Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fun Friday night

I hopped a train into the city Friday afternoon and met Jess; we went around the corner from his work to BLT Burger before attempting to do a few shopping errands: I had a cheeseburger, cole slaw and onion rings; Jess had a cheeseburger and cole slaw.

We both loved the burgers; I thought they served about the best burger I've had in New York: crispy and very browned on the outside, and cooked medium on the inside, the meat was very tasty. I thought the cole slaw was okay, though it was cut to such a length that I had to roll it around the fork like spaghetti to eat it! Jess liked it a lot. I am such a slaw critic that there aren't many out there that rate more than okay with me.

I was just okay with the onion rings; the outside was thick and heavy like pancake batter, and held a lot of grease. I was hoping for something crispier and more lightly battered. I prefer battered rings to breaded rings, and these were battered, but I like the batter very light so I can really taste the onion.

The service was very attentive and personable. Overall, I'd go again. I did like those burgers.

We rode the subway to Penn Station since we had to do some shopping and errands. The streets and sidewalks were an absolute madhouse. People everywhere, the sidewalks so full of distracted tourists that those of us locals who needed to get where we needed to go walked in the street where it was safe to do so. Remind me never to be in the city again on the day after Thanksgiving.

Following our errands, we met up with Jeff and Steve to see The Little Dog Laughed. It might have been called Whoring as an Art Form. Every character in it is a whore at some level. The setup is that Tom Everett Scott's character is an up-and-coming actor who is secretly gay, and his agent, who is a lesbian, is his cover. Scott's character gets involved with a male prostitute who is bisexual, and the prostitute's girlfriend finds out about his blossoming relationship with the movie star.

It was a fun show, and it was all Julie White's. She plays the agent and she does so with a brilliance and spice that none of the other players even approach. From her opening monologue, a narration that sets the story, she has the audience in the palm of her swiftly-moving hand, and she never lets go.

Tom Everett Scott's performance and appearance were disappointing. He's lost a lot of his boyish good looks that brought him the spotlight in That Thing You Do and An American Werewolf in Paris, and he just doesn't keep himself up well. His overall appearance is disheveled, unkempt. It's a little hard to believe he's cast as a heartthrob. While his performance had its moments, those moments were few and unfulfilling. This one is living proof that screen actor does not equal stage actor.

Johnny Galecki's performance as the boy-on-call was somewhat reminiscent of his past life as David, Darlene's boyfriend on Roseanne. He played the part a with a little too much aw-shucks dopiness to be believable as a hustler. Ari Graynor, the hustler's girlfriend, seemed to model her character after Britney Spears, pretty but unrefined, with a thickness to match that of Galecki's role. They made a good pair. Honestly, the other players only provided a distraction to Julie White's bitingly funny performance and the clever staging. At one point, the comment was made among us that her performance was played with the biting wit of that of another brilliant actress of stage and screen, Harriet Harris, who played Frasier's agent Bebe Glazer on Frasier. It brought us to recall a particular episode where Roz is considering hiring Bebe as her agent. After having been warned off by Frasier about the danger of such a move, Roz dismisses it: "It's not like she worships the devil!" to which Frasier remarks with alarm, "She doesn't have to! He worships her!

During the intermission, a familiar face came from the front row and was walking back to the rear of the theatre. It was Rue McClanahan, of Golden Girls fame. She didn't look as good as I expected her to, based on pictures and clips I have seen of her at relatively recent functions; she's only 72, but she looked about 10 years older than that. She didn't return for the second half. I hope she was okay.

I had to wonder if the writer of this show didn't have someone specific in mind when they wrote the play. I'm thinking a famous Tom who very recently married following the birth of his new wife's child. It was just all very familiar...but it could have been about any number of actors.

Following the show, I got to speak with Ms. White ever so briefly and congratulated her, remarking that she lit up the stage with her performance, to which she quipped, "That's so sweet. I hope it wasn't because there were fireworks coming out of my butt or something like that!"

If you want some comic relief, The Little Dog Laughed is a fun show. But don't go looking for serious acting from the entire cast, because you'll only find it in Julie White.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Morning-after musings

Okay, so many of you are getting to go shopping or sleep in or whatever. Lucky youse! We have to work today. Oh, well. We're going to see The Little Dog Laughed with Tom Everett Scott (yum) this evening, so all is not lost. We'll have to have dinner beforehand, so I am tempted to scoot over to BLT Burger on pinknest's recommendation. Those onion rings have been calling my name!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The whole banana

Okay, so here are the pictures I promised from today. Jess took these terrific shots. Wow. What a meal! It was a lot of work, but it was fun, and it was delicious.

Here are the "failed" custards I was talking about. I refused to throw them out because they took so long to prepare. So I wound up baking them for another 20 minutes out of the water bath, and they did set up, even if they were slightly soft. But because of all the movement back and forth to and from the water-bath pan, you can see that most of them had dribbled edges. Trust me, I cleaned them up before the meal.

Completing the stuffing of the turkey and securing the front.

The turkey is ready to make its trip to the oven.

Dodger stops in to see if he can help eat anything.

Bernice wants to help, too.

It's cold out. Jess prepares to make a fire in the library.

The fire is lit and it's beautiful!

Jeff and I began setting the table. Steve brought the lovely flowers.

The turkey turned out beautifully, but finished about 45 minutes sooner than I expected! Fortunately, most of the other cooking was completed, but we had to race around to make what remained to be cooked.

Removing the stuffing from the bird. Hey, that's a nice shot of my ring!

Mandy stops in to see if she's missed anything. "What's that great smell? Can I have some? Dogs love turkey, y'know"

Jeff enjoys a respite from the cooking while I tell a story.

Turkey carving begins.

The plate of turkey. This was only about half of the bird.

Mmmm...let's have a close up of that extraordinarily crispy skin!

The rolls are ready! Let's eat!

Steve gives Dodger some welcome attention.

So Dodger whores himself out for more...

Jeff's squash casserole in the foreground, with sweet potatoes and stuffing in the background.

Setting the wine glasses for the final detail.

The finished table!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm busy baking and cooking and making a I'll post later today about all the fun..complete with pictures. Thank God I had some help with this, or it might not have come off.

Let me just say that in yesterday's preparations for today, I: spilled a martini all over a countertop with important paperwork on it; forgot to double the number of eggs in my baked chocolate custard when I doubled the rest of the ingredients, and it refused to set when baked; burned my hand on the handle of the deep pan that I baked the custard in because I absent-mindedly forgot that I had recently taken it out of a 350-degree oven; went to the store early to beat the crowds and then remembered later in the day that I hadn't picked up brown sugar and a couple of other things I needed, so I had to wait in long lines with the riff-raff anyway. Oh, there were some other blunders, but nothing monumental. At least we got a lot done for today's meal yesterday.

But's the menu: turkey, of course, brined and baked to golden perfection; delicious potato-bread stuffing; my signature sweet potatoes with pears and apples; rosemary-and-chive potatoes with home-made gravy; our good friend Jeff's famous squash casserole; green beans; homemade dinner rolls; and for dessert, Jeff's apple crisp, and baked chocolate custard (ala Veselka).

I am a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving; I don't go far outside the box when it comes to the menu. But it always tastes fabulous, so who cares? Good food is good food! (Yes, I know, I'm so prolific.)

What am I most thankful for? I have a wonderful partner whom I love and whom I live with in a beautiful home; we have three healthy dogs who are like children to us; we have a terrific yet small circle of family and friends who are very near and dear to us and for whom we would do about anything, knowing they would do the same for us; we live just a short train ride from the most terrific city in the world; and I have a new job to go to in just 10 days that I am soooo happy to be leaving the old one for!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May you be filled with the gift of a good meal, the warmth of friends and family, and a spirit of generosity for those less fortunate than you this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The power of suggestion

Most of you who read this blog with any regularity (all three of you) know that I love food: I love making it, I love eating it, I love sharing it. I don't have to make the food to love it...I love eating at restaurants, and at other people's homes. So you would consider it no surprise that I was surfing for recipes on the 'net one night this past weekend and came across a kindred blogging spirit in pinknest. She's a terrific read - be sure to pay a visit. Great pictures, fun writing, and FOOD...lots of food.

Anyhow, today's pinknest post mentioned creamy, cheesy caulifower. So all day long, I've been thinking about cauliflower and how I could eat a whole bowl of it draped in a silky yellow blanket of cheese. (No, not me draped in a blanket of cheese, the cauliflower!)

So when Jess called me to ask what I wanted for the main course, I wssn't sure what I wanted. I just knew I wanted cauliflower. It wound up being a strange meal, as he stopped by Checkers and picked himself up a burger, and a chicken sandwich for me. It was a funny combination of fast food and real food, but it was good, and I got my cauliflower and cheese fix.

Here's the dish:

And here's the aftermath. I shared a taste of the cheese that was left on the plate with Dodger. You think he liked it? (Yes, I cooked in my dress shirt.)

Finding pinknest could be very dangerous for my waistline!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

New beginning

A little over two years ago, when I started this blog, my first post was a rant about my job. It was (is) a suck-ass, underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated position. Even as a VP, no respect. Nothing has changed since then - the job is even shittier than it was, with only more things being piled on than before. Two of my experienced workers left since that first post was made, and so their replacements are not nearly as experienced, and as a result, the situation is quite a bit worse than two years ago. (No, no one at work knows about my blog.) And for the past three years, I have been asking for additional help, only to be told that I don't need it or can't have it. In twenty-two years of working this exact type of job, I have never been so abused by an employer. I am damned good at what I do. They should treat me better.

But this is a happy post. The old place is going to find out how much I'm really worth. I am starting a new job next month, in a whole new marketing arena. I'm thrilled to be getting out of financial services and into something else, because it will make me a lot more marketable having more than just one style of experience. I've already been told by a lot of people at the old job that they feel that this is going to be a blow to the place like they haven't imagined, and I think they are right. I think that, not because I am an arrogant ass, but because they simply have no idea of the volume of work I handle and the speed at which I handle all that work. But they will find out, yes they will.

Quite coincidentally, I found out that my salary was slated to increase by $27K in 2007 because they finally did a survey study that was gauged specifically to New York, not the northeast in general, and the study revealed just how underpaid I was. (Duh. I should have left years ago.) And no, if you're wondering, I won't be getting that kind of money at the new job; but I will be a LOT happier.

I find I am fascinated with myself for how long I actually put up with the current place. I never really felt truly comfortable there, never felt truly relaxed with my boss, yet I stayed at this job longer than any place I've ever worked. And I have to ask myself, "why is that?"

I know why, actually. I have a great man at home who helps me get through the tough times, takes me on fabulous vacations, and provides great distractions for me most every weekend. I love you, honey.