Monthly Archives: June 2012
Post by Josh Zinn.
I used to think Molly Ringwald could do no wrong. A ginger-haired vixen whose teenage life John Hughes made privy for the world to see, she seemed to possess an essence of purity and strength amidst a silver screen sea of split-ended, gawkified Ally Sheedy’s and Martha Plimpton’s. The bulk of my youthful devotion to Ms. Ringwald stemmed from the fact that she was the star of Pretty in Pink, a film that explores with delicate nuance the all-important and timeless dilemma of how poor people are able to go to their senior prom. A veritable rose-colored expose on the back-stabbing world of secondary education, Pretty in Pink filled my impressionable and destitute self with fantasies of a life that paid no heed to ritzy clothing labels like Gotcha, Generra, or Esprit, but rather found solace and redemption in the thrift store aisles of the Salvation Army. Like a teenage Norma Rae, Ringwald’s character Andie stands up to her school and the expressionless, there’s-no-way-he’s-a-teenager rival James Spader by saying, “No more!” to the khaki and boat shoe Gestapo. She’s her own woman and she’ll wear a used Mennonite floral print dress to Biology if she wants, thank you very much!
Unfortunately, amidst all this couture rebellion the film also contains a romance with the stunningly washed-out Andrew McCarthy, whose character Blaine may be the most mystifyingly dull seventeen-year-old boy ever to be intended as swoon-worthy. Pay no attention to his vapid stares, trembling voice, and muted color palette and, instead, feast upon the rich social messages Ms. Ringwald is daring the world to acknowledge. True, perhaps Andie has an attraction to pasty, indecisive men who consider being cultured to mean a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a platter full of quiche bites, but when it’s time for THE BIGGEST NIGHT OF HER HIGH SCHOOL LIFE, the antique, coffee-stained lace gloves are off and she’s ready to fight.
Although Pretty in Pink may lack the depth of other films dealing with the conflicts of class and pastel prom wear, it nonetheless validates itself thanks to an amazingly terrific soundtrack (seriously) and Ringwald’s frumpy-forward performance. Prom nights may come and go, but discount fashion is forever.
by Alison Hein.
My sister, Janet, has a red mulberry tree in her garden. Mulberries are prolific in the Northeast, where they are better known for their messy habit of dropping sticky, ripe berries wantonly to the ground than for their inherently sweet and tangy, somewhat wild, juicy berry flavor.
Mulberries are not commercially cultivated in this country (you will soon learn why), and make a rare early-summer treat. Peak growing season is fleeting, and harvesting is messy. Berries fall to the ground the moment they ripen, becoming instant prey for birds, deer, and other creatures. Picking ripe berries from the tree results in a slow, frustrating harvest, and stubborn, crimson-stained hands. Tenacious little stems cling stalwartly to the tree, making you fight for every berry. Instead, try laying down a tarp or drop cloth, give the tree a good shake, then scoop up the ripe berries.
Now, what to do with them? Pies, tarts, pancakes and muffins are all good options. Mulberries look and taste somewhat like blackberries, but with a sultry, wild edge. Jellies and jams, or mulberry-infused vodka, will taste like a fleeting, exotic indulgence. Whatever you decide, make sure you harvest enough mulberries to create a wild, early-summer breakfast in bed.
2¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ cup (one half stick) cold butter
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ cup toasted walnuts*
1 ½ cups mulberries (or blackberries), carefully rinsed and placed on paper towel to dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Extra flour for shaping scones
Preheat oven to 425°. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine milk, vinegar and one egg. Mix well, then add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed in. Add toasted walnuts and mulberries. Mix in gently.
Turn batter out onto floured board. Divide into 16 equal pieces and shape into balls. Press each ball gently into a flat round. Cut a cross in the top of each scone, but do not cut all the way through.
Place scones on lightly greased cookie sheet. Lightly beat remaining egg, and brush on top of scones. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place in oven and bake for about 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.
∗ To toast walnuts, preheat oven to 350º. Arrange walnuts on baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool, then chop.
Makes 16 mini-scones.
Post by Laura Cheng.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a collage of pictures should be an indication of speechlessness. My most recent inspiration for bedroom décor is a panel of organized photos. This easy to do idea allows me to personalize my bedroom with meaningful prints. It can be accomplished by keeping three basic design principles in mind – repetition, balance, and spacing.
To get an idea of repetition, I spend a few minutes studying Andy Wahol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Can exhibit. Repetition means using the same size and colored frame and repeating it across an entire wall. Frames will need to be more uniform especially when various types of items are being showcased (i.e. photos AND mixed art). Even if the photos are not of the same subject or color, the mass production of the same frame will create an artistically clean and synthesized look.
Balance is another key to creating a successfully designed photo wall display. Hanging pictures in a uniform straight row or grid is the easiest way to create balance. Fold your wall in half and the frames would overlap and line up. However, frames can also be interspersed in different patterns and still have balance. It’s hard to describe balance, because part of its innate definition is subjective to what looks pleasing to the eye. Sometimes the best way to envision balance is to just grab the frames and play with the pieces. Move frames around, try different arrangements, and even go as far as taking a picture of each design. The camera does add 10 pounds, and in the end, will help determine which background is the most photogenic winner.
The last element to keep in mind is spacing. Spacing is a step sister to balance – the amount of space between each frame must be the same. Leaving approximately 1 -3 inches between each picture will give the photo collage the optimum balance.
My biggest dilemma in setting up a collage is determining what pictures to use. I’ve always believed in hanging pictures with meaning and pictures that strike a happy emotion when I look at it. It takes me time to put together such a collection. In those situations, empty picture frames with interesting woodwork can act as an appropriate substitute. T o ensure a well-collected look, I shop garage sales and thrift stores to gather an assortment of picture frames varying in sizes, shapes and textures. After removing all the gizzards, I set up the collage using the same three design principals.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Perhaps you heard about this: in 1992, over 28,000 rubber ducks, beavers, and other bath toys were washed off a freighter at sea. For years to follow, these toys were washing up on beaches around the world. I am a huge fan of flotsam and jetsam; whenever I take a beach trip I spend half the time (at the very least!) with my head down hunting for treasures. These two books discuss, in very different ways, the lives of these little rubber toys which washed to sea.
You know Eric Carle. Even if you think you don’t, you do. His distinctive style has brought such classics at the Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Grumpy Ladybug. Ten Little Rubber Ducks is, according to the book jacket, inspired by the news of the wayward duckies, lost at sea. Eric Carle’s assessment of their fate is that they wandered far, and at least one is adopted by a family of real flesh-and-feather ducks. I find this highly implausible. Hands down, all kids’ favorite feature is the squeaky button on the back which sounds like—you guessed it—a rubber ducky.
Well, the title pretty much tells it all, doesn’t it? I first read this as an article in Harper’s magazine a number of years ago. Now journalist Donovan Hohn has fleshed out his fascinating story into a full-length book. If you have never thought about the secret lives of beachcombers, or the role of the ocean’s currents, or little rubber toys, it’s time you did. Donovan will tell you why.
Post by Josh Zinn.
In third grade I was assigned to peer-review a fellow classmate’s paper on horses—specifically, why she loved them and why she thought the rest of the world should care. Waxing poetically about their beautiful manes and graceful strides, she was also quite defensive about these animals’ intelligence and their ability to understand her youthful commands. Believing she had been unwisely influenced and deluded by stories like Black Beauty and The Black Stallion, I took it upon myself to snap her back to reality by defiantly scribbling on her paper, “Horses are dumb. So are you.”
Little did I know how very wrong I was…
Did you know horses are actually messengers of the gods? That their assistance to man was foretold in ancient texts buried beneath thousands of years of evolutionary progress? Or that horse whisperers have a direct equine connection with the stars? If you didn’t, well you obviously haven’t been watching the History Channel series Ancient Aliens, then!
Thanks to Ancient Aliens, we can all rest assured knowing man is not only NOT alone in the universe, but that his very destiny has been dictated by, well, ancient aliens that seeded our planet with life, technology, and Midwestern tourist attractions before disappearing into the cosmic ether. It may sound far fetched, sure, but every week experts with vague degrees and unkempt hair lay out the interstellar “facts” by excitedly waving their arms and making disparate connections that would make a Meyers-Brigg representative blush. Case in point: You may not question where the cosmically outrageous flavor combination of peanut butter and jelly originated, but someone out there with a lot of hairspray has and the answer is out of this world!
Perhaps more than anything, Ancient Aliens encourages its audience to keep an open mind about the world and to never underestimate the intelligence of the weird guy sitting next to you on the bus. Unlike yours truly, he might have known those “dumb” horses were, in fact, the guardians of this earthly realm and, accordingly, given my classmate a much better grade.