November 30, 2012

Kick-ass Programming

Have you tried to call an airline in recent times regarding something other than reservations? Well, good luck getting anyone other than R2D2. If you call American Airlines you go through, oh, maybe 92 prompts. First they say, "If you want reservations press 1, if you want blah blah blah press 2, and so on. And since it's an oddball question it's not until the 92nd option when it says, "If it's something else press 3027960." So you press 3027960 and then it gives you 60 more options and then you press 45985 and it gives you 85 more options.
You get the idea. Do I have to spell F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-N-G?
Seven hours and twenty minutes later I finally get to a message that tells me I have to go to the website and send a friggin' email.
After I swept up the shards of glass that scattered when I threw the phone through the window I went to the website and found a place where I could ask a question of  "Alex" in real time. Cool! There's Alex on the right. Isn't she pretty? Doesn't she look like she's dying to help me?
So I typed in my question and imagine my surprise when Alex actually speaks to me (she also types in case you turn off her annoying voice). But (I'm so shocked) her answer has nothing to do with my question. Somehow the only thing recognizable to Alex (and her programmer) was "first class" so Alex tells me to click here for first class amenities. Like I don't know all those amenities I never get when I fly with the unwashed masses.
So I type: "This answer doesn't answer my question, ALEX!" and she says: "I'm sorry that I'm having trouble answering your question."
Stupid bitch.
And I type: "You are useless."
And Alex says, "I"m sorry you feel that way..." which just cracked me up and I have to say I have a grudging respect for the programmer who created her responses. I never did get my answer but I laughed for a long while at that one. I wonder what she would have said if I'd typed  "fuck you" which is what I really wanted to do.

November 25, 2012

The Best Part Of Thanksgiving

Okay, it's not the BEST part - the very best part is being with friends and family, but that's a given. So aside from that here's the best part of Thanksgiving:A BIG OL' POT OF TURKEY SOUP.
The first time I made it was after I prepared my debut holiday dinner for my parents and my (first) husband's family. I was 24 or 25. I wanted it to be amazing. I took special care with that turkey, stuffing it the night before, putting it in the oven on a low heat at 4:00 in the morning. Low and slow is good, right?
Yeah, unless you cook the piss out of it.
How many hours did that bird cook? I don't know...10-12? Can you say styrofoam turkey? Can you say botulism from that stuffing? It's a wonder all those people survived.
But that's how you learn (if you're not in prison for involuntary manslaughter).
I also had the obligatory candied yam dish (canned) with brown sugar and marshmallows, that green bean casserole with the cream of mushroom soup (ugh) and canned French fried onions (do you still make that?), canned creamed corn, mashed potatoes (from the box), gravy (from a package), Brussels sprouts with raisins and bacon (the only 'gourmet' touch), cranberry sauce (the jellied kind in the can), Pillsbury crescent rolls. Well, it was the 70s. We weren't into organic or health back then.
So the turkey was a little dry...we had plenty of food and my husband thought I was Betty Crocker (young love).
I don't know how I got the idea to make turkey soup from the carcass but I threw those bones into a pot with some veggies (low and slow worked that time), then strained it, then added new veggies and noodles (now called pasta) and voila! a delicious meal.
I've never used a recipe and it changes every year (no matter where I am I always score the carcass) but it's always hearty and delicious and makes the house smell like heaven.
This year for the first time I used a slow cooker. Here's what I did: I cut up the carcass and put it in the slow cooker with some carrots and celery, water to cover and a little salt (right). And then I cooked it on low for about 10 hours.
 Next day I strained the broth, took the meat off the bones and put it back in the pot with the broth and some new cut up carrots, celery, mushrooms, salt, parsley, and cooked it on high for about 3 hours. Then I added about four handfuls of spinach and maybe 8 oz. of egg noodles and cooked it for another hour (left).
Here are my secret ingredients: red pepper flakes and cinnamon. Just guess on the proportions - that's what I do and it's always amazing.
AND...if that's not enough I made cornbread. With bacon. In a castiron skillet. And drizzled it with honey.
Oh. My. God.
Add a glass of wine and you're all set.
If you want the cornbread recipe just send me an email:

November 11, 2012

Theatre Review: The Opponent *****

The Red Orchid Theatre is an intimate 80-seat theater and when you walk in to see The Opponent most of the space is taken up by a boxing ring. Imagine the concentration it must take to act with the audience only a few feet away, sometimes only inches as the actors move around the space.
Guy Van Swearingen plays the trainer and Kamal Angelo Bolden is the boxer getting ready for the most important fight of his career. The first act is right before the fight, the second act is five years later.
It's a story of connection and alienation, ambition, fear, pride and failure. It's a heart-wrenching story and these guys are so good you begin to think you're in the gym with them. Great choreography.
The Opponent is here until December 2nd.
Go see it.

November 6, 2012

Calling All Book Clubs!

Do you belong to a book club? Do you like author chats? Do you drink wine?
Then we're a match made in heaven!

Author chats are a great way to add another dimension to your meeting and I'd love to be part of your program.
Are you in the Chicagoland area? Great! We'll do it in person. Are you in Wyoming? Boca Raton? Santa Fe? Toledo? No problem...there's always Skype or phone chat or email.
And don't worry, I know that some book clubs are purely social and don't do much of a discussion, and that's cool too - we'll just chat, hang out and drink girlfriends!
Contact me and I'll be happy to send you a complimentary copy of What More Could You Wish For.

November 4, 2012

Movie Review: The Sessions ****1/2

How hard must it be to act an entire movie on your back, moving only your head? John Hawkes does just that in the role of a polio victim who hires a sex surrogate and loses his virginity at 38. It's tough enough getting laid if you're ambulatory...imagine if you live most of your life in an iron lung.
Read the rest of the review

November 1, 2012

A New View Of Chicago

You will see Chicago is a new light when you watch this stunning timelapse cinematography from Eric Hines.   Some people are so creative.