Monday, October 31, 2005

Gordon's Word

Image hosting by Photobucket
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.