Monday, December 27, 2010

And remember - you heard about it from the La Choy Dragon.

This is probably hard to believe, especially for you, Matt, as you're so often nestled beside me on the couch reading while I talk back to reruns of Teen Mom, Google pictures of sphynx cats in sweaters and interrupt your deep literary thoughts with questions about rashes and weather forecasts. It may be hard to believe, but I used to read like a fiend. By the weak glow of my headboard's clip-on light, in the middle of math class, anywhere and anytime I had a free second to explore the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or track the whereabouts of The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was reading. But these days, distracted by life's distractions and no longer dependent on public transportation (you read a lot faster when the guy next to you is trying to sell you a seat on his space ship), my reading habits have slowed to a snail's pace. The backlog of novels and short story collections waiting to be read is older than a teen mom and spreading faster than this rash... but I'm making a dent. Currently on the docket: "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street" by Michael Davis. And it's really good. I keep pausing to look up the old commercials Jim Henson used as the small-screen debut for some of the earliest Muppets.

This one is a 1965 spot for La Choy's line of Americanized Chinese food.
"For the campaign, Henson designed a lumbering, life-size dragon fully capable of locomotion. Counting the chef's hat that he wore as a crown, the La Choy dragon stood considerably taller than the actors hired to play against him. Operating from within the dragon, Frank Oz could swagger, flail its arms, shake its head, crane its neck, and, with assistance of an aide with a blow torch, breathe fire."

(Lauren, I know we used to eye this book with longing and envy when it was perched in the window at Unabridged. I'll send it to you when I'm finished.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The bells were ringing out for Christmas day

Hope you're having a great day! I'm not in St. Louis this year (first time ever), but I'm lucky to be with people I love, who've made me feel right at home. Plus, we got to open presents on Christmas Eve. No doubt six-year-old me is very, very jealous.

Anyway, to my family in St. Louis and friends in Omaha, Lincoln, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Kansas City and everywhere else, happy Christmas.

I've got a feeling this year's for me and you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Triple-Meat Reflections

Over the past two weeks, we've found ourselves edging into the Christmas spirit along with everyone else. After all, 104.5 only plays "Do They Know It's Christmas?" 20,000 times between Thanksgiving and New Year's, and the tree is slowly dying and in need of some pre-Christmas appreciation, and there are presents to be wrapped (and more importantly, purchased), and now there is snow on the ground.

I am a Dundee locavore in that I eat pizza from our local Pizza Hut and drink wine from our local gas station. In keeping with our convictions and the spirit of the season, we ordered Cheesy Bites pizza on Friday night, paired it with some chardonnay from A.B.'s 66 and hunkered down to watch "It's a Wonderful Life." The pizza was acceptably greasy, the wine tasted only mildly of ethanol, and the movie was good, of course. Jimmy Stewart is even more endearing in HD.

On Saturday, we braved the wind and snow to see "A Christmas Carol" at the community playhouse, a tradition that had been shelved for the past few years. New Scrooge is very funny, but new Nephew Fred did a better job carrying the Christmas goose than he did an English accent, and new Tiny Tim wasn't nearly fragile enough. Two thumbs up on the fake snow that fell on the audience at the end, but a resounding humbug to the chorus, as not a single member made eye contact with me - not even once.

And finally, I would be remiss not to provide an update on the turducken.

In a word, it was gray... ish pink.

I swear I followed the cooking instructions word for word, making sure to fill the bottom of the pan with water and leave the netting intact, allowing it to serve as a cage for the animals during cooking. It was hard to tell if the delicious smells wafting from the oven were the turducken or the regular old turkey, so I assumed it was the turducken. Naturally.

But what slunk from the oven door, relaxing in a pool of polka-dotted grease, pocked with little blobs of fat, did not look appetizing. Not at all.

And what was inside amounted to a pinwheel of gray meats, swirling around a pinkish center. There was no telling where one bird ended and the next began, so it was kind of like a hotdog in that way. Serving it intact was next to impossible, as the layers collapsed at the touch of a fork. It tasted like a failed experiment. I opted for my mom's turkey. And while my brothers ate a good amount of turducken (which isn't saying much at all - they've been known to eat dandelions and birthday candles), we finally threw the last of it away a few days later, when it became clear that it was permanently unwanted - a Thanksgiving novelty now taking up space in the back of the fridge.

But Thanksgiving itself? It was good - really good. Matt got off work early every day, and I got to spend some much-needed QT with my family. Plus, the other food made up for any residual turducken disappointment. Next year we're thinking a deep-fried turkey. Or a Cheesy Bites pizza, just to keep things local.


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