Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cinematographicus: "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954)

It is with utmost sincerity that I ask, "What the heck?" every time someone tells me that "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is their favorite musical of all time. In fact, I was at a party last Sunday when I heard a girl state this opinion, to which I retorted, "How many musicals have you SEEN?"

I'm sorry -- this is a decent movie, but by no means does it outshine "Guys and Dolls" (1955), "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (1967), "Newsies" (1992), "White Chrismas," (1954), or any of a number of many other musicals that have been produced! Honestly, has the person who rates this film so high been exposed to any other forms of non-contemporary movie pop culture? Holy Moses. Sometimes I feel like I'm part of a truly wicked and perverse generation.

For those few of us who aren't familiar with the plot, it begins with the Brawny man, mustachioed and flannelized, on the lookout for a woman to marry with no notice. Immediately the male audience is sucked in, for who doesn't want to find a hottie who can cook, clean, milk a cow, AND blindly jump into marriage with a total stranger, cutting through all the headache and confusion of courtship? Mr. Brawny sings "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," perhaps the greatest song in the entire movie, which never really lives up to this moment music-wise, though it makes a few valiant attempts. After finding and marrying the Swiss Miss girl, the Brawnies head out to the woods to live, because what is the most rational thing to do when a scruffy strangers asks you to marry him and go to the mountains with you?

The new Mrs. Brawny is in for a surprise when she finds that her husband has six not-quite-as-burly brothers living with him, and she's supposed to feed and clean up after them all. Sexual frustration being piqued by a woman's introduction to their testosterone farm, they all decide to get themselves hitched, but only after they learn how to closet their burly ways in a group effort to guise themselves as gentlemen.

They collectively come back out of the closet about thirty minutes later (after an impressive scene - in which they win the attention of six women who serve no purpose than to be sex objects for the men - that involves some sincerely-amazing acrobatics and choreography), when they find themselves putting on a ballet for each other while desperately gripping their axes - symbolic of their frustrated attempts at being real men as they weakly chop at trees made of rubber.

This depressing - yet unintenionally-hilarious - number is a result of another no-brainer: the seven brothers decided to go into town and kidnap their six women because, heck, it worked with the Romans' Sabine women. In their defense, Mr. Brawny sang a very entertaining, toe-tapping number that made the whole plan sound simply delightful even to ME, detailing the entire plight of the Romans. Really, it's another great music number that's very convincing. Unfortunately, however, they discover that there's something called a "culture gap" that comes from a couple millenia's difference in time and half a globe's distance, which had them at the disadvantage. They were rejected and chastized by the ladies, and to make matters worse -- there was an avalanche that is preventing the women from being able to leave and the township from being able to rescue their daughters from six men who by now must surely have nothing decent left in their intentions.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but let's just say that there is a mass wedding involving angry fathers and shotguns. The image only confirms suspicions raised by the ballet number.

So why, you ask, am I not as thrilled by this movie as most of my peers seem to be? Is it the low production quality that involves painted backdrops and plastic foliage in every scene as opposed to real settings? Is it the objectifying of women, which apparently goes over the head of the ladies I know (yes, I know the women stand up to the men, but they are nonetheless objects to be gained, and it's made clear that despite the horrible actions of the brothers, they are still open to falling in love with them; plus, the movie is told almost entirely from the point of view of the men, because they are the psyche we need to relate with, according to the filmmakers)? Or is it just the fact that I hate that people expose themselves to so little of what's good in the film world and gloat that they've found the best that's out there (summing up the pop-culture opinion of my generation in general)?

Gee, I just can't place my finger on it. I like the movie, and I would own it if I found it for the right price, but it's so much slower and not as finely-produced as SO many other musicals out there. Please, if you're going to find yourself a favorite musical, do some research before settling on this one.

The next time I want to rant on a similar subject, I will be discussing the highly overrated "Singing in the Rain" (1952).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Eats Sheet: Championship Chili

This week I gloat. I decided to accept a job offer at an employment law firm representing employees. I'll start part time sometime after the new year, and then full time next summer. I was also offered a spot on the Law School's four-member Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team. This means that I get to go to a regional competition (maybe in Chicago) and hopefully a national competition (in D.C.). It also means that I have to go through intense research crap for the next three weeks to write (with my partner) a 60-page brief which is due before next semester. So much for Christmas vacation. Sigh.

But most importantly, I gloat because I am now the reigning champion of the Cedar Lake Ward Halloween Party Chili Cook-off. My chili was a modified combination of Cabeza's chili recipe and the Dinosaur BBQ recipe, with some of my own variations. It took two days (really a day and a half) to build, and it blew away the competition. There were three categories: best presentation, spiciest, and best overall chili. I won the third.

Not only am I a great culinary, I am also magnanimous. So I blush not to share my winning blueprint with the world. It follows:

1. I started with 3 pounds of steak cut into bite-sized pieces. I sprinkled these generously with cajun seasoning, black pepper, and some garlic powder and salt. I let them sit to soak in the flavor.

2. I browned the meat in oil in a cast-iron skillet and transferred it to a big soup pot.

3. I put one-and-a-half chopped onions and one-and-a-half chopped green bell peppers into the grease left in the skillet, ground on some black pepper, and sprinkled them with salt. When they were cooked, I added them to the pot.

4. I added to the pot these ingredients:

  • one-and-one-third cup of beef stock
  • one-and-one-third cup of chicken stock
  • one-third cup V8
  • one small can tomato paste
  • three cans of stewed tomatoes, drained
  • two cans red beans and one can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well (sorry, Cabeza)
  • four tablespoons chili powder
  • one tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • one tablespoon paprika
  • two teaspoons powdered chipotle
  • two teaspoons cumin
  • two teaspoons oregano
  • one stick of cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • one-third cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or, I bet a few squares of dark chocolate would be good)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
4. Then I covered the pot, put it in the fridge, and went to bed.

5. The next day, I put the pot on the stove and turned the burner on to medium. As soon as the chili started to bubble, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer.

6. After about 20-30 minutes of simmering, I fished out the cinnamon and let it continue to simmer for another three hours.

7. Just before it was time to serve, I put a heavy grid-iron on the stove, set the burner on high, and got it smoking hot. I put a few jalapenos on it, and grilled them until they had the nice black grill lines and blistered skin. Then I seeded them, chopped them up, and put them in a serving bowl as a garnish.

The bishopric, the primary president, the relief society president, and the Elders' Quorum president judged the chili. I knew it was a lock when I saw the bishopric go straight to my pot after the judging was done and the chili was open for pot-luck.

The winner for presentation was a regular chili in a regular crock pot, but with three brightly colored peppers floating on top. The spiciest winner was fairly mild, I thought. It was a ground turkey based chili. In my opinion, the salient strengths of my chili are 1) meat quality, and 2) the earthy mole-esque flavor of chocolate and cinnamon. The cinnamon and chocolate can be overdone, though. You don't want it to taste like Big Red or like chocolate. It's a deep, subtle undertone that you're going for.

I also have an idea about how I can win presentation next year, but I'm not putting that one on the web.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Where have all the ghost stories gone?

I don't really get that into Halloween. Carving pumpkins is fun, and trick or treating is okay for little kids. But I really hate giving candy to the adolescents who show up at my door having put minimal effort into a "costume" consisting of a hoodie and a mask they bought at Spencer's.

And I hate spook houses. Nothing but a cheap trick designed to get girls to grab onto guys who lack the guts to actually make a move. The same goes for horror films---a genre which these days has degenerated into one of two things: 1) a boring, not-scary, not-suspenseful blood fest, or 2) uncreative occult creepiness. It has been many years since we had a horror film that stood on its own two feet for suspense. The common practice now is to use gore or satanism as a crutch for scariness.

But it was not always so. There used to be ghost stories. Most of the great scary stories are folktales too old for authorship. Look at the Brothers Grimm (the real brothers, not that filmic abomoination)---their collection of Germanic folktales isn't all princesses and fairies. In fact, those fairy tales go more to the gothic and the sublime than the picturesque. Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, a classic spook tale, drew heavily on this Germanic legacy. So also did Lord Byron when he proposed a ghost-story-telling contest to his guests one dreary Genevan summer. That challenge spawned both the Frankenstein and the Vampire traditions---now Halloween staples. These stories create fantastic worlds of supernatural mystery that ooze the essence of the gothic and the sublime. They are a far cry from the contemporary blood-soaked and gore-splattered plotless excuses that make their perennial appearance on HBO.

But before it devolved into that, there was a golden age of horror film. The Wolfman, the Mummy, Frankenstein's monster, and Count Dracula were the golden boys of that golden age. Those films struck a perfect balance between spooky and fun---just spooky enough to make your skin crawl, but not so violent or evil that you feel sick. Most importantly, they had characters and plots. And they had their stars as well. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi stood astride the narrow world as two legs of the great campy colossus that was the horror genre. Vincent Price wasn't far behind.

Aside from also redefining the music video genre, Michael Jackson's Thriller is also a great tribute to that golden age. Watch the video. It's chock-full of the landmarks of camp: the 50's dress, the convertible, the misty night, the frightened girl, and Jackson's agonized transformation into a were-wolf (although if you ask me, it looks more like a were-cat, which is odd, but somehow fitting). If you pay attention in Thriller, you see Vincent Price's name on the marquee outside the theatre. And yes, that is Vincent Price doing the spoken word incantation that brings the zombies out to dance.

Thriller is a nice tribute. But my favorite is the granddaddy of Halloween horror spoofs, Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. Ghostbusters is of course genius, but can that count as a Halloween flic? I'm not so sure. The gothic darkness of Batman jives well with Halloween, I suppose, but I think its safe to say that the Bat fits more squarely in the superhero genre than the Halloween pile. I suppose the two Halloween greats of the 1990s were Interview with the Vampire and Blair Witch, but neither one takes my breath away.

So what are the best Halloween movies of all time? What was the last Halloween movie that wasn't a plotless slasher?

Euterpeos: The Shepard's Dog

There's something primal about Sam Beam's music. And when I say primal, I mean old---not wild, feral, and uncouth, but some ancient thing that wells up from a deep historical and cultural well. It's the same feeling you get from the theophanies of the blues and the supernatural, superstitious spiritualism of the Southern Gothic (as expressed, for example, in Flannery O'Connor).

My exposure to Iron & Wine is admittedly limited. I heard his first album, Our Endless Numbered Days, a few years ago in college. I thought it was good, but kind of forgettable. The music had some interesting harmonies, but his breathy voice was a little too John Mayer to make me like him. But a year or so later I heard "He Lays in the Reins." I just had to respect the way Beam had combined the machismo of the vocals of Mexican ranchero ballads and the twang of an electric slide guitar with a lulling, cascading rhythm. This was music as expansive as the landscape of the American west, but without all the sell-out sentimental jingoism and emotional manipulation of modern country music. That takes talent.

Then last month I read Susan M's review of The Shepard's Dog over at Kulturblog. I was convinced. I bought The Shepard's Dog the weekend we moved, and have been meaning since then to do a write-up. Finally, now that oral arguments are done, I'm getting around to it.

The Shepard's Dog is easily Sam Beam's best album to date. It is certainly the most ambitious and the most musically complex. Beam lays down layer upon genre-straddling layer of rhythm, melody, and counter-melody. The music has an almost symphonic quality to it. And he uses a wide variety of instrumentation drawn from several traditions to keep it interesting. With jumping rock-folk rhythms and more expansive vocal back-ups, the music rocks enough that Beam's breathy voice doesn't bother me in this album---less John Mayer, more Dan Fogelberg.

"Lovesong of the Buzzard," for example, starts with a syncopated hand percussion line entwined with a simple acoustic guitar strum. Vocal melody comes in, and is joined by harmony. Then a cheery Van Morrison/Janis-Joplin style organ comes in and slowly grows in volume and complexity. Then the acoustic guitar part picks up and gets rocking. Thats when the accordion arpeggios start. That's right: accordion arpeggios. The tracks ends with a little nautical-sounding accordion part that is joined briefly by a western electric slide guitar and then breaks down into chaotic electronic noise.

The album opens with one of my favorite tracks: "Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car." If King Lear had had a theme song this would be it. It begins with a steady acoustic guitar rhythm, develops with some Celtic-inspired slow-drawn fiddle, more complex acoustic guitar parts, and otherwordly vocal harmonies, and then climaxes with some high piano twiddling. The different parts work together and jam like an Appalachian jug band transported into some heather-crowned Celtic highland. You gotta love these lines:

I was still a beggar shaking out my stolen coat
among the angry cemetery leaves
when they caught the king beneath the borrowed car,
righteous, drunk, and fumbling for the royal keys

But even though Beam draws heavily on folk roots, it's not all fiddle and gut-bucket. This album also nods to celtic, reggae, electronic, Indian, country, and other traditions, but it plants its roots squarely in rock and roll soil. The second track, "White Tooth Man," opens with sitars and sounds like a late Beatles tune. The tenth track, "The Devil Never Sleeps" is a joyful old-time rock and roll tune. With its snippets of honky-tonk-esque piano and its 12-string/electric guitar duets, it sounds like an early Beatles tune. And the last track, "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," is a waltz ballad picked out on acoustic guitar with accordion and electric guitar accents and almost Righteous Brothers-esque vocals. The title track has a reggae beat, but combines it with a groaning 12-string and a Janis Joplin style organ part. "Peace Beneath the City" gives you sitars with wah-wah electric guitar, a deep background cello drone. A Theremin makes a ghostly appearance.

"Ressurection Fern" is perhaps the simplest song on this album. An single acoustic strum and a shaker holds up the tune, supported only minimally by electric slide accents. This song is a mystery to me because it reminds me of country music but doesn't make me want to stab lead pencils through my eardrums. Even C likes it, and she hates country even more than I do.

Another substantial strength of The Shepard's Dog is that Beam is enough of a poet that he matches his interesting sounds with equally interesting images. Just as the sitars in "White Tooth Man" echo the sound of late Beatles, that track's lyrics mirror the imagery of songs like Eleanor Rigby. Beam's line, "the postman cried while reading the mail and we all got trampled in the Christmas parade" reminds me of "Father Mackenzie, writing the words to a sermon that no one will hear." The Shepard's Dog is fraught with images of rural America, religion, and nature. It deals with themes that range from violence to innocence to consumerism, but does so through images rather than polemics. As a result, the poetry is subtle, unobstrusive, and memorable.

This is an album worth having.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arguing Orally

I had Oral Arguments last night for International Moot Court, otherwise known as fake ICJ. It went fine. I wasn't too nervous, until I actually sat down and listened to my opponent start. Then I started getting the knot in the stomach that gets tighter and tighter until you feel sick. Other than a bit of dry mouth, though, I felt much better when I started arguing. Overall it went well. I'll find out Friday if I made the competition team.

I have to say, though, that my proudest moments were not the logical and legal points I proved, but the classical and biblical allusions I made. Having strong legal and factual arguments is essential, but they can be so dry.

It is customary for an advocate to make some theme statement at the beginning of argument. Usually, it's something like "this is a case about the rule of law" or some other such boring and forgettable legal principle. My theme was an allusion to Aesop. I told the judges that "this is a case about political sour grapes." The judges liked that.

At one point during my opponent's argument, one of the judges asked him if he was not trying to have it both ways. When I argued, I recalled that colloquy and told the judges that my opponent was "taking a rather Janus-faced position." One judge didn't like that because it was obscure and distracting. Two judges loved it because it was original.

Then, pointing out another logical inconsistency in my opponent's argument, I said to the judges "after straining at such technical legal gnats, I don't know how the opposing side can then expect the court to swallow such blatant factual camels." This one made my teacher almost laugh.

I guess it shows I was an English major that I'm prouder of my allusions than my legal analysis.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Eats Sheet: Chicken Stock

What's the difference between decent chicken soup and really good chicken soup? The stock.

Now, normally, when I want a quick bowl of chicken soup I throw a couple of bullion cubes into boiling water for the stock. But recently, I discovered a much tastier, and less salty way.

C likes to roast a chicken periodically. We'll eat the drumsticks et al. with mashed potatoes Thanksgiving Turkey style and then make a variety of dishes with the leftover meat. Favorites include chicken noodle soup, chicken salad, and white chili. This last time, we decided we would roast a chicken Sunday night and make white chili on Monday. White chili is a great dish that consists of a base of chicken stock either with or without thickener, chopped and/or shredded chicken meat (usually breast), celery, onions, white and black pepper, white beans, some jalapeno or anaheim peppers, and whatever other spices. You top it with cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro. It's not chili for a chili purist, but its a dang good meal.

So to make white chili, I decided this time to get some of the really good flavor by making a stock from the bones and skin rather than just use the chicken-flavored salt we call bullion. Here's what you do.

1. Roast a chicken.

2. While the chicken is resting, put the roasting pan over medium heat and pour in two cups of hot water. Scrape up all the brown bits and juices from the bottom of the roasting pan and bring it to a boil, continuing to stir and scrape.

3. After about 15 minutes, pour the roasting pan juices into a soup pot.

4. Carve and eat the chicken.

5. Put the bones and skin and any meat that you don't want to eat into the stock pot. Throw in a few sticks of celery, a quartered onion, a couple of carrots, and a few cloves of garlic. Add 2 quarts of water and season with salt, black pepper, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Add any of your other favorite spices.

6. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for 10-15 minutes. Skim off any obvious fat or foam. Then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 2-3 hours.

7. Turn off the heat and pick out the bones. Line a colander with cheese cloth if you have it. Put the colander over a bowl and pour it all through. Fold the cheese cloth over the veggies and stuff left in the colander and press down on them to release the flavor.

8. Let it cool and skim off any obvious fat.

This stock makes any soup that much better. It's way better than canned chicken stock and way way better than bullion. It's a much more complex, robust flavor. You'll find that you don't need to season your soups as much. You can keep it in the fridge for maybe a week, or you can freeze it. You can use it in soups, but it also makes a great braising liquid or a substitute for cooking wine.

One nifty idea from the Dinosaur cookbook is to pour some into an ice cube tray, then pop out the frozen chicken stock cubes and keep them in a bag in the freezer. You can add them to sauces for a flavor boost.

Monday, October 22, 2007

An Eats Sheet Double Feature: BBQ Pulled Pork and Pulled Pork Potato Skins

Saturday I wanted to make pulled pork. Unfortunately, the stores around here apparently stop selling charcoal when the leaves change, and I didn't have enough to keep an all day fire going in the grill. I also couldn't find any hickory chips. We also had errands to run. So I couldn't spend all day tending the grill to smoke a pork butt. So I improvised. It went like this:

1. Take a 4-6 pound pork shoulder and rub it down with olive oil and a red rub. Mine has paprika, powdered chipotles, cumin, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar. Let it sit overnight if you can.

2. Get a nice medium fire going in the grill.

3. Sear the pork roast on all sides, just barely.

4. Dump any leftover rub into a crockpot with a half cup of vegetable broth, a few shakes of Tabasco, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

5. Stick the pork in the crockpot and let it cook on low for 5 hours.

6. Pull it out, shred it with a pair of forks, and heap it into a baking pan. Pour 1-2 cups BBQ sauce over it. Keep it warm in the oven. I had three almost-empty bottles of different sauces in the fridge, so I mixed up some Dinosaur Honey Roasted Garlic Sauce and Wegmans Memphis Sauce with some Jack Daniels Sauce (It's non-alcoholic, but it includes "whiskey flavoring." I don't even know what whiskey tastes like, let alone know what the heck whiskey flavoring might entail. But the sauce is good.)

7. Toast up some rolls. Use the grill if you aren't lazy. I was lazy. Pack the pork into the rolls. Heat up some sauce to serve at the table.

We had it with Cuban black beans and rice, steak fries, and a salad. It was good. But even better, leftover pulled pork opens a multitude of possibilities. Quesadillas, nachos, tamales, or even a breakfast hash are good choices. Sunday night I piled some onto potato skins. It went like this:

1. Scrub clean 6-8 potatoes. Poke 'em with a fork, and wrap 'em with foil.

2. Bake the potatoes 45 minutes to an hour in a 425 degree oven.

3. Pull the potatoes out and slice them in half lengthwise. Use a sharp knife so you don't tear the skins.

4. Carve out the insides of the spuds with a spoon. Leave a quarter-inch shell. Save the insides for mashed potatoes or potato soup or something.

5. Mix up some creole seasoning (paprika, cayenne, garlic, black pepper, oregano, rosemary, onion powder, salt) with some vegetable oil or olive oil. Use a pastry brush to glaze the inside of the potato shells with this oil mixture.

6. Bake the oiled shells 10-15 minutes until the insides have a nice golden color.

7. Fill the shells with green onions, pulled pork, and cheddar cheese (mozzarella, Monterrey jack, or some Mexican queso fresco would also work; or if you're getting all highbrow, some gruyere wouldn't be bad, either). Grind some black pepper on each one and bake them another 5 minutes or so until the cheese melts.

8. Top 'em with sour cream and serve.

We had them with a buttermilk ranch salad. The sweet spice of the BBQ pork mingles well with the saltiness of the potatoes and cheese. The creole seasoning gives it a nice kick, and the sour cream mellows it all out and holds the flavors together. Leftover black beans and rice are a nice accompaniment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bullied by Big Milk: Why I oppose Kirkland's new jug

How could this happen?

The other day we went to Costco to pick up some essentials. We walked past the milk jugs like four times looking for the milk. This is because milk at Costco no longer looks like milk. Apparently, Kirkland (Costco store brand) has redesigned their milk jugs.

I can only assume that it is supposed to increase efficiency. The new shape has a slightly smaller footprint, but more importantly, a flat top so you can stack them more easily on a pallet.

The good part is that it fits a little more easily in the side of the refrigerator. The bad part is that when it's full, it's a little top heavy. And the lid lacks the funnel shaped neck of the old bottles. The lid is also inexplicably bigger. I can't figure why, but I'm sure some physics-savvy soul could explain the efficiency-increasing reason for a bigger lid. The result of all this (top-heaviness, no neck, big opening) is an unwieldy pour. It reminds me of trying to pour from a paint can without the benefit of the little wire handle.

Top-heavy, big mouth, no neck, flat-top: I will call Kirkland's new jug the Biff. Aside from the aforementioned pouring issues, I have other problems with the Biff. The Biff is a sqaure, meat-headed container. It lacks the ample base, and the friendly side-circles of the old jug. The voluptuous curves and the slender neck of the old jug are more befitting a vessel for milk than the sharp, angular lines of the Biff.

The Biff in all its squarishness evokes the outline of a Borg ship. It is a synecdoche of the sinister sense-deadening uniformity and conformity of corporate America. The cost-benefit analysis behind the Biff reveals reckless disregard for the consumer. Yes, the Biff is easy to stack on pallets, but how many consumers buy enough milk that they need to stack Biffs in their refrigerator? And yes, the Biff fits slightly better in the fridge door, but who honestly has a difficult time fitting milk in his fridge? And it is true that the stackable-ness of the Biff probably reduces the cost of a jug of milk by increasing efficiency in shipping.

But at what cost? The consumer has to endure less manageable pouring, which creates waste. Notwithstanding Kirkland's claims to the contrary, the Biff pours worse. With the old jug, you could pick it up and tip it further to an almost horizontal position so that when the milk poured, it fell more or less perpendicular to the side of the jug. But with the Biff, the milk begins to pour earlier, when the jug is still between vertical and 45 degrees. Combined with a large opening, the milk pours in a wide, cumbersome stream. After you pour a glass or moisten your cereal, there is always that tell-tale trickle. The wasted milk oozes down the side of the Biff and where it later solidifies into nasty crustiness. It may soil a countertop, table, or the inside of a fridge. This fosters bacteria and may lead to food poisoning. It must be cleaned. All these costs are borne by the American working man, not by the fat cats in the milk industry.

I oppose the Biff.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Negative space---filled!

It has been raining almost nonstop in Minneapolis for about two weeks. We get a day here or there with a peek of sunshine and some longer periods with clouded monotony, but it seems to be almost all interminable rain.

Add to that the fact that the temp's been hovering around 80-85 degrees. It's been steamy, and not in a sexy way. It's wrong for October.

On a positive note, I did grill some salmon last night. I did a garlic, black pepper, basil, and oregano rub with olive oil and salt on the fish. We ate it with risotto.

We moved last weekend. It was tiring and stressful. The best part was when our landlady told us Saturday morning that we had to leave Saturday night (this after telling us previously that we couldn't leave until Monday night). But with a few guys recruited from the ward, and some missionaries that showed up at the end, we were all moved into our new place with the bed set up by about 9:30.

So now we have another bedroom. And our ceilings are higher, but they're wooden, which makes it darker, but not too oppressive because of the height. And we have more kitchen space, which is a huge bonus. And we don't have to go up stairs to go home. On the other hand, people on the sidewalk can look right into our windows. But not that many people hang out on the sidewalk near our apartment so it's cool. We get a patio, but since we don't have any patio furniture, my tiny grill looks a little lonely out there.

To fill our new space, and also to have somewhere to put our stuff that was previously stacked up on the floor, we bought some cheap shelves from target and made an ikea run Saturday. Now we have a chrome shelf (I think they call it a microwave cart, but we didn't put the wheels on it) that we put our pots and pans on, a white thing that's like an armoire except really skinny and with shelves instead of a hanger rod and a cabinet on the bottom, two shelves that remind me of orange crates (in a good way), and a really comfy chair. I put them together on Saturday while watching conference over the internet tubes.

We also have a bunch of baby girl clothes. A friend bought us a bunch for C's birthday. Then a lady in the ward gave us a ton of stuff that her boys used to wear. Lots of it is also okay for a girl to wear (like red velvet overalls). She also gave us a swing, a large plastic donut, a crescent shaped pillow, a baby-bouncing thing, a tiny bathtub, a fleece bag to put a kid in before you put the kid in a car seat, a car seat, and a stroller that was kind of sticky. It's nice to have so much free stuff.

Saturday I ate at Fuddrucker's after priesthood. It was good, but it should never cost $6 to eat fries and a chocolate shake. Ahh, Fuddrucker's: the American Eagle to Red Robin's Old Navy.

C wanted some new music to listen to while we packed and unpacked. She got Feist because of the iPod commercial. I told her if she likes Feist she should check out Imogen Heap, so she got Imogen Heap. I got Iron & Wine.

They say baby is going to start recognizing our voices this week.

And if you read all the way to here, thinking I was eventually going to make some insightful comment on all these happenings---sucker!