A day away.

Love getting back to Ann Arbor, even on a stifling day like Saturday. It was for a baby shower, and aren’t those fun. One of my mother’s family stories was about the shower when she was expecting me. It was a brunch, and my aunt made pink ladies. That’s a cocktail that requires egg whites, and after a few rounds, whoever was cooking thought she didn’t want to let all those yolks go to waste, and threw them in with the eggs to be scrambled, which made them hard and rubbery. Pink ladies also require grapefruit juice, and this being before the ruby-red sweet grapefruit was the standard cocktail mixer, the drinks were quite sour and pucker-y.

“My mouth feels like an asshole,” my aunt Charlene is said to have announced, right before she stuck her fork upright in her eggs and left the table.

So with this in my family heritage, it seemed a good idea to bring the ingredients for a fruity afternoon cocktail as part of my contribution. The mother-to-be is expecting a boy, to be named Alexander, so I called my libation the Baby Alexander. It’s basically a margarita made with mango nectar and a little bit of lime juice, and it was a big hit. There was also chicken piccata, two delicious salads, wine and cupcakes. No one told episiotomy stories, and we all mooed when the guest of honor unwrapped the breast pump. Women really know how to throw a party.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough mango nectar, so I stopped at Trader Joe’s in Ann Arbor, after first considering Whole Foods. The parking lot at Whole Foods was packed. It’s always packed. I don’t know when it closes, but my guess is, if they stayed open around-the-clock, the parking lot would never have an open space (every other one occupied by a Prius, natch), the well-off denizens of Ann Arbor lining up to throw money at the cashiers. Trader Joe’s is a bit more downmarket, and everybody, and I mean everybody, had brought their reusable bags, so many that I declined a bag at all, carrying my mango nectar and bag of limes out to the car in my wee hands. I can go green with the rest of you Teva-wearing posers, Ann Arbor.

Along the way I watched the lawns, to see if my favorite A2 cultural trait (weeds) is still in evidence, and yes, yes it is. Expensive real estate, crappy lawns — that’s Ann Arbor for you. Lawn care beyond mowing once a month is too bourgeois for that place. If you mow too often, you’re not keeping up with your New York Review of Books subscription. You might even be a Republican. And there would go the neighborhood.

On my way back I stopped at a place that was called, in my time in A2, the Big Ten Party Store. Alan carped at one of my wine purchases the other day, describing it as “cough syrup,” and I needed to come back strong with a decent bottle of something for a dinner menu to be named later. The Big Ten was run by some former Zingerman’s people, and as I recall, stocked mainly wine and cheese, with a few “artisanal” (how I hate that word) beers thrown in, but at lower prices and 15 percent less attitude. Since I left, they changed their name, a huge mistake, because what beats the fun of buying aged Stilton at a place called the Big Ten Party Store?

Anyway, now all employees wear navy-blue lab coats and hover at the periphery of your space, offering helpful opinions, or perhaps to catch you when you faint at the prices. I was expecting to splurge, but when I saw $25 described as “economical,” I knew I was in over my head.

I did linger for a moment at the leg of jamon iberico in the cooler. Price per pound: $100. Not that you would buy that much, but good lord, when I’m buying ham shaved in razor-thin slices and so expensive that dropping a piece on the floor is like lighting a cigar with a tenner, that’s asking for karmic retribution. I don’t have a full professorship at a respected university. This is out of my league.

I selected a $15 beaujolais and got the hell out of there in a hurry.

(This was the cough syrup, by the way, and Alan’s right, it was pretty bad. I don’t know what happened to the label, as the first 10 bottles I bought were so good it became my vin ordinaire, but recently? Ugh.)

Boring, boring, boring, I know. So let’s hop to the bloggage:

Our national debt crisis is solved. I repeat: Our national debt crisis is solved.

Much of the overpriced wine at that place I just described was labeled “organic.” My mistrust of such standards, honed while living through approximately 7,000 food fad cycles, serves me well. The words “grown in China” and “organic” should not be within 12 miles of each other, and now it seems the U.S.D.A. agrees.

David Mitchell has a new book out. Huzzah!

And now, Manic Monday awaits. Onward!

Posted at 9:38 am in Same ol' same ol' |

63 responses to “A day away.”

  1. MichaelG said on June 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

    For Sunday dinner I generally like to select a twenty year old bottle from my collection of vintage Beaujolais nouveau.

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  2. Deborah said on June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

    My short term memory is not in good shape this morning after attending a barbeque yesterday afternoon that included lots of booze… so excuse me if I’ve already told this story here: A couple of months ago while visiting my sister-in-law in Pasedena she took us to a fund-raiser party at the Hunington and pointed out a friend of hers across the room, Joe Coulombe, otherwise known as Trader Joe. I was impressed.

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  3. SimplerDave said on June 14, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Don’t know what supply is like to the US, but over here in the UK I’m REALLY liking the current crop of South African reds, especially the Cabs and the blends – and you’ll never go wrong with an Australian Shiraz.

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  4. Sue said on June 14, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Either our national debt crisis is solved, or everyone start building your nuclear bunker, now.
    Mine will be well stocked with Arbor Mist, cuz only the best for me even when the world comes to an end.

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  5. Rana said on June 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Heh. The USDA standards for “organic” are pretty damn pitiful, so if they’re rejecting China’s goods as such, that’s saying something.

    Regarding the lawns – where you see crappy weedy lawns, they probably see prairie restoration. (Which is in fact a good thing… if it’s done for real. Dandelions need not apply.)

    Baby showers, like bridal showers, are one of those usually-single-gender events that makes me despair for (and of) my fellow women. I still remember, with deep disgust, having to attend (yes, attendance was required) the baby shower of a co-worker that happened one day at work. I didn’t know her, had barely even seen her before (and this was in a place with maybe 30 people), and there I was, forced to smile and draw pictures of a baby on a paper plate held on top of my head. Then I had to sit there and watch her open all the presents other people gave her, some of which were really too personal for an office party.

    The thing that really chafed, though, was that, after the initial presentation of the card and divvying up of the cake and punch, the men were allowed to go back to their offices. I – and the other women – were forced to stay for the whole damn thing, pretending to enjoy ourselves and act like we actually cared for the mother-to-be. And, no, this was not in 1950. This was in 2004.

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  6. LAMary said on June 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Joe Coulombe hasn’t owned TJ’s in a few years and it’s changed a lot since he owned it. Not that it was bad when he had it, but it had more of a health food sort of inventory then. They also used to buy big lots of some item and sell them cheap. Joe did his own radio commercials then and I remember one for Quaker instant oatmeal. He must have bought a lot of that stuff and they were selling much cheaper than the supermarket. A German supermarket company owns TJs now, I was told. The inventory has changed a lot. They always had wine but not the selection they have now.

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  7. brian stouder said on June 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

    All wine tastes like cough syrup, to me, especially since they’ve greatly improved the taste of that stuff*. I laughed out loud at this line –

    we all mooed when the guest of honor unwrapped the breast pump.

    Just last night Pam and I tuned into a BBC documentary called Me and My Big Breasts, which was funny for the first 30 seconds, and then quickly becomes enthralling. If you see it on the guide, go for it – it’s good stuff.

    Rana – that sounds like an episode of The Office, which my lovely wife enjoys immensely, and which I can take in small doses (since I live it every week!)

    *Triaminic Nightime Grape – ’09 is the good stuff

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  8. Peter said on June 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

    LAMary, you’re correct: Aldi’s parent company also owns Trader Joe’s. It makes for interesting bedfellows, as there is a development in Chicago where the local alderman thought – and told – everyone that a Trader Joe’s will be anchoring the development, only to find out that it was an Aldi’s.

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  9. adrianne said on June 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Sounds like your baby shower was spot on – fun, fruity drinks, no idiotic games, etc. I’ve been to some horrible baby and bridal showers in my time, as have most women of a certain age, so I’m glad you’re reinventing the genre. Of course, in AA, “pink ladies” is probably a good description of some of the party guests, rather than the drinks.

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  10. Dorothy said on June 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Gee Brian I have to ask: enthralling because you learned something you didn’t know, or for the other obvious reason?

    Just kidding you – but I couldn’t resist asking this question!

    I’m thinking of turning down all future baby shower invitations because the last one I went to, the mother went into labor 10 days after the shower, just two days before her due date, but the baby had already died in utero. I know this doesn’t happen very often but it left me feeling so very sad that I’d like to think we should start waiting until the baby is there to throw showers. It’ll never come into vogue, but if I could change the world that’s one of the things I’d suggest.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Every now and then Aldi’s will have a TJ’s crossover item, like basmati rice. It’s not a place to buy all your needs, but they often have good produce prices, so I stop in about once a month.

    We had the great experience this weekend of seeing a brand new play in our library’s little theatre. It was the winner in a playwriting contest sponsored by the local semi-pro company, called The Ladies in Cabin 10, about five friends who get together once a year. Very funny, probably not edgy enough for Broadway, but I think it will be popular in community theatres since it has five juicy parts for women.

    The last baby shower I went to didn’t feature any silly games, but instead had us write letters to the baby to be opened and read on birthdays. She doesn’t have support from the dad, so everyone got her practical presents. There was a mound of disposable diapers–I suppose in Ann Arbor they all use cloth.

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  12. basset said on June 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

    TJ’s here in Nashville doesn’t sell wine… grocery stores can’t in Tennessee, so I get most of mine at a downmarket liquor store which sells the wine equivalent of remaindered books. 3 bottles for $10.99, $15.99, or $21.99 depending on how close I am to payday… have gotten some really nice wine (at least as far as I can tell, I don’t know enough about wine to know what I’m supposed to like) and some I had to pour out.

    House update… we’ve been doing non-flood-related floor repairs (house was built with a load-bearing wall sitting on joists and subfloor with no pier under it and the closest pier set crooked), but that’ll finish in the next day or two and then it’s on to the water damage. Insurance hasn’t paid off yet and won’t cover most of the contents anyway… but I was over there yesterday and saw two does and a fawn in the creek (actually the Harpeth River, doesn’t quite qualify for river status at normal flow though) at the foot of the yard, that was pleasant. Once we get the plumbing patched up and have water again I’ll pressure-wash the exterior, sidewalk, driveway, and shrubs, it’ll all look a lot nicer then.

    River stage during the flood, 27.1 feet. Today, foot and a half.

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  13. brian stouder said on June 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Dorothy – you know I wouldn’t have tuned in just for “research purposes”; and indeed, there were some genuine sights to see(!) – but very quickly, one moves past objectification and into the day-to- day practical burden of dealing with large breasts.

    So it was eye-opening in the best sense, as well as the usual sense.

    Speaking of Aldis, here’s a little story. I have been into one of those exactly once, years ago. But last week, Pam was on a quest for sherbet (which she insists on calling sherBERT) for punch for Culimination Day at school (but that’s another story), and we stopped at an Aldis near the new ice skating mega-plex.

    And to cut to the chase, in my ignorance of how Aldis does things, I did a terrible thing. We parked next to a car where a woman was just finishing loading her stuff from her cart and into her car, and when I got out, she was just beginning to head back for the store with the empty cart.

    I stepped over and said something like “I’ll take that” – thinking I was doing a good turn for her.

    So I get to the door, and find that it is locked; it was just past 8 pm, and they had closed(!). So then, I look around for a place to leave the cart, and just as I see an area where lots of carts are locked together, I hear Pam apologizing profusely to the woman in the parking lot, and giving her something(!!)

    It was only THEN that I learned that you pay 25 cents for your cart, and then when you return it to the cart area and lock it in, you get your quarter back… so Pam was reimbursing her the quarter I had (in effect) stolen from her.

    Who knew? (You learn something every day, it seems)

    Basset – excellent news! I suppose all one can do is go one step at a time

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  14. Dorothy said on June 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    We learned that same lesson here in Mount Vernon two years ago, only in our case it was an Amish woman who Mike approached in the parking lot and said “I’ll take that cart back to the store for you!” He was just trying to be Mr. Helpful. It was only after we bought some groceries that we saw you have to deposit a quarter, and then get one back when you return the cart. Sheesh. He’s still embarrassed about it!

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  15. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    And don’t forget to take bags with you or you will have to buy them, which is okay by me since I do it already. I’ll never forget going there with my kids on a very busy day with long, long lines. One lady had just a box of spaghetti and a jar of sauce. It was sobering to think she was willing to wait 15 minutes to buy them, and we talked about that later with the kids, how it was probably all the money she had and that the larder was bare at home. It was an eye opener for them.

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  16. kayak woman said on June 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    The Whole Foods on Washtenaw has a TERRIBLE parking lot!!! The newer one in the Cranbrook shopping center is much better.

    I am laughing at the reference to the Teva-wearing posers. I wore Teva sandals practically year-round for years. I switched to Chacos one February a couple years ago, when I realized my current pair of Tevas wasn’t going to make it through a trip to California. The only pair of hiking sandals they had in the store (Bivouac) that fit me were Chacos and I bought them over the nitwit salesperson’s protests that his “manager” wouldn’t let sell them to me. It was something about the fit. They felt fine to me and I wore them happily for two years until they literally broke in half. I don’t shop there any more but that’s not why.

    The Big Ten Party Store was actually bought by former Zingerman’s employees, who changed the name to Morgan and York. We used to go in there quite a lot when it was still Big Ten. Now, not so much, mainly because we don’t get over to that part of town often. Blue lab coats? Yikes!

    I have to think about the weedy yard/prairie thing. I mean, my yard is full of weeds but I always thought it was because I have a black thumb. Hmmm…

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  17. LAMary said on June 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I used cloth diapers on my kids and I have no lawn, only drought tolerant plants and an herb and vegetable garden. I have a white VW bug like the one in the Ann Arbor photo. I have two extra capacity recycling bins and we compost our kitchen waste. I use gray water from the washing machine on my plants and I hang laundry (not all of it) to dry.
    Go ahead, give me crap about it.

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  18. basset said on June 14, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Even better news – Mrs. B. is healing up on schedule and will go back to work at the end of this month. Where, Brian, she will occasionally participate in “reduction” surgery.

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  19. Rana said on June 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    You won’t get crap from me, Mary. I wish I was able to do all those things.

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  20. Rana said on June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Great news, basset! 🙂

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  21. Sue said on June 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    A few years ago I heard that diaper services are now a thing of the past. I liked my service back in the dark ages. One kid had disposables, one had cloth, guess which had less diaper rash.
    I love my compost bins (old garbage cans) and hope to keep my neighbors from noticing them by hiding them in the back garden and being generous with sharing produce.
    I think I mentioned this on TrowelTart’s blog – I’d love to get one of those neato rainbarrel systems to save at least some of the water that comes off my roof (a 1000 sf roof can yield 14000 gallons of water in one growing season in my area).
    I raised my kids MHS (modified hippie style) and they’re the ones who give me the most crap about it.

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  22. MichaelG said on June 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    A couple of years ago when I spent some time in Milan I shopped in a supermarket where one had to leave a deposit for a cart. One Euro, I think. My first thought was that this would be in the States in no time. I haven’t seen it, but obvously it’s here.

    Also in the produce dept the shopper was required to bag his or her selection, weigh it and push a button which caused the machina to issue a price label to attach to the bag. The checker then just ran it over the reader. No flipping through cards for the look up. And the checkers sat.

    I don’t think I’d want to give you any crap, Mary.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    We used cloth diapers, too, and I couldn’t find anyone who was going to use them when we were done, but no loss since they are excellent rags. We’ve composted and recycled since way before it was fashionable, and I want to get a rain barrel or two soon. We also raised our kids MHS and one took it all to heart. She was upset that the paper plates we bought for her graduation party weren’t compostable. You can take things too far. I figure if we don’t use paper any other time one package a year isn’t an abuse.

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  24. Scout said on June 14, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I have one whole cupboard dedicated to partial bottles of wine. My mistakes end up in my delicious homemade marinara sauces.

    I still like Trader Joe’s even though it isn’t quite as health foody as it used to be. You can still find some good-for-you things at a better price than at other chains. One thing I miss is the international cheese selection at unbelievably low prices. That probably went by the wayside when The Joe sold the enterprise.

    I always find an excuse to miss baby and bridal showers unless I know there will be 1.)libations and (not or) 2.no stupid games.

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  25. alex said on June 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hooray for crappy lawns! Yay! Mine’s all moss and clover. It works splendidly with my unfussy rustic motif. That’s not to say it’s a neglected yard. I actually work very hard at making it attractive, just not with chemicals.

    To my east is a Chemlawn carpet where a forest once stood. The owner also spends a great deal of time on her yard, albeit from atop a riding mower. She does get some exercise, however, when she pushes her vacuum sweeper up and down the driveway.

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  26. James said on June 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    David Mitchell? The “precocious” novelist? Phaugh!

    I much prefer this David Mitchell. I must have spent an hour yesterday watching his 3 minute or so rants. Screamingly funny, like the Zero Punctuation guy talking about stuff that matters, rather than video games.

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  27. Dorothy said on June 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Hey – just saw this on Facebook under the Treme page: http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/06/12/meet-ashley-morris-the-real-creighton-bernette-from-treme/

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  28. Jeff Borden said on June 14, 2010 at 2:22 pm


    Several grocery stores in Chicago have carts whose wheels will lock up if you take them out of the parking lot. It’s pretty cool. . .the shopping cart version of the invisible fence some dog owners use. . .and it works. I cannot remember the last time I saw a homeless person with a grocery cart. Most are using the smaller carts city dwellers who walk to the store use to trundle home their goodies.

    On a thoroughly unrelated note, have you seen the latest out of Arizona? The same right-wing lube job who introduced the show me your papers law now wants to go head on against the 14th Amendment and deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. For all the shit right-wingers talk about wanting “their” freedoms and “their” country back, they seem far more likely to seek sweeping change to our nation than the lefties. Tens of millions of immigrants over the years have come here so their children and grandchildren would be able to enjoy a better life. In Arizona, if Pearce gets his way, that’s now tough fucking shit.

    I’m sure there are many fine people in Arizona who think Russell Pearce, the lead lube job, and those who follow him are horrible people who don’t represent them. But I am going to enjoy watching what is left of Arizona’s sagging economy flatline as Hispanics, both legal and illegal, flee that sun-baked hell in advance of the Gestapo wannabe law taking effect.

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  29. Hattie said on June 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Even cheap, lousy food is expensive these days, so you might as well buy the good stuff.

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  30. brian stouder said on June 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Dorothy – great link!

    Ms Morris comes across very favorably

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  31. ROgirl said on June 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Arizona could just secede to solve the immigration problem.

    Trader Joe’s has lost its mojo for me, except for the wine. I used to get attached to cheeses I tried and enjoyed, and within a short period of time they would no longer carry that cheese, and of course they couldn’t say whether it would ever be stocked again. That happened at least 3 times (maybe 4), which really pissed me off.

    Their prices have gotten pretty steep and I don’t really miss any other stuff that I can’t get elsewhere. Aldi even carries brown rice now.

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  32. coozledad said on June 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Rana: Talking about single-gender events, we got a call one night from some friends of mine who were throwing a bachelor party for some guy they knew, and the attendance was a little sparse. They asked me if I’d show up, even though they knew my wife and I are attached at the sternum. We went, and because there were only a few guys, it wasn’t too bad. My wife found the evening’s film offering, “Anal Security Squad”* a little contrived, but no one drank themselves to coma, or decided to go water skiing in the dark.

    *A totalitarian government seeks to eliminate the practice of anal intercourse with an elite force of vaginal intercourse cops. This provokes a revolution among the newly criminalized butt-people: Their strategy -conversion!
    Actual bit of dialog (reconstructed from memory).
    “But how will we convert them, Luthor?”
    “We will fuck them in the ass!”

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  33. brian stouder said on June 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Sounds like the Dick Cheney playbook, adapted for the big screen

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  34. Bob (Not Greene) said on June 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    OK, thread over. Cooze wins. Again.

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  35. Scout said on June 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Count me as one of those “many fine people in Arizona” Jeff Borden refers to, who detest Russsell Pearce with a white hot passion. I am SO DONE with Arizona I can’t even see straight. Problem is, between one of the worst housing bubble explosions in the nation and the hillbilly politics that is killing the rest of the economy, we are stuck for now.

    I wish I had coozledad’s cool detachment that fuels an ability to hilaritize the bumfuckiness of it all but the sucking sound of everything I’ve worked for swirling the bowl is a major distraction.

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  36. Dexter said on June 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Oh! Youse guyz are on today! Three LMAOs from Nance’s post and then MichaelG knocks it outta the park with comment #1! Another hearty LMAO. I better put an astronaut diaper on before I read the next 34 comments.
    I was the guy who rushed out with cash when the Nouveau hit the store. I bought a case every year.

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  37. Laura Lippman said on June 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Although James Hynes’s NEXT is set in Austin, the main character is a longtime Ann Arbor resident. I know the former much better than the latter, but I think Hynes knows both and does well by them. I also happen to think NEXT is an extraordinary book. Ditto, Kings of Infinite Space.

    Meanwhile, on my favorite subject, wine: A year ago, I was subjected to some horrible rich people as part of a fundraiser, but the wine they served was quite good and I had a hunch they hadn’t brought out the expensive stuff for writer riff-raff. Cannonball cabernet sauvignon runs $11.99-$13.99 and is delightful.

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  38. Dexter said on June 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the link , Dorothy. I watch Treme three times each episode OnDemand, and have it on in the backgrond for the music a lot, too.
    HBO is great, and Alan Ball’s True Blood is rockem-sockem this year, too.

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  39. nancy said on June 14, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Chrysler products are well-known for the ease with which they can be stolen. One of those swaggering TV news “investigators” teams demonstrated how a kid with a rock and a pick can enter, start and drive away within a few seconds. I’m told they’ve made improvements, but still the go-to make for those seeking wheels for the low-low price of $0.

    (Sorry. This comment belongs in the previous thread.)

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  40. Rana said on June 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    But I am going to enjoy watch­ing what is left of Arizona’s sag­ging econ­omy flat­line as His­pan­ics, both legal and ille­gal, flee that sun-baked hell in advance of the Gestapo wannabe law tak­ing effect.

    Jeff, I rather suspect that this – at least the fleeing part – is what those bigots are hoping for. They’re probably also hoping that the economy will miraculously spring back to verdant life as a result, dumb as that sounds.

    (Arizona, though sun-baked, is a nice place outside the major urban zones. It’s not the poor ecosystem’s fault that it’s currently inhabited by a lot of nutwits.)

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  41. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I have one of those easy to steal Chrysler products. A while back I came out of a store, pushed the button on my little remote and was halfway in a gold minivan before I started wondering why it smelled like smoke. Oops.

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  42. brian stouder said on June 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Chrysler prod­ucts are well-known for the ease with which they can be stolen

    Back in ’00, my lovely wife drove my 1991 Olds 88 (affectionately known as the ’91-88) to Merrillville for the annual Christmas shopping get-together she and her friends have every year. They stayed in a big hotel with a parking lot so well lit that you could do surgery, and indeed, the lot was full of new SUVs and minivans and sedans….so the next morning, when Pam went out and couldn’t find her car, her friends thought she was crazy, and simply didn’t remember where she parked. (I remember when she called me to tell me about this, I was on the internet – which was dial-up at the time – so a neighbor came knocking and said “Call your wife”! And when she told me the news, we both laughed that anyone even wanted the thing, other than that we had just put new tires on it)

    The Merrillville Police told her one thing that was cryptic enough to be memorable. They said that one could steal that model car with nothing more than a butter knife. (a remark that still makes me say “huh!”)

    Indeed, that specific car was always somewhat star-crossed. It had been a company car, and it was stolen by joy-riders when it was new, and recovered in a cornfield; I think that was several thousands of dollars of repair work then. And, it got smacked into by a hit and run driver once, and it was broken into another time – although not stolen (maybe the butter-knife wielder was interrupted?) before finally going to Chicago

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  43. adrianne said on June 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Hey, Laura L., I brought Cannonball Cab to a potluck dinner Saturday at the low, low price of $12.99. Sold! It’s good wine, with a funny label.

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  44. LAMary said on June 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Really rich people have the caterer or party planner or wine shop choose the wine they will serve to the masses and it’s usually pretty cheap but good. I worked in a wine/gourmet shop here and we had our usual recommendations. We’d load the truck with cases of wine in the 6 bucks a bottle range (this was mid-eighties) and boxes of glasses for big parties. Sometimes it would be even cheaper. We had a white wine for 3 bucks that was served by a lot of very fancy schmancy people.

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  45. MichaelG said on June 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    We have the dog fence carts and carts with a stirrup attached near a rear wheel so the fronts cannot be lifted off the ground. I’m expecting the twenty five cent carts any moment but I’ll wager we don’t get our quarter back.

    I don’t visit TJ’s so much anymore myself. Lots of great places to buy wine, much better places to buy cheese, etc.

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  46. Dexter said on June 14, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Our local supermarket is Chief, or as the locals say, “Chief’s” or “The Chief”.
    They now are using these new carts, which are, unequivocally, “The Shit” , meaning they are the most fantastic innovation since…sliced…bagels.

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  47. LAMary said on June 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    In between farmers market visits I’ve been buying my produce at the giant Latino supermarket at bottom of my hill. I’ve developed a real fondness for Mexican squash and chayote. They always have amazingly low prices on stuff like cantaloupe and mangoes and plum tomatoes. Here’s how you cook Mexican squash. You can substitute zucchini but it has less flavor.

    Six Mexican squash, washed and sliced into quarter inch disks
    four or five rip plum tomatoes chopped
    a big onion chopped
    four to six cloves of garlic, chopped (optional)
    olive oil
    two ears of corn, cut off the cob (optional)
    Mexican white cheese or mozzarella cut in cubes
    dried red pepper

    in a big saute pan with a lid, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent
    add the squash, stir it around a bit
    add the tomatoes, stir it around a bit
    add the corn if you’re using it, stir it around
    pepper and oregano to taste…don’t make it too spicy
    stir it around some more until the squash is mostly cooked
    add the cheese and put the lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low and leave it until the cheese melts

    This is the new fave in our house. It’s great with broiled or grilled chicken or pork chops.

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  48. Jeff Borden said on June 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    If you look at the lists of the most stolen cars each year, the older model Hondas and Toyotas are often at or near the top. The damned things run so long that car thieves steal them, deliver them to chop shops and the parts are scattered to the winds, to be used by guys who are still driving their ’91 Civic with 200,000 miles and need a new water pump.

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  49. Deborah said on June 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    You need to go read the latest post about Moe, so worthwhile: http://moesmisadventures.blogspot.com

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  50. Deborah said on June 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    This is a test. I just sent a comment that didn’t seem to register and when I tried it again it told me I had duplicated a comment. But didn’t show up when i clicked away to another site and then back again. Just seeing what it does when I do this.

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  51. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Mary, you just described our favorite meal all through last summer. We used whatever fresh veggies we found but used it as our main dish, in massive quantities. We often cooked up some pasta or rice or made some fresh bread to go along with it. We went through withdrawal when the summer was over, and I can’t wait until more veggies come in around here.

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  52. Dorothy said on June 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Do you have a link to a picture of said Mexican squash? Thanks for the recipe. I have copied and pasted it onto a Word document and will make that once our squash is ready on vine. We have yellow, zucchini and spaghetti varieties planted this year.

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  53. Bill said on June 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I was forced into attending a baby shower at our church for the pianist (it’s a long story) a couple of weeks ago. Since she is planning to use cloth diapers, the planners thought she should experience her first time of washing dirty diapers by using new ones as napkins for the event and sending the dirty ones home with her to launder.

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  54. MichaelG said on June 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Sounds great, Mary. In fact, I know it’s great because I make a thing like that except I add chopped fresh jalapenos and red onion. Red for color. By the way, jalapeno and corn are two flavors that come together superbly – one of those flavor marriages made in heaven. Add jalapeno to your corn bread. Muy bueno! For the worried, cooking cuts the hot.

    Dinner tonight was an asparagus frittata:

    Five nice finger thick delta stalks cut in half inch rounds briefly done in a half inch of boiling water in a small pan.

    Chop and sauté a shallot in butter and olive oil in an eight inch fry pan, add the drained asparagus, sauté for a minute or so and add two beaten eggs.

    When mostly set, stick under the broiler until done. Watch like a hawk. Garnish with chives or flat leaf parsley or whatever you have.

    Start to finish is like fifteen minutes. A thick slice of Acme Pain au Levain


    and a glass of Bogle old vine Zin to complete. Serves me. Scale for your needs.

    I know it sounds snobbish but all of the above is available at the farmers’ market and at Taylor’s and Safeway (believe it or not the local Safeway is an excellent food and wine source) and costs the same as or less than prepared crap bought for convenience.

    Dinner tomorrow will be at some restaurant on San Fernando Blvd. in Burbank.

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  55. moe99 said on June 15, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Michael G, Does Beaujolais Nouveau hold up over time? In Belgium they went wild at the stores when the new bottled stuff came out. Lots of posters and displays. I got the sense then that it was a wine to be drunk rather quickly.

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  56. joodyb said on June 15, 2010 at 12:13 am

    thanks to Dorothy for the Treme page link and to LAMary and MichaelG for the recipe/serving suggestions!

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  57. Denice B. said on June 15, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I really like Trader Joe’s. They have the greatest corn bread mix ever! I live closer to the one in Grosse Point, but have yet to find the entrance on Kercheval.I don’t want to pay for parking if I can’t find the darn store!!! Yes, I’m an idiot. Being a Native Detroiter I wonder sometimes if I’m going to be asked by border guards for my papers. I feel like an interloper there. A slob in Paradise type of thing. lol

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  58. nancy said on June 15, 2010 at 12:50 am


    The main entrance is behind the store. Go in the parking structure and get a ticket. The door is right where you walk out. Take your ticket with you and they validate when you check out. Free parking!

    Don’t be put off by those skinny bitches in their yoga clothes. Maybe I’ll be there, and you won’t be the only slob.

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  59. James Moehrke said on June 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

    After the recent discussion about Thomas Kinkade, some might find this interesting: http://blogs.sacbee.com/crime/archives/2010/06/painter-thomas.html

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  60. Dexter said on June 15, 2010 at 1:23 am

    I doubt the Beau­jo­lais Nou­veau protocol has changed in the nearly two decades since I have had any. It keeps well for just a year, then it quickly changes to vinegar. My case was always gone in three months or so. My rule was to take it out of the rack and stick it in the fridge for just ninety minutes to get it cool. It’s a refreshing wine and it doesn’t work well at room temperature.

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  61. Catherine said on June 15, 2010 at 2:13 am

    NO FREAKING WAY! The Painter of Shite went to Art Center?

    Anything else I could believe, including this (previously linked here, I believe, maybe by MichaelG?): http://iloveandhateeverything.blogspot.com/2008/11/free-love-willy.html
    Or this: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/03/business/la-fi-kinkade-20100603

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  62. coozledad said on June 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Nature abhors kitsch:

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  63. LAMary said on June 15, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I get the impression that Trader Joes has a different image outside of SoCal. You might find the yoga pants ladies in TJ’s if it was near a yoga class. It’s a much more pedestrian place here, or at least not a snobbish place. If you go to one in a snooty neighborhood of course you will see snooty folks, but if you go to say, the Eagle Rock TJ’s, not so much. They brag about how low their prices are compared to the Safeway down the street.

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