Saturday, June 30, 2007


The party was a smashing success. Either everyone lied to me, and did a great job of it, or the food was a huge hit.

The salad course was a standard mixed salad (boxed from Costco), topped with Granny Smith Green Apple wedges and drizzled with a red wine vinaigrette (made with red wine vinegar and olive oil). I failed to take a picture of this.

While the salad was being consumed, I prepared two courses of salmon. One was a Maple Salmon, created by marinating the salmon fillets in a maple syrup/soy sauce/garlic confection then baking them. The second was a simple Magic Salmon, made by rubbing a store-bought mixture of spices and herbs and baking them at the same time as the Maple Salmon.

I then served the salmon with a side of roaster garlic rice, accented with chopped asparagus (I tossed it into the pot while it was cooking to help infuse the flavor) and sprinkled with the juice of one lemon. Also served on the side were some asparagus spears. And, just for effect, I garnished with a lemon slice.

Cooking for nine people is NOT easy. I have to say, though, in the end it was rather worth it. My friends were duly impressed. And I do have to say, I do make a mean salmon.

All in all, I'm quite proud of my efforts.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"It Does Not Say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty!"

So, like right now, for example. The Haiti-ans need to come to America. But some people are all, "What about the strain on our resources?" Well it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. 'cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haiti-ans. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much.

-- Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), Clueless

James (the boyfriend of my friend Roger) has a wonderful talent for cooking some great meals. Okay, wait, maybe he just has a talent for cooking better than I can cook, which isn't saying a hell of a lot, so I just think his stuff is fabulous when it's really just normal, but I digress. The point is, he's been really generous with sharing the fruits of his kitchen, inviting me over to their place for dinners quite frequently. Usually, he'll invite a slew of other people (and make a night out of it -- we'll all sit around (there's like 8 of us), eat, and watch stupid television shows like So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol. Some nights he'll just randomly make an extra helping of food for me when he's cooking dinner for the two of them, then call me to let me know I can pick up some "leftovers" at my leisure. (They're not really "leftovers" since they never intended to eat them in the first place!)

Me being me, of course, after a while I feel bad that I'm mooching all these free meals off these guys so I feel the need to reciprocate. Miss Manners would be proud; I'm pretty sure that's her rule: when you attend a social occasion, it's polite to extend a reciprocal invitation.

I got my chance this weekend when, while out to dinner one night (lots of food involved in this post), James mentioned that he didn't feel like cooking this week, and he and Roger would probably be having dinners out all week. I leapt at the opportunity to suggest that I cook them dinner one night to make up for him having cooked for me so many times. Small wrinkle: my place is tiny, so I'd have to do the actual cooking at their place, probably using their cookware. But never mind that, the point was, I offered to supply the edibles and put in the kitchen time.

They happily accepted by invitation, and I was underway to making my friends a nice dinner. I had previously purchased a nice set of individually vacuum-wrapped salmon fillets at Costco, so I figured that's what I'd do: make a nice salmon dinner for the three of us, plus maybe one other guest.

You know what they say about the best laid plans.

Because James is used to having many people over for these dinner nights, what started off small escalated quickly. "Should we also invite A? and B and his boyfriend C? What about D?" Before I knew it, a dinner that I had envisioned for four ballooned to nine.

Cher, however, was lucky that all she had to do was re-arrange some food on a plate. The Costco salmon that I bought comes in a package of seven fillets. This is, of course, not enough to serve nine people without splitting a nice single-serving of fish. On top of that, I now had to get more of the rice side dish I was planning on making, as well as the salad and the appetizers.

Paula Deen I am not, people!

I made an emergency run to Costco last night. Picked up extra salmon. A large box of salad. Some grape tomatoes for the salad. Plus some green apples for the salad. Couldn't find asparagus for the side, so I got green beans instead. (Then ended up at Safeway later, where voila! they had asparagrus. Got some of that there.) Got home only to realize that I do not have enough of the rice dish (Near East brand rice pilaf -- love that stuff) in my cabinet -- will shop for that at lunch today.

I never thought I'd be the type to obsess so much over food, but I guess when it comes to impressing other people, it kind of is a big deal. You want to make a decent food that people will like. And when it's a full-on spread, well, it could win you quite the accolade among your friends.

And maybe this will actually lead me to cook just a little bit more.

Anyway, the dinner is tonight. Maybe I'll try to take some pictures and post them here later. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Among Other Unfortunate Results, Bong Hits Also Have the Power to Erode the First Amendment.

This week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that suspending a high school senior for holding up a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign at a school-sponsored function was not a violation of the kid's First Amendment rights. The case was Morse v. Frederick.

In 1969, students wore black armbands to school protesting the Vietnam War. In Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. Sch. Dist., the Supreme Court held that punishing these students based on some generalized fear that school disruption would occur was simply not enough of a reason to deny the kids their First Amendment rights.

The difference between that case and the Frederick case makes the outcome of the Frederick case that much more astounding. The black armbands actually were intended to convey a message; they made a statement by those who wore them. As Justice Abe Fortas noted in Tinker, the armbands were banned "based upon an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression, even by the silent symbol of armbands, of opposition to this Nation's part in the conflagration in Vietnam." Translation: The school board wanted to avoid the awkwardness and discomfort from having people openly debate whether the Vietnam War was a Good Idea.

The sign in Frederick is more vague: "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." True, it doesn't really stimulate a hell of a lot of discussion about the "hot topic" of drugs and drug laws.

Really, the school in Alaska just wildly overreacted to a stupid gag. Kids do that. And under Tinker, the school's generalized fear that its event would be disrupted by the sign is not enough for the school to ban the sign altogether.

But now, the Supreme Court has changed that landscape, and in a markedly broad way. The sweeping language of the decision suggests that a school may discipline students for speech which "they reasonably regard as promoting illegal drug use." The problem: On its face, the sign doesn't "promote" using illegal drugs. It's meant to be funny. Lots of people make reference to bong hits even if they don't use drugs. Should a kid be punished for saying in school "Are you on crack?" to a friend who just said something remarkably stupid?

Worse yet, the standard vests that determination purely in the hands of the school board. If they just say "I reasonably believed it promoted drug use," that's the end of the analysis, and they have a right to censor the kid. Where's the checks-and-balances on this? Shouldn't someone else -- i.e., an objective reasonable person -- have to agree with this assessment?

This case turns First Amendment jurisprudence on its head. Really serious speech -- like expressions meant to protest the Vietnam War -- are protected. But silly, frivolous speech -- like a sign linking marijuana use to Jesus -- is not protected. One would have thought that Tinker set a floor for First Amendment protection: everything up to an including the really serious stuff is protected. Not so, this Court says. The super-serious stuff is protected, but if it's not so serious (maybe semi-serious?) watch out. You could get nabbed.

This ruling is a huge setback to the free speech rights of students and represents just why this country messed up big time when it "elected" W. to the White House. Twice, no less.

Oh, and one last bit of food for thought: What would the conservative justices who voted in the majority in this case have done if a kid had been disciplined for holding up a sign that said "Abortion is Murder"? I submit to you that, strangely, that kid would have had the full backing of the First Amendment behind him.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Have a Sandwich!

Okay, I really don't want to blog too much about Paris Hilton, but this blurb from WaPo caught my eye:

According to jailhouse phone interviews, Hilton is looking forward to sleeping with her own pillows and having a good meal.

And my first thought was: "Wow, the bitch actually eats?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Double-U. T. Hotel.

If my travels abroad have taught me nothing at all, it's taught me to love my fellow man, including those tourists whom I used to loathe. They're everywhere in DC, especially during the summer months when people bring their summer break-ing kids with them. And growing up in Hawai'i, tourists were a part of the landscape. Hated 'em.

But now having been a tourist several times now -- a few times in cities where I don't speak the language well -- I have come to appreciate the kindness of strangers and feel the need to reciprocate if and when at all possible.

Every so often I'll see a random hapless person on a street corner in DC poring over a map. I try nowadays to take the time to stop and ask them if they need help finding something. God knows I've been lost before.

Tonight, as I walked back from the Metro, I was approached by a random man. At first I was a little wary -- was he going to ask for money? Or worse yet, was he just going to rob me? -- but then this conversation ensued:

Guy: Ex-cyooze.
Me: Yes? You need something? [I am still poised to bolt if necessary.]
Guy: Where is 15th Street? [He has an accent.]
Me: This is 15th Street. What are you looking for?
Guy: 1515.
Me: 1515 15th Street? [I seriously don't know where that would be.]
Guy: 15.
Me: Huh?

Clearly, English is not his first language, and he's not doing too well. And I take it he's lost. So I engage my good Samaritan nature and continue the conversation:

Guy: 15.
Me: Uh, what are you looking for? Maybe I can help you. Do you know a cross street? [This phrase is totally lost on him, of course.]
Guy: W hotel. 1515.
Me: The W?
Guy: Double-U. T.

I gotta tell you, I don't even know if a W hotel even exists in DC. And I know most of downtown DC like the back of my hand, so I would know if there was a W somewhere.

"You know what? Let me see what I can do." I pull out my cell phone and dial 411, looking to ask for the number to the W hotel for purposes of finding directions for him. Then suddenly the last thing he said hit me.

Me: Wait, what did you say?
Guy: Double-U. T.

I hung up the phone and instead opened up a text editor. I typed in a word and showed it to him. "Is this what you're talking about?"

"Yes!" the guy responds. I had typed the word "Doubletree." Which is located at 1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW.

"Oh, good. You're heading in the wrong direction. Just come with me."

At which point, because it's well on my way, I walk him to within a block of the hotel. Along the way, I tried to engage him in conversation, but his English was so severely limited that it simply wasn't working. I even asked him if he spoke Spanish or French, but that didn't take either. We ended up walking about three blocks in complete silence.

At my corner, one can see the hotel. I stop at my corner and point it out to him. "It's right there," I tell him. "Cross the street here, then cross the street to there. Then turn that way, and the hotel is right there."

He thanked me (if there's only so many words you know in a foreign tongue, I would suggest that "thank you" must be at the top of your list for words to know), we shook hands, and he went off on his merry way. I presume he found what he was looking for.

And now I hope I'm getting karma points off of this effort.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Update

Okay, so...

No blogging about Amsterdam. Which is unfortunate, because it was a great trip. But stuff like that has to be timely, I think, and writing about it now would, unfortunately, bore me. (And I'm all that matters. Ha!) As with the other times I've ever been to Europe, I come back thinking how much I'd love to return there sometime -- and that conflicts with my desire to see as much of the world (or at least Europe) as possible. Of course, the euro is way too strong right now (and I's po') so I'm thinking that the next time I hop an international flight, it'll be to Mexico.

My erstwhile boyfriend is no more, and I am still a complete pussy. I haven't called him since I got back from Amsterdam. On the flip side, he never called me. We effectively "drifted apart." Unfortunately, he made friends with my friends and has their numbers. Now I've gone and put my friends in a strange position, since he called one of them the other day just to see what he was up to. I'd feel weird if they hung out together.

Work is kicking my ass. I've come to the conclusion that my boss, whom I had been admiring and looking up to for the better part of five years, is a technically competent litigator, but not a very good one. He talks funny, has strange mannerisms, and sometimes goes into strange lines of questions with witnesses. In the "silver lining" file, I feel a little bit better because I now find myself thinking things like "Damn, dude, I can do a better job than you at this."

It's hot as balls here. Mostly because it's about to rain, I think.

Okay, I think that's it for now. Thanks again to you readers out there for bearing with me during this lull in posting.

PS: I've also noticed that during this lull in my posting schedule, the spam that tends to accumulate in my email box rapidly dropped. Guess spammers know where their spam is useless.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I've been horribly delinquent in updating this blog lately. If anyone's still reading this, I apologize. I make no excuses for my failure to post here more. In truth, I have no reason for it. I do, however, still find myself, from time to time, doing something and thinking, "Wow, that would make a fun blog entry," then failing to actually compose the entry itself. I'm so lazy.

But I'm still alive, and everything is still going well enough, and life is generally good.

And I'll try to update here more often.