Anchower to the max, a result of a ludicrous touring schedule, but here we are in DC, where the profs are thick as bugs on a bumper. I take a moment to recharge my batteries, and darn near throw the cinetrix laptop across our closet of a room:
Get it? Me too. I could not keep reading. Perhaps those made of sterner stuff will break it down for you. In the meantime, would welcome any thoughts for interesting dining options in DC. Haute, bas, ethnic, not, whatever.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"VIRGINIA O'HANLON. "115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET
little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a
skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that
nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they
be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a
mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world
about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of
truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and
generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your
life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there
were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS.
be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this
existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal
light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might
get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to
catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what
would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no
Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children
nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not,
but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all
the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there
is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the
united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart.
Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view
and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah VIRGINIA, in all this
world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He
lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten
thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
(Presented as a public service by The Gurgling Cod, through the good offices of Newseum.org. If you would like to see Santa for yourself, lookinthemirror.)
Really, words fail, but if there are any Jewish motorists on your list, how can you deny them the cartop menorah? Buy it here. Also, it flashes on and off. It a related development, Xzibit contemplates conversion to Judaism. Happy Chanukah, y'all.
The cinetrix and I attempted to do all of the requisite Xmas shopping in a single convulsive lurch yesterday. The only respite from the slightly queasy and harassed feeling this venture gave me was when I made like Aaron Burr and dropped two Hamiltons in the Globe Santa box, even before the Chief made his appearance for Globe Santa. If you are still sweating the gifts, quit it. Let the UPS drivers and the J Crew operators go home to their own families. Your gifts will turn into stuff quicker than you realize. Have you ever heard someone say "I just wish I had more stuff"? No. People are busy, and do not know where to put their things. Thus, my modest Xmas proposal, and the solution to all of your gift woes without even getting up from your desk: on a 3x5 card, on one side, write
A donation in your name has been made to (charity of your choice). On the other side This card entitles the bearer to dinner with (you) at (restaurant as location as your location and circumstances permit).
Put the card in an envelope, throw it under the tree, and fix yourself a Manhattan. After all, those early bowls won't watch themselves.
The aforementioned Winged Wheels will be propelling Cod and cinetrix
northward for the next day or so, but Cod Nation correspondent Rose's
Lime chimed in with a NE dish that just could not get no realer:
New England Stovetop Supper
1lb Cod Fillet (fresh)
1 lb Corn (3 ears or equivalent of frozen or reconstituted dried if you want to
1 lb String Beans (Haricots or plain old string beans. You can also
substitute Asparagus. Beans can be fresh or frozen or canned if you're
going old school pre-chilean imports)
2-3 Slices slab bacon
Clam broth or juice
Cut bacon into small pieces.
Fry em up at medium heat in a large saute until crispy.
Set the bacon aside and remove 1/2 the grease.
Cut the cod into portions, season, and brown in the bacon fat over medium-high
heat. 1-2 minutes each side.
Add 1/2 cup of clam broth or juice, deglaze a little and let it come to a
Push the cod over to one side and add the beans and corn.
Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes. Turn down to a simmer after a minute or
two. (Looking for 10 total minutes on the cod… put the corn/beans in
earlier if they're raw/fat and later if they're frozen/tender).
Plate the cod and top with a pat of
Plate the beans.
Add the bacon to the corn and toss before plating.
A gracious greeting to those steered here by OGIC, and a mug of my eponymous liver oil to Mr. Teachout, whom we all are pleased to see up, around, and posting. As it happens, OGIC's meme crosshairs found me at a moment when fessing, my day job, takes precedence over my Gurgling Cod alter ego--hence light posting, posts about people I met in the elevator at work with titles boosted from Minutemen offshoots, and text-free posts about Cheeto-flavored lip balm. See, every year, people in my line of work have a magical carnival between Christmas and New Years, where we celebrate the rebirth of Gaia by wandering hotel lobbies furtively eyeing nametags while grippling folders containing information of extremely limited interest. I'll be there, sharing the magic, and telling a handfull of strangers why English people wrote such nasty things about turtle soup. (It's about as close as I'll ever get to a crossover.)
And besides that, there are a bunch of papers to grade. Figuring term grades is definitely one of my least favorite parts of the job, especially as where I teach, there is no plus or minus, just A,B,C, D, F. I'm not fond of this system, but it has got me thinking about how the scale shapes the evaluation, rather than the other way around. It has also reminded me that I have been meaning to say something about The Perfectionist,
kindly sent my way by an ally. I got it too late to do a real review, but it is a biography of Bernard Loiseau, a
prominent French chef who took his own life. The capsule version of the
story, reported basically as such when it happened, was that the
relentless pressure of getting and keeping three Michelin stars killed
Bernard Loiseau. What emerges over the course of the book is
simultaneously more and less complicated than that: people face
pressure and failure and do not commit suicide. At the same time, the
importance of Michelin ratings in the world L'Oiseau inhabited creates
a kind of pressure that is distinctive to that industry. If the Michelin reviewers graded like IvyLeagueprofessors, would L'Oiseau still be alive, and what impact would that presumption of routine excellence have on French dining?
What interests me is the possibility that it is the system, as much as the people, that produce such agitas. These issues are on my mind as I wade through a sea of exams and
papers--if I were expected to give the majority of my student no grade,
a few Cs, fewer Bs and perhaps an A every other year or so, I'd be
grading on the Michelin curve. I imagine it would change the atmosphere in the classroom. With the Michelin stars, the scale seems to drive
the culture as much as the reverse--how different would the world of
wine spectating if wines were assigned 0-3 stars with more or less the
same distribution as French restaurants? Or if the grinches at Pitchfork started dropping 2.8 out of 10s on gymnasts? To make things easier on myself, I am considering adopting the Monheit scale for grading: 4 monocles = must see; 5 monocles = an indisputable classic. I bet the students would enjoy that.
Speaking of Spy, as we so often do here, if you find that snorting your daughter's adderol and reading Radar does not bring back that 80s Spy feeling, you might try, and I do mean try, reading Sirio, bio of noted Le Cirque impressario. It is like reading a vintage Spy that has been put on a heavy dose of thorazine, and become horribly bloated--432 pages and irony-free. It is a magical world where Kissinger is a humanitarian, Nancy Reagan eats, and Liz Smith is a journalist.