141. Paddywax’s “Library” Collection (in box)

My dear friend Alex recently posted something on Facebook about lighting an “Oscar Wilde scented candle.” Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. Luckily for me, Alex also linked to the candle.

Oscar Wilde, in soy wax form.

Turns out, Oscar Wilde smells like Cedarwood, Thyme, and Basil. Who knew, amiright??!

But the news gets better.

Paddywax, the company who made the candle, has a whole collection of author-scented candles! “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??!?!?” I thought. Great literature and great smells? Two of the world’s best things, rolled into one.

The Library Collection includes such greats as Leo Tolstoy (Black Plum, Persimmon, and Oakmoss), Edgar Allen Poe (Cardamom, Absinthe, and Sandalwood), and Jane Austen (Gardenia, Tuberose, and Jasmine).

The whole library.

DUDE!!! I used to be really bummed that I never got to, say, cuddle up to Tolstoy and smell his ‘pits, or sample some of Jane Austen’s perfume/shampoo combo. But now it’s like I can have these authors – as many of them as I want!!!! – in my room, every night. THANK YOU, PADDYWAX.

November 26, 2012. Books, Culture, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

140. Cats That Look Like Pin Up Girls

Nothing stimulates my rectangular creativity like being in class. Especially history class. This professor is damn boring, friends. But that’s ok. I have the bloggity to keep me entertained. My boredom is your gain, dear readers.

 

My readers already know about my affinity for cute animals. But this site takes things a step further. Generally, I care less about cats than dogs, but I still appreciate a good photo of a pet. I generally feel like there is nothing worthwhile on the internet except for (rectangular) photos of people’s pets. And this blog.

 

Anyway, this brilliant site, “Cats That Look Like Pin Up Girls,” features a picture of a card of a pin-up girl juxtaposed with a picture of a cat in a similar pose. It’s seriously awesome. Some cat/lady pairs are really impressively well-matched.

Check those gams! On the kitty, I mean.

Check that ayasssssssss.

My personal favorite. You basically can’t go wrong with a hairless cat.

Some are less than matching, but I appreciate them anyway.

That’s ok, kitty cat. You’re still cute, even though you don’t really look like your lady.

Perhaps part of my partiality to these comparisons is my personal physical similarity to Buckley. Most significantly, we’re both redheads. I like to say that I could have birthed him from my loins. If I were a dog, that is.

Me. Buckley. See the resemblance?

 

 

November 19, 2012. Animals, Beauty, Rectangles, Websites. Leave a comment.

139. Amy Shackleton’s Brushless Paintings

Amy Shackleton is an (adorable) artist based in Toronto. She paints in drips – and produces representational works rather than abstractions. They’re pretty cool, and also pretty. I’m generally not a huge fan of her color choices, but I like her technique so much that I had to feature her on here.

Here are a few of her paintings, for your enjoyment.

“Silver Lining.” Gorgeous black and white item.

“Cutting Edge.”

“Coastlines.”

“Boiling point.”

Totally-otally cool. Nice job, Amy. I like it!

November 19, 2012. Art, Rectangles. Leave a comment.

138. Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”

Joni at her best.

When I was 9 and 10, I had a nanny named Erin. She was magical and creative and still feels like my big sister. Erin and my brother and I used to make up dances and make collages and come up with scavenger hunts. But perhaps the best thing Erin gave me was a love for “Blue” by Joni Mitchell. It has been my favorite album of all time since she introduced it to me.

The first week Erin was with us, she found my parents’ record collection. She was so excited. One of the first things she did was transfer “Blue” onto one side of a cassette tape (the other side was Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman“). We listened to nothing other than that tape every day in the car on the way to and from school and to our after-school activities.

“Blue” came out in 1971. It’s often considered Joni’s best album (yes, we’re on a first name basis). Her music  is not only hauntingly beautiful, but devastatingly complex. I’ve tried to play it on the banjo and the piano, and it’s just too hard for me.

My classic favorite song was always “California.” It’s upbeat and pretty and really showcases Joni’s voice. But, as I got older, I gained an appreciation for “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” a song Erin always skipped on our cassette tape.

Here are the lyrics:

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said “Drink up now it’s getting’ on time to close”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed” I said
It’s just that now you’re romanticizing some pain that’s in your head
You got tombs in your eyes but the songs you punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet Love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
I don’t want nobody comin’ over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin’ behind bottles in dark cafes dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away
Only a phase these dark café days

I love the lyrics and it is also just hauntingly beautiful.

Even though “The Last Time I Saw Richard” is my favorite song on the album, I shouldn’t forget some of the other greats. “My Old Man” is a great song (“But when he’s gone/me and them lonesome blues collide/the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide”), as is “A Case of You” (I remember that time you told me you said/”Love is touching souls”/Surely you touched mine/’Cause part of you pours out of me/In these lines from time to time). This is incredibly cheesy, but I’ve always wanted to put out a birth announcement for a daughter quoting “Little Green”:

“Call her green and the winters cannot fade her

Call her green for the children who’ve made her

Little green, be a gypsy dancer.”

Oh, man. I can’t believe I just shared that on the internet.

Anyway, pretty much every song on this album is amazing. I listen to it all the time – on rainy days, it’s perfect. On sunny days? Still perfect. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, I need to listen to “Blue.” It always fits. It’s always perfect. Thank you, Joni. I love you, gurl.

November 14, 2012. Music, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

137. A Brisket

Nothing is more comforting than a good plate of Jew food. I make an amazing chicken soup, and keep mason jars of it in my freezer at all time. Four dollars worth of chicken backs and some carrots, onions, and celery make for several quarts of what my mother has always called “the Elixir of Life.”

A brisket is a cheap, big cut of meat. It’s not great unless it’s been cooked for a long time – kind of chewy and tough. But, slow-cooked in liquid for a few hours, it becomes really tender and yum.

A nice rectangular slab of meat.

Recently, I got my aunt’s very traditional brisket recipe. I’ve always loved her brisket, and, upon receiving a Le Creuset from my parents for my birthday this year, I finally asked for the recipe. It is super easy and super delicious. The meat, slow-cooked in the oven for four or five hours, comes out incredibly flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I’m a sucker for slow-cooked meats – I love a good Coq au Vin or stew. Yum yums.

This is the Le Creuset braising pan I have. Amazing.

Here is Aunt Devorah’s recipe as she gave it to me:

Brisket Recipe

I lb of Brisket for about every two people. It really shrinks after cooking.

Lots of onions, chopped

Mushrooms

Spicy deli mustard

2 cans of tomato juice

Place brisket in baking pan and smother with mustard. Cover with onions and
mushrooms and then pour the tomato juice over everything to fill the baking dish and
cover the brisket as much as possible.

Bake at 350 for at least two hours and then slice thinly and return to baking dish. Bake at
least two more hours. I let it bake all day (even five hours) and replenish the tomato juice
if it doesn’t cover the meat.

The onions and mushrooms are to taste. I use a pound of mushrooms and enough onions
to cover the meat and fall into the tomato juice. It’s whatever you like.

This is best reheated for an hour or two the next day and served.

Not my picture - http://nancyvienneau.com/blog/recipes/doufeu-part-deux-brisket-of-beef/

Pretty much what this looks like when it’s done. NUMZ.

I doctor the recipe a little bit, using Dijon mustard and adding three chopped carrots to the pot. Otherwise, I stay completely faithful to the recipe. It is unbelievably easy and a classic old-world Jewish recipe. And really any cook can do it, provided you can find a nice cut of brisket (Washington folks – I go to Snider’s supermarket in Silver Spring. Their meats and produce are super cheap and super fresh).

Good luck, friends. Happy slow-cooked meating.

November 14, 2012. Food, Guest Writers, Rectangles. 1 comment.

136. Maddie the Coonhound

In case it wasn’t already clear, I am a sucker for pictures of dogs. I am particularly partial to coonhounds, considering I have a handsome, neurotic coonhound myself. So I was already inclined to be a fan of Maddie the Coonhound – a fabulous website featuring mostly pictures of Maddie the dog on top of things, as she and her owner travel around the country. Apart from Maddie’s sweet face, I love the artist’s sense of humor.

 
Unlike my last post about da puppehs, this one features some really beautiful photography. I keep meaning to buy a print from the artist. I recommend my readers do this in a more timely fashion than I have.

 
Anyway, here are some fabulous pictures of a sweet girl. Enjoy.

Interspecies snorgling?

Pup in a box.

Speaks for itself.

The blue plate special.

Classic balancing act.

Maddie in a tire.

A literary lady.

November 14, 2012. Animals, Art, Rectangles, Websites. Leave a comment.

135. Food On My Dog

This blog, Food On My Dog, is precisely what it sounds like – pictures of food on some dude’s dog. It combines two of my favorite things, though, those things being food and dogs. This pooch, Tiger, has a sweet, sweet face and incredible self-discipline. Buckley would never, for example, tolerate slices of turkey on his face without eating them. Literally never, ever.

What a good girl!

There are 2 FAQ’s on this site. They are incredibly appropriate to the target audience of Food On My Dog. The first is, “Does she get to eat the food on her head?” Duh, anyone interested in seeing food on a dog’s head is concerned that the pup gets to eat it after being so well-behaved! The other question is, “What type of dog is she?” (Staffordshire Terrier and American Bulldog, or, more generically, a Pit Bull). Finally, the FAQ section culminates in this reassurance: “Yes, I will give Tiger love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs from all her fans.” Lucky pup. That’s a lot of love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs.

Now for my personal favorites:

I love her eyes in this one.

It’s just so big and unwieldy!

So excited to eat dem pancakes, she can’t keep dat tongue in her mouth!

You can also get a “Food On My Dog” t-shirt. This is my personal favorite design.

Artsy. This would make a nice tattoo.

Anyway, here are some kisses from me, Tiger. You could teach Buckley some lessons in patience. Good girl, boo.

November 12, 2012. Animals, Art, Culture, Food, Rectangles, Websites. 3 comments.

134. My Endorsement of AJ Cooper

If I were a real journalist, this endorsement would be printed on rectangular newsprint, or else in a rectangular magazine.
Unfortunately, I’m just a lowly blogger, so you get the rectangular screen of your choice.
Now, I’m as sick-to-death of the election as everyone else. Maybe moreso, because I live in Washington, DC, where the coverage never stops.

But here’s what I’m about to do. WRITE ABOUT A CANDIDATE.
I discovered a young man named AJ Cooper a few months ago. Cooper is running for one of two At-Large seats on the DC City Council. He started putting up signs in my lovely home neighborhood of Petworth. This is what they look like:

Honor. Courage. Commitment. Ok, so those goals are vague, but we all like them, right?

Two days ago, I decided – purely on the beatific composition of the campaign posters – to look up Cooper online. Turns out, he’s super adorable. He stands for good things – alternative energy, sex ed in schools, employment. Ok, so his plans for how to achieve these things aren’t completely fleshed out. But here is why I genuinely want my DC readers to vote for AJ Cooper for DC City Council At-Large:

In this wonderful but corrupt city, we could use more idealistic, young leaders like AJ Cooper. He might not have determined how he wants to accomplish good things, but he wants to. We have so many depressing old hats in the DC City Council (here’s looking at you, Marion Barry). It’s time for someone young and idealistic to unseat them and bring about some fresh blood and ambition for making this city a better place. Chairman Phil Mendelson has been on the Council for 14 years. Ward 1’s Jim Graham has been on it for 13. Fucking Marion Barry (Ward 8) has been in DC government for nearly 40 years. Even Ward 4’s Muriel Bowser has been around for almost 6 years. Sure, Cooper might not have much experience – but he has dreams. And in this city of jaded, corrupt officials, I like that. Plus, he grew up in Petworth, the hood which I love the most.

So, since I plan on moving out of DC within the next year and can’t run for council myself, I formally endorse AJ Cooper. AJ: May the rectangles be always at your heels.

AJ, my man: Sorry I didn’t get to endorse you earlier. But if you read this, I’d love to get coffee sometime and discuss this city we both love so much. I hope you win.

November 5, 2012. Culture, Rectangles, Truth. 1 comment.