artichoked up

A couple years ago, I studied French pretty intensively. One of my favorite things about learning French (any language, really) is the discovery of idiomatic expressions. Probably my favorite (clean) one was "avoir un coeur d'artichaut," literally to have the heart of an artichoke. It means to be fickle, to fall in love easily and often.

Since I first heard the phrase, I often use it mentally (and, occasionally, out loud - usually to the consternation of an Anglophone listener). Today, it occurred to me to seek out its origins.

Found a great website almost immediately (Google, I love you), and a listing that makes sense of that odd little phrase. I'd thought it was something to do with the fact that an artichoke heart cannot actually feel, being a vegetable; the actual explanation is, I think, more poetic.

Loosely translated from the website: "The heart represents the center of the vegetable, the base of the artichoke which sprouts a multitude of leaves, enough for everyone around; as one who is said to have "the heart of an artichoke" gives a little bit of love to every person who seems to be worthy of interest.

The expression, dating back to the late 19th century, comes from its proverbial form: heart of an artichoke, a leaf for everyone."


reflections of a sous chef

At A.'s house. He is cooking a late dinner. There is to be a roast chicken, accompanied by two kinds of squash and roasted carrots and parsnips.

Observation #1: Peeling a parsnip is much like undressing a coyish virgin. One must be delicate yet decisive. The strokes must be bold yet precise. Carrots require less finesse, if perhaps more vigor. They are the college freshman with two beers inside - drunk enough to want it, sober enough to pretend to put up a fight. (I peeled the carrots and parsnips. Did a damn good job, too.)

Observation #2: A whole uncooked chicken looks like . . . er. Well. Let's just say it makes impure thoughts come to mind. From a certain angle. Maybe it's just me?

Observation #3: Stripping thyme off the twigs (is there a real name for this activity? Deforestating? Something like that?) lends itself well to all sorts of terrible puns - "Hey, I'm just killing thyme," "We could all use a little thyme," "Not much thyme left," etc.

Observation #4: I look damn cute in an apron.

Observation #5: No, wait, I look quite fat and dumpy in this apron.

Observation #6: Fuck this, I'm taking the apron off.

Observation #7: Everything is nicer with a big glass of lovely Cabernet. Cheers!

GBS in Oshawa: pics

Right then. Enough whining and navel-gazing. Here, take a look at some pictures instead.

The handsome fellow in the photo there is Kris MacFarlane of Great Big Sea - plays the drums most of the time, but also picks up a squeezebox, a guitar, occasionally a bass player . . . just kidding about that last one (or am I?). Sings back-up vocals, and from the little I heard of his voice, I liked it a lot. He soloed at the show with "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and did not disappoint. It was lovely. Very happy I finally got to hear him sing a whole song.

More photos here.


I will never be able to keep up a proper blog unless I have a theme to it - linking to articles or, I dunno, recipes or something, or some such thing. Because otherwise, it becomes too much like a journal.

I've had many blogs over the years - none for very long. Sooner or later, people you know will either find you, or else, you will make "blog-buddies" (especially on LiveJournal), who will get to "know" you. And that's my personal paralytic. Having to play to type, having people come to expect a certain pattern of behavior from you. In the end, I limit my entries to either laundry lists of events or notes cryptic enough to withstand a Soviet censor.

But I write almost every day. Sometimes, quite a lot. I write in notebooks - I fetishize them a bit, but that's a whole other story - and I write clearly and completely honestly. I like some of the writing, to tell the truth. But most of it - whatever isn't converted into poetry or finished stories - will never be seen by anyone but me.

It bothers me a bit. I may try to work through it in the future. But I don't anticipate a breakthrough anytime soon.

Meanwhile, I paper-blog.


return of the prodigal idiot

Came back from weekend road trip yesterday. Slipped out of the country and back again in under 48 hours. The place . . . Oshawa, ON, Canada. The reason . . . Great Big Sea. The shopping list . . . booze, drugs and smokes. Canada: el Mexico del norte.

The show - predictably fabulous. GBS played "Oh Yeah" (here is where all non-fans tune out or sprain their eye-rolling muscles), Kris soloed (YES! I've finally seen all 5 soloing), I danced my ass off and a good time was had by all. All the ones I care about, anyway.

The rum flowed merry at the afterparty. The pub was crowded and rowdy enough to have private conversations at the top of your lungs. The live music was loud and passable enough to render its quality irrelevant. When we left, I forgot to wear gloves. Even today, my hands are red and chapped. The perils of cold-weather fandom.

The after-afterparty in the hotel lasted until, oh, 7 a.m., and involved several young hockey players. I do not remember any of their names. There is no need to. They served their purpose well enough.

An excellent weekend, all in all. Pictures will follow.

Oh, and I totally saw a dude's wiener.



We've hit the cold snap rather suddenly. Just last week, I was still taking my walks in only a thick sweater over a long-sleeved tee; this week, we're down to below freezing. No more walks for me, certainly no more long, solitary writing sessions on park benches.

To this end, I actually visited a bar near my house - one of the two bars within a 2 block radius and tried to write there. Lacked the right vibe, though - or maybe it was just the shock of the new. Truth be told, I rather liked writing in the other bar; that was great, until one day I befriended both bartenders and pretty much all the regulars. I like solitude and anonymity in my writing process.

Don't know if it's habit or what, but I can only achieve a decent creative flow when I am not at home. The current is strong on park benches, in train stations; stronger still on trains, planes and buses. Fine in bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Great in hotels. But at home, all I can produce (usually; there are exceptions) are stilted rewrites.

I wonder sometimes why that is. Perhaps it's that being away from familiar walls gives a certain kind of third-person perspective that makes it easier to put things into words. I don't know, really. Hard to explain.

Well, of course it is. I'm at home right now.


the perils of beautiful music

Woke up feeling fine. Almost cheerful. Made the mistake of turning on one of the songs I heard yesterday - Crow Jane by Two Gallants. Am now playing it over and over, unable to stop, turning into little more than a mute, swaying filter of earthly melancholy. It's hauntingly beautiful. It's disarmingly sad. Everyone should listen to it . . . but probably no more than once in a row.

Did you notice that? How I gave myself really good advice and then promptly ignored it? That's what got me here, you know.

Sigh. My kingdom for a microlobotomy right about now.

the last 24 hours

Bottles of Chateau Diana consumed: Uh, like 5? (Yeah, I know, pathetic, especially considering that it contains less alcohol by volume than tap water in some Eastern European countries.)

Cigarettes smoked: Eleventy hundred and four. Give or take a pack.

Calories consumed: I dunno, how many calories are there in a small country? What about after you smother it in Nutella?

Calories worked off by moving between the futon and the laptop, which plays music: About 18. (We eventually realized that we could move the laptop to the futon, greatly streamlining the process.)

Hours spent listening to music: Oh, 20 or so.

Songs we heard during this time: About 5. But they are really good.

Men we hate: 2

Men we love: 2

Does that add up to 4?: No, 2.

Women we hate: 2. No, wait, 3.

Women we love: 2.

Does that still add up to 2?: No! What the fuck is wrong with you??? GOD!!!! . . . oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell, I'm just kinda pissed off. I HATE THAT BITCH! Oh, sorry, didn't mean to yell.

Angry phone calls received: 1.5 - 2, depending on whether you use the metric system or not.

Length of time it will take to purge the scent of tobacco, alcohol and twitching malaise from clothes, apartment, hair, skin, capillaries, etc.: Long enough for us to become normal, functioning human beings. Yeah, I know, I can't fathom it either.

(this stream of inanity is fondly dedicated to my partner in crime. The 2 women we love? I - presumptuously enough - meant each other ;)


new calamity

OK, we have cigarettes and liquor* but now we also have futon sores. Which are kind of like bed sores but way cooler, in a way hipsters would probably enjoy. But still unpleasant. So, please send ointment. And quickly. They are beginning to fester.

* wine product, whatever that means. We tried putting that on our futon sores but it didn't really help. Maybe anti-itch cream? Nutella? But then I'd be tempted to lick it off, which is just gross, so seriously, send ointment.

oh right

You don't know where we are. Hm. Well, we're somewhere in Bushwick. On, uh, some kind of avenue. Toilet Avenue? Something like that. Uh, just follow the sounds of screaming.

You're right. We're fucked.

Shit. Either the refrigerator is grunting at me or I am seriously fucked up.

Please send cigarettes and liquor. And anti-refrigerator rape whistles.

Update: now, someone is rattling a bottle of pills at me. This could be a good sign. Then again, probably not.

Update 2: she's just spat something all over my arm. On my CASHMERE SWEATER. The bitch.

Update 3: I'm being threatened with a slunting. I have no idea what a slunting entails, so I am very frightened. Please help.

Please send cigarettes and liquor. And stun guns.

for the love of jeebus

I tell you, we have no liquor OR cigarettes. Not even any (good) pills. We have anti-itch cream, but that does us no good, as we don't have an itch. Yet. Unless you count the itch for CIGARETTES AND LIQUOR.

Please send cigarettes and liquor. It doesn't have to be good liquor. We've been drinking Chateau Diana wine all night. Clearly, we have no standards. (Some of us also read books about vampires and listen to Five for Fighting. Non-ironically. See, no standards.)

God damn, times like this, I really wish I had a more popular blog. Or the ability to dial a phone.

please help

We are in a state of emergency. Please call FEMA and tell them to send relief in the form of cigarettes and vodka.

And please tell them not to fuck it up like they did their last thing.

PS - we are not black.



I have no special reason for making this entry, other than, any web page is made better by the presence of my dog's likeness on it.

This is Mini. He is my Yorkshire terrier. He was born on August 23, 2005, in Hungary. He's been with me since November 7, 2005.

Mini likes chicken-fried rice, Granny Smith apples and chasing small rubber balls. He hates cats and squirrels but loves everyone else. He has been neutered but still humps his stuffed animals every night. He never bites but he does try to French-kiss everyone who comes near him.

Mini is an excellent listener, a cooperate roommate and could probably power a small city on the energy generated by his wagging tail.


Spent part of the evening with Alex at the Chocolate Room. Discovered that overdosing on chocolate produces effects much like binge-drinking: first, a general effusively positive outlook on life, then sudden, sourceless outbursts of giggles, then a strange but not altogether unpleasant kind of dementia ("everything could be made of chocolate! That man might be chocolate! Can I eat him?"), followed by a sudden comedown (and a touch of nausea), at which point all you want to do is take a long nap and forget everything that happened.

All that aside, the place really is fantastic - the cocoa is to die for (I like the Cafe Torino, which is the 68%, livened up with a shot of espresso; add a cigarette and a hit of rum and you could call it a Renata special) and the desserts are all predictably exquisite. Nothing too inventive, just classic chocolate desserts prepared with skill and quality chocolate. (The kind that makes you realize that just because it's brown and sweet don't make it worthy of the name "chocolate." Hershey's, I'm looking at you.)

We also came up with an excellent new way for a Bond girl to die, considering previous history - drown her in chocolate! Alex pointed out that "bald man" Max Brenner could make a pretty good Bond villain. I just hope they don't call it "Brownfinger."

Just because it's the kind of entry, I feel the need to note that the world of chocolate is not inhabited only by gluttons and villains. For a different kind of tasty treat, check out one Fritz Knipschildt - gifted chocolatier, canny entrepreneur and sexy bastard.

And, yes, his chocolates taste as good as he looks.

That's all for tonight. Over and out.


First Entry

Just testing how this new format will work . . .


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