel trucks for out of gas motorists trying their best to get the h*ll out of Dodge as the old saying goes, and as they were instructed.


"I would say there will be some learning experiences,"
the mayor is quoted as saying.

Hmmm...sounds like a plan, Mr. Mayor.

Have a safe weekend, all. Wherever you might be. Peace

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Katrina & Rita: Is Global Warming The Answer?



Hurricane Rita at Category 5 headed for
landfall this weekend

Science has confirmed that hurricanes do in fact draw strength from heat in ocean surface waters, hence, warming the water should generate more powerful hurricanes on average. Therefore, does global warming play a major role in the recent onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms? Here are a few Global Warming Facts

Make it a good and SAFE day for all of you in the Gulf regions of the US today. If you can, and are told you MUST evacuate, then please, by all means... DO IT. Peace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mr. Wizard 2005



Alton Brown

For those of you old enough to remember, of course you already know that on Saturday mornings many years ago, a great man of science named Mr. Wizard would grace our TV sets, instructing us kids on all those wonderful scientific facts we failed to learn during the week, in most instances, due to sheer lack of paying attention in science class. Today as adults, however, we can just as easily turn on the Food Network Channel and see Alton Brown in his own informative showcase called Good Eats, and he'll give you all those useful little scientific tidbits and more, prompting you to say, "Hey...I never knew that!" as well as being a pretty good darn culinary wizard in his own right.

Affectionately referred to at times as part chef, part McGiver, and part mad scientist (once again...all in the name of good fun!) Alton serves up his food facts along with some far more molecular and kinetic facts from boiling water to preparing the perfect bouillabaisse. I'm also presently loving one of his Good Eats DVDs that can be purchased through Food Network.

Here's just a sampling of Alton's list of "Kitchen fiction vs. Scientific facts":

Myth: Storing coffee in the freezer keeps it fresh.
Truth: The daily removal of java beans from the freezer causes their temperature to change. This encourages condensation which, like prolonged exposure to air, degrades the flavor of the beans.
Myth: Putting oil in pasta water prevents the noodles from sticking together.
Truth: Starch released by the noodles as they cook causes them to stick together. Using ample water will help dilute the starch. Oil floats to the surface of the denser water and has little effect on the noodles.
Myth: Washing mushrooms causes them to soak up excess water.
Truth: Even when soaked for 5 minutes, standard button mushrooms retain less than 3 percent of their weight in water. Washing affects them even less.
Myth: Leaving the avocado pit in the bowl will prevent guacamole from turning brown.
Truth: Enzymes in an avocado's flesh become discolored when exposed to oxygen. Leaving the pit in your guacamole keeps only the portion under it green.

Check your local TV listings and don't forget to tune in for Good Eats weeknights on the Food Network Channel.

Also, as promised, I'm pleased to give a shout out here to my good friend, Carrie Kabak, who has been blowing us all away with her fantastic debut novel titled Cover The Butter which hit the bookstores this past June. And, once again, Carrie's coming back with a *second* dynamite offering of strong female characters and all-out good reading titled, Tarts And Sinners.



Coming soon!

Good Tuesday, all. Peace.

Monday, September 19, 2005

And The Statuette Goes To...


Huge congrats to Law and Order's S. Epatha Merkerson's on her big win at last night's 2005 Emmy awards for her portrayl of Nanny in one of my favorite HBO movies ever, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Lackawanna Blues.

So deserving of this award for her work in this exceptional film, I can only say that this time the Emmys...got it 100% RIGHT. Way to go, Ms. Merkerson!

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Still The Noblest Profession



Corporate America answering the call for more teachers.

International Business Machines Corp., worried the United States is losing its competitive edge, will financially back employees who want to leave the company to become math and science teachers in an all out effort to Encourage Employees To Teach. And it's certainly being touted as an effort that is well worthwhile, in a time of an ever increasing need and unheeded call for Americans to become teachers.

Clearly, this one will be an effort worth watching as it develops, with all good wishes to those IBM employees who continue to sign on for the cause.

Good Sunday, all. Peace.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another Look At The Big Easy




Set in 1958 in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and the Big Easy comes alive in this well-told suspense/crime novel by Leonce Gaiter that I am now knee-deep into... and loving it. At only 169 pages, the complexities of race relations, social climbing inequalities, revenge, and murder grabs the reader by the collar from the onset, to see this city and its people in another time of our history. And yes, I took the liberty of touting it here *before* finishing it, because I think it's truly THAT good! So if you're looking for a short read as well as a good one, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one.

Bourbon Street is clearly a stunning debut by Gaiter, and I'm no doubt looking forward to his next offering -- which I hope will be sometime in the very near future. Well done.

**Also, do check out this June 2005 Interview With Leonce Gaiter
that for all aspiring novelists will further reiterate the importance of the tedium in finding a literary agent and champion who truly...gets your story and the message you're trying to convey to your reading public. A factor that is so very *vital* in the overall business of publishing, and putting your work "on the book shelves."

Interesting stuff.

Make it a good Thursday, all. Peace.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Food Writing 101...And More




I've just finished reading this one and needless to say, as a former food article writer I think it's a true winner.

Dianne Jacob, herself a journalist, food-writing instructor and coach offers interviews with award-winning writers such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Molly O‛Neill, and Deborah Madison, plus well-known book and magazine editors and literary agents. Here, she gives readers the tools to get started and the confidence to follow through. Comprehensive yet accessible chapters range from restaurant reviewing to cookbooks to memoirs. Focused exercises at the end of chapters stimulate creativity, help organize thought, and build practical skills. Will Write for Food is the first and ultimate ins and outs guidebook to the world of food writing -- as well as an all-round good read.

Certainly, these days, anything that's motivational in a writerly sense -- will most definitely get my vote. :) And if you've never done it before, but have flirted with the idea of food writing, I highly recommend giving this book a look-through to get you started.

Good Tuesday, all. Peace.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Reuniting America's Children




Photos of children separated from their parents by Hurricane Katrina have been posted in an effort to reunite them with their families. These pictures can be found at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. So far, several cases have already been happily resolved. For those unable to access the Internet in areas where Katrina knocked out electricity, the center has set up a telephone hotline at 888-544-5475.

You can also connect with missing family members and loved ones affected by the Katrina disaster by leaving an online message at MSNBC's Crisis and Recovery website.

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Man At The Top



FEMA Chief Michael Brown

Questions are now being asked along these lines in the wake of a lack of adequate response to last week's Katrina disaster, as they relate to FEMA's top disaster chief

In any event, simple semantics or a minor case of "resume embellishment" aside, Brown's qualifications as previously submitted may still be seen by some as not enough to handle the responsibilities of his appointment, as demonstrated by the lag time in response to the events of the recently ravaged Gulf Coast. Clearly, this is yet another development that will be interesting to watch as it unfolds. And hopefully, the needs of the people in the case of future threats of natural disaster will be the primary consideration in the outcome.

Well, the weekend has arrived, and once again it will involve my usual efforts toward getting things done in terms of "focus"( if only). And yes, as we all know, our story pieces, manuscripts, etc., will never write themselves. But then again...if only they could. : )

Let's make it a great weekend, all. Peace.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath: Making A Difference



Council of Independent
Restaurants of America

Job listings for displaced Katrina victims.




America's Second Harvest
Dedicated to feeding the hungry and ending massive American food waste.


Image hosted by Photobucket.com

National Restaurant Association
Dine For America Katrina Relief Effort.


Executive Chef, Rasshad Brown
will donate 100% of all sales of New Orleans-inspired sandwiches, side dishes, and entrees at his Big City BBQ restaurants in Tempe and Mesa, Arizona, to the relief of Hurricane Katrina victims. And without a doubt, this is a wonderful sight to see from the food industry community who collectively have been stepping up to the plate – to lend their support to the ongoing Katrina Relief Effort. Way to go, Chef Brown!