Author Archives: charlesprogers
Movies–er– T.V. in Bed: Grimm
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I’m going to be honest with you: I am a sucker for anything fairy tale-related. Especially things which highlight the inherent darkness present in so many of their tales. (And really most folklore.) Mind you, I’m not going to consume something based only on that one criterion. That show “Once”, for example, simply irritates me. Too many pretty people, perhaps, I don’t know.
“Grimm” is not without its flaws: holes in the plot; unbearable characters; loosening interpretation of Grimm as the show progresses. But for some reason, it is the only show on television that I find myself keeping current on. It’s also fun that it is shot right here in Portland. Basically every summer the city is filled with equipment and actors as “Grimm” and “Portlandia” shoot their seasons.
Nevertheless, I enjoy tuning in to this good-but-not-great show (especially since Burn Notice is on cable) on the rare nights of the week that I don’t fall asleep at the same time as my kid. If you like to watch people turn into weird monsters, like fly-headed people or beaver-faced folk, or if you like watching people open trunks of ancient weapons like morning stars and crossbows (thank you, David Greenwalt for bringing a bit of Buffy to the show!) then this is definitely for you. Enjoy!
Things We Like: Debunking The Eight-Hour Sleep
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Perhaps the most universal sleep instruction prescribed to all is to get eight hours of sleep, give or take an hour or so depending on the person. On its surface, this sleep regime seems to make perfect sense and I’ve never had any reason to question it before. However, I recently came across some references to a professor who discovered some historical references to the idea of segmented sleep and I decided to do some digging.
Roger Ekirch (don’t ask me how to pronounce that), a professor of history at Virginia Tech, published a book back in 2006 titled, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, which explores how society “dealt with” the nighttime throughout history. As the stories go, while Ekrich was researching this book he discovered over 500 references to the idea of segmented sleeping patterns, i.e., sleeping for a few hours after dusk, followed by a waking period of a couple hours, and followed again by a second sleep.
Ekrich’s findings, corroborated with an experiment conducted by Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist, suggests that a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where restless people wake in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep, may actually be explained by our history.
Basically, the late night restlessness many of us try to overcome is the way we may have actually been intended to sleep before the advent of cheap electricity and plentiful street lighting used to illuminate our previously dark and frightful nights. Now brightened with light bulbs (oil lamps in the past), spending time after sundown has become a more legitimate, if not fashionable, way to spend your time. Today, many of us with sleep problems may simply be two-sleep people living in a one-sleep world.
I highly recommend Ekrich’s book, especially if you’re on the hunt for some late night reading (no pun intended). BBC News has an excellent article discussing Ekrich’s findings if you need some more convincing. Jessa Gamble also did a 6 minute or less talk for TED about the myth of the eight-hour sleep.
In the mean time, if you’re having trouble waking up and falling back to sleep at night, do not despair; use this time to reflect on your dreams, read a book, or chat with your wife (if she’s likewise awake). Waking between sleeps may not be as bad as you thought it to be.
Breakfast in Bed: Broiled Florida Grapefruit
Post by Alison Hein.
Kevin and I have the best neighbors in the world. Ann and Frank are always adventuring off somewhere, never failing to bring us a small (edible) memento. (You may recall an earlier post that featured Frank and his fabulous Frittata Italiana-Mexicana. Last year our neighbors traveled to Italy and returned with a small stainless canister, filled with luscious golden olive oil from 1,000-year-old trees! When they visit Florida, we often find a surprise gift box on our doorstep, bursting with citrus bounty from the Sunshine State.
I opened just such a box recently, and tucked inside was a mixture of Florida Valencia oranges and Ruby Red grapefruit – so fresh and so lush, the citrus aroma wafted from the package and filled my kitchen with the scent of sunshine. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply… suddenly, a vision of Broiled Florida Grapefruit popped into my head. It was one of the first dishes I learned to prepare in my seventh grade home economics class, and it sounded pretty dumb to me. Until the taste of warm, caramelized sugar mingled with the tart, juicy citrus fruit snap, each spooned segment a sweet-tart delight. Then, scraping against the inner fruit rind, and filling my spoon to the brim with juice turned elixir from heating and sweetening.
Add a maraschino cherry for garnish if you like, for a pop of color and a retro look for your breakfast tray. Then serve up your loved ones (or beloved neighbors) a little sunshine along with breakfast in bed.
1 Florida grapefruit (any variety)
2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)
Slice grapefruit in half. Using a grapefruit knife, cut all the way around one half of the fruit between the skin and fruit. Slice along fruit segments remaining in grapefruit. Place in ovenproof dish or pan. Repeat with second grapefruit half.
Turn on broiler. Sprinkle each grapefruit half evenly with 1 to 1½ teaspoons of brown sugar. Place fruit under broiler, approximately 3 inches from heat. Broil for a minute of two, until sugar starts to melt and crystalize. Remove from oven and place each grapefruit half in a small serving dish. Garnish with maraschino cherries, if you like. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Creative Ceilings: Things are Looking Up!
It’s 3:05 AM, 3:19 AM, 3:23 AM…… You can’t sleep and the day ahead is gonna suck. Staring up at your cracked ceiling is not the answer. It’s a roadmap to despair. You know what wouldn’t suck? Having a gorgeous ceiling to look at while you count sheep/drink warm milk/curse your life. Why not dress that ceiling up with some fabulous wallpaper or an interesting design treatment? Yessssssssss………..
Here are a few examples of spectacular bedroom ceilings to get your wheels turning in a positive direction:
WOW, right? The light fixture in this room is awesome, but it might get lost on a basic painted ceiling. This snazzy wallpaper MAKES the room. It has got great interest and it sets the color story for the space. The modern heart pattern makes me love it even more. WOW, WOW, WOW!
This jacquard-like pattern is genius! It adds fantastic interest to this white room and allows the owner to accessorize the space using corresponding mats beneath the artwork. Lonny.com calls this a Moroccan room. I call it perfection!
Here’s a pattern that really moves! How smart that the bold colors of the painted wall are broken up by a strip of white molding before your eye travels to the ceiling. Also appealing is the mix of traditional furnishings, white with a stripe bedding and some modern touches. It’s mix and match eclectic beauty at its best.
If wallpaper isn’t your thing, here are two alternate and unconventional ideas for working with or adding to what you’ve got: Wooden perforated ceiling panels and glorious tin ceiling tiles. Talk about thinking outside of the (bedroom) box!
The options for accentuating your bedroom ceiling are endless, just like your thoughts on a sleepless night. Use your imagination, choose patterns you love, and take some melatonin. With your ceiling problem solved, may you now drift off to sleep on a cloud of good design!
Bedtime Stories: Stinky John and Stinky Skunk (or: made-up tales)
Post by Mark T. Locker
Sometimes you just run out of books to read. Sometimes you just can’t read THAT book one. more. time. Sometimes everyone is sick of every book in the house. And sometimes there just aren’t enough stories in the world to satisfy a hungry mind. I think a combination of these led to the creation of a new set of characters in the shadows of my son’s bedroom on Saturday night. The stories themselves are, needless to say, not remarkable. A fellow named John is stinky and loves stinky things: rotten onions, old socks, you name it. When he meets Stinky Skunk, their shared appreciation creates a new dynamic duo! I was going for the laugh factor here, and with a four-year-old, stinkiness is pretty low-hanging fruit.
My point here is more about the process. It’s sometimes utterly painful to try and make up a story off the top of one’s head. But the payoff is enormous. Letting my son input details into the story, like what kind of stinky stuff they like, or telling me what they find in a bush makes it much more fun. And he isn’t the world’s greatest literary critic, but seeing his eyes light up as I weave a silly, spooky adventure makes it all worthwhile.
So go tell a stupid made-up story to your kid or loved one today!