We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, December 21. 2014
Santa (who is clearly an obese white male in this accurate photo) is well-known to prefer Coke to Pepsi, but in our family he preferred brandy, Scotch, or Irish Coffee. Why Pepsi in this photo of him? Somebody must have paid him off.
Christmas became a federal holiday in the US in 1870. When people talk about the secularization and the material and food and booze indulgence of Christmas, I laugh because it was ever thus even though, in my family tradition, it's a pleasant if hectic blend of religious - with goodies and parties with friends, friendly acquaintances, and family.
We've been thinking about all of the charming pagan Saturnalian, and especially the pre-Christian Germanic, aspects of modern American Christmastime. A fine history of the modern Christmas here. Lots of interesting details.
My conclusion at the moment is that it's an ancient winter solstice Pagan holiday - with the baby Jesus added to the mix as Roman marketing. I have seriously-Jewish friends who do Christmas. Heck, even atheists love Christmas. My atheist Dad loved it: his entire life was about giving to others and more so than almost any Christian - or anyone of any religion - I know.
Every culture needs party seasons too, festivals. The real Christian holy day is Easter. I never heard of an Easter Party, and Easter parades are only in the movies.
No, I am not a Grinch. I love Christmas, especially Christmas Eve in church during which I shed tears every year. Advent is important to me, but far less so than Lent. I like all the parties, too, to catch up with my million best friends. Just one more, tonight, with carols. Yesterday was family pre-Christmas brunch to accommodate those who would be away, and last night's jolly party had carols too, with a neighboring pastor on the pianny and great and abundant food and drink - Champagne and wines, multiple turkeys and hams, all sorts of cakes and pies and cheeses, huge rounds of Stilton with Port. Good, memorable fun for the whole family, ages 1 to 90. Christmas balloons, lots of little kids underfoot, crazy reindeer hats and Santa hats, etc. And, finally, the carols to end it up.
In 2013, both of my parents died. That puts a damper on family things and leaves a large hole in family get-togethers, but Christmas goes on with times of its holy meaning and times of its secular delights:
Good clean fun.
Despite the climate crisis, looks good.
My favorite holiday party is an annual open house that friends hold the Saturday before Christmas.
The house is great and the food is great, the guests dress up in holiday finery and Christmas ties, the bartenders are pleasant, the hors d'oevre waitresses are always near, the cheeses are excellent, especially the little room with the port and Stilton and cookies. Their pastor plays Christmas songs on the pianny (between cocktails), boxfulls of goofy Christmas hats are distributed, and carols are sung.
All of that is very good, but what is special is that they invite your entire family - all ages, so the place is full of peoples' kids and grandkids from 6 months to 40. Probably 150 people, maybe more, arriving, and going off to other parties. There are some crawlers underfoot dressed in their Christmas best. Balloons everywhere. That's what makes it merry, relaxed, and interesting. My kids love it, and it's a chance for others to catch up with them too.
If and when my daughters decide to tie the knot, I'd love it if they wanted to do a jolly wedding like that, with no formal sit-down, no deafening band, and with kids running around. I guess that is sort-of Mediterranean-style.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:57 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, December 20. 2014
By coincidence, God Isn’t Dead in Gotham - Thousands pack the services of the evangelical Redeemer Presbyterian Church, most of them single and under 35.
From Tim (not Ted) Dalrymple's Four Reasons Why Christmas Matters:
He also has another good piece up: What’s Better: Grilled Cheesus or the Absent God?
The Washington Post editorial, "President Obama's 'betrayal" of Cuban democrats", obliterates the ignorant comparisons of establishing relations with Vietnam compared to doing so with Cuba.
The Washington Post describes the human rights results in China and Vietnam, after their rulers and lackeys profit from US trade:
Instead, the Washington Post supports the human rights demands from those brave enough to speak out within Cuba:
Five more shopping days 'til Christmas - time to get started
The importance of pallets
Why The US Is About To Be Flooded With Record Oil Production Due To Plunging Oil Prices
What’s Keeping Radio Shack Afloat? Credit Derivatives
NLRB Opens Door for SEIU at McDonalds - Decision threatens to unravel the franchise model
Arlington’s Streetcar Is Dead.
Bill O'Reilly: We need “Don’t get pregnant at 14” T-shirts
Army Violated Its Own Regulations in Punishing Chaplain for Using Scripture
Steyn: Norks Nix Yanks' Pix
Special-Ops Representatives - A trio of incoming congressmen bring top-notch national-security experience to Capitol Hill.
What Exactly Has North Korea Done That Progressives Don't Do Every Single Day?
Noonan: The Cuban Regime Is a Defeated Foe - In time, normalized relations will serve the cause of freedom.
Harvard: Student activists claimed the Israeli soda dispensers were “microaggressions” against supporters of Palestine.
Cuba vs Vietnam: A tale of two cities, Godfather II, and more
Krauthammer on terrorism: Mad vs. Bad
ISIS reportedly selling Christian artifacts, turning churches into torture chambers
Friday, December 19. 2014
Around the HQ, we stick with the un-Yankee, Southern Italian/Sicilian Christmas Eve fast, which means seafood. In past years, I have had the real 7 Fishes with fried baccala, steamed mussels, scungilli, etc etc. A wonderful fish feast which it would be a stretch to term "fasting." The Catholics are very clever with their concept of fasting.
The best-known Sicilian Primi is Pasta Con Sardi - pasta with anchovies (or tiny sardines) - what I term Pasta With Minnows aka Pasta with Bait.
What is an "anchovy"? Never, ever use those tinned brown over-salted anchovies that they put on cheap pizzas. Disgusting stuff, cat food for a cat you hate. If you can't get fresh anchovies (they are white) at your local fish market, use the canned white anchovies in olive oil. Tasty. Good Italian markets have good fresh or oiled white anchovy filets.
Here's the recipe. Yes, to be authentic it needs the breadcrumbs.
And here's another Vigilia favorite: Fried Baccala Balls. I've also had these with mashed potato in the cod mix to hold it all together. Nothing is more delicious.
Traditonally, you have to have Struffoli for dessert even though I find it inedible.
Truth is, in recent years we just make poached salmon with yogurt-dill sauce, to be ready to serve at room temp. after getting home from church.
The article begins:
No problem with hate, because many things and people deserve it but I sure don't.
Scientists tallied up all the advice on Dr. Oz's show. Half of it was baseless or wrong.
Franklin Graham: Movie 'Unbroken' Omits 'Most Important Part' of Louis Zamperini's Life
Christ saved him
California: Defining nearly all sex as rape
Prostitution seems to be ok
Why are women’s rights groups telling law students that they shouldn't have to learn about rape law?
SONY was mainly afraid of lawyers
Court Upholds Public School’s Ban of American Flag; TMLC asks Supreme Court for Review
Billions in Taxpayer Funded Loans Going to Companies that Serve the Rich
University of Michigan professor: “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans”
It's the season for hate
Kill all of the animals, and eat that beaver
Climate Change… Who Cares?
Abuse of government power: Obama’s ‘Operation Choke Point’
TOP 10 LIES IN OBAMA’S CUBA SPEECH
Dem Chairman: Obama ‘Vindicated the Brutal Behavior of Cuban Government’ in Deal to Free Alan Gross
Railguns: The Next Big Pentagon Boondoggle?
The Last Line of Defense - Congress is looking to block Obama's bad Iran nuclear deal.
China's Military Is about to Go Global
A FRENCH SOLDIER'S VIEW OF US SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN
Five puzzles about occupation and settlements: questions for Geneva
NBC's Richard Engel Reveals His Obsession With Israel
Thursday, December 18. 2014
We want it easy but good. We're thinking something like this:
Eggnog and/or Champagne, and Martinelli's of course for the teetotalers, then wine
We do church Christmas Eve, not Christmas morning as I did as a lad. We forbid gifts with extended family so we omit that silliness - except gifts of homemade cookies. In fact, we are not too big on gifts in general anymore. Instead, we'll have Mrs. BD on ye olde Steinway playing Christmas songs for us all to sing off-key, and some group games. We often play the "Who am I?" game.
At night, the kids go off to the movies with friends.
What's your plan?
Read it and weep, not only about this "comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration" as the Washington Post editorial terms it but it continues "Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades." Further, it will encourage other despots and their useful idiots in the Western Left, as "they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela."
Then weep that ignorance at Maggies Farm abets useful idiocy, and gives a pass to the dispiriting of those facing the China and Russia bullies.
As I said yesterday, Cuba is an insignificant, God-forsaken 3rd world s-hole with the population of the state of Georgia and with a crappy, corrupt, and cruel government like most other crappy 3rd world countries. It does not deserve all this attention or all this debate. All we Americans want from Cuba is cigars (possible in the near-term) and some political justice for their people (possible eventually). The latter is of course what we wish for all terrible crappy countries which include most countries on the planet, but which we cannot provide for them.
As I have said, Cuba is just another Haiti. Same population as Haiti, too.
But here's this: Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered
Had to visit my friendly local dentist early this morning for what I term a "cosmetic emergency." Mrs. BD did not want me going through the rest of the holiday season looking like a Halloween pumpkin - or like a visitor from England (famous for its rotten and/or missing teeth).
He did give me one tip while I was there: he advised me to use interdental brushes instead of flossing. He said they are best for your gums, and clean better between teeth.
They come in different sizes to fit your tooth spacing. These things are news to me. I always avoided flossing and these are easier to use. He gave me a demo.
I heard a pair of Great Horned Owls hooting to each other around 4:30 this morning. A mating pair for sure. They lay their eggs in January.
Roman concrete used 'secret' ingredient to stand the test of time - and now engineers want to copy it
Why people are NOT leaving your church
Smotherers of Invention - Patent trolls, universities, and big companies are exploiting a broken system.
Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence
Sex with your professor is great if you initiate it … or want revenge
Sen. Sanders blamed speculators for the
Economic freedom by state
When Journalists Are The Story - Saying a sad goodbye to some NYT stalwarts, and The New Republic.
No Truer Words: Gross Calls Himself ‘A Trusting Fool’ Do-gooder comes a cropper
The Last Communist City - A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see
Shep Smith wonders: Is America about to “ruin” Cuba?
Obama hands Cuba's Castros a major victory, but Congress can still stop it
Castro, Cuba, Obama—and Iran
Mich Feminists Harass Muslim Who Wrote Political Correctness Satire
Anyone But Jeb Bush? Pretty Much
Hillary Clinton Sells (Very Few) Magazines
Rush Limbaugh: THE PERFECT 2016 Ticket – Clinton-Bush
If you only read American media, you would never know that most of Europe is boiling with anti-immigration sentiment.
A Few Confirmation Questions for Obama's SecDef Nominee
Canada: Convening of Fourth Geneva Convention meeting unfairly singles out Israel
Hamas Senior Officials At Movement's 27th Anniversary Celebrations: We Will Not Recognize Zionist Entity Or Be Satisfied With A Palestinian State Within 1967 Borders; We Thank Iran For Supplying Us With Weapons, Missiles
Wednesday, December 17. 2014
From our archives:
Christmas is a traditional feast day (but it was not for true puritan folk like Dutch Reform or Congregationalists, who did not historically care for Christmas), so you are expected to cook something tasty. We have done all of the things: turkey (again), goose, roast beef, crown roast of pork with apple stuffing (real good).
On the other hand, the southern Italians do a cool thing - they do the Christmas Eve fish dinner - because it is a vigilia di magro (fasting, Italian-style).That is darn good. Fried baccala, fried calamari, scungilli, clams, mussels, maybe lobster etc etc. I love the baccala, and those little fried minnows bagiggi - smelt - with lemon that you eat whole like french fries, and clams (if they aren't cooked), but hate those cold seafood salads - dolphin food. In Sicily, the tradition is seven fishes. Serious abstinence: cook a leg of lamb, and you burn in hell for eternity.
But back to Yankee Christmas dinner, and goose.
As regular readers know, we cook our Canada geese with the breast only, marinated and sauteed rare. We confit the legs and thighs.
Store-bought goose tends much smaller (maybe in Dickens' time they had bigger farm geese - if you can find a giant Christmas goose as big as Tiny Tim, great), and has lots more fat on it. In fact, it seems about 50% fat, which oozes out during cooking and fills the pan below. If you want to cook that traditional English bird, you need a few of them. I would say, one per 3-4 people, minimum, if you are using the supermarket birds. (Some might disagree with this.) One bird will not do it, as a turkey does, because once the fat melts off, there isn't much left except bones. The plus side of all of the fat is that they are self-basting.
This is a good approach. Overcooking a goose, at low heat, is not a bad idea. For a roast goose, you may really want the meat falling off the bone, unlike a nice rare breast of wild goose. Goose is, of course, a dark meat like duck (but more coarse in flavor, I think).
Make a tasty sauce out of the drippings, once you have removed the fat. Add a little red wine, maybe a handful of huckleberries or dried cranberries and a bit of sugar, and reduce/thicken.
What to serve with goose? Mainly braised and sauteed roots. Parsnip, carrot, potato, turnip. And how about a rutabaga puree? Or a celeriac (celery root) puree? Maybe a pile of braised, sauteed baby squash, too. Cranberry sauce? You bet.
(Page 1 of 939, totaling 23467 entries) » next page