Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Breaking my blog silence for 2 important announcements.

Yay Nelly and Rob for finally finally finally getting engaged! Oh man, I am so happy for you guys.

And happy birthday to the lovely FG!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Things'll go your way.

So I'm watching Related on the WB (shut UP, it's funny and cute, and I read a lot so a little tv is okay, anyway... And there, I have justified myself for the internet!) and they kept playing Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" (one of the characters is learning to drive, and apparently Wilson Phillips is necessary for the learning process). Is it bad to admit that I LOVE this song?

Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you

Don't ever let anyone step all over you

SO cheesy, SO great.

The last time I heard this song, a bunch of us (BS included!) were taking a minivan cab back to our respective Somerville houses from some Brighton bar. "Hold On" came on the radio and we all started singing. Poor cab driver.

But that was really fun.

$25 for 25 reviews: Brasa and Oceanaire.

If you've been paying attention, you'll remember that I went to Zoe for my birthday for the 25 for $25 promotion (a twice-yearly Seattle promotion where fancier restaurants offer a 3-course meal for $25).

So I can now review 2 more restaurants on that list: last Thursday I ate at Brasa, and last night I ate at Oceanaire.

Zoe gets top honors. My entree and dessert were the best of the 3 restaurants, and the service was really friendly and competent. Our waiter made sure that we knew there was a special promotion going on, and I even heard him advising the (annoying, obnoxious) businessmen next to us that it would actually save them money to order off the 25 for $25 menu. In contrast, neither the Brasa nor the Oceanaire waiters pointed out the special menu to us.

Brasa's appetizer choices were the best of the 3, I thought, but the service was pretty rude. The wine she brought us turned out to be a different year than the one on the winelist that Colin ordered, but she didn't offer any explanation when he mentioned it. (Not that I would actually know which year was better, but still.) She just really wasn't very nice--I know we were a big group of youngish people, and we were all ordering the cheaper stuff, but she could have tried a bit harder.

Oceanaire was good, but the crowd was pretty touristy/old, and there was nothing incredibly special about my meal. Perfectly tasty, but nothing I'll think about in a week or so. Plus the drinks were really expensive.

At Brasa, I ate: Penn Cove mussels with fennel broth. Harris Ranch strip steak with currant demi glace, cabrales butter, and mashed potatoes. Buttermilk panna cotta. And at Oceanaire, I ate: Peruvian ono ceviche. Blackened mahimahi with blue cheese and caramelized onions. "Warm" (quotes around that because it wasn't warm at all) spice cake with ice cream.

And lest you think my life is all fancy dinners and rockstars, tonight I'll be going to the gym and doing laundry and cooking something involving canned goods (well, organic canned goods at least--chickpeas and tomatoes).

$108,000 in 4 hours.

As I told you, I volunteered at the KEXP pledge drive last week. Due in no small part to my excellent phone-answering skills (um...right...), they met their goal of $375,000 and were able to stop the drive almost 3 days early.

It was awesome.

Friday morning during John's show (6-10 am) is normally the biggest moneymaker of the drive--the record for his show before this drive was $75,000. This year, some foundation (Haas maybe? I was too busy answering phones to pay attention) offered $25,000 if John and Cheryl were able to get $100,000 in pledges in 4 hours. This would bring the total over $375,000 and stop the drive.

And they did it! I'm going to go to the archive and listen to the last half hour of the show, because I am sure they were going nuts. (Topics of discussion between John and Cheryl that week were Cheryl's menstrual cycle [thank god I'm not linking to anything here!], the Jethro Tull Christmas album, and robot vacuums. This when they were supposed to be asking for money.)

We were finished answering phones 4 hours early, but we got to hang around the station, watch Tom Vek perform live, and eat free pizza and cupcakes. Bliss!

Favorite things.

For me, watching Oprah's annual Favorite Things episode (this time the audience is completely filled with Hurricane Katrina volunteer workers) is like receiving a pure shot of adrenaline, crack, and chocolate straight to my sympathetic nervous system.

Diamond-encrusted watches! Burberry coats and purses! And it's only the first 5 minutes!

[Edited to add: Caramel popcorn! Video iPods!]

[And for those of you who don't know, on the "Favorite Things" episode (once per year, sometime before Christmas) Oprah surprises the entire audience with approximately a zillion of her favorite things. Everyone gets one of EVERYTHING.]

Friday, November 18, 2005

Trivia Night report, 11/16.

Second place. AGAIN. Of course, now that we're in Trophy Month, we can't win. Is it wrong to be really upset that the team that's won first place for 3 weeks in a row (THREE trophies!) includes our favorite karaoke host from Vito's? Hmph. I am jealous.

My shining moment came during the picture category--it was "identify the album name based on the album cover" (all text was removed from the covers). I knew this image looked familiar and after many many minutes of agonizing thought I remembered the name. Yay! Thanks to other team members, we also got Ghost in the Machine and Dookie. That was actually a REALLY cool category. (I have to admit, I liked it a LOT more than the identify-the-designer-purses picture category...)

Next week: I'll be in NJ for Thanksgiving. This will be the first Trivia Night I've missed in...oh, probably about 6 months. Is that sad? Am I too obsessed?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

KEXP: your civic duty calls, people.

It's time to hit you up for money! No, not for me (although, if you wanted to buy me something, I wouldn't object), but for the greatest radio station in the history of the world, ever.

That's right, KEXP.

Why should you donate? Well, corporate radio sucks. On your typical commercial radio station, the DJs don't program their own music--they get a playlist that's dictated by advertisers and record labels.
(And DON'T EVEN get me started on this "Jack FM" format--there are no DJs, just a playlist on "shuffle", and they're taking over stations all across the country. Now Seattle is lucky enough to have its very own Jack station.) What happens if you call in a request to these commercial stations? If it's not on their pre-approved list, it doesn't get played. I was listening to KEXP this morning, and some guy wrote in and wanted to hear a The The song. The next thing you know, it's playing. I still remember the first song I requested from KEXP (over email from my cubicle in Belmont, MA). It was Califone's "Bottles and Bones (Shade & Sympathy)," and Stevie Zoom emailed me back and played the song within 15 minutes.

Most commercial radio stations have playlists of a few hundred songs (if that). KEXP has a music library with zillions of CDs and vinyl records (an exact measurement is actually over 24,000)--that's right, they still play vinyl. In the span of an hour this morning, they played the Wrens, A Tribe Called Quest, Calexico, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and Camper Van Beethoven. Where else can that happen? (Besides your [my] iPod?)

Okay, they play lots of different kinds of music--so what? Well, they also support local bands (they play local music every day, and the Audioasis show on Saturday nights exclusively plays local music). They support bands on independent labels that never have a chance of being played on a big commercial station. And, as a result, they support the independent record labels (because people buy the bands' CDs) and small concert venues (because that's where the bands are playing). There's also a different artist performing a live in-studio 4 to 5 times per week.

Like I said, I used to listen to KEXP from my cubicle in MA. That's one of the greatest things about this station--they have a live online stream (with real-time playlist!) 24 hours a day. This means that people from all over the world are able to listen, but it also costs money.
All those servers and technical people to do the programming--they're not free. And now they're getting into podcasting!

I've loved KEXP for years, but now that I actually live in Seattle, I realize what an awesome station it is and how it really does contribute a ton to this city.

Anyway, you can pledge online, but you can also call in to donate (206-903-KEXP or 866-903-KEXP). And if you call tomorrow or Friday between 6 am and 2 pm PST, ask for me and I'll take your pledge! I LOVE answering the phones during the pledge drive. Free donuts and cupcakes and the chance to meet my favorite DJ (swoon). And it's pretty awesome to talk to all of the people who call to donate. Two pledge drives ago I spoke with Ron Reagan Jr's wife!

I know there are more important causes out there, but I think KEXP rocks. And I think you should too.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Abraham Lincoln: pregnant with baby soldiers!

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but you know, laziness and all. Anyway, this article in Slate is really interesting.

If you want the quick synopsis, it's about how a lot of people use the word "literally" as emphasis--ie, to mean "figuratively," or in the exact opposite way that I've always thought it should be used. Apparently there's a lot of literary history to this alternate usage: Louisa May Alcott ("the land literally flowed with milk and honey"), Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer was "literally rolling in wealth"), and even good old F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby "literally glowed").

WTF? (Another acronym I like.)

The Slate article also talks about other words that are used in contradictory ways--they're called "Janus words," "contranyms," or "auto-antonyms." I've read about these before, and they're awesome. Like scan ("skim" versus "read carefully")--the 2 antonymic meanings are both commonly used!

There's even a blog that tracks the proper use/misuse of literally. (My favorite example relates to the title of this post.) I also love the thought of J. Lo literally being a lightning rod.

Lemon-butt chicken and an onion-cheese tart.

Who wants recipes? I made some tasty stuff this weekend.

Lemon-butt chicken: Jamie Oliver calls this "roast chicken," but I like "lemon-butt chicken" better. Because that's what you do--you put a hot lemon inside the chicken before you roast it, and it is SO delicious.

Here's what you need:
-a free-range organic chicken (somewhere in the range of 4-6 lb)
-sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
-potatoes, cut into golf ball-sized pieces (I used 6 or 7 Yukon Golds--he says you should use 4.5 lbs of potatoes, but this is WAY too much)
-1 large lemon (preferably unwaxed)
-1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
-handful of fresh thyme (little branches and all)
-olive oil
-small handful of rosemary (I used dried)

And here's what you do:
-In the morning, rub the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Cover it and put it in the fridge.
-When you're ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Boil a large pot of salted water, and boil the potatoes, lemon, and garlic cloves for 12 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute, and then put the potatoes back into the hot pot and toss around. (He says this helps the potatoes get crispy and "chuffed". [Oh, he's so cute!])
-Pat the chicken with paper towels and rub it with olive oil. Then stab the hot lemon about 10 times and put the lemon, garlic cloves, and thyme into the cavity (AKA, the "chicken butt"). Put the chicken into a roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes.
-After 45 minutes, put the chicken on a plate, and toss the potatoes and rosemary into the roasting pan with the yummy chicken fat that's cooked out. Make a gap in the center of the potatoes and put the chicken back in, and cook for another 45 minutes or so, or until the chicken's done.
-Let the chicken sit for a few minutes before carving (this keeps more juices inside). You can squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins and eat this with the chicken and potatoes. Sooooo good.

Onion-cheese tart: This recipe came from Nigel Slater's Appetite. Ooh! I just realized that you can search inside this book on Amazon, so here are the recipe pages: page one, page two. This was great (I used yellow onions and fontina cheese)--but I'd recommend adding some salt and pepper to the tart before baking. Also, the puff pastry that I bought turned out to come in squares instead of one large sheet, so I made tartlets. This would be great as an appetizer for a fancy dinner party.

Instead, a group of us ate it for dinner (along with delicious potato chips, cookies, brownies, and Smarties [!]) at a decidedly unfancy board game party where we played the Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary edition and one of my favorite board games ever, Taboo. I love to work the buzzer.

Trivia Night report, 11/9.

I know, I know. I am SO behind with this. Someone even asked me why the report was so late. (Hint: Kate is L-A-Z-Y.)

So anyway, we came in second--not bad at all. Highlights included an entire identify-the-picture category of cartoon dog characters (we got all of them right--thanks to Colin, who came through with the clutch Hong Kong Phooey answer). And I was somewhat embarrassed to be able to identify Under the Table and Dreaming immediately as soon as the beginning of "What Would You Say" started playing. Yeah, that's right, I used to love the Dave Matthews Band.

Have I mentioned that November is Trophy Month? That means we only have 2 more weeks to win a trophy!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Things to which, lately, I have been addicted.

Turkey meatloaf. Seriously. I made the Barefoot Contessa's recipe on Sunday, and I can't stop eating the leftovers. With ketchup, in sandwiches (with melted cheese of course), and...(prepare to be disgusted)...cold. Like, I open the fridge, unwrap the foil, and slice off a little piece. No condiments, no heating, no plate even! I've definitely done this with cakes/brownies/fruit breads, but it seems MUCH weirder and grosser to be eating a savory baked meat cake cold. (Right?)

My new wine glasses. They're SO great. You can put them in the dishwasher! You can balance them in your lap as you watch tv or read or surf the internet! The stemless design gives your tipsy hands a much firmer grip on the glass. Less breakage!

Victrola. If I stay at my house during the day, I finish about a tenth of the amount of work I get done at Victrola. Just the right distraction amount of people watching and music. Plus, they haven't forgotten about me once.

BTW. I normally hate acronyms (I refuse to use LOL or BRB or LMAO etc), but for some reason, I've found myself using this a lot lately.

[About the title: I really am NOT a stickler for no-prepositions-ending-sentences. I just didn't want to do it in a title.]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Extra trivia night at the Hopvine.

We sucked. There's not much more to say.

Only-child Kate says, I don't like losing.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Seattle's finest.

On Friday night, I volunteered at Seattle Works' Emerald City Swank event. It was AWESOME. Think 550 people, all under 40, all in cocktail attire (except for that guy in jeans, but he was cute so it was okay), all bidding on auction items for a great cause. (The mission of Seattle Works: To inform, connect, and inspire people in their 20s and 30s to take action in our community.)

And holy cow did these people bid money. A guest DJ slot on KEXP's Larry's Lounge show went for over $2000. A package including 2 tickets for the sold-out Death Cab for Cutie show, a hotel stay, and breakfast at Top Pot went for $2500.

And, sadly, our dream prize of a PRIVATE TRIVIA NIGHT hosted by our emcee for the evening (Mr. Trivia himself) went for $1500. There were TWO separate groups willing to pay that much. We were bidding up to $700 and thought we had a great chance. Oh well. I keep telling myself, more money for the great cause and all.

But I REALLY wanted a trivia night where I got to choose my own categories.

And what did I do to help out at this event? Well, I got to walk around with a clipboard and look all important. And then during the auction I got to wear a giant foam finger (to help the auctioneers spot people who wanted to bid). But the best part of all was after the volunteering was over and getting to dance to "Hey Ya" with Seattle's finest. (I will never get tired of that song.) My feet still hurt 2 days later, but I'm blaming that on my shoes and not my dancing technique.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Teman's last night in town.

We had a farewell Teman evening at the Hopvine tonight. I love the Hopvine. Where else do they play Mike Doughty, have delicious food (I ate a fantastic acorn squash soup with bacon and cranberries and a salad with walnuts, goat cheese, raisins, and maple vinaigrette), and let you discuss (loudly!) your porn names? All within a 4-block walk of my house.

Anyway, I'm really sad to see Teman go, but this is the perfect opportunity to visit Japan.

(For those of you wondering, I have the worst porn name imaginable: Prancer Weisberg. But it's so multicultural: Santa's reindeer plus stereotypically Jewish! [What's YOUR porn name?])

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Trivia Night report, 11/2.

Well, we didn't win last night. Not even close. There was a category on the University of Washington--and even with an alum on our team, we still got 3 wrong. And marine biology? Wasn't I supposed to get a birthday category? Hmmm?

Oh well. I was getting a little cocky, anyway, what with all the winning lately.

And then, I accidentally got drunk. See, Mr. Trivia announced that it was my birthday (he also said I was 22! Hee!) and the bartender brought me a shot (some kind of delicious melon mixture). Then this other team sent over a drink (this one was a disgusting mixture of non-miscible liquids called the "Brain Freeze" or "Mind Eraser" or "Gross Shot That Kate Will Feel Obligated To Drink Because Some Other Person Bought It For Her"). And THEN a second team sent over a drink (a slightly better, which isn't saying much, "Birthday Cake"-flavored mixture). I think I made my teammate finish that one.

I got free chocolate cake, too!

Last night also featured the triumphant return of Ross Harrison, as well as a "Faith" karaoke duet dedicated to our favorite soon-to-be resident of Japan.


So as a lot of you know, it was my birthday on Tuesday. I definitely had a happy birthday. Let's review, shall we?

In addition to a bunch of birthday wishes, I received virtual birthday shoes from the FG and a virtual birthday scarf (man [virtually] included!) from (the) BS. Also memorable was a rather unfortunately-named birthday drink (yes, I used my hands).

I had asked for a puppy for my birthday (yes, I know that's an annoying request when I live in an apartment where I am forbidden to have a puppy), and Nate got me the next best thing: a Nano! Eeee! It is so small and cute and SMALL and lightweight and I can take it on walks and runs and I can cuddle with it...just like a puppy! Okay, maybe not the cuddling part. I'd squoosh it. (It's even engraved: woof woof, my name is Spot. Totally a puppy!)

And then we went to Zoe for dinner. People in Seattle: you HAVE to go here during November, because it's part of the 25 for $25 promotion. For the cost of one of their normal entrees, you get an appetizer, entree, and dessert. I can't speak for all of the restaurants, but at Zoe, you get the regular-sized portions, and they have a ton of choices, all right from the normal menu.

Enough preamble. I ate: A mixed confit (pork, duck, and rabbit) frisee salad. Sauteed sea scallops with smoked bacon, corn, chanterelles, and scalloped potatoes. And molten chocolate cake with berry sauce and vanilla ice cream. SO GOOD.

And now YOU want a present for my birthday? Well, okay. Here's one. (Warning: like many of our pictures from the Halloween trivia night, it's not especially safe for work.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Extra (Halloween!) Trivia Night at Finn MacCool's.

We went to a Halloween-themed trivia night at Finn MacCool's last night. Let me say, first off, that we won (by 33 points--no other team even earned above 30).

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I want to discuss the costumes of the other attendees. (I reused another one of my Boston costumes.) Holy cow. I have never, ever seen so many variations on the sexy nurse/sexy cop/sexy ...what was that girl in the striped outfit anyway? A referee? Thankfully, the winners of the costume contest deserved to win--they were wearing handmade Alice in Wonderland outfits. And the bottoms of their asses were fully covered. (Yes, we saw about 3 different girls' butts yesterday.)

Good times.

[Edited to add photographic evidence!]