Would You Have a Beer with Chris Christie?

All of this talk about Gov. Chris Christie misses the point — and the point isn’t what he weighs, how much he won by in New Jersey, how cooperative he was, or how mean he can be. The point is that he can’t win. The last three Republicans to win national office have done so on a “nicer than the other guy” character platform that has created the modern entanglement that we consider a Compassionate Conservative. Ronald Reagan was folksy, a silver-screen cowboy with a sharp wit; George H. W. Bush, even in his first run, appeared kindly and competent; George W. Bush ran on the written-about “would you have a beer with him?” platform of good times in bygone days.

Would you have a beer with Chris Christie?

For much of the middle of the country — and for their majorities that bleed and vote red every year — the answer seems like an obvious no. Christie has a resume that reads like the greatest hits of the Midwestern inferiority complex soundtrack. Governor of a tiny East Coast state? Check. Accent like something off of television? Check. Blunt? Yup. Well-versed in urban politics? Uh-uh. Outsized personality from a teeny-tiny spec on the map? And on and on.

Of course there’s going to be work done to blunt these effects. Christie’s new chairmanship of the Republican Governor’s Association will help. He may not be a friendly face, but he can be a familiar one in many of the on-the-border reddish rust-belt states. Maybe his

Look, Mitt Romney collected the usual run of red states because that’s what red states do. However, I think it goes beyond the evidence to say that Romney earned their enthusiastic support. Throwing an East Coast governor at the middle states again is going to cause some dissent in the ranks — maybe enough to get a noisy Rand Paul candidacy noticed at the Iowa State Fair.

So far, it’s hard to picture Christie in comfortable campaign mode in the warm western states. The first time he puts on a pair of cowboy boots or gets snuck into a sweaty high school gym and propped up in front of carefully selected folks in overalls, he’s going to look every bit like the Garden State candidate.

I say this knowing full well that the Democrats’ best chance candidate has exactly the same problems — but no one expects Hillary to win Kansas.

Photo Credit: Beer by HeadCRasher on Flickr via CC By-NC-SA)

Posted in current events, politics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

No knead green Olive baguettes


This weekend I discovered that you can grind your own whole wheat flour at our grocery store. Combine that with last weekend’s discovery off the tastiness of these vegan no-knead baguettes and you can imagine how strangely yeasty and righteous my kitchen is this morning.

I’ve been reading the newest Michael Pollan book, Cooked, and the newest Mark Bittman book, Vegan before 6, and I just got the newest Martha Stewart cookbook (Martha’s American Food) for mother’s day, so it’s shaping up to be a fascinating food summer around here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Another site change. Sorry, folks

OK, last move ever, I hope. Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeders and whatnots: This entire show has moved to just plain old Kepkanation.com. Same WordPress taste, fewer WordPress restrictions. Not that I really found WordPress that restrictive, but — it was time to own this place. The American Dream: Web site ownership.

I’ll be updating the links and all of that very shortly, so eventually, it’s going to look absolutely identical to here. Everything posted there still transfers to OpenSalon, too, so — there are just so many ways to read me.

There will be no new content here after this message. And eventually, I’ll erase it all together. All old posts have been imported to the new blog.


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The newest entry in the eBook Martket: Kobo, from Borders

Borders is now taking pre-orders for the Kobo e-Reader, the newest entry into the eReader market. It’s just like every eReader you’ve admired so far — except this one costs only $149.

To reach that point, Kobo has cut (or changed) a few features. Unlike the Kindle, it doesn’t have 3G Wireless. Instead, you have to transfer books via good old-fashioned (ahem) USB cable or via bluetooth. It also has less storage (1GB) than the lowest priced Kindle (2GB).

That, however, is the end of the cons. The Kobo is 7″ tall and 4″ wide, slightly larger than a standard paperback, and weighs 8 ounces.

Comparison chart:

Name Size/Weight Storage Transfer Method Price Store
Kindle 10.3 oz./8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″ 1,500 books/2GB 3G Wireless $259 Amazon
Nook 12.1 oz./7.7″ x 4.9″ x 0.5″ 1,500 books/2GB 3G Wireless $259 Barnes & Noble
Kobo 8 oz./7.2″ x 4.7″ x 0.4″ 750 books/1GB USB/Bluetooth $149 Borders
Sony 7.76 oz./6.25″ x 4.25″ x 0.4″ 350 books/.5 GB USB $149 Various

Like its closest competitors (the Kindle, the Nook) the Kobo uses e-Ink technology to display books in black-and-white. It’s white (like the Kindle and the Nook — catch on, folks, even Apple isn’t making little white gadgets anymore) and it holds hundreds of books without blinking. It has days and days of battery life.

Unlike the Kindle and the Nook, the Kobo is an eReader and an eReader only. It doesn’t promise wifi access, games, or quick updates of blogs and newspapers. It is a portable electronic book reader. No more, no less.

I’m in favor. The additional features of the Kindle and Nook have never called to me — in part because I already have a laptop and a Smartphone, neither of which I’m looking to replace, particularly with an interface as clunky as those. What I am tempted by is the possibility of having an easy-to-read, easy-to-tote electronic reader, for less than an arm and a leg (just an arm, I guess, is my price point on this one). I know it’s strange to crave single-purpose devices, but in this case, I see the logic. Sometimes, you just want to read.

Posted in reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Night Food: Tuna Pasta for A Vegetarian

I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian for something like 6 years now. Every once-in-a-while, though, I fall off the vegetarian wagon and onto a fish sandwich. It turns out, fried halibut isn’t such a bad place to land. Sure, you get a little greasy, but you also get an excuse to eat tartar sauce. Sometimes, as I gaze down from the veggie wagon at the Land of Meat, I think that perhaps these tiny adventures into Fried Fishyville mean I’m perhaps ready to take bigger strides back into the meat world: Strides like canned tuna.

Last week, when I was bemoaning my lack of The Silver Spoon Pasta (TSSP) cookbook, I asked the Internet for help — and I found what seems to be a now-dunct blog about someone who (like me) had a romance with The Silver Spoon, but who (unlike me) also owned the book at the time the romance began. She had made Spaghetti con il Tonno (Spaghetti with Tuna), and it looked delicious. Go ahead. Look at her blog. Look at those luscious photos, that creamy, dreamy sauce, that beautiful green LeCreuset tea pot, and tell me you aren’t filled with dinner envy.

I knew I had to have it: the recipe (with tuna!), not the tea pot, since one of these things requires about $5 and the other would require me to give more blood than is physically possible. Besides, who wants my wimpy vegetarian blood, anyway?

So I went to the store and found the most earth-friendly tuna imaginable, because there’s been an ongoing discussion at my house about the poor, endangered tuna recently. It goes like this:

Me: I heard on NPR that bluefin tuna are going extinct!
Boyfriend: What! Oh no!
Me: It’s true!
Boyfriend: But they’re so tasty!

The tuna I selected was packed in water that was probably actually the tears of angels, cradling it in un-salted comfort, after its death of old age at the happiness ranch in the middle of the least polluted part of the sea. It still cost only $2. Everything in oil was more expensive (can I blame the Gulf for this?). Anyway, tuna in hand, it was time to cook.

Spaghetti con il Tunno
(from The Silver Spoon Pasta):

3 T Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T Tomato Paste (yep, the stuff in the teeny little can)
2.5 oz. tuna packed in oil, flaked
12 oz. spaghetti
salt, pepper, parsley.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add tomato paste and about 1-2T of water and stir. Add tuna.

While all that’s happening, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain. Add pasta to skillet with tomato sauce; toss; eat.

Well, so that’s what they said to do. While I generally believe TSSP can do no wrong, I had this whole can of tuna — 8 full tuna-y ounces. Using only a fourth of it seemed wrong. It seemed wasteful. And it seemed very likely to make my entire fridge smell like tuna.

I dumped it all in. To make up for this, I added a full pound of pasta — what the hell, in for a penny — and the entire can of tomato paste. I didn’t have parsley, so I chopped up some fresh, spicy oregano that I’ve got growing by the window, shaded by a stack of unopened mail. The whole sauce took, maybe, 20 minutes to put together from start to end, including pasta cooking time.

The end result was a definitely tuna pasta. It was, in fact, too much tuna for me. A childhood of Tuna Casserole suddenly paraded through my mind; I kept expecting to find a cubed boiled egg in the plate, or a dash of non-fat mayonaisse. The tomato sauce was surprisingly good (god bless that oregano), but I couldn’t get over the tuna. It was — predictably — everywhere.

Boyfriend, however, loved it. He ate it with relish (not literally — no tartar sauce here), as though that tuna might be his last. He added some parmsan and some salt and had it for dinner last night and tonight; there’s still enough for a substantial meal tomorrow, too.

For me, it will be the last tuna, for a while. I’ve at least answered this question successfully: tuna is not at all a soft place to land, even when it’s endorsed by The Silver Spoon.

Posted in food | 4 Comments

Weird fact of the day: Ferret Legging

I had no idea:

An ancient English “sport” called “ferret legging” has contributed to the myths about ferret behaviour. The contestant had to tie his trouser legs around the ankles, then place two ferrets down his trousers before tying the waist closed. The object was to be the person that keeps the ferrets in his trousers the longest. Many people only lasted a few minutes before the ferrets nipped them, causing them to release them in a panic. The poor creatures must have been terrified, and it is no wonder that contestants were often bitten. Fortunately, ferret-legging has waned in popularity as awareness of animal welfare has increased.

Someone, please send decent hobbies to England stat. I say this with all the authority of one who has, yes, attended the Ferret Agility Trials (formerly the Ferret Olympics, before the Olympic Committee objected). No ferrets were harmed, or legged, in that experience.

That’s from an article about how ferrets might be the new celebrity purse pet. Here’s my question: Do celebrities not have enough crap in their purses already?

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As The World Turns Star Dies at 91

Aw, the woman who’s played Nancy Huges on the soap opera “As the World Turns” forever has died:

Actress Helen Wagner, who played mild-mannered Nancy Hughes on the CBS soap opera ”As the World Turns” for more than a half-century and spoke its first words, has died at age 91.

She died Saturday, said the show’s New York-based production company, TeleNext Media Inc., which didn’t say where she died or what was the cause of her death.

Wagner opened ”As the World Turns” when it premiered on April 2, 1956, with the words: ”Good morning, dear.” She held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time, TeleNext Media said.

I grew up watching “As the World Turns” and its CBS sister, “Guiding Light,” at my grandmother’s knee — literally.  She’d sit in her recliner, and either I’d sit on the floor in front of her or my sister would (or we both would, once Grandpa came home and claimed his recliner). My grandparents were the first people I knew who owned a VCR and actually used the programming feature on it, so that every day, while my grandmother was at work, it would whir to life and record her stories.

By the time I was watching ATWT, Nancy Hughes was mostly a character who only showed up when her son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Kim, were throwing one of their legendary neighborhood cookouts or birthday bashes. I don’t remember her being involved in any scandals. She was just Dr. Bob’s mother, a solid, thoughtful presence in a town (like all soap opera towns) prone to chaos and drama.

I guess what I’m really mourning is the death of “As the World Turns,” which will air its last episode this September. Of course I didn’t know Helen Wagner, the woman or the actress, but I knew, for a time, Nancy Hughes, thanks to that dynamic, crazy, engaging show. It’s a bit like hearing that an old friend’s grandmother has died.

Posted in tv | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments